Certified home inspections Fl - Florida Master Home Inspectors, Inc.
Palm Beach: (561) 792-0271
Palm Beach County -
Home maintenance tips:
Water Heater Maintenance
A leaking water heater will do a lot of damage to your home.
Leaking water may seep into carpeting, create mildew and permanently
stain your walls. As awful as this sounds, a faulty water heater can
cause even greater damage. Fire or toxic fumes from a water heater
that is not properly installed or maintained could pose a real threat
to you and your family.
Fortunately, most water heater problems can be avoided with proper
All water heaters should be frequently checked for leaks. It's
important to check the pipe connections, the valves and underneath the
unit. Simple preventive maintenance will help you avoid lasting damage
from a leaking water heater.
Take time to test the temperature/pressure relief valve once a year
to make sure it's working. Be careful when you do. The water in the
tank is HOT and can cause scalding burns. Pull up or push down on the
valve handle; hot water should come out of the overflow pipe. If it
does, the valve is working properly.
Periodically drain a bucket of water from the drain faucet at the
bottom of the water tank. Again, take care not to get burned by the
hot water. Draining a bucket of water will remove sediment from the
tank bottom that could corrode the unit as well as reduce its heating
Check all water lines, connections and valves for signs of leakage,
especially where connections have been crimped. With a flashlight,
check under the tank for small leaks that could be caused by rust and
Air Conditioning Maintenance
It is important for air conditioning preventive maintenance to be
performed on your system to avoid problems. Water leaking near the air
handling unit can be avoided with proper air conditioning preventive
maintenance. Normally this is a very simple problem that can be fixed
in less than 30 minutes. Here is a list of what can cause water around
the outside of the air conditioning air handler unit.
The black insulation (called Rubatex) has a tear in it or
doesn't cover the entire suction line. This line normally (in Air
Conditioning air condition mode) operates below the dew point and
will sweat if it is not insulated. It must have a sealed vapor
barrier to be effective.
The insulation surrounding the air handler supply transition or
ductwork is torn. The supply transition and duct can operate (under
the right conditions) below the dew point and sweat. It is important
that the transition have a vapor barrier around it. This scenario is
especially true for those that have oversized units.
The condensation drain line is plugged. Air handling units in
attics should have a secondary condensation pan in case the primary
condensation pan overflows. Occasionally, the secondary condensation
pan will also clog and not drain. Water builds up in the ceiling and
eventually there will be a drip if the homeowner is lucky. If no
drip, then eventually the entire ceiling will fall. In the attic I
always recommend a float switch installed in the secondary air
conditioning condensation drain pan. If the secondary condensation
pan fills, the float switch will rise and cut the whole air
conditioning unit off. This will force the homeowner to look for a
problem or call an HVAC technician. In this case, with the float
switch, the problem can be rectified before water damage occurs.
Algae or a foreign obstruction such as mulch or potting soil can
plug condensation drain lines. These air conditioning condensation
drain lines (either black plastic or white plastic looking pipes)
usually drain out somewhere at the base of the house into a flower
garden. Make sure mulch or soil doesn't plug these condensation
lines up. Adding algae treatment to the lines or pans can prevent
algae. Some people pour bleach in the evaporator condensation pans
once a year. Whatever the way you use to prevent it from growing in
your evaporator condensation pan, know that if steps aren't taken to
prevent algae growth, it will eventually plug the condensation
If the filter is extremely clogged, a duct is collapsed, the
evaporator coils are plugged with dirt or dust because no filter was
kept in the system, or there is a low charge of Freon, the
evaporator coil will freeze. When it thaws, it will overwhelm the
evaporator condensation pan and leak outside the air handling unit.
Rust. Some evaporator condensation pans are made of metal and
can rust through over the years of use. In certain cases, the entire
air handling unit must be changed out. In other cases the evaporator
coils and evaporator condensation pan must be changed. Normally if
the air handler unit is old enough to have a rusted evaporator
condensation pan that leaks, it is time to change the air handling
Unit or Drain Pan Slope. If the evaporator drain pan is not
sloped toward the drain the water will not drain from the evaporator
pan properly. Additionally, the condensation drain piping must be
GARAGE DOOR OPENERS:
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Non Reversing Garage Door Openers A
CPSC Document #523
Homeowners with automatic garage door
openers that do not automatically reverse should repair or
replace them with new openers which do reverse to prevent young
children from being trapped and killed under closing garage
According to reports received by the U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 60 children between the
ages of 2 and 14 have been trapped and killed under automatic
garage doors since March 1982. This is approximately 4 such
deaths per year. Other children have suffered brain damage or
serious injuries when the closing door contacted them, and
failed to stop and reverse its direction.
CPSC urges consumers to check the condition and operation of
their garage door and the opener. A properly operating garage
door will be "balanced." This means that the door will stay in
place when stopped in any partially opened position. A severely
unbalanced garage door could unexpectedly crash to the floor
possibly striking someone under the open door.
To check the garage door, the garage door opener must be
detached from the door while in the closed position. On most
openers manufactured since 1982, a "quick-release" mechanism is
provided which permits the opener to be detached from the door.
To avoid amputation or crushing injuries, homeowners should be
careful when manually operating the door not to place hands or
fingers between door sections or near pulleys, hinges, or
springs. The door should not stick or bind when opened or
closed. If doors are not "balanced," or if they bind or stick,
they should be serviced by a professional.
Once the garage door is operating properly, homeowners should
check to see that the garage door opener's force and limit
settings are adjusted according to manufacturer's instructions.
Check the garage door operator owner’s manual for any
instructions on testing the safety features. One quick test is
to place a 2x4 on the floor of the garage in the door's path. If
the door does not properly reverse on striking the 2x4 then the
garage door opener should be disengaged until the unit is either
adjusted according to the instructions in the owner’s manual,
repaired, or replaced with a new garage door opener. A
professional garage door service should be contacted if the
homeowner is not comfortable with performing these tests,
repairs and adjustments.
All homeowners should disconnect all garage door openers that
have not been certified as meeting the requirements of the
voluntary ANSI/UL standard 325-1982.The standard calls for a
number of safety features not found on earlier openers, and also
subjects new openers to more stringent safety tests.
CPSC cautions consumers that not all devices that open and close
the garage door are necessarily safe. Some old openers are
equipped with a mechanism that only stops the closing door when
it strikes an object, not reversing the door in the process.
Other pre-1982 openers have a device intended to reverse the
closing door when it strikes an object, but for reasons related
to age, installation and maintenance, these products may not be
safe enough to pre-vent entrapment of a child. These openers
cannot be adjusted or repaired to provide the automatic
reversing feature found on later devices.
The CPSC requires that all garage door operators manufactured or
imported after January 1, 1993, for sale in the United States be
outfitted with an external entrapment protection system. This
system can be an electric eye, a door edge sensor, or any other
device that provides equivalent protection. If an electric eye
is used, it should be installed at a height of 4 to 6 inches
above the floor.
Consumers should inspect garage doors and operation of the door
opener every 30 days to verify that the system is functioning
properly. Hardware and fittings should be checked to keep the
door on track at all times. Should a hazard exist, homeowners
should disconnect the automatic opener from the door as
specified in the owner's manual, and manually open and close the
garage door until needed repair/ replacement is completed.
Lastly, homeowners should relocate the wall switch in the garage
as high as practical above the floor in an effort to restrict
children's use of the automatic garage door. Remote control door
operating devices should be kept locked in the car and away from
children. Parents should also tell their children about the
This document is
in the public domain. It may be reproduced without change in part or
whole by an individual or organization without permission. If it is
reproduced, however, the Commission would appreciate knowing how it is
used. Write the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Office of
Information and Public Affairs, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD
20814 or send an e-mail to
Ready for a Home Inspection
Following the recommendations below will ensure a smooth inspection
and speed up the inspection process. Clients and / or Agents should
provide this list to the sellers prior to the scheduled inspection.
1. Clean the House
This sounds simple yet home owners often overlook
this. Home inspectors are people first and inspectors second. As
people, they carry preconceived ideas of how well a home has been
maintained. Clean homes say you care and take care of the house.
2. Be On Time Because the Inspector Will Be
Sometimes home inspectors are early. If an
inspector makes an appointment with you for 9:00
a.m., have the house ready for inspection at 8:30.
It's also common for inspectors to start on the exterior of the home,
so leave the shades down or drapes drawn until you are dressed. More
than one unprepared seller has been "surprised" by a stranger stomping
around in the back yard.
3. Leave the Utilities Connected
The home inspector will need to turn on the
stove, run the dishwasher, test the heating and air conditioning and
so leave the utilities on, especially if the house is vacant. It's
impossible to check receptacles for grounding and reverse polarity if
the power is turned off. Without utilities, the inspector will have to
reschedule, which could delay the closing of your transaction and the
removal of the buyer's home inspection contingency.
4. Provide Workspace around Air Conditioners and Water Heaters
Remove boxes, bookcases, furniture and anything
else blocking access to your air conditioner and water heater. The
inspector will need three to four feet of working space to inspect
5. Keep Pilot Lights Ignited
Many home inspectors will refuse to light pilot
lights because they are not covered for that type of liability. If
your pilot lights are not lit, then important items such as the water
heater, gas stove or furnace will not be inspected and the buyer could
delay closing until those inspections are completed.
6. Provide Access to All Doors, Windows, Attic and Garage
The inspector will need to open and test all
windows and doors, remove additional window locks and provide access
to all of the doors. The inspector will need to get into your
crawlspace and / or attic as well, so keep a path cleared. Move boxes
away from the walls.
7. Leave Keys for Outbuildings & Electrical Boxes
Leave the remote controls for your garage door
opener or a key if the garage is unattached to the house. Unlock the
covers for your sprinkler system, fence gates and electrical box.
Leave a key for exterior building access. Remove child safety covers
from electrical outlets.
8. Empty Dishwasher and Clothes Washer and Dryer
Remove dishes and laundry. The inspector will need to test run the
appliances. Remove any stored items from the microwave. Turn icemakers
9. Clear Away Brush from Exterior Inspection Points
Provide a path around the house. Mow the lawn,
cut down dead tree branches and clear brush and debris from the
foundation, sprinkler pump, pool equipment and air conditioning. Move
trash cans away from the house.
10. Provide Repair Documents
Make available to the home inspector all invoices
and documents regarding remodeling projects or new items such as a
roof or furnace. If you've upgraded the electrical system, installed a
new dishwasher or repaired a leaky faucet, find the paperwork. It will
give the buyer peace of mind to know those items were reinspected.
11. Prepare to be Away for Three Hours Minimum
Often the buyer will accompany the home
inspector, and buyers feel uncomfortable asking questions if the owner
is present. Try to schedule a time for the inspection when you can be
out of the house, and take the children with you. Crate your pets if
you cannot remove them from the premises.
10 Easy Ways to Save Energy in Your Home
By Nick Gromicko, Ben Gromicko, Rob London and Kenton Shepard
Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run
on less energy, and here at InterNACHI, we want to change that.
Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can
be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which
homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want
their homes to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and
systems in home energy-efficiency, InterNACHI energy auditors can
perform in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for
your particular home.
Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good
Federal, state, utility and local jurisdictions' financial
incentives, such as tax breaks, are very advantageous in most
parts of the U.S.
It saves money. It costs less to power a home that has been
converted to be more energy-efficient.
It increases indoor comfort levels.
It reduces our impact on climate change. Many scientists now
believe that excessive energy consumption contributes
significantly to global warming.
It reduces pollution. Conventional power production
introduces pollutants that find their way into the air, soil and
1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house.
As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating
and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be
reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:
Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used in place of
air conditioners, which require a large amount of energy.
Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and
Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. Specifically,
they should be turned down at night and when no one is home. In
most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each
degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours
each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70°F, for
example, saves about 10% on heating costs.
Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat
saves money by allowing heating and cooling appliances to be
automatically turned down during times that no one is home and
at night. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in
some climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy
Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more
efficient sources of heat than furnaces.
At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate
2. Install a tankless water heater.
Demand water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot
water only as it is needed. They don't produce the standby energy
losses associated with storage water heaters, which will save on
energy costs. Demand water heaters heat water directly without the
use of a storage tank. Therefore, they avoid the standby heat
losses required by traditional storage water heaters. When a hot
water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the
unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water.
As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot
water. You don't need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with
enough hot water.
3. Replace incandescent lights.
The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to
lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately
only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest
becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as
light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL),
can reduce energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances
in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the
amount of time lights are on but not being used. Here are some
facts about CFLs and LEDs:
CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than
traditional incandescent bulbs.
LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy.
LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no
4. Seal and insulate your home.
Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most
cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy
efficient -– and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can
improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility
bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can be hired to assess
envelope leakage and recommend fixes that will dramatically
increase comfort and energy savings.
The following are some common places where leakage may occur:
around pipes and wires;
wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;
weatherstripping around doors;
window frames; and
Because hot air rises, air leaks are most likely to occur in
the attic. Homeowners can perform a variety of repairs and
maintenance to their attics that save them money on cooling and
heating, such as:
Plug the large holes. Locations in the attic where leakage
is most likely to be the greatest are where walls meet the attic
floor, behind and under attic knee walls, and in dropped-ceiling
Seal the small holes. You can easily do this by looking for
areas where the insulation is darkened. Darkened insulation is a
result of dusty interior air being filtered by insulation before
leaking through small holes in the building envelope. In cold
weather, you may see frosty areas in the insulation caused by
warm, moist air condensing and then freezing as it hits the cold
attic air. In warmer weather, you’ll find water staining in
these same areas. Use expanding foam or caulk to seal the
openings around plumbing vent pipes and electrical wires. Cover
the areas with insulation after the caulk is dry.
Seal up the attic access panel with weatherstripping. You
can cut a piece of fiberglass or rigid foam board insulation the
same size as the attic hatch and glue it to the back of the
attic access panel. If you have pull-down attic stairs or an
attic door, these should be sealed in a similar manner.
5. Install efficient shower heads and toilets.
The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage
low-flow shower heads. They are available in different flow
rates, and some have a pause button which shuts off the water
while the bather lathers up;
low-flow toilets. Toilets consume 30% to 40% of the total
water used in homes, making them the biggest water users.
Replacing an older 3.5-gallon toilet with a modern, low-flow
1.6-gallon toilet can reduce usage an average of two
gallons-per-flush (GPF), saving 12,000 gallons of water per
year. Low-flow toilets usually have "1.6 GPF" marked on the bowl
behind the seat or inside the tank;
vacuum-assist toilets. These types of toilets have a vacuum
chamber which uses a siphon action to suck air from the trap
beneath the bowl, allowing it to quickly fill with water to
clear waste. Vacuum toilets are relatively quiet; and
dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush toilets have been used in
Europe and Australia for years, and are now gaining in
popularity in the U.S. Dual-flush toilets let you choose between
a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon
flush for solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water
consumption by an additional 30%.
6. Use appliances and electronics responsibly.
Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household
energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that
will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances:
Refrigerators and freezers should not be located near the
stove, dishwasher or heat vents, or exposed to direct sunlight.
Exposure to warm areas will force them to use more energy to
Computers should be shut off when not in use. If unattended
computers must be left on, their monitors should be shut off.
According to some studies, computers account for approximately
3% of all energy consumption in the United States.
Use efficient “Energy Star”-rated appliances and
electronics. These devices, approved by the DOE and the EPA’s
Energy Star Program, include TVs, home theater systems, DVD
players, CD players, receivers, speakers and more. According to
the EPA, if just 10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances,
it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1.7
million acres of trees.
Chargers, such as those for laptops and cell phones, consume
energy when they are plugged in. When they are not connected to
electronics, chargers should be unplugged.
Laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than
7. Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical
Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to
illuminate the home's interior. It can be achieved using the
skylights. It’s important that they be double-pane or they
may not be cost-effective. Flashing skylights correctly is key
to avoiding leaks;
lightshelves. Light shelves are passive devices designed to
bounce light deep into a building. They may be interior or
exterior. Light shelves can introduce light into a space up to
2½ times the distance from the floor to the top of the window,
and advanced light shelves may introduce four times that amount;
clerestory windows. Clerestory windows are short, wide
windows set high on the wall. Protected from the summer sun by
the roof overhang, they allow winter sun to shine through for
natural lighting and warmth; and
light tubes. Light tubes use a special lens designed to
amplify low-level light and reduce light intensity from the
midday sun. Sunlight is channeled through a tube coated with a
highly reflective material, then enters the living space through
a diffuser designed to distribute light evenly.
8. Insulate windows and doors.
About one-third of the home's total heat loss usually occurs
through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy
lost through windows and doors:
Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is
the cheapest and simplest option.
Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is
inserted between the window and the frame. For doors,
weatherstrip around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal
when closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the
doors, if they aren't already in place.
Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A
removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked
glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don't
work, they should be repaired or replaced.
9. Cook smart.
An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The
following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful
ways of cooking:
Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens.
They use fans to force hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby
allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection
ovens use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional
Microwave ovens consume approximately 80% less energy than
Pans should be placed on the correctly-sized heating element
Lids make food heat more quickly than pans that do not have
Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically.
When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the
top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster.
10. Change the way you wash your clothes.
Do not use the “half load” setting on your washer. Wait
until you have a full load of clothes, as the “half load”
setting saves less than half of the water and energy.
Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not
that dirty. Water that is 140 degrees uses far more energy than
103 degrees for a "warm" setting, but 140 degrees isn’t that
much better for washing purposes.
Clean the lint trap before you use the dryer, every time.
Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the
amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks.
Spin-dry or wring clothes out before putting them into a
Homeowners who take the initiative to make these changes usually
discover that the energy savings are more than worth the effort.
However, you should consider that inspectors can make this
process much easier and perform a more comprehensive assessment
of energy saving potential than you can. For a qualified
inspector, visit www.InspectorSeek.com. Ask the inspector if
they are trained in performing energy inspections.