Category Archives: Home Inspection

Home Maintenance – AC Condensate Water

Owning Tucson Real Estate requires maintenance. Keeping your property well maintained adds value not only to your own property, but also to the entire neighborhood.

An important thing to consider in home maintenance is where the AC condensate water is going.  If it is not going where it belongs, it could be causing problems elsewhere.  Mark Andrews with H&A Services (a home inspection company) has a great story regarding under slab water leaks in his August 2010 Newsletter:

We have covered this topic in several newsletters but we see issues weekly. Since the consequences of condensate drain failures can be very expensive (water damage, mold, etc.), this topic is worth covering again.
Condensate 101: AC systems squeeze moisture out of the air resulting in cooler and drier air. This moisture (called condensate) drains off of the evaporator coil and into a pan. A drain line from the pan carries the condensate to the building’s exterior (95% of the time) or into the homes waste system.
Here’s what you need to know:
The location of the air handler/evaporator coil for each AC system:
-Packaged units: System is one piece and evaporator coil is in the unit
-Split systems: System is two pieces and evaporator coil/air handler may be in the attic, garage, hall or exterior closet
The location of the condensate line termination:
-Roof mounted packaged units: At the roof edge or into a plumbing vent
-Attic air handlers: Through the home’s exterior wall or into a plumbing vent or plumbing waste pipe
-Hall or garage closet: Through the exterior wall or pumped to a plumbing waste pipe
– Exterior closet: Through the exterior wall
Your Job: When the AC units are operating, is condensate water flowing to its designed termination? This simple task is important and needs to be checked regularly. If you have pipes through the side wall, are the low pipes dripping when the system is operating? Caution; if you have a high and a low pipe on the exterior wall with water dripping from the high pipe, your primary line is blocked!
Why do condensate drain systems fail:
-Pipes separate
-Bugs build nests in pipes (enter at the pipes termination)
-Dirt, dust, and debris block entry to the drain pipe (at the pan)
-Condensate pumps stop working

Remember to keep your Tucson Real Estate maintained.

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Electrical Inspection

An important aspect of purchasing Tucson Real Estate is the home inspection.  Mark Andrews with H&A Services (a home inspection company) has an informative story regarding what to expect from an Electrical Inspection in his March 2008 Newsletter:

What constitutes an Electrical inspection by a home inspector?
Per the standards of practice for home inspection, the inspector shall observe:
A: Service entrance conductors
B: Service equipment, grounding, main over current device, main and sub-panels
C: Amperage and voltage ratings of the service
D: Branch circuit conductors, their over current devices, and the compatibility of their ampacities and voltages
E: The operation of a representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches and receptacles located inside the home (one per room)
F: The polarity and grounding of all receptacles within six feet of interior plumbing fixtures and all receptacles in garage or carport, and on the exterior of inspected structures
G: The operation of ground circuit interrupters (GFCIs)
The inspector shall describe:
A: Service amperage and voltage
B: Service entry conductor materials
C: Service type as being overhead or underground
D: Location of main and distribution panels
The inspector shall report: Any observed aluminum branch circuit wiring
The inspector is NOT required to:
A: Insert any tool, probe or testing device inside the panels
B: Test or operate an over current device except ground fault interrupters
C: Dismantle any electrical device or control other than to remove covers of the main and auxiliary distribution panels
D: Observe: low voltage systems, smoke detectors, telephone, security, cable TV, intercoms, or other ancillary wiring that is not a part of the primary electrical distribution system.
Comment: The main difference between home inspectors relative to electrical inspections relates to experience, knowledge (there are several suspect electrical panels and circuit breakers, etc.), and laziness (standards allow testing of one outlet per room – thorough inspectors test all accessible).

Remember to be sure you have a reputable home inspector do an inspection before purchasing Tucson Real Estate.

Grandfathered Items in Home Inspections

An important aspect of purchasing Tucson Real Estate is understanding the home inspection.  Mark Andrews with H&A Services (a home inspection company) has a great story regarding grandfathered Items in Home Inspections in his April 2008 Newsletter:

What constitutes a Grandfathered item relative to home inspections findings?

First a brief note about building codes. National building codes and construction practices change typically every three years. Municipalities review the national codes (building, electrical, plumbing, etc,) and modify these codes for their particular geographic area (snow loads, earth quakes, high wind, etc. may or may not be a factor). Accordingly, codes vary by municipality and the dates of adoption vary as well. The majority of home inspectors have a reasonable knowledge of IRC International Residential Codes) but few inspectors are code certified and none would be intimately familiar with code changes that may be adopted by the various municipalities. Accordingly, a home inspection is not a code compliant inspection and inspectors do not cite building codes in inspection reports. The question of “grandfathered” items comes up when inspectors point out items that do not meet current standards. Examples include: GFCI circuit breakers, smoke detectors, two prong ungrounded electrical receptacles, anti-siphon devices, safety glass, fuses in electrical circuits, etc. There is no grandfather language in the code books but it is understood that no municipal code compliance inspector will come to your home and require that the home be upgraded to current codes. So the issue is this: a home inspector points building practices and devices that would be considered not as safe as the current standard, the buyer decides that these are desired changes, the seller says “that’s the way it was built” and I’m not paying to have it changed. The home inspector is no longer involved; his job was just to point these things out. So, it’s a negotiation; an area where real estate agents show their value. There are circumstances that are not as black and white including: Kitchen and bathe remodels where the electrical work was not brought to current standard, two prong electrical outlets that have been replaced with three prong (but still ungrounded) outlets, flex gas pipe in furnaces (if the gas is shut off at the meter, the gas company will not turn it back on until the pipe is changed). Summary: Most of these issues are related to changes in building standards to make homes safer. Home inspectors point out many of these items allowing the buyer to make decisions appropriate to the next occupant’s circumstances.

Remember to be sure you have a reputable home inspector do an inspection before purchasing Tucson Real Estate.

Home Maintenance – Under Slab Water Leaks

Owning Tucson Real Estate requires maintenance. Keeping your property well maintained adds value not only to your own property, but also to the entire neighborhood.

One of the most disturbing things you may experience can be an under slab water leak.  These water leaks can cost thousands of dollars to repair and can also be VERY inconvenient.  Mark Andrews with H&A Services (a home inspection company) has a great story regarding under slab water leaks in his February 2008 Newsletter:

Under Slab Water Leaks
Since yours truly just experienced an under slab water leak at our home, I will detail the discovery and repair process (I hope you never get one)!
Discovery of a potential leak:
1. You hear water running in the home but can’t find the source
2. Your water bill is much higher than the same month last year
3. The triangle dial on your water meter turns continually
4. You see a “permanent” water/wet area around your foundation
Finding the location of the leak (assuming it’s under the slab):
1. The plumber calls in a specialist. Sending an electrical charge into the pipes allows the specialist to trace the copper/galvanized piping and mark its location on the floor.
2. Pressuring the pipes with compressed air and utilizing a headset and “stethoscope”, the specialist pin points the location of the leak within about a foot. Masking tape “X” marks the spot.
Fixing the leak:
1. The plumber jackhammers a hole in the slab at the “X”
2. The plumber digs out the pipe and locates the break
3. The plumber repairs/replaces the pipe
4. The plumber backfills the pipe and re-cements the hole in the slab
Note: The plumber may recommend rerouting the piping through the attic, etc. This may be the best option; especially with very expensive flooring, cabinetry, etc.
Fixing the floor/cabinets, etc:
1. This is the responsibility of the homeowner
So, what happened at our home? Following the above scenario:
• Lauren heard the water running and saw a wet area at the patio
• The home warranty company sent a plumber who called in a specialist to isolate the leak – Under slab/below kitchen cabinets
• I removed the dishwasher and the corner cabinets
• The plumber opened a hole in the slab and found a pin hole in a copper pipe, replaced that section, and repaired the slab
• I spent a week repairing the cabinets and putting the kitchen back
Bottom line: $1500 ($1000 paid by warranty company), plus $100 for supplies and 30 hours of my time and $200 to replace the main shut off (old gate valve didn’t work).
Safety Tip of the Month: Water Shut Offs
Older gate valves and kitchen and bath shut offs frequently do not operate. Since you will only know this when you “need to shut off the water”, we recommend having all older valves that are not in regular use changed to ball valves and quarter turn angle stops (in bathrooms, laundry, and kitchen). Consider having a plumber change all of these valves now and not having to hold your breath when turning an older valve.

Remember to keep your Tucson Real Estate, maintained especially the plumbing.

Home Maintenance – Asphalt Shingle Roofing

Owning Tucson Real Estate requires maintenance. Keeping your property well maintained adds value not only to your own property, but also to the entire neighborhood.

If you have a pitched roof, then you probably have asphalt shingle roofing.  There are different levels of quality in asphalt shingle roofing but all need to be maintained.  Here are some tips from H&A Services, LLC if you have asphalt shingle roofing:

Asphalt shingles are an excellent choice for pitched roofs on Arizona homes. Asphalt shingles are light weight and durable, shingles lay flat, readily shed water, and resist wind driven rain.
1.   Shingle design life: Shingles can be purchased with 15, 20, 25, 30 years and longer design lives. A rule of thumb in Arizona is to discount shingle design life by 20%.
2.   Installation: The design life is applicable if the manufacturer’s installation instructions are followed including: roof sheathing, underlayment (tar paper), fastening, overlap, starter course, drip edge, etc.
Note about re-roofs: Adding a second layer of shingles over the original layer will further reduce a shingles design life.
3.   Life considerations: Sun exposure reduces life, excess attic heat reduces life, roof pitch (steeper roofs last longer), and valleys and transitions are typical trouble spots for leakage.
4.   Events: Wind storms, weather (especially hail), and tree or branch contact can cause damage.
5.   Home owner related: Mounted items including satellite dishes, basketball hoops, and antennas can allow water to seep around the mounts. Evaporative coolers and AC units that drain onto the roof deteriorate shingles. Failure to perform timely repairs can result in damage or allow moisture under the roofing material causing damage. Tree or pigeon debris on the roof holds moisture on the shingles and reduces life.
6.   Common areas of leakage: Evaporative coolers, roof penetrations, roof vents (plumbing, exhausts, and flues), skylights, valleys, and roof transitions (where roofs change elevation or direction).
Inspect your roof periodically and after every significant storm. Look for moisture stains on roof overhangs, ceilings, and in the attic as part of the inspection.

So remember, keep your Tucson Real Estate maintained, especially the roof.

Home Maintenance – Foam Roofing

Owning Tucson Real Estate requires maintenance. Keeping your property well maintained adds value not only to your own property, but also to the entire neighborhood.

If you have a low slope (flat) roof, then you would be lucky to have foam roofing.  It is a bit more expensive than conventional roofing but well worth the extra cost.  In the long run, there will be fewer leaks and less need for replacement.  So a slightly larger initial investment can save you headaches and money in the long run.  Just like all roof material however, foam roofing needs maintenance.  Here are some tips from H&A Services, LLC for foam roofing maintenance:

General Foamed roof information:
Polyurethane Foam is an expensive roofing product that is typically utilized on low sloped roofs (NOT FLAT- all roofs must slope to drain).
Application: Foam is sprayed on the prepared decking as a liquid which expands (chemical reaction creates millions of cells). Foam is then top coated with an elastomeric product (this layer protects the foam).
Benefits: Foam is seamless and can be applied over irregular surfaces, is light weight, a good insulator (on the order of R-7), reflects the sunlight (generally white), and has a 25 year type life if properly, applied, and maintained.
Critical application conditions: 1. Clean, dry (free of oils and moisture) surfaces that the foam will bond to.  2. Materials designed for the environment (Arizona heat and dryness).  3. Qualified contractors with significant foam roofing experience.
Inspection of foamed roofs:
When:  Foamed roofs should be inspected at least yearly (more often if bird damage is typical or hail storms have occurred).
What to look for:
·         Open blisters: Bubbles in the foam that have opened (note: an ideal foam roof does not have blisters!)
·         Holes: Birds often peck holes in the foam (see picture above).
·         Cracked/peeling topcoat: Caused by the UV in sunlight breaking down this layer. White topcoat should be uniform and continuous
·         Chalking: Rub your hand on the topcoat; residue is a sign of aging
·         Exposed Foam: Foam is yellow and should not be viewable. The sun will degrade foam fairly quickly
·         Water ponding: Dirt left in low areas indicates drainage issues
·         Debris on roof: Debris traps water and promotes premature degradation. Debris should not be allowed to build up.
Maintenance:  We recommend that foamed roofing be maintained by roofing professionals. Many home owners purchase maintenance contracts with foamed roofing companies (these contracts include regular inspections). When necessary (based upon inspections), damaged areas are professionally patched, roofing is power washed, and a new elastomeric coating is applied (may be one or several coats depending on material and condition of the roofing).
Lack or Regular maintenance: Exposed foam will deteriorate; water will seep into and degrade the foam, and the foam/deck bond will deteriorate. At that point, the foamed roof will need to be replaced.

So remember, keep your Tucson Real Estate maintained, even the foam roof.

Buying a Home

The perfect Tucson Real Estate is different for each person. Some things that you will need to do in order to purchase your dream home will be the same no matter what your idea is of the perfect home for you.

  1. How much can you afford? – What you can afford depends on your income, credit rating, current monthly expenses, down payment and the interest rate. It is best to visit a lender to find out for sure.
  2. Shop for a loan – Save money by doing your homework. Talk to several lenders, compare costs and interest rates, negotiate to get a better deal. Consider getting pre-approved for a loan.
  3. Shop for a home – *Choose a Real Estate Agent. *Have a wish list. Decide what features you want. *Have a home shopping checklist and take this list with you when comparing homes. *Know the facts about “fix-ups” home purchase and repair programs. *If you choose a home in a neighborhood with a Home Owners Association (HOA), be sure to request a copy of the HOA packet so you can review before closing.
  4. Shop for homeowner’s insurance – Lenders require that you have homeowners insurance. Be sure to shop around.
  5. Know your rights as a consumer – There are several lows consumers should know about when buying a home. Take the time to find out more about these laws: *Fair Housing/Equal Opportunity; *Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA); *Borrower’s rights; *Predatory lending.
  6. Learn about homebuying programs – Lean about homebuying programs in your state. FHA loan programs offer lower down payments and are a good option for first-time homebuyers
  7. Make an offer – Discuss the process with your real estate agent. if the seller counters your offer, you may need to negotiate until you both agree to the terms of sale.
  8. Get a home inspection – Make your offer contingent on a home inspection. An inspection will tell you about the condition of the home and can help you avoid buying a home that needs major repairs.
  9. Sign papers – You’re finally ready to go to “settlement” or “closing.” Be sure to read everything before you sign!
*Italic information above was provided by First American Title and is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.*

With the right planning and research you will be able to purchase the perfect Tucson Real Estate for you.