I am often asked if a few degrees in temperature really affects the total energy usage for the home. The answer to this question is yes. Here is how critical the setting and accuracy of your thermostat is:
A few degrees in temperature does make a significant difference in total energy used by the home heating and cooling system. Let’s take winter as an example. The heat loss through outside walls, ceilings, and floors is directly proportional to the difference in temperature between inside and outside temperatures.
If we take a typical winter month for average outside temperature and average inside temperature we have the following example: Outside of 45F and inside of 70F versus outside of 45F and inside of 73F.
70-45=25 and 73-45=28, then 28/25=1.12 or twelve percent more energy used with a three degree rise in inside average temperature. This example gets even more drastic at moderate outside temperatures say of 60 degrees. 70-60=10 and 73-60=13, then 13/10=1.3 or thirty percent more energy. This more moderate example would apply to most summer temperatures as well.
I use a very reliable thermometer that I check for accuracy periodically. I first put the thermometer in ice water (32F) and take the reading and then into boiling water to take a reading (boiling water temperature varies with altitude, at sea level 212F, at 900 ft about 210F, and at 3000 ft about 206F or about 1 degree for every five hundred feet). This tells me if the thermometer is off at its end points as well as the relationship over the range of the scale.
It is not unusual to find thermostats in homes with as much as plus/minus five degrees. This could mean a huge difference in both energy usage and comfort in the home.
It is always a good idea to check the accuracy of your thermostat by simply using a calibrated kitchen thermometer (you can use the method described above) to check the accuracy of your thermostat. This should be done when moving into a new home or when installing a new thermostat. If you find your thermostat with an offset versus the calibrated thermometer, then you should adjust your thermostat accordingly. - Mark
What is it? What’s wrong with it? Why is there concern? What is the next course of action?
This odd acronym, DDID, is what you should expect to see in a home inspection report in North Carolina for accuracy. The Board Rules say as much as directed by our continuing education instructors. North Carolina has tried to reach some kind of consistency in report writing. Report writing should be about conveying an accurate account of what is being described. How it is conveyed is only as important as the understanding of the reader - think about building specifications and blueprints. Neither of the national home inspector associations’ standards of practice are so restrictive. I have also wondered why they chose this particular descriptive phrase and acronym. When I first saw it, I thought someone had misspelled “did”.
Of course the one we are talking about is describe, determine, implicate, and direct. I think the board was really stretching when directing trainers to fit their acronym with the meanings they chose. As example, implication means to be involved in a crime (incriminate or compromise – more appropriate for a legal brief) or to imply (convey ‘a meaning or intention’ indirectly through what one says, rather than stating it explicitly - ouch! And the intent was to not be vague or contradictory?). I am not an English major and I suspect no one doing HI reports is either, but the board should have found one before choosing the words they directed for training home inspectors. I like - what is it; what is the defect; problems because of the defect; and how do I fix it –WWPH.
I believe: What is it? What’s wrong with it? Why is there concern? What is the next course of action? - is even better because it is more accurate. WWWW
I have read and written thousands of reports for various reasons with the intent of accurately conveying information. The state’s board intent of eliminating vague, confusing, and contradictory language is admirable. Writers and readers of reports should expect in some form to see description, determination, implication, and direction in home inspection reports in North Carolina. I do want you to consider that you get the following questions answered when reading the report: What is it? What’s wrong with it? Why is there concern? What is the next course of action? - WWWW. If not, then contact the home inspector for clarification. This is your take away.
Here are the actual board rules: Board Rule 11 NC Administrative Code 08.1103(b)(3) – Submit a written report to the client that shall:
(A) Describe those systems and components required to be described in Rules .1106 through .1115 of this
(B) State which systems and components present at the home and designated for inspection in this Section
were not inspected, and the reason for not inspecting;
(C) State any systems or components so inspected that do not function as intended, allowing for normal
wear and tear, or adversely affect the habitability of the dwelling;
(D) State whether the condition reported requires repair or subsequent observation, or warrants further
investigation by a specialist. The statements shall describe the component or system and how the condition
is defective, explain the consequences of the condition, and direct the recipient to a course of action with regard to the condition or refer the recipient to a specialist -...
Do you see DDID? I don’t see the ‘I’, but our CE (continued education) trainers do so it must be. They have spent huge chunks of time and our money into being sure we as home inspectors in NC understand by using the acronym DDID. The last statement of the Board Rules is more clear as describe, defect, consequences, and direct – DDCD. So much for accuracy in training. - Mark
It is often in the mind of the buyer or home owner if there are defects and what is common to homes, should I be concerned about it, and what do I do about it. The North Carolina Home Inspection Licensing Board has taken care of the last two questions by defining accuracy in report writing and actually writing it into their standards of practice. The report should state: What is it? What’s wrong with it? Why is their concern? What is the next course of action? I will do a blog on this later to give you more detail. Let’s talk about common defects. We will start at the top of the house and go down and then describe mechanical and electrical defects.
One of the most common things that I find in this area is no flashing in the valleys of roof or referred to in the codes as a change in roofing slope. Although the home inspection is a visible inspection, I will give you the code. 2012 NC Residential Code R903.2.1 Flashing in the valley is very important in northern climates because of ‘snow dams’ that allow water to back up under the shingles. Builders in this area have been able to get away with not having flashings because of the low snowfall. Also older southern building codes did not require valley flashing for this reason. Valleys in this area should be kept free of debris from trees for the same reason as snow dams. If there has been no water penetration into the home because of lack of valley flashings the common solution is to wait until the next roof replacement to add flashings.
It is also common to find some shingles that may need to be repaired due to aging or wear or improper installation around slope changes.
It is not unusual to find some staining in the attic of an older home that happened before the last roof repair. It is usually easy to determine if the stain is from an existing leak or a past leak. If visual observation fails, then a quick check with a moisture meter will help define the issue.
Staining on ceilings is also very similar to the attic. Sometimes the owner has not taken the time to repair paint damage from prior leaks. Again, if visual observation fails, then a moisture meter becomes handy. If the moisture meter does not give resolution, then the issue is deferred to a qualified specialist that may need to move construction materials to determine resolution.
In slab homes it is very difficult to determine if there is a crack in the slab because of floor coverings. At times, I have actually walked a carpeted floor bare-foot to find if any large cracks exist. However, if there is suspicion, then the issue is deferred to a qualified specialist to remove floor coverings to assess. There will almost always be some spider cracks due to settling, but if there are many then the issue is deferred.
In the crawlspace, it is not unusual to see some floor staining. The most common cause that I have found is around toilets that are loose at the base resulting in leakage around the wax seal. Another common area is leaks around the drain for the bathtub.
Rotted wood is another common problem that can be found in floors around toilets and other drains from long term minor leakage.
Crawlspace and Basement
Water penetration in the crawlspace can be a common problem. Either from an improper installation of
the roof water drainage system or improper grading around the outside of the home.
In vented crawlspaces, there is typically some staining due to moisture condensation. This occurs
when you go from high humidity situations to cooler temperatures like during a summer thunder storm. This problem has been corrected in newer construction by using sealed crawlspaces with no outside vents.
Because of clays in this area that expand when moist, there is a lot of soil movement around the foundations of homes. This is particularly true during a period of long dry spell followed by a period of wet weather. The soil moves away and then returns putting excessive pressure on the foundation wall. If the cracks are excessive or any horizontal in nature then the issue is referred typically to a structural engineer. This is particularly of concern in tall basement walls with horizontal cracks (indication the wall is in emanate folding failure) which always get referred to a structural engineer.
Water intrusion into basements and crawlspace usually only can be corrected by drainage improvement.
Rooted wood on the exterior is also not uncommon, especially in older homes. This typically comes form not keeping the exterior properly painted and sealed. Of course, lack of painting and sealing is another common defect that is found.
Water heaters in homes that are in closets typically do not have a drain pain. This can cause damage to floor coverings and subfloors if the water heater leaks. There are also many issues with flues, gas piping, and plumbing that is faulty.
There is usually an assortment of minor plumbing issues that need to be addressed. Leaking sink valves, loose toilets, and improper drainage is typical.
Lack of ground fault circuit interrupters in wet areas around sinks and outside. Also in older homes, outlets without grounds is also common. This happens when a two prong outlet has been replaced with a grounded outlet without connecting a ground.
Chimneys and Fireplaces
Dampers that do not work properly and creosote buildup inside the chimney are common.
In older townhomes and condos a lack of a proper firewall is common in the attic and garage because the need was not in building codes at the time.
Also the man door for the garage not being listed (labeled) as a fire door. It is virtually impossible during a visual inspection to determine if the door has a solid core. It there is no label, then the fire department and qualified door specialist will not validate the door as fire rated.
Doors and Windows
Failed seals are found on a regular basis and drainage openings around windows plugged from painting and caulking.
Also, doubled pane windows where the seal is broken. This causes fogging of the glass.
This is not an all included list, but should give you some idea of the common typical problems that are found during the visual home inspection.
Thanks for reading.