Ladder to the attic

Allow your home inspection to go a little smoother

Another tip for our great agents: Have you ever been at a home inspection and had an issue because the attic access was blocked by hats, sweater, old boxes and that Monopoly Game that hasn’t been used in 15 years? Home Inspectors usually don’t want to move personal items for obvious reasons (all the Monopoly hotels and houses fall onto the floor). So, last minute either the agent or the seller have to deal with moving stuff out of the closet. I’ve seen sellers get a little bent out of shape when I have to ask them to move stuff.

Why not tell your seller upfront so that things can go a little smoother at the inspection?

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termite exterminate

Get a termite inspection and guarantee before the home is marketed!

A suggestion for all of our great listing agent friends. Get a termite inspection and guarantee before the house is put on the market. That way the issue is dealt with before it becomes an issue! Buyers hate surprises and termites can turn people off. But if its been dealt with ahead of time you can just have the treatment documentation available at the time of the home inspection. Plus it will be guaranteed for the new buyer. It peace- of-mind. It’s a win, win!

If no termites are discovered during the termite inspection great, just show the exterminator’s paperwork to the buyer for peace-of-mind.

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An attic built with black spruce wood was photographed in Ontario, Canada. Vermiculite insulation and stored boxes show in the image.

Asbestos/Vermiculite Insulation

Is there asbestos in your attic?

BTW, There is lots more information on this subject at

Some houses have a product known as vermiculite in the attic. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral which has been ground up into little particles and was placed in many attics as insulation. Unfortunately, it’s very lightweight and particles can easily become airborne. Most of the vermiculite used for insulating purposes in the United States came from a mine near Libby, Montana, the same location where asbestos was mined for years. The EPA recommends treating all vermiculite insulation as if it is contaminated with asbestos because it was mined at the same location. Even though attics are not part of the living space in a home, because asbestos is so small and lightweight, there is a very good chance that particles have entered the living space of the home through attic access covers, light fixtures and other openings between the attic and the living space. You may want to check your attic to see if you have a material that looks like the stuff depicted in the photographs. If you do, think about contacting and asbestos testing and removal company. It may or may not contain asbestos, but it’s good for you to know.

People are concerned about asbestos because it is a known carcinogen when it is “friable”. Friable means that it can be broken up when squeezed with your hands. When it is friable it can easily become airborne and inhaled into your lungs where it can cause long-term damage. Asbestos insulation in the attic and around pipes is considered friable. Although there is no law in place it says that you must remove it, it’s a serious consideration. Professional asbestos removal contractors can remove it safely.  There is lots more information at

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Water Heater

In-ground Oil Tanks


An in-ground oil tank can obviously be an environmental concern. If the oil tank is leaking it will be your responsibility to remove ALL the contaminated soil regardless of how much soil must be removed. If the contaminated soil goes underneath the foundation of your home or your neighbor’s home, the process for removing the contaminated soil becomes much more complex because the foundation must be supported as the soil is removed. This is known as “under pinning”.  In addition, all of the soil is considered a contaminated material in must be disposed of properly. The implications of an oil leak in the ground are huge. Oil leaks can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in remediation efforts.

Fortunately, for Long Island Home Inspection, the authorities have made it quite easy to have an oil tank abandoned in place. It simply requires contracting with a company that is licensed to deal with oil tanks and having them perform the abandonment. The abandonment includes removal of the oil in the tank, and then filling the tank with either sand, foam or concrete. Then, all of the pipes are removed and you receive paperwork evidencing that the tank was properly abandoned. Keep this paperwork on file for future proof that the work was done properly. It’s as simple as that. Typical abandonment costs range from $800-$1,500 depending on the size of the tank. At that point, you either install another oil tank or convert to gas. A new oil tank can be installed above ground or in the basement. You can even have an oil tank put back into the ground but it must be Fiberglas and is typically guaranteed for 30 years.

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Chimney sweep cleaning a chimney standing on the house roof, lowering equipment down the flue

Chimney Inspections on Long Island

Most people don’t realize how important chimney inspections are. But, consider the impact of a blockage in the chimney, even something as simple as a birds nest. If a blockage occurs in the chimney flue pipe servicing a gas or oil fired furnace or boiler, the implication is: carbon monoxide can be forced into the home. And carbon monoxide can be extremely dangerous and even cause death. In the flue pipe servicing fireplace, if the chimney contains creosote or other byproducts of a wood fire, a chimney fire can develop which can spread into the rest of the house and obviously be extremely dangerous

Most national certification associations recommend an annual chimney inspection to make sure that the chimney is structurally sound, and that the interior components of the chimney are in a safe condition. There are different levels of inspection:

1)    A level 1 chimney inspection involves examining all of the visible components of the chimney.

2)    A level II chimney inspection involves examining all of the components of the chimney by using special tools such as cameras and mirrors etc.

3)    A level III chimney inspection may involve dismantling portions of the chimney for even further examination.

When the ownership of a house is transferred, it triggers the need for a level II chimney inspection. From a practical perspective, it only makes sense because who knows how long it has been since the chimney inspection and cleaning took place. Thereafter, it is recommended that the chimney be inspected and cleaned if necessary on an annual basis.

By the way, if the source of heat is converted from oil to natural gas, building code requires that a metal flue pipe be inserted in the chimney for safety reasons. Without the metal flue pipe, the interior of the chimney can become deteriorated and create blockages and the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.

When performing Long Island home inspections, we attempt to determine if a metal flue pipe was installed if there was an oil to gas conversion. However, very often this cannot be determined. This highlights the need for chimney inspections on Long Island.

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Tree ripped out of the ground

What Did We Learn from Hurricane Sandy about Trees Falling

When hurricane Sandy struck with very strong winds, thousands of trees fell on Long Island. Since the hurricane, as I’ve driven around various locations on Long Island I’ve seen the internal parts of the fallen tree structure. What I’ve noticed is that many of these trees have “hollow” centers that have been rotted out. The only thing holding these trees up is wood at the perimeter of the tree. The tree is very substantially weakened and structurally compromised as a result of the wood rot. So, there was no outside indication that the internal part of the tree was rotted out until it fell. So what does this mean for Long Island home inspections?

When there are large trees on the property, particularly trees that have a chance of falling on the house, they should absolutely be assessed by a tree specialist. Arborists are considered the cream of the crop relative to treat specialists. According to Wikipedia In the USA and Canada a Certified Arborist (CA) is a professional who has over three years of documented and verified experience and has passed a rigorous written test from the International Society of Arboriculture. Other designations include Municipal Specialist, Utility Specialist and Board Certified Master Arborist (BCMA).

And arborist is qualified to assess the condition of the tree and advise you regarding the best approach to ensuring personal safety as well as protecting your house. When we do home inspections on Long Island we always advise our clients to seek the advice of an arborist when there are trees close to the home. When should you do this? You should do this now, before another storm strikes. Keep in mind that many trees may be in a weakened structural condition as a result of hurricane Sandy. So now is the time to have your trees assessed for substantial safety reasons.

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