weephole

Why Are Weep Holes in Brick Important?

Oklahoma City home inspection: Weep hole explanation

Many homeowners first discover weep holes while observing the outside brick surface of their home. Sometimes, they don’t even know they are there unless they are pointed out during one of my Oklahoma City home inspections. Many people think that when their home was built that the mason forgot to fill these holes in the bottom of the house. Some homeowners even think that the holes are there due to some sort of damage done to the home. I am here to debunk these misconceptions. As a trusted adviser for Oklahoma City home inspections, with many years of experience, I want to keep my customers informed. Below are a few questions I could get from customers and the answers.

Customer’s Oklahoma City home inspection question: So, what exactly are weep holes?

Answer: Weep hole openings are drainage holes left in the face of a brick. They are not damage done to you home; they are there on purpose. That’s right, the home builder did this for a reason! These weep holes are there in order to allow water to escape downwards through the cavity created and out to the outside of the wall surface through the weep hole openings.

Customer’s Oklahoma City home inspection question: Why are weep holes needed for brick?

Answer: These pretty, fired or sun-dried clay bricks are not waterproof. In fact, because brick is a very porous type of material it just soaks up the water. Without the weep holes, water would just penetrate into the brick which can cause damage to the home.

An extra tidbit: There are some companies out there that will try to sell vents to cover the weep holes. If you try to do this, just know that adding a wall vent or drain screen should reduce the chances of clogging from insects or animals, but if the wall was improperly constructed so that the opening does not actually vent the wall then the vent screen cannot correct those defects.

Give me a call (405) 301-3321) to find out more, or if you feel you need an Oklahoma City home inspection!

Egress. Oklahoma City home inspection

Egress Windows For Emergency Exiting

Oklahoma City home inspection: Window safety check

By following today’s regulation codes, one of the main things I take notice to when completing an Oklahoma City home inspection are the windows. The question I have to ask is “are these windows safe?” The question homeowners have is, what is considered “safe?” If your home is older, then you may not realize that your windows do not meet the safety standards of today. Even if your home is newer, there may be a chance that your windows aren’t up to par with the code. Egress windows are a requirement for homes being built and, perhaps, should be considered for installment in older homes for safety reasons.

The word egress is Latin, meaning: a way to get out of a place or the act of leaving a place. In the sense of egress windows, they are meant for emergency exiting or rescue. While conducting my Oklahoma City home inspections, I often see windows that not even a normal sized child could squeeze out of. It is crazy to fathom how many people do not have an emergency exit plan from their bedrooms, or a way to exit from their bedrooms safely in case of a fire.

For new homes, every residential sleeping room is required to have at least one operable window or exterior door approved for emergency exit in case of a fire. The egress windows are also required in basements with habitable space. Even if you have a basement without sleeping space, it would still be safe to have one installed. I would like to share with you from an Oklahoma City home inspection perspective more about egress windows; how they measure, why they’re beneficial and how they should function.

1.) How they should measure: The minimum net clear opening height must be 24 inches and the minimum net clear opening width must be 20 inches. An egress window must also have a sill height no more than 44” above the finished interior floor. It has to be large enough for you to get out of or a fully dressed fire fighter to get into!

2.) Why egress windows are beneficial: Not only are they meant for safety, but did you know that an egress window is also economical? They are economical, because they are adding value to your home. They may also be more energy efficient that your current windows which could be allowing drafts of air in.

3.) How they function: The egress window must be operable from the inside to a full clear opening without the use of a key, tool, or special knowledge.

Required or not, egress windows are essential lifesaving equipment. As an added bonus, I will leave you with a tip that you may need to know if you’re considering adding egress compliant windows to your home.

Oklahoma City home inspection tip:

If you’re replacing a smaller window with a larger one that meets egress requirements, bear in mind that enlarging the height of the opening takes less structural work than enlarging the width.

Give me a call (405) 301-3321) to find out more, or if you feel you need an Oklahoma City home inspection!

electrical

About Electrical Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters

Oklahoma City home inspection: The AFCI breakdown

As an Oklahoma City home inspection company owner, it is my job to be concerned with the safety features that a home could have to be better. One fairly new safety feature that has become the new wave of protection for electronics is an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter. Chances are (unless you have heard this term used by an inspector during an Oklahoma City home inspection or by an electrician) you’ve never heard of this technology. Just like many homeowners, you may not know what an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) really is.

The explanation of AFCI can be somewhat complicated to newcomers, but basically it is a type of breaker designed to detect arc faults in your home’s wiring. Arcing faults are a series that an arc occurs in electrical wiring when there is a small gap or break in a conductor. A parallel arc occurs when a small gap or break permits current to flow to the ground (a ground fault) or between the hot and neutral wires (a short circuit). This is where the AFCI comes in; it trips the breaker before those arcing faults can cause a fire. This is important, because over 40,000 fires, annually, are being attributed to home electrical wiring issues.

Oklahoma City home inspection tip # 1:
If you are curious whether you have AFCI breakers in your home, you can do a simple check to find out. Go to the electrical panels to see if any of the breakers have a test button. Next, read the label to see what type of breaker it is. There are two types of AFCI breakers you may keep an eye out for: Branch Feeder (or BRAF) and Combination type.

Oklahoma City home inspection tip # 2:
Combination type breakers are the newer ones. If you have panels with the older BRAF type breakers, it is recommended to replace them with the newer Combination type AFCI breakers.

Oklahoma City home inspection tip #3:
If you do not have AFCI breakers at all, then there is more for you to consider. Currently, there is not a way for AFCI breakers to be installed into very old homes without rewiring the circuits and installing new panels that could accept the AFCI breakers. If you’re not selling your home, then making the upgrade is solely up to your judgment as a homeowner.

Keep in mind, that the upgrade to AFCI breakers could be the difference between a home fire or replacement of expensive electronic items such as your radio, television or computer. AFCI breakers are truly a safety improvement for your home.

Give me a call (405-301-3321) to find out more, or if you feel you need an Oklahoma City home inspection!

frozen-pipe2

Inside Out Home Inspection Discusses Frozen Pipes: Part 2

Oklahoma City home inspection: Freezing weather tips

In part one of this series I discussed that when completing an Oklahoma City home inspection I see many things to be concerned about. One of the main things, with current temperatures, is frozen pipes that are prone to bursting. This can damage the inside and outside of your home. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety provided information that explains the true dangers of frozen pipes. In part two of this series I will show you a few more reasons why frozen pipes can be dangerous and explain to you a few more ways that you can prepare your home to prevent them. As mentioned previously, I am an Oklahoma City home inspection expert and I feel obliged to keep you knowledgeable.

Oklahoma City home inspection warning: Why frozen pipes are dangerous.

1.) A busted pipe can cost you well over $5,000 worth of water damage.
2.) 250 gallons of water can leak out from a crack that is as small as an eight of an inch.

Oklahoma City home inspection tip: What you can do to prevent frozen pipes.

There are things you should do to the interior and exterior of your home to prevent frozen pipes. The first thing you should do is disconnect all gardening hoses and install covers on all outside faucets. Also, wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape. This can prevent freezing, especially for interior pipes that run along outside walls. Additionally, if you insulate the outside walls and unheated areas of your home, you will be providing a “coat” for you home.

Oklahoma City home inspection bonus tip:

If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, shut off the water supply valves to your washing machine.

About me:
I’m Jan Banks of Inside Out Home Inspection Services. I do Oklahoma City home inspections in the metro to include a 50 mile radius. I am dedicated to serving all customer inspection needs across this greater Oklahoma City metropolitan area. I have over 20 years experience in the construction industry as an estimator, job superintendent and a licensed General Contractor.

frozen-pipe

Inside Out Home Inspection Discusses Frozen Pipes: Part 1

Oklahoma City home inspection: Freezing weather tips

When completing an Oklahoma City home inspection I see a great deal of issues. You may not have time to stop and think about home safety-related things, but the dangers of frozen pipes are real and should be noted. With these recent temperatures being below freezing, it is possible that your home’s pipes could get frozen. The damage that frozen pipes can do to your home is chilling. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has a few startling statics about frozen pipes being one of the biggest risks of property damage when the temperature drops. In part one of this series I will show you a few reasons why frozen pipes can be dangerous and explain to you how you can prepare the inside of your home to prevent them. As your Oklahoma City home inspection expert, I feel obliged to keep you in the know.

Oklahoma City home inspection warning: Why frozen pipes are dangerous.

1.) The frozen pipe failures that occur in a basement comes to about 37%.
2.) A frozen pipe can lead to it bursting.

Oklahoma City home inspection tip: What you can do to prevent frozen pipes.

You can prevent your pipes from freezing by doing a number of things on the inside of your home. If you keep your house temperature at 68 degrees or higher, even if you’re leaving the house for an extended period of time, this will help out tremendously. Additionally, opening cabinet doors below sinks will allow heat from the home to circulate. It is also important to close all windows near water pipes and cover or close open-air vents. This is significant, because freezing temperatures combined with wind drafts can cause pipes to freeze more frequently. Finally, if you have a basement, heat it and consider weather sealing your windows.

Oklahoma City home inspection bonus tip:

You should identify the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater, because learning the location of these valves may come in handy during an emergency.

About me:

I’m Jan Banks of Inside Out Home Inspection Services. I do Oklahoma City home inspections in the metro to include a 50 mile radius. I am dedicated to serving all customer inspection needs across this greater Oklahoma City metropolitan area. I have over 20 years experience in the construction industry as an estimator, job superintendent and a licensed General Contractor.

Tips for Replacing Tubs and Showers

If you are replacing an existing tub, be sure to measure  and ensure it will fit in the same opening.  Be sure the plumbing and tub drain are in the same place.  Tubs are referred to as right or left drains.

Whirlpool tubs and tub surrounds are big.  Be sure they will fit the stairway and bathroom door.

Decide if you want shower curtains or a door.  If you convert to shower doors you can always go back, just realize that removing the door’s side rails will leave small holes in the walls.

The Real Skinny on Extension Cord Use

I can not tell you how many extension cords I see when I inspect homes.  I have inspected houses where extension cords are plugged into an outlet in a crawl space and run up through the floor of the home.  This can be a very dangerous situation and I do not think people are fully aware that it is and why.  This picture seems crazy and nobody would do that right?  Wrong!  I see things this dangerous on a regular basis.

Extension cords are a leading cause of electrical fires.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 3300 residential  fires originate in extension cords each year.  The most frequent causes of such fires is short circuits, overloading and damage to the cords.

Extension cords should only be used when necessary and on a temporary basis only.  The best practice is to plug any appliance directly into a wall outlet.  Things like garage door openers, outdoor fountains and freezers in garages should not have extension cords powering them as a permanent wiring solution. Extension cords are labeled with use,size and wattage ratings.  Cords are offered in different lengths and marked with a gauge based on the American Wiring Gauge (AWG).

When deciding to use an extension cord, carefully read manufacturers instructions for the tools you will be using.  A cord based on its gauge can power an appliance of a certain wattage only at specific distances.  As the cord gets longer, the current carrying capacity gets lower.

Quick Tip: If your appliance indicates that it uses 5 AMPS at 125Volts then the wattage rating would be 625 Watts. (5 x 125)

If you use an extension cord with 2 or more appliances, you must add together the wattage ratings for all the appliances being used on the cord.

If you decide to use an extension cord to temporarily power a tool or appliance, here are some tips to safely use the cord;

  • Check the plug and the body of the cord.  If it is hot (not warm) or the plastic is soft, this is a warning that the plug wires or connections are failing and the cord should be replaced
  • Do not use an extension cord while it is coiled or looped
  • Never cover an extension cord with newspapers, clothes or a rug.  It can overheat if it can’t discharge heat
  • Do not use staples to secure a cord to baseboard or other surface.  Staples can damage the cord and be a shock or fire hazard.
  • Do not overload by plugging in appliances that draw more watts than the rating of the cord.
  • When using outdoor tools or appliances, use only cords rated for outdoor use
  • Use polarized cords with polarized appliances and tools Polarized is where 1 prong is wider than the other and only goes in one way)
  • Do not use an adapter to plug a 3 prong cord into a 2 prong outlet
  • Do not plug extension cords together.  Use one long enough for the job

Use extension cords wisely to protect you and your home.  Feel free to call our office if you have any questions about extension cord use or any other home related concerns.  We would love to talk with you.

How to Make your Home Burglar Resistant

Some interesting statistics concerning break-ins in the United States:

  • In 2005, law enforcement agencies reported more than 2 million burglary offenses.
  • According to a survey, burglars enter homes through the following locations:
    • 81% enter through the first floor;
    • 34% of burglars enter through the front door;
    • 23% enter through a first-floor window;
    • 22% enter through the back door
    • 9% enter through the garage;
    • 4% enter through the basement;
    • 4% enter through an unlocked entrance;
    • 2% enter through a storage area;
    • and 2% enter anywhere on the second floor.

    Here are some ways to protect yourself and your family from break ins

    • Exterior Doors
    • Doors should be made of steel or solid-core wood construction. Hollow-core wood doors are more easily broken than heavy, solid-core doors.
    • Doors should be free of signs of rot, cracks and warping.
    • Doors should be protected by quality dead bolt locks. Chain locks are not adequate substitutes for dead bolt locks, although chain locks may be used as additional protection.
    • If a mail slot is present, it should be equipped with a cage or box. Mail slots that are not equipped with cages or boxes have been used by burglars to enter homes.  Burglars can insert a contraption made of wire and cord into the mail slot and use it to open the lock from the inside, if no box or cage is present.
    • If a door is equipped with glass panes, they should be installed far from the lock. Otherwise, burglars can smash the glass and reach through the door to unlock the door.
    • Spare keys should not be hidden in obvious locations. Burglars are very good at finding keys that homeowners believe are cleverly hidden. The best place for a spare key is in the house of a trusted neighbor. If keys must be hidden near the door, they should not be placed in obvious locations, such as under a doormat, rock or planter.
    • A peephole can be installed in doors so homeowners can see who is on their doorstep before they open the door.
    • Clients should consider installing bump-resistant locks on their doors. “Bumping” is a technique developed recently that can open almost any standard lock with less effort than is required by lock-picking. This technique uses “bump keys,” which are normal keys with slight modifications. Lock companies such as Schlage, Primus and Medeco manufacture a number of locks that offer some bump-resistance.
    • Pet Doors
    • Pet doors can be used by burglars to enter homes. Some burglars have reached through pet doors in order to unlock the door. It is advisable to not have a pet door, but if one is necessary, it should be as small as possible and installed far from the lock.
    • A crafty burglar may convince or coerce a small child to crawl through a pet door and unlock the door. Also, some burglars are children.
    • Electronic pet doors are available that open only when the pet, equipped with a signaling device in their collar, approaches the door. These doors are designed to keep stray animals out of the home, and may provide protection against burglars, as well.
    • Sliding Glass Doors
    • They should be equipped with locks on their tops and bottoms.
    • They should not be able to be lifted from their frames.
    • A cut-off broom handle, or a similar device, can be laid into the door track to prevent it from being opened.
    • Illumination
    • Lights should be installed on the exterior of all four sides of the house. Burglars prefer darkness so they cannot be seen by neighbors or passersby.
    • When building occupants are not home, a few lights should be left on.
    • It is helpful to install exterior lights that are activated by motion sensors. Burglars that are suddenly illuminated may flee.
    • Windows
    • All windows should be composed of strong glass, such as laminated glass, and be in good operating order.
    • They can be installed with bars, grilles, grates or heavy-duty wire screening. Barred windows must be equipped with a quick-release mechanism so occupants can quickly escape during a fire.
    • Windows should not be hidden by landscaping or structures. If landscaping or structures cannot be moved, lighting can be installed around the windows.
    • Landscaping and Yard
    • Shrubs and trees should not obscure the view of entrances. Shielded entrances can provide cover for burglars while they attempt to enter the residence.
    • Fences are helpful burglar deterrents, although they should not be difficult to see through.
    • While the house is vacant:
    • A loud radio can be used to make burglars think someone is home. Timers can be used to activate radios and lights to make the home seem occupied.
    • A car should always be parked in the driveway. A neighbor’s car can be parked there so that it appears as if someone is home.
    • The lawn should be cut regularly. Uncut grass is a clue that no one is home.
    • Other Tips
      • Dogs are excellent burglar deterrents. For clients who cannot own dogs, they can place “Beware of Dog” signs around the yard for nearly the same effect.
      • If no security system is installed, the client can post security alarm stickers around the yard.
      In summary, there are a number of tactics that you can do to help safeguard your home from break-ins.

15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own

The following items are essential tools, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to ask us during your inspection about other helpful tools.
 
1.  Plunger
A clogged sink or toilet is one of the most inconvenient household problems that you will face. With a plunger on hand, however, you can usually remedy these plumbing issues relatively quickly. It is best to have two plungers — one for the sink and one for the toilet.

 

2.  Combination Wrench Set

One end of a combination wrench set is open and the other end is a closed loop. Nuts and bolts are manufactured in standard and metric sizes, and because both varieties are widely used, you’ll need both sets of wrenches. For the most control and leverage, always pull the wrench toward you, instead of pushing on it. Also, avoid over-tightening.

3.  Slip-Joint Pliers

Use slip-joint pliers to grab hold of a nail, a nut, a bolt, and much more. These types of pliers are versatile because of the jaws, which feature both flat and curved areas for gripping many types of objects. There is also a built-in slip-joint, which allows the user to quickly adjust the jaw size to suit most tasks.

4.  Adjustable Wrench

Adjustable wrenches are somewhat awkward to use and can damage a bolt or nut if they are not handled properly. However, adjustable wrenches are ideal for situations where you need two wrenches of the same size. Screw the jaws all the way closed to avoid damaging the bolt or nut.

5.  Caulking Gun
Caulking is the process of sealing up cracks and gaps in various structures and certain types of piping. Caulking can provide noise mitigation and thermal insulation, and control water penetration. Caulk should be applied only to areas that are clean and dry.
6.  Flashlight
None of the tools in this list is of any use if you cannot visually inspect the situation. The problem, and solution, are apparent only with a good flashlight. A traditional two-battery flashlight is usually sufficient, as larger flashlights may be too unwieldy.
7.  Tape Measure
Measuring house projects requires a tape measure — not a ruler or a yardstick. Tape measures come in many lengths, although 25 feet is best.  Measure everything at least twice to ensure accuracy.

8.  Hacksaw
A hacksaw is useful for cutting metal objects, such as pipes, bolts and brackets. Hacksaws look thin and flimsy, but they’ll easily cut through even the hardest of metals. Blades are replaceable, so focus your purchase on a quality hacksaw frame.

9. Torpedo Level
Only a level can be used to determine if something, such as a shelf, appliance or picture, is correctly oriented. The torpedo-style level is unique because it not only shows when an object is perfectly horizontal or vertical, but it also has a gauge that shows when an object is at a 45-degree angle. The bubble in the viewfinder must be exactly in the middle — not merely close.

10.  Safety Glasses / Goggles
For all tasks involving a hammer or a power tool, you should always wear safety glasses or goggles. They should also be worn while you mix chemicals.

11.  Claw Hammer
A good hammer is one of the most important tools you can own.  Use it to drive and remove nails, to pry wood loose from the house, and in combination with other tools. They come in a variety of sizes, although a 16-ounce hammer is the best all-purpose choice.

12.  Screwdriver Set
It is best to have four screwdrivers: a small and large version of both a flathead and a Phillips-head screwdriver. Electrical screwdrivers are sometimes convenient, but they’re no substitute.  Manual screwdrivers can reach into more places and they are less likely to damage the screw.

13.  Wire Cutters
Wire cutters are pliers designed to cut wires and small nails. The side-cutting style (unlike the stronger end-cutting style) is handy, but not strong enough to cut small nails.

14.  Respirator / Safety Mask
While paints and other coatings are now manufactured to be less toxic (and lead-free) than in previous decades, most still contain dangerous chemicals, which is why you should wear a mask to avoid accidentally inhaling. A mask should also be worn when working in dusty and dirty environments. Disposable masks usually come in packs of 10 and should be thrown away after use. Full and half-face respirators can be used to prevent the inhalation of very fine particles that ordinary face masks will not stop.

15.  Duct Tape
This tape is extremely strong and adaptable. Originally, it was widely used to make temporary repairs to many types of military equipment. Today, it’s one of the key items specified for home emergency kits because it is water-resistant and extremely sticky.
Internachi. copyright Nick Gromicko

Keep Your Home Cool

Here are some tips for keeping your air conditioner efficient and operating properly.

Maintain your air conditioner

It’s easy to take your air conditioner for granted… until it stops working on a miserably hot day. If possible, have an air conditioning contractor inspect your unit before you start using it each summer. Regular maintenance will not only help spot potential problems, but will also increase the life and energy efficiency of your unit.

What you can do