How to Prepare For A WETT Inspection

Shane Serra - Friday, May 15, 2015
How to Prepare For A WETT Inspection

Quite often we get asked what is included in a WETT Inspection. The details and list could potentially be very long, but here are a bunch of common items that homeowners can easily check themselves prior to their WETT Inspection to ensure their fireplace or woodstove passes inspection.

Fireplace Inspection

  • Check the firebox for cracked firebricks or lining material. Replace any cracked firebricks to keep the firebox in good shape and prevent overheating which can warp steel components and turn the unit into scrap.
  • Check the operation of the damper. Quite often dampers are seized or broken which can lead to unsafe or poor operating conditions.
  • For masonry chimneys, replace any deteriorated or spalling masonry and caulk flashings as needed.
  • Ensure rain caps are present to prevent water leakage inside chimneys and their liners.
  • Clean the unit so a proper inspection can be performed.

Woodstove Inspection

  • Check the firebox for cracked firebricks, replace any cracked firebricks to keep the firebox in good shape and prevent overheating which can warp steel, crack welds and turn your woodstove into a pile of scrap metal.
  • Ensure flue pipes are properly secured with three screws per pipe connection or equivalent pipe clamps installed as per mfg. specs. Ensure the pipe fittings are oriented correctly and the pipe is also sloped correctly.
  • Check the damper operation, door gasket for deterioration and the door glass for cracking.
  • Ensure any heat shielding is secured and in good condition.
  • Keep wood storage and combustible materials at least 4 feet away from the wood stove in all directions at ALL times.

These items listed above are common items found during WETT inspections that homeowners can easily deal with themselves prior to the WETT inspection to ensure their unit will pass.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. provides WETT inspections (inspections of wood stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and wood burning appliances) in Barrie and across Simcoe County.


How to confirm the presence of Asbestos during your Home Inspection

Erich Kelter - Friday, March 20, 2015
How to confirm the presence of Asbestos during your Home Inspection

There may come a time that you discover what may be Asbestos in your home or it may have been discovered during your home inspection. Many people tend to panic when they even hear the word, so here is some prudent advice when dealing with a potentially serious matter.

Common Areas of Asbestos Presence in your home

Asbestos is a commonly found product in many home building supplies and materials, chances are if you own a home constructed prior to 1985, it may have building materials with asbestos in it. Asbestos was commonly used in the HVAC industry as heat shielding and insulation and as such this is usually where asbestos comes up in home inspections.

Common areas to potentially see asbestos are around boilers as insulation wrap, heating ducts as insulation and heat shielding, and in attics where vermiculite insulation (not all vermiculite is contaminated with asbestos) is present.

Ways to confirm presence of Asbestos

The only way to confirm the presence of asbestos is to have it tested by a qualified lab. In general, it is accepted that if asbestos is present in a home or material, that it generally does not pose a health threat unless it is disturbed or handled incorrectly. What this means is, if you come across suspected asbestos in your home or during a home inspection, DO NOT disturb it! If encountered you should contact a qualified remediation specialist to remove the material safely and correctly. Some very small jobs may be able to be remediated by a homeowner with the correct PPE and training, but if in doubt you should always contact a professional.

Before getting overly excited about a possible asbestos issue, its best to not touch or disturb the materials in question and seek professional assistance to ensure you can take the correct course of action after testing is completed.


Infrared Thermal Imaging & Your Home Inspection

Erich Kelter - Thursday, July 11, 2013

Infrared Thermal Imaging is a fantastic tool that can be utilized to your advantage if you are purchasing a home and plan on having a home inspection performed. It can also be used to help current home owners detect or solve certain problems, many of which are not visible to the naked eye. However like any service it does have some limitations that home buyers should be aware of.  

Why go for Thermal Imaging Home Inspection?

With the recent surge in popularity of specific cameras manufactured for use in residential housing, it has been no surprise that many home inspectors now offer Thermal Imaging as a service for home buyers & home owners alike. This fantastic technology with its roots being traced back to military applications has trickled down into many industries including the residential home inspection industry.

Several issues including but not limited to, missing insulation, plumbing leaks, heating and cooling losses, overheating electrical components and foundation leakage can be detected with the use of a Thermal Imaging camera during a residential home inspection. However with the recent pricing decrease of certain cameras intended for use in the home inspection industry, we have noticed an alarming trend regarding this service.

Choosing the right Thermal Imaging service provider

Many inspectors (mostly newbie’s from our experience) appear to be offering a Thermal Imaging service included with their standard home inspection. It comes as no surprise that these same inspectors do not appear to carry the minimum level one thermography certification conforming to the ASNT SNT-TC-1A guidelines. Anyone offering any type of service employing the use of an infrared camera should have at least a level one thermography certificate, and not just any certificate, a certificate that references the guidelines referenced above. Beware of so called “Infrared Certified” Inspectors that take a weekend course and claim to have all of the knowledge and expertise required to fully utilize their IR camera in a professional manner.

In recent times it has also been brought to our attention that many inspectors are giving their clients a false sense of security by offering this service during periods where Thermal Imaging may not be effective at all. An example here would be using the Thermal Imaging camera to scan the exterior walls looking for missing insulation when the indoor temperature of the home is 21 degrees Celsius and the outside temperature is 23 degrees Celsius. In general a delta T (differential) of approximately 10 degrees Celsius is the norm that is required if perform an effective scan on a home (a few other key items come into play here as well depending on the desired type or scope of inspection to be performed).

We have had several people shocked to hear that we were not willing to offer our service during certain periods because we felt the conditions were not correct or optimal for conducting a Thermal Imaging scan, meanwhile they just got off the phone with a competitor that claimed Thermal Imaging (included in their inspection) would allow them to “see through walls” and find any hidden defect! Bottom line regarding Thermal Imaging and your Home Inspection is a little education can go a long way and save you trouble in the long run.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. has employed the use of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections for several years now. We have the training, education and practical experience to know how to effectively use the Infrared Thermal Imaging camera in real world situations and how to protect our clients from a false sense of security that other inexperienced inspectors may try to use as a marketing gimmick.

Key Items to Look For In a Home Inspector

Erich Kelter - Friday, July 05, 2013

So, you’ve finally signed the paperwork to purchase a home, now what? Time to find a good Home Inspector, right? Certainly! Here are some key things to consider when looking for a Home Inspector.

Choosing a Home Inspector can be stressful and somewhat time consuming, all during a time that for many home buyers will be filled with stress and anxiety. First off, relax! It doesn’t need to be a crazy time; you should be filled with excitement and joy rather than stress and anxiety. Following these few tips below can really make this time easier for you.

Research and pick your Home Inspector

Do your homework! Many Realtors will provide you with a few names of reputable (hopefully) inspectors that they know and trust. While this may appear to be a borderline conflict of interest, most agents work in good faith and would only pass along the names of inspectors they’ve come to know very well and trust. Most agents out there are indeed good people and want to ensure you are protected during your home purchase. Despite fear mongering and other media scare tactics, most Realtors are not in collusion with their recommended Home Inspectors. However, you should still interview your potential Home Inspector, regardless of whether they are referred to you, or you choose to research and pick your own Home Inspector yourself.

Questions to ask your Home Inspector

One of the first things that is usually asked by a potential client is “how much?” This should actually be the LAST question you ask your potential home inspector! Before finding out the Home Inspection fee, you should be asking questions like, “How long have you been in business?” or “How many inspections have your performed, and to what standard do you follow?” What type of background, training and experience does the Home Inspector have? Ideally a professional Home Inspector will have some type of construction, trades, architectural or engineering background & experience. A high quality training program (such as the Carson Dunlop course) should also have been successfully completed. Watch for so called “Certified Home Inspectors” that earned their certification by taking a two hour online course.

Is the Home Inspector insured?

Ideally a professional Home Inspector will carry professional Errors & Omissions as well as General Liability insurance. Does the Home Inspector provide a handwritten checklist report, or a computer generated report with photos? A typical Home Inspection generally takes about 2-3 hours to complete, if the Inspector you are interviewing says it takes one hour; it’s time to move on. Is it ok if you accompany the Inspector? Do they have any other industry recognized credentials, i.e. WETT certification or a Thermography certificate referencing the ASNT SNT-TC-1A guideline if offering Thermal Imaging? Do they perform home inspections on a full time basis, or is this just a weekend job for them? These are just some of the key things to ask for while looking for a Home Inspector. If there is any doubt regarding these items, it’s time to move along.

Ask for the Fee

Once the interview process is completed, now ask for the fee. Typically you’ll find the full time, properly trained, insured and experienced Home Inspector may be a little more money than the part timer that only works on weekends to supplement income with no real vested interest in their business. Bottom line is you get what you pay for! Is it really worth trying to save $50 when dealing with the largest investment of your life? Some things are worth shopping around for to save a few bucks, your Home Inspector isn’t one of those things.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs professional and through Home Inspections in Barrie, Orillia, Alliston, Collingwood and all of Simcoe County.

New Homes Don’t Require A Home Inspection? Right?

Erich Kelter - Friday, July 05, 2013

Wrong! As much as I would love to say yes, the fact of the matter is that new housing today, for the most part, is strictly about production. The faster it gets built, the sooner the deal closes and the sooner the builder gets paid. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the world we live in today regarding many things we purchase, including our largest investment ever, our home.

Are you a first time home buyer?

While there are many good quality home builders in Ontario today, there are just as many, perhaps even more builders that allow poorly built homes to be sold to unsuspecting buyers, many of whom are first time home buyers that feel if they purchase a new home they will be free of any problems and be covered under a new home warranty. All one needs to do is a Google search on Tarion and they’ll soon find out how much of a joke the new home warranty is. The best way to circumvent potential issues with a new home is to have a professional home inspector perform an inspection and present any defects or potential problems to the new home owners, prior to finalizing their deal.

How important is a PDI Inspection?

Having a representative from the builder perform your PDI inspection is a requirement, however their “inspection” can’t even begin to compare to the items a professional and third party inspector will check. New homeowners should seriously look at having a third party inspector perform a more thorough and detailed inspection to better protect themselves. If problems are observed and noted in a professional report, these items can be brought forth to the builder for remediation. The builder is less likely to contest the report of a professional inspector, plus these items can be documented for future use if problems occur due to negligence on the part of the builder or if Tarion is difficult in providing warranty coverage in disputed matters.

Why is professional home inspection mandatory?

Our experience over the years has usually been fairly good with most new home builders, and we do not want to try and scare the public into believing all new homes are poorly built, however as with any industry, there can be poor quality product. Considering the fact that for most of us middle class working folk, a home is our largest one time purchase, we highly recommend a professional home inspection to better protect all home buyers, including purchases of brand new homes. Items such as improperly vented furnaces, leaking roofs, missing wall and attic insulation, sub-par plumbing and serious framing issues are just some of the defects we’ve found in brand new homes over the years.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs new home PDI as well as one year warranty expiration inspections on new homes to ensure buyers are protected. Inspections are performed on homes across Simcoe County in Barrie, Alliston, Orillia and Collingwood.

Why Home Inspection is recommended before Buying?

Erich Kelter - Monday, July 30, 2012

A home inspection is something that should happen regularly, especially if you are trying to sell. Home inspections involve having a professional inspector come in and look carefully at a property. The purpose of the inspection is to see if there are any serious problems with the property. Most of the time a buyer will order a home inspection on a property they are considering buying, although today it is becoming more and more common for a seller to order an inspection before placing it on the market so that there are no nasty surprises to negotiate.

Purchasing any home may be one of the most expensive decisions most people make throughout the course of their lives. If you don't know everything there is to know about the construction of your home, you could be making a horrible mistake by purchasing the wrong home. Buying a home on emotion is never a good thing, so a home inspection can help you sort out the emotion and help you make a smart buying decision.

So how does a home inspection play into a real estate transaction? Let's look at the entire transaction to get a basic understanding:

Home Inspection Before Buying
  1. You meet with a real estate agent and give him or her an idea of the size and price of property you want to purchase.
  2. After looking at several properties over several weeks, you locate the home you have always wanted.
  3. You want to put in an offer immediately, especially when you find out that the seller of the house has cut $5,000 off of the asking price. You think immediately that this is the house you have always wanted.
  4. Usually an offer starts off with an inspection period that lasts 5 days, although that is negotiable.
  5. You have the option to purchase a home inspection, although your real estate agent should explain to you why a home inspection is absolutely necessary. Any offer you write, should ALWAYS be subject to a home inspection.
  6. If you skipped the home inspection, then you may discover some big problems with the home just a few weeks after you move in. The property could sustain major damage and you could even lose some of your things if there is something seriously wrong.
  7. On the other hand, if you did have a home inspection done, then you would have discovered some basic things like where the shutoff valve for the water is located, missing insulation, etc.
  8. If you had decided to have the home inspection done, then you also would have learned that there was a big problem with the plumbing in the home. Suddenly there might just be an explanation for that $5,000 off the asking price. And you would have been duped if you had not had the home inspection done.

A complete inspection covers all parts of the home, including the plumbing, electrical, HVAC, foundation, roofing, and every other vital components of the home. Having a third party inspect the property before buying is the only way to keep yourself safe.

Let the experts at Above Grade Home Inspections help you avert disaster in your search for the perfect house or property.

Why Get a Home Inspection Before Selling?

Erich Kelter - Thursday, April 12, 2012

When you decide that it’s time to sell your house, a home inspection is an essential part of the process.  In most cases, the buyer and/or the bank that’s financing the buyer’s mortgage will order a home inspection, so why should you have your own inspection done first?  Here are six reasons you need a home inspection done before you sell:

  1. Avoid any unnecessary surprises.  The fastest way to scare off a potential buyer is for unknown problems to make themselves known at the buyer’s home inspection.  It is much better for you to learn about these problems ahead of time so that you can fix them. 
  2. Fix problems before putting your home on the market.  Homes that have any kind of problem are much more difficult to sell because buyers naturally want something they can move right into.  When something pops up unexpectedly in the home inspection, chances are that you will need to have it fixed before the purchase can go through anyway.  You’ll save everyone involved a whole lot of headaches by simply having an inspection done before putting it on the market so that you can fix problems that could cause a potential buyer to walk away.
  3. Keep the home on the market for the least amount of time possible.  Whenever you have a house to sell, time is of the essence.  The longer that house sits on the market, the more money you lose.  If you wait until there’s a buyer in place, you’re taking a great risk because you don’t have any idea if there is anything seriously wrong with your home.  If the buyer walks away because of something that was found in the home inspection, then it will simply take longer to sell your home.  And if that buyer had a real estate agent, the agent won’t show your home to other clients either because he or she will be aware that there is a problem that hasn’t been taken care of.  All of these factors combine to create a longer and longer length of time during which your home will remain on the market.
  4. Maximize your sale price.  A home that is perfect and ready to move right into sells for much more money than a home that has some problems.  The easiest way to get top dollar for your house is to get any potential problems fixed first.  By having a Pre-Listing home inspection, you’ll know what needs to be done and can make a checklist to take care of the issues while also handling smaller preparatory activities like putting on a fresh coat of paint in some of the rooms.
  5. Reassure any potential buyers that you’ve done everything you can to ensure that your home is a good investment for them.  Make sure that you keep the paperwork from the home inspection handy and show it to buyers.  A home inspection that was done before anyone even came to look at the home shows that you did your homework and that you care about not leaving behind any surprises for the buyer.
  6. Save some time and money.  If you wait until a buyer has ordered a home inspection, you only have a day or two to fix a problem—if it doesn’t cause the buyer to walk away completely.  However, you can have more time and actually be able to shop around for someone to fix the problem at an affordable price rather than paying a rush fee to someone so it can be done in just a day or two.

Above Grade Home Inspections will help you avoid any nasty surprises when it comes time to actually sign on the dotted line and turn your home over to its new owner.  

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.

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.

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.