It's a Great day at M&M Home Inspections
Home & Commercial Inspections
We love that we are one of Rochester’s most trusted home inspectors, and we want to keep it that way. When you hire us to inspect a property, you can be sure that your inspection report will be thorough, detailed, and accurate. As home inspectors, our job is to take as much of the guesswork out of the home buying process as possible. When you know that your home inspector has made a thorough and comprehensive inspection, you can confidently make your decision about whether or not to purchase the home.
It's a Great day at M&M Home Inspections
My friend Rose.....with a neat little trick for home buyers!
Leaving clues to protect my clients from untrustworthy contractors 😉⚡️
With the weather cooling down rapidly after one of the hottest summers on record, changing temperatures can put stress on your home & garden, as well as your bills.
First Inspection of the day in Pittsford....
Thank you Rochester for making us your #1 choice for Home Inspections!
Back from Labor Day Fly fishing trip in Utah.....and raring to Go!
Can we help with your Inspection this week??
If you haven't liked our page....you are really missing out on some great tips!!
The Importance of Rake & Drip Edge Many homes that I have inspected lack Rake / Drip edge. As a renovator, I have seen the dam...
Happy cool rainy Monday morning Rochester ....we're ready to inspect you!
We are Rochesters
For Home Inspections
Proper Air Sealing & Moisture Control
Some home inspectors also perform Energy Star ratings or Energy Score evaluations. Some states are requiring more than just Energy Star. They are adopting a score evaluation for all homes. Soon these “scores” will be part of the properties profile, and used when the house is listed for sale. Most home inspectors do not do this type of testing which is above the requirements of a visual home inspection. However air loss and moisture intrusion can become a very important part of a home inspection. Moisture entering a house, whether as a leak or because of condensation creates issues that are detrimental to the building. Mold, wet / dry rot, Sick Building Syndrome, and other serious issues can occur. We are starting to see this in newer homes as we do with homes constructed in the 70’s and 80’s. These homes are designed to be “tight” and energy efficient. Many older homes do not experience these types of moisture issues because of the air loss resulting in the areas in question drying out before the moisture becomes a problem. It is not trapped and air (leaks) will dry it out. There are issues that we may not be able to see during a visual home inspection. Some of these are: air barrier, which should be continuous, insulation installed properly, vapor barrier in the proper place / orientation, flashing, etc. So many things that effect air sealing / loss and moisture intrusion that we cannot see. Energy Star has a checklist that inspectors use when performing an inspection. This is also good information for a home inspector. You can find this list by clicking on this link: CLICK HERE
Without being able to see some of the areas where these problems may have originated, what can a home inspector look for:
Garage band joist
Floor above garage
Attic knee walls
Skylight shaft walls
Wall adjoining porch roof
Basement / crawl space band joists
Crawl space walls (foam is the best choice for this application)
Slab – edge insulation
Look for thermal bridging in attic space
Insulation should not have gaps
Cantilevered areas are properly insulated with vapor barrier
At least a 6 mil vapor barrier on dirt craw space floors
Openings to unconditioned spaces are fully sealed
Attic access panel is insulated
Attic drop down stairs are fully insulated
Recessed lighting properly sealed (must be IC rated)
Whole house fan cover is insulated
Common wall between dwelling units is insulated and fire rated
Pipe / shaft penetrations are properly sealed (fire caulk / sealant if necessary
First inspection of the day....its april and its snowing......dang!!
Masonry Fireplace Inspection
A great article by my friend David Clark
Many real estate listings when describing the fireplace put an acronym: NRTC (Not Represented To Code). The reason for this is that wood burning fireplaces are not technically “grandfathered” in many areas. So if a chimney or other fire occurs, it may not be covered by insurance. Some home inspectors are certified for fireplace inspections. Many are not, however I am always asked by my clients; “can I burn wood in it?” I know many home inspectors inform their client that the fireplace inspection is based on “component” condition, not on functionality. Although this is the correct answer, it does not answer the question they asked. There are things we can look for that will indicate if the unit should be safe for operation. Even if this is the case, if your client is planning on using the fireplace for wood burning, it would be advantageous for them to get something in writing from a certified fireplace inspector. This documentation may be necessary for insurance purposes. Here is what a home inspector should look for regarding masonry fireplaces:
· The fireplace hearth should also be masonry and be at least 4 inches thick and 20 inches deep.
· Any hearth extension should be masonry and be at leas t 2 inches thick, extend at least 16” in front, and 8” to each side of the fireplace opening if the fireplace has an area of less than 6 square feet
· If the area of the firebox is more than 6 square feet, the hearth extension should extend at least 20” in front and 12” to each side of the fireplace opening
· There should not be a gap between the hearth and the hearth extension
· No combustible materials should be below the hearth extension
· Firebox masonry walls should be at least 8 inches thick and lined with 2” firebrick. If firebrick is not used the masonry walls should be 10” thick
· The bricks / masonry should not be cracked or damaged. Mortar joints should be in good condition with no gaps
· Mortar joints should be no larger than ¼ “ thick
· Steel fireboxes should not be damaged or separated in any areas
· Look for metal tags on newer units, indicating code compliance and proper clearances
· If a lintel is installed over the firebox, it should be in good condition and extend approximately 4 inches on each side
· The damper should operate freely and close / open completely
· Use caution and open first before looking up the flue pipe
· Extreme caution should be used when opening a damper that is located at the chimney top. I do not recommend pulling the chain on these types of dampers.
· The firebox surround should also be constructed of non-combustible material (brick, tile, slate, concrete, etc..)
· Look for an ash clean-out door within 6 inches of the flue base
Doing an Inspection on the lake in Hilton....24 degrees.....stiff wind....I'm ready!
Light Fixture Location Inspection
There are certain areas that light fixtures should be installed. Clients always ask me; “should a light be there”. As I always state we are not conducting a code inspection, however there are areas that should have lights and some of these areas require a specific type of light. A wall switched controlled light should be installed in every habitable room, including bathrooms. It should be a permanently installed light fixture on a ceiling or wall in kitchens and baths. Other rooms may have light fixtures controlled by a switched receptacle. Exterior stairways should have a light near the top of the landing. Exterior stairways to a basement should have the light at the bottom landing. Exterior light switches should be located on the interior. Other places and specific type of lighting and fixtures should be in the following locations:
Interior stairway lights should be capable of lighting all steps and landings
There should be a light switch controlling the light at the top and bottom of the staircase if there are six or more steps.
There should be a light in all basements, attics, and crawl spaces if the area is used for storage or if there is equipment that may require service. The switch should be at the opening to the area. A pull chain can be used if the light is located near the opening. The light fixture should be located near the appliance for service purposes
Any light fixture, or part of (fan blades, etc.), should not be within 3 feet horizontally or and 8 feet vertically from the tub rim or shower threshold
Any fixture in the shower / tub area should be rated for damp or wet locations locations. Many of these fixtures have glass covers and rubber seals
Light fixtures with exposed incandescent bulbs should not be located inside a closet
Surface mounted incandescent and LED fixtures should not be located within 12 inches from the closet storage areas
Surface mounted fluorescent fixtures and recessed incandescent, LED, and fluorescent fixtures should not be located within 6 inches from the closet storage areas
Home inspections are scary. Just when you've found the house of your dreams, a home inspector comes along and tells you all that's wrong with it.
Just inspected this house in Fairport...built in 1862
Here's Why Old Houses Have a Random Toilet in the Basement
Opinions vary, but one thing is for sure: toilets in the basement are an outdated concept.
Don't assume the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your house are safe—Consumer Reports tells you what to look for.
Nothing quite like inspecting a 7,000 sq ft. House......it was lovely!
This is our 1st inspection in Pittsford..... on a totally booked Saturday.........we love you Rochester, thank you for making us your favorite home inspection company
Batter Up!! First of 3 Home Inspections today!
Thanks Rochester for Choosing M&M Home Inspections!!
Good Morning Upstate NY!!
M&M Home inspections is doing the Leroy home built in 1876
FPE Stab-Lok Panels Are Hazardous
By Reuben Saltzman In Electrical, FPE Stab-Lok Panels On May 19, 2009
Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok panels have long been known to be problematic, and I’ve always called them out as a potential safety hazard, but for the past several years I’ve been much more ‘aggressive’ with the way that I report them. While performing a home inspection, I used to recommend having these panels evaluated by an electrician and replaced if necessary, but now I just skip the whole recommendation thing. I tell my clients to have the panels replaced.
To understand why, here are a few key points:
Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) sold millions of panels between the 1950’s and 1980’s.
Testing by the Consumer Product Safety Commision has shown these breakers to have an unacceptably high rate of failure, which creates a safety hazard.
Testing has proven that virtually every panel installed in the United States contains defective breakers.
FPE falsified their UL testing, making their UL listing void.
Approximately 1 out of 3 breakers are defective.
If a breaker fails to trip when it should, the wires in the home that are supposed to be protected can start on fire.
So why don’t I recommend having an electrician evaluate the panel? There’s no point. Some electricians are under the impression that FPE panels are safe if they can turn every breaker on and off, if every breaker is tightly attached, and if there is no evidence of overheating or scorching in the panel. These things would be dead givaways that there is a problem, but to truly know if the breaker would trip when it needs to, each breaker would need to actually be tested. This testing would be more expensive than having the entire panel replaced.
In the past, I told my clients to have FPE panels evaluated by an electrician. I followed up with many buyers that bought homes with FPE panels because I was curious how many panels actually got replaced, and I found two typical outcomes: One – the buyer’s agent would tell the buyer that I’m just trying to cover my butt, the panel has been fine for the current owners for the last 30 years, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Two – the buyer would ask the seller to have an electrician evaluate the panel for safety, and the seller would find an electrician willing to say the panel is safe.
I started to wonder what electricians are actually saying about these panels, so I sent out emails to 50 local electricians, asking them how they test or evaluate FPE panels. You’d be surprised at how difficult it was to find 50 email addresses of local electricians. Here are the responses I received:
Twelve electricians said they don’t look at these panels or test them, they just consider them a safety hazard and say they should be replaced. I had several electricians call me and share some great personal stories and anecdotes with me.
Four electricians said that these are poorly made panels that are prone to failure, but replacement is only recommended, not required. They look for loose breakers, scorch marks, or burn marks.
One electrician said that he overloads a random number of breakers past their rating to see if they’ll trip. I like this guy’s hands-on approach, but this is probably an unsafe practice and it won’t tell you anything about the safety of the panel unless every single breaker is tested.
Thirty-Three didn’t respond.
The bottom line is that every single electrician that responded was familiar with the hazards associated with FPE panels, and most of them recommend replacement outright. About half of the electricians referenced a web site that has some excellent info on the hazards of these panels. To read more about this issue, check out this detailed report on FPE Stab-Lok panels by J. Aronstein.
Post update 10/03/12: Check out this recent news clip on FPE Stab-Lok panels
Why do we drive so far to do home inspections.......because upstate NY is awesome!
Nice afternoon in Cobbs Hill.....ready for the Inspection!
Permanent Wood Foundations
by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard
While traditional basement walls are made from masonry materials such as concrete or stone, inspectors should be prepared to encounter permanent wood foundations (PWFs). When pressure-treated wood was developed in the 1960s, it became possible for wood to be used in foundation walls without being prohibitively vulnerable to damage from insects and moisture, and by the 1970s, PWFs gained acceptance.
Some builders and manufacturers claim that wood foundations offer a number of advantages over masonry foundations, such as:
Wood foundations are simpler, quicker and cheaper to construct than masonry foundations. On average, they will not, however, last as long as masonry foundations and are less durable in the long-term.
The design of PWFs requires that dry soil is maintained around the foundation. This means that a properly maintained and constructed basement with wood walls will be dry and mildew-free. Basement mildew, leakage and dampness are common in houses with masonry foundations.
Finishing a basement is easier when walls are made from wood. Insulation is placed between the wall studs to which drywall can be attached.
The basement will be warmer because wood is a better insulator than masonry, and the foundation wall studs provide large cavities for insulation. However, it must be considered that wood foundation walls are typically much thinner than masonry walls. Also, masonry can be insulated.
Inspectors can check for the following indicators that wood basement walls are experiencing problems:
dampness. If dampness is present, its source should be identified. Dampness may be due to a rising water table, an inadequate drainage system, or inadequate damp-proofing. Water from an interior source, such as an air conditioner or a high-efficiency furnace, however, does not indicate a compromised PWF.
exterior wood decay. Inspectors can check for exterior wood decay by probing the wall from the outside with a rod. It is usually adequate to probe once every 8 feet. If decayed wood is detected by probing, it is likely that decay exists elsewhere in the wall.
interior wood decay. If the interior wall is not covered by drywall, it may be possible to inspect for wood decay below grade from the inside of the house.
foundation leakage. Evidence of foundation leakage may be discovered at butt joints where sealant may not have been used.
buckling. Buckling can occur due to constant pressure over the course of years, or by the back-filling process.
lack of a moisture barrier. Outside, a moisture barrier should be present and it should rise above grade.
bowing of the foundation walls, especially the wall next to the basement stairs.
As addressed above, PWFs rely upon adequate damp-proofing. Inspectors can refer to the 2006 International Residential Code (IRC) for specifics regarding this subject:
Plywood panel joints in the foundation walls shall be sealed full length with a caulking compound capable of producing a moisture-proof seal under the conditions of temperature and moisture content at which it will be applied and used.
A 6-mil-thick (0.15 mm) polyethylene film shall be applied over the below-grade portion of exterior foundation walls prior to backfilling. Joints in the polyethylene film shall be lapped 6 inches (152 mm) and sealed with adhesive. The top ledge of the polyethylene film shall be bonded to the sheathing to form a seal. Film areas at grade shall be protected from mechanical damage and exposure by a pressure preservatively treated lumber or plywood strip attached to the wall several inches above finish-grade level and extending approximately 9 inches (229 mm) below grade. The joint between the strip and the wall shall be caulked full length prior to fastening the strip to the wall. Other coverings appropriate to the architectural treatment may also be used. The polyethylene film shall extend down to the bottom of the wood footing plate but shall not overlap or extend into the gravel or crushed stone footing.
163 Empire Blvd
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