No AC in Denver Co? No Problem: 5 Cooling Tips for Summertime

Keeping you Denver Colorado home cool with out the use of an air conditioner.

If air conditioning your home seems like a far-off dream, you’re not alone. Each summer, thousands of Americans battle the heat in their homes, especially at night. Below are a few helpful tips to help you stay cool all summer, sans AC.

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Point that fan out.

It might feel good to have air blow over you as you sleep, but to cool your room quicker without AC, grab a boxy window fan and point it out, not in. This will pull warm air from the room and push it outside.

Reverse ceiling fans.

In the summer, program your ceiling fans to run counter-clockwise. This will pull hot air up and out, instead of blowing the warm air on you.

Choose the right bedding.

When it comes to staying cool during those hot summer nights, cotton is the way to go. Choose a light sheet made of 100 percent cotton, and avoid polyester and synthetics at all costs.

Frosty bottle.

You’ve heard of a hot water bottle, right? Well these helpful toe warmers can also keep you cool during the summer. Stick the bottle in the freezer, and slide it between your sheets before bed.

Make use of your bathroom fan.

Have a bathroom right off the bedroom? Turn on the overhead fan and leave the door open to let the fan pull the rising hot air out of your room as you sleep.

Radon Gas In Colorado (Cancer Risk)

Radon photoLung Cancer From Radon Gas Denver, CO

The Facts…

Lung cancer kills thousands of Americans every year in Denver, Co and the United States. Smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest for those with cancer. From the time of diagnosis, between 11 and 15 percent of those afflicted will live beyond five years, depending upon demographic factors. In many cases lung cancer can be prevented.

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Smoking causes an estimated 160,000* cancer deaths in the U.S. every year (American Cancer Society, 2004). Did you know that Denver, Co and the surrounding areas are high in Radon gas?  And the rate among women is rising. On January 11, 1964, Dr. Luther L. Terry, then U.S. Surgeon General, issued the first warning on the link between smoking and lung cancer. Lung cancer now surpasses breast cancer as the number one cause of death among women. A smoker who is also exposed to radon has a much higher risk of lung cancer.

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to EPA estimates. Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. About 2,900 of these deaths occur among people who have never smoked. On January 13, 2005, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General, issued a national health advisory on radon.

Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of lung cancer and responsible for an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths every year. Smoking affects non-smokers by exposing them to secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke can have serious consequences for children’s health, including asthma attacks, affecting the respiratory tract (bronchitis, pneumonia), and may cause ear infections.
For smokers the risk of lung cancer is significant due to the synergistic effects of radon and smoking. For this population about 62 people in a 1,000 will die of lung-cancer, compared to 7.3 people in a 1,000 for never smokers. Put another way, a person who never smoked (never smoker) who is exposed to 1.3 pCi/L has a 2 in 1,000 chance of lung cancer; while a smoker has a 20 in 1,000 chance of dying from lung cancer.

Colorado Home Inspection-Electrical Safety

Colorado Home Inspection-Electrical Safety

Having your home remodeled by a handyman is never a good idea. During our Colorado Home Inspections, we run into the contractor, that lacks experience, and installs electrical wiring incorrectly, almost daily. During the home inspection process we find undersized wires, that will not carry enough electrical current to be able to overload the overcurrent device in the main electrical panel. Loose wires in switches can also lead to fires or shock hazards. These items can be a fire hazard, and are not safe.

Electrical outlets are not to hard to wire, but during our Denver Colorado home inspections, we find this occurrence more than often. Hiring a licensed electrical contractor is key to passing your home inspection with flying colors. Electrical installed incorrectly can be a safety hazard.

Aluminum wiring can also lead to safety hazards if it is not repaired correctly.

Facts: Between approximately 1965 and 1973 aluminum wiring was sometimes substituted for copper branch circuit wiring in residential electrical systems. Neglected connections in outlets, switches and light fixtures containing aluminum wiring become increasingly dangerous as time passes. Poor connections cause wiring to overheat, creating a potential fire hazard.

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Denver Colorado home inspections

Here are the reasons aluminum wiring connections deteriorate: Thermal expansion and contraction: Even more than copper, aluminum expands and contracts with changes in temperature. Over time, this will cause connections to loosen. When wires are poorly connected they overheat, which creates a potential fire hazard. Vibration: Electrical current vibrates as it passes through wiring. This vibration is more extreme in aluminum than it is in copper and as time passes, it can cause connections to loosen. Again, when wires are poorly connected they overheat, which creates a potential fire hazard. Oxidation: Exposure to oxygen in the air causes deterioration to the outer surface of wire. This process is called oxidation. Aluminum wire is more easily oxidized than copper wire and as time passes, this process can cause problems with connections. Again, when wires are poorly connected they overheat, which creates a potential fire hazard. Galvanic corrosion: When two different kinds of metal are connected to each other a very low-voltage electrical current is created which causes corrosion. Corrosion causes poor connections. More information is available at this comprehensive website. http://www.inspect-ny.com/aluminum/aluminum.htm Options for Correction The wiring should be evaluated by a qualified electrician. This means an electrician experienced in evaluating and correcting aluminum wiring problems. Not all electrical contractors qualify. 1. At a minimum, all connections should be checked and an anti-oxidant paste applied. 2. Aluminum wire can be spliced to copper wire at the connections using approved wire nuts (called “pigtailing”, not recommended by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.) 3. Copalum crimps can be installed. Although this is the safest option, Copalum Crimps are expensive (typically around $50 per outlet, switch or light fixture). 4. AlumiConn Connector 5. Complete home re-wire. Costs will vary. Consult with a qualified electrical contractor.

Denver Colorado Home Inspections And Energy Savings

Energy Savings In Denver Colorado

Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons:
•Federal, state, utility and local jurisdictions’ financial incentives, such as tax breaks, are very advantageous for homeowners in most parts of the U.S.
•It saves money. It costs less to power a home that has been converted to be more energy-efficient.
•It increases the comfort level indoors.
•It reduces our impact on climate change. Many scientists now believe that excessive energy consumption contributes significantly to global warming.
•It reduces pollution. Conventional power production introduces pollutants that find their way into the air, soil and water supplies.

1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house.

As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:
•Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used in place of air conditioners, which require a large amount of energy.
•Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters.
•Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. Specifically, they should be turned down at night and when no one is home. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70° F, for example, saves about 10% on heating costs.
•Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by allowing heating and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times that no one is home and at night. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy costs.
•Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces.
•At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate the room.

2. Install a tankless water heater.

Demand-type water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don’t produce the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. A gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.

3. Replace incandescent lights.

The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time that lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:
•CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
•LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy.
•LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.

4. Seal and insulate your home.

Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient, and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can assess leakage in the building envelope and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.

The following are some common places where leakage may occur:
•electrical receptacles/outlets;
•mail slots;
•around pipes and wires;
•wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;
•attic hatches;
•fireplace dampers;
•inadequate weatherstripping around doors;
•baseboards;
•window frames; and
•switch plates.

Because hot air rises, air leaks are most likely to occur in the attic. Homeowners can perform a variety of repairs and maintenance to their attics that save them money on cooling and heating, such as:
•Plug the large holes. Locations in the attic where leakage is most likely to be the greatest are where walls meet the attic floor, behind and under attic knee walls, and in dropped-ceiling areas.
•Seal the small holes. You can easily do this by looking for areas where the insulation is darkened. Darkened insulation is a result of dusty interior air being filtered by insulation before leaking through small holes in the building envelope. In cold weather, you may see frosty areas in the insulation caused by warm, moist air condensing and then freezing as it hits the cold attic air. In warmer weather, you’ll find water staining in these same areas. Use expanding foam or caulk to seal the openings around plumbing vent pipes and electrical wires. Cover the areas with insulation after the caulk is dry.
•Seal up the attic access panel with weatherstripping. You can cut a piece of fiberglass or rigid foamboard insulation in the same size as the attic hatch and glue it to the back of the attic access panel. If you have pull-down attic stairs or an attic door, these should be sealed in a similar manner.

5. Install efficient showerheads and toilets.

The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:
•low-flow showerheads. They are available in different flow rates, and some have a pause button which shuts off the water while the bather lathers up;
•low-flow toilets. Toilets consume 30% to 40% of the total water used in homes, making them the biggest water users. Replacing an older 3.5-gallon toilet with a modern, low-flow 1.6-gallon toilet can reduce usage an average of 2 gallons-per-flush (GPF), saving 12,000 gallons of water per year. Low-flow toilets usually have “1.6 GPF” marked on the bowl behind the seat or inside the tank;
•vacuum-assist toilets. This type of toilet has a vacuum chamber that uses a siphon action to suck air from the trap beneath the bowl, allowing it to quickly fill with water to clear waste. Vacuum-assist toilets are relatively quiet; and
•dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush toilets have been used in Europe and Australia for years and are now gaining in popularity in the U.S. Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water consumption by an additional 30%.

6. Use appliances and electronics responsibly.

Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances:
•Refrigerators and freezers should not be located near the stove, dishwasher or heat vents, or exposed to direct sunlight. Exposure to warm areas will force them to use more energy to remain cool.
•Computers should be shut off when not in use. If unattended computers must be left on, their monitors should be shut off. According to some studies, computers account for approximately 3% of all energy consumption in the United States.
•Use efficient ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and electronics. These devices, approved by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program, include TVs, home theater systems, DVD players, CD players, receivers, speakers, and more. According to the EPA, if just 10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1.7 million acres of trees.
•Chargers, such as those used for laptops and cell phones, consume energy when they are plugged in. When they are not connected to electronics, chargers should be unplugged.
•Laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than desktop computers.

7. Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.

Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home’s interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches:
•skylights. It’s important that they be double-pane or they may not be cost-effective. Flashing skylights correctly is key to avoiding leaks;
•light shelves. Light shelves are passive devices designed to bounce light deep into a building. They may be interior or exterior. Light shelves can introduce light into a space up to 2½ times the distance from the floor to the top of the window, and advanced light shelves may introduce four times that amount;
•clerestory windows. Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set high on the wall. Protected from the summer sun by the roof overhang, they allow winter sun to shine through for natural lighting and warmth; and
•light tubes. Light tubes use a special lens designed to amplify low-level light and reduce light intensity from the midday sun. Sunlight is channeled through a tube coated with a highly reflective material, and then enters the living space through a diffuser designed to distribute light evenly.

8. Insulate windows and doors.

About one-third of the home’s total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:
•Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option.
•Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, apply weatherstripping around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when they’re closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors, if they aren’t already in place.
•Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
•If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don’t work, they should be repaired or replaced.

9. Cook smart.

An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking:
•Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens. They use fans to force hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection ovens use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
•Microwave ovens consume approximately 80% less energy than conventional ovens.
•Pans should be placed on the matching size heating element or flame.
•Using lids on pots and pans will heat food more quickly than cooking in uncovered pots and pans.
•Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically.
•When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster.

10. Change the way you do laundry.
•Do not use the medium setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the medium setting saves less than half of the water and energy used for a full load.
•Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not very soiled. Water that is 140° F uses far more energy than 103° F for the warm-water setting, but 140° F isn’t that much more effective for getting clothes clean.
•Clean the lint trap every time before you use the dryer. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
•If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks.
•Spin-dry or wring clothes out before putting them into a dryer.

Homeowners who take the initiative to make these changes usually discover that the energy savings are more than worth the effort. InterNACHI home inspectors can make this process much easier because they can perform a more comprehensive assessment of energy-savings potential than the average homeowner can.

Troubling Signs that Your Home isn’t Just Settling

When home inspectors speak of settling, they’re not referring to a person’s hasty choice; whether its in regards to a mate or a dinner entree. They’re referring to a home’s “getting comfortable” so to speak.  Anyone who has ever lived in a home constructed of any type of building material is familiar with the concept of settling. Gravity is constantly trying to pull your home’s building elements ever closer to its foundation, causing it to settle over many years. Those creaks, moans, groans and pops are all just indicative sounds of your home becoming one with its surroundings. This movement often causes benign cracks in the foundation, floors and walls in most homes, regardless of their age. But how does one know which cracks are normal and which ones point to bigger and much more worrisome foundation problems? Where all cracks look as if they are a problem, a home inspection in Centennial, will bring to light the difference between those meaningless cracks and those that indicate real problems.

Signs of possibly serious foundation issues include:

  • Wall rotation
  • Bowing of walls
  • Doors and windows that won’t open or close properly
  • Separation of doors and windows
  • Forming of spaces between walls and ceilings or floors
  • Walls separating from house
  • Cracks in walls and brick
  • Uneven or sloping floors

Where the presence of one issue is not an automatic sign of foundation problems, having a home inspector analyze the indications of structural problems is always recommended. If your are concerned that  your home, or a home that you may purchase, is showing signs of serious issues, call us at Safe Investment Home Inspections. We can help separate those settling issues from the real problems.

Never Waive a Home Inspection

expert home inspectors in Denver All over Colorado, many areas are experiencing red hot real estate markets; to a degree that some have never seen before. Bidding wars, cash offers, and buying property site-unseen are now becoming somewhat of a norm in some areas. We’ve even heard of the extremely risky process of some even foregoing the inspection process in order to gain an edge over other potential buyers. Though it’s tempting to try to think of creative ways to encourage sellers to accept your offer, as home inspectors in Denver, this is a ploy that we would never recommend. Sure, you risk losing the bid to someone else but your financial future could be on the line too.

Yes, it’s true that disclosure laws require homeowners to divulge any problems that they are aware of, but many times (more often than not) issues exist without the homeowner’s knowledge; and those issues could end up costing you more than just a pretty penny. A professional home inspector does much more than point out shortcomings; trained inspectors can actually spot issues that can develop into major problems with the structure of the house. Problems that may preclude you from even making an offer on a home if you were aware of it. These problems often include evidence of mold, termites, outdated plumbing, cracks in the foundation and problems with the roof.

The bottom line is that a thorough home inspection not only ensures that your investment is protected but also alerts you to an issue if a seller suggests that you skip it in order to win the bid. Always keep the long-term costs in mind and do not forego your right to a home inspection in Denver or anywhere else.

 

Why Mold is the Fright That it is

mold inspection DenverOne word can have homeowners, property management personnel and real estate agents alike rubbing their hands in anxiety. Mold.

The potential problems that are generated with the growth of mold can be very serious. Anyone who has had to deal with a mold problem knows the far-reaching implications that are generated when mold is allowed to grow unchecked. Just the suspicion of the presence of mold during a home inspection in Denver is enough to cause building owners to start counting up the costs for removal. Mold is taken so seriously because it often indicates other problems and can exacerbate health problems with those residents who live with it. Mold is capable of doing extreme structural damage as building materials are often broken down as the mold permeates the porous materials. Gasses are then released into the environment, affecting the quality of the indoor air. Poor indoor quality leads to health and respiratory issues in both children and adults. Asthma, allergies and other breathing problems have  been on the up rise, making indoor air quality one of the country’s biggest public health concerns. Extended exposure to damp areas and mold growth has been found by some studies to even cause lung infections and in severe cases, instances of some cancers.

Being such a serious issue, it goes without saying, that full remediation and removal of any mold growth is imperative to the integrity of any inhabited building. Home and building inspectors should be thoroughly trained in the signs and indications of mold growth in order to warn potential home buyers of its presence and to protect them against making a buying mistake that could cost them both money and good health.

3 Troubling Signs That You Need A Mold Inspection ASAP

Mold isn’t like a leaky faucet or a broken window. When a faucet drips or a window is no longer keeping the cold air out, the problem is easy to hear and/or see. If you find it easy to ignore the dripping or the draft, you can be sure that you’ll notice the problem when you see your utility bills skyrocket. Mold is silent. It doesn’t make us uncomfortable (right away, at least) and it won’t show up on your power bill. So how do you know if it’s time to schedule home inspection services that include a mold investigation? Here are some warning signs.

Strange Odors

When you walk into your home, is your nose assaulted by a pungent odor? When mold is growing out of site, such as behind wallpaper or in the corners of your basement, it will eventually result in a damp, musty smell that seems very out of place. If you’ve checked the trash can and you’re sure that pets aren’t having an accident, you should probably call a home inspector to determine whether mold is causing the odor.

Puddles Of Water

Mold can’t exist without moisture. So if there’s a place in your home where water is regularly spilled or likes to collect, it could be a sign that mold problems are right around the corner. You should be especially aware of areas of bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room flooring that might be allowing mold to build up right under your feet.

Unexplained Health Problems

One of the last, but unfortunately most severe, signs of a mold infestation is the development of health problems. Mold is quite toxic to both humans and pets, often causing listlessness, sinus congestion or infections, and watery eyes. If you don’t have seasonal allergies, but are still experiencing similar symptoms, mold may be a possible explanation that you’ll want to deal with right away.

Mold doesn’t have to ruin a home –or your health– but it will unless you schedule home inspection services in Denver that know how to spot and eliminate it.

Should Infrared Thermal Imaging Be Part Of Your Home Inspection?

The last thing you want to do is make a massive investment into what you think is the home of your dreams only to find out that there are major issues with the foundation or other essential features. New technologies like infrared thermal imaging aren’t necessarily part of the basic home inspection in Aurora, but it comes standard with every Safe Investment Home Inspections service. Here are a few reasons why.

Spot Invisible Leaks

We’ve seen it time and time again, a house that looks perfectly fine on the outside suddenly seems to develop a myriad of problems after the new owners move in. If only home inspectors had the ability to see through walls, right? Well, with thermal imaging they do. Using an infrared camera, we’re able to capture light that exists beyond the visible spectrum. This allows our inspectors to “see through” walls, ceilings, and floors to find costly defects and surface heat variations. If there’s water leaking inside a wall or above your bed in the ceiling, we’ll be able to see it.

Identify Lack Of Insulation

How can you be sure that the contractor who built your home didn’t skimp on insulation? Without thermal imaging, you’ll just have to take his word for it. However, using our infrared cameras, a wall  or other feature that isn’t properly insulated will light up like a Christmas tree.

Verify Placement Of Heating And Cooling Systems

The placement of heating and cooling ducts is very important for climate control and energy efficiency. If this work was done hastily or repaired improperly, it can result in big costs for you down the road. With our imaging services, you can see if there are problems before you agree to buy the home.

Don’t buy a home without knowing absolutely everything you can about it. Our infrared thermal imaging come standard with every home inspection in Aurora. Schedule an inspection today!

Home selling Mistakes You Want to Avoid

A Denver home inspection is one of the most important steps you can take when making sure that your new home is a sound investment and a safe place to live. However, many homeowners don’t fully understand the importance of home inspections, what happens during home inspections, or what they need to do to get the most out of it. Today we’re covering the biggest mistakes buyers make during the home inspection an dhow you can avoid these pricey pitfalls.

  1. Not having a new construction inspected. Even experienced homebuyers have been caught making this rookie mistake. They assume that because a home has passed all local codes and ordinances, it must be in good shape. Don’t be so sure about that, though! Don’t assume your builder or the contractors did everything correct simply because the home passed code.
  2. Don’t choose an inspector for the wrong reasons. A home inspector is a professional who is going to give one of your biggest investments a full physical checkup. Make sure you choose someone who is competent, thorough, and trustworthy. Unfortunately, way too many homebuyers go with the cheapest inspection rather than the right one. Always ask about licensing, professional affiliations and credentials, and whether the inspector carries errors and omissions insurance.
  3. Make sure you go along on the inspection. The written report you get from the inspector doesn’t give you nearly as clear a picture of the condition of the house as you might think.
  4. Always follow up on the inspectors recommendations. Often inspectors will recommend buyers get an issue evaluated further, but then the buyer waits to do so until after closing on the home.