Welcome to our Fall 2020 edition of From the Rafters. While it has certainly been an unusual year and a time of change, please know that A-Pro Home Inspection’s commitment to you and your clients remains stronger than ever.
As we look ahead to the challenges of serving home buyers and sellers as the temperature drops, we’ve put together the information you can use: common problems with roof penetrations, reminders to prepare for cooler weather, and some ways your clients can benefit from building a long-term relationship with a certified home inspector.
We’ve also included a few fall facts to share. Ever wonder who invented the candy apple? Read on to find out.
As always, your partners at A-Pro are ready to provide your clients with fair and balanced inspections, and a host of benefits that have made us a preferred choice among real estate professionals since 1994.
Together, let’s make the last quarter of 2020 an exceptional one.
All the best from your friends at A-Pro.
Greg Mangiaracina President, A-Pro Home Inspection
A Penetrating Look at Roof Inspections
There’s more to inspecting a roof than checking on the condition of its surface material for obvious defects, such as asphalt shingles that are cracking, curling, blistering, or cupping. While an important part of the roof inspection, a visual checkup of the roofs covering only tells part of the story. It’s why your buying and selling clients may be surprised to find that even when the surface appears okay, other serious issues may be at play. This is particularly true of roof penetrations.
As the inspectors at A-Pro are well aware, objects penetrating a roof are major candidates for leakage. And as we all know, moisture ranks high on the list of a home’s most villainous foes. Each penetration presents its own unique issues:
Skylights: Skylights are great for illuminating a room with natural light, but they’re prone to leaking if not put in correctly. The inspector will check the type of flashing used and the quality of the installation for signs of leaks or indications that the job was not done properly, such as lack of an inch-wide channel above the skylight. Other problems include wood rot, mold growth, amateurish patching, breaks, and cracks in the glazing, fogging of the lens, and common aging issues like shrinking rubber gaskets and worn-out sealants.
Mechanical Attachments: These include chimney braces, cooling equipment, satellite dishes, solar panels, and other penetrations. For example, solar panels can leak due to poor installation from an inexperienced contractor, incompatibility between the panels and the roofing material, and ill-advised installation on an older roof. Improperly mounted and sealed rooftop air conditioners can leak when it’s raining, when the unit is running, or in both circumstances—a sign that the surface below the unit is deteriorating. Another common problem is leaks from a satellite dish caused by the improper installation of long bolts designed to penetrate both shingles and roof sheathing. Failure to seal puncture holes after installing is a sure way to invite moisture into the structure. Further, roof expansion and contraction can cause bolts to loosen and gaps to appear in the sealant, so it’s important for homeowners to have the satellite dish periodically checked.
Chimneys: Deteriorated, poorly installed, or missing chimney flashing is probably the number-one cause of roof leaking. Wall stains discovered when inspecting the home’s interior will tell the inspector that there are problems up above. Other issues could be a cracked chimney crown, damaged chimney cover, mortar gaps, or badly designed roof valleys that trap snow and ice and become unwelcome gathering spots for pooling water after a rain.
Vent Pipes: Cracks in a vent pipe boot can leave the home vulnerable to leaks. Vent pipes are installed with a flexible boot to prevent moisture penetration; however, these boots are subjected to weather extremes that can cause them to harden and crack over time. Cheap vent boots can succumb to Mother Nature’s freeze-thaw cycle even quicker, leaving openings that let rain inside.
Dormers: Like vent pipes, chimneys, and skylights that jut out of the roof, dormers require correctly installed roof-to-wall or roof-to-valley flashing to prevent leaks—the most common and problematic aspect of both passive and active dormers. Unprofessional workmanship; deterioration; missing flashing; and shortened flashing, which helps to channel water into the house instead of away from it, can lead to minor or severe roof leaking.
Get Ready for Colder Temperatures: Tips to Tell Your Clients from A-Pro Home Inspection
With the arrival of the fall season (officially September 22, the autumnal equinox), it’s prudent for homeowners to invoke the familiar scouting motto, “Be prepared.” There are a number of things to do around the house to get ready for colder temperatures. Here are a few friendly reminders from your friends at A-Pro Home Inspection:
Furnace Service: Before the thermometer plummets, be sure to have your heating equipment checked, cleaned, and tuned by an HVAC specialist. These annual inspections help to ensure your furnace will reliably perform its job during the frigid days ahead. Most importantly, this regular maintenance will help extend the lifespan of the system. While not an exhaustive checkup/tune-up/cleaning as performed annually by HVAC contractors, A-Pro’s visual/operational inspection of a home’s heating system (as part of a complete foundation-to-roof 500-point inspection) lets homeowners know the make and age of the system, whether it functions when turned on, and its expected usable life. It’s important to remind your clients that maximizing the effectiveness and life of the system will depend on proper maintenance moving forward.
Furnace Filter Replacement: Get in the habit of checking the furnace filter every month and replacing it when necessary. It’s an inexpensive measure that could save you a lot of money. A dirty filter won’t allow air to pass through it easily, causing it to work harder and overheat, especially when it’s performing overtime duty during the winter. This risks serious damage to expensive equipment, higher utility bills, and a miserably uncomfortable family on sub-zero nights. Finally, furnaces with clogged filters blow polluted air into the home. A quality, clean filter will prevent dust, dirt, mold, and allergens from building up in the home.
Check Gutters and Downspouts: Keeping gutters clean and well-maintained is critical to move the rainwater away from the home rather than have it collect around the home’s perimeter. During the winter, clogged or damaged gutters can lead to ice dams and roof damage.
Windows and Doors: Drafty windows and doors will cost you money in higher heating bills. Fall is an ideal time to repair failed sealing, caulking, and weather-stripping to make sure the hard work your furnace is doing doesn’t disappear through drafty doors and windows. Not sure where energy might be escaping from the home? A-Pro performs Thermal Imaging Inspections that can pinpoint areas of energy and heat loss. Executed with an infrared camera, these inspections (not part of a traditional inspection) can also reveal structural defects caused by wood-destroying insects, moisture penetration and leaks, overheating wiring, and other problems.
Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Testers: Change batteries and test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. If you suspect carbon monoxide in the home, A-Pro Home Inspection can provide a Carbon Monoxide Inspection which includes a test for carbon monoxide in the home as well as what’s coming from the appliances and fixtures that may be causing dangerous levels. The inspection will also include advice on the proper carbon monoxide testing devices to use, their location, and how to maintain offending appliances.
Five Additional Ways Your Clients Can Benefit from a Quality Home Inspection Provider
As a real estate agent, you understand the necessity and value of having an experienced, certified home inspector like those at A-Pro provide a fair and balanced report. But some of the buying and selling clients we serve may not realize that our complete inspection is only part of what we can offer them. Let your clients know these five ways a home inspector can benefit them beyond the traditional inspection. They’ll be glad you did.
- Ask Questions…Get Answers: Whether attending the inspection or consulting via Skype afterward, sellers or prospective buyers are encouraged to ask questions about the home. A-Pro prides itself on having friendly and knowledgeable inspectors who patiently and completely address client concerns, issues regarding maintenance and safety, the condition and lifespan of systems in the home—whatever is on the client’s mind. This is one of the true but often overlooked benefits of hiring a home inspector.
- Life-saving Information: While it doesn’t happen with every inspection, home inspectors often uncover safety concerns in a home that pose an immediate threat to the structure and its inhabitants. These include the presence of dangerous corrugated stainless steel piping, a faulty temperature release valve on a water heater, incorrectly installed recessed can light, loose handrails, improperly vented gas flues, malfunctioning garage doors, and other hazards.
- Added Inspections: A trusted home inspector can grow into a lifetime asset for a homeowner. A-Pro doesn’t look at an initial home inspection as a one-time deal, but rather an opportunity to form a lasting relationship, sparing the homeowner the hassle of finding multiple vendors for additional services: inspections for wood-destroying insects, lead paint, carbon monoxide, mold, radon, pools and spas, sewer main lines, and others.
- Home Maintenance: A-Pro performs annual Home Maintenance Inspections. These entail checking components that show signs of delayed maintenance or pose a threat to personal safety. A-Pro works with homeowners to access areas that are not examined during a visual-only inspection. The goal is to detect potential system failures or other issues to allow the homeowner to make informed and prioritized repairs while hopefully avoiding major home repair costs. Homeowners who don’t feel they need this often recommend this annual service to aging parents who can no longer keep the home in top shape.
- The Home Inspection Report: A detailed home inspection report, which includes photos and recommendations, serves as an important document that can be referenced by the homeowner as the years pass. For example, A-Pro Home Inspection reports include details of the free foundation level survey of every room in the home that comes with its complete inspection. With this baseline, homeowners can have floor levels rechecked in subsequent years to see if levels have changed—an indication of foundational problems.
FALL FACTS TO SHARE
- Nothing has been spared this year when it comes to COVID-19. This includes Major League Baseball, which has been reduced to a 60-game season played in empty stadiums with cardboard cut-outs sitting in as replacements for actual fans. So we started to wonder—prior to 2020, what was the lowest attendance ever recorded at a Major League game? The answer is zero. On April 29, 2015, the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox played before a vacant stadium at Camden Yards due to fears over rioting in Baltimore. Before that, on a bleak and cold day in September 1882 in Worcester, Massachusetts, a whopping six fans—none of them reportedly cardboard cut-outs—watched the Troy Trojans and Worcesters battle it out.
- On the positive side, the largest attendance at a Major League game was 115,301 folks for an exhibition event between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers March 28, 2008, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
- With Halloween not far away, our thoughts turn to holiday treats. One of the staples of the season are apples coated in candy or caramel, a sure way to satisfy your sweet tooth and extract a loose molar or two. The candy apple dates back to 1908 when William Kolb, a Newark, New Jersey candy-maker, dipped apples in a red cinnamon mixture while making another confection. He later sold the sugar-laden apples in his shop window. Caramel apples have a more recent history, having been invented in the 1950s by Kraft Foods employee Dan Walker.