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Your Heating System Reminder

This is a reminder, as we head towards winter, it’s a good idea to have your heating system serviced. If you don’t have a service contract, we recommend getting one. Heating systems have many components that should be checked for proper operation and safety. Also, if your heating system is not serviced regularly, you may be paying extra for fuel because of poor performance. If your heating system is not serviced, it may be more prone to break down.

In addition, you may be very glad you have a service contract with a good HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) company if your heating system fails in the dead of winter. Usually, if you have a service contract, you’ll get fast service because you have an account. Without a service contract, you may get put at the bottom of the service list. Especially when it’s very cold, because the heating company takes care of their existing customers first, especially if they’re busy.

For more related information click on the following link: https://safeharborinspections.com/blog/

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Ontario, Canada - September 2, 2021:  House under construction, with the main frame nearing completion.

What is TYVEK?

Everybody has seen Tyvek house wrap on the sides of homes and commercial buildings during construction. What’s it for? Well, Tyvek blocks air movement and sheds water but allows moisture to travel through it. Houses build up quite a bit of moisture from cooking, breathing, washing, and bathing. And houses need to “breathe” (which means moisture needs to be able to exit the building so that it doesn’t cause wood rot or mold inside the walls.) It comes in rolls and gets applied to the outside of the structure between the plywood sheathing and the siding.

Tyvek is made of olefin, (which is very lite) and was patented by DuPont in 1956. Its use has been growing ever since. It’s very functional and easy to install.

So now, when you drive by new construction and see Tyvek house wrap, you’ll know what it’s all about!

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Change Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector Batteries

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors often don’t function because the batteries are dead. Using the spring and fall time changes as a reminder to change the batteries is not a bad idea. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors save lives! Obviously, if the batteries are dead the detectors are not going to function, possibly putting you and your loved ones in harm’s way.

However, a better approach is replacing your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with high quality units. It’s like anything else, you get what you pay for. In my opinion, the best protection for you and your family, as well as your home is a new top-of-the-line combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector system.

There are two types of smoke detection technology: one type is better at detecting slow smoldering conditions, and the other one is best at detecting actual fires. State-of-the-art smoke detectors include both types in 1 unit. Now, take this 1 step further and include a carbon monoxide detector in the same unit. (Carbon monoxide can’t be seen, is odorless, and can be deadly, so a detector is extremely important.)

Take that same unit and add some smart features. A system that I personally have direct experience with is Google’s Nest Protect. It’s an excellent high-quality product! But there are other systems on the market today with similar functionality.

  • They can speak clearly in plain language and warn you as to what the nature of the problem is and where it is.
  • They test themselves on a periodic basis and warn you clearly in plain language before their self-test.
  • The units are interconnected so that if one unit detects a problem all the units tell you about the problem.
  • These units are Wi-Fi connected and periodically report to your phone or other device as to what has been happening with the system over the last 30 days (for example).
  • Get fast alerts on your phone or device when the system detects a problem.
  • When you approach one of the detectors at night the unit automatically illuminates your pathway.
  • You can “hush” the alarm with your phone.
  • You can test the system with your phone

They can be hardwired to your home’s electrical system, or you can purchase them with a lithium battery that lasts at least 10 years ( which meets New York State laws.)

Of course, the system can be monitored by a central station monitoring company.

It is recommended that these units be installed on the ceiling, one unit in each bedroom, and 1 outside of the sleeping area (in the hallway), at least one detector on each level including the basement.

Nest protect detectors are over $100 each.  I personally feel that they are the best. There are many manufacturers that are substantially cheaper and have lots of excellent features so shop around.

For more related information click on this link: https://safeharborinspections.com/

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Is Spray Foam Insulation any good?

When it comes to saving money associated with heating and cooling, air movement, between the outside and inside the structure is the source of most energy loss. Stopping air movement is critical and is the “low hanging fruit on the energy savings tree”.

Most homes we inspect use fiberglass or cellulose insulation bats on the floor of the attic. This type of construction requires attic venting which provides a free flow of air from the attic to the outside. Making matters worse, bat insulation is not good at stopping air flow at penetrations in the attic floor where electrical, plumbing and HVAC lines are going through the attic floor to the living space below. So there’s a flow of conditioned air from the living space, through the attic, and then to the exterior of the home through the attic venting system. Therefore, there is a substantial heating/cooling loss from inside your home through the attic and to the exterior of the home. And obviously, we all pay dearly for energy to keep the house warm or cool depending on the season.

These days, many homes utilize spray foam as an insulation material which is typically applied directly to the underside of the roof and doesn’t require attic vents. All the nooks and crannies are sealed with the spray foam and as result, air movement, from inside the home to the outside is pretty much stopped, providing a substantial savings.

Some people have inquired about the impact of spray foam insulation and the possibility of indoor air quality issues due to a lack of fresh air. It’s an excellent question!

Spray foam insulation provides such a good “air block” that if the entire house is insulated with spray foam it could cause a problem with indoor air quality (IAQ), and mechanical ventilation may be needed due to a lack of fresh air. There are lots of different systems that can introduce fresh air, some of them are energy efficient. Energy recovery ventilator (ERV) systems provide a controllable amount of fresh air in the structure and are energy efficient. In an older house there is probably enough air leakage through the walls, windows, doors, and other openings that more than likely there’s enough natural ventilation in the structure without adding a mechanical ventilation system even if the attic is insulated with spray foam.

So, in our opinion, spray foam insulation applied to the underside of the roof is the best way to go with insulation. And by the way, while you’re at it, it pays to seal any air gaps in the basement perimeter walls especially at the top of the foundation where it meets the wood framing. If you decide to explore the installation of spray foam, keep indoor air quality in mind. A good AC contractor or spray foam installer should be able to help guide you with this concern.

If you are interested, all our previous newsletters are available on our website blog. Click on the following link and it will take you right to it.

https://safeharborinspections.com/blog/

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Termites

Where do termites live?

Termites live in the ground, not in wood. Mature termite nests can contain 60,000 to 2,000,000 termites. They live in the ground because they don’t like light, and they don’t like dryness, so below ground is perfect. When they enter the structure looking for food, they make a “shelter tube” made of mud. They usually start eating the wood which is closest to the point of entry which is typically the sill plate (the first piece of wood above the concrete foundation). Then, they start spreading out.

Termites can do a lot of damage which can be expensive to repair. It’s best to get an annual termite inspection so you catch them before there’s too much damage. Fortunately, there are effective means of treatment. But, if you don’t have it inspected, you will not know termites are active in your house. Termites can be inside of a wall, and you would never know it. When there is substantial termite damage on a 2 x 4, for example, you can poke a screwdriver right through it with ease.

Again, for the reasons above, it’s best to get an annual termite inspection from a licensed exterminator. By the way, Safe Harbor Inspections is not an exterminator. However, we do termite inspections as part of a home inspection.

If you are interested, all our previous newsletters are available on our website blog. Click on the following link and it will take you right to it.

https://safeharborinspections.com/blog/

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Falling Trees

I live in Lloyd Neck where during the last storm we actually had a tornado! Our street is no more than a mile long and at least 250 trees fell in a matter of minutes when the tornado struck. I noticed that the houses that were damaged from fallen trees had trees that were too close to them. The houses that were not damaged had trees that were far enough away from the house as to not cause any damage to the structure when they fell.

In these days of global warming, we highly suggest that you have an arborist or expert tree contractor evaluate the trees surrounding your home and remove the ones that are threatening it. And we suggest that you put it on your schedule ASAP rather than wait for Mother Nature’s schedule. You will be glad you did during the next storm!

If you are interested, all our previous newsletters are available on our website blog. Click on the following link and it will take you right to it.

https://safeharborinspections.com/blog/

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Possible Health Risks From Dirty Air Ducts

Like it or not, we are coming into the heating season! Be aware that Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) can be substantially worsened from dirty air ducts and other air distribution components. Think about dust buildup on floors, furniture, and other surfaces in your home. It seems like within a few weeks clumps of dust buildup and need to be vacuumed. Now think about your air ducts. They probably haven’t been cleaned since they were installed. Dust buildup is inevitable! And where there is dust, there is a potential for degradation of indoor air quality. Dust can Harbor all kinds of things that we don’t even like to think about, such as dust mites, mold, bacteria, and even viruses. According to the EPA “there are examples of ducts that have become badly contaminated with a variety of materials that may pose risks to your health. The duct system can serve as a means to distribute these contaminants throughout a home.”

However, before you hire somebody to clean your system, we recommend that you have an HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) contractor evaluate your air distribution system in order to determine if it makes sense to have your system cleaned. Here’s an excellent in-depth article from the EPA which provides a lot of information that you should consider. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/should-you-have-air-ducts-your-home-cleaned

If you are interested, all our previous newsletters are available on our website blog. Click on the following link and it will take you right to it.

https://safeharborinspections.com/blog/

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Service Your Heating System

As we head into the fall, it’s a good idea to have your heating system serviced. If you don’t have a service contract, we recommend getting one. Heating systems have many components that should be checked for proper operation and safety. Also, if your heating system is not serviced regularly, you may be paying extra for fuel because of poor performance. If your heating system is not serviced, it may be more prone to break down.

In addition, you may be very glad you have a service contract with a good HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) company if your heating system fails in the dead of winter. Usually, if you have a service contract, you’ll get fast service because you have an account. Without a service contract, you may get put at the bottom of the service list. Especially when it’s very cold, because the heating company takes care of their existing customers first, especially if they’re busy.

If you are interested, all our previous newsletters are available on our website blog. Click on the following link and it will take you right to it.

https://safeharborinspections.com/blog/

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Closeup view on air filter. Filtration concept.

Changing Your Air Filter

Proper operation of your air conditioning unit requires a clean air filter. If the air filter gets clogged, it can cause the air conditioning unit to freeze up and stop working or at least degrade its functionality.

We’re not at the end of the cooling season yet. People often forget to change the filter this time of year. But it’s easy and it’s cheap, and it’s a good idea to change it every 3 months. By the way, there are good filters and there are cheap filters. We recommend a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Absorbing filter). HEPA filters are substantially better than the cheap ones. If you want to go to the next level, talk to your air conditioning service company about electrostatic filtration which utilizes electricity and HEPA filters to remove about 99% of particulates including many strains of mold, bacteria, and viruses. By the way, all these suggestions apply to hot air heating systems. In the winter, the air in your home is often very dry which leads to more particulates in the air which makes it even more important to have a good filtration system.

If you are interested, all our previous newsletters are available on our website blog. Click on the following link and it will take you right to it.

https://safeharborinspections.com/blog/

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bulkhead

Ever wonder why things fall apart?

 

Ever wonder why things fall apart?

It seems that real estate is in a constant state of aging, and we all know what happens with aging! This is a picture of a bulkhead that was probably installed about 20 years ago. When it was new it looked great and now it doesn’t. Soil is eroding from the yard through the wall and into the water. It will need to be replaced soon.

There is a concept in physics called MAXIMUM ENTROPY. This means things go from organized (good condition) to disorganized (bad condition). For instance, if you drop an egg on the floor, it goes from organized in its shell to a disorganized mess on the floor. That’s nature, and it can’t be changed! It could be said that real estate is in a constant state of falling apart, unfortunately, that’s just how it is.

Of course, there are different materials that can be used with different expected useful lives, along with better designs and installations that can result in a longer expected useful life. For example, if the wall was made out of natural stone, and if it was installed correctly, it would last a long time, even 100 years, or more.

So, does this happen to every component in real estate? YES. But things deteriorate at different rates. Wood that is subject to moisture is prone to rotting quickly. Whereas AZEC (made of PVC/plastic) is not prone to rotting and can therefore last a long time.  A cheap roof may be designed to last 10 years versus a slate roof which can last hundreds of years.  Some water heaters may be designed to last about 10 years. Versus a high quality stainless steel water heater which may be guaranteed for life.

If you are interested, all our previous newsletters are available on our website blog. Click on the following link and it will take you right to it. https://safeharborinspections.com/blog/

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