Thursday, January 5, 2017

Help spread the importance of working smoke alarms

The best home fire escape plan is useless if the home is not equipped with properly functioning smoke alarms. According to the National Fire Protection Association, three out of five deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working alarms.
Jake Palmer of Rothesay, New Brunswick, Canada, spoke about a terrifying night he endured in the article “‘I didn’t do a single thing right,’ says Rothesay man who lost his home to fire” on the website.
Among other things, Palmer said he didn’t know the age of his smoke detectors and couldn’t remember when the batteries had been changed.
The NFPA recommends testing smoke alarms once a month and replacing them when they are 10 years old.
Types of smoke alarms
There are two basic kinds of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectric. Dual sensor smoke alarms combine these two types into one unit.
Ionization-type smoke alarms have a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically charged plates that ionizes the air and causes current to flow between the plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow of ions, thus reducing the flow of current and activating the alarm. Sources of these fires may include flammable liquids or paper burning in a waste container. Most smoke alarms in use are of this type.
A photoelectric type smoke alarm consists of a light emitting diode and a light sensitive sensor in the sensing chamber. The presence of suspended products of combustion in the chamber scatters the light beam. This scattered light is detected and sets off the alarm. Sources of these fires may include cigarettes burning in couches or bedding.
According to author Bruce Barker in “The Word” on, ionization smoke alarms are the most common type and are slightly better than photoelectric at detecting flaming fires. However, they are less responsive than photoelectric types at detecting smoky fires. Furthermore, ionization alarms are more prone to false alarms than are photoelectric alarms.
The International Residential Code requires updating smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms when work requiring a permit is performed, except in cases involving exterior work such as roof coverings and wall cladding's and work involving only plumbing and mechanical systems, Barker wrote.
According to the ASHI article, the American Society of Home Inspectors Standard of Practice requires home inspectors to report the presence or absence of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. However, there is no ASHI requirement to inspect or test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and no ASHI requirement to identify the type of smoke alarm. Barker warned there may be other standards that have requirements regarding smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, so inspectors need to comply with any standards that apply.
The IRC long has required smoke alarms be located in each bedroom and in the hallway near the bedrooms. And in 2015, the IRC added a new location: not less than 3 feet horizontally from the door of a bathroom containing a tub or a shower. “Anyone singing in the shower needs to hear the alarm, too,” Barker writes.
At least one smoke alarm is required on each story, including basements and habitable attics, but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. In new construction, minimum requirements typically are more stringent. All smoke detectors must be hooked directly to the electrical wiring, be interconnected and have a battery backup.
Barker recommended home inspectors include the following when writing their reports:
  1. Photoelectric smoke alarms are the recommended type, and you did not verify the type of alarm.
  1. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms have a limited service life, and you did not verify the age of the alarm.
  1. Testing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms may not guarantee that the alarms will function as intended during actual emergency conditions.
  1. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms should be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and you did not verify complete compliance with those instructions.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

October Newsletter

Are you tired of looking at the little things that need to be taken care of around your home?

Pre-Sale Inspections

From your friends at

Houston Inspections

Like doctors with specialties, home inspectors can see things that their customers typically cannot.  

Most of the issues we encounter during a typical inspection are a result of a homeowner’s DIY efforts, or lack thereof. Some do-it-yourself homeowners are unaware that planting vegetation too close to the exterior of the home is not good for the siding or if mulch is piled up against the foundation wall, it can lead to problems. A homeowner replaces outdated or broken outlets and the wires are reversed. Roof seepage and flooding are likely to occur if the gutters were not cleared on a regular basis or a downspout is missing.   

Today, buyers have financing organized well in advance; however, real estate transactions are still vulnerable. Many sellers are unprepared. Small details around the home are in need of repair. Some deals fall apart because of it.

What’s the solution? Every home should be pre-approved, making sure the home is in good shape before a buyer submits an offer. 


Over the last decade or so, the demand for home inspections has risen to the point where nearly every home buyer hires a professional home inspector.  More recently, sellers are hiring us, on their agent’s recommendation, to have the property pre-inspected either before or at the time it goes on the market. After all, a surprise that stalls or derails a real estate transaction hurts all parties involved. And while no home is perfect, pre-owned homes are likely to have more flaws than brand new construction. This is where a professional home inspection makes the difference. Sellers can decrease (if not eliminate) the element of surprise.  


Of all the many components and systems we inspect as a matter of course, we routinely see homes with improper drainage, sometimes due to landscaping or a grading problem. Electrical outlets and switches, probably installed by the homeowner, are wired incorrectly. We also see a number of electrical panels in need of additional circuit breakers. Other issues include mechanical problems with heating and air conditioning systems, and sometimes roof leakage and/or damage.

Although the majority of homes are free of major defects, having a long list of small, often inexpensive, repairs can deter a buyer from moving forward with the purchase. In situations where the buyer is capable of making all of the small repairs on his or her own, who wants to spend the time and money to rectify the previous owner’s neglect or incompetence?  

The real estate industry is forever changing and more responsibility is shifting to the sellers to present a marketable home in a competitive market. Our job is to inspect and report.

Copyright © 2016 *Houston Inspections*, All rights reserved.
*Pre-Sale Inspections*

Our mailing address is:
*32222 Tamina Road, Suite A5 Magnolia, TX  77354*

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Before You Sell Your Home

Are you tired of looking at the little things that need to be taken care of around your home?

Before You Sell Your Home

From your friends at

Houston Inspections

Most real estate experts agree that money spent on upgrading kitchens and bathrooms will be returned at close to 100 percent.  When it comes to investing in your kitchen, what’s hot right now?

If you've toured a new home recently, you're already aware of the popularity of quartz and granite when it comes to countertops. Other trendy, but less common countertop materials include limestone, concrete, tile and even glass.  Even an attractive laminate countertop can brighten and clean up the look of a kitchen. Once you’ve started, keep in mind that your new countertops may shine a spotlight on dated or bruised cabinetry.  On to the next phase!

An inexpensive way to modernize your cabinets is a quick cabinet facelift.  Resurfacing cabinets can be a good option and can be done through the attaching of a thin veneer to the surface of the old cabinets. New hardware completes the look.  Painted cabinets can be repainted for a fresh, clean look.

Perhaps a little less cosmetic but often overlooked in the kitchen are faucets and sinks. The faucets shouldn't leak and your sink must be stain-free or replaced with a new one when you put your home on the market. Materials commonly used in a replacement sink include cast iron—for an old-fashioned look, enameled steel, stainless steel, porcelain, acrylic and solid-surface materials, which are popular today.  Solid surface materials are available in a variety of colors to coordinate with countertops. (They can even mimic granite and other high-end stones).

When it comes to the rest of the house, be sure to freshen up not just the walls but the ceilings too! Newly painted walls will show off your home to the best advantage.  And instead of whitewashing your ceiling, designers now suggest tinting the ceiling color to better match the walls.  If your home still sports wood-paneled walls, it's time to cover them. In today's homes, there’s no place for wood paneling, so if you've got it, paint it.  Even composite paneling can be painted. If the paneling is exceptionally dark, you will need to prime it and use several coats.

What else are you tired of looking at around your home—water stains where the roof is leaking?  If so, the time to replace the roof is sooner rather than later.

Potential buyers are turned off by a home in need of a new roof and will use this defect as a way of eliminating your home from their list. Or a potential buyer will use the roof repair as leverage when it comes to negotiations.

A home inspection can help you determine areas of your home that need attention. Once you have the inspection, you can take care of these issues and make sure you won’t receive any surprises once a buyer is interested.

Other areas to scrutinize include sidewalks, the driveway and deck. If there are cracks in the sidewalk or the wood deck shows signs of decay, you need to address these repairs. Both can be safety issues as well as unsightly. Over time, even your doorknobs and door locks begin to look worn and battered. Replace these items with contemporary materials and you'll tie together all the other repairs you've made. New locks will provide the added benefit of showcasing your home as a place of safety and security.

Sellers often remark they hate to sell their homes once they’ve made the necessary repairs and improvements that were neglected over the years.  Once the home maintenance and remodeling is complete, your home will be ready to occupy—whether by the new owners or the ones who no longer want to move!

If you’re tired of your flowered wall-paper, you can bet potential buyers will be too!  Even if you still admire those flowers, when the time comes to sell your home, it's best to rent a steamer and peel it off.  Light paint colors are your best option to make the home look large and bright. 


And what about the kitchen floor? Again, if the floor looks decidedly dated, in disrepair or stained, it needs a makeover. Tile, laminates and wood all work in kitchens. Bamboo has become one of the trendy choices in kitchens as well.

Bamboo floors are also popular in bathrooms because they can stand up to moisture. What other flooring material will work in your bathroom? You have a lot to choose from. Bathroom floors are being installed using traditional materials, such as ceramic tile and stone, as well as more unconventional materials including mosaic tiles and even concrete.  As in the kitchen, most bathroom improvements will return almost 100 percent of their value, so take a good look at the condition of your sink and tub.  If they need replacing, do it.  And remember to pay attention to bathroom lighting.  A new fixture will complement the improvements you make.

Copyright © 2016 *Houston Inspections*, All rights reserved.
*Selling Your Home*

Our mailing address is:
*32222 Tamina Road, Suite A5 Magnolia, TX  77354*

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