Dangers of Using Unvented Gas Heaters

Ventless gas heaters sound like a good deal at first:

  • They’re inexpensive.
  • Can be located almost anywhere in a house.
  • Don’t require an expensive vent pipe or much in the way of installation cost.
  • They’re efficient.

These attributes can make them attractive solutions for many homeowners, but make no mistake, they are dangerous. Even with careful maintenance and followed recommendations for safe usage, Unvented gas heaters pose several threats. Here are the three real dangers of using unvented gas heaters.

Fire Risk

  • Improper installation, positioning, and maintenance are the most common reasons why these heaters create housefires. These heaters can still be a fire danger in smaller spaces if placed near combustibles such as furniture, fabrics, and paper.
  • Allowing them to run for too long or running them unsupervised, especially with pets or children, are also dangerous causes for house fires.

Unvented Gas Heaters May Cause Health Issues:

Natural gas and propane heaters significantly impact indoor air quality and, as a result, can become a severe health concern.

  • Ventilation is needed to remove pollutants such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Unvented gas heaters do not have this option, though, which makes them not only dangerous but also falsely boosts their heating efficiency.
  • According to the National Fuel Gas Code, one air change per hour (ACH) would mean that a room that measures 10×20 feet would see a 25% reduction in the efficiency of a 3,800 Btu/hr unit.
    • Since air changes are less likely to happen with an unvented heater, they are seen as more efficient than they should be and are more dangerous.

Carbon Monoxide

  • Carbon monoxide, at low levels, causes long-term health issues. At higher levels, it is toxic and potentially fatal. Carbon monoxide is a non-irritating, odorless, colorless, and unnoticeable gas. Only carbon monoxide deters can detect it.

Carbon Dioxide

  • Carbon dioxide, while not considered toxic, poses several health risks. Increased carbon dioxide exposure causes headaches, dizziness, restlessness, tiredness, elevated blood pressure, asphyxia, and in severe cases, convulsions and coma.

Nitrogen Dioxide

  • Nitrogen dioxide can affect immune systems while raising susceptibility to respiratory infections, even when people are only exposed at minimal levels.
  • Because some nitrogen oxide is always produced in a flame, it is credited with increasing asthma, cough, sore throat, even nausea, and vertigo. Long-term effects of exposure to this gas can be chronic lung disease such as emphysema.

Sulfur Dioxide

  • When gas doesn’t burn completely, some carbon molecules become soot, which is proof of carbon monoxide in the space.
  • If the unvented gas heater uses natural gas, then methyl mercaptan is added to the mixture. It causes that sulfuric rotten egg smell that allows you to notice the leak. When methyl mercaptan burns, it creates sulfur dioxide that can irritate the eyes and the respiratory tract.

Humidity Damage:

  • These appliances also create unwanted levels of humidity and condensation.  This condensation directly results from the heater’s efficiency and the creation of methane that is released into the room.
  • There is no vent to collect the water vapors produced in the creation of heat, the water vapor moves into the open space.
  • Adding too much humidity to an area can result in the following:
    • Wooden furniture may warp and rot.
    • Paint and wallpaper may begin to bubble and peel.
    • Mold may grow within the plaster.
    • Severe health problems for homeowners, especially those who have allergies or asthma.

How to Make Unvented Gas Heaters Safer

Most unvented gas heaters are small units intended for emergency use or in small areas, typically a single room. Some models offer options for minimal ducting or fans.

They can also be wall-mounted or used as fireplace inserts to give a traditional wood fire’s realistic appearance and feel; most range in heat output between 5,000Btu/hour to 30,000Btu/hour. This source of fuel-powered heat can be an excellent form of backup heat, making it a desirable option for some families.

If you decide to use an unvented fuel heater, please adhere to the following advice.

  • Get Professional Installation
    • All unvented gas heaters should be installed by a professional. They are aware of the risks, have taken training, and know-how to spot hazards that the average homeowner may overlook. Their expertise and judgment may protect you, your family, or your home.
  • Use Oxygen Sensors
    • It is recommended that only approved unvented gas heaters be used. Approved heaters will have Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) pilots, which shut off gas flow when oxygen levels in the space drop to 18.5% or lower. For reference, normal air levels linger around 21%.
  • Use Appropriate Spaces
    • A professional installer would be able to determine the proper heating unit for your space; their knowledge is invaluable.
  • Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
    • Homeowners would also be wise to install a digital display carbon monoxide detector that is listed as “sensitive.” Carbon monoxide is deadly because it is odorless, colorless, tasteless, and otherwise undetectable to humans.

While unvented gas heaters are compact and initially cost-effective.

  • Vented gas heaters are typically more economical, efficient and are safer in the long term.

If you decide to use an unvented gas heater in your home, hire a professional to install it. Be sure to maintain the heater properly, install detectors, and follow its general safety protocols. Create some sort of ventilation for the space, and never allow the heater to run more than four hours at a time.

Weather Proofing Old Doors

Many of the homes I inspect have beatiful original doors that have character, and many times makes the home with the historical charm, but many of them are also drafty. Unless the door is damaged, insulation and new weatherstripping should reduce drafts and heat transfer through the doorway.

  • Before adding weatherstripping, check the door for loose hinges and other hardware. A loose door lets in drafts in the winter, and it accounts for some heat losses in the winter. Tighten loose screws, including at the doorknob, or replace the hardware, doorknob and lock set if they are damaged.
  • If the door hangs crooked, the jamb has likely skewed as the house settled. Consult a qualified carpenter to straighten the jamb with shims, scribe the door to fit, or replace the door.

Install spray foam Insulation around the door jamb

  • Pry off the left, top and right interior door trim molding with the flat edge of a pry bar.
  • Twist the accompanying straw onto the nozzle of a can of spray foam insulation for doors and windows and shake the can.
  • Place the straw into the space in the wall where you pried off the molding and press the spray nozzle. Apply a line of foam from one end of the opening to the other and repeat across the top and down the other side. Spray foam insulation expands and dries firm. Wait for the first application to expand before deciding whether you need more to fill the cavity. Trim off excess foam in back after it hardens with a drywall saw or a utility knife.
  • Nail the molding back to the door frame.

Add exterior caulk to the exterior

  • Cut the nozzle on a tube of exterior-grade window and door caulk at a slight angle with a utility knife. If there is a seal inside the base of the nozzle, pierce it with a long, thin nail or another slim object.
  • Fit the tube into a caulk gun and depress the trigger several times until caulk fills the nozzle.
  • Place the slanted edge of the nozzle against the top edge of the left or right-side exterior door trim. Depress the trigger to make the caulk flow and pull the caulk gun down the edge of the trim slowly then smooth the caulk with your finger or caulking tool to make it look professional. Repeat the caulk application down the trim on the opposite side of the door, and again across the top. Seal both long edges of each piece of trim molding this way.

Install new weatherstripping

  • Pull the old weatherstripping off the door frame. If there are staples or nails, pry them out with a flat-head screwdriver or nail puller. Weatherstripping fits around the door frame with a rubbery portion touching the door.
  • Measure across the top of the door frame where you removed the weatherstripping.
  • Open a package of weatherstripping with a metal or wood flange and a cushioned, rubbery gasket on a worktable. Measure and mark it to the width of the top of the door frame with a pencil or marker. This type of weatherstripping has a long strip of wood or metal along one long edge, and it has cushioned rubber along the opposite long edge.
  • Slice through the rubbery portion of the weatherstripping at the mark with scissors or a utility knife and continue the cut through the wood or metal with a hacksaw.
  • Close the door and set the weatherstripping in place across the top of the door frame. The rubbery edge should butt against the door. Drive 1 1/2-inch finishing nails through the metal or wood strip with a hammer, spacing nails approximately 8 inches apart. If the strip has pre-drilled nail holes, you might need nails with a small head instead of finishing nails.
  • Measure and cut weatherstripping for the left and right sides of the door frame and fasten them the same way.

Door Sweep

  • Remove the screws in the old door sweep across the lower edge of the interior side of the door, if yours has one, with a Phillips-head or flat-head screwdriver. Door sweeps have a wood or metal strip along one long edge and a rubber fin along the opposite long edge.
  • Measure across the lower edge of the door. If your door had a sweep, measure where it was fastened. If there was no sweep, measure across the lowest part of the interior side of the door, not the bottom edge that faces the threshold.
  • Measure and mark a door sweep to this length and cut it with scissors or a utility knife and a hacksaw as you did with the weatherstripping.
  • Hold the door sweep against the lower portion of the door with the bottom of the rubber fin touching the threshold. Mark the door through the pre-drilled screw or nail holes in the door sweep with a pencil or marker.
  • Drill a shallow hole into the door at each mark with a drill and bit that is the same diameter as the accompanying door sweep screws. Don’t drill completely through the door.
  • Set the sweep back in place and drive screws into the pilot holes with a Phillips-head or flat-head screwdriver.

Post-Sale Home Inspection

A question that I have been getting lately is should I have a post-sale home inspection if I waived the home inspection or bought the home as-is.


It has become increasingly common in recent years for buyers to move into a home, discover some issue regarding the condition of the home finding conditions the seller either failed to disclose or that they actively concealed.

Offers that waive a home inspection contingency can be more attractive to home sellers since there’s less likelihood that the buyers will find some expensive problem that they’ll demand is fixed before they move forward. Generally, waiving a home inspection is done to speed up the closing process, but leaves the buyer taking a large risk.

A residential home inspection is a visual, non-invasive inspection of your new home and its components. Scheduling a home inspection after closing is vital if you couldn’t have one done during the home buying process. Now that you’re the owner of the home, you’ll want to do your due diligence and learn about any potential health and safety issues so you can have them addressed. The benefits of having a home inspection done after buying a home include the ability to:

1. Proactively Mitigate Health and Safety Issues

  • My home inspection can reveal potential safety issues that threaten the health of your family. Mold, radon, and carbon monoxide leaks are just a few examples of health hazards that I can help identify. Tri-State Home Inspections LLC will provide recommendations in the inspection report for dealing with these safety issues before they can cause any harm.

2. Uncover and Address Items for Repair Before Moving In

  • Uncover items-for repair
  • A thorough home inspection can help uncover hidden issues with your new home that might not have been noticeable during a routine walk-through. This allows you to proactively address issues like improper wiring, major structural issues, roof damage or mold in homes. And once you move in, you’ll have peace of mind to enjoy your new home without stressing about renovations.

3. Gain Insights to Build a Budget and Plan for Future Home Improvements

  • Every home can benefit from regular maintenance and care. Along with a thorough home inspection report, Tri-State Home Inspections LLC can also take you on a tour of your new home to show you how things work, while providing tips for future maintenance and upkeep.

The next question I get is what if a large defect is found and can they go back to the seller of the home if there is one found.

  • These questions depend on a few variables, and I am not lawyer and do no give legal advice
    • Was the defect disclosed on the disclosure
    • Can you prove the seller of the property knew of the defect
  • But yes, if you can prove deception or lying on the disclosure you may be able to go back to the seller of the property for repairs and damages

In Wisconsin, most residential home sellers are required to disclose defects of which they have notice or knowledge to potential buyers prior to the sale. [1] A “defect” is “a condition that would have a significant adverse effect on the value of the property; that would significantly impair the health or safety of future occupants of the property; or that if not repaired, removed, or replaced would significantly shorten or adversely affect the expected normal life of the premises” (see Wis. Stat. Section 709.03). The buyer must be able to show the seller knew about the defect.

As-Is clause

A seller of any type of property may choose to sell the property “as-is.” Generally, an “as-is” clause means the seller (1) will not complete condition reports, leaving the buyer primarily responsible for determining the condition of the property being purchased, and (2) will not repair the property or cure any defects. Typically, an “as-is” clause also alerts the buyer that he or she is responsible to determine the condition of the property being purchased.

But sellers of as-is properties may still be required to make some disclosures about the property such as:

  • The seller cannot create risk: The seller has the duty to exercise ordinary care in refraining from any act that would cause foreseeable harm to another or create an unreasonable risk to others.
  • The seller cannot conceal or prevent discovery of defects: The seller may be liable for misrepresentation if he or she actively conceals a defect or prevents a buyer from investigating the property and discovering the defect.
  • The seller cannot make false affirmative representations: The seller may be liable if he or she makes false affirmative statements about the property.
  • The seller must disclose defects that are difficult to discover: The seller may be liable in an “as-is” situation if he or she fails to disclose material conditions that the buyer is in a poor position to discover.
Painting over known problems is concealment

The use of an “as-is” clause will not always serve as an escape for a seller from all disclosure.

Failing to disclose or concealing a defect can lead to a variety of potential damages. First, buyers can sue for breach of contract and intentional misrepresentation and seek either rescission of the sale or the costs to repair the alleged defects. In addition, buyers almost universally bring a cause of action that offers the potential of recovering multiplied damages and recovery of their attorney’s fees. Buyers can allege that the failure to disclose a defect constituted a theft by fraud, which, if proved at trial would allow them to recover triple damages (i.e. three times the amount of their actual damages), as well as their actual attorney’s fees.

Yes a post-sale inspection can be beneficial in you learning about your home and if something large does come up during the inspection you may be able to contact a lawyer for your legal rights to have the problem remedied.

Call Tri-State Home Inspections LLC for any inspection needs

563-380-2515 / 608-620-5320



As Is Home for Sale and a Home Inspection

I hear from many people that they cannot do a home inspection because the home is being sold AS IS. This does not mean you are not entitled to a home inspection so in the event we find additional DEFECTS not noted in the disclosure that the owner is required to fill out truthfully.

You can walk through the home and get an idea of its general condition.  You may even spot some defects or items in obvious need of repair.  But you will not obtain the same detailed information you will receive if you hire Tri-State Home Inspections LLC.  Tri-State Home Inspections LLC is trained to look for things you are not likely to notice.  Tri-State Home Inspections LLC must follow the state Wisconsin and InterNACHI’s Residential Standards of Practice and check the roof, exterior, interior, foundation, basement, fireplace, attic, insulation, ventilation, doors, windows, heating system, cooling system, plumbing system, and electrical system for certain defects.  Armed with Tri-State Home Inspections LLC detailed report, you will have a better idea of what “as is” means regarding that home, which means you’ll be in a better position to know whether you want to buy it.  You may also be able to use information from the home inspection to negotiate a lower price.

If you do buy a home “as is” without hiring a home inspector and then later discover a defect, all is not lost. Tri-State Home Inspections LLC  may be able to review the seller’s disclosure and testify as to what the seller knew or should have known about.  The inspector may find evidence that the seller made misrepresentations or concealed relevant information from you.  Even the seller of an “as is” home may be held liable for misrepresentation or concealment.

Here is an article from the Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine from June 3, 2011

“Uncovering the Truth: As-is Transactions”

An “as-is” clause may be used in the offer to purchase for any type of property. The reason why a seller may choose to use this type of clause may vary from financial constraints on the seller’s ability to commit any more funds to repairs, to environmental or other problems the seller does not want to confront, to an elderly person who is physically or mentally unable to deal with the situation. In other words, there are no limits on who may use an “as-is” clause or on the type of property that may be involved.

Generally, an “as-is” clause means that the seller (1) will not complete a Real Estate Condition Report (RECR) or other seller condition reports, leaving the buyer primarily responsible for determining the condition of the property being purchased, and (2) will not repair the property or “cure any defects.” Typically an “as-is” clause also alerts the buyer that he or she is responsible to determine the condition of the property being purchased.

The folklore of “as-is” urban legends are plentiful. However, the widespread tales, or a derivative there of, fit into one of the following five urban legends.

URBAN LEGEND # 1: A Seller Selling a Home “As-is” is Not Required to Make Any Disclosures

The Truth:
While the seller may believe deciding to sell “as-is” is as easy as playing the game Monopoly®, the use of an “as-is” clause is not necessarily a seller’s “Get Out of Jail Free Card.” The seller may still need to make some disclosures about the property.

  1. Seller cannot create risk: The seller has the duty to exercise ordinary care in refraining from any act which would cause foreseeable harm to another or create an unreasonable risk to others.
  2. Seller cannot conceal or prevent discovery of defects: the seller may be liable for misrepresentation if he or she actively conceals a defect or prevents a buyer from investigating the property and discovering the defect.
  3. Seller cannot make false affirmative representations: the seller may be liable if he or she makes false affirmative statements about the property.
  4. Seller must disclose defects that are difficult to discover: the seller may be liable in an “as-is” situation if he or she fails to disclose material conditions which the buyer is in a poor position to discover.

Thus the use of an “as-is” clause is not always going to be an escape for the seller from all disclosures.

URBAN LEGEND # 2: When Listing an “As-is” Property a Listing Agent is Not Required to Make Disclosures

The Truth:  The fact the seller is choosing to sell “as-is” does not eliminate the listing agent’s duty to disclose. Wis. Admin. Code § RL 24.07 requires licensees to disclose potential material adverse facts to the parties in writing and in a timely manner. In fact, where the buyer is purchasing “as-is” it is very important for the buyer to know the condition of the property. Generally, the buyer has professionals inspect the property as a condition of the offer to purchase, but this does not excuse the agent from his or her duty to assure that all known and information suggesting material adverse facts are disclosed in writing to the buyer.

URBAN LEGEND # 3: The Listing Agent is Not Required to Inspect the “As-is” Property

The Truth: 
License law requires all licensees to inspect the property by performing reasonably competent and diligent property inspections; regardless of the type of property or if it’s being sold “as-is.” § RL 24.07(1)(b) requires listing brokers to inspect the property prior to executing the listing and make inquiries of the seller on the condition of the structure, mechanical systems and other relevant aspects of the property as applicable.

The rule also states licensees shall ask the seller provide written responses to the licensee’s inquiry. Generally, this response takes the form of a RECR or a seller disclosure report. However, when a seller refuses to complete a report and sell “as is,” best practice for the listing broker would be to obtain written evidence that the licensee asked about the condition of the property and the seller refused to answer. The WRA Seller’s Refusal to Complete Condition Report form (SRR) could serve as that written evidence.

URBAN LEGEND # 4: A Seller of a Pre-1978 “As-Is” Property is Exempt From the Lead Based Paint Disclosures

The Truth: 
Lead-based paint (LBP) disclosure requirements are not waived with an “as-is” sale. Licensees are required to assure lead based paint disclosures are properly made. As of December 6, 1996, no offers on residential housing built prior to 1978 can be accepted without the LBP disclosure.

This disclosure requirement is independent of the RECR law. The penalties for noncompliance with the LBP law are federal and apply not only to the seller, but also to the real estate agents involved in the transaction who must ensure compliance.

URBAN LEGEND # 5: If a buyer is writing an offer on an “as-is” property, the buyer is prohibited from writing an offer contingent on a home inspection contingency.

The Truth:

While it is common for an “as-is” seller to counter out an inspection, the buyer is not prohibited from including an inspection contingency in the offer. If the buyer did not include this contingency, then the buyer would be buying the property “as-is.” An inspection contingency would generally give the buyer the option to back out of the offer if the defects were so bad that the buyer no longer wanted the property.

“As-is” language does not prevent inspection contingencies. It simply means that if the buyer goes through to closing, and defects are later found, they cannot go back to the seller for any compensation. The buyer is solely responsible for determining whether the property is in acceptable condition.

So how do you avoid getting slapped in the face by your state’s disclosure laws? Get a home inspection done before you list your house. The typical cost of a home inspection is around $200–400.3 That’s a small price to pay compared to losing a deal or getting sued for not disclosing a serious defect.

On a brighter note, providing potential buyers with a full disclosure report based on a professional home inspection proves you have nothing to hide, which could help you sell your home faster.

Here are a few examples of problems you might have to disclose to potential buyers:

Foundation damage

Plumbing problems

Electrical issues

Water intrusion


Remember, your real estate agent will be able to shed some light on your state’s disclosure laws so you’re not left in the dark, trying to guess what potential buyers legally need to know.

For more information please go to www.tristateinspections.com

Feel Free to Contact Tri-State Home Inspections LLC at

608-620-5320 / 563-380-2515 or tristate.org@gmail.com

Is PEX Waterline Always Okay, No It’s Not

PEX is a medium or high-density cross-linked polyethylene tubing used extensively to distribute water through homes.

Up to the 1960’s galvanized piping was used in homes and is very common to find yet today. Galvanized lines replaced lead water lines. After decades of exposure to water have caused galvanized pipes to corrode and rust on the inside. Many of these systems are outdated and in need or replacement.

From the 1960’ though 1980’s, copper tubing was the primary material for piping, but was a costly piping material. Copper is not only expensive but using a torch to solder every joint also makes it costly to install.

Through the mid-90’s, builders had a troubled relationship with polybutylene and CPVC water lines before switching in earnest to PEX.  PEX relatively easy to install and, for the most part, a robust material.

Compared to copper, PEX

·      resists scale build-up.

·      is more resistant to freeze.

·      does not pit or corrode when exposed to acidic water.

·      does not as readily transfer heat.

·      distributes water more quietly virtually eliminating “water hammer” noise.


F the most part PEX tubing is often joined together with brass fittings, which can de-zincify. It is believed hard water (water having high levels of carbonates, oxygen, chlorine or fluorine) leaches zinc from the fitting, leaving it porous and prone to failure. The leached zinc oxide also builds up inside the fittings and tubing, causing clogs and reducing water pressure at the faucets.

There are two types of brass found in residential water fittings:

  • Yellow brass, which is 35% zinc
  • Red brass, which has less than 15%.

Yellow brass is more prone to failure due to dezincification and three manufacturers have experienced problems.  

  • Zurn Industries used yellow brass from 1996 until 2010 to manufacture their “QPex” brand fittings. A US class action lawsuit alleging excessive failure was brought against Zurn who settled without admitting there was a defect.
    • Click here for more information regarding the Zurn lawsuit.
  • Kitec is another brand of plumbing system that was the subject of a class action suit in Nevada due to fitting failures. Manufactured by a Canadian corporation named IPEX, it sold in the United States until 2007. The Kitec system usually is made up of blue and orange tubing.
  • NIBCO also experienced problems with its yellow brass fittings. The October 2018 settlement referenced below also covers failures of their fittings manufactured until 2012.


At the end of October 2018, NIBCO INC reached a settlement to resolve issues related to its NEXT-Pure and DURA-PEX brand tubing that was manufactured until 2012. The NIBCO tubing can sometimes split and leak into wall cavities causing damage that is not visible until it has soaked through drywall or other building materials. The Settlement Class includes all persons that own or have owned a home that contains or contained NIBCO’s Tubing since January 1, 2005. The compensation is limited to those who have paid to repair “qualifying” leaks and covers only a portion of the cost to completely re-plumb a home that has experienced three or more separate “qualifying” leaks.

Click here for more information regarding the NIBCO lawsuit.


To avoid the problem of dezincification, most PEX companies today use a resistant brass or PPSU (plastic) fitting.  NIBCO has not manufactured the 1006 type tubing since 2012 and I’m not aware of issues with other PEX tubing manufacturers.


No, PEX is not a cause for widespread panic – it requires routine inspection for signs of potential failure. Things to lookout for are corrosion and leaking, especially if the fittings are brass and have the QPEX or NIBCO brand. Refer your concerns to a licensed plumbing contractor. It can be difficult to identify, but installations of tubing labeled DURA-PEX, NEXT-Pure or CPI should be noted.

The information provided here is based on extensive research, but I am an inspector – not a licensed plumber. Always consult a licensed plumber regarding a particular installation.

Thinking of Skipping or Convinced Not to Do a Home Inspection?

Here is why that is a bad idea!

Buying a home can be a stressful process, and most likely the most important financial decision you will ever make.  Many first-time buyers do not realize that there are some crucial steps in home buying such as arranging for a home inspection. Maybe people also wonder, “do I need a home inspection or not?” A home inspection can provide the ounce of prevention to help you feel more secure in your new home and alleviate some of the stress of a first-time purchase.

On the other end of the spectrum, I hear stories of buyers that skip their home inspection as a negotiation tactic. Forgoing your inspection contingency can sweeten your offer in a competitive seller’s market.

Skipping your home inspection is an extremely risky thing to do. Only two parties will benefit from this the homeowner and the real estate professionals.

If you are thinking of skipping a home inspection, here is why you should not:

Gain a deep understanding of the home.

  • Every home is different. Pick two homes built in the exact same year in the same neighborhood, and I could give you a laundry list of differences between the two. This is especially true with older homes. Additions, renovations, and upgrades can change a home drastically. Because of this, you need an expert. Someone that has seen thousands of homes and has diagnosed the systems of each.
  • A home inspection gives a top to bottom overview of a home, its condition, its systems, its hidden flaws. TSI home inspections do not just highlights the bad news but lets you know the true condition of the home, good or bad. The home inspection gives you, the buyer, a deep understanding of the home. You can take this information and use it however you need.

A benefit to you before and after negotiation.

  • When buying a home, the number one reason to get a home inspection is to understand the condition of the home and to help negotiate problems found during the inspection. When you get the report, you and your realtor can put together your objections in hopes the seller will address them or price them into the sale.
  • However, a lot of items found in a home inspection report are current or preventative maintenance items. These smaller defects might not be worth asking the seller to fix, but it is great to have a punch list or a honey-do list for when you move-in.
  • This will help keep your home in great condition and prevent future issues.

Skipping a home inspection because of the seller.

  • A seller may “encourage” a buyer to waive the inspection or they’ll say the house is being sold “as is”. Even if the house is sold “as is,” you may be able to negotiate in a health and safety item that comes up during the inspection or learn that it may best to walk away and find another home.
  • Sellers are typically more prone to negotiation if a big health and safety item is found. This is because if you decide to walk away from the deal, they now are obligated to disclose these issues to the next buyer.
  • In rare cases, a seller may be trying to hide something in the home by selling the property as is as well. This is a very bad idea as a seller and can put them in a tough legal situation in the future. However, it still happens occasionally and as a buyer you do not want to get caught in the middle. A home inspection can help dig out these cover-ups and avoid them or mitigate the situation.

To be there… or not to be there

  • Whether or not you are available to be in the home at the time of inspection, be sure to read the reports in detail, to identify if any follow up is needed. A thorough home inspection can uncover information that can protect you in the short and long run. I always encourage our clients to attend if possible or at least come for a first-hand summary.
  • Even if you are not on the hip of the inspector during the inspection, this gives you time to walk the property yourself. I always thought it was crazy that people make one of the biggest purchase decisions of their lives, but only get to see the property for 15 mins during the showing.
  • The inspection gives you a 2-3 of hours to measure rooms, envision different furniture setups, and plan out any immediate remodel projects. You can make great use of the time!
  • Most inspectors will tell you that they perform a higher quality service when you are not following there every step, but this is a great time to voice your concerns to the inspector, so they are aware. It is also recommended you have your inspector show you your main emergency shut offs. These are documented in my reports but seeing them in person is beneficial.

As you can imagine, I do not recommend skipping a home inspection.

Obviously, Tri-State Home Inspections LLC, I advise people to not skip their home inspection. But I only say that because I truly believe in the value I am providing to future homeowners. My mission since the company was started was to help families live in safe, healthy, and comfortable homes, and I believe our home inspections help complete that mission.

Tri-State Home Inspections LLC recommends you use an InterNACHI or ASHI certified home inspector. Iowa and Minnesota do not require a state certification to become a home inspector.  Wisconsin requires licensing (I am a licensed Home Inspector 2402-106)  that meets the minimum requirement for the state

Using an ASHI certified inspector ensures your inspector has passed the national home inspection exam, has performed at least 250 inspections, and more. As of 2021 I have done over 5000 inspections. InterNACHI requires a certification process and 24 hours of education a year, more then ASHI or Wisconsin 20 hours.

At Tri-State Home Inspection LLC, I am licensed, InterNACHI and ASHI certified

If I have talked you out of SKIPPING your home inspection, then you can click here to get more information on Tri-State Home Inspections LLC

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.