(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) Fireworks on the Fourth of July are an American tradition. It started with the Independence Day celebration in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777. Revelers marked the first anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence with bonfires, bells, and fireworks.
Today, they still play a major part in the way we commemorate Independence Day across the nation. Although the coronavirus pandemic has canceled many community activities, including parades, festivals, and public presentations, most Americans will still celebrate in some way with family. For many that will include barbecues and home fireworks displays.
With all that celebrating, it’s important to keep yourself and your family safe. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 9,000 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in 2018, with most of those injuries occurring around the fourth of July. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports they started more than 19,000 fires that year, including 1,900 structure fires and 500 vehicle fires. NFPA says these fires caused five deaths and $105 million in direct property damage. So, fireworks safety should be taken seriously.
If consumer fireworks are legal to buy where you live and you choose to use them, the National Safety Council (NSC) offers the following safety tips:
Never allow young children to handle them*
Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
Never use them while impaired by drugs or alcohol
Anyone using them or standing nearby should wear protective eye-wear
Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
Never light them indoors
Only use them away from people, houses, and flammable material
Never point or throw them at another person
Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
Never ignite devices in a container
Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
Never use illegal firework
* Note: Sparklers are popular and are not classified as fireworks in some states (including Illinois). Because they burn at 1,200-2,000 degrees, they aren’t a good choice for young children. According to the CPSC, sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries, and they account for nearly half of all fireworks injuries for children under the age of five.
Safer alternatives for young kids include glow sticks, confetti poppers, silly string, snap pops, glow-in-the-dark lawn toys, and glow-in-the-dark bubbles.
Learn to make your own glow-in-the-dark bubbles
Alternatives to Fireworks
For those who live in areas where fireworks are illegal or impractical, or who just don’t want to take the risks, NFPA offers a shareable pdf with some suggestions for Fourth of July celebrations that don’t include fireworks. You’ll find a few back yard family fun ideas on our website too.
Whatever way you and your family choose to celebrate Independence Day this year, we encourage you to take a minute or two to reflect on why we celebrate and on the impact of the words that declared the birth of our nation on July 4th, 1776:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”
Understanding the New Rules for Termite Inspection Standards for 2020
(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) Does it seem like Termite Inspections, also called wood destroying insect inspections (WDI), are yielding more recommendations for treatment these days? You are probably right. It’s not that there are more termite infestations. It’s more likely the result of the 2020 rules changes. What changes? Read on.
On January 1, 2020, a new standard for the termite inspection and wood destroying insect inspections took effect and the changes are significant. In July 2019, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) released an updated and revised NPMA-33 Wood Destroying Insect Inspection Form. That’s the standardized form that all pest inspectors use for real estate WDI inspections. According to NPMA, all previous editions are now obsolete. That means for real estate transactions, only the current form bearing a revision date of 7/1/2019 should be accepted.
There are a few revisions you need to know about. There are changes in language such as the replacement of the word “defects” with “wood destroying insect damage.” More significantly, the section on page one of the report noting evidence of previous treatment has been eliminated and the page two guidelines regarding when to recommend treatment for termites has changed.
Pest inspectors have always recommended treatment whenever live termites are observed. The new standard says “if no evidence of a previous treatment is documented and evidence of an infestation is found, even if no live termites are observed, treatment or corrective action by a licensed pest control company should be recommended.” The new guidelines call for documentation of treatment, not just evidence like drill holes.
In the past, if a termite inspector found shelter tubes or other evidence of infestation without observing live termites and also found evidence of prior treatment, they generally didn’t recommend treatment in their report. Under the new standards, unless there is documentation of prior treatment, termite inspectors are recommending the property be treated.
evidence of termite activity
Home sellers who have had their homes treated for termites in the past are advised to have the documentation of treatment at the ready. Be advised that the new guidelines also give the pest inspector latitude to recommend treatment if documentation is too old or in some other way inadequate.
Heavy rain and flooding can negatively impact a home’s termite protection system. The NPMA has published a technical update explaining what you need to know. Get it here
click here for a copy of the NMPA TECHNICAL UPDATE:
Roof Coverings: Balancing Aesthetics with Performance
(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) How is your roof? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), during storms, your roof does a lot to protect your home. Besides keeping you and your family safe from rain, lightning, sleet, hail, and windblown debris, it keeps the inside of your home dry and can even act as a structural diaphragm in certain situations, keeping your home from falling down around you. In order to protect the home, your roof must resist both high and low temperature extremes, rain, high winds, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, snow, ice formation, and hail.
Of all the hazards your roof faces, wind is the most problematic according to FEMA. Living in the Midwest, you already know extreme weather with high winds or tornadoes can devastate a home. Even an average Midwestern thunderstorm can wreak havoc on a home’s roof. When wind force is greater than the roof system can handle, it can be disastrous. Wind can tear roof coverings from roof decks. It can separate roof decks from framing. And roof punctures from windblown debris can seriously impact the roof’s integrity.
Repeated exposure to wind events can wear down a roof’s first line of defense, the roof covering. Choosing the right roof covering for your home can make a big difference in how it weathers the storm. Homeowners have a lot to consider when balancing style and budget with performance.
Three Popular Options for Flat Roofs
Built Up Roofing (BUR): Hot-mopped built-up roofing (BUR) is one of the oldest types of roof coverings for flat roofs. They’re installed using several layers of roofing felt impregnated with asphalt and hot mopped with a low-grade crude oil called bitumen.
Hot-applied coal tar pitch blends with the bitumen-soaked felt creating a fused roof membrane generally two to four layers thick. Finely crushed stone granules may be applied to the top layer of tar to give the roof additional protection from the elements. A BUR roof is relatively in expensive. If well maintained, it can last 20 to 30 years.
Torch Down Roofing: Sometimes called “torch on” roofing, it requires an open-flame propane torch for installation. Torch down roofing is the most common type of roofing used on flat or very slightly pitched roofs. It’s a two- or three-layer roofing product consisting of a tough membrane of bitumen modified with rubber or plastic and embedded in a thick layer of asphalt. Torch down roofing can tolerate changing temperatures well and expands and contracts without melting or cracking. It’s usually a little more expensive than BUR roofing, but it also tends to be more resistant to punctures and UV rays.
Membrane Roofing (Rubber Roofing): Single layer membrane roofing is the most popular for commercial buildings, but it’s being used in residential roofing too. EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber roofing is perhaps the most synthetic rubber is the most common single-ply membrane roof material in both residential and commercial use. It’s also one of the more durable option for homes with flat roofs. Installed as thin sheets and being made of rubber or polymer, they’re flexible, elastic, and can handle temperature changes better than built up roofs (BURs). It also costs a little more with a similar lifespan.
Several Popular Options for Pitched Roofs
Asphalt Shingles: Widely considered the best choice for most homes. They are relatively light, inexpensive, and easy to install. Sheets of roofing are layered to give the illusion of more expensive single shingles, like cedar or slate, that are installed one shingle at a time. This means the asphalt shingles take less time to install. An asphalt shingle roof typically has a lifespan of 12 to 30 years.
Metal Roofing: Metal roof covers are an Eco-friendly choice that’s highly recyclable and energy efficient. It’s also wind and fire resistant. The most common type of metal roof is the standing seam roof. It’s made up of aluminum or steel roofing panels with interlocking raised seams. Installation is generally faster than most other roof covering types. For those who want the longevity and fire resistance of metal, but don’t like the look of standing seam roofs, metal shingles fill the bill. These steel or aluminum shingles or shakes can mimic asphalt, wood, or slate shingles, or even clay tiles. Metal roofs can last 30-50 years or more, but typically cost four to five times as much as asphalt shingles.
Clay Tile: This is a traditional choice that offers an exceptional aesthetic appeal. They can be left as unglazed red clay tiles or glazed and fired to become ceramic roofing tiles. Clay tiles have been used to cover roofs for centuries. They’re particularly good at resisting salt and heat damage, making them a popular choice in desert and coastal areas. They are a rather expensive choice, costing as much as $30 per square foot. But since a properly maintained clay tile roof can last more than a century, they are a one-and-done solution.
Concrete Tile: If you love clay tile but just can’t bring yourself to pay the price, concrete tile presents a similar looking, but less expensive option. Unlike clay, concrete tiles can be dyed to taste. Because it is molded, concrete tiles can be shaped to mimic rolled clay tiles or low-profile roofing like wood shakes. Concrete tile is a very heavy roofing material, making it a good choice in high-wind regions. It’s also fire resistant, last up to 50 years and is little as half the price of clay tiles.
Wood Shake and shingles: Wood shingles are precision sawed, thin slabs used to cover the roof. Wood shakes are hand-cut, making them thicker and more durable than machine-made wood shingles. Wood is a good insulator, and hand-cut shake shingles can last up to 40 years in a relatively dry climate with proper maintenance. But wood is not very fire resistant and moisture can shorten the lifespan of a wood roof considerably. They are one of the more expensive options, but also considered one of the most attractive roof covers on the market today.
Slate: Very popular for historic buildings, slate roofing is very long-lasting and durable. Slate shingles are thin sheets of real stone. This traditional choice combines beauty with enhanced protection, making it one of the most desired roof coverings available. It’s pricier than most other options, costing double or triple the price of even clay tiles. A slate roof represents a compromise between cost and near-permanence since slate roofs have been known to last centuries.
Synthetic Slate: Love the look of slate shingles, but not the price? Enter synthetic slate shingles, also called rubber slate. These engineered shingles look surprisingly similar to natural slate from the ground. Made from engineered polymers and recycled plastic and rubber, synthetic slate is a lightweight alternative that makes it an option for houses that can’t support natural slate’s the heavy weight. The rubber slate shingles are not as durable as slate but can last 50 years or more. They’re also priced closer to the cost of wood shake or metal shingles, making them much more affordable than real stone.
With all the roof covering choices available to homeowners, there really is something just right for everyone. Just as each type brings a unique style and benefit to the task, it also brings its own shortcomings and wear issues.
A Certified Roof Inspector is well versed in the positives and negatives of each roof covering type. They have the specialized training to properly gage the condition of the roof covering, spot installation issues, weather damage, and wear issues that could compromise your roof’s integrity. Since the roof covering is your roof’s first line of defense against the elements, it’s important that your home inspector has the expertise needed to properly inspect the roof. Protect your investment. Insist on a certified roof inspector.
(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) At Hawley Home Inspections, we are always working to find ways to add value to the home inspection experience. And our FREE Home Wizard is one of our most popular bonus offerings. It’s a customized newsletter, and a whole lot more! It’s FREE to all our home inspection clients and offers something special for the realtors who represent them.
Our Home Wizard includes a FREE Appliance Recall Service that keeps homeowners up to date on recall notices issued for their appliances. They can add any appliances they want tracked and add more or swap them out when they buy new ones.
The monthly Interactive e Newsletter includes personalized home care recommendations, tips, and home improvement ideas based on the homeowner’s individual goals and priorities. They fill out a short questionnaire about their home and their goals. Then, the Home Wizards builds a personalized e Newsletter filled with helpful articles and videos geared to maintaining their specific home.
The Personal Home Manager makes it easier for individuals to take care of their homes with helpful tips and seasonal tasks customized just for them. Recommendations and articles are based on:
The type of home (single family, townhouse, high rise condo, duplex, or vacation cabin, etc.)
The type of heating and cooling systems
The homeowner’s personal goals like saving energy, lowering repair costs, maintaining home value—even allergy management and child proofing!
The homeowner’s personal knowledge level (to determine how basic or advanced the tips should be)
The homeowner’s priorities. Tasks and tips are prioritized on a scale of one to five stars. Those with the most stars have the highest benefits relative to their costs. Each reader chooses the priority of the tips they want to see.
Choose how to be notified about recommended tips and tasks. Home Wizard can send monthly alerts via email, or readers can use their own calendar app (Google calendar, Remember the Milk, Reminder Fox, etc.) to get their alerts.
There’s also a FREE Home Care Library at your fingertips! The constantly growing library includes scores of articles, how-to instructions, and frequently asked questions about everything from furnace systems and sump pumps to outdoor lighting and solar energy. Want to know when and where to look for signs of mice infiltration or how to keep leather furniture looking good? The Home Care Library has it covered.
All the personalized home care recommendations, appliance recall service, articles, and home care library can be accessed online using a computer browser or download our free Home Wizard app for access on mobile devices.
There’s a special value-added feature for realtors—when we send our interactive e Newsletters to clients you have referred to us, we send these e Newsletters co-branded with your name, email address, phone number, photo, company name, and company logo.
We’ll give you a Co-Branding Dashboard where you can customize your branding, preview the e Newsletters, add subscribers, and more! In addition to all the great home maintenance tips and ideas, you’ll also have access to specialized articles focused on helping you market and grow your real estate business.
We hope you and your clients find our Home Care Wizard useful, and that it makes it easier for you to take care of your home, your clients, and your business. This free service is our way of saying ‘thanks’ to our valued customers and to show you how much we value our relationship with you, their realtor. Thank you.
(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) As we begin to reopen our communities while still dealing with Covid-19 in our communities, we are again reviewing and revising our policies and procedures. We want to keep you up to date on changes in our practices aimed at protecting our clients, employees, realtors, sellers, and others involved in the home inspection process.
One significant change in our policy: we are again allowing buyers to attend inspections in vacant homes. (We are still asking buyers to refrain from attending home inspections in occupied homes.)
All buyers, whether in attendance or not, receive a full, written report, complete with pictures. When buyers and agents are not present during the inspection, our inspectors are arranging to go over their findings with them by phone and answer any questions they may have. (You can always call and get your home inspection questions answered. We’ve always been here for you and remain so.)
Other safety measures we’re still using include:
Protective gear: Our inspectors are wearing booties over their shoes and boots any time they are inside a home. They’re also donning protective gloves and masks when appropriate.
Frequent hand washing: Our inspectors are washing their hands when they enter a home and before leaving. If it’s not possible to do so, they are using hand sanitizer.
Keeping equipment sanitized: Our inspectors wipe down all their equipment with sanitizing wipes between inspections, so everything they bring into a home is clean.
Certified Covid-19 safety training: All our inspectors have completed the Covid-19 Safety Guidelines course through the InterNACHI School, a home inspector college accredited by the US Department of Education.
Maintaining social distancing: We are asking buyers who attend home inspections to maintain proper social distancing and to wear masks when indoors. We are asking buyers not to attend home inspections in occupied homes as a courtesy to the people living there. Anything we can do remotely and by phone helps to keep everyone safer.
We’re here for you: Our inspectors and staff are happy to answer any questions you may have about our safety protocols and any other aspects of our home inspection process. As always, we’re here for you.
All of us at Hawley Home Inspections value our relationship with our clients and with you, their agents, and we appreciate your referrals. Please know that if there is anything we can do for you, we encourage you to let us know. We are here for you.
(HawleyHomeInspectionsLLC.com) Why should I have a roof inspection? Most of us take for granted that our roof will protect our home and everyone in it. We don’t give it much thought until there’s a leak. By then, you might be facing serious and expensive issues including structural damage, saturated insulation, ruined family treasures, and even mold.
The life expectancy of a home’s roof is 15-30 years, depending on the roof type, materials used, climate and other factors. Small amounts of damage from wind or hail can build up over time, compromising the roof’s integrity. Inadequate maintenance and poor drainage can allow moisture infiltration and accelerate deterioration, drastically shortening the roof’s life.
A proper home inspection includes a complete roof inspection by a certified roof inspector who has the trained eye necessary to pinpoint areas of weakness, leaks, and other issues that compromise your roof’s integrity. It’s an inexpensive, visual examination that provides valuable information you can use to protect your investment and help avoid expensive repairs later.
The roof is your home’s first line of defense against the elements. All other systems in the home rely on the efficacy of the roof system to protect them. If the roof fails, it puts all the other system in the home at risk, along with your personal belongings and family treasures. That’s why roof age and condition are the first thing most insurance companies and mortgage lenders ask us about the home.
When inspecting the roof, a certified roof inspector will make a visual assessment of the whole roof system from outside and inside the home. This requires a thorough understanding of the various types of roofs, the components that comprise the roof system, how each function and how they relate to each other. They must also have the ability to spot deficiencies in the roof system and know how to explain them in clear and concise language, so that home buyers and their agents know exactly what the issues are. It’s a critical part of the home inspection.
Some of the key elements a certified roof inspector will check during a home inspection include:
Type and pitch of roof
Presence and condition of ventilation systems
Type and condition of covering (shingles, tiles, rubber, metal, etc.)
Type and condition of flashing around skylights, chimneys, parapets, etc.
Condition of vent pipes and boots
Condition of chimney exterior
Structure of roof support system (inside and outside)
Signs of moisture intrusion and more
Roof styles generally include angled or pitched roofs, as well as flat roofs. Each type has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Other structures like eaves, soffits, abutments, valleys, hips, rakes, parapets, and ridges can all affect the way a roof performs. A thorough understanding of how each element works as part of the roofing system is essential to finding any weaknesses that exist.
A roof can be covered in a variety of materials. Besides traditional composite or asphalt shingles, other popular covering materials include slate shingles, wood shakes, tile, rubber rolled roofing materials, metal, and even thatching. Knowing the differences between them, the strengths and weaknesses, appropriate applications, and typical wear issues for each type is essential to determining the condition of the roof.
Your home’s roof is exposed to the direct impacts of weather, and proper maintenance is required for it to do its job of shielding your family and your belongings from the elements. Weather can cause small problems to elements of your roof. If neglected, these can easily turn into very big problems later. When buying a new home, you have no way to know whether the previous owners performed routine roof maintenance or if they simply left it up to chance.
Your certified roof inspector knows what to look for. The roof inspection will start with a visual observation of the exterior roof condition. The inspector will look for issues like loose, curled, or missing shingles; raised nail heads; signs of pitting, blistering, or hail damage; appropriate flashing and caulking around vent pipes, skylights, chimneys, etc.
The inspector will walk on the roof where possible. Once on the roof, the inspector will check for soft spots, which may indicate structural issues or rotten decking (often from current or prior water intrusion). Very steep roofs, icy roofs, and those with metal roof coverings are not accessible for safety and structural reasons. In those cases, a camera inspection of the roof will be performed using special equipment that allows the roof inspector to get a very close look at the roof elements without actually getting onto the roof.
If accessible, the inspector will enter the attic space and check the underside of the roof structure. They’ll note signs of current or prior water intrusion, whether roof ventilation is appropriate, as well as inadequate or damaged support beams and trusses.
Ventilation isn’t something most of us think about when it comes to our roofs. It seems counter intuitive that we would want air to be able to move in and out of the attic area. But proper ventilation keeps warm air from building up in your attic. In winter, this warm air build-up can lead to ice dams on the roof which damage roof shingles and tiles, and can cause water intrusion into the home. In summer, without an escape route, the heat that builds up can damage your shingles from the inside out and make your air conditioning unit work a lot harder to keep the home cool. An evenly vented roof will allow the hot air to escape, keeping your roof and attic cooler.
Attic vents are the mushroom-shaped circulating fans on your roof, and/or the openings you see on the side of your house near your roof line. These vents need to be kept clear to function properly. They can become blocked by leaves, bird’s nests, and even attic insulation. A certified roof inspector is very familiar with the various types of roof ventilation and can assess the appropriateness and functionality of the ventilation in your new home.
Organic matter can wreak havoc on your roof. Another issue your certified roof inspector will look for is the existence of moss, algae, and lichen (a type of fungus that grows with algae) on your roof structures. Lichens grow slowly, but they can penetrate deep into shingles and actually feed off their organic oil base. Foreign bodies growing on your roof are often a sign of another problem, including moisture build up, issues with ice damming during winter, and a history of poor maintenance. It is important to remove lichen, moss, and algae from your roof to prevent damage and to prolong the lifespan of your shingles.
Moisture intrusion is a critical issue when it comes to roofs. Your certified roof inspector will look for signs of water intrusion both inside and outside the home. A lot of roofing issues can lead to water intrusion. Some common issues include worn roofing materials, curled or missing shingles, roofing nails that have backed out of the roof—leaving holes, damaged or poorly installed ridge vents and flashing, among other things.
Flashing is the thin layer of metal used where the roof is penetrated by other structures like chimneys and parapets. Its job is to shunt water away from the joint, so it doesn’t get under the roof covering or inside the home. Another place where flashing is used is where different sections of roof come together. Multiple roof lines mean there will be a number of places where the roof lines intersect. Where they intersect, they are covered with flashing. Over time (or if it was not properly installed), the flashing can loosen up and allow water to seep in where the two sections of roofing meet.
Few characteristics are as important to roof performance as roof slope and drainage. Water standing on a roof increases the likelihood of leaks and moisture infiltration many-fold. Poor drainage also accelerates deterioration of roofing materials, leading to a shorter life of the entire roof assembly. In winter, water build up combined with poor ventilation can cause ice dams to form, pushing water under the roof shingles.
Since moisture infiltration is one of the most serious issues a roof can have, a certified roof inspector will check the ceilings inside the home, as well as the joint where the wall meets the roof, looking for signs of past or present moisture. Any discoloration warrants a check with a moisture meter and should be noted in your home inspection report.
Despite your inspector’s best efforts, it is still possible for a roof to leak in places where there are no visible defects or signs of a current leak at the time of the inspection. Sometimes this is because an issue is seasonal, and your inspection did not take place during the time of year when the problem occurs. Sometimes an issue was repaired inadequately and concealed by fresh paint or other coverings, hiding the defect. An inadequate repair concealed this way may allow a prior leak to redevelop over time. Although such attempts to hide known issues is unethical, some people will still try it. A certified roof inspector’s training gives them the skills needed to spot shoddy workmanship and cosmetic cover-ups most of the time. A professional roof inspection by a certified roof inspector is not a warranty against future problems, but it is still your best bet to assess the roof’s condition and head off most major issues. Protect your investment. Insist on a home inspector who is a certified roof inspector.