erobinson's blog

Injuries Around the House

I was working around my house this weekend and managed a pretty good puncture injury working on my vehicle.  It made me think that my immunizations were not up to date and I ran down to my local clinic to get updated.  As an outdoorsman growing up in the country I normally manage to injure myself in a minor way at least once every 10 years, enough to remind me about updating my immunizations and you should consider it too.  This is especially true if you work in the garden.

If you work in the inspection field, are a builder, contractor, or just work around the house you should consult your doctor about the need and recommended frequency of immunizations to protect yourself against unnecessary illness due to minor injuries.


CDC Vaccines and Preventable Diseases:

Maintain Your Gutters

With all the rain we have gotten recently have you noticed the performance of your gutters?

Gutters are installed at the lower edges of the roof system to manage water runoff.  They collect the water as it runs off the building to make porches and sidewalks usable during rains.  A good gutter system can protect your home from premature deterioration of siding and trim, reduce the potential for water entry through the exterior walls and penetrations of your home, and help to maintain the foundation performance by properly directing water flow away from the foundation, preventing damaging erosion.  As we get into the rainy winter months and out of fall in our area, homeowners should schedule maintenance of their gutters.  It is at this time that that trees and shrubs are losing their leaves, which clog gutter systems.

It is recommended that your hire a general contractor or gutter installation and repair contractor to provide repair services above ground level due to the inherent dangers of working from the roof or from a ladder.  Working from a ladder requires proper training and improper use of a ladder or improperly completing high work can result in serious injury or death.

The things you should look for:

  1. Have your gutters checked for leaves and debris clogging the gutters.  It is good to check your gutters 2 to 3 times a year but especially in the fall and winter as the trees loose their leaves.  Clogged gutters will hold water and can become damaged due to excessive weight.  They will also allow excessive water to run over your cornice work and, over a long time, may result in premature rot of trim or the potential for water entry.
  2. Be sure to check the fascia board behind the gutters.  This is the board the gutters rest against.  Often these are made of wood and will rot with age.  They often get overlooked during painting if the gutters are not removed, which results in deterioration.  If rot is located, the gutters should be removed to allow repair of the fascia and any associated cornice work.
  3. Clean any debris off the roof system to ensure it will not get washed into the cleaned and repaired gutter system.
  4. During cleaning of you gutters, check the gutter system for proper slope to the downspouts.  This will ensure there is no standing water at the gutter system that can harbor mosquitoes during the summer months.
  5. The anchor points should be checked for loose or damaged anchors, which can allow the gutters to sag and hold water.
  6. Joints in the gutter system should be checked for leaks.  The best gutter systems are mostly continuous and have few joints.  Joints which do exist should be well secured with fasteners and sealed to prevent leaks.  If you notice water leaking from gutter joints during normal operation, have them checked.
  7. Check your gutter downspouts for damage.  This can include crushed gutters, gutters with missing downspout elbows, or downspouts that have become loose from the gutter or from the anchorage to the wall.
  8. Check the downspout discharge points.  They should discharge to a splash block or into an area drain system.  This will prevent erosion of soil at the foundation, which may affect foundation performance.  Generally, water should not be allowed to run or stand against the foundation.  You may also need to periodically check and clean the area drain system.

Take care of your gutters and they will help to make your house a comfortable and well maintained home.

FDS Rebuilds Homes in Joplin

Friends Disaster Service rebuilds home in Joplin after the tornados destroy them.  If you are looking to contribute to this cause contact FDS and donate time, resources, or funds.  I know this group personally and they are doing great work.  Check their web site here.

FDS Rebuilds Homes in Joplin

Photos From the Field - Catch Basin

Somtimes you cannot make it up.  This is a catch basin under a furnace penetration through the roof with a little cable TV wiring in the mix for fun.

Storm Damage in North Houston

Looks like some houses were damaged by the onging storms.   Let us know if we can help you evaluate and document the damage.

Images of Damage on 11 news.

Dealing With a Difficult Contractor

One of the email blasts I get weekly is from Angie's list.  This is a reference service you must subscribe to in finding contractors among other business offerings.  It appears to be a pretty good service for both businesses and members serving the function that the Better Business Bureau in a modern online format.

This week there was a video article discussing the art of dealing with contractors and how to make the experience go more smoothly.

Also check out our suggestions for selecting and dealing with contractors.

Tips on Choosing a Contractor

 

Cleaning Your Dryer Vent

Dryer vents are something that is not inspected as part of a residential home inspection and probably something that is often overlooked in general by a home owner.  Inspection requires invasive and destructive access to the vent system and is beyond the scope of a typical home inspection.  Clogging of a dryer vent is especially of concern where utility rooms may exist at the interior of a structure requiring long dry vent duct runs which are more prone to clogging over time.

Did you know that chimney sweeps clean dryer vents?  Lee Roff with Lord’s Chimney  does just that and sent me some interesting information on this subject.

According to information Mr. Roff sent me from a 2007 FEMA article:

  • Clothes dryer fires account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries annually.
  • Eighty percent of clothes dryer fires in structures occur in residential buildings.
  • Annually, 12,700 clothes dryer fires occur in residential buildings resulting in 15 deaths and 300 injuries.
  • “Failure to clean” is the leading factor contributing to clothes dryer fires in residential buildings.
  • New home construction trends place clothes dryers and washing machines in more hazardous locations away from ohttp://www.lintalert.com/utside walls such as bedrooms, second-floor hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens.

There is also a relatively new product that Lord’s Chimney is recommending on systems they clean called “Lint Alert”.  This product detects restrictions on a vent system and tells you when you need to have it inspected and cleaned due to increased backpressure.

Visit their link for more information: http://www.lintalert.com/

This information is good to have since many of us do not consider the dryer vent requires periodic maintenance to keep functioning and is not typically included in the scope of a home inspection.

New Homestead Exemption Rules Sept 1, 2011

There are some new rules in qualifying for homestead exemption in Texas.  It appears this will result in more paperwork.

http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/consumer&id=8328912

 

 

 

Change in Contact Information

While we are still serving the Greater Houston area as well as surrounding areas our mailing contact information has changed.  Please make note of this change:

Professional Engineering Inspections, Inc.
P. O. Box 859
Friendswood, Texas 77549

Yes we still travel about anywhere you may need us to in order to get the job done!

Don't Accept a Short Option Period

Wow we are getting calls into the office with 3 and 5 day option periods? You really gotta think about what you are going to do with the information before you agree to such a short term. If you want to use your inspection information in a meaningful way, negotiate a more reasonable time frame. Keep in mind it takes about 3-5 “business” days to get on our schedule in the summer and you also need time to look into any significant problems if we find them. Always use the term “business days”. Consider a minimum time frame of 10-14 business days and more if the property is large or you believe it has any significant issues. More time will give you a cushion to get all your inspections scheduled and any follow up inspections from contractors if you need them. More time also allows us to follow up with any questions you may have once you read your report or have other investigations based upon it.

It’s HOT be safe!!

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