Prepare for Cooling Season!

Cooling season is right around the corner.  Check out this list of things you should be doing to get your AC system and home ready!

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1. Clean up Around Outside Unit.

If you have an outdoor unit, make sure the area around it is cleaned up.  Air flow through the outdoor unit is important in running an efficient unit.  Clear away branches and leaves.  Cut down overgrown grass or plants.    Throughout the season, periodically check to make sure the area is still clear of debris.

2. Change Filters.

Clean filters are important for efficiency and good indoor air quality (IAQ).  Start out the cooling season with a clean filter.  The EPA suggests checking your filter every month and changing it when it is dirty, at least every 3 months.

3. Change Batteries.

Change the batteries in your thermostat to ensure it is and will work properly.  If you didn’t change the batteries in your smoke detector and carbon dioxide detector when you changed your clocks this past month, change them now.

4. Schedule Pre-season Check-up.

Your system should be checked by a professional at the beginning of cooling season to make sure it’s ready for operation.

5. Install A Programmable Thermostat.

If your building or home is unoccupied for a portion of the day, install a programmable thermostat.  Set it a few degrees higher during the hours no one is home so you do not waste energy cooling an empty building.

6. Seal and Insulate Ducts.

According to the EPA, the deficiency in your duct system can cause a loss of 20 percent of the air in your system.  When air leaks out of the ducts, it causes the system to work harder, wasting energy.  Check connections on all accessible ducts, like in attics and unfinished basements, and at vents and registers.  Make sure they are sealed with mastic sealant or metal tape and well insulated.

7. Seal and Insulate your Building’s Envelope.

Cool air can escape and hot air can enter through leaks in your buildings or home’s envelope.  By sealing these leaks and insulating your building or home, you can save up to 20% on your heating and cooling energy bill.

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The Importance of Roof Maintenance

The Importance of Roof Maintenance

Your roof is your home’s main protection against the elements. So, when was the last time that you have given thought to the state of your roof? The general case for most people is that they clean their gutters annually. The problem arises with the fact that they don’t pay attention to their roof until it starts to look so bad that they can no longer ignore it, or it’s leaking so much that it’s becoming a serious issue.  Your roof ensures the safety and comfort of your home, so it is essential that you keep an eye on it. So, what should you look out for, and what can you do?

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Curling shingles

There are two ways that your shingles can curl. The first one is cupping, which occurs when the edges begin to turn upward. The other one is clawing, which means that the edges remain flat but the middle comes upward. Both cases are the effect of weathering, and mean that there will soon be problems that you need to take care of, such as leaking. Depending on how much the shingles have curled, the time you have until your roof is truly in need of a replacement is from a year to five years.

Granules in the gutter

If you’ve recently acquired an asphalt shingle roof, and there is a whole lot of granules in the gutters, then there is no reason to get worried. This are just the extra ones that are loose. However, if this happens after about 10 to 15 years, then it’s an indication of a larger issue. Granules are what protects the asphalt from the sun. As soon as they fall off and the shingles begin to take a lot of sunlight, their quality will worsen real soon. So, if it isn’t a new roof you are dealing with, then it means that your shingles have aged halfway through their lifespan.

Cracked shingles

If you come across cracked shingles, it means that they have taken damage from the wind. In the case that only a few of the shingles are cracked, then you don’t have to worry much and you can simply replace them. However, in the case that the cracking isn’t taking part in just one area, but a whole bunch of random places across the roof, then this is a big indication that you need to start thinking about a whole new roof. The time you have left is probably from three to five years.

Roof sagging

When your roof begins to sag, you really need to get seriously worried. This is the indication that your roof is suffering from a bigger structural issue. The decking in the attic could be worn out, or even worse, the foundation supports could have a problem. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you’re in danger, but this kind of situation is much better to take care of right away instead of allowing it to develop further. If you don’t do anything about it, you roof doesn’t have much time left. If you notice a depression in your roof, it’s time to call a professional.

What to do?

Is it necessary to completely replace the roof, or will single repairs be enough? This isn’t a question that you can easily answer unless you call in a professional roofer or contractor. Roof maintenance experts from Sydney suggest that if your roof looks old, has chronic leaks, and your home has insulation and heating issues, then it’s time to take some serious steps.

Before renovating the roof, you should probably decide on what materials do you want to be used. These could be:

  • Clay or concrete tile (stylish and with a long lifespan.)
  • Wood shingles or shake (high quality and beautiful, but also expensive)
  • Asphalt shingles (generally the least expensive solution)
  • Metal roofing (durable, relatively maintenance-free, but expensive and may dent)
  • Slate roofing (natural waterproofing, fireproofing and insulation)

While hiring a professional to do your roof installation is an additional cost, it’s worth paying because you can be certain that the job is done properly and quickly. This also makes sure that parts of the job don’t remain on halt for weeks. A professional roofer usually finishes their job in just a couple of days. Their work consists of removing old shingles, repairing or replacing the wood, and installing flashing, insulation and new shingles or shake.

In summary

Keeping an eye on your roof is essential, in order for you to track its state during its lifespan, stay ahead of any necessary renovations, and the possibility that you may need to replace it altogether. While roof replacement isn’t something as exciting as giving your living room a new shine, it is crucial to the well-being of your home’s inhabitants.

This article is from Vector Central and can be viewed here.

Our Latest Reviews!

We really appreciate our Clients taking time out to provide us with a review.  It helps us make sure that we continue to provide the high level of service that we strive to provide to each and every person who uses County Home Inspection!

These are our latest reviews:

Latest Reviews - 3 April 2017

You can see more here and here!

Peterborough Homeowner Ownership Assistance Program – 2017

The City of Peterborough have confirmed that they are planning on offering the Homeownership Assistance Loan Program again this year – it is set to open in April.

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If you wish to apply, you should look to get things in place now.  The information below is taken directly from the City of Peterborough website.

Homeownership Assistance Loan Program

This program aims to help eligible renters buy a home in the City or County of Peterborough. The application process for the Homeownership Assistance Loan Program is currently closed. We plan on offering the program again in April 2017. Applications will be made available at that time.

If you are thinking of applying in April, you can do a few things to prepare:

  • Get written mortgage pre-approval from a CMHC approved lender;
  • File your 2016 income tax return (make copies of 2016 T1 General or 2016 Notice of Assessment);
  • Make copies of two pieces of government issued identification (to verify your status in Canada and that you are at least 18 years old) – one piece must be photo ID;
  • Get written verification that you are currently renting;
  • Review the information at CMHC’s Home Buyer education website; and 
  • Keep checking this website or call 705-742-7777 extension 4663 (HOME) for updates.

If there are multiple adults in your household, please prepare copies of their identification and 2016 T1 General/Notice of Assessment to verify status in Canada, age, and total household income.

There is no waiting list for this program. Subject to availability, loans are offered on a first-come, first serve basis. The Program ends when funding has been allocated, or December 1. Program updates for 2017 will be uploaded when available.

Note: Funds have been provided by the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario. 

One of the previous requirements for this program was that the home you wished to purchase had to be inspected by a professional home inspector.  

If you do apply and are accepted under this program, be sure to contact us to book your County Home Inspection.  

You can contact us at 705 957 3642 or david@countyhomeinspection.ca

Home Staging for Spring Selling!

 As winter has taken its cold and snow away, it’s time to make your home’s curb appeal a welcoming place for the visitors. Very often the first impression is the last impression, and very often buyers judge the home right from the curb.
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Spring is the best season to impress buyers with your homes’ curb appeal with its all fascination. Put much effort for the great curb appeal, because if a home has curb appeal that means it is attractive to the eye. Besides, thanks to its positive effect, a great curb appeal helps to sell a home faster. Follow the Curb Appeal tips and add dollars to your house’s final selling price.

Tip #1- Make a list: 

Examine the outside of your home from a street perspective. What do you notice first? First of all you need to list everything you see that could have a negative effect on a potential buyer. Is your front door colorless and unappealing? Do large overgrown shrubs hide your beautiful house? Are there fallen leaves and debris on your lawn? Does your porch need to be decorated with plants and flowers? Is your room in a good condition?

Tip #2-A welcoming door

Your front door can make a big impact on the beauty and curb appeal of your home. After a long winter bright front door color can refresh and beautify even an old house exterior and add charm to the house design and front yard landscaping. In spring colorful elements create spectacular contrasts with green colors of leaves and grass. Choose the best spring color for your front door which fits your house exterior and design. Don’t forget about accessories. New locks, door handles and new house numbers are pleasant to the eye, improving curb appeal. Hanging metal or wood door signs and flower baskets are easy and inexpensive, as well as very effective ways to give a style to your front door decoration.

Tip #3- Porch decorations: 

If you have a porch, you can decorate it, turning a porch into an attractive outdoor room that feels like a peaceful retreat and creates a nice space to relax. Since it is one of the first areas seen, it sets the tone and establishes the atmosphere for the visitors. The simpler and more relaxing it is, the more welcoming your porch will be. Everyone thinks of flowers when they think of spring. So lining your front porch steps with some colorful flowers is a lovely idea. Transform your front porch into a warm and inviting entryway by hanging a beautiful spring wreath on your door, or you can hang a bucket with flowers instead of wreath. Use an old tool box and turn it into a planer. Celebrate the return of warm weather with beautiful arrangements of spring flowers and make an unforgettable impression on the visitors.Decorate your porch with green plants, with nice benches or chairs, with small tables. Bring the season of spring into the porch by placing flowers in containers, which would bring a new life and energy to any space. If you have a small porch you can use vertical planters.

Tip #4- Time to landscape and decorate your yard: 

Give your yard a fresh look. Rake up the leaves you missed from fall. Clean up debris such as fallen trees, branches, etc. Check the bushes and trees if they need pruning. Trim low hanging branches so they do not get on the way for the view. Neatly edge your lawn as it fits your home style. Upgrade your flower beds, make them clear of weeds. Put in some perennial flowers which will make the yard more inviting and more alive. Planting a tree is a great idea to add curb appeal to the house. If you have enough space, you can plant two trees to frame your house or your entryway. It would be great if you plant a flowering tree for the spring color. The blossoms from flowering trees offer a colorful and post- winter display. Don’t forget to accessorize the other areas in your yard that could impress buyers. Consider updating an outdoor living or dining area with new pillows, cushions or a rug. Think about adding more light to define and enhance thee space or even add a fireplace to set the mood that buyers can enjoy this area under the stars even on cool nights. 

Tip # 5- De-clutter your living area: 

De-cluttering is an important step when staging a home for sale. You should remove anything that gets in the way a beneficial first impression for the potential buyer. When the space is clutter-free, everything is more inviting and more relaxing. If you have children or dogs, it is likely that you have some extra clutter to deal with when trying to clear up the yard. Hide children’s toys, dogs’ toys and dogs’ supplies in a storage boxes. Store garbage cans in the garage or hide them with some decorations. Organize what you can, throw everything that you don’t need to keep – broken pots, one left garden glove, steel claws without handles, broken trellis, a collection  of shoes near the front door,- all of those should be cleared away. Leave only a few things which are aesthetically pleasing and which would give buyers ideas for how the space could be used.

Tip # 6- Check the house from the roof line down: 

Inspect the roof as best as you can. If it looks to be in a poor condition, replace it. If
it is just needs repair, have any broken or missing shingles replaced. Repair all flashing. It’s best to hire a professional roofing company to inspect and do all repairs. Check all windows from outside. Look for cracked or broken glass, chipped paint. Repair and replace as needed. Clean all the windows as the
y sparkle. Make them free from obstructions such as overgrown bushes or trees. Pay attention to your driveway and sidewalk, if they are soiled or are grimy, power wash them.

The original article can be viewed here.

Heating & Cooling Systems – Routine Maintenance

Heating and cooling systems are typically an easy maintenance task and virtually trouble free.

As a rule of thumb, it is most common to perform heating and cooling maintenance in the spring and fall to ensure adequate performance in the months you need it most.

Maintaining routine equipment inspections will prevent premature failure of parts and can save you money on your home energy costs. Efficient operation of your heating and cooling system is a direct output of good, regular maintenance. No matter what type of system you have, there are several things you can do to make sure your system stays in tip top shape! For a system that heats and cools, perform a bi-annual maintenance in the spring and fall.

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For cooling maintenance only, perform a maintenance check at least once a year – typically in the early spring, before the cooling season startsFor furnace maintenance only, perform a maintenance check at least once a year – typically in the early fall, before the heating season

Many dealers provide a priority service for their customers who have an annual maintenance /service agreement. Your local dealer should provide the following services:

COOLING SPECIFIC

  • Check the evaporator and condenser air coils. Dirty, dusty coils can cause the system to run longer, reducing the system’s ability to properly cool your home as well as decreasing the life expectancy of the equipment and its parts.
  • Clean the outdoor fan motor, blades and indoor blower assembly.
  • Check the refrigerant level of your central air conditioner and adjust if necessary. Too little can make the compressor work too hard which will ultimately reduce the efficiency and longevity of the system.
  • Inspect drain pans and condensate drains to ensure excess moisture is not trapped in the unit.
  • Check compressor and refrigerant tubing.
  • Inspect all electrical wiring, controls and connections. All components should be checked for damage or wear. Poorly maintained wire connections are a potential fire hazard and can cause unsafe operation of your system.
  • Lubricate moving parts. Inspect ports on the motor and fan blades for wear and tear or damage and lubricate as needed. Newer AC models typically have these parts sealed off so this step can be skipped.
  • Replace air filters.
  • Run a systematic test. Turn your AC unit completely off and back on. Listen for unusual noises or odors on the start up.
  • Check duct work for leaks or other problems. Duct work is not typically included in the yearly inspection however it is a good idea to have inspected with your next checkup. Air leakage in duct work is a primary cause of inefficiency in forced air systems.

HEATING SPECIFIC

  • Check heat exchanger for cracks and deterioration. With age, heat exchangers can develop cracks and once there is any sort of deterioration, toxic fumes can be released into your home causing a potential health threat to you and your family.
  • Remove and clean burners to extend the life of your furnace. Dirty, dusty burners can cause poor combustion, condensation and soot that shortens the life of your furnace.
  • Check and adjust the fan switch. If this switch is not proper aligned it can waste energy and cause a fan cycling noise.
  • Clean and adjust the pilot and pilot assembly. Dirty, weak or deteriorated pilots can be easily lead to furnace malfunction.
  • Check all gas (or oil) connections and gas pressure. Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. Either can cause the equipment to operate unsafely and inefficiently.
  • Inspect Flue Pipe for corrosion or leaks.
  • Secure all panels. Loose panels can increase your energy costs and can also lead to a system malfunction.
  • Properly inspect and lubricate all motors and bearings of rotating equipment.
  • Inspect and adjust belts for any cracks. Belts can break or crack with age, decreasing airflow which can increase operating costs and shorten the compressors life.
  • Replace your air filter. Dirty air filters waste energy and causes restricted airflow to your system increasing your energy bill. Secondly, a dirty air filter will not be capturing contaminants for your home’s air as it should.
  • Inspect and test controls and safeties. Defective controls can increase costs and cause other components to not operate as needed.
  • Calibrate thermostat. Improperly calibrated thermostats cause the unit to run longer than needed, making your energy bill increase.

The original article can be viewed here.

Aluminum Wiring – Take Needed Precautions.

With the spring real estate market heating up, questions and concerns about aluminum wiring are common with those looking to buy or sell a residential property.

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Aluminum branch wiring was used during the 1960s and 1970s in many homes for the wiring of receptacles, switches and other devices. Aluminum does not conduct electricity as efficiently as copper and creates more resistance and heat.

Single strand branch aluminum wiring has been implicated in a number of house fires. The cause of these fires is not normally the aluminum wire itself rather they are the result of improper connections.

Aluminum wiring also expands and contracts more than copper, thus there is a tendency for the connections to become loose at the devices (switches, outlets and breakers) and junction boxes. Oxidation will build up between the loose connections, causing an increase in the amount of heat generated, which can then pose a potential fire hazard.

Do not replace devices with “copper only rated” devices because they also could be a fire hazard. There are copper/aluminum rated devices available but they’re much more expensive than the standard copper only rated devices.

In the interest of safety, when it comes to aluminum wire, you need to contact a licensed electrician if:

  • Outlets and switch cover plates are unusually warm or warped
  • Smoke or sparks are coming from receptacles and switches
  • There are strange odours in the area of receptacles and switches
  • You have untraceable problems with plug-in lights and appliances

Lights periodically flicker.

Many individuals and insurance companies believe aluminum wiring should be removed and replaced with copper. It should be mentioned that this is not always necessary because there are approved or recognized methods for making these systems safe.

If single strand aluminum wire is present, (No. 12 or No. 10 general purpose branch wiring) it is important to install or verify proper connections of all devices and terminals throughout the house. Copper wire ends, known as “pigtails,” can be installed at all terminals. Standard wire nuts are not approved for pig tailing and should be replaced if present as they pose a fire hazard. Special wire nuts approved for aluminum and copper connections must be used.

Care to be taken with aluminum wiring:

  • Do not over-fuse aluminum wiring. The AWG (American Wire Gauge) rating of No. 12 aluminum wiring is equivalent to No. 14 copper wiring. Both are rated for 15 amps, so use only the t5 amp rated glass fuse, cartridge fuse or breaker for aluminum wiring stamped either 12/2 or 12/3.
  • Copper and aluminum should never be connected together except using special anti-oxidant paste and crimped with approved clamp connectors. If you use twist-on connectors (wire-nuts or marrets), make sure they are approved for use with aluminum wiring.
  • When purchasing replacement receptacles, switches or fixtures, ensure that they are compatible for aluminum wiring. Typically, receptacles that are approved for aluminum wiring will be stamped CO/ALR, CU-AL or AL-CU indicating they can be used for both copper and aluminum. Newer Decor switches and outlets (the new designer look flat outlets and switches) are not aluminum rated.
  • Do not use receptacles stamped with AL and a line through it. These receptacles are incompatible with aluminum wiring.

As part of your preventive maintenance plan for the home, check switches and receptacles by removing the cover plates and visually inspecting the wires for any signs of scorching, looseness, heat and odour.

Aluminum wiring is not DIY-friendly. If you suspect anything unusual, have a licensed electrician work on circuits with aluminum wiring.

If you own a home with aluminum wire you should have a licensed electrician check all connections every few years to ensure they are tight and not oxidized.

If you’re considering purchasing a home that has aluminum wiring, some insurance companies will ask for an ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) inspection of the home, some will charge a premium to insure the home, or some may even require that all connections be aluminum to copper pigtailed, the cost of which may be very expensive, before they will insure the home.

The original article can be viewed here. The Author, Rob Parker is a registered home inspector (RHI) with the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors, and an ASHI certified inspector (ACI) with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Rob can be reached at Thamespec Home Inspection Service (519) 857-7101, by email at thamespec@rogers.com or visit www.thamespec-inspections.com