CSST Bonding

The CSST type gas line shown has not been bonded properly, that is only ELECTRICAL TAPE to cover the exposed piping.

The gas company and master electrician state that this is correct and does not need to be bonded. I downloaded the directions to do my own research into it again.

Here is what I located in the directions for this brand of piping used.

The TracPipe® CounterStrike® gas piping system shall be bonded in accordance
with these instructions and local codes.
In the event of a conflict between these
instructions and local codes, the local codes
shall control. The piping system is not to be
used as a grounding conductor or electrode
for an electrical system.

Then in a large box this stated in large bold letters on page 55:
Failure to properly bond the TracPipe®
CounterStrike® flexible gas piping system
in accordance with NEC/NFPA 70 may
lead to damage to the CSST system in the
event of a lightning strike.
• A lightning induced fire in the building
could lead to serious personal injury or
significant property damage.
• Lightning is a powerful and unpredictable
natural force, and it has the capacity of
damaging gas piping systems due to arcing between the gas piping system and
other metallic systems in the building.
• If the building to be piped is in a high
lightning flash density area or a region
with a high number of thunderstorm days
per year, consideration should be given to
utilizing the Lightning Risk Assessment
method given in Annex L of NFPA 780 for
a determination of the need for a lightning
protection system.

So even if the local code does not require bonding it is still a safety defect, I will keep putting this into my reports as a safety issue and in the event that the gas line gets damaged, the electrician and/or gas company can take responsibility for the damage and or deaths. Manufacturer has no liability because they put the warning to inform the installer that it needs to be bonded.

National Fuel Gas Code – 2018
The NFGC requires bonding to help reduce possible electric
shock hazard and potential tubing damage. The specific
requirements in the 2018 NFGC are contained in Section
7.12 as follows:
7.12 Electrical Bonding and Grounding.3
7.12.1 Pipe and Tubing other than CSST. Each aboveground
portion of a gas piping system other than CSST that is likely to
become energized shall be electrically continuous and bonded to an effective ground-fault current path. Gas piping other than
CSST shall be considered to be bonded when it is connected to appliances that are connected to the appliance grounding
conductor of the circuit supplying that appliance.
7.12.2 * CSST. CSST gas piping systems and gas piping systems containing one or more segments of CSST, shall be electrically continuous and bonded to the electrical service grounding electrode system or where provided, lightning protection grounding electrode system. The bonding jumper shall connect to a metallic pipe, pipe fitting, or CSST fitting. The bonding jumper shall not be smaller than 6 AWG
copper wire or equivalent. The length of the jumper between the connection to the gas piping system and the grounding electrode system shall not exceed 75 ft (22 m). Any additional grounding electrodes installed to meet this requirement shall be bonded to the electrical service grounding electrode system or where provided, lightning protection grounding electrode system. Bonding connections shall be in accordance with NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®. Devices used for the bonding connection shall be listed for the application in accordance with UL 467, Grounding and Bonding Equipment.
7.12.3 Arc Resistant Jacketed CSST. CSST listed with an arc
resistant jacket or coating system in accordance with ANSI LC
1/CSA 6.26, Fuel Gas Piping Systems Using Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST), shall be electrically continuous and bonded to an effective ground fault current path. Where any CSST component of a piping system does not have an arc resistant jacket or coating system, the bonding requirements of 7.12.2 shall apply.
Arc resistant jacketed CSST shall be considered to be bonded
when it is connected to appliances that are connected to the
appliance grounding conductor of the circuit supply that appliance.
7.12.4* Prohibited Use. Gas piping shall not be used as a
grounding conductor or electrode.
7.12.5* Lighting Protection System. Where a lightning
protection system is installed, the bonding of the gas piping shall be in accordance with NFPA 780, Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems, 2008.

Here is a link to the insallation manual:

Prepare Your Home For Climate Change

Whether you believe in climate change or not there is no denying the weather has been changing in the last few years.  With extreme storms, strong winds, snow, flooding, extreme hot and cold, we are all feeling a change in the air.

It is time to take in account the climate change when planning maintenance and updates to your home. There are some small steps that every homeowner can do to help prepare their home.


When shopping for a new roof, look at roofing materials that will protect your home against a wide variety of disasters. With the average roof lasting around 20 years, and most experts forecasting even more extreme weather to come, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Be sure to perform roof repairs and maintenance annually to have your roof, this will keep you from unexpected surprises

Insulation and Ventilation

  • Sealing your home with proper insulation and caulking can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs. Each year take a close look around your house to find any air leaks or drafts and work to reduce or eliminate them.
  • If your attic isn’t insulated sufficiently, it’s time to invest in insulating and air sealing out the heat and cold. Not only will an insulated attic reduce heating and cooling costs, it will also prepare your home for the more extreme weather that’s likely to come.
  • Adding insulation provides strong protection against cold and heat, but you need to make sure that your home is also properly ventilated. Proper ventilation will keep the attic dry and cool. The attic should have 1 square foot of ventilation for every 300 feet sq. feet of attic space


  • Even small climate changes can lead to plumbing failure. Water and air temperature changes will result in pipe bursts. Make sure your pipes can withstand colder weather and flooding. It may a good idea to have a professional come to your home to conduct a water audit, and also replace any leaky toilets, wasteful faucets or outdated irrigation equipment.
  • You can also install Smart products, like a Water Leak and Freeze Detector. These smart sensors will detect water leaks and freezing pipes before they cause damage in your home.

January is National Radon Action Month.

January is National Radon Action Month.

What is radon? Radon is a naturally occurring gas in rocks, soil, and groundwater that you cannot see, smell, or taste. Radon is a radioactive gas produced when uranium in soil decays; it can be found all over the United States. Radon gas moves up through the ground into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation, becoming trapped inside.

You can’t see, smell, or taste radon, but it can be harmful—it is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States among the population, and the primary cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon is estimated to cause over 20,000 deaths each year, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA estimates that about one out of every 15 homes have elevated radon levels. In the Driftless area it is closer to one out every 10 homes have elevated radon. Check out the map below.

Any home can have a radon problem. Testing is the only way to know if radon levels are high in your home. If radon levels in your home are above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), the EPA recommends taking action to reduce your exposure.

Tri-State Home Inspections LLC does radon testing using a continuous radon monitor with results provided as soon as the test period is done, with a minimum of 48 hours from the time the test is started.

There are advantages to using a continuous radon test:

  • The continuous radon monitor has the ability to time integrate the radon measurement. Most continuous radon monitors, as a minimum, integrate hourly
  • Most models of continuous radon monitors come equipped with other environmental sensors to simultaneously measure other parameters like; ambient temperature, barometric pressure and relative humidity.
  • Most continuous radon monitors have the ability to collect and store their measurement data. This data can then be downloaded and used to generate various reports about the radon measurement.

Test kits can also be purchased from most hardware stores or the local county office may provide them. Test kits will need to be mailed into a lab to be analyzed and usually take 1-2 weeks to get the results.

If your home has high concentrations of radon there are ways to reduce it to acceptable levels. If you need a professional, you may wish to look at the list of certified radon mitigators for your state. Radon problems can be fixed by a do-it-yourselfer with the right knowledge and skills.

Risk Mitigation – What To Worry About With Your Home

Risk Mitigation – What To Worry About With Your Home

When purchasing a house or taking care of the home you have, keep in mind every house has problems whether they are 200 years old or 20. Usually what I find during an inspection is most of the problems is from previous home owners lack of maintenance and updating over the years.  In general, older houses I see are built better than new ones and doing updates will make an older house into a great home.

I tell a lot of people when inspecting a home, if the foundation and roof is good everything in-between can be fixed. But this is where you need to talk professionals about the cost because it is easy to get in over your head and you never want to have more in your home than you can get back out. Research is very important, so you know how much money to put into a house and still be able to get it back out when you decide to sell.

A good real estate professional and home inspector is important when you are looking for a house. The home inspector and real estate professional work for you and you are in charge. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into buying a house, before making the final purchase you need to be comfortable with the house and expectations of repairs and updates.

Here are areas to look at when buying a house and planning for updates

Foundation and structural problems. When first purchasing a house, it is very important to be sure the home is structurally sound because these problems can run into the 10’s of thousands of dollars to repair and on occasion it is cheaper to tear it down and build new house on the land.

Electrical system.  Many older houses may still have fuse panels with only 60-amp service, knob and tube, ungrounded or aluminum wiring that may need to be updated. A house should have a minimum of 100-amp service with most getting upgraded to 200-amp service

There are several reasons why malfunctioning, old or faulty wiring represents a huge problem for a few reasons. Some of them include:

  • An old electrical system creates a fire hazard, putting you and your loved ones at risk. One of the biggest causes of house fires is bad wiring. When the wiring becomes exposed or heated or when sparks are created, materials around it get ignited which eventually leads to a big fire.
  • The risk of electrocution increases. If the wiring gets old and there are signs of wear and tear, then the electrical current won’t be transferred properly. The insulation may have holes in them. In both these cases, there will be a serious risk of electrocution.
  • The lifespan of your electrical appliances will be cut down significantly as the faulty wiring won’t be able to manage the power in a safe manner, as it once did, and it may short your appliances. Further, the faulty wiring and electrical system may not have the capacity to support modern appliances which will cause your washing machines, dishwashers and microwaves to wear out quickly.

The cost to upgrade the electrical will depend on what’s to be done, the cost can be anywhere from $2500 – $20,000 depending on what you want from just a new electrical service to removal of old wiring and installation of new grounded wire.

Heating system. If the heating system has not been updated, maintained or in poor condition, the heating system can become a serious health and fire hazard. Depending on what the home has for heat will decide on the expense. Most houses will have a forced air gas or fuel oil furnace, boiler or electric heat.

When updating the heating system is can be as cheap as just a new furnace for $2500 or as high as $30,000 if you need a boiler, air conditioning, new duct work or hot water pipes and registers installed.

Another concern is many houses have the duct work or water pipes wrapped in asbestos. This can be large expense if it needs to be removed, that many new home owners do not think about.

Inefficient windows. Older house windows were single pane with poor sealing causing a large amount of heat loss in the home. There are many styles of insulated double, and triple pane windows available today, with replacement being easy in older homes. But the cost will be up there depending on how many windows you need and quality, not uncommon to spend $10,000 – $20,000 to upgrade the windows.

Your home inspection list of 8 missteps to avoid

Once your offer has been accepted, the next step is getting through your inspections. As the buyer, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared & know what to expect — and we’re here to help with that.

We’ve compiled a list of the eight biggest home inspection missteps that cost buyers money. Read them over to make sure you go into this process with your best foot forward:

1. Skipping the inspection entirely

You’ve probably heard that waving your right to inspections is a powerful negotiating tool to getting your offer accepted. While this is true, it’s also a risk. When you skip inspections, you’re essentially agreeing to buy the property, regardless of any damage that may be present. You’re also agreeing to take financial responsibility for the necessary repairs.

In contrast, if you elect to have a home inspection done, you’ll have the opportunity to walk away from the deal, if the damage is too extensive for you to handle.

You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons to decide whether not the extra bargaining power is worth it.

Ask yourself: Is this your dream home? Will you be devastated if it goes to someone else? Are you financially equipped to handle potentially-costly, unexpected repairs? Would you feel more comfortable looking at another home where electing to perform a home inspection is not a deal-breaker?

2. Hiring someone uncertified

As the buyer, you’re responsible for hiring the inspector of your choice. However, that doesn’t mean that you can bring in just anyone. While each state has its own specific requirements, most insist that in order for an inspection to be considered valid, the inspector must be properly licensed, certified, and up-to-date on their educational requirements.

You should look into your state’s specific regulations to make sure that any inspector you hire will make the cut, but in general, it’s a good idea to hire someone certified by one of the three, main associations. They are the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).

3. Neglecting to read reviews first

That said, being properly certified isn’t the only quality that you should look for in a home inspector.

Just as you would with any other contractor, you should do a little research to get a sense of their work history before hiring the person that you feel is the best fit. Reading reviews is a great way to know what you’re getting into.

Ideally, you’ll want to hire someone who has quite a few positive reviews to choose from. In particular keep an eye out for the following: Was the inspector on time? Was he or she easy to work with? Were the buyers able to understand the inspection report without too much difficulty? Were any mistakes discovered after-the-fact?

4. Having unrealistic expectations

The term ‘home inspection’ can be a bit vague, so it’s not all that surprising that many buyers aren’t sure what to expect. It’s important to know that this inspection only covers certain interior elements of the home – things like the electrical and plumbing, heating and cooling systems, and the condition of windows.

However, exterior elements like the roof, the sewage system, and any other exterior structures on the property are not covered. While you are, of course, welcome to have any of these other factors looked at, you’ll need to elect additional inspections in order to do so.

While putting your offer together, you should ask the agent you’re working with if any additional inspections are appropriate.

We’ve compiled a full list of home inspections we recommend you get right here.

5. Not showing up for the inspection

While the inspection report will give you a sense of the scope of the repairs a home needs, it’s not the same as seeing it with your own eyes.

The best thing you can do, as the buyer, to ensure that you’re going into the sale with open eyes is to attend your inspections. The home inspector will be there to explain any problems to you and answer your questions, if needed.

Arrive on-time and accompany the inspector as he or she examines the property. You should finish with with a realistic picture of the severity of any damage and a firm idea of when you can expect to have a report in hand.

6. Skimming the inspection report

Sometimes inspection reports can get a little long and dense, so buyers will make the mistake of skimming it rather than reading the whole thing. Unfortunately, this can have unexpected consequences, especially if you should happen to miss a huge – or expensive – issue.

The reality is, the inspection report is your get-out-of-jail-free card. If a problem is discovered during the inspection that’s too big for you to handle, you can walk away from the deal and get your money back – as long as you cite the problem during negotiations. If you don’t mention it, but discover the problem later, there’s no going back. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before your money is on the line.

7. Negotiating poorly

Most buyers wish that they could ask the sellers to fix all of the problems found on the inspection report. While that would be ideal, it’s also unrealistic. Negotiations are a give-and-take, after all, and it’s a much better idea to make sure that sellers feel compelled to fix the most important issues with their home, rather than letting them cherrypick the easiest ones from a long list.

When negotiating, we recommend that you focus on the two or three problems that are most important to you and chalk the rest up to the cost of homeownership.

Keep in mind that structural or mechanical issues are often big-ticket fixes that you’ll want the seller to handle. Smaller fixes that can be done by a handyman can often be taken care of at a later date and at little cost to you.

8. Forgetting to collect documentation

If your seller does agree to do some repairs, you’ll want to be sure to collect any documentation on the work that was done. Contractor invoices can give you reassurance that the repair was made by a qualified professional and will also give you someone to turn to in the event that there’s another problem down the road.


This article originally appeared on OpenListings.


Drying Out a Flooded Home

Once a home has been exposed to a large volume of water, either floodwater or rainwater, steps must be taken to dry the home out, assess damage, and plan for repairs and restoration.

Flooding may be quick but drying out a home is a time-consuming effort. Allowing natural ventilation and evaporation to work is better for the home than the use of heated forced-air or air conditioning systems. The rapid drying out of a historic building using hot air power drying systems can cause irreparable harm to significant features of the building.

Before starting to dry out your home, make certain to address health and safety concerns. Safety must come first; do not endanger yourself, your family, or other occupants. Assume all power lines are live. Do not trust the fact that power may be off all over the neighborhood; turn off the power to your house. Check for the odor of leaking LP or natural gas and turn off these services. Be aware that floodwaters may be contaminated with sewage or animal waste and present a health hazard. During clean up, protect eyes, mouth, and hands, and use disinfectants to wash hands before eating. If you are uncomfortable when entering your house and have any question regarding personal safety, do not go inside, but have a professional make an assessment.

Make a photographic record before you begin to clean up the damage. Documentation of the damages will be beneficial when negotiating with insurance companies or other agencies

Make temporary repairs to roofs and windows to prevent additional water from entering the building as you work to dry it out. Plan on temporary repairs lasting a minimum of six months. Temporary repair options include the use of tarpaulin, 30- or 90-pound felt paper, or plywood covered with tarpaper.

Water saturation affects a home in three ways:

  • Water causes direct damage to materials. Wallboard disintegrates; wood can swell, warp, or rot; electrical parts can short out, malfunction, and cause fires or shock.
  • Mud, silt, and unknown contaminants in the water get everything dirty and are unhealthy. Floodwater is more damaging than rainwater.
  • Dampness promotes the growth of moisture-related mold, mildew, and fungus that leads to dry rot.
Efforts to promote natural and controlled drying out of the home should start at the attic. If the insulation is wet, remove it and dispose of properly. After being wet, most insulation is ineffective, but it will continue to hold moisture for a long time and will create high moisture conditions which will damage metal, masonry, and wood.

Remove all water-soaked items stored in the attic for treatment. The weight of water-soaked boxes can cause cracking in the plaster ceilings of the floor below. Open windows and vents to allow fresh air to circulate. If your electrical system is safe and you have an attic fan, turn it on.

As you enter rooms, inspect ceilings carefully. Wet plaster and sheetrock are very heavy and can be a hazard. Be aware of bulging ceilings that may hold trapped water. If rainwater has collected in the ceiling, the rainwater will find its own route into the floors below. Collect water in buckets by poking holes at the edge of the bulging ceiling to release the water.

Plaster responds to drying out much better than sheetrock; however, durability depends on the plaster mix, the original application, the degree of water saturation, placement, and the type of lath used. Plaster over metal lath is likely to require replacement. Wood lath may expand if saturated, causing the plaster keys to break. Check for loose plaster and plan to reattach it using plaster washers. Plaster ceilings can be temporarily shored by using 2x4s nailed together to form a “T”, then wedging the top of the “T” to press plywood against the ceiling.

Most plaster walls can be saved if damaged by clean rainwater. Drain water that may be held within the wall cavity by removing the baseboard and drilling holes through the plaster several inches above the floor. Use cordless or hand drills to avoid electrical shock and be careful to avoid wiring within the walls. Remove any insulation if wet via the baseboard removal and allow the wall cavity to dry out thoroughly.

If sheetrock has been exposed to water for less than two hours, it can probably be repaired. If the sheetrock was exposed to floodwater for more than two hours, it will be saturated by contaminated water and require complete replacement.

Open windows in all rooms, even if there is no evidence of moisture retention. If the windows are swollen shut, remove the inside stop bead to free window sash. The use of window fans will help draw fresh air through the building, helping to dry out wall cavities between interior and exterior walls.

Wash down wood features, including trim, doors, mantels, and stairs, to remove mud and silt. Mold and mildew can be cleaned off using a weak solution of Clorox and water or commercially available disinfectant.

Remove wet carpets and furniture from the house. Drying out these items in the house only adds to the moisture level within the house. Remove sheet vinyl or linoleum flooring to allow for maximum evaporation.

If wood floors are coated with mud, wash down with fresh water. Floorboards may begin to warp as they dry, but further drying may bring the boards back to their original shape. The use of weights or shoring on the wood floors during the drying process may lessen the occurrence of severe warping and buckling. Remove vapor barriers and insulation from beneath the floor to allow for complete air circulation. Do not use heating, air conditioning, or other forced air to promote drying of wood floors. Rapid drying can promote cupping of the floorboards as the top surface dries out faster. Drying out floorboards may take several months.

If the duct work has standing water, wash it out with clean water. Replace electrical receptacles if water levels reached high enough to cover them.

If your basement is flooded, do not rush to pump it out. Draining the basement while the surrounding ground is saturated may create uneven pressure on the basement walls and floor resulting in cracking or collapse. Once water surrounding the house has drained off, lower the water level in the basement by two or three feet, mark the water line, and wait overnight. If the basement water level rises, then it is too early to fully pump out the basement. If the water level is stable or lower, then pump out another two or three feet and again check the water level overnight.

Water-damaged household furnishings including textiles, books, photographs, paintings, and furniture should receive proper treatment to minimize damage and ease repair and restoration. In general, wet mud should be rinsed off objects with clean water before air drying

Remember that air circulation is the key to completely drying out a structure. Heaters or air conditioners should not force the drying process. If you force your building to dry too quickly, additional damage to the building elements will occur.

Why Every Home Needs a Dehumidifier

Why Every Home Needs a Dehumidifier

Every basement in this area needs a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air, improving the usefulness of basements by controlling the dampness and potential damage to your home and possessions.

Humidity is the leading cause of mold growth in the basement.  Mold and mildew flourish when the relative humidity level is above 80%; therefore, all basements—finished or unfinished—should be kept at or below 50% relative humidity. I have seen where regular vents are installed in the basement to exhaust the moist air with no makeup air. Just sucking the air out of the basement will not maintain the proper humidity levels in the basement. When you pull air out of a basement, it pulls makeup air in either through the exterior or from the upper levels of the house. On a hot and humid day, the air from the house and the outside air will have a high moisture content thus introducing more moisture into the basement through the makeup air.

There are signs that you need a Dehumidifier:
•          Window and door condensation.
•          Mold spots on ceiling and walls.
•          Musty smell of odor
•          Recurring spring runoff dampness

What is a dehumidifier and how does on work?
A dehumidifier is essentially a refrigerator that never got the storage area. The basic mechanical function of a dehumidifier is the same as a refrigerator. Compression and expansion of a gas is used to lower the temperature of metal coils to freezing temperatures.

However, instead of the cooling action being directed into a closed box, a dehumidifier is designed to blow warm moist room air over these cold coils. The moisture in the room air condenses on the coils to become liquid water. The water then drips into a drip collection pan, or to a drain. The room air, now freed of much of its moisture, returns to the room slightly warmer than it was.

Dehumidifiers are controlled by a device known as a humidistat. This is an adjustable rotary switch which detects moisture in the room’s air. It automatically turns the dehumidifier on or off as it is needed, based on the setting you choose. If you wish, you can set the dehumidifier to the maximum setting for continuous operation.

The condensed drips go into a pan that will need to be dumped when it is full, in the warmer months this can be several times a day depending on the moisture level in the basement. I recommend making your dehumidifier be self-draining. This can be done by installing a hose to it and running to a drain, set the humidity level and you are good.

If you do not have a floor drain there are a couple solutions:

  • Installing a condensate pump that will pump the water to sewer system
  • Place the unit on a shelf high enough to drain into a sink
  • You could also drain it into a 5-gallon bucket, so you don’t have to dump as often
Do you need to perform maintenance on your dehumidifier?
Yes, there is some maintenance that will be needed. You should check the coils at least seasonally and keep them clear of dust and dirt. If the unit has a removable front cover, there may be a foam filter inside that should also be cleaned.

The purpose of this cleaning is two-fold. First, dust and dirt can insulate the coils from the room air, decreasing the efficiency of the dehumidifier. Secondly, this same dirt will get damp and possibly freeze. Freezing is the most damaging thing that can happen to your dehumidifier because it will run continuously but not dehumidify the air.

Remember that every basement in this area needs a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from air, improving the usefulness of basements by controlling the dampness and the potential damage to your home and possessions. So, unless you prefer to use your basement mostly for growing mushrooms and designer mildew, there should be a dehumidifier in your future!

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

With the days lengthening and weather warming, spring is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects. Now that the threat of winter storms has passed, you can look for damage and make any needed repairs, as well as prep your home and garden for summer. Here is a lost of helpful tips on what to watch for from proper irrigation to mosquitos and termites.

1. Inspect your roof.

Winter storms can take quite a toll on the roof. When spring arrives, start by making a simple visual inspection of your roof. I recommend to walk your roof to inspect it, but It doesn’t require a ladder. Use binoculars or a camera or smartphone with a telephoto feature if you need to. Look for missing shingles, metal pipes that are damaged or missing or anything that simply doesn’t look right. If you notice anything that needs closer inspection or repair, call a roofer.
2. Clean gutters and downspouts.
After the last frost has passed, it’s important to have your gutters and downspouts cleaned and repaired. ‘Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause the wood trim at the eaves to rot, and that can invite all kinds of critters into your attic space
Having your gutters and downspouts cleaned early in the season can also help prevent damage from spring rains. ‘Gutters and downspouts should be clean and running free. If your downspouts are installed properly, water is diverted away from the house so that no water collects around your foundation. I recommend a minimum of 6 feet.
3. Reseal exterior woodwork.
Wood decks, fences, railings, trellises, pergolas and other outdoor structures will last longer and stay in better condition if they’re stained or resealed every year or two. Take this opportunity to make any needed repairs to woodwork as well.
4. Paint exterior.
If you’re planning to repaint your home’s exterior this year, spring is a good time to set it up.
5. Inspect driveways and paths.
Freezing and thawing is rough on concrete, asphalt and other hardscaping materials. Take a walk around your property to look for damage to walkways, paths and driveways, and schedule repairs as needed. Asphalt can often be patched, but damaged concrete may need to be replaced entirely.
6. Check screen doors and windows.
Screens are designed to let the breeze flow in and keep bugs out – but they can only do their job if they’re free from holes and tears. Before setting up your screens for the warm months ahead, be sure to carefully check each one and repair any holes or tears, no matter how small. You can find screen repair kits at most hardware and home improvement stores.
7. Check sprinkler and irrigation systems.
Checking your sprinklers or irrigation systems in the spring can save water – and save your plants.
Tips for checking your watering system:
  • Run the system through all the zones manually and walk the property.
  • Make sure none of the heads are broken or damaged.
  • Adjust any heads that are spraying the house, especially windows, as this can cause moisture problems.
  • Adjust heads that are spraying the street, sidewalk or porches to avoid wasting water.
 If you don’t know how to maintain your sprinkler system, call a professional to do it. You’ll save money on your water bill and protect one of our most valuable natural resources.

8. Check for signs of termites.

Beginning in March and going through May or June, be on the lookout for these winged insects. ‘Termites swarm in the spring, If there’s a bunch of winged insects flying out of a hole in the woodwork, that’s probably termites. Call a licensed professional pest control company. You’ll save money and trouble in the long run.

9. Prevent mosquitoes.

In recent years, we’ve become more aware of the potential danger mosquitos can pose to our health. West Nile virus and Zika virus are just the latest diseases caused by these winged pests. The best way to prevent mosquitoes around your home is simply by getting rid of any standing water. ‘Walk around your property. If you see anything or any area where water stands, fix it, tip it, get rid of it or maintain it regularly.

10. Schedule air-conditioning service.

I see a lot of air-conditioning systems that are just not taken care of. Just because it gets cool doesn’t mean it’s working efficiently. To get the longest life out of your cooling system and keep it running as efficiently as possible, change the filters at least once each season, and hire a licensed professional to service the equipment before the start of summer.

House Grading

In over 2,400 inspections, I consistently find one defect 95% of the time, negative grading. Negative grading is when the soil around your home is sloped towards your foundation, most foundation and water problems can be directly connected to negative grading causing hydrostatic pressure against the foundation.

Hydrostatic pressure is the water pressure against your foundation, water weighs slightly more than 60 lbs. per cubic foot. If the soil around your foundation is saturated with water, there could be tens of thousands of pounds of hydrostatic pressure against the foundation wall. This makes it likely that water will find its way into your basement, as well as causing foundation problems with cracking or bowing.

Repairing negative grading usually is relatively inexpensive and easy to correct but needs to be done correctly or there may be more harm done than good. But if the the driveway, patio or sidewalk is causing the negative slope the repair will be much higher and may require professional services.

Here are several examples of what I find that looks good as I walk up to the home but upon further investigations may be causing problems:

  • Rock being used for grading
  • Mulch used for grading

Using rock or mulch is deceptive in promoting what looks like a positive or proper grade of soil. Remember mulch and rock sits on top of the ground surface, water will sit in the rock and mulch is to retain moisture, think “giant sponge”. Rock and mulch can be used for cosmetic purposes after the grading is done correctly.

I recommend that homeowners use black dirt to grade 1/2 inch a foot for the first 10 feet away from the foundation or 1 inch a foot for 6 feet away from the foundation to have proper run-off of water away from the foundation. This may require removal of concrete, asphalt, plants or shrubs. After achieving the correct slope you may replant the shrubs or plants.

In the event that your yard will not allow positive drainage, then you may have to dig down and install a swale or French drain to divert the water away from the foundation.

Gutters and downspouts are another extremely important element in water control. Keep gutters clean and downspout extensions in place (6 feet or more). Paint the inside of galvanized gutters, which will extend the life. Shortly after a rain or thaw in winter, look for leaks at seams in the gutters. These can be re-caulked before they cause damage to fascia or soffit boards. If no gutters exist, it is recommended that they be added.

Water is a great force many people underestimate, but causes the most harm to our homes, with a little forethought and planning these problems may be avoided.

My Home Stinks – What Is It and What Can I Do

My Home Stinks – What Is It and What Can I Do

There are times when I am at a home inspection and there is a smell in the home that usually is not strong but persistent and annoying. There are many areas odors can come from and simple maintenance that can repair them to keep your home smelling like you want to live there. I will explain many common smells in the home and what you can do to remedy the annoyance.

I am not talking about animal smells, that is a whole subject on its own

Sewer Odor:

Sewer odor can come from many areas in the home, but here are some common areas to look first

  • Drain traps, if there is a drain that has not been used in while; the water will evaporate and allow sewer gas to enter your home
  • Damaged or broken waste line in the home, this will allow sewer gas to enter and build up in your home
  • Improper venting of the sewer system, this also will allow sewer gas to enter the home

Toilet Smells:

Many times, a bathroom will have a persistent smell of sewer and urine.

  • The wax ring may be bad and leaking, if the toilet rocks or your see moisture around the wax ring, it’s probably bad
  • If the wax ring is bad, the toilet will need to be pulled and the wax ring replaced
  • There is the potential that the toilet is cracked, then the toilet will need replacing
  • Damaged toilet flange, not allowing the toilet to seal correctly
    • This should be performed by a qualified plumber

Sink smells:

If there is a smell noticed around a sink and the trap has been checked and is good, there are several areas to check

  • Check the sewer line for any cracks that would allow sewer gas to escape
  • Check the overflow for any debris and food that may have gotten stuck in it.
  • Food and debris stuck just below the drain lid or under the pull up stopper in the bathroom drain

Garbage Disposal Smells:

Garbage disposals are a common area of odors, because of everything people like to put in them. They are required to be cleaned.

  • First you want to clean the rubber flaps to remove trapped food and don’t forget to get under the flap
  • I recommend running a couple cups of ice with cold water, this will break food particles loose allow the water to wash them down the drain
    • Next put lemon or orange rinds to help remove deposits and give a clean aroma

Dishwasher Smells:

Dishwashers like disposals will require cleaning also. It’s a good idea to clean it monthly. There are several dishwasher cleaners that can be purchased, they work good enough but what I recommend to my clients is:

  • Remove the lower basket and clean out all visible debris, then put the basket back in
  • Put a cup of bleach on the top basket and run a wash cycle
  • Dump the excess left in the cup and pour in a cup of white vinegar and run the dishwasher though a new clean cycling allowing it to go through the dry cycle

Sewer Smell from Hot Water:

Hot water can have a sewer smell if there is bacteria in the water because the hot water will react with the bacteria. Water high in sulfur will give the water a smell like rotten eggs. This is not harmful to drink, but the smell is not pleasant.

  • To help with the bacteria, you can have a professional shock your well
    • Shock chlorination is the process by which home water systems such as wells, springs, and cisterns are disinfected using household liquid bleach (or chlorine). Shock chlorination is NOT a recommended method for treating recurring bacteria problems.
  • A home owner can also install special water filtration systems to remove the bacteria

Fireplace Smoke Smells:

If the home is using a wood burning fireplace, the chimney needs cleaned and inspected annually.

  • Damper needs to be sealed when the fireplace is not in use. When using any vents or dryer in the home it can create a negative pressure pulling air and odors into the home
  • Clean out needs to be sealed also for the same reason above

Performing simple maintenance can help to prevent unwanted odors in your home, making it more comfortable and inviting, for you and your guests.


Feiza, Tom. “Help! My House Stinks”. Working RE Home Inspector. Winter 2018: 22-25