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.

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.

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

March Home Maintenance Tasks

If the sight of the mercury creeping upward fills you with spring fever, we’re with you. We, too, are restless for the toastier and longer days that are just around the corner. But before you can kick back on a balmy evening with a crisp glass of rosé or a cool IPA, you’ve got to get your home in shape.

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The month of March—when temps are beginning to rise but before those April showers—is the ideal time to get down and dirty with those maintenance projects, says J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, a commercial and residential repair, maintenance, and improvement franchise.

March “home maintenance projects can extend the longevity and improve the quality of your home, inside and out,” he says.

1. Clean the gutter

Task: Remove leaves, pine needles, and other debris that have accumulated over the winter so your gutter system is ready to handle spring showers. Overflowing gutters and blocked downspouts can damage siding and foundations.

Shortcuts: Install gutter guards—screens, foam inserts, surface tension covers—which help to keep debris out of gutters. In general, screen types work best, according to the folks at Consumer Reports.

Call in the pros: A gutter cleaner charges $100 to $250 to clean 200 linear feet of gutter on a two-story, 2,500-square-foot house. Professional installation of gutter guards runs $7.50 to $10 per linear foot.

2. Clean the AC condenser

Task: Remove dust and debris that have accumulated on the AC condenser (the big metal box outside your house) so that the AC works efficiently.

Shortcuts: Hook up a garden hose and spray the outside of the condenser. The water will melt away the gunk. Don’t use a brush, and be careful if pressure washing—you could damage or bend the fins.

Call in the pros: Having a pro service your AC system costs $100 to $250 and includes cleaning the condenser and lubricating the fan motor.

3. Prep the yard

Task: Start bringing your yard back to life now, before temperatures warm up for real.

Shortcuts: Remove branches and stones, and use your lawn mower with a catch bag to make short work of dead leaves and twigs. Got roses? For full, beautiful blooms, most landscaping experts will tell you to prune your rose bushes just before the plant breaks dormancy and after the final frost—around mid-March for much of the country. If any buds are diseased, bag and toss them in the trash to avoid spreading fungus and infestations.

Call in the pros: A lawn service charges $65 to $90 for mowing and leaf removal on an average-size lot.

4. Clean the siding

Task: Get rid of dirt and grime that can cause mildew and shorten the life of your siding. As a bonus, the exterior of your home will look fresh and clean for spring.

Shortcuts: There’s no need for fancy cleaning solutions or power washers; a bucket of warm, soapy water and a long-handled brush are all you need. Rinse with water from a garden hose.

Call in the pros: Cleaning the siding on a two-story, 2,500-square-foot house runs $900 to $1,150.

5. Clean and repair outdoor decks

Task: Cleaning your deck of leaves and debris—especially between deck boards—prevents staining and reduces the chance of rot. Check for loose boards, and reset protruding nails to keep your deck safe.

Shortcuts: Use a flat-bladed screwdriver to pry gunk out from between boards. Use a deck cleaning product to revive faded and stained boards.

Call in the pros: A deck-cleaning company charges $80 to $480 to clean a 16-by-20-foot deck.

6. Caulk around windows and doors

Task: Inspect the caulking and repair any that was battered during the winter. Check around your windows, doors, and corner trim to prevent water infiltration and avoid costly repairs.

Shortcuts: Feel like you’re always caulking? You can cut down on the frequency of this task if you buy high-quality siliconized acrylic latex caulk rated for exterior use. It has good adhesion and flexibility, cleans up easily with water, and is paintable, too.

Call in the pros: A professional caulking job on an average-size house costs $178 to $410.

7. Inspect walkways and driveways

Task: Winter is tough on concrete and asphalt—freeze and thaw cycles can break apart stone and concrete. You’ll want to seal cracks with sealant made for the specific material of your driveway or walkway to prevent further damage.

Shortcuts: Stuff foam backer rods in large cracks to reduce the amount of sealant you’ll need.

Call in the pros: You can hire a handyman to repair cracks and holes for anywhere from $100 to $250.

8. Inspect the roofing

Task: Take a close look at your roofing to check for loose and missing shingles, worn and rusted flashing, and cracked boots around vent pipes.

Shortcuts: Make it easy on yourself by checking your roof with a pair of binoculars while standing firmly—and safely—on the ground.

Call in the pros: A professional roofing contractor will inspect your roof for free, but will charge for repairs: $95 to $127 to replace broken or missing asphalt shingles; $200 to $500 to replace boots and flashing.

You can find the original article on Realtor.com

Issues with Improper Roof Ventilation & Attic Insulation

DAMAGE THAT CAN BE CAUSED BY INADEQUATE ROOF VENTILATION AND ATTIC INSULATION:

ROOFING DETERIORATION:

Excessive moisture caused by poor roof ventilation and attic insulation can deteriorate your entire roofing system from the decking and supports to the underlayment and shingles.

ICE DAMS:

Ice dams are caused when the heat that escapes from a poorly insulated attic melts snow on the roof that refreezes at the edge of the roof before it drips off. The ice accumulates, pushes under the shingles and leads to major damage when the ice melts.

RUST:

Moisture causes metal components of the roof, like nails, to rust and potentially break — which can lead to shingle loss. The moisture caused by condensation on the inside of the attic can also rust things like plumbing, heating, and venting duct straps to rust and break.

AIR CONDITIONER:

Excessive heat will cause your air conditioner to have to work harder and longer to cool your living space. It also means repairs and replacements to your overworked air conditioner will be needed sooner and more often.

PROBLEMS CAUSED BY INADEQUATE ROOF VENTILATION CAN ALSO RESULT IN UNCOMFORTABLE AND UNHEALTHY LIVING CONDITIONS:

Excessive heat: In the warm months poor roof ventilation means there is no way for the heat that is created by the sun beating on the roof and the heat that rises from the rest of the house to escape. Instead it pushes downward into the living space raising the temperature and the electric bill.

Mold: In the winter months, the cold air in the attic meets with the rising moist warm air from below caused by things like cooking, heating and showering and creates condensation. The condensation drips, turns to mold, the mold wafts in to your living space and — according to the Center for Disease Control — has the potential to do anything from triggering allergic reactions to causing asthma in young children.

Excessive and accumulating condensation can rot structural wood components leading to unnecessary expenses, and mold can accumulate on items being stored in the attic leading to unnecessary loss of property.

This article is by Jeff Petrucci at Bloomfield Construction.  

The original can be viewed here.

Why our Recommendations are Important.

When you are purchasing a new home, hiring County Home Inspection to discover the issues within it is a good start.carlton coffee shopevery tuesday at 9pmfree entrance (1).png

However, it is only the beginning.

As a homeowner, you need to make sure that you follow up on the recommendations that we make.

We make recommendations because we believe that the problems may grow to become issues if not addressed once you own the home.

If you have any questions, contact us at 705 957 3642 or david@countyhomeinspection.ca

Do You Have Roof Issues?

Thanks to Good Housekeeping for this article – the original can be found here.

Do I Need a New Roof-

 

“A solid roof above your head is pretty crucial if you’ve become accustomed to having a warm, cozy, and leak-free home. Here’s how to notice and deal with potential issues before they become big ones.

1.Your roof’s 25th birthday is approaching.

“An asphalt shingle roof should last between 20 and 30 years,” says Claude McGavic, executive director of The National Association of Home Inspectors. “If you have a 40-year-old roof,there could be a problem — even if it looks good from the ground.”

How much time you’ve got left: Five to 10 years, depending on your roof’s condition. If you live in a development and your neighbors are all starting to replace their roofing, that could be a sign that you should do the same.

2. The shingles are curling.

Shingles can curl in two ways: There’s cupping, which happens when the edges of the shingles turn upward; and there’s clawing, which is when the edges stay flat and the middle starts to come up. “Both are signs of weathering and indicate that problems — potentially leaks — are relatively close to fruition,” says Mark Graham, vice president of the National Roofing Contractors Association.

How much time you’ve got left: “Depending on the extent of the curling, it could be anywhere from a year to five years before you need a new roof,” says Graham.

3. Entire shingles are missing.

From a functional standpoint, there should be no problem with just replacing a few shingles here and there. “What you do need to be prepared for is the fact that it’s just about impossible to get a new shingle to match the color of an old one,” says Graham. “Granule colors have changed pretty significantly over the years. Plus, the colors change slightly with weathering.”

How much time you’ve got left: You can keep patching until a bigger issue presents itself, but if a roof starts to look like a checkerboard, people often opt to replace the whole thing.

4. The shingles are cracked.

Cracked shingles are typically a result of wind damage. If just a few shingles are cracked, you can certainly replace them. “If the cracking isn’t isolated to one particular area and it’s random throughout the roof, that’s a telltale sign that you should start thinking about a new roof,” says Graham.

How much time you’ve got left: You may need to replace the whole thing within three to five years.

5. You’re finding granules in the gutter.

If you just got a new asphalt shingle roof and you see a bunch of granules in the gutters, there’s nothing to worry about: Those are just loose, extra ones. But if it’s been 10 or 15 years, that’s a sign of a bigger problem. “Granules help keep the sun off the asphalt,” says McGavic. “Once the granules fall off and the shingles start to bake, the quality will deteriorate in a hurry.”

How much time you’ve got left: If you don’t have a new roof and you just started to notice the granules in the gutter, the shingles are probably halfway through their lifespan, McGavic estimates.

6. The shingles are covered with moss or algae.

Okay, this is actually no reason to panic. “It’s just a cosmetic issue,” says McGavic. People may choose to replace the roof just because they don’t like the aesthetic (and a lot of new shingles are algae-resistant). Whatever you do, don’t take matters into your own hands by power washing or scraping away at the green stuff. “That’s a good way to chip off all the granules, which again, essentially renders your shingles useless.”

How much time you’ve got left: As long as you can stand the look. Consider a wash that’s one part bleach and one part water to remove algae or moss. Or look into zinc strips that can be installed at roof peaks and will eventually eliminate the problem. If you do decide to replace your roof, consider tiles that are algae-resistant, like GAF Timberline roofs, aGood Housekeeping Seal holder.

7. You can see sunlight from your attic.

You don’t need us to tell you that this isn’t a good sign … because it’s not! If light can get in, so can rain, cold air, and snow. Check for light and also look for water stains. “If you find any, watch them over a few rainfalls and if they change shape or size, that means you’ve got an active leak,” says McGavic.

How much time you’ve got left: It depends on the extent of the damage, so call a pro. Small leaks can be patched, but larger ones, structural damage, and the age factor might make it wise (and cost efficient) to replace your roof sooner rather than later

8. The entire roof is sagging.

This is when you should panic. “A sagging roof is typically an indication of a structural issue,” explains Graham. There could be a problem with the decking in the attic or, worse, with the supports in the foundation. “You’re not necessarily in imminent danger, but this is the kind of thing that’s a lot easier to take care of when it’s small and localized, than when it has progressed.”

How much time you’ve got left: Not much, if you do nothing. If you see a depression or a droop, call in an expert as soon as you can.”

To contact us to undertake a Roof Inspection, please call 705 957 3642 or e-mail us at david@countyhomeinspection.ca

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