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How To Be Safe On a Ladder

Several years ago, I climbed a ladder to inspect a roof. When I was done with the roof inspection, I took a step onto the top of the ladder and suddenly the bottom of the ladder started to slide out. I was definitely on my way to a crash landing! Fortunately, my client was there, quickly stabilized the ladder, and probably saved my life.

People fall off ladders all the time, usually with injuries or worse. I know 2 home inspectors that have fallen, one broke his clavicle and another one broke his leg.  According to the American ladder Institute, over 30,000 people each year fall from ladders and get injured. If they had followed basic ladder safety protocols most of these accidents would not have happened.

Although there are a lot of ladder guidelines, here are a few that I feel are the most important. For the complete article and more detailed suggestions, click here: American Ladder Institute

Abbreviated ladder safety suggestions

  • Probably one of the most important things to do is have a second person physically hold the ladder to stabilize it.
  • Always keep at least three points of contact with the ladder, (2 feet, and 1 hand, or 2 hands and 1 foot).
  • Only place the ladder on firm level ground and without any type of slippery condition present at either the base or top support points.
  • Never step on the top rung or step of the ladder.
  • Be very careful not to overreach and lose your balance.
  • Stay off ladders in high winds or storms.
  • Make sure the ladder is in good shape, inspect it first.
  • Wear clean slip resistant shoes.
  • Don’t place the ladder in front of a closed door.
  • Use a rope, a tool belt, or have an assistant convey materials so that your hands are free when climbing.
  • Stay focused.

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What’s that green stuff on my pipes?

Ever see green-gray stuff on your pipes and wonder what it is? Well, it’s due to a bi-metallic reaction, also called electrolysis. If 2 different types of metal are in contact with each other in a plumbing system, chances are corrosion and damage are occurring. It’s also common for us to see it in an inspection where metal pipe hangers are supporting plumbing. Galvanized piping is especially susceptible to damage and often needs replacement. Eventually leaks can develop and plumbing repairs will become necessary.

Our recommendation is to grab a flashlight and look at the pipes, or better yet call a plumber to check it out. If repairs are needed, it will be cheaper now then later after they start leaking!

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Battery technology has improved quite substantially over the last 10 years. Tesla has developed a technology whereby batteries can now be charged by solar power from rooftop panels and then used at night or when it’s cloudy to power up a home. Batteries can be very successfully used to power up lawnmowers and leaf blowers, not to mention cars. Drills. circular saws, chainsaws, jigsaws, nail guns, and all manner of other equipment that has traditionally used electric power cords or gasoline can now be powered by rechargeable batteries. We can thank Elon Musk for driving much of this technology forward.

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Helical piles are basically big screws in the ground that are designed to serve as structural supports. They’ve been around since about 1850 but became very commonly used on long island after hurricane Sandy to shore up foundations. Hurricane Sandy washed out thousands of foundations and in addition, thousands of houses got lifted to stay “Dry” in future storms and high tides. Almost all these homes utilized Helical piles, (which unlike traditional telephone pole style posts) can easily be installed below an existing structure. The first step is to hire engineer who takes soil samples and designs a plan for the type and depth of the helical piles. Once installed they become the new foundation. They are also very useful for foundation repairs.

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What is that musty smell?

Do you have a musty smell in your home? There’s a good chance it could be mold. If you smell mold, you most likely have some mold present.  It might not be visible, but it can still be present.  The rule of thumb is if it’s under 10 square feet it can be cleaned up by the homeowner.  Anything over 10 square feet is recommended to be dealt with by licensed mold professionals.

How you clean it depends on what kind of material the mold is on.  You should speak to a professional before undertaking any mold cleanup to make sure you aren’t going to make the problem worse.  There are antimicrobial solutions available in stores that can be used to clean nonporous materials.  Porous materials can sometimes be cleaned by other methods but in some cases its best to discard them.  If it’s a very porous surface like furniture, carpeting or clothing it’s probably best to throw it away.

If you have had water intrusion such as flooding, or even minor long term water intrusion, the indoor air quality in your home may be seriously compromised. Even high humidity can lead to mold growth.  If you don’t remove the contaminated materials and reduce moisture and humidity it can present serious long-term health risks. Some people are more susceptible to mold allergies than others, but everyone is affected by toxic molds such as stachybotrys which releases mycotoxins.  There are many different types of molds so don’t be fooled by mold because it isn’t black as well as there are many types of molds that release mycotoxins.

If you need professional assistance, here’s how it works. New York State has instituted a licensing program to help people deal with mold problems. First, you contact a licensed mold assessor who will visit the property, analyze the situation, take samples, and send them to a laboratory, and ultimately come up with a remediation plan. Then, you can give the remediation plan to a Mold Remediator who will provide a price based on the plan the Mold Assessor designed. Once the project is completed, the Mold Assessor will come back and confirm the work was done properly and that there is no longer a mold problem.

As an aside, we recommend a dehumidifier for every basement or crawl space. We also recommend that the dehumidifier have an internal pump and hose to dispose of the water without needing to empty a bucket.

Safe Harbor has several licensed Mold Assessors on staff so if you ever have a question about mold, feel free to contact us.

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Real Estate Requires Maintenance

Without maintenance, real estate starts to fall apart. A basic rule in physics is that things tend towards maximum disorder, which means things fall apart. It’s a reality in nature. In case you’re wondering, it’s called Entropy and is dealt with in physics as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. We are mentioning this because it’s real. Roofs eventually leak, siding deteriorates, wood rots, metal rusts, mechanical systems fail, etc. Without ongoing maintenance, you will have bigger and more expensive problems in the future because one problem leads to another. It just happens. So, our motto is “solve the problem before it becomes a problem”.

Most people can usually tell immediately whether the house has been kept up or not. Maintenance definitely affects value. So, obviously the moral of the story is to keep up on maintenance!

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Winter On Long Island: Snow Roof

Let’s face it, the winter on Long Island has been rough on all of us. Snow, sleet, rain, cold, warm, then FREEZING! If you think it’s bad, just imagine how your roof feels. The roof on your home or office is exposed to all the elements and it’s the first place precipitation lands. There are a few different aspects of New York winter weather that can have adverse effects on your roof. Let’s explore them:

Temperature Fluctuation: We all love a warm day in January, especially after a spell of really low temperatures, but this has a big impact on your roof when the temperature drops again. Cold air contracts while hot air expands (think of a hot air balloon). This also goes for the structure of your home and your roof – the roof deck, shingles, flashing, they all contract when it gets cold, but on warmer days they expand. The more the temperature fluctuates between warm and cold weather, the more wear and tear on your roof. Homes on Long Island are not typically built for this.

Another way temperature fluctuation can impact your roof is the infiltration of moisture that turns to ice. When snow on your roof begins to melt and the moisture drains out from under the accumulation, it finds its way into smaller crevices and ridges in between shingles and flashing. When the temperatures drop again when the sun goes down, these small deposits freeze, causing the moisture to expand.This is the cause of winter roof problems and compounds existing roof structure issues.

icicles on roofIce Dams & Icicles: Ice dams are created when heat collected in your attic warms your roof. The ice and snow begin to melt but once they hit the eaves, the moisture cools down again and freezes up. The warm roof continues to melt the snow and ice continues to build up at the eaves causing icicles. While a beautiful symbol of winter, icicles spell major damage for your roof: tearing off gutters, loosening shingles or even worse, causing water to back up and pour into your home or office.[1]

Snow Overload: Blizzards are a part of winter on Long Island, dumping inches and even feet of snow and causing great snow drifts. In more exposed areas with less tree-cover, like the many housing developments we have on Long Island, snow drifts and gusts are more likely. When this happens, snow builds up, putting a lot of weight on your roof, often unevenly distributed. Smooth and steep roofs are ideal for fast drainage, but flat roofs or slightly pitched roofs are more vulnerable. Even more vulnerable are the flat and slightly-pitched roofs adjacent to smooth, steep, well draining roofs which drain off onto the garage, porch, or hastily-built home additions. This can cause roof leaks or worse, collapse.

So what can you do to prevent winter damage to your roof than necessary?

Fast Fixes:

1. Use a long-handle aluminum roof rake to pull down snow before it begins to melt. The extending arm allows you to remain safely on the ground while you remove any buildup of snow and ice, therefore preventing moisture build up and moisture from thawing and freezing up in crevices and ridges.

2. Have a fan running in your attic, pointed up towards the roof, keeping the roof cool and helping to prevent melting water. This will help prevent ice dams and icicles.

Long-Term Fixes

1. Insulate your attic from the rest of your home. This will keep the attic closer to the outdoor temperature, enabling the roof to stay cold enough to help prevent ice melt under snow accumulation.

2. Consider steel roofing. “It goes on fast, lasts a very long time and is recyclable” says Green Building Advisor, Martin Holladay.[2] Not only is it more sustainable, and therefore money-saving, It promotes easy and fast drainage without allowing moisture to get under shingles.

3. Change the slope of your roof. Have you been thinking of remodeling or updating your home? Here’s a great opportunity to increase the slope of your roof to prevent buildup of snow and moisture, and the headaches that come along with leaky or unstable roofs.

There is no stopping mother nature, that’s for sure. But if you take steps to lower the impact of winter precipitation on your roof, you’ll avoid some of the more costly, and far more damaging issues that can arise. Still not sure if your roof is weathering the storm? Have one of our inspectors come out to your home and assess the situation, as well as the impact on other parts of your home. Safe Harbor Inspections Inc provides thorough home inspections that provide great insight to the state of your home. Call 631-259-6607 to schedule a home inspection. For more related information click on this link:



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