Are yard depressions a problem?

Sometimes during our inspections, we see a yard depression. Is this a problem? Well, it depends.

As inspectors a few scenarios go through our minds, some with more important implications than others.

Is it a functioning or an abandoned cesspool? Cesspools often get abandoned which entails filling in the old cesspool with soil. The soil may have settled over the years leaving a depression in the yard. It could also be an abandoned cesspool that never got filled in. Is it a working cesspool that is in a deteriorated condition? Is the depression from a tree that got removed? Is it an oil tank? Is it a broken sewer line washing out the soil? Is it a sinkhole?

All these scenarios have different implications. Based on what was discovered during the inspection, the recommendation may be to do nothing, or it may be to contact a sewage company and/or an oil tank specialist for further evaluation. If a deteriorated cesspool is suspected, it should be dealt with quickly due to safety concerns.

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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.


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Is it okay if my house looks like the Ivy League?

While we are doing our home inspections, we often see tree branches or shrubs attached to or leaning on the house. It’s okay but be aware of the potential issues.

Tree branches or shrubs in contact with or laying on the roof or siding often move with the wind and can damage the siding or roofing because of rubbing.

Also, trees, shrubs, and Ivy serve as a ladder for spiders and other creepy crawlers, including termites and carpenter ants, enabling them to crawl under the siding and make their way into your house.

In addition, Ivy growing on wood siding can cause it to rot. Pulling Ivy off wood can cause a lot of deterioration to the point of needing repairs. Ivy has little tendrils that grow into wood and bricks. If you pull the Ivy down, it leaves an unsightly residual appearance.

So, what’s best approach? First, do not let foliage/vegetation come in contact with the house. We always suggest cutting the foliage back to enable someone to walk between the foliage and the house, (all the way around the house). If the foliage is already in contact with your house, cut it back and check for damaged surfaces. If Ivy is growing on the house, cut all the roots/stems where they come out of the ground and let the Ivy disintegrate. But be aware that the Ivy tendrils will not come off wood or masonry surfaces when you pull the Ivy away. Repairs may be necessary.

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.


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Tree ripped out of the ground

Is there a tree threatening your house?

Do you have any trees that are threatening your home?  Based on the last storm, we know how quick the wind can whip up and knock over a bunch of trees.  And just because a tree didn’t fall during the last storm doesn’t mean it won’t fall in the next storm.

There are often no signs of a problem with the tree until it falls and gets cut open.  Often, the interior of the tree is completely rotted making the tree very weak.

Our recommendation is to remove any trees that are threatening the house, period.  It’s not worth taking the chance of having a tree fall on your house and worse yet having the tree hit you or your family members.

So, look at the tree from a distance and see what the worst-case scenario is if the tree falls.  Can it reach your house?

Check out the video link to see a tree that was completely rotted on the inside but looked healthy on the outside. https://youtu.be/AvSaOAIGbf4

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Lawn Sprinklers

Lawn sprinkler systems are often part of our home inspections.  Some of them are small with only a few zones and some of them can have 30 or 40 zones (for larger luxury Properties).

As I’m sure you realize, lawn sprinklers have to be “blown out” at the end of every season in order to avoid freeze ups and broken pipes.  The blowouts usually happen in November in preparation for freezing temperatures in winter.  It’s usually fairly economical ($100 or less for average properties) to blow out sprinkler systems.

In the spring, it’s a good idea to have a sprinkler company turn the system on and check for proper operation on all of the zones.  This is also fairly economical.

We often find sprinkler systems running too long making the ground soggy and prone to disease.  According to the SCOTTS website recommendations, approximately 1 inch to 1 ½ inches of water every few days is a good rule of thumb.  A few days between watering can make the grassroots go deeper and be healthier.  In order to measure how much water your sprinkler system is delivering, you can put some cans at various locations in the yard the yard, then run the sprinklers until the water in the cans is 1 or 1½ inches deep and keep track of the time.  That is the amount of time you should set sprinkler system to run.  Of course, all lawns are different, some soils contain a lot of clay and some soils contain a lot of sand.  So water demands can be different.

Although it’s not code everywhere, it’s a good idea to have a backflow preventer on the sprinkler system.  A backflow preventer stops water from reversing its flow from the lawn and back into your own drinking water as well as the public water pipes.  A backflow preventer is typically installed close to the main water valve by a plumber.

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

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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.

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

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