• The following items are essential tools but this list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to ask an your Advantage inspector during your next inspection about other tools that you might find useful.
     
    1.  Plunger
    A clogged sink or toilet is one of the most disturbing problems that you will face. With a plunger on hand, however, you can usually remedy these troubling plumbing issues relatively quickly. It is best to have two plungers — one for the sink and one for the toilet.

     

    2.  Combination Wrench Set

    One end of a combination wrench set is open and the other end is a closed loop. Nuts and bolts are manufactured in standard and metric sizes and because both varieties are widely used, so you’ll need both sets of wrenches. For the most control and leverage, always pull the wrench toward you, instead of pushing on it. Also, avoid over-tightening.

    3.  Slip-Joint Pliers

    Use slip-joint pliers to grab hold of a nail, a nut, a bolt, and much more. These types of pliers are versatile because of the jaws, which feature both flat and curved areas for gripping many types of objects. There is also a built-in slip-joint, which allows the user to quickly adjust the jaw size to suit most tasks.

    4.  Adjustable WrenchCaulking gun

    Adjustable wrenches are somewhat awkward to use and can damage a bolt or nut if they are not handled properly. However, adjustable wrenches are ideal for situations where you need two wrenches of the same size. Screw the jaws all the way closed to avoid damaging the bolt or nut.

    5.  Caulking Gun
    Caulking is the process of sealing up cracks and gaps in various structures and certain types of piping. Caulking can provide noise mitigation and thermal insulation, and control water penetration. Caulk should be applied only to areas that are clean and dry.
     
    6.  Flashlight
    None of the tools in this list is of any use if you cannot visually inspect the situation. The problem, and solution, are apparent only with a good flashlight. A traditional two-battery flashlight is usually sufficient, as larger flashlights may be too unwieldy.
     
    7.  Tape Measure
    Measuring house projects requires a tape measure, not a ruler or a yardstick. Tape measures come in many lengths, although 25 feet is best.  Measure everything at least twice to ensure accuracy. 
     

    8.  Hacksaw
    These are great for cutting metal objects such as pipes, bolts and brackets. Torpedo levelHacksaws look thin and flimsy, but they’ll easily cut through even the hardest of metals. Blades are replaceable, so focus your purchase on a quality hacksaw frame.
     
    9. Torpedo Level
    Only a level can be used to determine if something, such as a shelf, appliance or picture, is correctly oriented. The torpedo-style level is unique because it not only shows when an object is perfectly horizontal or vertical, but it also has a gauge that shows when an object is at a 45-degree angle. The bubble in viewfinder must be exactly in the middle, not merely close.

    10.  Safety Glasses / Goggles
    For all tasks involving a hammer or a power tool, you should always wear safety glasses or goggles. They should also be worn while you mix chemicals.

    11.  Claw Hammer
    A good hammer is one of the most important tools you can own.  Use it to drive and remove nails, to pry wood loose from the house, and in combination with other tools. They come in a variety of sizes, although a 16-ounce hammer is the best all-purpose choice.

    12.  Screwdriver Set
    It is best to have four screwdrivers: a small and large version of both a flat-head and a Phillips- head screwdriver. Electrical screwdrivers areWire cutter sometimes convenient, but they’re no substitute.  Manual screwdrivers can reach into more places and they are less likely to damage the screw. 

    13.  Wire Cutters
    Wire cutters are pliers designed to cut wires and small nails. The “side-cutting” (unlike the stronger “end-cutting” style) style is handy, but not strong enough to cut small nails.

    14.  Respirator / Safety Mask
    While paints and other coatings have become less toxic (and lead-free) over time, most still contain dangerous chemicals, which is why you should wear a mask to avoid accidentally getting them in your lungs. A mask should also be worn when working in dusty or dirty environments. Disposable masks usually come in packs of 10 and should be thrown away after use. Full and half-face respirators can be used to prevent the inhalation of very fine particles that ordinary facemasks will not not stop. 

    15.  Duct Tape
    This tape is extremely strong and adaptable. Originally, it was widely used to make temporary repairs to many types of military equipment. Today, it’s one of the key items specified for home emergency kits because it is water-resistant and extremely sticky.
     
    In summary, the above is a list of tools that every homeowner should have. 

    Dave Park
    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    Davepark@advantageinspection.com

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh. . . performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 20 years, Advantage Home Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve: Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors.

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  • This is the interior of a townhome garage I was asked to inspect. During the inspection, I ran into a neighbor who told me that the roof of another garage, identical to the one pictured above two buildings down, had collapsed the previous winter under a snow load.

    So, I decided to keep my eyes wide open as I went through the garage.

    Above: trusses and truss connections

    Some defects you have to search for, and some are pretty obvious. These first two defects were obvious from the doorway:
    •improper alterations; and
    •improper bearing points.
    Trusses cannot be altered in any way without the approval of a structural engineer. When you see plywood gussets added at truss connections like these triangular gussets, then an alteration of some sort has obviously been made and you have to recommend evaluation by a structural engineer. So, that condition went into the report

    Trusses are designed to bear loads at very specific points. Typical roof trusses should not touch any interior walls and should bear only on the exterior walls. The two trusses at the left of the above photo are bearing on an offset portion of the garage wall.

    A portion of the structural roof load was being transferred to the bottom chords of the trusses at a point at which they were not designed to support a load.

    Above: the connection

    Then I walked over and looked more closely at the connections where the trusses attached to the wall and found these problems:
    •inadequate metal connector (hanger);
    •inadequate fasteners (deck screws); and
    •improper fastener installation (through drywall).
    These trusses would have best been supported by bearing directly on wall framing. The next best solution would be an engineer-designed ledger or engineer-specified hardware. And that may have been how they were originally built, but by the time I inspected them, 24-foot roof trusses were supported by joist hangers designed to support 2×4 joists. The hangers were fastened with four gold deck screws each.

    Gold deck screws are designed to resist withdrawal. Fasteners for metal connecters such as joist hangers are designed to resist shear.

    Withdrawal force is like the force which would be generated if you grabbed the head of a fastener with pliers and tried to pull it straight out.

    Shear force is what’s used if you take a pair of heavy-duty wire cutters and cut the fastener. Fasteners designed to resist withdrawal, such as deck screws, are weak in shear resistance.

    So, there were drastically undersized metal connectors fastened by badly under-strength fasteners.

    To make matters worse, the screws were fastened through drywall, which doesn’t support the shaft of the screw and degrades the connection even further.

    Above: gangnail integrity destroyed

    And, once I looked really closely, I found more truss alterations. The gangnail had been pried loose and the spikes which form the actual mechanical connection were destroyed. In their place were a couple of bent-over nails. This condition represented a terrific loss of strength and this roof, too, was a candidate for catastrophic structural failure.

    In summary, look carefully at connections for problems which may lead to structural issues, as some are more urgent than others. Be sure to call these out in your report.

    Dave Park
    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    Davepark@advantageinspection.com

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh. . . performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 20 years, Advantage Home Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve: Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors.

  • Lead is a poisonous metal that was once commonly used in the manufacture of paint, gasoline, and plumbing. While U.S. law has banned the use of lead in new construction, existing lead-based paint and plumbing in homes may present a significant health hazard, especially for children. Inspectors who are not trained in lead detection should not perform lead inspections. They can, however, learn the basic facts about lead so they can answer questions from concerned clients.
     
    A few interesting facts about lead and lead poisoning:
    • Before 1955, paint in homes was composed of up to 50% lead. Regulations in the 1970s limited the amount of lead allowed in paint and, today, just 0.06% is permitted under U.S. law.  
    • The modern English word for “plumbing” comes from the Latin word for lead, plumbum. Lead was used as an inexpensive and reliable material for the vast network of plumbing that supplied Rome and its provincial cities with water. Even the Romans, however, were aware that lead was toxic, and they attempted to reduce their everyday contact with the metal.
    • Unlike many other toxins, lead poisoning has no satisfactory threshold that is considered safe. The lower limit of lead concentrations in the human bloodstream considered to be dangerous have been reduced repeatedly. Even the Centers for Disease Control admit that the current acceptable limit for concentrations of lead in the blood of 10 micrograms/deciliter can be dangerous.
    Symptoms of lead poisoning
     
    Lead poisoning is characterized by an enormous variety of symptoms which are sometimes hard to recognize because they are symptoms of other conditions. Some symptoms include:
    • irritability;
    • poor muscle coordination;
    • nerve damage;
    • cognitive impairment;
    • reproductive damage;
    • coma; and
    • death
    Where around the home is lead likely to be found?
    • in soil. Even if lead paint has been removed from exterior walls, chips may have made their way into the soil. Also, lead may have been deposited from car exhaust many years ago when gasoline contained high concentrations of lead.
    • in dust. Dust can become contaminated in a number of ways, often from soil that makes its way into the home or from lead paint that has been disturbed.
    • in plumbing and tap water. Some older houses still have lead plumbing. Even in houses that have copper pipes, lead solder was often used to bond these pipes together.
    • in older paint. In 1978, lead-based paint was banned in the United States. Still, homes constructed after that date may have used lead-based paint that had been warehoused.

    Advice for Clients 

    Children are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of lead poisoning, which can cause significant delays in cognitive development. The following suggestions apply to adults as well as children, although they are more critical for children.
    • The consumption of certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, calcium, and iron has been shown to reduce the absorption of lead into the human bloodstream. InterNACHI advises eating a balanced, healthy diet will lead to a reduced chance of suffering lead poisoning.
    • If clients are concerned that their children may have been exposed to lead, blood tests can determine if they have lead poisoning. It is more likely that a child will test high for lead exposure if a sibling or playmate has also tested high.
    • Children’s hands and faces should be washed regularly with soap and water. Their toys, too, should be washed regularly.
    Advice for Clients Concerning Lead Paint
     
    Lead paint hazards are created when lead-based paint peels, flakes, chips, chalks, or creates dust. Locations that are especially vulnerable to this sort of damage are places where painted surfaces, such as windows and doors, rub against each other. The following are also true about lead-based paint:
    • Lead paint that is in good condition is generally not considered a safety hazard. Still, small children should not be permitted to suck on or bite any surfaces that are suspected to contain lead-based paint.
    • In houses that have lead-based paint, housekeeping should be performed often to clean surfaces that may have become contaminated by lead-laden dust. 
    • Sweeping and vacuuming in rooms with lead dust will make the condition worse by stirring up lead into the air. Surfaces should be cleaned with wet towels, soap and water.
    • Lead paint can be painted over but this is only a short-term solution. The hidden layer of lead paint may continue to crack and create dust. This dust can mix with and contaminate the new layer of paint.
    Advice for Clients Concerning Lead Pipes
    • Lead pipes can be identified by their dull gray color and they can be easily scratched by keys and coins.
    • Boiling water will not remove lead.
    • Tap water should be run for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if it has not been used for several hours. This clears out the water that was sitting in the pipes that may have become contaminated with lead.
    • Only cold water should be used for drinking and cooking if a house has lead pipes. Hot water will absorb more lead from lead pipes.
    • Local and state health departments can be consulted about testing tap water for lead.
    In summary, lead is a health hazard in homes despite the fact that its use has declined in recent years. It is most common in older homes that have not switched away from lead paint and plumbing.



    Dave Park
    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh
    Davepark@advantageinspection.com

    Advantage Home Inspection Raleigh. . . performs the Nation’s Best Home Inspection and provides the Nation’s Only “No Denied Claims Warranty” available in the industry. For the last 20 years, Advantage Home Inspection has been the deciding factor for the people we serve: Buyers, Sellers, Real Estate Agents and Home Inspectors.

   

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