Why Is There Frost In My Attic?

Have you ever walked into your attic only to see a layer of frost covering the ceiling? The purpose of an attic is to separate your indoor air from the air from your roof and to provide your home with ventilation. So, why does frost form in your attic? The most probable cause of this is that humid, warm air from throughout your home has leaked into the attic. On a cold day, water will begin to condense on the ceiling and turn into frost. Although the frost itself won’t do much damage, the issue comes when the weather outside warms up and the frost begins to melt. This can lead to your roof sheathing deteriorating, mold, ruined insulation, water stains, and warped wood. Keep reading to learn more about frost in your attic and how to prevent it.

Where does it come from?

Frost starts to form in your attic due to air leaks and attic bypasses. If you go into your attic one day to find that it smells musty and mold is forming, this probably started with frost formation on a cold day. Just like the rest of your home, your attic needs to be well ventilated. You need to make sure that there are enough exhaust fans going directly out of the attic and not just directed at a roof vent. This won’t do enough to keep warm, moist air out of your attic.

Another thing you need to worry about is air leaks in your attic floor. Although small crevices and leaks may seem like they’re not a problem, on cold days, a lot of moisture will make it up into your attic, especially if you have your heater on. When you go about sealing these leaks, make sure you don’t just get the big ones. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Attic air sealing

Even if you aren’t experiencing frost forming in your attic, it’s a good idea to seal your attic. When you do so, less air is escaping from your home, meaning you’ll be saving money on your energy bills by containing your heating and cooling within the part of your home that you actually inhabit. Think of it like replacing or repairing old windows. You wouldn’t live with leaky or cracked windows in your home, so why would you tolerate air leaks in your attic? Attic air sealing can be broken down into four steps:

  • Checking your attic to locate any leaks
  • Patching holes
  • Sealing small cracks or holes  
  • Putting weather stripping on the access door

For more details on the attic air sealing process, read part two of this blog series.

Contact Safe Investment Home Inspections

Attic frost poses not only a huge issue for your home itself but for your safety. Water damage can lead to dangerous mold growth and ruin the structural integrity of your home. If you’re concerned about water damage in your home, contact Safe Investment Home Inspections for a full-home inspection.

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.

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!

When is that Wiring Issue a Real Problem?

Even in brand new homes, electrical issues can be uncovered during home inspections, and though any incongruence can create anxiety in a potential investor or homeowner, it is important to note that not all electrical issues present any danger. The trick is understanding which of those issues are actual problems and require immediate attention and which ones are just those that are outside of local code and may need at least a second look. Hidden electrical and wiring issues are estimated, by the Electrical Safety Foundation International, to cause more than 53,000 home fires a year. These fires cause almost $1.5 million in damage and kill more than 500 people. These are common warning signs of an electrical system that are potentially dangerous to you or your family and should be dealt with quickly:

  • Damaged wires. Old age, misuse, heat and corrosion can cause wiring to fray or crack. Make sure to hire a professional to replace any damaged wires that are pointed out by your home inspector.
  • Scorch marks on outlets or switches. All of a home’s electrical elements should be cool to the touch at all times. If your home inspection shows any indication of warm spots or scorch marks around outlets make sure that the electrical system is given a thorough update.
  • Overloaded circuits. Constantly having to reset tripping circuit breakers in an indication of the system being overloaded. Have it assessed by an electrician for recommended improvements to avoid the possibility of electrical fires.
  • Dimming Lights. The activation of other household appliances should not cause your light fixtures to dim. Lights that dim when you turn on other fixtures is an indication of a wiring or circuit breaker issue. Have it assessed for safety’s sake.
  • Popping, sizzling and cracking. Sounds coming from your appliances, outlets and switches should never be overlooked as they are signs of a serious problem.





$99 Dollar Sewer Inspection Company Denver Colorado

Safe Investment Home Inspections now has the best sewer inspection specialist experienced  inspecting industrial, commercial, and residential sewer lines for owners and real estate agents around the state of Colorado. You can be confident that in hiring us to inspect your sewer line that you will get an unbiased, professional, detailed, and spot on sewer inspection. Our technicians are fully trained and take pride in a job well done!

Safe Investment Home Inspections does not do sewer cleaning or any type of repairs, because that is a conflict of interests.

Inspection Includes:

DVD, Locates, Digital Report w/ images, Recommendations, Toilet Access (floor mounted), rooftop access, crawl space access,  proper clean up of the area, and no trip charge within the Denver Metro Area.

A video camera inspection involves guiding a video camera through the sewer system in your home. As the camera travels through the system, video footage is displayed and recorded.  We are able identify broken pipes, leaks, bellies, tree root damage, and other harmful obstructions. The cameras also allow us to verify that pipes are clean and obstruction free following service. Replacing a sewer pipe can cost between $4000 and $25,000. Better safe than sorry!  We are an honest home inspection company, and pride ourselves in helping you understand the condition of your sewer line good or bad.

Colorado legislators propose HOA reform bills

Colorado legislators propose HOA reform bill

The follow article concerns the Denver Home Inspection Industry

State legislators on Wednesday introduced a bipartisan homeowner association reform package  designed to bring  homeowner associations and their  managers under state regulation.

The legislation is primarily aimed at  holding HOA managers to stricter standards and reining in HOA’s debt-collection practices.

In 2010, after receiving a deluge of complaints from citizens, Colorado legislators voted to create an office to gather complaints and help homeowners.

In its 2012 annual report, the HOA Information and Resource Center, a part of the Colorado Division of Real Estate, said it received 576 complaints from 309 different homeowners and residents. That included 153 complaints against managers and 423 against HOAs and boards.

One of the proposed bills, House Bill 1277, would require that  community managers be licensed under the Division of Real Estate within the Department of Regulatory Agencies. To apply for a license,  an applicant would be required to pass an exam demonstrating a working knowledge of standard budgeting practices and laws concerning consumer protection, fair debt collection and nonprofit organizations.

The Community Associations Institute, the professional trade association for HOAs, said Wednesday that it has had an open dialogue and exchange of ideas with the sponsors of the bills.

“We look to the sponsors to develop HOA-related legislation that is balanced, reasonable and best serves the people of Colorado,” the group said in a statement.

Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver,  is co-sponsoring another bill,  HB 1276, that would require HOAs to establish debt-collection policies modeled after the Colorado Fair Debt Practices Act.

“This bill will require HOAs to establish a consistent debt-collection policy,” she said, noting that,  on occasion, an HOA may approve a special assessment requiring all homeowners to contribute additional large sums over multiple years to cover costs.

Under the act, HOAs would be required to provide clear information about the special assessments and offer payment plans to struggling homeowners. HOAs would not be allowed to file liens until a homeowner had been given at least six months to pay off the special assessment, except when the HOA’s executive board had formally approved a foreclosure action.

Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939, hpankratz@denverpost.com or twitter.com/howardpankratz

The Dangers of Arc Flashes Denver, Co

This information was provided by InterNachi Denver, Co
Home inspection is one largely unregulated industry whose professionals must nevertheless be aware of their safety and that of their clients at all times.  Part of this awareness is being mindful of one’s surroundings, which can be challenging because the “workplace” changes with every appointment.  Aside from walking a roof, the electrical portion of a home inspection is arguably the most dangerous.  Many things can go wrong in an instant, and some mishaps can be fatal.  That’s why, even as generalists, home inspectors should understand what causes electrical shocks and arc flashes so that they can avoid them.

The Basics

The typical electrical service for homes in North America is a 120/240V split-phase system provided by a pole-mounted distribution transformer located at the service drop, which is made up of two 120-volt lines and a neutral line. This triplex cable may include a messenger cable located in the middle of the neutral conductor that provides support over long spans. The neutral line from the pole is connected to an earth ground near the service panel, which is usually a conductive rod driven into the earth. The service drop provides the home with two 120-volt lines of opposite phase, so 240 volts can be obtained by connecting a load between the two 120-volt conductors, while 120-volt loads are connected between either of the two 120-volt lines and the neutral line.  The 240-volt circuit is used for a home’s electrical appliances that require substantial power, such as a furnace, water heater, air conditioner, washer and dryer, and oven/range.  The 120-volt circuit is used for lighter electrical loads, such as household lighting, and portable appliances and electronics that are plugged into the home’s standard two- or three-prong (with a grounding wire) electrical receptacles or outlets.

Homes in European countries use three-phase power having longer service drops that can serve multiple residences, which is an economical approach to providing power to dense populations in small areas.  This type of service drop consists of three phase wires and one grounded neutral wire.

How an Electrical Circuit Works

Everyone should understand that it’s possible to receive an electrical shock whenever electrical power is present, regardless of the level of power or the presence of any protective devices.

An electrical circuit requires a minimum of two wires through which electric current (in the form of electrons) flows. Current is measured in amperes (amps, for short), which travels from a power source (such as the local utility), through the device it operates, called the load, and then back to the source to complete the circuit. In AC or alternating-current wiring, there are about 120 volts in the “hot” or energized wire.  This voltage provides the momentum that forces the electrons to flow in the circuit.  The power switches on electrical devices are wired on the hot or “live” side of the circuit. The return conductor, known as the neutral, is at 0 volts because it is grounded at the electrical panel.  Most 120-volt circuits are wired to deliver 15 or 20 amps of current.

How Injuries Occur

Modern electrical systems are wired with circuit breakers, or with fuses in older construction. These devices serve as over-current protection and are rated in amps. Most household circuits are wired for 15 or 20 amps. Over-current protection devices are designed to protect the electrical system’s wiring and equipment from overheating, but they may not protect a person from electrical shock, which is why any type of component in the system should be approached with caution.

By coming into contact with a live load or energized wire, a person’s body (even a finger) can complete a circuit by connecting the power source with the ground.  If this happens, it’s likely that the person will sustain an injury.  Most fatal injuries result from high-voltage exposure, but it’s possible to incur a severe injury from low-voltage power if it has a high-current flow.  Even if the current isn’t high, a person could be shocked or even electrocuted without ever tripping a circuit breaker or blowing a fuse.  Currents of 50 to 100 milliamperes (1 mA = 1/1,000 of 1 amp) can be fatal.


Warning Signs

Nevertheless, there are warning signs that a panelboard or the system in general may be compromised, and these should persuade the inspector to defer further evaluation to a licensed electrical contractor:

  • scorch marks on the dead front or the panelboard door, indicating a past or recent arc flash;
  • rust, which indicates past or recent moisture intrusion;
  • missing or open breakers that cannot be confirmed to be de-energized;
  • overloading of the circuits with DIY wiring;
  • uninsulated wiring;
  • excessive dust, dirt and debris inside the panelboard; and/or
  • any signs of water inside, around or below the panelboard, which can lead to shock or electrocution.

What Is an Arc Flash?

An arc flash occurs when a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, or to neutral or ground.  It often happens unexpectedly and can be explosive but brief, or it can last seconds and be rather visually spectacular.  It can cause a little damage or it can disable a system and require the replacement of equipment.  An arc flash of any size is quite dangerous because its path is unpredictable; it will be attracted to the nearest item with the greatest conductivity, such as an unsuspecting rodent or house pet, or a person.  An arc flash can cause a serious electrical burn or even fatal electrocution. Photo courtesy of EHSToday.com

An arc flash can have various catalysts, including:

  • excess dust;
  • condensation;
  • corrosion;
  • component failure;
  • faulty system installation;
  • dropping a metal tool, which may cause even a small spark; and/or
  • accidental contact.

How Serious Is an Arc Flash?

There are three factors that will determine the severity of an injury caused by an arc flash:
  • proximity;
  • temperature; and
  • the time it takes for the circuit to break.

An injury due to an arc flash can be quite serious because of the violent nature of such a powerful burst of electrical energy.  The light from an arc flash can be blinding and disorienting.  The heat caused by an arc flash can be as high as 35,000° F, causing serious contact burns, as well as risk of catching fire.  It can create a blast pressure of up to 2,000 pounds per square foot, sending damaged and super-heated electrical components flying through the air like shrapnel, with a sound blast as loud as a gun firing (140 decibels).  Combine all these unexpected jolts of sensory overload and the physical consequences can be impossible to avoid.

In addition to the inspector being blinded (temporarily or permanently) and/or severely burned, another result of an arc flash is that it can set electrical components on fire, and the proximity of the inspector means that s/he’ll likely inhale toxic vapors, which can cause respiratory and neurological damage, depending on the duration of exposure.  Also, the force of the shockwave can rupture eardrums.  Furthermore, being shocked by a current above 75 mA can cause the inspector’s heart to go into a state of ventricular fibrillation, which causes it to beat irregularly and rapidly without pumping any blood.  If this condition doesn’t quickly normalize, either by itself, using CPR, or with the aid of a defibrillator, it may lead to a heart attack, which can be fatal.  If the brain is deprived of oxygen for more than three minutes as a result, this, too, can be fatal, or it can land the inspector in a vegetative state.
It’s not uncommon for an inspector to never fully recover his previous quality of life after experiencing an injury from an arc flash.
Arc flashes are just one of the more serious examples of what can go wrong during an inspection, which is why inspectors should follow their training, as well as their instincts, and protect themselves and their clients on the job.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry and incur a grievous injury, which can put both your livelihood and life at risk.

Aluminum Wiring Hazards

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.
In addition to creating a potential fire hazard, the presence of aluminum wiring may have an effect on your insurance policy. You should ask your insurance agent whether the presence of aluminum wiring is a problem that requires changes to your policy language in order to ensure that your house is covered.

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.

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.

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.