Holiday Safety Tips

Because we at RJ Home Inspection care about our customers, we’d like to say Happy Thanksgiving and share this list of holiday safety tips provided by the National Safety Council.

Holiday Safety Tips

Decorating Safety ™

 Never use lighted candles near trees, boughs, curtains/drapes, or with any potentially flammable item. 

 Wear gloves while decorating with spun glass “angel hair.” It can irritate your eyes and skin. A common substitute is non-flammable cotton. 

 When spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow directions carefully. These sprays can irritate your lungs if you inhale them.

Small children may think that holiday plants look good enough to eat, but many plants may be poisonous or can cause severe stomach problems. Plants to watch out for include: mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis. Keep all of these plants out of children’s reach. 

 When displaying a tree, cut off about two inches off the trunk and put the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand. Keep the stand filled with water so the tree does not dry out quickly. 

 Stand your tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Make sure the tree does not block foot traffic or doorways. 

 Avoid placing breakable tree ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on lower branches where small children or pets can reach them. 

 If you use an artificial tree, choose one that is tested and labeled as fire resistant. Artificial trees with built-in electrical systems should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label. 

 Only use indoor lights indoors (and outdoor lights only outdoors). Look for the UL label. Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections. Replace or repair any damaged light sets. 

 Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord. Extension cords should be placed against the wall to avoid tripping hazards, but do not run cords under rugs, around furniture legs or across doorways. 

 Turn off all lights on trees and decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Unplug extension cords when not in use. 

 If using a natural tree, make sure it is well watered to avoid dry branches from catching fire from the heat of light bulbs.  When displaying outdoor lights, fasten them firmly to a secure support with insulated staples or hooks to avoid wind damage. Never nail, tack or stress wiring when hanging lights and keep plugs off the ground away from puddles and snow.

Ladder Safety ™

 When putting up holiday decorations, always use the proper step stool or ladder to reach high places. Don’t stand on chairs, desks or other furniture. 

 If you have to use a step ladder near a doorway, lock or barricade the door and post signs so no one will open it and knock you off the ladder. 

 A straight or extension ladder should be placed one foot away from the surface it rests against for every four feet of ladder height. 

 When you climb, always face the ladder and grip the rungs to climb – not the side rails. Always keep three points of contact on the ladder whether two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand. 

 When climbing, keep your hips between the side rails and do not lean too far or overreach. Reposition the ladder closer to the work instead. 

 Use ladders with slip-resistant feet and wear clean, dry and slip-resistant shoes when climbing a ladder. 

 When using ladders outdoors, get down immediately if high winds, rain, snow or other inclement weather begins. Winds can blow you off the ladder and rain or snow can make both the rungs and the ground slippery.

Hosting and Food Safety ™

 When preparing a holiday meal for friends and family be sure to wash hands, utensils, sink, and anything else that has come in contact with raw poultry. Keep in mind that a stuffed bird takes longer to cook. 

 Never defrost food at room temperature. Thaw it in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. 

 While doing holiday cooking, keep your knives sharp. Most knife injuries occur due to dull blades. 

 Use a clean food thermometer to cook foods to a safe internal temperature before serving. 

 Avoid cleaning kitchen surfaces with wet dishcloths or sponges. They easily harbor bacteria and promote bacteria growth. Use clean paper towels instead.  When reheating leftovers, bring the temperature up to at least 165°F to eliminate any bacterial growth. 

 Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in covered shallow containers (less than two inches deep) within two hours after cooking. Date the leftovers for future use. • Being a smart party host or guest should include being sensible about alcoholic drinks. More than half of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. Use designated drivers, people who do not drink, to drive other guests home after a holiday party. 

 The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year. You can’t avoid stress completely, but you can give yourself some relief. Allow enough time to shop for gifts and meal items rather than hurry through stores and parking lots. Only plan to do a reasonable number of errands.

Winter Vehicle Preparation ™

 Prepare your car for the winter by checking items such as the brakes, spark plugs, battery, and tires. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended interval for a tune-up. ™

 Be prepared for emergency situations on the road by having a winter “survival kit” in the vehicle including items such as, a working flashlight, extra batteries, reflective triangles, compass, first aid kit, exterior windshield cleaner, ice scraper, snow brush, wooden stick matches in a waterproof container, and non-perishable, high energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy.

Source: The National Safety Council

Please contact RJ Home Inspection to schedule a professional home inspection for your home or business: 800-253-4402 or email

What to Do if Your Home for Sale Suffers Water Damage

What to Do if Your Home for Sale Suffers Water Damage

Water damage to a home up for sale could be catastrophic for the seller. If not taken care of right away, buyers could renege on the purchase and sale agreement and prospective new buyers wouldn’t be interested until the home is restored to “like new.”

Causes of Water Damage
Causes of water damage to a home can vary. Of course, floods, heavy snow, and heavy rain are among them, as well as leaky dishwashers, clogged toilets, broken pipes, broken dishwasher hoses, overflowing washing machines, leaky roofs, plumbing leaks, and foundation cracks.

Health Issues Associated with Water Damage
It’s crucial to take care of water damage as soon as possible as the repercussions can be costly and long-lasting. Today’s buyers are savvy about health issues associated with water damage. They know that moisture promotes the growth of mold and other organisms, increasing the risk for serious health problems.

Mold exposure can increase the symptoms of allergy and asthma, and increase the risk for respiratory diseases and other medical problems, especially in children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems. Prompt cleanup can help minimize the health effects of water damage on everyone in the home—and keep potential buyers coming.

What to Do in a Water Damage Situation
When confronted with a water damage situation, it’s important to call a professional, licensed, and experienced water damage restoration specialist. Someone who is experienced in:

* Cleanup
* Drying
* Mold Testing and Remediation

Source: RJ Home Inspection

Please contact RJ Home Inspection to schedule a professional home inspection for your home or business: 800-253-4402 or email





Please contact Aspen Environmental Services for anything related to water damage cleanup, mold testing, mold removal, or air ducts at 978.328.0882. Or email

Can You Guess? See What’s Wrong in These Home Inspection Pics.

Can You Guess? See What’s Wrong in These Home Inspection Pics.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And that’s especially true of the all-important step of the home-buying process known as the home inspection. When inspectors scrutinize a house for problems, they do more than take detailed notes of the places they inspect—they snap photos, too. It’s a crucial safeguard, since if flaws are caught at this stage, home buyers can request that the sellers make repairs before the deal goes through, or at least throw them some cash to fund these fix-its. Home inspectors can save home buyers a ton of money on issues that otherwise might have slipped under the radar.

Photos from home inspectors may not raise many alarm bells to the untrained observer, but in some cases, they sure should. See if you can figure out what’s wrong with these home inspection photos below … and if you’re stumped, keep reading to learn more about the problems lurking within.

Suspicious studs

The paint job on these studs is something a home inspector is trained to spot.

When Scot McLean, a home inspector in Milwaukee, WI, walked into the basement of this home, he noticed that the top half of the exposed studs was bare wood, but the bottom half had been recently painted. Coupled with the dehumidifier and some fresh cans of waterproof paint that McLean spotted in the basement, he was able to detect a poorly executed cover-up: There had been a recent leak that hadn’t been disclosed to the buyer. Gotcha!

Don’t forget to look up

This chimney has not one, but two big issues.

Tom Ruemenapp, an inspector in Bessemer, MI, found not just one, but two problems with this chimney. One, that little crack in the cement could have led to a chimney fire if it wasn’t repaired. Two, that green moss on top was a symptom of further deterioration.

Chimney fixes can cost a homeowner tens of thousands of dollars, so it’s particularly important to catch these problems before a deal goes through. And since a chimney’s so high up, these flaws are especially hard to spot. After all, climbing on a roof is dangerous, which is why some home inspectors won’t even go up there—particularly if it’s steep or more than three stories high. Some inspectors use drones to get a better look.

Moldy matters

Hey, what’s that black stuff? A serious mold issue.

Just some random ceiling stains? Hardly: That’s mold, which can cause a whole host of health problems. Yet mold isn’t always apparent to the naked eye.

“A simple visual inspection of the mold does not tell a homeowner what they really need to know,” Ruemenapp explains. That’s why most inspectors use a moisture meter to gauge the level of humidity in a home, which could prompt them to dig deeper.

If these floors could talk…

What’s lurking under the floorboards?

Check out this image, shot underneath the floorboards of a crawl space. Most home buyers aren’t going to squeeze into these tight confines, but it’s an area prone to problems. This floor, in particular, was loaded with mold due to a lack of ventilation. Catching this before the sale went through saved the buyer from a ton of headaches and hassles.

Left high and dry?

This dryer vent is a serious fire hazard.

You know how you have to clean a dryer’s lint trap? Well, it doesn’t trap everything; in fact, it only removes 25% of the debris that flows through the system. The rest heads through the vent that carries that air outside … and not all of that escapes to freedom, either.

This pic of dryer vents points out that it’s more than just unsightly; it’s also a fire hazard waiting to happen. Luckily, this is a fairly easy fix: Just clean out your dryer vents already!

Source: American Society of Home Inspectors; written by Jeanne Sager and originally published in

Please contact RJ Home Inspection to schedule a professional home inspection for your home or business: 800-253-4402 or email

About the House: Inheritance and Unexpected Consequences

About the House: Inheritance and Unexpected Consequences

Unexpected consequences can be frustrating, or funny, or expensive.

Take a few minutes and watch YouTube videos of people caught in an action they hadn’t foreseen and you will have a good laugh. There are all sorts of inebriated folks at wedding receptions who try to dance on a table and end up on the floor; adolescent boys jumping bikes over rickety ramps; and all sorts of clever weekend warriors with chainsaws and ladders just asking to get hurt.

One place most people don’t know what to expect is where inheritances are concerned. I’m not saying folks don’t have expectations, I’m sure many do. But many times I’ve seen how reality catches people off-guard. I’ve heard it said several times that if they knew what was going to ensue, they would have said no from the start.

Unexpected problems can turn up even when you know you are in line to inherit property, especially if there is a house involved. I’ve done inspections of houses that were, essentially, dozer-bait. In one house, conditions were such that repair cost would nearly exceed the value. But person A didn’t want person B to get unfair advantage in the settlement. One house probably would sell for what attorneys were getting to settle the matter.

Another time unexpected things arise is when someone wants what another has and offers a trade of inherited property. “How about you take that parcel next to your place and I’ll take the hunting cabin up north?” While making one’s year-round homestead larger sound enticing, if there is an old house involved, the cost of tearing it down might exceed the value of the land being added.

This can be greatly exaggerated in old houses with plaster walls and ceilings that contain asbestos. Asbestos can show up in attics and walls as insulation. Vermiculite insulation, which often was poured into hollow balloon-framed walls and on the attic floor, is especially expensive to abate. Even fiberglass batts can contain asbestos. Many types of flooring from sheet goods to 9-by-9-inch and 12-by-12-inch floor tile may have asbestos. This does not include water pipe and heat duct insulations.

Before agreeing to take on an inherited house, get an attorney and perform your due diligence About the House.

Source: American Society of Home Inspectors; written by Rob Kinsey and originally published in the Sturgis Journal

Please contact RJ Home Inspection to schedule a professional home inspection for your home or business: 800-253-4402 or email

A Closer Look: Advice to Prepare Your House for Winter

A Closer Look: Advice to Prepare Your House for Winter

When it comes to home maintenance, homeowners typically perform different tasks depending on the season.

The winter is usually reserved for those indoor chores such as painting/redecorating, minor repairs/replacement and renovations.

Spring is the time to assess winter damage, start repairs and prepare for warmer months.

Over the summer, there are a number of indoor and outdoor maintenance tasks to look after, such as repairing walkways and steps, painting and checking your chimney and roof and with fall just about here, now’s the time to get your home ready for the coming winter, which can be the most grueling season for your home.

Here’s a list of some of the more common fall maintenance activities. If you do not feel comfortable performing some of the tasks listed below, or do not have the necessary equipment, for example a ladder, you may want to consider hiring a qualified person.

Have furnace or heating system serviced by a qualified service company every two years for a gas furnace, and every year for an oil furnace, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

For central air conditioning units, if you have a winter cover, use it or place a piece of plywood on top of the unit and either tie or weight it down so it will not blow off in the wind. Putting something over the top of the exterior unit will help prevent damage to the fan blades and cooling fins. In addition, make sure you turn the power off to the unit by either shutting off the breakers or remove the fuses as this will prevent accidental use of the unit while it is covered. Running the central air in cold weather or while it is covered can cause major damage to the unit.

If you have a natural draft boiler or hot water heating system it must be checked once a year by a qualified heating contractor to ensure it is venting properly

Have well water tested for quality. It is recommended that you test for bacteria every six months.

Drain and store outdoor hoses. Close interior valve to outdoor hose connection and drain the hose bib (exterior faucet), unless your house has frost-proof hose bibs.

Clean leaves from eaves troughs and roof, and test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof.

Ensure the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation wall, so that water does not drain into your basement.

Check for cracked, loose or missing caulking around windows and doors, and if needed replace it.

Have chimneys inspected by a WETT Certified Chimney Sweep.

If there is a door between your house and the garage, check the adjustment of the self-closing device to ensure it closes the door completely.

Ensure windows and doors close tightly; repair or replace weather-stripping, as needed.

Replace window screens with storm windows if applicable.

Clean furnace mounted humidifier, if one is used.

Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms, and replace batteries.

Check to see that bathroom exhaust fans and range hoods are operating properly. If possible, confirm that you are getting good airflow by observing the outside vent hood (the exterior damper should be held open by the airflow).

Replace or clean furnace air filter according to manufactured recommendations. If you have central air, this filter will need to be changed at regular intervals through out the year.

Remove grilles on forced-air systems and vacuum inside ducts.

There’s no question, inspecting the above areas of your home this fall plus performing regular maintenance in other areas on a regular basis throughout the year, will help to protect your home from unexpected damage or costly repairs caused from neglect.

Regardless of the season, when it comes to home maintenance both inside and out, it is important to follow routine maintenance procedures, by checking your home carefully for any problems that may arise and taking corrective action as soon as possible.

Source: American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI); written by Rob Parker.

Please contact RJ Home Inspection to schedule a professional home inspection for your home or business: 800-253-4402 or email

Prep Your Home for Winter With These 16 Low-Cost Tricks

Prep Your Home for Winter With These 16 Low-Cost Tricks

Using these tips to fix gaps, cracks and inefficiencies will make your home cozier and more affordable in cold weather.

Heating costs can throw a wrench into your winter budget — and the cold can make you cranky. But you can limit the discomfort by addressing the gaps, cracks and waste that drive up fuel costs. Such fixes are available at a lower price than you might imagine.

Run through this checklist of fixes to make your house cozier and your heating more affordable this year.

1. Install weatherstripping
Check your home’s exterior doors for cold air leaks. Do this from inside the house. The high-tech approach is to use a laser infrared thermal gun to detect cold drafts. The low-tech way is to move a lit candle around the door frame; the flame will blow toward you when there is a draft.

Seal a drafty door by installing foam or felt weatherstripping inside the door frame. Ask at your hardware store for the correct products and installation instructions.

Cost: $10 to $20 per package for most standard products.

2. Install a door sweep
Use a door sweep to stop drafts from entering your home under an exterior door. A sweep is a flexible piece of rubber or plastic that’s held to the door’s lower edge by a strip of aluminum.

Cost: $5 to $35.

3. Seal attic air leaks
Find and seal gaps that could be allowing as much as 30 percent of your heated or cooled air to leak outdoors. These leaks can add up to $300 a year to heating and cooling costs.

Pull back attic insulation to find and seal cutouts in drywall for electrical fixtures, pipes, fans and outlets. Also check wiring, chimneys, flues, vent stacks and ducts, and seal them on the inside. Use caulk to fill smaller gaps and pressurized expanding foam for bigger openings.

Cost: Caulk costs about $2 to $3 per tube. Expanding polyurethane foam runs less than $5 for a 12-ounce can.

4. Close the damper
Heated or cooled air flies up the chimney when you leave the fireplace damper open. Make it a habit to shut the flue after the fireplace has cooled.

Cost: $0

5. Add attic insulation
Insulation keeps warm air inside in the winter and expensively cooled air inside in the summer.

“Typically, houses in warm-weather states should have an R-38 insulation in the attic, whereas houses in cold climates should have R-49,” says This Old House, explaining how to install batting-type insulation.

Insulating an attic, basement or crawl space is moderately difficult, and beginners should hire a professional. If you do, ask if you can perform parts of the job to reduce the cost.
Admittedly, insulating is not a cheap job. But the payback can be huge, and you may find rebates and financial incentives.

Cost: Prices vary, depending on factors such as insulation type, local labor costs and size of the attic.

6. Install a programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat can save up to $180 a year on fuel costs, according to EnergyStar. The thermostat can save fuel by automatically lowering (or raising) your home’s temperature while you’re away. It also keeps temperatures consistent, saving fuel.

Do not use a programmable thermostat with a heat pump unless the thermostat is meant for use with heat pumps.

• Wi-Fi-enabled “learning” thermostats are expensive — $250 and up.
• Simpler programmable thermostats start at about $70.

7. Set the temperature manually — and leave it
You can enjoy fuel savings for free simply by setting your thermostat to one temperature in the morning, another at night and otherwise leaving the thermostat alone. If you’re chilly, put on a sweater and warm socks instead of raising the heat.

Cost: $0.

8. Seal furnace ducts
Heating ducts typically waste 20 to 30 percent of the heated air they carry, losing it to leaks and poor conduction, says EnergyStar. Leaky heat ducts mean higher utility bills and a house that’s harder to keep warm.
Appliances like water heaters and furnaces can cause the buildup of dangerous gases like carbon monoxide through a process called backdrafting, according to EnergyStar. Sealing leaks can reduce this risk, but before you start the job ask a heating contractor if you need to have a combustion safety test done first.

You won’t be able to reach all of the ducts — some are hidden in walls, ceilings and floors. But you can improve performance by sealing exposed ducts in the attic, crawl space, unfinished basement and garage.
Focus on the places where ducts, vents and registers meet floors, walls and ceilings. Use mastic sealant or metal tape, which are more durable than duct tape, to seal the seams and connections.

Cost: Cheap. A 10-foot roll of 3M rubber mastic tape costs $12 or less.

9. Replace furnace filters monthly
Dirty furnace filters reduce furnace efficiency and push up heating bills. They also shorten the life of a furnace.

Check and replace the furnace filter monthly in winter or every three months while the system is in operation. Your owner’s manual will tell you where it’s located. Hold the filter up to the light: If you can’t see light through it, you need a new one.

Pleated filters work best because they trap more dirt particles.

Cost: Prices vary. Angie’s List says filters cost:
• $1 each for flat fiberglass
• $10 each for pleated and polyester
• $25 each for high-efficiency varieties

10. Keep your furnace running smoothly
Servicing your furnace regularly helps you catch problems before expensive breakdowns, prolong the furnace’s life and keep it running more efficiently.

Newer furnaces need professional servicing every two years. Older units require annual servicing.

Check your furnace’s manual to see which specific steps are recommended. Ask friends and colleagues for names of good technicians. Find one or two you trust and stick with them.

Cost: This is not a DIY job. You’ll pay $80 to $150, says home inspector and Zillow blogger Reuben Saltzman.

11. Insulate the hot water heater
Save on fuel by wrapping older water heaters in a blanket of insulation, an easy DIY project that even a beginner can do. Your utility company has instructions. When insulating a gas or propane water heater, do not cover the burner access.

Do not insulate:
• Pre-insulated water heaters. These are newer units with factory installed insulation of R-16 or better (check the manufacturer’s label) under the metal shell.
• Water heaters located where the added heat is welcome.
• Water heaters whose manual or paperwork warns against insulating.
• Tankless (on-demand) water heaters.

Cost: $20 to $30. Or possibly free: Ask your utility company for any rebates, discounts or freebies. Some utilities offer free insulation and may even install it.

12. Lower the hot water temperature
Hot water heaters typically are set at 140 degrees. Lower the temperature on yours to 120 for fuel savings. You’ll reduce the chance of accidental burns, and the water still will be plenty hot for bathing, washing clothes and doing dishes.

Cost: $0.

13. Plug household leaks
Grab a tube of caulk, a can of spray foam gap-sealer, a pencil and notepad. Tour your home, inside and out, including the basement, to find and fill cracks and gaps in siding, windows and foundation. Note locations of problems you can’t fix right away.

Use caulk for small cracks and the foam sealer for bigger gaps. Inside the home use a candle flame or digital thermometer to find where cold air is entering. Pay attention to door frames, windows, skylights, chimneys and vents. Also check openings around appliance vents, electrical and plumbing fixtures and furnace ducts and check the top of basement walls where the foundation meets wood.

Cost: Caulk costs $2 to $3 per tube or less. Expanding polyurethane foam costs under $5 for a 12-ounce can.

14. Insulate hot-water pipes
Insulate the hot-water pipes in your basement or crawl space by snapping foam sleeves on them. You’ll find pre-slit, hollow-core, flexible foam pipe insulation at hardware stores. Make a note of your pipes’ diameters and lengths, and bring the measurements when you shop.

Exposed pipes waste heat by cooling the water as it runs through them. Be sure to include pipes between the hot-water tank and wall. Also insulate cold-water pipes for the first 3 feet after they enter the house.
Cost: Prices and products vary, but a 6-foot piece of half-inch foam insulation can be found for $2 to $3.

15. Set ceiling fan blades for winter
Set fan blades to move clockwise in winter, and run fans slowly. The idea is to lift cool air to the ceiling and push heated air down where you can enjoy it. Some fans have a remote control or remote switch. Otherwise, use a ladder and manually adjust the small toggle switch on the fan body. Now set the thermostat a notch lower and enjoy the warmth.

Cost: $0.

16. Use your window coverings
It’s surprising how much insulation curtains, drapes, shades and even mini blinds can provide.

Draw window coverings at night and when you’re away to conserve heat in the home. In hot weather, draw window coverings in the morning to keep the house cool, saving money on air conditioning.

Cost: $0.

Source: American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI); written by Marilyn Lewis
and originally published in

Please contact RJ Home Inspection to schedule a professional home inspection for your home or business: 800-253-4402 or email

13 Ridiculous Home Improvement Fails That Will Make You Cringe

13 Ridiculous Home Improvement Fails That Will Make You Cringe


Everyone loves saving money, but not all DIY projects are a savings in the end, as these homeowners found out the hard way.

Renovations are stressful, especially when you have to re-do DIY projects because of mistakes. In the rooftop vent photo, the owner had expanded and remodeled their kitchen, removing an old wood stove Their mistake, according to explains Brian Fish, owner of WIN Home Inspection Mount Vernon, who had to fix the mess: “They opted to run the new exhaust for the range up through the existing vent cap from the wood stove and then attach it to the box vent and screw it to the old stove vent cap. Needless to say the new range vent was not secure or properly installed and so it was prone to leaks.” These are the secrets contractors wish all first-time homeowners knew.

Crawl space Jenga

“The homeowner, who was trying to stabilize the support beam under the house, tried to fit multiple shims in place,” says Fish. “It would be a better and safer alternative to remove the shims and use one of the larger 4×4 pieces of lumber trimmed to install one solid post for stability as opposed to five or six.”

Don’t cover me up

Partially blocked vents and registers waste energy and money. “The home flipper laid new vinyl flooring in the bathroom, over the floor vent, which would prevent any hot or cold air from making its way into the room,” explains Matthew Steger, ASHI certified inspector and owner of WIN Home Inspection in Lancaster, PA. “It was apparent he wasn’t concerned if the bathroom was heated or not.” These are the sneaky ways your home is draining your bank account.

Waterproofing cave-in

A basement can be a welcome retreat in hot summer months, but if you need to waterproof it first, you may want to get the pros involved. This homeowner started out with good intentions but couldn’t quite get the job done. “Fortunately, no one was hurt and RCC was able to shore up the trench and waterproof the basement of the home,” says Jamie Hallett, RCC Waterproofing Consultant. These are the vital tasks homeowners shouldn’t skip.

Toilet trouble

I guess when you have to go it doesn’t really matter if the toilet is slightly askew. “This DIY-er tried to do the plumbing themselves and mistakenly installed the bottom bracket crooked. Now they’re stuck with a crooked toilet!” says Jesse Fowler, President of Tellus Build.

Duct trail

Exposed beams and vents are cool if you have a loft, but this duct DIY project didn’t quite make the Top 10 Kitchen Design Tips list. “These condo owners had decided to vent the range hood themselves. Rather than cutting the ceiling and running the duct through the ceiling, they took the easier route and ran it above the kitchen cabinets,” says James Brock, of Boston Home Inspections. It’s not necessarily dangerous, but this is probably not a desirable focal point if the homeowner ever wants to sell the house. These are the upgrades that make your home look more expensive.

Seat slam

“Measure twice, cut once” is a mantra every carpenter lives by, especially when doing a bathroom makeover. “Dozens of factors need to be taken into account when performing a renovation project, everything from the light switch location to the door swing,” says Brock. “Many times even on new construction I find light switches behind the door.”

Patchwork renovations

There are a few tried-and-true design tricks for pretty curb appeal but this DIY project isn’t one of them. And frankly, curb appeal is the least of this homeowner’s problems. “The obvious issue is the short gutter and the use of some type of flexi pipe for a downspout.” Brock says. “The flashing at the roof isn’t properly installed and the half finished siding and incorrectly installed insulation is of concern. I see nothing but leaks in the future.” Besides the drips from any leaks, these are the other annoying noises you might hear in your house and how to silence them for good.

Waste of a stairwell

“A homeowner was renovating his house and could not find another way to run the main plumbing waste pipe, so he ran it through the basement stairs. Now he has created an accident waiting to happen,” Brock says. “He also did not install spindles on the basement stair railing to prevent children from falls.”

Wacky wiring

Brock captions this photo, “When homeowners install their own wiring.” Need we say more? Electrical repairs or upgrades should be left to the professionals—or you risk getting electrical shock and/or causing a fire.

Watch your step

It’s a pain carrying things up and down the stairs, especially when you have a zigzag staircase—but this home improvement could prove especially dangerous if you miss a step. “This homeowner removed the railings and spindles to make it easier for them to carry things upstairs,” Brock says. “They never took into account that a grandma or a child may lose balance and need something to grab. That would be a hard fall.”

Who wants to get electrocuted?

Every homeowner should know the essentials, especially when it comes to safety issues. In this DIY disaster, did the water spigot get installed first or was it the electrical box? It doesn’t matter because, as Brock says, “Water flows down and doesn’t mix well with live electricity.”

Support hose

This looks like a convenient way to store a hose. “The homeowner cut the floor joist to fit the garden hose,” says Brock. The problem here is that floor joist is supposed to support the floor. Cutting the floor joist can affect the structural integrity and weaken it.”

Source: By Lisa Marie Conklin for the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), originally published in Reader’s Digest.

Please contact RJ Home Inspection to schedule a professional home inspection for your home or business: 800-253-4402 or email

TAKING ACTION: How to check your pool’s bonding to keep you safe from electric shock

TAKING ACTION: How to check your pool’s bonding

to keep you safe from electric shock

You might already be cooling off in a backyard pool this spring as summer fast approaches.

But experts ask you to take steps to ensure swimmers will stay safe, if there is an electric fault.

We agree with fellow professional Bill Loden, Building Consultant and founder of Insight Building Inspection, LLC in Madison, AL, who urges you to check your pool’s bonding to keep your family safe from electric shock.

“Bonding is interconnecting all the potential electrical paths around the pool,” he said. He notes that copper wire is buried between the metal elements surrounding the pool, and then connected to the ground.

“Anything within five feet of the pool must be bonded,” he said.

Loden has noticed a problem though, especially in areas where code is not enforced.

“A lot of times unfortunately, a lot of pool companies will not put in the bonding,” he said. “It’s very common. I frequently see it on swimming pools.”

How does bonding work?

Loden said all the metal components need to be tied together with the copper wire.

“There are metal panels all the way around, four feet down, from the top of this concrete pool. Also, in the hand rails you have metal sleeves in the ground,” he said. “If there are lights, anything like that, they have to be bonded in here as well.”

The science can save you.

“If you keep the potential at zero, then even if there is voltage present there is not going to be any flow,” he explained. “That flow that we’re worried about may go through your body, and that’s what causes shock and electrocution.”

“If it isn’t bonded and one component becomes electrified, and you are in contact with it and another component, then you can be shocked,” he explained.

It is unclear if what happened in Florence, AL, when two people died following a pool electrocution. Investigators have not released why the pool became electrified during that situation.

But Loden wanted to warn families to check to see if their pool was bonded, as required by the National Electric Code.

He said it is a matter of life and death.

“People can be killed. People can be severely injured when a certain amount of electricity flows through their body,” he said. “It’s a simple solution: properly bonding the pool.”

What To Do

Loden recommends going out to where your motor and pumps are to check for bonding.





Look for an exposed copper wire attached to the motor and pumps, going into the ground. It should connect in a similar way as in the image to the left.

If you live in a municipality, you can also contact the building and inspection department to see if your pool had a code inspection during its construction.

“If you can not find the bonding line, I would contact a reputable pool company that can come in and evaluate it,” said Loden, noting that pool companies often employ or contract electricians for this type of work.

Loden warns that if your pool is not bonded, it may require some concrete cutting and other digging to install.

“This is one of the things I always look for when I inspect a house with a swimming pool,” said Loden. “Even though this is required in the building code, it is often omitted by the company installing the pool. This means that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of pools throughout North Alabama that are not properly bonded.”

Randy Cunningham, Director of the Huntsville, AL Inspection Department, tells WHNT News 19 everyone who installs a pool in Huntsville needs to get electrical and plumbing permits. They are strictly enforced.

Cunningham said they make sure to do bonding inspection on a pool’s electrical system, but he also advises you to make sure your contractors are licensed with the state and that you work with a licensed and qualified electrician.

Source: American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

Please contact RJ Home Inspection to schedule a professional home inspection for your home or business: 800-253-4402 or email

Don’t Get Burned – Get a Home Inspection to Save Money on Your Next Purchase

Don’t Get Burned – Get a Home Inspection to Save Money on Your Next Purchase

Okay, you made one of the most important decisions in your life: you’re buying a home! You found your ideal home. It’s in your desired neighborhood, close to everything you love, you dig its design and feel, and you’re ready to finalize the deal.

But, whoa … wait a minute! Buying a home isn’t like buying a toaster. If you discover something’s wrong with your new home, you can’t return it for a refund or an even exchange. You’re stuck with your buying decision. Purchasing a home is an important investment and should be treated as such. Therefore, before finalizing anything, your “ideal” home needs an inspection to protect you from throwing your hard-earned money into a money pit.

A home inspection is a professional visual examination of the home’s roof, plumbing, heating and cooling system, electrical systems, and foundation.

There are really two types of home of inspections. There is a general home inspection and a specialized inspection. If the inspector recommends a specialized inspection, take that advice because buying a home is the single most important investment you’ll make and you want extra assurance that you’re making a wise investment.

By having your prospective new home inspected, you can:
• Negotiate with the home seller and get the home sale-ready at no cost to you
• Prevent your insurance rates from rising
• Opt-out of the purchase before you make a costly mistake
• Save money in the short and long run

How Much Money Can a Home Inspection Save You?

A home inspection helps to find potential expenses beyond the sales price, which puts homebuyers in a powerful position for negotiation. If there are any issues discovered during the home inspection, buyers can stipulate that the sellers either repair them before closing or help cover the costs in some other way. If the sellers do not want to front the money to complete the repairs, buyers could negotiate a drop in the overall sales price of the home!

Perhaps even more importantly, a home inspection buys you peace of mind. Your first days and months in a new home will set the tone for your life there, and you don’t want to taint that time with worries about hidden problems and potential money pits.

To help you understand how much money a home inspection can save you, here are some numbers from HomeAdvisor to drive the point home … so to speak.

Roof – Roofing problems are one of the most common issues found by home inspections. Roof repair can range between $316 and $1046, but to replace a roof entirely can cost between $4,660 and $8,950.

Plumbing – Don’t underestimate the plumbing. Small leaks can cause damage that costs between $1,041 and $3,488 to repair. Your home inspector will look for visible problems with the plumbing such as leaky faucets, water stains around sinks and the shower, and noisy pipes. Stains on walls, ceilings, and warped floors show plumbing problems.

Heating and Cooling – Ensuring the home’s heating and cooling system is working properly is very important. Your home inspector will make you aware of any problems with the existing system and let know you whether the system is past its prime and needs replacing. You don’t want to throw down $3,919 to replace an aged furnace. Nor do you want to spend $5,238 replacing an ill-working air conditioner. Replacing and repairing a water heater gets pricey too. Wouldn’t you rather use your savings for a vacation?

Electrical Systems – When thinking of the electrical system, no problem is better than even a small problem. Electrical problems might seem small, but they can blossom into thousand-dollar catastrophes. Make sure your home inspector examines the electric meter, wires, circuit breaker, switches, and the GCFI outlets and electrical outlets.

Foundation – If your home inspector sees that the house is sinking, that means water is seeping into the foundation; cracks in walls, sticking windows, and sagging floor also indicate foundational problems. The foundation is so important that if the general inspection report shows foundation problems, lenders will not lend money on the home until those issues are solved. Foundation repairs can reach as high as $5,880 to repair.

As you can see, a small investment of a few hundred dollars for a general home inspection can save you tons of money and future headaches. To save even more money, you might consider investing in a specialized home inspection as well. A specialized inspection gets down to the nitty-gritty of all the trouble spots the general home inspection might have located.

How Much Money Can a Specialized Inspection Save You?

A general home inspection can trigger a need for a specialized inspection because the general home inspector spotted something off about the roof, sewer system, the heating and cooling system, and the foundation. If humidity is high where you’re buying your home, a pest inspection is recommended. Usually, a pest inspection will check for mold as well as pests. Most homebuyers have a Radon test done to ensure air quality.

Roof – Roof specialists examine the chimney and the flashing surrounding it. They also look at the level of wear and tear of the roof. They can tell you how long the roof will last before a new one is needed. They’ll inspect the downspouts and gutters. The average cost of a roof inspection is about $223. Most roof inspections will cost between $121 and $324.

Sewer System – Making sure your sewer system has no problems should happen before the closing because what might look like a small problem can turn into a large problem in the future. If any issues pop up, you can negotiate with the seller about needed repairs or replacements before closing. Cost of inspection will vary; on the low side, it might cost you around $95, and on the high side, it might cost you $790. Compare these numbers to repairing a septic tank, which can cost, on average, $1,435 (though it could reach as high as $4,459), and you can see that the cost of an inspection is worth it when you catch the problem before you buy.

Heating and Cooling System – A HVAC specialist will check the ducts for blockage and for consistent maintenance of the unit. The repairs needed might be small or they might be big, but this small investment will save you headaches and lots of money down the road.

Foundation – A foundation specialist will pinpoint the exact problem with the foundation. The specialist will look at the grade or slope of the home. The ground should slope away from the home in all directions a half inch per foot. Most homeowners have spent between $1,763 and $5,880 to repair their foundation. And the average cost to re-slope a lawn is at $1,705. Most homeowners paid between $933 and $2,558 to re-slope their lawn.

Pest Inspection – Termites eat a home’s wood structure from inside out and can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your home. Other pests can turn your dream home into a nightmare. Depending on the humidity of where you live, you should a pest/termite inspection every two years or so. You can start with your potential new home. Most inspections are extensive and cost between $109 and $281. The good news is that most pest management company will guarantee the past inspection if bugs show up.

Radon Test – Radon is a naturally occurring invisible odorless gas that is the second leading cause of cancer. A radon test is a good test to have done as a good habit. The cost of radon test is low and its cost varies from state to state. Here’s more information about Radon.

Steps You Can Take to Save Money Using a Home Inspection

To help yourself save with a home inspection, you will need to:

Attend the inspection – Attending the inspection is important because it’s an opportunity for you to ask questions.

Check utilities – Checking utilities let’s know the energy efficiency of your potential home.

Hire a Qualified Home Inspector—an inspector who is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Source: American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI); written by Scott Myers and originally published in the Your San Antonio Realtor Blog

Please contact RJ Home Inspection to schedule a professional home inspection for your home or business: 800-253-4402 or email

Prepare Your Home for Thunderstorms, Lightning

Prepare Your Home for Thunderstorms, Lightning

Hurricanes often make more headlines during the summer and fall, but the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety cautions homeowners to not underestimate the destructive and deadly force of thunderstorms.

Such storms occur far more often and directly affect more people and homes in the U.S. than hurricanes.

According to IBHS, a whole-house or -building surge protector is the best starting point for reducing the risk of lightning damage, along with localized surge protectors for power cords of electronic equipment and any telephone and cable or satellite television lines.

Be sure you know the difference between a surge protector and a power strip. A power strip plugs into a wall outlet and allows you to plug in multiple electronic devices. It won’t protect equipment from damage by a power surge. A surge protector affords the ability to plug in multiple devices and also protects them against surges during a storm.

IBHS cautions against using an inexpensive surge protector—$10 or less—especially to protect expensive equipment. It’s a good idea to ensure a surge protector has been tested to UL 1449 and has an indicator light so you know it’s working.

A licensed electrician or home inspector can review power, telephone, electrical and television connections in your home to make sure the power line connection and your power distribution panel are adequately grounded.

Source: Written by Dave Kogan for American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

Please contact RJ Home Inspection to schedule a professional home inspection for your home or business: 800-253-4402 or email

Located in Methuen, MA and Dover, NH, RJ Inspections, Inc. provides full-service home inspection services for first home buyers and other home buyers, those selling a house, and real estate inspection for realtors, brokers, and contractors in Massachusetts: Greater Boston, Boston North, Boston South, Boston West, Boston, Chelsea, Winthrop, Revere, Amesbury, Andover, Beverly, Boxford, Bradford, Danvers, Essex, Georgetown, Gloucester, Groveland, Hamilton, Haverhill, Ipswich, Lawrence, Lynn, Lynnfield, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, Nahant, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, Peabody, Rockport, Rowley, Salem, Salisbury, Saugus, Swampscott, Topsfield, Wenham, West Newbury, Acton, Arlington, Ashby, Ashland, Ayer, Bedford, Belmont, Billerica, Boxborough, Burlington, Cambridge, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Dracut, Dunstable, Everett, Framingham, Groton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Lowell, Malden, Marlborough, Maynard, Medford, Melrose, Natick, Newton, North Reading, Pepperell, Reading, Sherborn, Shirley, Somerville, Stow, Sudbury, Tewksbury, Townsend, Tyngsboro, Wakefield, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland, Westford, Weston, Wilmington, Winchester, Woburn, Ashburnham, Athol, Auburn, Barre, Berlin, Blackstone, Bolton, Boylston, Brookfield, Charlton, Clinton, Douglas, Dudley, East Brookfield, Fitchburg, Gardner, Grafton, Hardwick, Harvard, Holden, Hopedale, Hubbardston, Lancaster, Leicester, Leominster, Lunenburg, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Northborough, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Southbridge, Spencer, Sterling, Sturbridge, Sutton, Templeton, Upton, Uxbridge, West Boylston, West Brookfield, Westborough, Westminster, Winchendon, Worcester, Barnstable, Bourne, Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Eastham, Falmouth, Harwich, Mashpee, Orleans, Provincetown, Sandwich, Wellfleet, Yarmouth, Avon, Bellingham, Braintree, Brookline, Canton, Cohasset, Dedham, Dover, Foxboro, Franklin, Holbrook, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Milton, Needham, Norfolk, Norwood, Plainville, Quincy, Randolph, Sharon, Stoughton, Walpole, Wellesley, Westwood, Weymouth, Wrentham, Agawam, Blandford, Brimfield, Chester, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Granville, Hampden, Holland, Holyoke, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Monson, Montgomery, Palmer, Russell, Southwick, Springfield, Tolland, Wales, West Springfield, Westfield, Wilbraham, Abington, Bridgewater, Brockton, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Hingham, Hull, Kingston Lakeville, Marion, Marshfield, Mattapoisett, Middleboro, Norwell, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rochester, Rockland, Scituate, Wareham, West Bridgewater, Whitman, Amherst, Attleboro, Berkley, Dartmouth, Dighton, Easton, Fairhaven, Fall River, Freetown, Mansfield, New Bedford, North Attleboro, Norton, Raynham, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Somerset, Swansea, Taunton, Westport, Arlington Park, Atkinson, Atkinson Heights, Atlantic, Atlantic Heights, Auburn, Austin Corners, Baglett Grove, Bayside, Bean Island, Bersum Gardens, Breakfast Hill, Brentwood, Brentwood Corners, Brick School Corner, Cable Road, Camp Gundalow, Camp Hedding, Candia, Candia Four Corners, Canobie Lake, Cemetery Corners, Chases Grove, Chester, Christian Shore, Clark Hill, Cluffs Crossing, Coffins Mill, Collettes Grove, Conleys Grove, Cowbell Corners, Creek Area, Danville, Deerfield, Deerfield Parade, Derry, Derry Village, Dows Corner, East Candia, East Derry, East Hampstead, East Kingston, Eastman Corners, Eastman Point, Elmwood Corners, Elwyn Park, Epping, Exeter, Fairhill Manor, Five Corners, Fogg Corner, Fogg Corners, Foster Corners, Four Corners, Foyes Corner, Fremont, Fremont Station, Gooch Corner, Gosport, Great Boars Head, Greenland, Greenland Station, Hampshire Road, Hampstead, Hampton, Hampton Beach, Hampton Falls, Hampton Landing, Haynes Corner, Howards Grove, Hubbard, Jady Hill, Kensington, Kingston, Lamprey Corners, Langs Corner, Leavitts Hill, Little Boars Head, Littlefield, Londonderry, Lyford Crossing, Marshall Corner, Meadowbrook, Melrose Beach, Monahan Corners, Nason Corners, New Castle, Newfields, Newington, Newington Station, Newmarket, Newton, Newton Junction, North Beach, North Chester, North Danville, North Epping, North Hampton, North Hampton Center, North Londonderry, North Nottingham, North Salem, Northwood, Northwood Center, Northwood Ridge, Nottingham, Nottingham Square, Noyes Terrace, Onway Lake, Pannaway Manor, Parkman Corner, Peppermint Corner, Perkins Hill, Pine Grove Park, Piscataqua, Plaice Cove, Plaistow, Portsmouth, Portsmouth Plains, Powwow River, Prescott Corner, Raymond, Riverside, Rockingham, Rowes Corner, Rye, Rye Beach, Rye North Beach, Salem, Salem Depot, Sanborn Corners, Sandown, Sargent Corners, Seabrook, Seabrook Beach, Seabrook Station, Severance, Shaws Hill, Smith Colony, Smith Corner, Smithtown, South Danville, South Deerfield, South Hampton, South Kingston, South Seabrook, Stratham, Stratham Station, Tappan Corners, The Five Corners, The Plantation, The Willows, Towles Corner, Town Hall Corner, Wallis Sands, Weare Corner, Weares Mill, Wentworth Acres, West Derry, West Epping, West Hampstead, West Kingston, West Nottingham, West Rye, West Windham, Westville, Wilson, Wilson Corners, Windham, Winniconic, Winnicut Mills.

We also do building inspections for commercial property as well as home inspections in New Hampshire: Atkinson, Auburn, Brentwood, Candia, Chester, Danville, Deerfield, Derry, East Kingston, Epping, Exeter, Fremont, Greenland, Hampstead, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Kensington, Kingston, Londonderry, New Castle, Newfields, Newington, Newmarket, Newton, North Hampton, Northwood, Nottingham, Plaistow, Portsmouth, Raymond, Rye, Salem, Sandown, Seabrook, South Hampton, Stratham, Windham, Concord Barrington, Cocheco, Davis, Dover, Durham, Farmington, Gonic, Lee, Madbury, Middleton, Milton, Milton Mills, New Durham, Rochester, Rollinsford, Salmon Falls, Somersworth, Strafford, Amherst, Bedford, Bennington, Brookline, Deering, Francestown, Goffstown, Greenfield, Greenville, Hancock, Hillsborough, Hollis, Hudson, Litc, field, Lyndeborough, Manchester, Mason, Merrimack, Milford, Mont Vernon, Nashua, New Boston, New Ipswich, Pelham, Peterborough, Sharon, Temple, Weare, Wilton, Windsor, Amherst, Antrim, Antrim Center, Bank, Bedford, Bennington, Broad Acres, Brookline, Browns Corner, Chase Village, Clinton Grove, Clinton Village, Cricket Corner, Davis, Deering, Drury, East Deering, East Merrimack, East Milford, Elmwood, Francestown, Gibson Four Corners, Goffs Falls, Goffstown, Grasmere, Greenfield, Greenville, Hancock, Happy Valley, High Bridge, Hillsboro, Hillsboro Center, Hillsboro Lower Village, Hillsboro Upper Village, Hollis, Hollis Depot, Holton, Hudson, Hudson Center, Lawrence Corner, Lincoln Park, Litchfield, Loverens Mill, Lyndeborough, MacDowell Colony, Manchester*, Mason, Massabesic, Milford, Mont Vernon, Mountain Bas, Nashua*, New Boston, New Ipswich, New Ipswich Center, Noone, North Branch, North Brookline, North Pelham, North Village, North Weare, Parker, Pelham, Perham Corner, Peterborough, Pinardville, Ponemah, Pratt, Reeds Ferry, Riverdale, Russell, Sharon, Slab City, Smithville, South Brookline, South Lyndeborough, South Merrimack, South Milford, South Weare, Tavern Village, Temple, Thorntons Ferry, Weare, West Brookline, West Deering, West Hollis, West Peterborough, West Wilton, Wilder, Wilton, Wilton Center, Woodland Park, Amherst, Antrim, Antrim Center, Bank, Bedford, Bennington, Broad Acres, Brookline, Browns Corner, Chase Village, Clinton Grove, Clinton Village, Cricket Corner, Davis, Deering, Drury, East Deering, East Merrimack, East Milford, Elmwood, Francestown, Gibson Four Corners, Goffs Falls, Goffstown, Grasmere, Greenfield, Greenville, Hancock, Happy Valley, High Bridge, Hillsboro, Hillsboro Center, Hillsboro Lower Village, Hillsboro Upper Village, Hollis, Hollis Depot, Holton, Hudson, Hudson Center, Lawrence Corner, Lincoln Park, Litchfield, Loverens Mill, Lyndeborough, MacDowell Colony, Manchester*, Mason, Massabesic, Milfor, Mont Vernon, Mountain Bas, Nashua, New Bosto, New Ipswich, New Ipswich Center, Noone, North Branch, North Brookline, North Pelham, North Village, North Weare, Parker, Pelha, Perham Corner, Peterborough, Pinardville, Ponemah, Pratt, Reeds Ferry, Riverdale, Russell, Sharon, Slab City, Smithville, South Brookline, South Lyndeborough, South Merrimack, South Milford, South Weare, Tavern Village, Temple, Thorntons Ferry, Weare, West Brookline, West Deering, West Hollis, West Peterborough, West Wilton, Wilder, Wilton, Wilton Center, Woodland Park.