home maintenance: When Should I Call In A Professional For A Home Repair? - 01/16/11 11:57 PM
When Should I Call In A Professional For A Home Repair?
Most homeowners like to turn as many home improvements as possible into a DIY project. The economy has been tight, jobs and finances uncertain, and, let's face it, there is a fantastic feeling of accomplishment doing something to the house.
But some tasks are simply too risky for a do-it-yourselfer. There are certain home repairs are dangerous to get involved with unless you have specialized training to safely complete them.
Let's take a look at what qualifies as DIY, and what requires a professional. At least, in my opinion.

(23 comments)

home maintenance: Window Bars: Safety Device Or Deadly Trap? - 01/09/11 10:30 PM
Window Bars: Safety Device Or Deadly Trap?
Window bars are installed to prevent bad guys from entering a home or building, but they may also cause unintended consequences by slowing or preventing egress in an emergency.
People die every year in fires where escape is hindered by window bars, and according to the National Fire Protection Agency, these kind of deaths are on the rise.
Of course, the odds of being in a burglary or violent home invasion are perceived as a more likely risk than fire, so the bars keep going up.
 
The Advantages
They are a deterrent to … (5 comments)

home maintenance: Reading The Tube On A Radon Mitigation System - 01/08/11 01:43 PM
Reading The Tube On A Radon Mitigation System
I was asked a question about reading a radon system a few days ago, and it gave me the idea for a post. After all, this is National Radon Awareness Month.
Now how about an explanation about radon and how the detectors are SUPPOSED to work, and how the blue fluid is supposed to register...would be very interested to know b/c in my condo on the first floor they put in these things and not one person can tell me if the levels should both be at zero or what...thanks.
 
What The … (3 comments)

home maintenance: Preventing (Or Dealing With) Ice Dams On Michigan Roofs - 12/26/10 08:18 PM
Preventing (Or Dealing With) Ice Dams On Michigan Roofs
Most ice dams form at the edge of the roof, where it is colder. Approaching the top of the roof, the temperatures rise, heated by the warm air rising through the house, into the attic.
In a house, heat moves through the ceiling and insulation by conduction (heat energy going through a solid) through the ceiling. In many homes, there is little space in regions like this for insulation, so it is important to use insulations with high R-value per inch to reduce heat loss by conduction.
Convection (rising air) heat contributes … (0 comments)

home maintenance: What Causes Ice Dams On Michigan Roofs? - 12/26/10 08:11 PM
What Causes Ice Dams On Michigan Roofs?
 
Every year I see Michigan homes damaged by ice dams. A lot of people have heard the term "ice dam," but don't really understand what it is, what it does, or how to prevent it.
An ice dam is, essentially, a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof. It prevents melting snow from draining off the roof, causing water to back up behind the dam, move back up the roof, and leak into the house.

 
 
Here's the idea: We know snow melts when it is warmer … (0 comments)

home maintenance: Efflorescence... It Isn't Mold, But It Could Indicate A Problem - 12/26/10 08:06 PM
Efflorescence... It Isn't Mold, But It Could Indicate A Problem Do you see some white chalky stuff around the outside of the house? Worried it is mold? Chances are, it is efflorescence, an accumulation of minerals and salts on brick and cement. We can see it on bricks and blocks, inside and outside, on old and new houses around Michigan. While it is unsightly, efflorescence itself is not dangerous... but it does indicate there is excess water, which can lead to serious structural and health issues.   How Efflorescence Forms Natural salts are present in the raw materials that make up … (1 comments)

home maintenance: The Bare Bones, At-The-Very-Minimum Homeowner Toolkit - 12/26/10 07:20 PM
The Bare Bones, At-The-Very-Minimum, Absolutely Basic Homeowner Toolkit
 
I love inspecting houses. I get to meeta lot of great people (and only rarely a not-so-nice person), and find "the story" behind many different homes.
But I particularly enjoy inspections for first-timers. And most of the time, I am asked this question: What kind of tools do I need, at a minimum, as a homeowner?
Here is my top ten list to that question. This is list is obviously not exhaustive, but it does cover the bare bones, at-the-very-minimum tool collection that every homeowner should be able to use -- regardless … (3 comments)

home maintenance: Water Damage... and Preventing The Number One Insurance Claim From Visiting Your House - 12/05/10 10:45 PM
Water Damage... and Preventing The Number One Insurance Claim From Visiting Your House
The number one insurance claim across America is... drum roll, please... water damage. Specifically, water damage from a burst washing machine hose, or a leaking water heater.

The typical tank-style water heater leaks as it enters the end of its service life. The problem is, when a water heater leaks, it doesn't just empty out... they keep refilling. So a water heater might leak for weeks without a homeowner noticing. Back in my flood recovery days, it wasn't unusual to see basements with inches of water from … (8 comments)

home maintenance: Bamboo Flooring: Environmentally Friendly, But How Good Is It? - 12/05/10 10:12 PM
Bamboo Flooring: Environmentally Friendly, But How Good Is It?
Bamboo flooring is growing in popularity. If you head to the local Lowe's or Home Depot, you find it in their flooring section. Turn on HGTV and you can find it featured on several different shows.
Bamboo is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional wood flooring. It is a grass, not a wood, and grows in tropical regions where hot, humid and rainy conditions exist year-round. And it can grow 24 inches a day, given the right soil conditions. These two factors make bamboo both a sustainable product and a naturally moisture-resistant product.
(11 comments)

home maintenance: When Do Home Repairs Require A Professional? - 12/05/10 08:56 PM
When Do Home Repairs Require A Professional?
Most homeowners like to turn as many home improvements as possible into a DIY project. The economy has been tight, jobs and finances uncertain, and, let's face it, there is a fantastic feeling of accomplishment doing something to the house.
But some tasks are simply too risky for a do-it-yourselfer. There are certain home repairs are dangerous to get involved with unless you have specialized training to safely complete them.
Let's take a look at what qualifies as DIY, and what requires a professional. At least, in my opinion.

 
Be Aware Of … (5 comments)

home maintenance: Electrical Service Panels and Homeowner Safety - 12/04/10 01:20 PM
Electrical Service Panels and Homeowner Safety Electrical service panels are boxes that house circuit breakers, which are are safety devices that stop the electrical current if it exceeds the safe level for some portion of the home electrical system.   Safety  Many people, including experienced electricians, have been killed or seriously injured while opening electrical panels.
Several years ago, a local electrician was killed while attempting to inspect a panel that had a faulty spring-loaded bus-bar assembly. Apparently, the bus-bar was moved while the electrician was opening the panel, causing an arc and a lethal electrical explosion.
Oftentimes, two factors contribute … (4 comments)

home maintenance: Serious Burns and Hot Water Heaters - 11/21/10 10:05 PM
Serious Burns and Hot Water Heaters

Have you ever checked your water temperature?
It is easy to do, and if you have children around, you have good reason to check -- children's skin is particularly easy to scald.
You can use any thermometer you have available (even those to test meat or used to make candy)... just as long as it can measure between 100 and 200 degrees F.
To give you an idea of how easy it is for an adult suffer a scald burn, check out the following chart:
 
 
 
Temperature                       Time in contact before scald … (6 comments)

home maintenance: Michigan Houses And Aluminum Electrical Wiring - 11/21/10 09:58 PM
Michigan Houses And Aluminum Electrical Wiring Many Michigan houses built from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s used aluminum wiring as a substitute for copper wiring. The price of copper was rising, so this made financial sense. And after all, a metal is a metal, right? And metals conduct electricity, right? So this shouldn't be a problem, right? Well, it isn't that simple, and after about ten years of this practice, we discovered aluminum wire wasn't a terrific replacement for copper.  
Aluminum simply doesn't work as well
Properly maintained aluminum wiring is acceptable, but aluminum's physical qualities make it become defective … (0 comments)

home maintenance: What Causes Ice Dams? Part II - 11/07/10 11:20 PM
What Causes Ice Dams?
Part I is here.
 

 
 
What causes different roof surface temperatures?
Most ice dams form at the edge of the roof, where it is colder. Approaching the top of the roof, the temperatures rise, heated by the warm air rising through the house, into the attic.
In a house, heat moves through the ceiling and insulation by conduction (heat energy going through a solid) through the ceiling. In many homes, there is little space in regions like this for insulation, so it is important to use insulations with high R-value per inch to reduce … (4 comments)

home maintenance: Tankless vs. Tank Water Heaters - 11/07/10 11:17 PM
Tankless vs. Tank Water Heaters
One of the common questions I get during an inspection is: "what exactly is a tankless water heater?"
After I give my answer, another question inevitably follows: "should I get one?"
It isn't my position to tell people whether or not to make such a purchase, but I am always happy to explain the differencess:
We are all pretty familiar with the traditional tank or storage water heater. The water heating system is installed in a special insulated tank. Cold water is supplied to the tank through an inlet pipe and is heated according to the … (4 comments)

home maintenance: What Causes Ice Dams? Part I - 11/07/10 10:42 PM
What Causes Ice Dams?
Temperatures are dropping. On Friday, it started snowing as I drove off to pick up dinner. Granted, it didn't stick, but we all know winter is on its way.
Every year I see Michigan homes damaged by ice dams. A lot of people have heard the term "ice dam," but don't really understand what it is, what it does, or how to prevent it.
An ice dam is, essentially, a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof. It prevents melting snow from draining off the roof, causing water to back up behind the … (1 comments)

home maintenance: Obtaining Building Permits in Michigan - 11/05/10 05:18 PM
Obtaining Building Permits In Michigan

"It's my property."
"It's just a shakedown by the city."
"Why should I pay an extra 'tax' to the city for the privilege of working on my own house?"
 
These are typical of the myriad of excuses I hear from people who don't get permits when making changes around the house or their property. But here is some solid advice: If you are thinking of working on the house and ignorning the permit office -- don't.
And NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER obtain a homeowner's construction permit for a contractor!
It is the property owner's … (2 comments)

home maintenance: Thermostat Problems and Solutions - 10/31/10 04:47 PM
Thermostat Problems and Solutions Thermostats help us keep our indoor air temperature comfortable. Most thermostats contain two meters:  the "set" or requested temperature, and the actual temperature. Newer thermostats usually have digital displays, which can be used to adjust automated heating and cooling schedules. On a traditional dial-type thermostat, the user can increase the set temperature by rotating the dial clockwise, and lower it by rotating it counter-clockwise.  
Common Problems And Solutions
Location, location, location... In order to avoid false readings, the thermostat must be installed so that it correctly reads the room temperature. It can't be near a heat source, … (1 comments)

home maintenance: Rafters vs. Trusses - 10/31/10 04:14 PM
Rafters vs. Trusses
One of the frequent questions I am asked is: what is the difference between rafters and trusses?
Rafters
Rafters are sloped framing members running downard from the peak of the roof all the way to the plates of the outside walls. They are the support for the roof load. Ceiling joists tie the outside walls together, support the ceiling materials for the room below, and secure the bottom ends of the rafters.
Carpenters build conventional rafter roof frames on-site. The rafters are installed one piece at a time.

 
 
Trusses
Trusses are engineered and prefabricated assemblies, … (0 comments)

home maintenance: What's That White Stuff On My Bricks? - 10/26/10 06:53 PM
What's that white stuff on my bricks? Chances are, that white chalky stuff is efflorescence (pronounced ef-luh-res-uh ns), an accumulation of minerals and salts on brick and cement. We can see it on bricks all over Michigan, on old houses and new. While it is unsightly, efflorescence itself is not dangerous... but it does indicate there is excess water, which can lead to serious structural and health issues.   How Efflorescence Forms Natural salts are present in the raw materials that make up masonry products. These salts remain trapped within masonry in solid form until they are dissolved into water (which … (8 comments)

 
Jason Channell, The House Sleuth (Diadem Property Inspections - Serving Southeast Michigan)

Jason Channell

The House Sleuth

Troy, MI

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Diadem Property Inspections - Serving Southeast Michigan

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