Roofs and Attics

Attic Pull Down Stairs

Attic Access Pull-Down Stairs

An attic pull-down ladder, also called an attic pull down stairs or stairway, is a collapsible ladder that is permanently attached to the attic floor. It is used to access the attic without being required to use a portable ladder, which can be unstable as well as inconvenient.

 

Common Concerns

It is typical for the homeowner to install the attic pull-down stairs, especially if it’s an older home or a newer home that’s been built upward in order to use the attic for living or storage space. That is why these stairs rarely meet safety standards and are prone to a number of issues.

Some of the more common issues include:

  • Cut bottom cord of structural truss – The homeowner may have cut through a structural member while installing a pull-down ladder, unknowingly weakening the structure. Structural members should not be modified without an engineer’s approval.
  • Fastened with improper nails or screws. Drywall or deck screws may be used instead of the standard 16d penny nails or ¼x3-inch lag screws. Nails and screws that are intended for other purposes may have reduced shear strength and may not support the pull-down ladder.
  • Fastened with an insufficient number of fasteners. Manufacturers provide a certain number and type of fasteners with instructions that they all be used, and they do this for a good reason.
  • Lack of insulation. The attic hatch or door is not likely to be weather-stripped and/or insulated, which will allow air from the attic to flow freely into the living space of the home, and this will cause the heating or cooling system to run overtime. An attic hatch cover box can be installed to increase energy savings.
  • Loose mounting bolts, which is typically caused by age, although improper installation will hasten the loosening process.
  • Attic pull-down ladders that are cut too short. The stairs should reach the floor.
  • Attic pull-down ladders that are cut too long. This causes pressure at the folding hinge, which can cause breakage.
  • Compromised fire barrier (when the attic and access are above an attached garage)
  • Attic ladder frame that is not properly secured to the ceiling opening; and
  • closed ladder that is covered with debris, such as blown insulation or roofing material shed during roof work.
  • Cracked steps. This is mostly a problem with wooden ladders.

Safety Tips

  • If yours is a sliding pull-down ladder, there is a potential for it to slide down too quickly, which can lead to an injury. Always pull the ladder down slowly and cautiously.
  • Do not allow children to enter the attic unattended. The lanyard attached to the attic stairs should be short enough that children cannot reach it. Parents can also lock the attic ladder so that a key or combination is required to access it.
  • If possible, avoid carrying large loads into the attic. While a properly installed stairway will safely support an adult, it might fail if you’re carrying a very heavy load. Many trips can be made to reduce the total weight load, if possible.
  • Replace an old, rickety wooden ladder with a new one. The newer aluminum models are lightweight, sturdy and easy to install. If you do install a new ladder, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, and test the ladder’s operation before actually using it.

 

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence – Colin Powell. Do what you love and love what you do!

A humble request

If you think that I did a good job inspecting your home, please mention me to anyone you know who will need a home inspector in Halifax or share my schedule now link and write me a testimonial. If there’s any reason you would hesitate to recommend me, please contact me with your constructive criticism.

Roofs and Attics

Attic Insulation

Attic Insulation

Heating and cooling costs can be slashed by up to 30% per year by properly sealing and insulating the home. Insulating the attic should be a top priority for preventing heat loss because as heat rises, a critical amount of heat loss from the living areas of the home occurs through an unfinished attic. During the summer months, heat trapped in the attic can reduce the home’s ability to keep cool, forcing the home’s cooling system to work overtime.

The lack of adequate ventilation in insulated attics is a common problem. Ensuring that there is a free flow of outside air from the soffits to the roof vents is key to a well-functioning insulation system. Look behind the baffles to see if there is any misplaced insulation obstructing the natural air flow, and check the roof vents to make sure that outside air is exhausting properly. Also, look for spots where the insulation is compacted; it may need to be fluffed out. If loose-fill insulation is installed, check for any thinly spread areas that may need topping up. Finally, look for dark spots in the insulation where incoming air is admitting wind-blown dust and moisture into the material. Any unintended openings or holes caused by weathering or pest damage should be repaired first.

Installing Attic Insulation
The objective in an attic insulation project is to insulate the living space of the house while allowing the roof to retain the same temperature as the outdoors. This prevents cold outside air from traveling through the attic and into the living area of the home. In order to accomplish this, an adequate venting system must be in place to vent the roof by allowing air flow to enter through soffit-intake vents and out through ridge vents, gable vents or louver vents.

If there is currently a floor in the attic, it will be necessary to pull up pieces of the floor to install the insulation. In this case, it will be easier to use a blower and loose-fill insulation to effectively fill the spaces between the joists. If you choose to go with blown-in insulation, you can usually get free use of a blower when you purchase a certain amount of insulation.

When installing fiberglass insulation, make sure that you wear personal protective equipment, including a hat, gloves, goggles and a face mask, as stray fiberglass material can become airborne, which can cause irritation to the lungs, eyes and exposed skin.

Before you begin actually installing the insulation, there is some important preparation involved in order to ensure that the insulation is applied properly to prevent hazards and to achieve maximum effectiveness.

Step 1: Install Eaves Baffles
In order to maintain the free flow of outside air, it is recommended that polystyrene or plastic eaves baffles are installed where the joists meet the rafters. These can be stapled into place.

Step 2: Place Baffles Around Electrical Fixtures
Next, place baffles around any electrical fixtures (lights, electrical receptacles, etc.), since these may become hot while in use. Hold the baffles in place by cross-sectioning the rafters with 2x4s placed at a 3-inch clearance around the fixture. Cut the polystyrene board to fit around the fixture and inside the wood square you have just created.

Step 3: Install a Vapor Barrier
If you are installing insulation with a vapor barrier, make sure it faces the interior of the house. Another option for a vapor barrier is to take sheets of plastic and lay them between the ceiling joists. Then, using a staple gun, tack them to the sides of the joists.

Step 4: Apply the Insulation
Begin by cutting long strips of fiberglass to measure, and lay them in between the joists. Do not bunch or compress the material; this will reduce the insulative effect.
If you’re not planning to put in an attic floor, a second layer of insulation may be laid at a 90-degree angle to the first layer. Do not lay in a second moisture barrier, as moisture could potentially be trapped between the two layers. This second layer of insulation will make it easier to obtain the recommended R-value.  It is important to insulate over the ceiling joists to reduce thermal bridging. In colder climates like ours, an R-value of 49 is recommended for adequate attic insulation. In warmer climates, an R-value of 30 is recommended. Fiberglass insulation has an R-value of roughly R-3 per inch of thickness; cellulose has an R-value of roughly R-4 per inch, but it doesn’t retain its R-value rating as well as fiberglass.

If an attic floor is in place, it will be easier to use a blower to add cellulose insulation into the spaces. The best way to achieve this is to carefully select pieces of the floor and remove them in a manner such that you will have access to all of the spaces in between the joists. Run the blower hose up into the attic. A helper may be needed to control the blower. Blow the insulation into the spaces between the joists, taking care not to blow insulation near electrical fixtures. Replace any flooring pieces that were removed.

Loose-fill insulation, either fiberglass or cellulose, is also a good option in cases where there is no attic floor. In such circumstances, you won’t need a blower; you can simply place the insulation between the joists by hand. You may also wish to even out the spread with a notched leveler.

Step 5: Insulate and Air Seal the Attic Hatch/Access
All of the above steps can be easily undermined by an attic access cover without insulation and weather-stripping. Cut and trim two layers of rigid foam glued together and to the attic cover. Maintaining the same level of insulation and air tightness all over is the key.

Looking for more info? Check out this article by Natural Resources Canada titled “Keeping the heat in”
https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/energy-efficiency-homes/how-can-i-make-my-home-more-ener/keeping-heat/keeping-heat-chapter-5-roofs-and-attics/15637

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence – Colin Powell. Do what you love and love what you do!

A humble request

If you think that I did a good job inspecting your home, please mention me to anyone you know who will need a home inspector in Halifax or share my schedule now link and write me a testimonial. If there’s any reason you would hesitate to recommend me, please contact me with your constructive criticism.

Roofs and Attics

Roof Maintenance – Covering

Roof Maintenance – Covering

Although homeowners aren’t necessarily expected to climb on their roofs every season as part of regular home maintenance, there are some conditions that should be monitored to prevent roof damage and to help you get the longest life out of your roof-covering materials. Certain types of damage can lead to water and pest intrusion, structural deterioration, and the escape costly energy.

Weathering
Hail and storm damage, known as weathering, can weaken a roof’s surface even if you haven’t lost any shingles/shakes/slates following a storm. It’s the most common source of environmental damage for roofs. Strong, sustained winds can cause uplift to the edges of shingles and shakes, which can weaken their points of attachment and allow rainwater and melting snow to reach the roof’s underlayment. Wind can also send projectiles through the air, which can damage every surface of the home’s exterior, including the roof. You should always inspect your roof after a heavy weather event, as far as it is practical to do so without taking any undue risks, to check whether you have lost any roof-covering materials, or if any parts look particularly weathered or damaged. A small fix now could prevent costly repairs later.

Tree Damage
Tree damage results from wind-blown tree branches scraping against shingles and from the impact of falling branches blown by wind and/or because the nearby tree has dead branches that eventually break off and fall. Branches that overhang the roof should always be cut back to avoid damage from both abrasion and impact, and to prevent the accumulation of leaf debris on the roof, its valleys, and in the gutters, which will interfere with proper drainage and lead to pooling of rainwater and snowmelt. Of course, it is especially important to make sure that tree limbs near the home’s roof and exterior are a safe distance away from utility and power lines. Tree-trimming is a type of homeowner maintenance task that should be undertaken by qualified professionals, as it can lead to accidentally cutting off the service or power from an overhead line, being electrocuted by an energized line, being struck by an unsecured tree branch, falling off the roof or a ladder, and any number of similar mishaps that the homeowner is not trained to anticipate and avoid.

Animal Damage
Squirrels and raccoons (and roof rats in coastal regions) will sometimes tear through shingles and roof sheathing when they’re searching for a protected area in which to build nests and raise their young. They often attack the roof’s eaves first, especially on homes that have suffered decay to the roof sheathing due to a lack of drip edges or from problems caused by ice damming, because decayed sheathing is softer and easier to tear through. If you hear any activity of wildlife on your roof, check inside your attic for evidence of pest intrusion, such as damaged insulation, which pests may use for nesting material. Darkened insulation generally indicates that excess air is blowing through some hole in the structure, leading the insulation to become darkened by dirt or moisture.

Biological Growth
Algae, moss and lichen are types of biological growth that may be found on asphalt shingles under certain conditions. Some professionals consider this growth destructive, while others consider it merely a cosmetic problem. Asphalt shingles may become discolored by both algae and moss, which spread by releasing airborne spores.

Almost all biological growth on shingles is related to the long-term presence of excess moisture, which is why these problems are more common in areas with significant rainfall and high relative humidity. But even in dry climates, roofs that are shaded most of the time can develop biological growth.

What we commonly call “algae” is actually not algae, but a type of bacteria capable of photosynthesis. Algae appears as dark streaks, which are actually the dark sheaths produced by the organisms to protect themselves from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun. When environmental conditions are right, the problem can spread quickly across a roof.

Algae can feed on mineral nutrients, such as the calcium carbonate in limestone used as asphalt shingle filler. Calcium carbonate also causes asphalt to retain moisture, which also promotes algae growth, so shingles with excessive filler may be more likely to suffer more algae growth. The rate of filler consumption is slow enough that it’s not generally considered a serious problem.

Algae attach to the shingle by secreting a substance that bonds it tightly to the surface. Growth can be difficult to remove without damaging the roof. The best method is prevention. Algae stains can sometimes be lightened in color by using special cleaners. Power-washing and heavy scrubbing may loosen or dislodge granules. Chemicals used for cleaning shingles may damage landscaping. Also, the cleaning process makes the roof wet and slippery, so such work should be performed by a qualified professional.

Moss is a greenish plant that can grow more thickly than algae. It attaches itself to the roof through a shallow root system that can be freed from shingles fairly easily with a brush. Moss deteriorates shingles by holding moisture against them, but this is a slow process. Moss is mostly a cosmetic issue and, like algae, can create hazardous conditions for those who climb on the roof.

Lichens are composite organisms consisting of a fungus and a photosynthetic partner, such as green or blue-green algae. Lichens bond tightly to the roof, and when they’re removed from asphalt shingles, they may take granules with them. Damage from lichen removal can resemble blistering.

“Tobacco-juicing” is the brownish discoloration that appears on the surface of shingles, under certain weather conditions. It’s often temporary and may have a couple of different causes. After especially long periods of intensely sunny days, damp nights and no rain, water-soluble compounds may leach out of the asphalt from the shingles and be deposited on the surface. Tobacco-juicing may also appear under the same weather conditions if the air is especially polluted. Tobacco-juicing won’t harm asphalt shingles, although it may run down the roof and stain siding. Although it’s more common in the West and Southwest, it can happen anywhere that weather conditions are right. You can spray-wash or paint the exterior of the home to remove tobacco-juicing.

Your inspector should investigate signs of roof damage or deterioration before you call a roofing contractor. That way, you’ll know exactly what types of problems should be addressed before you break out the checkbook for repairs.

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence – Colin Powell. Do what you love and love what you do!

A humble request

If you think that I did a good job inspecting your home, please mention me to anyone you know who will need a home inspector or share my schedule now link and write me a testimonial. If there’s any reason you would hesitate to recommend me, please contact me with your constructive criticism.

Electricals & Electronics

Electrical Panel Safety

Electrical Panel Safety

All homeowners should know where their electrical panel is located.  When you open the door to it, you should find breakers that are labeled which correspond to the different rooms or areas of the home.  Breakers will sometimes trip due to a power surge or outage, and the homeowner can flip the switch to reactivate the current to the particular room or area.  Behind the breakers is the dead front, and it is this electrical component that should be removed only by a qualified electrician or inspector.

Before touching the electrical panel to re-set a breaker, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have an escape path?  Make sure that you know where you can safely turn or step if you must escape a dangerous surprise, such as a bee or a spark. An unfortunately placed shovel or extension cord, for instance, can turn a quick jerk into a dangerous fall.
  • Is the floor wet?  Never touch any electrical equipment while standing on a wet surface!
  • Does the panel appear to be wet?  Check overhead for dripping water that may have condensed on a cold water pipe.
  • Is the panel rusty?  Rust is an indication of previous wet conditions that may still exist.
  • Are there scorch marks on the panel door?  This can indicate a past or very recent arc, and further investigation should be deferred to a licensed electrician.

Here is a list of defective conditions that a homeowner may see that may be called out during an electrical inspection:

  • Insufficient clearance. According to the 2008 National Electrical Code, most residential electrical panels require at least a 3-foot clearance or working space in front, 30 inches of width, and a minimum headroom clearance of 6 feet, or the height of the equipment, whichever is greater.
  • Sharp-tipped panel box screws. Panel box cover screws must have blunt ends so they do not pierce the wires inside the box.
  • Circuit breakers that are not properly sized.
  • Oxidation or corrosion to any of the parts. Oxidized or corroded wires will increase the resistance of conductors and create the potential for arcing.
  • Damage caused by rodents. Rodents have been known to chew through wire insulation in electrical panels (and other areas), creating an unsafe condition. Rodents have been electrocuted this way, leaving an unsightly mess inside the panel.
  • Evidence of electrical failures, such as burned or overheated components.
  • Evidence of water entry inside the electrical panel. Moisture can corrode circuit breakers so that they won’t trip, make connections less reliable and the equipment unsafe to touch.
  • A panel manufactured by Zinsco or Federal Pacific Electric (FPE). These panels have a reputation for being problematic, and further evaluation by a qualified electrician is recommended.

    Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence – Colin Powell. Do what you love and love what you do!

    A humble request

    If you think that I did a good job inspecting your home, please mention me to anyone you know who will need a home inspector or share my schedule now link and write me a testimonial. If there’s any reason you would hesitate to recommend me, please contact me with your constructive criticism.

Ventilation and Moisture Control

Mold – Is it Really a Problem?

Mold – Is It Really a Problem?

A mold problem starts when there are conditions conducive in a home for mold spores to grow on. This condition is moisture levels over 20% and Relative humidity over 70% both present. Once conducive, mold can grow instantly! When mold begins growing in a home, the amount of air borne spores increases alongside its spread to other areas.

Although the issue of whether exposure to indoor fungi causes adverse health effects is controversial, there is no doubt that a severely mold-contaminated building can suffer structural damage, and that a foul-smelling, fungus-filled building is aesthetically unpleasing. Controversies about health effects aside, the latter two concerns are sufficient to merit a Complete Mold Inspection and remediation when an environment is found to have fungal contamination.

Preventing Mold Growth
Keep the building and furnishings dry. When things get wet, dry them quickly (within 24 to 48 hours). Perform routine cleaning, maintenance and repairs. The key to mold prevention is moisture control.

Furnace humidifiers must be cleaned regularly to prevent mold and bacterial growth

Humidifiers should be set to produce less than 60% relative humidity in the building. Relative humidity greater than 60% is likely to result in condensation in the building, and that can lead to mold growth

HVAC systems should be checked routinely because mold in a ventilation system may be spread throughout the building. Drain or condensate pans should also be checked regularly because they can become reservoirs for mold and bacteria if they are not installed and maintained properly. Filters for the HVAC system should be kept dry and should be changed frequently.

Fix leaky plumbing and any leaks in the building’s envelope as soon as possible.

Watch for condensation and wet spots. Fix the sources of moisture problems as soon as possible.

Prevent moisture due to condensation by increasing surface temperature or reducing the moisture level in the air (humidity). To increase surface temperature, insulate or increase air circulation. To reduce the moisture level in the air, repair leaks and increase ventilation (if outside air is cold and dry), or dehumidify (if outdoor air is warm and humid).

Vent moisture-generating appliances, such as dryers, to the outside, where possible.

Maintain low indoor humidity, below 60% relative humidity (RH), and, ideally, between 30% and 50%, if possible.

Don’t let foundations stay wet. Provide drainage, and slope the ground away from the foundation.

If you are not experienced with home and building repairs, you may want to consult a professional when making necessary repairs, or for assistance related to mold-prevention changes to your home or building.

Testing for mold
Proper mold testing and investigation involves use of sampling pumps, tapes, swabs, cassettes and other tools by a qualified and trained personnel following a standard protocol as in https://iac2.org/sop/. Approved, sterile and supplied by the best labs in Canada specializing in mold bulk and air sampling.
Here at Acetech Home Inspections, our inspectors are trained and certified to test for mold and other indoor air pollutants like radon. See verification links below.

Mold verification

Radon verification

Fixing small mold issues

A mold problem less than 10 SQFT is considered a small mold mold problem. The key to permanently fixing any mold problem is determining and tackling the source of the moisture intrusion. Following which the affected area may be cleaned and treated with products designed to kill mold and fungi. Some options are plain white vinegar or bleach. Vinegar is very good at cleaning and killing mold on most surfaces. Bleach is an option however appears ineffective on porous surfaces like wood and drywall but works great on non-porous surfaces like tiles, plastic and metals.

Its A Bigger Problem. What Do I Do?
Mold problems over 10 SQFT is not generally considered a small mold problem. Also when the mold problem is hidden, this becomes much trickier to identify and fix. In both cases of a bigger or hidden mold problem, there may be a need for a mold mitigation and remediation company to assess and determine the best approach to eliminate the problem.

 

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence – Colin Powell. Do what you love and love what you do!

A humble request

If you think that I did a good job inspecting your home, please mention me to anyone you know who will need a home inspector or share my schedule now link and write me a testimonial. If there’s any reason you would hesitate to recommend me, please contact me with your constructive criticism.

Health and Hygiene

Lead

Lead Home Inspection Halifax
Lead Home Inspection Halifax
Lead-based Paint

If ingested, lead can lead to a variety of health problems, especially for children, including brain damage and other serious issues.

Lead-based paint may be a hazard when found on surfaces that children can chew or that get a lot of wear and tear, such as windows and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings, banisters, porches and fences. Lead from paint chips that are visible and lead dust that is not always visible can both be serious hazards. Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry-scraped, dry-sanded, or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together, such as when windows open and close. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air when people vacuum, sweep or walk through it.

Your home probably contains lead-based paint if it was built before 1960. If built between 1960 and 1990, the exterior may contain lead-based paint. The paint on interior surfaces may also contain lead in smaller amounts that could still be harmful, especially to young children. Lead paint can cause harm to health if it enters the body. Houses built after 1990 should not contain lead because all consumer paints produced in Canada and the U.S. were virtually lead-free by this time.

According to health Canada, “One way to reduce children’s exposure to lead is to reduce dust in your home. Because children tend to put things in their mouths, dirt and household dust are among the main sources of lead for children under six years of age. Dusting, vacuuming and wet-mopping will all help to keep down levels of dust.”

How to know if you have a problem
If you think the paint in your home may contain lead, have it tested. A certified inspector can measure paint lead levels in your home, or you can mail paint chip samples to a testing laboratory.
To find an inspector or laboratory in your area, contact the Standards Council of Canada or the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation Search online or check your local telephone directory for Laboratories – Analytical and Testing.
Be sure to contact the lab first, and follow all directions for gathering and sending the paint chips.

What you can do if you have lead-based paint
If the lead-based paint is in good condition and is not on a surface that a child might chew, your risk is minimal. It’s best to leave it alone, paint over it, or cover it with wallpaper, wallboard or paneling.
If the lead-based paint is cracking, chipping, flaking or peeling, or if it is on a surface that a child might chew, here is how you can remove the paint:
Do not use sanders, heat guns or blowlamps to remove paint in older homes. This can create dust and fumes that contain lead.
Use a chemical paint stripper, ideally one with a paste that can be applied with a brush.
Paint strippers also contain substances that may be harmful, so use them carefully. Keep children and pregnant women away from the work area and always wear goggles, gloves and a good-quality breathing mask. See the safe use of paint strippers for more information.
See Health Canada’s fact sheet lead-based paint before starting any renovation project in an older home.

Lead in plumbing

Plumbing systems in some homes may be connected to the water mains with lead pipes (also called lead service lines). The National Plumbing Code allowed lead as a material in pipes until 1975 and allowed the use of lead-based solder in plumbing until 1986. Some other brass plumbing parts or faucets may also contain lead. This lead can leach into drinking water if it has been sitting in the pipes for several hours.

How to know if you have a problem
You can check with the Halifax municipality or water utility to see if there are lead service lines in your area. A plumber or a home inspector (link to your page) can identify whether your service line (supply pipe) is made of lead. You can also look at the pipe entering your home, and if it is a greyish-black metal, that is soft and easily dented when scraped with a knife, it is likely made of or contains lead.

If there are lead service lines or other lead-based materials in your plumbing system, you can have your tap water tested for lead content. Some towns and cities have an established sampling program, while others may sample and test it if you ask them.

Contact your local Public Health Department if you’re concerned about high lead levels in your home’s drinking water.

What you can do if you have lead in your plumbing

  • Always let tap water run until it is cold before using it for drinking, cooking and especially for making baby formula. This is very important after water has been sitting in the pipes for long periods of time, like first thing in the morning.
  • Don’t use water from the hot water tap for cooking or drinking. Use cold water instead.
  • If you have a lead service line, the best solution is to have it replaced, but there is a cost to the home owner and the municipality.
  • Ask your municipality about programs or incentives for replacing lead service lines.
  • Clean out aerators or screens at the tap regularly to remove any debris that could also contain lead.
  • Replace any brass faucets or valves with fittings that are certified for use with drinking water.
  • A water filter at the tap can serve as a temporary solution, but this will require proper maintenance and testing to ensure it is working. Make sure any such device is certified to the NSF International standard for removal of lead.
    See also: Water Talk: Minimizing Exposure to Lead from Drinking Water Distribution Systems

See below links for references and more information
https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/home-garden-safety/reduce-your-exposure-lead.html
https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/environmental-contaminants/lead/lead-information-package-some-commonly-asked-questions-about-lead-human-health.html
https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/hc-sc/migration/hc-sc/ewh-semt/alt_formats/pdf/pubs/contaminants/prms_lead-psgr_plomb/prms_lead-psgr_plomb-eng.pdf

 

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence – Colin Powell. Do what you love and love what you do!

A humble request

If you think that I did a good job inspecting your home, please mention me to anyone you know who will need a home inspector or share my schedule now link and write me a testimonial. If there’s any reason you would hesitate to recommend me, please contact me with your constructive criticism.

Indoor Air Quality

Asbestos – The Facts

Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral used in many construction products. According to Health Canada, Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause cancer and other diseases, such as: asbestosis – a scarring of the lungs, which makes it difficult to breathe; mesothelioma – a rare cancer of the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity; lung cancer – smoking can greatly increase this risk. It is considered to be a carcinogen.

Asbestos has been used in: sealant, putty, and spackling compounds; vinyl floor tiles, backing for vinyl sheet flooring, and flooring adhesives; ceiling tiles; textured paint; exterior wall and ceiling insulation; roofing shingles; cement board for many uses, including siding; door gaskets for furnaces and wood-burning stoves; concrete piping; paper, millboard and cement board sheets used to protect walls and floors around wood-burning stoves; fabric connectors between pieces of metal ductwork; hot water and steam piping insulation, blanket covering and tape; and as insulation on boilers, oil-fired furnaces, and coal-fired furnaces.

Asbestos has been used to make products strong, long-lasting and fire-resistant. Production and use of asbestos have declined since the 1970s. Before 1990, asbestos was mainly used for insulating buildings and homes against cold weather, noise and for fireproofing. It may also be found in some auto parts.

Products containing asbestos are not always a health hazard. The potential health risk occurs when these products become worn or deteriorate in a way that releases asbestos fibers into the air. Of particular concern are those asbestos-containing products that are soft, that were sprayed or troweled on, or that have become crumbly. In this condition, asbestos is considered to be in a friable state.

There are no significant health risks if materials containing asbestos in your home are:
1. Tightly bound in products and are in good condition
2. Sealed behind walls and floorboards
3. Isolated in an attic
4. Left undisturbed

If a material is suspected as asbestos, it should be treated as asbestos until tested otherwise. Testing by a qualified laboratory, as directed by the environmental professional, may be needed in order to make an informed decision.
Samples to be tested by a qualified laboratory still need to be collected professionally to control and/or prevent releasing fibres into the air. Proper PPE, protocols and procedures that are minimally invasive should be should be employed.

In a case where asbestos may be in a friable state, A certified environmental professional could perform an inspection and make the decision whether to enclose, coat, encapsulate or remove deteriorated asbestos-containing products. Encapsulation, removal and disposal of asbestos products must be done by a qualified asbestos-abatement contractor.

Concerned about asbestos risk, Need help or Need to collect a sample professionally? Contact us via email, telephone or Schedule a free 30 Min walk-through/consultation

For more information, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/air-quality/indoor-air-contaminants/health-risks-asbestos.html

 

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence – Colin Powell. Do what you love and love what you do!

A humble request

If you think that I did a good job inspecting your home, please mention me to anyone you know who will need a home inspector or share my schedule now link and write me a testimonial. If there’s any reason you would hesitate to recommend me, please contact me with your constructive criticism.

Storage tanks

Buried Oil Tank – Environmental Concerns and Requirements

Buried Oil Tanks

A buried oil tank can be concealed by heavy landscaping. Buried ferrous-metal oil tanks are commonly found on older properties whose home and/or domestic water supply is heated by oil. As with all underground items, a buried oil tank is not within the scope of a visual home inspection. The presence of a buried oil tank can usually be determined by finding the fill and vent pipes that extend above ground. Abandoned and very old buried ferrous-metal oil tanks are an environmental hazard.

Once free from the tank, petroleum will sink through unsaturated soil and enter the water table. There, much of the chemical will vaporize and eventually bubble up through the ground’s surface. In addition to the risks posed by other petroleum products, leaked gasoline presents the risk of fire and explosion, especially if the fumes collect inside homes and other buildings. Any petroleum-contaminated water that is ingested or used to bathe is potentially deadly. A tank is capable of leaking chemicals for many years, since the corrosion process is typically slow.

If there is a buried tank on your property, the soil around it should be tested by a qualified environmental professional for the presence of oil seepage. If leaking has occurred, the tank and all contaminated soil around it must be removed. A tank that shows leakage must be removed from the ground or filled with a chemically inert solid, such as sand. Groundwater contaminants too must be removed by pumping air through the water, which causes volatile petroleum compounds to vaporize and biodegrade naturally.

If leaking has not occurred, it may still be a potential problem. Even if a tank is empty, it still may have residual oil in the bottom that is a pollutant. Consult with a specialist about the best option for dealing with an underground tank on your property.

Storage tank regulation in Canada.

Permanent withdrawal from service
Per section 44 of the regulations, you must keep a record of the date on which the permanent withdrawal of the storage tank system took place and a record (for example, an invoice) showing that the withdrawal was carried out by an approved person or supervised by a professional engineer, as applicable.
Additional requirements to ensure exists and can be found in the link below.

Removal requirements
The regulations require that you remove storage tank systems and their components if you permanently withdraw them from service. The requirements for removal depend on the tank type:
– for underground and shop-fabricated aboveground tanks, remove all tanks, piping and components
– for field-erected aboveground tanks, remove all piping and components outside the tanks. The tanks themselves may remain in place

Compulsory withdrawal and removal
The following pose a risk to the environment and any such existing installations should have been permanently withdrawn from service and removed by now:
– single-walled underground tanks or piping without leak detection and cathodic protection (that is, protection against corrosion)
– aboveground tanks installed underground and underground tanks installed aboveground
– partially buried tanks

It is important to know that the property owner is responsible for underground tank removal, soil testing and cleanup where contamination has occurred.

See full regulation below.
https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/pollutants/storage-tanks-petroleum-allied-products/regulations.html

 

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence – Colin Powell. Do what you love and love what you do!

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Roofs and Attics

Attic Inspection

Attic Inspection

An attic is an unconditioned space between the roof and the ceiling or walls of the building’s inhabited rooms. In a small house with a pitched roof, the attic is usually partially or fully accessible. In a house with a low-slope roof, it may be inaccessible or virtually non-existent.

Roof Leaks: Look for signs of and monitor water leakage from the roof above and try to locate the source. This may be difficult to do beneath built-up roofs or loosely laid and mechanically fastened single-ply roofs, since water may travel horizontally between layers of roofing materials. The key is looking for any signs at all and tracing it. Moisture meters or infrared cameras may be able to help in this regard. Phone a friendly home inspector.

Attic Ventilation: Signs of inadequate ventilation are rusting nails (in roof sheathing, soffits, and drywall ceilings), wet or rotted roof sheathing, and excessive heat buildup which makes measuring attic temperatures a integral part of a good home inspection in Halifax NS. Adequate attic ventilation can be measured by calculating the ratio of the free area of all vents to the floor area. The free area of vents is defined as their clear, open area. If a vent has an insect screen, its free area is reduced by half. The free vent area-to-floor area ratio should be 1 to 150. If the calculated ratio is less, consider adding ventilation, especially if you’re in a hot and humid climate.

If the attic also contains an occupied space, check that the ventilation from the unconditioned, unoccupied areas at the eaves is continuous to the gable or ridge vents. Also check that the free area of eave vents is approximately equal to the free area of ridge or gable vents. If ventilation appears to be inadequate and additional vents cannot be added economically, consider adding mechanical ventilation.

Vents and Birds: Make sure ventilation openings are clear of dirt and debris. At larger ventilation openings on a building’s exterior and where louvered grilles are used, such as at gables, check for the presence of 1-½-inch-square 14- or 16-gauge aluminum mesh bird screen. If there is none or it is in poor condition, consider having new bird screen installed.

Plumbing Stacks and Exhaust Ducts: All plumbing stacks should continue through the roof and should not terminate in the attic. The stack pipes should not be loose, broken or damaged. Exhaust ducts should not be kinked, broken or damaged. They should not terminate in the attic but should continue through the roof, gable or wall.

 

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence – Colin Powell. Do what you love and love what you do!

A humble request

If you think that I did a good job inspecting your home, please mention me to anyone you know who will need a home inspector or share my schedule now link and write me a testimonial. If there’s any reason you would hesitate to recommend me, please contact me with your constructive criticism.

Windows and Doors

Egress Windows & Fire Safety

Egress Windows for Fire Safety

Egress: Basements and every sleeping room should have at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening that opens directly onto a public street, public alley, yard or court. This standard is required because many deaths and injuries happen when occupants are asleep at the time of a house fire and the normal means of escape (through doors) are typically blocked.

Ideally, The sill height of the emergency escape and rescue opening should not be more than 44 inches above the floor. If the window has a sill height below ground level, a window well should be provided. The window well should have a horizontal area of at least 9 square feet, with a minimum horizontal projection and width of 36 inches (with the exception of a ladder encroachment into the required dimension). If an emergency escape window is located under a porch or deck, the porch or deck should allow the window to be fully opened and the escape path should be at least 3 feet high.

Egress Windows or Doors for Bedrooms – Minimum Requirements according to NBC 2015
1) Except where the suite is sprinklered, each bedroom or combination bedroom shall have at least one outside window or exterior door openable from the inside without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge and without the removal of sashes or hardware.
2) The window referred to must provide an unobstructed opening of not less than 0.35 m2 in area with no dimension less than 380 mm and maintain the required opening during an emergency without the need for additional support.
3) Where a window required opens into a window well, a clearance of not less than 760 mm shall be provided in front of the window.
4) Where the sash of a egress window swings towards the window well, the operation of the sash shall not reduce the clearance in a manner that
would restrict escape in an emergency.
5) Where a protective enclosure is installed over the window well, the enclosure shall be openable from the inside without the use of keys,tools or special knowledge of the opening mechanism.

You can’t be prepared to act in an emergency if you don’t have a plan and everybody knows what that plan is. Panic and fear can spread as quickly as a fire, so map out an escape route and a meeting place outdoors, and involve even the youngest family members so that everyone can work as a unit to make a safe escape.

 

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence – Colin Powell. Do what you love and love what you do!

A humble request

If you think that I did a good job inspecting your home, please mention me to anyone you know who will need a home inspector or share my schedule now link and write me a testimonial. If there’s any reason you would hesitate to recommend me, please contact me with your constructive criticism.

Egress Window
Egress Window and fire safety

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