20% Discount on all Radon and Mold testing through January!

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Thorough, Professional Home Inspections

Knowledgeable Home Inspector

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Buying a new home can be stressful and complicated. Choosing a qualified, honest, and experienced home inspector can give you the knowledge and confidence you need to make a sound real estate purchasing decision. 

As the owner of Premium Home Inspections, LLC, my comprehensive inspections, fair pricing and commitment to honesty and accuracy , help bring peace of mind to every client.

All areas of the home are inspected, interior and exterior, doors, windows, electrical, plumbing, mechanicals, roof, attic, and the foundation. Garage inspections are included in each home inspection.

We Tell You About the Little Things

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While some issues in the home are obvious, there can be issues that need specific, sometimes immediate attention, but are not easy to see.   Informing you about potential safety or functionalty issues you may not even know are a problem is what "Peace of Mind" is all about.

Additional Services

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Every inspection includes a general thermal/infrared scan of all ceilings at the top level of the home and of the basement walls for any signs of moisture intrusion through the roof or foundation. In finished basements, this may be the only way to find leaking/water intrusion. 

Radon testing and mold sampling are also available.

Warranties and Other Freebies

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Our Services

Every Home Inspection

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 All areas of the home are inspected. Interior and exterior, grading, vegetation, doors, windows, electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, roof, attic, and the foundation. Garage inspections are also included with every full home inspection. 

Radon Testing

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Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. It is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium. It is usually found in igneous rock and soil, but is found in all types of soil and in some cases, well water may also be a source of radon.

Radon gas tends to collect in basements.

You cannot see, smell or taste radon, but it may be an issue in your new home. 

The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, you’re at an even higher risk for developing lung cancer. Some scientific studies of radon exposure indicate that children may be more sensitive to radon. This may be due to their higher respiration rate and their rapidly dividing cells, which may be more vulnerable to radiation damage.


Premium Home Inspections, LLC performs highly accurate radon testing as an additional service. Test results are generally available within 72 hours of the start of the test.  Additional fee applies.



Infrared and Mold Testing

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Even if you don’t see it, mold spores may be there, lurking in hard-to-reach corners, beneath flooring or behind walls. While mold spores are everywhere in the air we breathe every day, the growth of certain molds inside the home can be detrimental, or even dangerous to the occupants. Infrared imaging/scanning can help find problem areas that are not visible to the naked eye. 

Mold loves damp locations, such as previously flooded basements or leaking pipes and windows, and can even be present in tightly sealed new construction, where even a tiny amount of trapped moisture can cause it to grow.


Premium Home Inspections, LLC  can perform mold sampling at visibly effected locations and also test for airborne mold in the home.  Additional fee required.


16 Month Home Warranty For 12 Month Price

Contact Us

Drop us a line! Please include the information for the home to be inspected.

Premium Home Inspections, LLC

Clinton Township, MI 48035, US

(586) 441-9941

Hours

Mon

8:00 am – 7:00 pm

Tue

8:00 am – 7:00 pm

Wed

Closed

Thu

8:00 am – 7:00 pm

Fri

8:00 am – 7:00 pm

Sat

8:00 am – 7:00 pm

Sun

10:00 am – 6:00 pm

ASBESTOS

  

Asbestos: Facts and Tips

Article courtesy of Premium Home Inspections, LLC and INTERNACHI

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. 

How Can Asbestos Affect Human Health?

From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer in the forms of mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity, and asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.

The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increase with the number of fibers inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke. People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos. 

Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard. 

Where Would Asbestos Be Found, and When Can it Be a Problem?

Most products made today do not contain asbestos. Those few products made which still contain asbestos that could be inhaled are required to be labeled as such. However, until the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos. 

Common products that might have contained asbestos in the past, and conditions which may release fibers, include:  

  • steam pipes, boilers and furnace ducts insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape. These materials may release      asbestos fibers if damaged, repaired, or removed improperly;
  • resilient floor tiles (vinyl asbestos, asphalt and rubber), the backing on vinyl sheet flooring, and adhesives used for installing floor tile. Sanding tiles can release fibers, and so may scraping or sanding the backing of sheet flooring during removal;
  • cement sheet, millboard and paper used as insulation around furnaces and wood-burning stoves. Repairing or removing appliances may release asbestos fibers, and so may cutting, tearing, sanding, drilling, or sawing insulation;
  • door gaskets in furnaces, wood stoves and coal stoves.  Worn seals can release asbestos fibers during use;
  • soundproofing or decorative material sprayed on walls and ceilings. Loose, crumbly or water-damaged material may release fibers, and so will sanding, drilling or scraping the material;
  • patching and joint compounds for walls and ceilings, and textured paints. Sanding, scraping, or drilling these surfaces may release asbestos fibers;
  • asbestos cement roofing, shingles and siding. These products are not likely to release asbestos fibers unless sawed, dilled or cut;
  • artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces, and other older household products, such as fireproof gloves, stove-top pads, ironing board covers and certain hairdryers; and
  • automobile brake pads and linings, clutch facings and gaskets.

Where Asbestos Hazards May Be Found in a Home

  • Some roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement.
  • Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation.
  • Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints. Their use was banned in 1977.
  • Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces may contain asbestos.
  • Older products, such as stove-top pads, may have some asbestos compounds.
  • Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard or cement sheets.
  • Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
  • Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape.
  • Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation.

     

What Should Be Done About Asbestos in the Home?

If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't panic.  Usually, the best thing to do is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. There is no danger unless the asbestos is disturbed and fibers are released and then inhaled into the lungs. Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don't touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage, such as tears, abrasions or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow. Sometimes, the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it. Discard damaged or worn asbestos gloves, stove-top pads and ironing board covers. Check with local health, environmental or other appropriate agencies to find out proper handling and disposal procedures. If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed. Before you have your house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present. 

How to Manage an Asbestos Problem

If the asbestos material is in good shape and will not be disturbed, do nothing! If it is a problem, there are two types of corrections: repair and removal. Repair usually involves either sealing or covering asbestos material. Sealing (encapsulation) involves treating the material with a sealant that either binds the asbestos fibers together or coats the material so that fibers are not released. Pipe, furnace and boiler insulation can sometimes be repaired this way. This should be done only by a professional trained to handle asbestos safely. Covering (enclosure) involves placing something over or around the material that contains asbestos to prevent the release of fibers. Exposed insulated piping may be covered with a protective wrap or jacket. With any type of repair, the asbestos remains in place. Repair is usually cheaper than removal, but it may make removal of asbestos later (if found to be necessary) more difficult and costly. Repairs can either be major or minor. All repairs must be done only by a professional trained in methods for safely handling asbestos. 

Asbestos Professionals: Who Are They and What Can They Do? 

Asbestos professionals are trained in handling asbestos material. The type of professional will depend on the type of product and what needs to be done to correct the problem. You may hire a general asbestos contractor or, in some cases, a professional trained to handle specific products containing asbestos.  

The federal government offers training courses for asbestos professionals around the country. Some state and local governments also offer or require training or certification courses. Ask asbestos professionals to document their completion of federal or state-approved training. Each person performing work in your home should provide proof of training and licensing in asbestos work, such as completion of EPA-approved training. State and local health departments or EPA regional offices may have listings of licensed professionals in your area. 

Attached Garages

  

Attached Garage Fire Containment

Article Courtesy of Premium Home Inspections, LLC and INTERNACHI

An attached garage is a garage that is physically attached to a house. Fires that begin in attached garages are more likely to spread to living areas than fires that originate in detached garages. For this reason, combined with the multitude of flammable materials commonly found in garages, attached garages should be adequately sealed from living areas. A properly sealed attached garage will ideally restrict the potential spread of fire long enough to allow the occupants time to escape the home or building.

 Why are garages (both attached and detached) fire hazards?

  • Oil or gasoline can drip from cars. These fluids may collect unnoticed and eventually ignite.
  • Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil and paint, are commonly stored in garages. Some other examples are brake fluid, degreaser, motor oil, varnish, lighter fluid, and fluids containing solvents, such as paint thinner. These chemicals are flammable in their fluid form, and some may create explosive vapors.
  • Heaters and boilers, which are frequently installed in garages, create sparks that can ignite fumes or fluids. Car batteries, too, will spark under certain conditions.
  • Mechanical or electrical building projects are often undertaken in the garage. Fires can easily start while a careless occupant is welding near flammable materials. 

Doors

The 2006 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) states the following concerning doors that separate garages from living areas:

R309.1 Opening Penetration

Openings from a private garage directly into a room used for sleeping purposes shall not be permitted. Other openings between the garage and the residence shall be equipped with solid wood doors not less than 1-3/8” (35 mm) in thickness, solid- or honeycomb-core steel doors not less than 1-3/8” (35 mm) thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors.

In addition, Premium Home Inspections, LLC will check for the following while inspecting doors that separate garages from living areas:

  • While not required by the IRC, it is helpful if there is at least one step leading up to the door from the garage. Gasoline fumes and other explosive gases are heavier than air, and they will accumulate at ground level. Their entry beneath a door will be slowed by an elevation increase.
  • Doors should have tight seals around their joints to prevent seepage of fumes into the living areas of the house. Carbon monoxide, with the same approximate density as air (and often warmer than surrounding air), will easily rise above the base of an elevated door and leak through unsealed joints.
  • Doors should be self-closing. Many homeowners find these doors inconvenient, but they are safer than doors that can be left ajar. While this requirement is no longer listed in the IRC, it is still recommended.
  • If doors have windows, the glass should be fire-rated.
  • Pet doors should not be installed in fire-rated doors. Pet doors will violate the integrity of a fire barrier.

Walls and Ceilings

The 2006 edition of the IRC states the following concerning garage walls and ceilings:

         R309.2 Separation Required

The garage shall be separated from the residence and its attic area by not less than 1/2-inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board applied to the garage side. Garages beneath habitable rooms shall be separated from all habitable rooms above by not less than 5/8-inch (15.9 mm) Type X gypsum board or equivalent. Where the separation is a floor-ceiling assembly, the structure supporting the separation shall also be protected by not less than 1/2-inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board or equivalent. Garages located less than 3 feet (914 mm) from a dwelling unit on the same lot shall be protected with not less than 1/2–inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board applied to the interior side of exterior walls that are within this area. Openings in these walls shall be regulated by Section 309.1. This provision does not apply to garage walls that are perpendicular to the adjacent dwelling unit wall. 

  • In garages that have access to the attic, a hatch cover made from an approved, fire-rated material should protect this access at all times. Missing or opened covers are a fire hazard, as are  covers made from flammable materials, such as thin plywood. Garage attic door must be constructed such that the 45-minute rating is maintained; any drywall edges on both the hatch and the surrounding area exposed to physical damage should be protected. The cover or door should be installed so that it is permanent (non-removable), with latching hardware to maintain it in a closed position. This could be accomplished by the use of spring-loaded hinges, a door closer, or hardware that will not allow it to be left in an open position when not in use. A single bolt-type or hook-and-eye hardware does not provide a positive closure, since these would allow the door to be left open. Likewise, drywall screws are fasteners--not hardware--so they cannot be used as the only means of keeping access doors closed.
  • The living space should be separated from the garage by a firewall that extends from the floor to the roof. If the ceiling material is fire-rated, the firewall can terminate at the ceiling. Drywall joints shall be taped or sealed. Joints shall be fitted so that the gap is no more than 1/20-inch, with joints backed by either solid wood or another layer of drywall such that the joints are staggered.

Ducts 

The 2006 edition of the IRC states the following concerning ducts that penetrate garage walls and ceilings:

R309.1.1 Duct Penetration
 

Dryer exhaust ducts that penetrate garage walls are serious fire hazards. These ducts are generally made from plastic and will easily melt during a fire, creating a large breach in the firewall.


Water heaters


  • Water heaters should be elevated above the floor by at least 18 inches. A pilot light may ignite spilled fluid or floor-level flammable fumes if the water heater is placed at floor level.

Concerning items placed on the floor:

  • All flammable liquids should be stored in clearly labeled, self-closing containers, and in small amounts. They should be stored away from heaters, appliances, pilot lights, and other sources of heat and flame.
  • Propane tanks should never be stored indoors. If they catch fire, a serious explosion may result. Propane tanks are sturdy enough to be stored outdoors.
  • The floor should be clear of clutter. Loose papers, matches, oily rags, and other flammable items are dangerous if they are strewn about the garage floor.

In summary, attached garages should be sealed off from the living space so that fire and fumes may be contained. 

Average Lifespan of Household Items and Areas

     

ADHESIVES, CAULK & PAINTS


YEARS 

Caulking (interior & exterior)

5 to 10

 

Construction Glue

20+

 

Paint (exterior)

7 to 10

 

Paint (interior)

10 to 15

 

Roofing Adhesives/Cements

15+

 

Sealants

8

 

Stains

3 to 8

Surface preparation and paint quality are the most important determinants of a paint's life expectancy. Ultraviolet (UV) rays via sunshine can shorten life expectancy.  Additionally, conditions of high humidity indoors or outdoors can affect the lifespan of these components, which is why they should be inspected and maintained seasonally.

  

APPLIANCES        


YEARS

 

Air Conditioner (window)

5 to 7

 

Compactor (trash)

6

 

Dehumidifier

8

 

Dishwasher

9

 

Disposal (food waste)

12

 

Dryer Vent  (plastic)

NOT RECOMMENDED

 

Dryer Vent  (steel)

20

 

Dryer (clothes)

13

 

Exhaust Fans

10

 

Freezer 

10 to 20

 

Gas Oven

10 to 18

 

Hand Dryer

10 to 12

 

Humidifier (portable)

8

 

Microwave Oven

9

 

Range/Oven Hood

14

 

Electric Range

13 to 15

 

Gas Range

15 to 17

 

Refrigerator

9 to 13

 

Swamp Cooler

5 to 15

 

Washing Machine

5 to 15

 

Whole-House Vacuum System

20

    

Appliance life expectancy depends to a great extent on the use it receives. Furthermore, consumers often replace appliances long before they become worn out due to changes in styling, technology and consumer preferences.

Modern kitchens today are larger and more elaborate.  Together with the family room, they now form the “great room.” 

  

CABINETRY & STORAGE     


YEARS

 

Bathroom Cabinets 

50+ 

 

Closet Shelves

100+

 

Entertainment Center/Home Office

10

 

Garage/Laundry Cabinets

70+

 

Kitchen Cabinets

50

 

Medicine Cabinet

25+

 

Modular (stock manufacturing-type)

50 

  

CEILINGS & WALLS


YEARS

 

Acoustical Tile Ceiling

40+ (older than 25 years may   contain asbestos)

 

Ceramic Tile 

70+

 

Concrete

75+

 

Gypsum

75

 

Wood Paneling

20 to 50

 

Suspended Ceiling

25+

Walls and ceilings last the full lifespan of the home. 

  

COUNTERTOPS


YEARS

 

Concrete

50

 

Cultured Marble 

20

 

Natural Stone

100+

 

Laminate

20 to 30

 

Resin

10+

 

Tile

100+

 

Wood

100+

Natural stone countertops, which are less expensive than they were just a few years ago, are becoming more popular, and one can expect them to last a lifetime. Cultured marble countertops have a shorter life expectancy, however. 

  

DECKS


YEARS 

 

Deck Planks

15

 

Composite

8 to 25

 

Structural Wood

10 to 30

Decks are exposed to a wide range of conditions in different climates, from wind and hail in some areas, to relatively consistent, dry weather in others. See FASTENERS & STEEL section for fasteners.

  

DOORS


YEARS

 

Closet (interior) 

100+

 

Fiberglass (exterior) 

100+

 

Fire-Rated Steel (exterior)

100+

 

French (interior)

30 to 50

 

Screen (exterior)

30

 

Sliding Glass/Patio (exterior)

20 (for roller wheel/track   repair/replacement)

 

Vinyl (exterior)

20

 

Wood (exterior)

100+

 

Wood (hollow-core interior)

20 to 30

 

Wood (solid-core interior)

30 to 100+

Exterior fiberglass, steel and wood doors will last as long as the house, while vinyl and screen doors have a shorter life expectancy. The gaskets/weatherstripping of exterior doors may have to be replaced every 5 to 8 years.

  

ELECTRICAL


YEARS

 

Accessories

10+

 

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters   (AFCIs)

30

 

Bare Copper

100+

 

Bulbs (compact fluorescent)

8,000 to 10,000+ hours

 

Bulbs (halogen)

4,000 to 8,000+ hours

 

Bulbs (incandescent)

1,000 to 2,000+ hours

 

Bulbs (LED)

30,000 to 50,000+ hours

 

Copper-Clad Aluminum

100+

 

Copper-Plated

100+

 

Fixtures

40

 

Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters   (GFCIs)

up to 30

 

Lighting Controls

30+

 

Residential Propane Backup   Generators

12

 

Service Panel

60 Generally should be updated if more than 25 years old.

 

Solar Panels

20 to 30

 

Solar System Batteries

3 to 12

 

Wind Turbine Generators

20

Copper-plated wiring, copper-clad aluminum, and bare copper wiring are expected to last a lifetime, whereas electrical accessories and lighting controls, such as dimmer switches, may need to be replaced after 10 years.  GFCIs could last 30 years, but much less if tripped regularly.

Remember that faulty, damaged or overloaded electrical circuits or equipment are the leading cause of house fires, so they should be inspected regularly and repaired or updated as needed. 

Floor and roof trusses and laminated strand lumber are durable household components, and engineered trim may last 30 years.

  

ENGINEERED LUMBER


YEARS

 

Engineered Joists

80+

 

Laminated Strand Lumber

100+

 

Laminated Veneer Lumber

80+

 

Trusses

100+

  

FASTENERS, CONNECTORS & STEEL


YEARS

 

Adjustable Steel Columns

50+

 

Fasteners (bright)


25 to 60

 

Fasteners (copper)

65 to 80+

 

Fasteners (galvanized)

10+

 

Fasteners (electro-galvanized)

15 to 45

 

Fasteners (hot-dipped galvanized)

35 to 60

 

Fasteners (stainless)

65 to 100+

 

Steel Beams

200+

 

Steel Columns

100+

 

Steel Plates

100+

Fastener manufacturers do not give lifespans for their products because they vary too much based on where the fasteners are installed in a home, the materials in which they're installed, and the local climate and environment.  However, inspectors can use the guidelines below to make educated judgments about the materials they inspect.

  

FLOORING


YEARS

 

All Wood Floors

100+

 

Bamboo

100+

 

Brick Pavers

100+

 

Carpet

8 to 10

 

Concrete

50+

 

Engineered Wood

50+

 

Exotic Wood

100+

 

Granite

100+

 

Laminate

15 to 25

 

Linoleum

25

 

Marble

100+

 

Other Domestic Wood

100+

 

Slate

100

 

Terrazzo

75+

 

Tile

75 to 100

 

Vinyl

25

Flooring life is dependent on maintenance and the amount of foot traffic the floor endures.

  

FOUNDATIONS


YEARS

 

Baseboard Waterproofing System

50

 

Bituminous-Coating Waterproofing

10

 

Concrete Block

100+

 

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs)

100

 

Permanent Wood Foundation (PWF;   treated)

75

 

Post and Pier

20 to 65

 

Post and Tensioned Slab on Grade

100+

 

Poured-Concrete Footings and   Foundation

100+

 

Slab on Grade (concrete)

100

 

Wood Foundation

5 to 40

Concrete and poured-block footings and foundations will last a lifetime, assuming they were properly built.  Waterproofing with bituminous coating lasts 10 years, but if it cracks, it is immediately damaged.

  

FRAMING


YEARS

 

Log

80 to 200

 

Poured-Concrete Systems

100+

 

Steel

100+

 

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

100+

 

Timber Frame

100+

Framing and structural systems have extended longevities; poured-concrete systems, timber frame houses and structural insulated panels will all last a lifetime. 

  

GARAGES


YEARS

 

Garage Doors

20 to 25

 

Garage Door Openers 

10 to 15

The quality and frequency of use will affect the longevity of garage doors and openers.

  

HOME TECHNOLOGY


YEARS

 

Built-In Audio

20

 

Carbon Monoxide Detectors*

5

 

Doorbells

45

 

Home Automation System

5 to 50

 

Intercoms

20

 

Security System

5 to 20

 

Smoke/Heat Detectors*

less than 10 

 

Wireless Home Networks

5+

* Batteries should be changed at least annually.

Home technology systems have diverse life expectancies and may have to be upgraded due to evolution in technology.

  

HVAC


YEARS

 

Air Conditioner (central)

7 to 15

 

Air Exchanger

15

 

Attic Fan

15 to 25

 

Boiler

40

 

Burner

10+

 

Ceiling Fan

5 to 10

 

Chimney Cap (concrete)

100+

 

Chimney Cap (metal)

10 to 20

 

Chimney Cap (mortar)

15

 

Chimney Flue Tile

40 to 120

 

Condenser

8 to 20

 

Dampers

20+

 

Dehumidifier

8

 

Diffusers, Grilles and Registers

25

 

Ducting

60 to 100

 

Electric Radiant Heater

40

 

Evaporative Cooler

15 to 25

 

Furnace

15 to 25

 

Gas Fireplace

15 to 25

 

Heat Exchanger

10 to 15

 

Heat Pump

10 to 15

 

Heat-Recovery Ventilator

20

 

Hot-Water and Steam-Radiant Boiler

40

 

Humidifier

12

 

Induction and Fan-Coil Units

10 to 15

 

Thermostats

35

 

Ventilator

7

Thermostats may last 35 years but they are usually replaced before they fail due to technological improvements.

  

INSULATION & INFILTRATION   BARRIERS


YEARS

 

Batts/Rolls

100+

 

Black Paper (felt paper)

15 to 30

 

Cellulose

100+

 

Fiberglass

100+

 

Foamboard

100+

 

Housewrap

80+

 

Liquid-Applied Membrane

50

 

Loose-Fill

100+

 

Rockwool

100+

 

Wrap Tape

80+

As long as they are not punctured, cut or burned and are kept dry and away from UV rays, cellulose, fiberglass and foam insulation materials will last a lifetime. This is true regardless of whether they were installed as loose-fill, housewrap or batts/rolls.

  

MASONRY & CONCRETE     


YEARS

 

Brick

100+

 

Insulated Concrete Forms (hybrid   block)

100+

 

Concrete Masonry Units (CMUs)

100+

 

Man-Made Stone

25

 

Masonry Sealant

2 to 20

 

Stone

100+

 

Stucco/EIFS

50+

 

Veneer

100+

Masonry is one of the most enduring household components. Fireplaces, chimneys and brick veneers can last the lifetime of the home.

  

MOLDING, MILLWORK & TRIM


YEARS

 

Attic Stairs (pull-down) 

50

 

Custom Millwork

100+

 

Pre-Built Stairs

100+

 

Stair Parts

100+

 

Stairs

100+

Custom millwork and stair parts will last a lifetime and are typically only upgraded for aesthetic reasons.

  

PANELS


YEARS

 

Flooring Underlayment 

25

 

Hardboard

40

 

Particleboard

60

 

Plywood

100

 

Softwood

30

 

Oriented Strand Board (OSB)

60 

 

Wall Panels

100+

The lifetime of any wood product depends heavily on moisture intrusion. 

  

PLUMBING, FIXTURES & FAUCETS


YEARS

 

ABS and PVC Waste Pipe

50 to 80

 

Accessible/ADA Handles

100+

 

Acrylic Kitchen Sink

50

 

Cast-Iron Bathtub

100

 

Cast-Iron Waste Pipe (above   ground)

60

 

Cast-Iron Waste Pipe (below   ground)

50 to 60 


Concrete Waste Pipe

100+

 

Copper Water Lines

70

 

Enameled Steel Kitchen Sink

5 to 10+

 

Faucets and Spray Hose

15 to 20

 

Fiberglass Bathtub and Shower

20

 

Gas Lines (black steel)

75

 

Gas Lines (flex)

30

 

Hose Bibs

20 to 30

 

Instant (on-demand) Water Heater

10

 

PEX

40

 

Plastic Water Lines

75

 

Saunas/Steam Room

15 to 20

 

Sewer Grinder Pump

10

 

Shower Enclosure/Module

50

 

Shower Doors

20

 

Showerheads

100+ (if not clogged by   mineral/other deposits)

 

Soapstone Kitchen Sink

100+

 

Sump Pump

7

 

Toilet Tank Components

5

 

Toilets, Bidets and Urinals

100+

 

Vent Fan (ceiling)

5 to 10

 

Vessel Sink (stone, glass,   porcelain, copper)

5 to 20+

 

Water Heater (conventional)

6 to 12

 

Water Line (copper)

50

 

Water Line (plastic)

50

 

Water Softener

20

 

Well Pump

15

 

Whirlpool Tub

20 to 50

The quality of plumbing fixtures varies dramatically.  The mineral content of water can shorten the life expectancy of water heaters and clog showerheads.  Also, some finishes may require special maintenance with approved cleaning agents per the manufacturers in order to last their expected service lives.

  

RADON SYSTEMS


YEARS

 

Air Exchanger

15

 

Barometric Backdraft   Damper/Fresh-Air Intake

20

 

Caulking

5 to 10

 

Labeling

25

 

Manometer

15

 

Piping

50+

 

Radon Fan

5 to 8

Radon systems have but one moving part:  the radon fan.

  

ROOFING


YEARS

 

Aluminum Coating

3 to 7

 

Asphalt (architectural) 

30

 

Asphalt Shingles (3-tab)

20

 

BUR (built-up roofing)

30

 

Clay/Concrete

100+

 

Coal and Tar

30

 

Copper

70+

 

EPDM (ethylene propylene diene   monomer) Rubber

15 to 25

 

Fiber Cement

25

 

Green (vegetation-covered)

5 to 40

 

Metal

40 to 80

 

Modified Bitumen

20

 

Simulated Slate

10 to 35

 

Slate

60 to 150

 

TPO

7 to 20

 

Wood

25

The life of a roof depends on local weather conditions, building and design, material quality, and adequate maintenance.  Hot climates drastically reduce asphalt shingle life.  Roofs in areas that experience severe weather, such as hail, tornadoes and/or hurricanes, may also experience a shorter-than-normal lifespan overall or may incur isolated damage that requires repair in order to ensure the service life of the surrounding roofing materials. 

  

SIDINGS, FLASHING &   ACCESSORIES


YEARS

 

Aluminum Gutters, Downspouts,   Soffit and Fascia

20 to 40+

 

Aluminum Siding

25 to 40+

 

Asbestos Shingle

100

 

Brick

100+

 

Cementitious

100+

 

Copper Downspouts

100

 

Copper Gutters

50+

 

Engineered Wood

100+

 

Fiber Cement

100+

 

Galvanized Steel   Gutters/Downspouts

20

 

Manufactured Stone

100+

 

Stone

100+

 

Stucco/EIFS

50+

 

Trim

25

 

Vinyl Gutters and Downspouts

25+

 

Vinyl Siding

60

 

Wood/Exterior Shutters

20

Outside siding materials typically last a lifetime.  Some exterior components may require protection through appropriate paints or sealants, as well as regular maintenance.  Also, while well-maintained and undamaged flashing can last a long time, it is their connections that tend to fail, so seasonal inspection and maintenance are strongly recommended. 

  

SITE & LANDSCAPING


YEARS

 

American Red Clay

100+

 

Asphalt Driveway

15 to 20

 

Brick and Concrete Patio

15 to 25

 

Clay Paving

100+

 

Concrete Walks

40 to 50

 

Controllers

15

 

Gravel Walks

4 to 6

 

Mulch

1 to 2

 

Polyvinyl Fencing

100+

 

Sprinkler Heads

10 to 14

 

Underground PVC Piping

60+

 

Valves

20

 

Wood Chips

1 to 5

 

Wood Fencing

20

Site and landscaping elements have life expectancies that vary dramatically. 

  

SWIMMING POOLS


YEARS

 

Concrete Shell

25+

 

Cover

7

 

Diving Board

10

 

Filter and Pump

10

 

Interior Finish

10 to 35

 

Pool Water Heater

8

 

Vinyl Liner

10

 

Waterline Tile

15+

Swimming pools are composed of many systems and components, all with varying life expectancies.

  

WINDOWS


YEARS

 

Aluminum/Aluminum-Clad

15 to 20

 

Double-Pane

8 to 20

 

Skylights

10 to 20

 

Vinyl/Fiberglass Windows

20 to 40

 

Window Glazing

10+

 

Wood

30+

Aluminum windows are expected to last between 15 and 20 years, while properly maintained wooden windows should last nearly 30 years.

 Note: Life expectancy varies with usage, weather, installation, maintenance and quality of materials.  This list should be used only as a general guideline and not as a guarantee or warranty regarding the performance or life expectancy of any appliance, product, system or component. 

Electrical Safety

  

Electrical Safety


Electricity is an essential part of our lives. However, it has the potential to cause great harm. Electrical systems will function almost indefinitely, if properly installed and not overloaded or physically abused. Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords.  Some safety tips to remember:

  • Never use anything but the proper fuse to protect a circuit.
  • Find and correct overloaded circuits. 
  • Never place extension cords under rugs. 
  • Outlets near water, in asements and at the exterior should be GFCI-type outlets. 
  • Don't allow trees near power lines to be climbed. 
  • Keep ladders, kites, equipment and anything else away from overhead power lines. 

Electrical Panels

Electricity enters the home through a control panel and a main switch where one can shut off all the power in an emergency. These panels are usually located in the basement. Control panels use either fuses or circuit breakers. Install the correct fuses for the panel. Never use a higher-numbered fuse or a metallic item, such as a penny. If fuses are used and there is a stoppage in power, look for the broken metal strip in the top of a blown fuse. Replace the fuse with a new one marked with the correct amperage. Reset circuit breakers from "off" to "on." Be sure to investigate why the fuse or circuit blew. Possible causes include frayed wires, overloaded outlets, or defective appliances. Never overload a circuit with high-wattage appliances. Check the wattage on appliance labels. If there is frayed insulation or a broken wire, a dangerous short circuit may result and cause a fire. If power stoppages continue or if a frayed or broken wire is found, contact an electrician.

Outlets and Extension Cords

 Make sure all electrical receptacles or outlets are three-hole, grounded outlets. If there is water in the area, there should be a GFCI or ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet. All outdoor outlets should be GFCIs. There should be ample electrical capacity to run equipment without tripping circuit breakers or blowing fuses. Minimize extension cord use. Never place them under rugs. Use extension cords sparingly and check them periodically. Use the proper electrical cord for the job, and put safety plugs in unused outlets.

 Electrical Appliances

 Appliances need to be treated with respect and care. They need room to breathe. Avoid enclosing them in a cabinet without proper openings, and do not store papers around them. Make sure to level appliances so they do not tip. Washers and dryers should be checked often. Their movement can put undue stress on electrical connections. If any appliance or device gives off a tingling shock, turn it off, unplug it, and have a qualified person correct the problem. Shocks can be fatal. Never insert metal objects into appliances without unplugging them. Check appliances periodically to spot worn or cracked insulation, loose terminals, corroded wires, defective parts and any other components that might not work correctly. Replace these appliances or have them repaired by a person qualified to do so. 

Electrical Heating Equipment

 Portable electrical heating equipment may be used in the home as a supplement to the home heating system. Caution must be taken when using these heating supplements. Keep them away from combustibles, and make sure they cannot be tipped over. Keep electrical heating equipment in good working condition. Do not use them in bathrooms because of the risk of contact with water and electrocution. Many people use electric blankets in their homes. They will work well if they are kept in good condition. Look for cracks and breaks in the wiring, plugs and connectors. Look for charred spots on both sides. Many things can cause electric blankets to overheat. They include other bedding placed on top of them, pets sleeping on top of them, and putting things on top of the blanket when it is in use. Folding the blankets can also bend the coils and cause overheating. 

Children

 Electricity is important to the workings of the home, but can be dangerous, especially to children. Electrical safety needs to be taught to children early on. Safety plugs should be inserted in unused outlets when toddlers are in the home. Make sure all outlets in the home have face plates. Teach children not to put things into electrical outlets and not to chew on electrical cords. Keep electrical wiring boxes locked. Do not allow children to come in contact with power lines outside. Never allow them to climb trees near power lines, utility poles or high tension towers. 

Electricity and Water

 A body can act like a lightning rod and carry the current to the ground. People are good conductors of electricity, particularly when standing in water or on a damp floor. Never use any electrical appliance in the tub or shower. Never touch an electric cord or appliance with wet hands. Do not use electrical appliances in damp areas or while standing on damp floors. In areas where water is present, use outlets with GFCIs. Shocks can be fatal. 

Animal Hazards

 Mice and other rodents can chew on electrical wires and damage them. If rodents are suspected or known to be in the home, be aware of the damage they may cause, and take measures to get rid of them. 

Outside Hazards

 There are several electrical hazards outside the home. Be aware of overhead and underground power lines. People have been electrocuted when an object they are moving has come in contact with the overhead power lines. Keep ladders, antennae, kites and poles away from power lines leading to the house and other buildings. Do not plant trees, shrubs or bushes under power lines or near underground power lines. Never build a swimming pool or other structure under the power line leading to your house. Before digging, learn the location of underground power lines.

 Do not climb power poles or transmission towers. Never let anyone shoot or throw stones at insulators. If you have an animal trapped in a tree or on the roof near electric lines, phone your utility company. Do not take a chance of electrocuting yourself. Be aware of weather conditions when installing and working with electrical appliances. Never use electrical power tools or appliances with rain overhead or water underfoot. Use only outdoor lights, fixtures and extension cords. Plug into outlets with a GFCI. Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you see a downed power line, call the electric company, and warn others to stay away. If a power line hits your car while you are in it, stay inside unless the car catches fire. If the car catches fire, jump clear without touching metal and the ground at the same time.

MORE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS :

  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old and damaged appliance cords immediately.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely and don't overload them.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Don't allow children to play with or around electrical appliances, such as space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
  • Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least 3 feet from all heaters.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch, as well as lights that flicker. Use safety closures to childproof electrical outlets.
  • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.

In summary, household electrocution can be prevented by following the tips offered in this guide.


Open slots in the panel are a serious hazard!

Open slots in the panel are a serious hazard!

Humidifiers

 

Article Courtesy of Premium Home Inspections, LLC and INTERNACHI

 

Humidifiers are devices that humidify air so that building occupants are comfortable. Central humidifiers are hard-wired into a house’s plumbing and forced-air heating systems.


What is humidity?

Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air. “Relative humidity” signifies the amount of moisture in the air relative to the maximum amount of water the air can contain before it becomes saturated. This maximum moisture count is related to air temperature in that the hotter the air is, the more moisture it can hold. For instance, if indoor air temperature drops, relative humidity will increase.


How do central air humidifiers work?

Central air humidifiers are integrated into the forced-air heating system so that they humidify air while it is being heated. The water that is used by the device is pumped automatically into the humidifier from household plumbing, unlike portable humidifiers, which require the user to periodically supply water to the device. Humidifiers are available in various designs, each of which turns liquid water into water vapor, which is then vented into the house at an adjustable rate.


Why humidify air?

Certain airborne pathogens, such as those that cause the flu, circulate easier in dry air than in moist air. Moist air also seems to soothe irritated, inflamed airways. For someone with a cold and thick nasal secretions, a humidifier can help thin out the secretions and make breathing easier.

Indoor air that is too dry can also cause the following problems:

  • damage to musical instruments, such as pianos, guitars and violins;
  • dry skin;
  • peeling wallpaper;
  • static electricity, which can damage sensitive electrical equipment, cause hair to stick up, and can be painful or annoying; and 
  • cracks in wood furniture, floors, cabinets and paint.

Central Humidifier Dangers

Humidifiers can cause various diseases. The young, elderly and infirm may be particularly at risk to contamination from airborne pollutants, such as bacteria and fungi. These can grow in humidifiers and get into the air by way of the vapor where it can be breathed in. Some of the more common diseases and pathogens transmitted by humidifiers are:

  • Legionnaires’ Disease. Health problems caused by this disease range from flu-like symptoms to serious infections. This problem is generally more prevalent with portable humidifiers because they draw standing water from a tank in which bacteria and fungi can grow;
  • thermophilic actinomycetes. These bacteria thrive at temperatures of 113° to 140° F and can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is an inflammation of the lungs; and 
  • “humidifier fever,” which is a mysterious and short-lived, flu-like illness marked by fever, headache, chills and malaise, but without prominent pulmonary symptoms. It normally subsides within 24 hours without residual effects.

Other problems associated with humidifiers include:

  • accumulation of white dust from minerals in the water. These minerals may be released in the mist from the humidifier and settle as fine white dust that may be small enough to enter the lungs. The health effects of this dust depend on the types and amounts of dissolved minerals. It is unclear whether these minerals cause any serious health problems;
  • moisture damage due to condensation. Condensed water from over-humidified air will appear on the interior surfaces of windows and other relatively cool surfaces. Excessive moisture on windows can damage windowpanes and walls, but a more serious issue is caused when moisture collects on the inner surfaces of exterior walls. Moisture there can ruin insulation and rot the wall, and cause peeling, cracking or blistering of the paint; and accumulation of mold. This organic substance grows readily in moist environments, such as a home moistened by an over-worked humidifier. Mold can be hazardous to people with compromised immune systems. 

Designs and MaintenanceHumidistat

  • Drum-type humidifiers have a rotating spongy surface that absorbs water from a tray. Air from the central heating system blows through the sponge, vaporizing the absorbed water. The drum type requires care and maintenance because mold and impurities can collect in the water tray. According to some manufacturers' instructions, this tray should be rinsed annually, although it usually helps to clean it several times per heating season.
  • Flow-through or “trickle” humidifiers are higher quality though more expensive units than the drum-type, which allows fresh water to trickle into an aluminum panel. Air blows through the panel and forces the water to evaporate into the air stream. Excess water exits the panel into a drain tube. This design requires little maintenance because the draining water has a “self-cleaning” effect and, unlike the drum-type humidifier, there is no stagnant water.

Other tips:

  • If equipped with a damper, it should be closed in the summer and opened in the winter. The damper may appear as a knob that can be set to “summer” or “winter” setting, or it may be a piece of metal that can be inserted to cover the duct opening.
  • The humidifier is controlled by a humidistat, which must be adjusted daily. Some new models do this automatically, although most require daily attention from building occupants. The humidistat should contain a chart that can be used to identify the proper setting based on the outdoor temperature. If this adjustment is not performed, condensation will likely collect on cool surfaces and potentially lead to mold or wood rot. Many homeowners do not know that this calibration is necessary.
  • The furnace might need to be checked for rust. Some humidifiers are installed inside the plenum of the furnace, which can be damaged by rust if the humidifier leaks.
  • Central humidifiers may have a solid core that should be replaced each year. The manufacturer’s instructions should be consulted      regarding this replacement.

In summary, central humidifiers are used to humidify air to make it more comfortable, but they can cause health problems and building damage if they are not properly maintained. 

Plants and Indoor Air Quality

 

Plants and Indoor Air Quality

Article Courtesy of Premium Home Inspections, LLC and INTERNACHI


Raising plants indoors is a home-healthy move because of their ability to clean the air of carbon dioxide, but their benefits don't stop there. According to several studies, the average houseplant can remove formaldehyde, benzene, and a host of other toxins that plague typical indoor air.


It may come as a surprise, but indoor air is often much more polluted than the air outside. Off-gassing from paints, adhesives, and even unsuspected items, such as clothing and tap water, infuse the air we breathe with a host of chemicals, many of which are proven carcinogens. Newer, tighter homes are especially problematic, since they limit the amount of fresh air that can make its way into the interior. Compound this with the average time that citizens of developed nations spend indoors (up to 90%) and the need for remediation becomes clear.  Answering this need can be as simple as the addition of green, leafy plants to the living space.


Interesting Facts

  • Removal of environmental airborne toxins with the aid of plants is called phytoremediation.
  • Plants can reduce stress, increase work performance, and reduce symptoms of ill health.

Study Performed by NASA

While researching the ability of plants to cleanse air in space stations, NASA made some fascinating and important discoveries concerning the role that houseplants play here on Earth. They tested the ability of a variety of plants to remove common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. The toxins tested include:

  • Benzene:
    • Found in petroleum-based  indoor coatings, gasoline, inks, oils, paints, plastics, rubber, cleaning  solutions, plastics, and exterior exhaust fumes emanating into buildings
    • It is an irritant and probable  carcinogen. Inhalation of benzene has been reported to cause dizziness, weakness, euphoria, headache, nausea, blurred vision, respiratory diseases, tremors, irregular heartbeat, liver and kidney damage, paralysis and unconsciousness.
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE):
    • Found in a wide variety of products, such as inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes and adhesives
    • Known to be a potent liver carcinogen.
  • Formaldehyde:
    • Found in virtually all indoor environments due to its widespread use in many kinds of products. Specifically, it may be found in:
      • Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI), particleboard and pressed-wood products
      • Paper products, such as  grocery bags, waxed papers, facial tissues and paper towels
      • Common household cleaning  agents
      • Stiffeners, wrinkle-resisters, water-repellents, fire-retardants and adhesive binders in floor coverings, carpet backings and permanent-press clothes
      • Heating and cooking fuels, such as natural gas and kerosene, and cigarette smoke.
    • Formaldeyde causes watery eyes, nausea and wheezing. More seriously, the chemical is classified as carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
  • Toluene:
    • Found in adhesives, disinfectants, rubber, printing ink, lacquers, and leather tanners
    • Symptoms in low doses include sleepiness, confusion, weakness, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite, and hearing and color-vision loss. High levels of toluene may cause light-headedness, unconsciousness, and death.

In the NASA testing, flowering plants, such as chrysanthemums and gerbera daisies, effectively removed benzene from the chamber's atmosphere. Golden pothos, spider plants and philodendron were the most effective in removing formaldehyde molecules. Other top performers were red-edged dracaena and the Peace Lilly. The rest of the plants tested, with the exception of Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum), were effective at removing at least one of the chemicals from the air. NASA researchers found that plants absorb airborne substances through tiny openings in their leaves, but roots and soil bacteria are also part of the purification process.

The study concluded that in an 1,800-square-foot house, occupants should incorporate 15 to 18 houseplants in 6- to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality. The larger and more vigorously they grow, the better. 

India Study

The government of India published the results of a groundbreaking study in September of 2008 that analyzed the effects of certain species of plants on indoor air quality. Three plant species –- areca palm, pothos (known as Mother-in-Law's Tongue), and the Money Plant -– were tested for 15 years at the Paharpur Business Centre and Software Technology Incubator Park in New Delhi. The building was 20 years old and 50,000 square feet, and it housed more than 1,200 plants for 300 workers. The study found that the building had the healthiest indoor air in the city. Specifically, compared to other buildings in New Delhi, the building showed reductions of:

  • Eye irritation by 52%;
  • Respiratory conditions by 34%;
  • Headaches by 24%;
  • Lung impairment by 12%;      and 
  • Asthma by 9%.

In addition, energy costs were reduced by 15% because less outside air infiltration was required. Worker productivity showed an increase of 20%, perhaps as a result of fewer sick days and increased blood-oxygen levels.

In summary, plants can generally be used to enhance the aesthetic environment and the air quality inside buildings, but care must be taken to account for potential allergies, the use of fertilizers and pesticides indoors, adequate ventilation and air flow, and the level of moisture maintained for the plants -- all factors that can affect the building and its occupants.