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Why Thermal Imaging is Essential in a Home Inspection

Erich Kelter - Monday, March 12, 2012

When homeowners call in a company to do a home inspection, few realize just how many options they have in the type of inspection they get and that thermal imaging is pretty much an essential these days. No matter what the age of the house is, there is any number of things that can go wrong, and the only way to keep these problems from becoming major crises is to get thermal imaging done.

With this type of inspection, special equipment is used to see behind the walls without even having to remove any drywall. Of course the benefits of getting a thermal inspection done are endless, but here are five of them:

  1. It shows if your home has proper ventilation. One feature of our homes that we don't think much about is the airflow, which has to be operating properly for the health and safety of those inside the home. Of course having the proper ventilation is also a critical part of keeping your home in good shape because it doesn't allow moisture to build up inside the walls where you can't see it. Condensation from the air conditioner can create mold and mildew inside the walls of your home if it does not have proper ventilation.
  2. Thermal inspections reveal any leaks or other moisture problems. Leaking water can cause a lot of damage inside your home. Hundreds, if not thousands of homes are damaged by leaking water every single year. If the leak is in someplace conspicuous, then you might get it fixed rather quickly, but if it's located behind a wall, you might not find out that it exists until it's too late unless it is found with thermal imaging.
  3. Potential problems with the structure of the home may be revealed. If there is a ventilation problem or if it seems like the hot or cold air you're pumping into your home is just disappearing into thin air instead of heating or cooling your home, then the easiest way to find the structural problems that are causing this is to look for them thermally. These problems are certainly not going to be seen with the naked eye, but whenever you are dealing with something that's either hot or cold, it can't hide from the thermal camera.
  4. Electrical hot spots can be located and fixed. Every year thousands of homes are also lost to electrical fires that could have been prevented if the hot spot that caused the fire had been fixed. The problem with these hot spots is that most of the time you don't know that you have them until your home catches fire. A thermal camera can help identify these problems before a fire starts so that you can get them fixed before tragedy strikes.
  5. Inspectors can identify places where energy is being lost. You could be giving away a lot of money each month to your electric company, simply because your home is leaking energy. Thermal cameras will help you conduct an energy audit so that you know where the energy is going and can correct the problem.

Not every company that offers inspections has thermal cameras, but those that don't aren't able to tell you every important thing about your home. All they can tell you is what they can see with their eyes, but there is so much more going on with a home!

Be sure to have an inspection done before buying a new home, putting your current home on the market, and about once a year to make sure that everything is still in good shape. Above Grade Home Inspections offers thermal imaging as an option in their home inspection services.

The Truth about WETT Inspections and Certification

Erich Kelter - Monday, January 23, 2012
p>Many insurance companies require that homeowners have their fireplace or wood stove "WETT certified". The problem is that technically there is no such thing as a WETT certification, only certain authorities (such as ULC or Warnock Hersey) can "certify" units mandated by the codes in CSA B365 through special lab testing. However, this does not mean that WETT inspections are not important.

WETT is actually a training organization that teaches inspectors how to check for code compliance and safety with wood burning appliances. They often are involved when you buy or have a wood burning appliance like a fireplace or wood burning stove installed. They also may help with maintenance and the prevention of problems. When someone is WETT certified, it means that they are certified to perform safety checks and maintenance on a wood burning appliance. The term doesn’t apply to your wood burning stove or fireplace, but rather, to the person who is inspecting these appliances.

WETT inspections typically include examinations of:

  • The chimney
  • The liner and flue
  • The smoke chamber
  • The damper
  • The firebox
  • The hearth or floor around the wood burning appliance
  • Whether combustible surfaces are far enough away from the appliance and its parts

In most cases, a basic visual inspection will be enough to tell the inspector if the installation of your wood burning appliance is safe. In other cases, you may need a more intensive type of inspection to make sure that even the parts you can't see are working properly. A WETT certified member can handle basic visual inspections, but it takes a WETT certified technician to actually conduct the more intensive inspections. Technicians can also perform maintenance on wood burning appliances or fix major problems that you may have with them.

Above Grade Home Inspections offers WETT inspections. Their inspectors will help keep your home safe. You should be having inspections at least once a year or more depending on how much you use your wood burning appliance. The only way to keep your home completely safe from fire is to prevent it before it happens, and WETT inspections will help you do that.

What are WETT Inspections?

Erich Kelter - Monday, January 23, 2012

If you have a fireplace or wood stove in your home, then the insurance company may have told you that you need a WETT inspection completed. So what, exactly, is a WETT inspection? WETT stands for Wood Energy Technology Transfer, which is a non-profit organization that trains specialists in safety inspections for any kind of energy appliance that uses wood.

In Canada, wood burning appliances are regulated by the codes in CSA B365, but how do you know if your home is safe unless you have a WETT inspection completed? A WETT inspector will come into your home to inspect your fireplace or wood stove with a number of objectives in mind:

  • Safety - the number one role of a WETT inspector is to check the safety of the wood burning appliance. To do this, they will examine all parts of the appliance, including the chimney and other parts you don't normally check.
  • Code compliance - It is important that all parts of your appliance are up to code. These codes are in place for your safety and the safety of others.
  • Preventing smoke spillage - Occasionally there may be some details that fall outside of the safety or code compliance issues. Sometimes certain factors may come into play and you may experience smoke spillage if there is something wrong with your chimney. The chimney in your home is part of a larger system, and steps should be made to ensure that it does not spill smoke into the house.
  • Efficiency - It is important that wood burning systems be built in a way that makes the system efficient for the homeowner. Not every system will work for every home, and a WETT inspection can help make sure that everything is working properly.
  • Keeping the chimney clean - It's important that your chimney is kept clean inside. If it's not, a fire could result up inside of it. WETT inspections will make sure that your chimney is swept out properly.

There are many different components to keep in mind when it comes to fireplace safety. It's about more than just the immediate threat of fire. Smoke can be harmful as well, and the only way to stay safe is to prevent these sorts of problems before they start.

Above Grade Home Inspections offers WETT inspections. Their inspectors will examine the chimney, flue, smoke chamber, damper, firebox, hearth, and clearances to combustible surfaces to make sure that tragedy is prevented before it even has a chance to strike.

5 Ways to Score an A Plus on Your Wood Fireplace Inspections

Erich Kelter - Sunday, January 01, 2012

Every homeowner who has a wood fireplace in their home should be having regular professional inspections at least twice a year to make sure that it's functioning properly. After all, the fireplace allows you to have a fire inside your home, so the number of things that could go wrong is significantly higher than in homes that don't have a wood fireplace. But losing your home to a fire is a tragedy that can be avoided entirely if you have regular professional wood fireplace inspections and do everything you can to take care of your fireplace. Here are 5 things every homeowner with a wood fireplace should be doing in order to get an A+ on your regular wood fireplace inspections:

  1. Have a professional perform wood fireplace inspections at least twice a year. These inspections should be in addition to all of the other regular checks on this list. While you may be able to see an obvious problem with your fireplace or chimney, a professional will be able to see when a problem is just starting to develop so that you can have it repaired before it becomes a major problem. Small fixes are less expensive than major fixes, and when it comes to fireplaces, you just can't be too careful.
  2. Monitor the amount of soot that's in your chimney. Soot is actually very flammable, so you need to make sure that you're having it cleaned regularly. Most professionals recommend that you have a chimney sweep in when the soot gets up to an eighth of an inch deep. It is rather difficult for a homeowner to be able to measure the soot level, so be sure to ask your professional inspector how deep the soot is at the time of your professional wood fireplace inspections. He or she may even be able to tell you if it's time for a chimney sweep to come in.
  3. Burn only dry hardwoods in your fireplace. One of the things inspectors look at when performing wood fireplace inspections is creosote build-up. Creosote is very flammable, and it creates a black crust that can be extremely difficult to see with the naked eye. This is one of those issues that an inspector is more likely to spot than a homeowner, but if you burn only dry hardwoods, you can actually limit the creosote build-up inside of your fireplace. Creosote is formed when wood doesn't burn completely, and dry hardwoods do tend to burn more completely than other woods, thus minimizing the build-up of creosote.
  4. Keep the fire hot and high rather than smoldering. Fires that are stoked and extremely hot also reduce creosote build-up because smoldering fires do not burn wood all the way through quickly enough. Open the flue inside your chimney to increase air flow and make the fire burn hotter and higher.
  5. Check the chimney caps several times a year. The chimney cap is the piece that sits on the top of the chimney and prevents other things from getting in. Birds, other animals, and debris can get into your chimney and clog it up, creating the perfect conditions for a fire to damage your home. Make sure that the chimney cap is in good shape in order to keep unwanted things out. This should be done after major storm events.

Above Grade Home Inspections offers wood fireplace inspections. Their inspectors are WETT certified, which means they know what it takes to have a safe wood burning appliance that's also up to code. Above Grade Home inspections also offers home insurance inspections, pre-purchase and pre-listing inspections, and eco-energy audits. Contact today for an honest and complete inspection you can count on.

Three Secrets about Home Energy Audits

Erich Kelter - Saturday, November 26, 2011

There is a big push around the world right now to make homes that are more energy efficient, and home energy audits will help you do just that. Of course many homeowners realize that home energy audits will show them how to make their homes run more efficiently, but there are some secrets to these audits that not everyone knows about.

Secret #1: Home energy audits can help you get grant money for those home repairs.

Homeowners, who are thinking about replacing any major component of their home, whether it's a toilet, insulation, furnace, or air conditioning unit, may be eligible for up to $5,000 in federal grant money, simply because it's making their home more energy efficient. The government likes that!

Secret #2: Home energy audits will cut your energy bill by up to 20 percent or more.

Of course the goal of making your home energy efficient is to help the environment, but in the process, you'll end up helping your wallet as well. Once you've taken care of all the problems found by the home energy audit, you'll see your energy bill drop quite noticeably.

Secret #3: Home energy audits protect your investment.

One of the most important investments you will ever make is the house you're living in, and if you don't have an inspector in to check things out regularly, you could be unaware of the problems that are developing. It might be time to replace the windows, and you would never know unless you had a home energy audit done. Aside from letting air out, leaky windows can also let moisture in, which are a major problem that can cause mold and other problems. By staying on top of the repairs, your house will be a home for as long as you're living in it.

Home energy audits are fairly simple and will result in a list of recommendations you can either choose to follow or to ignore. The best thing about these audits is that you can hire an inspector who spends all of his time doing these inspections and none of his time doing repairs. This is important because you can trust that he's not just trying to get you to pay for a repair you don't need. If the inspector recommends a repair, it's because you really do need it—not because he's trying to make an extra buck!

Above Grade Home Inspections will guide you through your next home energy audit to make sure you get the maximum benefit for your home.

Four Ways You Can Save Money with Home Energy Audits

Erich Kelter - Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Most people don't think much about how much energy they're using until they get the bill, but home energy audits will help make that experience of receiving the bill a little bit easier. Usually homeowners are clueless about how much heat or cool air their home is leaking. With a little bit of knowledge and a tiny bit of work, you can cut your energy bill by up to 20 percent.

Here are four ways home energy audits can save you money:

  1. They'll help reduce your water usage. Home energy audits will identify toilets that are greater than six liters per flush; any toilet that uses more is generally by today's standards wasting water.
  2. Home energy audits will identify areas that need more insulation. If your home is leaking heat, then the easiest way to solve this problem is to add more insulation. However, if you don't know where the insulation is low, you can't figure out where it is needed. Home energy audits will give you direction.
  3. You'll discover how efficient your furnace and air conditioning units are. The government has certain standards when it comes to energy efficiently, and if you have old units, they probably aren't up to par with what's expected. Home energy audits will show you how much of a change you can expect by updating those old units.
  4. They'll show you problems with windows or doors. Much of the heating or cooling that is lost from a home rolls right out around the windows or doors. Often some simple weather stripping or another similar small repair will take care of the problem. Home energy audits will show you exactly what is needed to keep your home sealed properly.

Every homeowner should plan regular home energy audits to make sure that everything in their home is working efficiently. The homeowner who is unprepared is the one who doesn't pay close enough attention to his house. Everything needs to be replaced eventually, and by being constantly aware of how your home is performing, you can stay on top of all your repair needs.

Above Grade Home Inspections will handle all of your home energy audits. They'll give you advice on what needs work and also how to qualify for government grant money to make your home more energy efficient.

Home Buyer’s Benefits for Getting a Home Inspection

Erich Kelter - Wednesday, November 16, 2011

When you get ready to sign on the dotted line, you're probably already thinking about picking up those keys and walking into your new house. But a home is a major investment. In fact, it's probably one of the most important financial commitments you will make in your entire life. It just makes a lot of sense to protect yourself in every way you possibly can, and one of the easiest ways to do this when buying a home is having a home inspection in ontario.

A home inspection is a necessary step in the home buying process. The inspection will enable a third party to make sure that the physical condition of the home you want to purchase is in precisely the condition it appears to be. Of course when you do make an offer on a house, it is important that you make it contingent on the results of the home inspection. This will make it possible for you to withdraw your offer without suffering any consequences if a major problem with the home is discovered by the inspector.

What to Expect in a Home Inspection

Letting someone else inspect your potential home for every little problem can be a little bit nerve wracking, but it doesn't seem as bad when you know what to expect. The inspection is quite a bit different than an appraisal because the goal is simply to make sure that the house is in good shape rather than to give you an estimate of how much the house is worth.

During a home inspection, the inspector will look over everything and evaluate its condition. The construction, structure, electrical, plumbing, and other important components will be the subject of intense scrutiny. The inspector will be checking to see if any of these major components need to be repaired or replaced. He will also look at how old the house is and how old each of the major components is in order to weigh about how much life is left in each of them.

Most home inspections take at least two hours to complete, although the amount of time they take does depend largely on the size of the property that is being inspected. A good rule of thumb is to estimate that for every 1,000 square feet of property, the inspector will spend about an hour looking it over. Most inspectors send their written inspection report to you within a week of its completion.

What to Ask Your Home Inspector

When hiring a home inspector, it is important that you ask several questions before actually engaging them to look over the home you are thinking about purchasing. Here are several things you should remember to ask before hiring anyone:

  • What's included in your inspection?
  • How much experience do you have as an inspector?
  • How many years have you been doing residential inspections?
  • Do you have memberships in any national or state associations?
  • How long will it take you to do the inspection?
  • How much do you charge?
  • When can I expect to receive the inspection report from you?
  • Can I be present when you are doing the inspection?

Making sure to ask these questions will help you choose the right inspector for the job. If the inspector will not allow you to be present while he is doing the inspection, be sure to ask why. This is generally a red flag that something is wrong, so you will likely want to go on to the next provider. Let the experts at Above Grade Home Inspections take all the guesswork out of buying your next home.

Three Signs that Mould Inspections are Needed

Erich Kelter - Wednesday, October 05, 2011

As a homeowner, it is only natural that you want to protect your investment, and mould inspections can help you do just that.  But how do you know if you have a problem that needs to be checked out by an inspector? 

Here are five signs that indicate you should be looking into a mould inspection right away:

  1. Unexplained odours – If it seems like one particular part of your home always smells musty, or if it just recently started to have a strange odour, then it is definitely time to start thinking about a mould inspection.  Odours are one of the first signs that you have mould growing in your home.  One way to know if you may have a mould problem, especially inside your ventilation system, is to turn off the furnace fan for a while.  Then when you turn the air conditioning or furnace back on, stand right over one of the vents in the house.  If you smell an odour, it’s time to look at getting a professional mould inspection.
  2. Moisture problems – Mould is caused by moisture that is allowed to sit, so if you notice any area of your home where moisture is a problem, then a mould inspection is in order.  Some common places where moisture could be a problem include in the restroom, closets, or basement. Sometimes it’s as simple as water left over after a shower or a problem with having the humidity too high inside the home.  In cases where water leakage is a problem, be sure to check the window caulking.
  3. Moisture staining on baseboard trim - If you see staining on your baseboard trim especially in a finished basement; you should seriously consider having a mould inspection performed. In some cases mould can start at the trim and grow several feet up the drywall where it can always be seen. Homeowners who fear they may have mould inside the walls should have a mould inspection immediately because this can be a very serious problem.

Knowing the first signs of a mould problem could be the difference between being able to protect your home or allowing it to have some very serious problems.  Your home is one of your most important investments, so you need to be able to recognize the signs of mould before it becomes a huge problem.

Above Grade Home Inspections offers complete mould inspections throughout Barrie and Simcoe County.

Types of Home Inspections

Erich Kelter - Wednesday, October 05, 2011

When you start thinking about home inspections, what is the first thing you think of?  You might believe that they are necessary only for people who are buying a used or older home, but that simply is not the case.  Any homeowner can benefit from regular home inspections.  In fact, they should be part of your household yearly maintenance budget.  By having an inspector look at your home once or twice a year, you can avert costly, major problems with your home. 

There are several types of home inspections.  It just depends mostly on what you are concerned about.  For example, if you think mould is a problem, then you might ask for an inspection that focuses on mould or moisture problems.

Here are some of the basic types of home inspections you can ask for:

  • Mould inspections – look for existing mould or moisture problems that could lead to mould growth or health problems
  • Thermal Imaging Inspections – identify missing insulation, leaks in the plumbing, moisture problems, overheating electrical components, and places where heat is being lost
  • WETT inspections – examination of the chimney and all parts of a fireplace or wood stove
  • Pre-purchase and pre-listing inspections – complete inspection of the home to identify any potential trouble areas so they can be corrected before the home is sold or purchased
  • New home inspections – pre-delivery inspections cover all the bases to make sure the newly built home is perfect before the buyer gets the keys
  • Warranty inspections – performed right before the builder’s warranty on a newly constructed home is about to expire; looks for any construction issues that may have arisen during the first year or two of the home’s life
  • Eco energy audits – identifies areas where the homeowner can save money and qualify for eco grant money from the government to make their home more environmentally friendly

Home inspections are not something you should keep putting off.  A house is a very complicated investment, and there are many things that can go wrong with it at any given time.  The best way to avoid costly repairs is to catch them early through regular home inspections.  When you’re paying attention to your home and keeping it up properly, you won’t be caught off guard and you’ll be able to avoid serious issues with it.

Above Grade Home Inspections offers service throughout the Barrie area.  Their inspectors specialize in all types of home inspections and in keeping your home safe and helping you save money.

What to Expect from Home Inspections

Erich Kelter - Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Most homeowners do not think much about their homes until something goes wrong, but with regular home inspections, you can prevent major disasters from ever striking.  Home inspections are usually a topic of conversation with people who are purchasing a new home, but they should be scheduled regularly throughout the year, even for homeowners who are already living in their home. 

The Advantages of Regular Home Inspections

By having regularly scheduled home inspections, you can discover many different problems before they become serious.  You’re able to stay on top of issues before they have time to cause serious damage to your home.

What Happens During Home Inspections

When you schedule an inspector to come out and take a look, he will visually examine your home checking many different parts of your home including but not limited to:

  • Roof & Eavestroughs
  • Attic & Insulation
  • Heating & Cooling Systems
  • Electrical System
  • Plumbing
  • Foundation
  • Lot & Grading
  • Exterior & Interior

Your home is one of your most valuable investments, and it is far too easy for things to go wrong without you being aware of it until it is much too late.  Regular home inspections can save you a lot of money down the road, simply because they protect your investment and enable you to fix your home before a small problem becomes a big one.

Pre-Purchase and Pre-Listing Home Inspections

Of course if you are buying or selling a home, you should definitely order a home inspection.  If you’re buying, then you need peace of mind so that you know that you aren’t about to put money down on a house that will do nothing but drain your wallet.  For sellers, getting a home inspection done before listing the house on the market can even help it sell a lot faster.

Home inspections are the perfect way to protect your home, whether you’re living in it, buying it, or selling it.  You just never know what is happening within those walls unless you have a professional looking into it for you once or twice a year.

Above Grade Home Inspectionsoffers service throughout the Barrie area.  They offer pre-purchase inspections, pre-listing inspections, new home inspections, WETT and infrared thermal inspections, mould and moisture inspections, warranty inspections and more.  Their inspectors will help make sure that your home is protected so that your future in that home is also protected.