Author Archives: Home Inspector

About Home Inspector

I am a home Inspector in Defiance Ohio and serving all of Northwest Ohio. ASPEC has inspecting properties around NW Ohio since 2007 and have set the bar at what a home inspection should be - down & dirty inspections, awesome customer service, detailed reports, and an unrelenting desire to ensure you get your money's worth . We're definitely not your average, mediocre, patty-cake, inspection company that are so "popular" among real estate industry colleagues. www.AspecResidential.com

Handyman in Defiance Ohio and NW Ohio

Due to requests and need for a trustworthy and competent source, ASPEC Residential Services, LLC is now including Handyman Services in Defiance and NW Ohio! No job is too small, trivial, etc. if you need something done, let us know! We can also help with your businesses, organizations, groups, parties, etc. (setting up, taking down, moving things, etc.)

Some services and ideas that we can provide:

  • Hanging flat screen TV’s
  • Gutter cleaning
  • Small/medium house repairs and improvements – interior, exterior, in the attic or in the crawl or basement
  • Attic, basement, and crawlspace insulation
  • Yard work
  • Hanging pictures, decor, Christmas and other holiday decorations
  • Shelving and storage solutions
  • Furniture assembly
  • Cleaning and organization
  • Winterizations
  • Inspections
  • Painting
  •  And anything you may not want to do or don’t know who to call, just let us know and we’ll try and make it happen!

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Exterior freeze-proof hose bibs improperly pitched

One of the more common issues I often run into while traversing around houses, throughout Defiance and Northwest Ohio, is back-pitched exterior freeze-proof hose bibs (a.k.a. faucets).  A freeze-proof faucet gets its name because of its longer design that allows water to be shut off where it’s warmer – at the interior. See here:

Plumbing - hose bib - frost free faucet

Thanks for the awesome graphic, The Family Handyman

When I say back-pitched, the hose bib is positioned or sloped toward the home/water supply instead of being pitched toward the exterior, as it’s supposed to be. Here’s a couple of examples:

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Back-pitched toward the house

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Another wrong installation

When the hose bib is improperly back-pitched, like these examples, they’re no longer “freeze-proof” and are now “freeze-prone” because of the improper installation.  To reiterate what I said earlier, the whole idea of the “freeze-proofness” (Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s a word) is to keep the water in the warmer interior area. When it’s back-pitched, the water gets trapped inside between the top of the shut off seal and the exterior spout.  That trapped water can then freeze and damage or split the faucet if it stays cold long enough. That being said, the only time they will usually “leak” is when the faucet is operated and water finds it way out of the split.  Here’s an example of a “leaker”, as viewed from the crawlspace:

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Sometimes, homeowners don’t even know they leak, because they only leak when operated.

The faucet should be pitched toward the exterior so that any water can drain out and not get trapped inside, like this:

Plumbing - hose bib - pitch

Most of the time this can be a pretty simple fix and can often be done with plumbers strap or similar to raise the back end up and get the right slope toward the exterior, however, just like any other home repair, that’s not always the case. When in doubt, call a professional plumber to get it done right so you’ll have the water where and when you need it – at the outside of the house.

 

 

 

Attached Garage Fire Hazards

by Nick Gromicko, Josh Frederick, and Kenton Shepard
The purpose of this article is twofold. First, at ASPEC, we’d like you to take measures to keep your garage free from fire. Fortunately, there are ways this can be done, some of which are described below. Secondly, garage fires do happen, and we’d like you to make sure that a fire cannot not easily spread to the rest of your house. While you can perform many of the recommendations in this article yourself, you could hire us to make sure your home is safe from a garage fire.

Why do many garages pose a fire hazard?

  • Where are you most likely to do any welding, or any work on your car? These activities require working with all sorts of flammable materials.
  • Water heaters, furnaces, and boilers are sometimes in garages, and they can create sparks that may ignite fumes or fluids. Car batteries, too, will spark under certain conditions.
  • Oil and gasoline can drip from cars. These fluids may collect unnoticed and eventually ignite, given the proper conditions.
  • Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, motor oil and paint are commonly stored in garages. Some other examples are brake fluid, varnish, paint thinner and lighter fluid.

The following tips can help prevent garage fires and their spread:

  • If the garage allows access to the attic, make sure a hatch covers this access.
  • The walls and ceiling should be fire-rated. Unfortunately, it will be difficult for untrained homeowners to tell if their walls are Type X fire-rated gypsum.
  • The floor should be clear of clutter. Loose papers, matches, oily rags, and other potentially  flammable items are extremely dangerous if they are strewn about the garage floor.
  • Use light bulbs with the proper wattage, and do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Tape down all cords and wires so they are not twisted or accidentally yanked.

If there is a door that connects the garage to the living area, consider the following:

  • Do not install a pet door in the door! Flames can more easily spread into the living area through a pet door, especially if it’s made of plastic.
  • Does the door have a window? We can inspect the window to tell if it’s fire-rated.
  • The door should be self-closing. While it may be inconvenient, especially while carrying groceries into the house from the car, doors should be self-closing. You never know when a fire will happen, and it would be unfortunate to accidentally leave the door open while a fire is starting in the garage.
  • Check the joints and open spaces around the door. Are they tightly sealed? Any openings at all can allow dangerous fumes, such as carbon monoxide or gasoline vapor, to enter the living area.

Concerning items placed on the floor, you should check for the following:

  • Store your flammable liquids in clearly labeled, self-closing containers, and only in small amounts. Keep them away from heaters, appliances, pilot lights and other sources of heat or flame.
  • Never store propane tanks indoors. If they catch fire, they can explode. Propane tanks are sturdy enough to be stored outdoors.
In summary, there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent garage fires from spreading to the rest of the house, or to keep them from starting in the first place.
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Summary Info

The Summary’s intention is mainly geared toward the real estate transaction as a summary of the more pertinent information and/or defects/issues for you and/or your Real Estate Professional to use with emphasis on the more significant repairs and major & safety issues and possible non-functional items, non-accessible/ areas, etc.  The summary is a brief review of certain items, conditions, or material defects, noted during the Inspection, that in the Inspectors opinion, either need attention or are worthy of your attention. These items have either failed in service; pose a health, safety, or environmental concern to the occupants of the property; present a mechanical or structural defect; presents a latent condition that may cause future and/or subsequent issues; is a repair that typically requires reasonable skill/experience/equipment/tools/etc. to perform, or may affect the habitability of the property and/or the function of its systems. REPAIR/SAFETY items may affect the health, safety, or welfare of the occupants, as well as a systems integrity. It should be understood that upon further investigation by professional contractors, other components or items not noted in this summary and/or report may be uncovered or in need of repair for safety/integrity/compliancy purposes. Additionally, the qualified contractor’s job is to perform the diagnosis and correction based on the results of that diagnostic assessment, not ours. In doing that, it’s possible the issue may turn into a “bigger” one or vice versa. We may offer some opinions on diagnosis or potential costs, based on experience or common sources, but our opinions should not be construed as a professional diagnostic assessment or estimate.

Items/Issues on the SUMMARY PAGES will NOT be the ONLY items that need attention in the dwelling, but are simply those of most significance to the Inspector. Please remember though, YOU are the buyer and will be occupying the property, NOT us. So please try and read our report in its entirety and then decide what is important to you prior to making any purchase decisions. Please also understand that, all, a few, or even none of the mentioned items in the summary and/or throughout the report may or may not be significant, in your opinion, taking into account your own personal factors. Please try to keep things in perspective and use all the information, provided to you at the inspection and in the report, to make educated decisions.

Have any noted repairs or defective items completed by licensed, insured, and bonded professional contractors. All repairs should adhere strictly to manufacturer installation specifications, national, state, local codes, and/or the AHJ’s (Authority Having Jurisdiction) requirements. Also note, that the AHJ’s requirements/standards may vary from national/state standards. We recommend that you get at least 3 bids for any major repair work, and that all scope of work documents, warranties, or receipts for the work be provided to you, the buyer (Also, SEE THE ASPEC INSIGHT at the end of the report for more information.) Also, a final walk-through inspection should be carried out the day before closing by the new owners to double check the condition of the property, using this report.

Any use of this report by unauthorized parties is strictly prohibited. This report is the private and sole property of the client(s) and inspection company documented in this report and the signed Agreement and is not transferable. Any responsibility to third or unauthorized parties, who have not signed the Agreement, is denied right here and now by the inspector and/or the inspection company.

 

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Septic tanks: Inspections, operation, & maintenance

Septic Systems

Septic systems treat and disperse relatively small volumes of wastewater from individual and small numbers of homes and commercial buildings. Septic system regulation is usually a state and local responsibility. The EPA provides information to homeowners and assistance to state and local governments to improve the management of septic systems to prevent failures that could harm human health and water quality. 
 
Information for Homeowners

If your septic tank failed, or you know someone whose did, you are not alone. As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining your septic system. Proper septic system maintenance will help keep your system from failing and will help maintain your investment in your home. Failing septic systems can contaminate the ground water that you and your neighbors drink and can pollute nearby rivers, lakes and coastal waters.

 Ten simple steps you can take to keep your septic system working properly:
  1. Locate your septic tank and drainfield. Keep a drawing of these locations in your records.
  2. Have your septic system inspected at least every three years.
  3. Pump your septic tank as needed (generally, every three to five years, but there are many variables & factors).
  4. Don’t dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets.
  5. Keep other household items, such as dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, and cat litter out of your system.
  6. Use water efficiently.
  7. Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the system. Also, do not apply manure or fertilizers over the drainfield.
  8. Keep vehicles and livestock off your septic system. The weight can damage the pipes and tank, and your system may not drain properly under compacted soil.
  9. Keep gutters, sump pumps, and other forms of clearwater from draining into or near your septic system.
  10. Check with your local health department before using additives. Commercial septic tank additives do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and can be harmful to your system.
How does it work? 
A typical septic system has four main components: a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a  drainfield, and the soil. Microbes in the soil digest and remove most contaminants from wastewater before it eventually reaches groundwater. The septic tank is a buried, watertight container typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. It holds the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle out (forming sludge), and oil and grease to float to the surface (as scum). It also allows partial decomposition of the solid materials. Compartments and a T-shaped outlet in the septic tank prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drainfield area. Screens are also recommended to keep solids from entering the drainfield. The wastewater exits the septic tank and is discharged into the drainfield for further treatment by the soil. Micro-organisms in the soil provide final treatment by removing harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients.

Your septic system is your responsibility!

Did you know that, as a homeowner, you’re responsible for maintaining your septic system? Did you know that maintaining your septic system protects your investment in your home? Did you know that you should periodically inspect your system and pump out your septic tank? If properly designed, constructed and maintained, your septic system can provide long-term, effective treatment of household wastewater. If your septic system isn’t maintained, you might need to replace it, costing you thousands of dollars. A malfunctioning system can contaminate groundwater that might be a source of drinking water. And if you sell your home, your septic system must be in good working order.
Pump frequently…
You should have your septic system inspected at least every three years by a professional, and have your tank pumped as necessary (generally every three to five years).
Use water efficiently…
Average indoor water use in the typical single-family home is almost 70 gallons per person per day. Dripping faucets can waste about 2,000 gallons of water each year. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons each day. The more water a household conserves, the less water enters the septic system.
Flush responsibly… 
Dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, and other kitchen and bathroom waste can clog and potentially damage septic system components. Flushing household chemicals, gasoline, oil, pesticides, anti-freeze and paint can stress or destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system, as well as contaminate surface waters and groundwater.
 
How do I maintain my septic system?
  • Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the drainfield.
  • Don’t drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system. Doing so can compact the soil in your drainfield or damage the pipes, the tank or other septic system components.
  • Keep roof drains, basement sump pump drains, and other rainwater and surface water drainage systems away from the drainfield. Flooding the drainfield with excessive water slows down or stops treatment processes and can cause plumbing fixtures to back up.
Why should I maintain my septic system?
 
A key reason to maintain your septic system is to save money! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit. Having your septic system inspected (at least every three years) is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire system. Your system will need pumping every three to five years, depending on how many people live in the house and the size of the system. An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property’s value and could pose a legal liability. Other good reasons for safe treatment of sewage include preventing the spread of infection and disease, and protecting water resources. Typical pollutants in household wastewater are nitrogen phosphorus, and disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Nitrogen and phosphorus are aquatic plant nutrients that can cause unsightly algae blooms. Excessive nitrate-nitrogen in drinking water can cause pregnancy complications, as well as methemoglobinemia (also known as “blue baby syndrome”) in infancy. Pathogens can cause communicable diseases through direct or indirect body contact, or ingestion of contaminated water or shellfish. If a septic system is working properly, it will effectively remove most of these pollutants.

Mudjacking

There was a time when the only fix for sinking sidewalks, patios, driveways, or uneven foundations was to rip out the old slab and pour a new one, and spend a great deal of time and money in the process. However, today, a less intensive & invasive alternative known as mudjacking (also called concrete leveling, pressure grouting or slabjacking) pumps a masonry A sunken concrete sidewalk in desperate need of repairslurry underneath a sunken/compromised concrete slab to raise it back into place.
Concrete sinks or settles because its underlying support, for various reasons, gives way. The original concrete may have been installed on dirt or other underlying materials that hadn’t been compacted sufficiently, for instance, or soil erosion may be responsible. And some soil simply settles naturally over many years. Regardless of the cause or issue, sunken concrete can lead to many structural defects, including failed retaining walls, foundation settling, uneven junctions of concrete, sunken sidewalks, uneven concrete pads, cracked foundations, and bowed basement walls. If left uncorrected, these defects can lead to unwanted water runoff and major structural problems.
And, aside from the shabby appearance and hindered functionality of an uneven sidewalk, steps or walkway, sunken concrete can create major trip hazards for which the owner is liable.
The mudjacking processGrounds - mudjacking
First, small holes are drilled into the concrete, through which a slurry is pumped that may be composed of various materials, such as sand, cement, soil, limestone, bentonite clay, water or expanding polymers. The particular mixture is based on the type of application and the mudjacker’s preference. The slurry then fills any gaps and forces the concrete to rise back into place before the drilled holes are plugged up with cement, leaving the only visible evidence of the repair. Over the next day, the slurry solidifies and stabilizes the subsoil, making further sinking unlikely.

While this is not an overly complicated procedure, it should be performed only by a trained professional, as amateur workmanship may cause even more extensive damage. Drain pipes, sewers and utilities must be located and avoided, and the area must be adequately evaluated as to whether it can survive the mudjacking process.

Some advantages of mudjacking over re-pouring cement include:The only evidence left of mudjacking is the patched hole through which the slurry was pumped. Photo produced by InterNACHI member Mike Morgan.
  • Efficiency. Mudjacking requires less equipment and fewer workers. Adjacent plants and landscaping are also disturbed less, as are neighbors, tenants and passersby by the loud noise, dust and cumbersome equipment;
  • $. Mudjacking typically costs roughly half as much as concrete replacement because there is little need for new cement or the removal of old concrete. The overall cost is based on the area of concrete that must be lifted, which may be as little as $5 per foot. Thus, for a 5×4-foot job, it might cost just $60 or so, although the mudjacker may charge more if the area is in a hard-to-reach location;
  • Speed. Mudjacking takes hours, while certain concrete pours may take days; and
  • Environmentally friendly. Mudjacking makes use of perfectly good concrete, which would otherwise be sent to a landfill.
Limitations of Mudjacking
Mudjacking may be an ineffective waste of resources in the following situations:
  • The concrete surface is spalling or otherwise damaged. The mudjacking process might further damage the surface, which will still be defective even after it’s raised back into place.
  • The concrete has risen, caused by clay or expansive soil, which is prevalent around Defiance and Northwest Ohio. Typically, the only solution for this defect is to bust out the old, discard, & then re-pour the cement.
  • The cause of the settling is not addressed. If the soil has settled due to some external factor, the problem must be fixed or the soil will sink again in the future. For instance, a gutter downspout that drains onto a concrete edge must be corrected in order to avoid the need for future repair.
  • The underlying soil is swampy.
  • There is a sinkhole beneath the concrete.
In summary, mudjacking is an inexpensive, fast and clean way to level a sunken concrete slab.
by Joshua Frederick & Nick Gromicko

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The “Savvy” Homeowner – Chimney Repair

Chimney repair – certainly not a DIY job, in the majority of cases.  IMO, the only thing a homeowner should be doing is punching in a phone # on their cell phones for a chimney professional, especially if the chimney is masonry.  Of course, there’s always going to be “that guy.” You know, the one who insists on doing it all.  A MacGyver mentality. Saves the money. Defines macho.

Enter the Savvy Homeowner.

Problem: Masonry chimney has a hole that needs filled because there’s a new furnace that doesn’t need to vent into it anymore.  Additionally, the bricks and mortar are deteriorated from moisture due to your savvy rooftop repairs.

Savvy homeowner answer: Duct tape.  Lots of duct tape. Enough layers will seal off those dangerous water heater gases from entering the building envelope.  It also helps hold all the deteriorated masonry together.

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Everyone with half a brain knows magical flex tape should have been used instead 😉

Flex-Seal-Flex-Tape-Patch

 

Buying a house that you think may contain some “savvy” homeowner workmanship/repairs/contraptions? 

Call 419-782-8924 or visit aspecresidential.com 

24-104638-jpeg-t104638ASPEC Residential Services, LLC – Northwest Ohio Home Inspections

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Josh Frederick, CPI®