Are Dehumidifiers worth it?

I wanted to share my opinion with you about dehumidifiers. Basically, we feel that all basements should have dehumidifiers. Basements are inherently moist areas. As a result, mold, dust mites, wood destroying insects, and musty smells can develop.

We also feel that all dehumidifiers should have a pump and hose connection so that the water automatically gets pumped out of the structure rather than into a bucket that requires frequent emptying. (Dehumidifiers with a bucket are almost useless because we forget to empty the bucket and the dehumidifier turns itself off.)

Also, dehumidifiers can be adjusted so that they automatically turn off when the air is dry (so they don’t waste electricity). The adjustment dial is called a humidistat and should be set between 30% and 50% to reduce the possibility of excess moisture issues.

So, the bottom line is, properly set up dehumidifiers are absolutely worth it for the comfort and safety of your home. A good dehumidifier with a pump can be had for under $300 and it’s a great investment.

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Trees by a roof

Commercial Building Roofing Costs

While performing our commercial building inspections, we often run across roofing systems that need replacement due to leakage and old age. Dealing with leaky or old commercial building roofs is one of the most expensive maintenance items that building owners have to deal with on a periodic basis (today’s roof materials typically have a life expectancy of 15 to 25 years.) Roof installation costs vary from $3.50 per square foot to $7.50 per square foot. So, a 15,000 SF building roof could cost in the $100,000 range (more or less). The cost can be substantially higher depending on many factors including the condition of the roof deck, the location of the building, ease of access and total square footage of the job.

There are many different types of roofing materials and methods of installation. The 3 most common types of roofs installed these days are Bituminous, EPDM and TPO.

Modified Bitumen roofing systems have been in common use for commercial properties for many decades. This type of roof is also known as “torch-down” or “built-up”.

EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) it is commonly known as a rubber roof and is a single-ply membrane that consists of a synthetic rubber. EPDM has been used on commercial facilities since the 1960s and is considered a tried-and-true system.

TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) is also a single-ply roofing membrane and is becoming a very common roofing material used on commercial properties these days. This roof is a single layer of synthetics and reinforcing material for flat roofs.

So I hope this little bit of information is helpful to you in dealing with commercial buildings. Feel free to call if you have any questions or if there is anything I can do for you.

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Those pesky Termites are insidious!

Webster’s dictionary defines insidious as “having a gradual and cumulative effect: subtle, developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent.”

Often, termites are present but not apparent.  As examples, in a slab construction house, all the wood framing is usually covered with sheet rock.  In a colonial with a finished basement, only a little wood is exposed.  So, we may see no signs of termites but it’s very possible that termites are present and active but not visible.

In many cases, we see termite “mud tunnels” or other signs of termites without seeing any live termites.  In fact we very rarely see live termites, because they are insidious.  A wall can look completely normal and yet when the sheet rock is removed, massive termite damage can become apparent.

Sometimes termite damage is minor and simple to repair.  But sometimes termite damage is very extensive and expensive to repair.

There are too many possibilities to discuss them all in this email, but, our strong recommendation is, every wood structure should be protected with an annual termite inspection.  Even if somebody says “we never had a problem” they should still have an annual termite inspection. The inspection cost is minimal compared to potential repair costs.

I recently called some extermination companies for pricing information.  Annual termite inspections cost range from $100-$135 per year.  Termite treatment ranges from approximately $600-$1,200 depending on the size of the house.  Feel free to reply to this email if you would like an extermination company recommendation.

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What’s a “Package Unit” on a Commercial Property?

When we are doing our commercial property inspections, particularly on strip centers or industrial buildings, we are often asked what is a “package unit”. The answer is, it’sa self-contained air conditioning and heating unit typically mounted on the roof of a single-story building. The package unit is rectangular, about 4 to 6 feet high and has a cooling section, a heating section, and a blower. Usually it’s connected to a gas supply for heat, and electrical for the blower and air conditioning section. It’s clean and simple to install and has a life expectancy of about 15 to 20 years.

I know you probably already know all this stuff, but I hope this little tidbit of information helps!

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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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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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