Getting The Most Out Of Your Home Inspection

Whether you get your home inspected once a year or once every several years, chances are, you’re looking for any way you can to get the most out of it as possible. Although you probably call HVAC technicians, electricians, plumbers, and other professionals regularly to maintain your home, home inspections are a great opportunity for you to get a general idea of the overall condition of your home and how safe it is for your family to live in. Services like radon testing, air quality testing, and thermal imaging all contribute to your overall well-being so read on to find out how to make the most of them.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

Home inspectors have one job: to make you aware of the condition of your home and ensure you have the means to fix any issues that could be compromising your safety or well-being. As the homeowner, this means you’ll want to ask any questions you have so that you’re clear on everything that needs to be addressed. Don’t worry, your home inspector won’t be offended or annoyed by you asking questions — if they are, you chose the wrong one!

Take Notes

Although your professional home inspector will take the time and care to fill out a full home inspection report for you and go over it with you when he/she is done, it doesn’t hurt to follow along and take notes as they go. This could be reminders or projected cost estimates for any repairs you will need following the inspection.

Take Pictures

Another effective form of note taking is to document any areas of issue using a digital camera. Pictures might also be helpful in explaining to any electrical specialist, plumber, or HVAC technician what issue you’re having. Most people have pretty good cameras on their phone so this may be your best option.

Hire The Right Inspector

One of the best ways to get the most out of your home inspection is to simply call the right home inspector in the first place. There are many home inspectors out there claiming to be professionals, however, they have no certification nor the necessary training to prove it. If you hire a home inspector like this, they’re most likely going to miss something and not provide you with your money’s worth. What’s worse is that your home will not be protected and you won’t have a good idea of the condition your home is in.

Contact Safe Investment Home Inspections

If you’re due for a home inspection in Denver or the surrounding areas, Safe Investment Home Inspections is happy to provide you with some of the highest quality care in the industry. We provide full home inspections including thermal imaging, radon testing, air quality testing, warranty inspections, as well as mold and sewer inspections. Contact us today if you’re ready to get started.

Preventing Clothes Dryer Fires

In the United States, there are around 15,500 house fires, 10 injuries, and 10 deaths per year caused by clothes dryer fires according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Additionally, due to improper dryer vent setup, many people are also subject to carbon monoxide poisoning. Generally, we like to think of our homes as a safe place, and we should! For the most part, homes are a healthy and safe place to be. However, in rare instances, some concerns may arise. In this blog, we’re going to talk a bit about clothes dryer fires, what causes them, and what you can do about it.

What Causes Them?

The most common cause of dryer fires is a lack of maintenance or forgetting to change the lint filter. Remove lint from the lint screen after each use instead ever couple times. Not only is lint highly combustible, but it can also prevent your clothes from drying as quickly as they should and cause them to stink. No matter what way you look at it, keeping your lint filter clean is best for everyone.

The other aspect to clothes dryer fires is the plastic foil accordion-style duct vent behind your dryer. Sometimes lint will get built up in these ducts and cause fires so it’s important to ensure they’re both clear of debris and that they aren’t sagging or out of place.

Dryer Fires On The Rise

In the past, clothes dryers were typically installed in the basement. Now, most clothes dryers are located in bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and closets. To accommodate for the shape of the home and the distance from the outer wall of the home, dryer vents tend to be longer and have more turns that allow lint to get trapped more easily. The solution is to have a shorter vent that allows lint to move through quickly without getting trapped. This will also help you to dry clothes more quickly.

What You Can Do About It

If you’re trying to clean something that has been stained with flammable chemicals like paint thinners, cooking oil, cleaning agents, or gasoline, you’ll need to take special care to ensure you aren’t creating any unnecessary fire hazards. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, if at all possible, avoid using the dryer to dry these fabrics. Instead, try hanging them outside to dry our washing them twice to ensure all of the flammable chemicals have been removed. If you do use a dryer, make sure that it’s on low heat and of course ensure the lint trap is cleaned beforehand. Be sure to check out part two of this blog series and we’ll take a look at more tips for preventing dryer fires.

Contact Safe Investment Home Inspections

One of the best ways to prevent house fires is to understand what problems your home is having long before it ever leads to something serious. At Safe Investment Home Inspections, we perform full home inspections covering everything from thermal imaging to radon measurement, air quality testing, mold inspections, and much more. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to give us a call today.

Why New Homeowners Should Contact A Home Inspector

You’ve done it, you just purchased your first home! As you’re settling in, it’s important to start planning out your new life and all the responsibilities you will be taking up throughout the coming years. Being a homeowner isn’t as simple as making monthly mortgage payments and keeping up with your neighbors (although those can certainly be difficult at times). Owning a home also means that you’re responsible for maintaining the safety and functionality of your home. Gone are the days of contacting your landlord whenever you need something; you’re going to have to find qualified experts to service your home or find a way to do it yourself. However, before you get to the point where you even need repairs on your home, you should first call a certified home inspector. Keep reading to learn more about why you should hire a home inspector if you’re a new homeowner.

Alleviate Risk

Chances are, the purchase you’ve just made is one of the most costly purchases you’ll make in your life. This isn’t meant to scare you, it’s actually cause for celebration! It’s inevitable that major purchases also come with a risk: maybe the home doesn’t live up to your expectations or it has a huge fault that reduces its value significantly. These are fears that many homeowners may have, but how can you eliminate this worry and start enjoying your new home? Calling a home inspector is a great start. A certified home inspector can get in fast and present you with any potential risks of living in the home. Maybe the air quality could use some work. Or maybe radon levels are high. Home inspectors can help you sort this out and settle the issue before it becomes costly.

Early start

Who doesn’t like to get an early start on things? It feels great, especially when it involves your home and your future. If you contact a home inspector now, you’ll have a jumpstart on taking care of your home and making it a comfortable place for you and your family to be for years to come. It’s also a good idea to start learning about reputable home inspection companies in your area sooner rather than later.

Estimate future expenses

There’s no better way to create a projection of your home’s repair costs than to hire an experienced home inspector. By knowing what could be improved in your home and how much it will cost, you’ll be able to plan out what needs to get done now and what you can hold off until a later date. High radon levels, for example, can lead to lung cancer, so it’s imperative that you deal with it immediately. Typically, your home will need to be closed for 12 hours for this process, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. For other issues like poor indoor air quality, you can start planning out costs to hire an HVAC specialist to come and check your furnace or air conditioner for potential issues.  

Safety

The most important reason to call a home inspector after you’ve just moved into a new home is the safety of you and your family. Although we tend to think of our home’s as safe and free of harm (which they are for the most part), there are still issues that can come up if the home hasn’t been maintained properly. For example, if there was a flood in the home a year ago, chances are, you wouldn’t know it. The home could appear perfectly safe on the outside, but there could be black mold growing in the walls. Mold can do serious damage to your home’s foundation and lead to poor air quality that everyone in your home will breathe in. You could spend hundreds calling different HVAC companies trying to get the issue fixed, but it will never improve unless you know the source of the problem. With a comprehensive home inspection, you’ll never have to worry about that. You’ll be able to get straight to the issue, saving you time and money.

Contact Safe Investment Home Inspection

Safe Investment Home Inspection is your Top Rated Local® Home Inspection Company in Denver and the surrounding area. If you have any questions about our services, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

The Most Common Causes Of House Fires – Part 2

Hello, and welcome back to our blog here at Safe Investment Home Inspection. This is part two of our blog series about common causes of house fires. This time, we’re going to talk about the classification of each type of fire, as well as the most common causes of each type and how to prevent them. Keep reading to learn more.

Classes of fire

In order to prevent or fight a fire, it’s important to note that there isn’t just one class of fire. Depending on what class of fire you’re dealing with, it could be treated in a different way. However, the ultimate way to fight fires is to prevent them in the first place! Keep reading to learn more about fire classification.

Class A Fires

A class A fire is one that is caused by combustibles like wood, paper, trash, and anything else that will leave ash. Some of the most common causes of these fires include candles, cigarettes, or matches. Monoammonium phosphate is the most common chemical used to fight these fires because of its ability to smother a fire.

Class B Fires

Class B fires are caused by chemicals such as cooking liquids, gasoline, or paint. Monoammonium phosphate will help smother the fire and sodium bicarbonate contains chemicals that will also help extinguish the fire.

Class C Fires

A class C fire is one that’s caused by a short circuit, power cord damage, overloaded outlets, or faulty wiring. Essentially, any place where an electrical wire or another component like an outlet is present, there is potential for a class C fire. These can often be mistaken for cooking-related fires because they can occur in the electrical components of cooking equipment, however, cooking-related fires refer mainly to human error, misuse of cooking equipment, or something is faulty with the cooking equipment itself.

The main problem with class C fires is that they can’t be treated with water. Since water conducts electrical currents, using water or a water-based foam to treat these fires would only make them worse. In order to prevent this type of fire, you need to have your electrical components checked regularly by a certified home inspector. A home inspector will ensure that your electrical components are up to code and there’s no potential for a fire to start. Another thing you can do is ensure that you have a class C fire extinguisher on hand. If you’re not sure what type of fire extinguisher you have in your home, make sure you speak with a professional immediately.

Class D Fires

Class D fires are less common combustibles including magnesium, lithium, and titanium. These fires require special dry powder agents found in dry powder fire extinguishers. These smother the fire and eliminate the oxygen within it, in addition to absorbing the heat. This type of fire can be hazardous because most people don’t know how to effectively stop them from spreading.

Class K Fires

Class K fires burn a lot hotter than other fires due to the fact that they’re caused by cooking oils, like vegetable oil, olive oil, butter, lard, or bacon grease. Class K fire extinguishers will turn cooking oil into a non-flammable soap that will also reduce the heat of the oil.

Contact Safe Investment Home Inspections

Ultimately, the best way to fight a fire is to prevent it in the first place. If you’re a new homeowner or you’ve never had a home inspection before, now is the time! We won’t just inspect your home for fire safety, however. We will perform air quality testing, mold inspections, radon measuring, thermal imaging, fire safety inspections and much more. If you’d like to learn more about our home inspections in Denver, contact us today.

The Most Common Causes Of House Fires

As a homeowner, the last thing you want to worry about is your safety. But without taking the necessary safety precautions, your home may be susceptible to safety issues like poor indoor air quality, high radon levels, or house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were 365,000 home fires in the U.S. in 2015. And that’s not even counting all the fires that occurred in businesses or other buildings around the country. Although the threat of house fires can never be completely eliminated, there are several things that you can do to help reduce the risk of house fires in your home. In this blog, we’ll talk about the different types of fires as well as how you can prevent them. Keep reading to learn more.

Causes

Cooking-related fires

Cooking-related fires are one of the most common causes of house fires in the United States. 170,200 fires from 2011-2015 were caused by cooking equipment according to the NFPA. These are somewhat shocking numbers considering most cooking-related fires can be prevented. One of the best ways to prevent these fires is to simply take more care when cooking. Don’t ever leave something on the stove unattended, and if you’re cooking something in the oven, make sure you’re always close by to check up on it regularly. If you have kids, make sure they understand the importance of this before you allow them to cook on their own.

There are several other causes of cooking-related fires including failure to clean cooking equipment, stoves or ovens being left on, or heat sources being too close to combustibles. Of course, everyone knows to avoid leaving their oven on after they’ve used it or to prevent dropping things on the stove that don’t belong. However, many homeowners don’t realize that having a dirty, disorganized cooking area is also a major cause of house fires. Keep a clean work area, never leave a heating source unattended, and educate your children about the dangers of house fires. These are the most important rules to follow in order to prevent cooking-related fires.

Lighting

On January 19, 2015, a Christmas tree engulfed in flames in a Severna Park, Maryland home. The impending fire killed all six people in the home and sparked a lot of conversations about preventing this type of fire. Naturally, when you bring a flammable object into the home and string it with electrical components, it’s going to be a fire hazard. However, there are several things you should look out for to minimize your risk of lighting-related house fires.

  • Avoid bringing a dry tree into your home. If the tree doesn’t have green needles or they’re constantly falling out, you should remove it from your home and replace it with a fresh one.
  • Make sure the wires on your lights aren’t frayed or worn out. You should replace your lights every couple years.
  • Light bulbs that are used too long can become brittle. Once this happens, the bottle wiring can catch fire and spread throughout your home. Make sure you’re turning lights off when you don’t need them. This will also save you on your energy bills.
  • If a light bulb is enclosed in a lighting fixture, it is more likely to catch fire due to more heat being trapped inside the enclosure.
  • Never leave lights on overnight or when you aren’t home.

Smoking

Smoking is a very common cause of house fires. A cigarette that is not put out properly can easily lead to a house fire if it is knocked off onto the carpet or anything else flammable. These fires are typically started in bedrooms because many people will smoke while lying in bed and there are more flammable materials like bed sheets that can ignite quickly. If you have to smoke at all, do it outside away from anything flammable.

Dryers

Many homeowners don’t realize that dryers are a huge fire hazard. However, according to the US Fire Administration, 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year. This is primarily caused by lint and dust buildup which can become clogged and highly flammable once temperatures reach a certain point. Lint traps should be cleaned regularly.

These are just a few of the most common causes of house fires. If you’d like to learn more about fire safety, keep reading to learn about fire classification or visit the National Fire Protection Association for more statistics.  

Contact Safe Investment Home Inspections

Safe Investment Home Inspections is your home inspection specialist in Denver and the surrounding area. We will inspect your home for any safety hazards including house fires, radon levels, air quality, and much more. If you have any questions or you’re ready to get started, contact us today.

This is part one of our blog series about common causes of house fires, read part two to learn more about the classification of fires.

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.