If your home was built in the 1960s or 1970s, a certified home inspection of its electrical wiring is extremely important to ensure it is safe for you and your family. During this period, due to copper shortages because of the Vietnam War, many homes’ branch-circuit wirings were made with single-strand aluminum. This substituted material has been identified as a fire-danger to homes due to aluminum’s poor conductivity, compared to that of typical copper. Occasionally, we’ve even found this wiring in homes outside of this era.
As a material, aluminum expands and contracts much more than typical copper wiring, which can cause loose connections as electricity passes through, potentially resulting in a fire. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), homes that have aluminum branch-circuit wiring are 55-times more likely to have connections that are deemed fire-hazards than homes with typical copper wiring.
With a home inspection from Whitt Inspections, our inspectors are trained to identify homes with this dangerous aluminum-based wiring. A certified inspection is the best and safest way to ensure your home is safe from this fire-hazard, as without a direct, visual inspection, detection is nearly impossible. Aluminum-based wiring is prone to overheating and fire with no previous signs of issues, meaning a failure could happen at any moment with no previous indication.
Not only is aluminum much more prone to expanding and contracting, it is also more resistant to electrical flow than its copper counterpart, which means it requires larger wires to pass electricity. With homes today using more electricity, these dangerous and dated aluminum-wired circuits are more susceptible to being overloaded with greater electricity usage, potentially resulting in a fire. Aluminum wiring is also more likely to fall victim to corrosion as a result of usage and age, also posing a fire-hazard.
It’s important to note that not all aluminum wiring is considered bad, and some is still even installed on new construction today. These are mainly multi-strand aluminum wires, which are still regularly used on service and entrance conductors, as well as larger circuits in the home like the stove, water heater and HVAC systems. This is typically fine. It’s the single-strand wire variety that can be of concern. Although alloys were revised to this wiring over the years that may have somewhat improved its performance, single-strand aluminum is still a concern. Also, you may run into obstacles obtaining homeowners’ insurance. Fortunately, there are CPSC approved repairs available that can be performed by a qualified electrician, which many insurance carriers will accept.
If your home was built in the 1960s and 1970s, a home inspection to analyze the condition and material of your electrical systems is highly-recommended to ensure the home is safe. Call today to have your home inspected and have the confidence that it is in as great condition as possible. If we do find single-strand aluminum wiring, we will let you know and recommend options a qualified electrician can perform to repair or even replace them.
https://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2019/09/07155000/cloth-wiring.jpg437582markethardwarehttps://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2022/09/07221907/white_logo_transparent_background1-1030x698-1.pngmarkethardware2022-03-01 15:22:042022-03-14 20:11:37Certified Home Inspection for Single-Stranded Aluminum Branch-Circuit Wiring & Its Risks
https://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2021/02/02162050/Galvanized-pipes.jpg346640Stephenhttps://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2022/09/07221907/white_logo_transparent_background1-1030x698-1.pngStephen2021-12-08 16:21:392022-01-25 11:54:16What You Need to Know About Galvanized Pipes
Just because we’re all lucky enough to live in Florida doesn’t mean we can’t get into the holiday spirit! Now is the perfect time to get some plants for the season and bring a little color into your home.
We meet a lot of transplants throughout the year as they move to the Sunshine State. And while most are initially excited to trade in snow for sun, we notice that new Florida homeowners may sometimes feel a bit deprived during the holidays.
“It just doesn’t feel the same,” they’ll say.
Well, don’t worry because we’re going to show you exactly how you can deck your halls with festive plants to rejuvenate that holiday cheer!
7 Plants For Christmas That’ll Bring Holiday Cheer To Florida Homeowners
Florida weather is notoriously unpredictable. One year, it’ll be 55 degrees on December 25th, and the next, it’ll be 80 degrees.
With such uncertainty, picking out plants for this time of year probably seems like unnecessary stress. Our trick for Florida homeowners is to pick out the plants that can survive and thrive year-round!
Believe it or not, all 7 of these plants can survive the Florida heat and rain. Pay special attention to the care instructions, and you’ll have spectacular plants for years to come.
This one is interesting because you have a few color options! Home Guides says, “TheChristmas cactus is most often grown as a houseplant and blooms in a wide range of colors from the traditional red to purple, pink, orange, gold, and white.”
If you want to make a show of your plant, you can prune it throughout the year to encourage more buds to grow. You’ll need to do this before early Fall if you want your cactus to branch out by the end of the year.
You can keep this festive plant around for decades if you treat it right!
Keep indoors near bright, indirect sunlight. Don’t use artificial light if you want the colors to pop during the holidays
While these are definitely the most recognizable holiday plant, Floridians have a hard time hanging on to them year-round. Yet, they are considered tropical plants, and will thrive here. The biggest reason poinsettias won’t survive until the big day is because of overwatering.
If you plan on keeping these beauties around until the holidays next year, make sure to only water them when the soil (or leaves) feel dry to the touch.
CAUTION: Poinsettias can be toxic to your pets. Keep them as far out of reach as possible, and keep an eye out for white sap.
Water sparingly; about once per week
Keep in direct sunlight near a window or even outdoors
Here’s a fun bit of history about mistletoe you can use to impress your guests:
In America, the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe came around 1820 after the publication of The Sketch Book. The author, Washington Irving, recounted the Christmas Eve traditions he observed in England. One of which noted,
“The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.”
This traditional plant is actually parasitic, so it has to latch onto other plants in order to grow. In Florida, you can find mistletoe on:
Wild cherry trees
CAUTION: Mistletoe is poisonous when ingested. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling.
If grown organically, snip the mistletoe branch 6 inches from the root
Keep your freshly cut sprigs in the refrigerator until you’re ready to decorate
If you’ve planted new roots in Florida, you may find yourself dreaming of a white Christmas– just not the cold kind.
To replicate those northern holiday scenes, place a few bouquets of Cyclamen around your house. These are the perfect plants for the holiday season because their petals are bright white and heart-shaped! Cyclamen also comes in crimson red, pink, and purple.
This tropical plant thrives in warm climates and requires little looking after. The only downside is that these can be toxic to your pets (are we seeing a theme here?), so make sure they’re installed out of reach.
Plant during the Fall and keep covered if temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Because Florida temperatures are typically above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s best to keep the Cyclamen as a houseplant.
There are a ton of plants that bloom in the Florida weather, and amaryllis is no different. In fact, this is a plant that you can grow year-round.
You can find pre-potted amaryllis almost anywhere. This beautiful red plant often comes as a wax bulb and only takes 4-8 weeks to fully grow. That means you can get an Amaryllis bulb in November and have extravagant 6-inch wide flowers by December!
Amaryllis require little watering and will need access to direct sunlight
If purchased, you may not need to water your plant at all. Make sure you read the growing instructions that come with it.
The Candy Cane Sorrel blooms in the Fall and may whither during the summer. You can choose to plant these underneath an outdoor window sill, or have an entire candy cane garden on your own. However, they don’t do great in humidity or extreme heat, so consider potting this flower if you want to keep it around.
Another neat thing about this one? At night the petals will close up, making the flowers truly resemble a candy cane!
Keep in direct sunlight or partial shade
Bring indoors if the temperature drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit
Now, we’re giving these tips in the spirit of keeping your family safe. But they’ll also ensure that your home is always in pristine condition.
Something that will bode in your favor should you decide to sell.
As home inspectors, we can’t tell you how many of these simple, routine steps can fall through the cracks. And if you go year after year without checking on your home’s safety, you’re bound to have a few costly structural issues down the road.
With it being the end of the year, you probably had some of these on your To-Do list anyway. So, let’s go through this home maintenance checklist to make sure everything is in working order for the holidays this year.
Most of these fires started in December or January as natural Christmas trees start to dry up. What’s even scarier is the fact that the peak time for when these fires start is between 6 p.m. and midnight— when most of us are asleep.
So how can you prevent this Christmas disaster? Because decorative lights cause 17% of these fires, you should start by making sure your Christmas lights don’t have any frayed wires or broken bulbs. If they do, it’s time to replace them.
Cords, plugs, and wiring are the other contributing factors. So it’s worth investigating their state when you install them, a nd the condition of your outlets and other home fixtures such as nearby lamps.
And as always, unplug your tree before going to bed!
Speaking of house fires, it’s about time to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detector alarms.
Smoke alarm batteries typically need to be changed every 6-12 months, unless their sealed units. You shouldn’t have to replace the alarm entirely unless it’s over 10 years old.
Here’s how to test them to make sure they’re working properly:
Find the button on your smoke alarm
Press and hold down the button until you hear the siren
Replace the alarm’s battery if the siren sounds weak, low, or distorted
CO detectors can be plug-ins for your wall, or they’re embedded into your home’s electrical system. The latter should have a battery backup which you need to replace once or twice a year.
Here’s how to test your CO detector to make sure it’s working:
Find the “test” button
Press and hold down the button until you hear 2-4 beeps
Replace the alarm’s batteries you don’t hear the beeps
Your kids and guests should know your fire escape plan. Your escape plan should list at least two exit options, the location of your fire extinguisher and where to meet outside the home (the end of your driveway is always a safe place). You can even get cool printable escape plans to place around your house for everyone to see!
In case of an emergency, you should have two primary exits, so make sure nothing is blocking them (be mindful of where you place your holiday decorations). If you have guests who smoke, it’s best to offer them a comfortable place to do this outside. Have ashtrays readily available, along with water to pour on the butts for optimal safety.
The type of air filter you have dictates how often you need to change it. If you have a disposable fiberglass air filter, you’ll want to change it every 30 days. For pleated filters, you can go as long as three months before having to pop in a new one.
To air (pun intended) on the side of caution, we recommend checking up on the condition of your filter once a month. This is especially true for homeowners who have pets, allergies, and larger homes.
So don’t forget to replace those filters so that your holiday guests can take a breath of fresh air. Literally. A new air filter can help eliminate pesticides, cleaning supplies, pollen, dust, and dander!
Throwing bows and ribbons into the fireplace might be a holiday tradition for your family, but it’s an ongoing problem in the U.S. The color pigments in your gift wrap can cause a chemical reaction when they burn, creating an insidious (and hazardous) flame.
So remember to recycle that wrapping paper this year, not rekindle it.
If you genuinely want to maintain an environment-friendly holiday, try to avoid using these items in your gift wrapping:
Bows: These aren’t recyclable, and they cause a mess at paper mills. However, you can recycle them by saving all the bows in a bin to reuse them next year!
Ribbon: You know how frustrating it is when a ribbon gets wrapped up in your vacuum? Imagine that happening to the machines at your local waste facility because of all the Christmas ribbon.
Glittery or metallic wrapping paper: Recycling wrapping paper is a great idea— in theory. But not all wrapping materials are created equal in the eyes of the sustainable community. According to this blog, “Wrapping paper cannot be recycled if it contains sparkles, glitter, sequins, foil, artificial texture, sticky gift labels, or plastic. Nor can it be recycled if it has been laminated or has loads of leftover tape, ribbons, or bows still attached.”
Do you have any tips for holiday safety? Let us know in the comments!
https://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2021/11/18194548/holiday-safety-tips-1280x720-1.png7201280Stephenhttps://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2022/09/07221907/white_logo_transparent_background1-1030x698-1.pngStephen2021-11-10 16:57:502022-03-18 19:46:04Here are a Few Safety Tips For Homeowners During the Holiday Season
You’d be surprised at how many people look for tips on how to paint a room. It may seem pretty straightforward, but it’s actually really easy to screw up.
Just by missing one step in the process, you could end up spending more money on paint and more time on the project. Next thing you know, your weekend DIY home makeover turns into a month-long endeavor.
So what exactly do people get wrong about painting their interior walls? There are questions like how many gallons does it take to paint a room? To prime or not to prime? Which order do you paint a room?
Plus, if you’re just moving into your home, you’re probably looking for paint that lasts. That’s why you don’t want to pick up any old brand of paint at Home Depot. Nothing at all against big orange, but knowing the type of paint, brushes, and primer you’ll need for this project is key for a flawless paint job.
We won’t get overly technical. Instead, let’s just walk through the steps on how to paint a room (properly), plus some extra tips you probably didn’t consider.
You’ll need about a gallon of paint for every 400 square feet. So if you’re painting a room that is 800 square feet, you should pick up at least two gallons of paint.
Step 2: Clean, Caulk, and Covers
Whether this masterpiece is taking place in the living room or the bedroom, you should thoroughly inspect your walls before picking up your paint.
With furniture out of the way, you’ll be able to see any scrapes or dents. For blemishes, all you need to do is wipe them off with soap and water. For dents or holes, you’ll need to buy some something to repair those with. This stuff is pretty good; it dries in minutes, and it’s only four bucks at Target!
While you’re at it, make sure to remove all the outlet covers for a truly blank canvas.
One of the best tips on how to paint a room really well is to sand it. In fact, you probably don’t even need to use a primer if you have good quality paint and use two coats.
However, if you’re painting over a semi-gloss or gloss paint, you should at least put some sandpaper to it and give it some “teeth.” It’s also worth “dry dusting” the walls to get rid of the sanding dust.
Now it’s time to break out the painter’s tape! We recommend painting the ceiling first, so secure the tape at the top of your wall at the very edge of your ceiling. If you’re not painting the ceiling, then tape off the trimmings using a good painter’s tape.
We also recommend taping around your outlets so that you do NOT paint inside the outlets or switches. That’s a BIG no-no, and potentially dangerous!
Step 4: Prime Time
This is one of our favorite tips on how to paint a room because it can save you money.
The most popular misconception we see from DIY painters is that you have to prime before painting walls. As we mentioned, primer isn’t inherently necessary for painting a room, contrary to popular belief.
There are only a few instances when you’ll need to prime beforehand:
You’re going from a dark to light color
The paint you’re going over is glossy
Your wall is porous (e.g., you have thirsty, unpainted drywall or plaster walls)
The wall is stained or has an odor
For example, if you’re going from white to Ultimate Gray and you do a quick wash of your drywall, you don’t need to waste time or money on priming.
Step 5: Paint Day
Now that you’ve taken progressive steps, you can rest assured that you’ll get the paint job completely done this weekend!
Another common question we see is which order to paint a room. Here’s our suggestion:
First, paint the ceiling (if you’re painting it at all).
Next, paint the trim (a.k.a “cutting in”).
Then, paint the walls with the most real estate using a roller paintbrush. Use light pressure to paint from top to bottom.
As you can tell from the steps on how to paint a room, a proper prep should usually take longer than the actual painting itself.
At least, if you want a good result.
And if you want your paint to last for years to come, we recommend doing at least two coats of paint. This prevents “Flashing” or “Holiday-ing” (a common, unofficial trade term), which refers to a bad paint job where you can see a bit of the old paint color underneath.
Tip #2: “Cutting In”
This is just a fancy term for detailing at the edges of your paint job.
Cutting in is probably the most frustrating part of painting because it requires painting a straight line (such as the line between your wall and ceiling or two different wall colors).
The best way to cut in is to use a manual brush. Get the best brush you can afford for this. Try to refrain from painting the edge of your walls with a roller brush. Instead, use a stiff-bristled, angled brush to get those precise details.
Here’s a terrific video with visual tips:
Tip #3: Keep the Brush Moving
People like to dip their brush into the paint can and brush it along the side to eliminate the extra paint. After all, who wants paint splatter to end up all over the floor?
However, the better, more professional practice is to dip your brush into the paint and then pat the brush on the edge of the can to remove the excess paint. Then, quickly bring your paintbrush to the wall and keep it moving. This saves you from having to constantly dip your brush into the can, and it helps you achieve a more even paint job.
When you’re cutting in, the consistent movement helps you achieve that straight line. It also helps to use a “W” pattern with rollers to get the room painted faster and more consistently.
Ok, we said 3 extra tips, but you’re getting 4 instead. Who doesn’t like a little lagniappe?
So finally, let’s talk about the types of paint sheens you have at your disposal. It can be overwhelming so let’s look at the most popular options for interior walls:
Flat/Matte Paint: This paint hides more imperfections, but they scuff and rub away easily if you try to clean it too vigorously. You’ll notice that the interior paint (ceilings and walls) on new construction is almost always “flat” for this reason. A little tradesperson trick!
Sheen/Glossy Paint: Glossier paints are easier to clean but are shiny and show more imperfections in the wall. However, they hold up better to moisture.
Then there are options such as eggshell sheen (great for interior walls), satin (best used in kitchens and bathrooms), and semi-gloss for casings (i.e., baseboards, trim moulding, etc.).
https://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2021/11/09175456/steps-on-how-to-paint-a-room.png7201280Stephenhttps://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2022/09/07221907/white_logo_transparent_background1-1030x698-1.pngStephen2021-10-20 10:24:562021-11-11 04:28:02Wanna Know How To Paint a Room Properly? Here’s 3 Tips To NOT Screw It Up
Back in 1992, Hurricane Andrew changed the game for building houses in Florida. The damages it accrued cost about $26.5 billion and, according to the NPS, “more than 250,000 people were left homeless, 82,000 businesses were destroyed or damaged, and about 100,000 residents of south Dade County permanently left the area in Andrew’s wake.”
This unprecedented disaster especially took a toll on the Miami-Dade County area. The massive devastation after Andrew is actually the reason that, since 2002, we’ve had a statewide Florida Building Code (FBC) in effect.
Can you believe that we didn’t have one before this? Prior to the FBC, there were still codes, but it was a hodge-podge of various different rules that the hundreds of jurisdictions statewide implemented and enforced, often inconsistently.
Today, Miami-Dade (and now Broward) Counties are considered the HVHZ (High-Velocity Hurricane Zone). They have the absolute highest requirements in the state for home hurricane protections– and actually, the nation.
But areas outside of the HVHZ can still have a high risk of wind damage, so The Florida Building Code requires features such as “hurricane windows” (i.e., opening protection) in some other areas of Florida, but not all.
So you see, determining which and even if you need hurricane windows in Florida can get pretty technical. Let us simplify it for you by breaking down what you actually need to know!
You may hear your home inspector mention “opening protection” for your home. This refers to any entry into your home that we consider an opening– typically doors, windows, garage doors, skylights, glass blocks, etc.
Opening protection means your doors and windows have a barrier that has been tested against debris impact and pressure in case of a hurricane. So, hurricane windows and hurricane shutters both fall under the umbrella of opening protection.
Other aspects of opening protection include:
Window/door boards, panels, and fabrics
It’s also worth noting that regulations and code requirements for each of these materials differ from county to county, and sometimes in different areas of the same county.
For instance, in Polk county, they don’t require opening protection whatsoever. But in Pinellas County, you definitely do! Plus, nearly all areas within 1-mile of the coast require it statewide. We call this the WBDR (Wind-Borne Debris Region), which the smaller HVHZ (i.e., Miami-Dade/Broward) sits within.
Here’s a great map from SoFlo Impact Windows that demonstrates which counties in Florida are in WBDR and HVHZ areas that require higher-grade impact hurricane windows:
Home inspectors like us who also perform Wind Mitigation Inspections can investigate these aspects of your home. While we don’t perform code inspections, we can prepare a report for your insurance company that may help you qualify for discounts.
The Florida Building Code is updated every 3-years. This includes the boundaries of the WBDR, which has expanded over time. We are currently on the 7th Edition as of January 2021.
However, the wind mitigation report is valid for up to five years. Because of this, you should also have a new wind mitigation inspection performed and submitted to your homeowners’ insurance company every five years.
Verified Materials: There should be proof on your home’s openings via a sticker, label, or imprint on the product itself. These can qualify you for higher insurance discounts.
Non-Verified Opening Protection products: We can usually tell when you have hurricane-resistant windows or openings, but if there isn’t verified proof, your Wind Mitigation Inspection must select this lower level of opening protection.
No Windborne Debris Protection: This means that your home’s windows, for example, do not have any opening protection whatsoever.
While the Florida Building Code can specify the required opening protection in your area, you typically do not have to install these features unless building new or performing a replacement. Understanding what’s required and where can be a real challenge. Therefore, we always recommend first contacting your local jurisdiction’s building department for the most accurate requirements at your specific address, before having any work performed.
We always get people asking about ratings when they inquire about their hurricane windows in Florida. But what they’re really asking — in a technical sense — is if the windows have approval ratings for both:
1.) Impact (i.e., large or small missile), and
2.) Cyclic (i.e., pressure ratings).
Items that are verified as both Impact and Cyclic rated will have gone through independent testing proving their performance. They’ll have either a “Product Approval Number (i.e. FL#),” or a “Notice of Acceptance (NOA)” assigned to them. As mentioned above, this can be verified on the product with a sticker or imprint. The State of Florida provides the Florida Product Approval Number, while Miami-Dade County issues their similar NOA (Notice of Acceptance) to prove these products are “verified.”
It’s important to know that while some items are impact/cyclic verified for the WBDR, they are still not necessarily HVHZ approved.
Before shopping for hurricane windows for your Florida home, you can search these online databases where you can find product approvals/acceptance yourself. But we still also recommend contacting your local building department, too. In construction speak, we call them the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction).
Also, while the windows and doors themselves can be rated, some specific boards, panels, shutters, or fabrics can also be verified as rated opening protections, and are usually a more affordable option.
If your home is in an HVHZ area, you may even choose to install shutters over your already resilient hurricane windows for double-layer protection during hurricane season.
You’ll never be able to get a straightforward answer when determining how much hurricane windows cost. Location, materials, window size, and experience of your hurricane window installer all play a role in the pricing structure.
To give you an estimate, you can expect to pay about $62 per square foot for your hurricane windows.
There is no difference between hurricane and impact windows. As we hinted earlier, calling them hurricane windows is really a simple, generalized term. Because these windows are both impact and cyclic tested, you should know that they’ll cost more. According to Home Advisor, the average impact hurricane window will cost between $2,679-14,151.
That’s a huge difference, right?
Our advice if you’re already a homeowner is to call your local building official. They’ll be able to tell you what opening protection you specifically need in your area (either on new builds or for replacing windows/doors). Compare these requirements to the windows/doors you already have installed. Look up the labels online for a FL# or NOA if you can.
Maybe you already have what you need. Or maybe it’s time to shop around. Luckily, there are plenty of “hurricane window” contractors here in Florida.
Lastly, after all is said and done, then it’s time to get a new wind mitigation inspection performed, which may improve the discounts on your homeowners’ insurance.
https://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2021/11/03182435/How-much-do-hurricane-windows-cost.png7201280Stephenhttps://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2022/09/07221907/white_logo_transparent_background1-1030x698-1.pngStephen2021-10-13 18:09:182021-11-11 04:04:31Hurricane Windows in Florida: Rating, Cost, and Protection Levels
A window screen replacement can be a pain in the butt. And in all honestly, it’s usually one of those things we ignore. After all, we still have our window to protect us from the Florida weather, right?
Well, not exactly.
If you’re buying a home in Florida, your home inspection report will bring up damaged or missing window screens.
Why the heck would we do that? We’re glad you asked!
3 Reasons Your Home Inspector Mentions Window Screen Replacement
While Florida doesn’t technically require homeowners to replace their ripped window screens, most home inspectors still make a note of it. Unless you are a property manager, then they are required for rentals.
This process is a lot more refined than first-time homebuyers realize. Aspects of a home that you may not have thought to look at (like window screens) might be a cause for concern later down the road.
Overlooked home discrepancies like clogged drains can cause plumbing issues, while something as simple as a dirty filter can be catastrophic to your entire AC unit. And that’s a pretty costly deal— especially here in Florida.
Your windows serve as a primary barrier between the safety of your home and the outside world. Broken screens are a structural and health-related concern that home inspectors find relevant to the home buying process.
Here are some other reasons why we might suggest window screen replacement.
Sure, you’re more likely to simply get an itchy bump on your arm if a mosquito bites you. However, mosquitoes carry diseases that are routinely transmitted to humans.
According to the CDC, “West Nile virus is one of the most common mosquito-borne diseases in the continental United States.” Some other known illnesses caused by these creatures include Malaria, Yellow Fever, and Zika Virus.
These window screens help keep you and your family safe.
#2: Multiple Levels of Protection
Window screens may not look like much, but they do more work than they’re given credit for.
Besides critter protection, window screens can also expand the life of your windows. It helps prevent water from pooling along your window edges which can cause your window frame to rust.
When your window frame is damaged, it can lead to foggy windows (which will need replacing) or even excess water in your home. This water infiltration can cause mold, interior paint peeling, and other structural issues from Florida’s inclement weather.
Window screens are also just an additive layer of protection in case something comes flying at your window!
#3: Cost For Window Screen Replacement
The total cost to DIY your window screen replacement is about $25-55. That’s assuming you only need to replace the screen and not the frame. Here’s a breakdown of everything you’ll need:
When just one window screen needs replacing, all you need are the tools above for a quick DIY fix. The biggest issue for window screen replacement comes when the frame is bent. Now, you have the restore the entire screen unit.
So let’s get into how to replace a window screen frame.
Step 1: How to measure for window screens
Measure the width of your window first. Using your tape measure, go from corner to corner. Try to get to the nearest 1/8 inch.
To measure the window height, find the lip. This is the rubber piece at the top and bottom of your window (where your previous screen frame sat).
For double windows, you’ll want to measure from directly behind the lip, up to the window channel (the section separating the top pane from the bottom pane). Add 1/8 inch here.
Removing window screens and their frame is pretty simple.
Open the window and press gently on the corner of the frame. This tension helps release the rounded springs that are at the top of the frame. You may need the help of a tool for this, but the bottom half should pop out from behind the lip. Get a grip on the bottom of the screen and pull down to release the frame from the window. Side note: On some windows this should be done from the inside, so if you’re having trouble, go to the other side of the window.
You may also have tabs on the bottom of your screen. If that’s the case, lift them simultaneously, and then push the screen out. Pull down to release the top of half of the window screen frame from the window.
We hope this quick tutorial can help you DIY your window screen replacement (or get you a better deal for closing on your new home)! And remember to always ask your home inspector about the condition of your home’s windows and screens.
https://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2021/09/21194508/7.png7201280Stephenhttps://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2022/09/07221907/white_logo_transparent_background1-1030x698-1.pngStephen2021-09-22 19:44:162021-10-09 12:05:17Why Your Home Inspector Mentions Window Screen Replacement and How To DIY It
Mullions are an ancient bit of architecture that isn’t technically necessary nowadays. Because we have the technology to support large windows (even floor-to-ceiling windows), these structural beams aren’t a standard unit in modern homes.
Window mullions are the vertical bases that hold a single window in its place. Or it’s the panel that separates individual windows that are side-by-side (see picture below).
It wasn’t until the Victorian Era that society found a way to build large, sustainable windows without the support of window mullions.
Some people use this term interchangeably with muntins. However, there is a difference between window mullions and muntins.
Muntins are the vertical and horizontal parts of a typical depiction of a window.
Think about how you would draw a window: a square with two lines, right? Those lines are the muntins. They form the grid that used to hold window panes together.
Key words: used to.
Like mullions, window muntins aren’t necessary for modern architecture. These bars would hold smaller pieces of glass together to make a large window before we could construct large, stable pieces of glass.
So fun fact: The window mullions and muntins that you see in post-Victorian homes are purely decorative.
Glazing / Lights / Pane
We refer to each piece of glass held together by muntins as a window light or “fixed light.” A fixed light is a non-operational window (meaning it can’t open).
When referring to window anatomy, glazing is technically the glass itself (also commonly referred to as the window “pane”). You can choose from various types of glazing, from single to triple thickness. This becomes important when you’re considering hurricane windows. According to glass.com,
“Hurricane resistant glazing is meant to help protect the interior of a building from the high winds, strong rain and projectiles… wind and rain can penetrate the building and cause structural damage to the building.”
The sash is the part of the window that can open and close. The supporting structures are the stile (the vertical frame bars) and the rails (the horizontal frame bars).
Be sure to analyze the weatherstripping surrounding your sash. Damaged weatherstripping can be the reason rainwater or pests slip into your home ,or why your home seems hotter than usual.
Now that you understand the structural façade of your window choices, let’s get into the best part: the framing!
This part is (obviously) the compound that secures your window into the framing of your house. The window frame specifics are what you need to look out for if you have a leak or you’re looking for heavy-duty hurricane windows.
This is the topmost part of your window frame. The horizontal beam is an essential part of the window anatomy because it helps lock the window panes into place.
The head, along with the rest of the frame, will be made up of either: wood, vinyl, aluminum, fiberglass, etc. The sturdier the material, the better suited it is to withstand Florida hurricanes.
We all know what a window sill is, so we won’t go into too much detail. A window sill expands from the window into the interior of your home, like a shelf. It can also do this on the exterior of your home, but that is called a “stool.”
Underneath your window sill, you may notice what looks to be an extension of the window frame itself. This is called the window “apron,” and it’s only for decorative purposes.
Jambs are only the vertical beams on either side of your window’s entire frame. The horizontal beams are the head and the sill.
And the casing is the decorative molding within your window frame (beneath the head and above the sill). It historically keeps the sash, jambs, and other hardware locked tight into place, although it’s more cosmetic today.
Now that you understand the anatomy of a window, you’ll know exactly what to ask for when you shop for new ones! Do you want the traditional-style windows with mullions in the windowpane? Or do you want to go for the more modern, double-hung windows with easily replaceable hardware?
https://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2021/09/21023553/1-1.png7201280Stephenhttps://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2022/09/07221907/white_logo_transparent_background1-1030x698-1.pngStephen2021-09-08 21:40:432021-09-24 18:18:45Breaking Down the Anatomy of a Window For Florida Homeowners
It’s the most wonderful time of the year— to learn how to install LED light strips!
No, this guide isn’t for your Tik Tok videos (although it could be). Many homeowners see the appeal of these LED fixtures for different areas in their homes. They’re less harsh than overhead lights, simple to install, and they won’t give you away when you sneak into the kitchen for a midnight snack.
So, just in time for the holidays, let us break down why, where, and how to install LED lights.
LED Light strips are relatively affordable; you can find a 100-foot roll on Amazon for about $20-$30.
As a home inspector, I’ve come to learn that this little accessory (which is usually for decoration) is a pretty handy tool! Because you can adjust the brightness and even the length of the area that needs lighting, it’s pretty efficient for those hard-to-see areas.
We’ve seen a few creative LED light strip uses both in homes and used by professionals. Here are some ideas on how you can use them for yourself!
When I started researching LED lights, cars were the last thing from my mind. When I think of LED lights in cars, I think about people installing colored strips that coordinate with their stereo.
Kinda cool, but not really necessary, right?
However, these easy-to-install lights have come in handy for on-the-go professionals like myself. We drive a pickup truck for work, and while we’re usually pretty tidy with our tools, sometimes things get buried.
Installing a short (I’m talkin’ maybe a foot) LED strip in the back of your truck bed or underneath your front seats can help you locate those loose items that go amiss while driving around.
Besides your teenagers wanting these strips for their ceiling lighting (it’s the Tik Tok way!), you can steal a couple of yards of lights for yourself.
Here are some clever areas we’ve seen homeowners install LED light strips:
Under kitchen counters or inside cabinets
Along the staircase
Around a vanity mirror
In dark corners of a garage/shed
These lights are not only flexible and easy to install, but there are waterproof options, too! This makes them the perfect accessory for outdoor things like:
#1: Holiday Decoration
So this one is a pretty obvious LED light strip idea. But it’s almost Halloween when we’re writing this, so it seemed worth a mention.
If you’ve ever used these versatile lights for decoration, now you know that they don’t have to go to waste the rest of the year! Instead of packing away your waterproof LED light strip in your Christmas box, repurpose it for the areas around your house that we mentioned earlier.
Now that you have some ideas on where you can use 100 feet of LED lights throughout your house, let’s get into the confusing part: how to install an LED light strip.
Don’t worry; it’s way more straightforward than it looks. It should only take you 5 minutes to install!
Step 1. Peel and Stick
We recommended doing this before figuring out where to cut the LED strip because it’ll be easier to determine how much you want to use. You can also pre-measure the surface area where the lights will go and make a note of how much you’ll need.
First, pick where you want them to be; let’s say you’re putting up lights underneath your kitchen counters. Make sure you clean the area with a dry cloth to get rid of dust. We also recommend placing your lights on a smooth surface for a more secure installation.
Next, unravel the strip so that it matches the length of your counter. These lights have an adhesive back, so you’ll just need to peel the backing off and stick it where you want it to live.
Only do this one foot at a time. Press firmly along the light strip as you go to make sure it’s fastened securely to the surface.
Step 2. Where To Cut LED Strips
This is the part that throws everyone for a loop. Most people realize that you can’t just cut a wire anywhere without risking damaging the entire circuit.
Fortunately, these LED strips come with pre-soldered sections so you can choose your light length at varying intervals.
You’ll find copper-colored markings (see above) throughout your LED light strip. Simply choose your length and cut a vertical line through the designated copper area.
Note: Make sure you cut a straight line! A crooked cut could prevent your LED light strip from working correctly.
Step 3. Lights, Camera, Action
Once your strip is cut and put into place, you need to connect it to the main power supply unit (the receiver).
This little unit (white or black) should come with your lights. It will have 3 or 4 “pins” sticking out of it. Connect this to the cable at the beginning of your light strip. Then, connect the receiver box to your electrical outlet and watch your lights come to life!
It’s all plug-and-play.
Here’s a great tutorial on how to install LED light strips. However, we don’t recommend twisting the strip to get around corners, which could damage your lights. Read the next section for a better solution!
Step 4. How To Install LED Light Strip Connectors
If you want to run lights across a large area, it may require you to use LED light strip connectors. Think of them like elbows you’d use for PVC piping. They help the lights span across uneven surfaces, corners, and other obstacles you may find when installing your lights.
To go around corners, you can purchase additional LED connectors. There are flexible L-shaped, gapless, and T-shape connectors. All you’ll need to install these LED strips together is a connector clip (usually comes packaged together). Simply snap each strip into the connector and click them into place!
Naturally, if you want to place LEDs in a completely different area, then chances are, they won’t be able to connect to the main power supply unit or receiver that came with your lights.
In that case, you can purchase a separate power supply bank to attach the lights to. Here’s a tutorial on how to install an LED light strip to a power supply bank.
We hope this short tutorial on installing LED light strips comes in handy for all you homeowners out there! If you want more handy DIY tips from your favorite home inspection company, make sure to catch up on our Homeowners section of our website!
https://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2021/09/20204105/1.png7201280Stephenhttps://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2022/09/07221907/white_logo_transparent_background1-1030x698-1.pngStephen2021-08-18 19:20:372021-09-24 18:18:40How To Install LED Light Strip In 5 Minutes
While inspecting homes across the Central Florida area, we run into various versions of this question all of the time: What’s the difference between plaster walls/ceilings and drywall?
If you have an older home, or are considering purchasing one, you might need to learn how to handle plaster walls.
Drywall, on the other hand, is easier to deal with and probably more familiar to you. Most new homes these days are made with drywall, and you can easily find supplies at your local hardware supply store. Plus, there are plenty of drywall contractors you can call to help you out.
Learning how to spot plaster versus drywall is pretty straightforward. The short answer is that plaster is literally harderthan drywall. You may also notice that plaster walls are more susceptible to cracking from building settlement or thermal expansion/contraction.
Plaster is also harder and more time-consuming to install and repair. It’s literally a rock, making for quieter and “cooler” feeling spaces. It’s a material that is generally durable and resilient to moisture, which is why it used to be popular in Florida homes.
Plaster is applied “wet” by hand troweling, often in multiple layers over a wood or metal lath, or gypsum lath boards. Thus, the thickness of plaster can be somewhat inconsistent since it is applied by hand.
It’s held on by suction, mechanical bonds such as “keys,” or a chemical bonding agent. For the uninitiated, plaster walls present challenges to securely hanging pictures or TVs on the wall (although it’s definitely possible if you learn how).
On the other hand, drywall is much easier, faster, and cheaper to install and repair. Unlike the “wet” application of plaster, it is put on in dried sheets, hence the name DRYwall. It attaches to the wall studs and ceiling trusses by the use of screws or nails.
Then, the seams and fasteners are finished smooth with tape and a joint compound “mud.” It provides a “warmer” feel to a room. Like plaster, drywall offers a level of fire resistance.
Many repairs can be DIY if you have drywall vs plaster walls. And if that’s not possible, good drywall tradespersons are much easier to find than those with plastering skills.
There’s nothing “wrong” with either product. But while they serve the same intent, they are very different.
Each material has advantages and disadvantages that are important for homeowners to understand. Here’s a great video by Leah from the YouTube channel “See Jane Drill” that will help with this. She’s got the true heart of a teacher and is one of our favorites!
The History of Plaster vs Drywall
Plaster has millennia of history behind it. Literally 1000’s of years. The Babylonians, Greeks, Romans (including the Italians), and Egyptians all used plaster. So did the ancient peoples of China and India.
Suffice to say, it’s an ancient building product. Plaster has multiple varieties, textures and chemistries using diverse materials such as clay, lime, or gypsum.
You’re probably familiar with exterior plastering, which is usually referred to as stucco. In England and some areas of the US, they call plastering “rendering” or “parge coating.”
Venetian plaster has marble dust added, while rammed earth or waddle-and-daub are more primitive plastering techniques usually created from locally sourced materials.
But at the end of the day, it’s all a form of plastering.
We won’t go into all of the details now. Although, Wikipedia has a rather comprehensive article that you can read here if you want to explore deeper.
Our focus today is on plaster in interior ceilings and walls that you may find in your home, known as “lath and plaster.”
Before we can talk about plaster finishes on walls and ceilings in homes, we want to contrast it with what you may be more familiar with in today’s modern homes- drywall.
Sheetrock® vs Drywall
Drywall is known by many names, such as gypsum board (or gyp board), plasterboard, wallboard, or the brand name Sheetrock®. So if you’re wondering what the difference between Sheetrock® and drywall is, the answer is— nothing.
It’s essentially the same thing.
In the scheme of the built environment (including houses), drywall is a relatively newer invention. The earliest form of drywall was available in the USA around the late 1800s. It was patented as “Sackett Board,” named after its inventor, Augustine Sackett.
USG Corporation purchased Sackett Board soon afterward. They made various improvements to it over the years. In 1917, they released their upgraded version under the brand name Sheetrock®.
Many people still call it Sheetrock® today, but this is specifically USG’s brand name for drywall.
Drywall was not very popular at first, as it was considered a substandard, cheap, and gimmicky product. Many builders would not adopt its use. Instead, they preferred the familiar, time-tested use of lath and plaster. In the meantime, USG tried to market Sheetrock® as a fire-resistant product that required less time and labor to install but with limited success.
But then WW2 happened.
Massive labor shortages, followed by the baby boom and resulting housing boom, changed the game. The advantages of drywall became more evident, and it eventually became the dominant product by the late 1960s.
New interior plaster installs are rare today, except for the occasional installation on some custom-built, high-end residences and commercial buildings. So you’ll mainly see drywall installed inside in most modern homes.
So my house has plaster walls— what does that mean?
Although it’s rare to find newer homes with plaster walls and ceilings, many older homes in Central Florida have lath and plaster instead of drywall.
Our personal home was built in 1967 and has plaster and metal lath walls and ceilings. It’s actually what’s known as a hybrid veneer-plaster system that uses a gypsum-based “rock lath” base layer, instead of the even older method using a scratch/base plaster coat over wood lath strips (as illustrated in the graphic above). Then, the rock lath is covered with an expanded (i.e. “diamond”) metal lath, and finally two coats of plaster.
The first plaster coat is a thick and rather rough “brown coat,” and the second one is a thinner white “finish/veneer coat” with a sanded texture (such as USG Diamond – Sanded). This final white coat is what you actually see on the walls and ceilings when standing in the room.
We love it for many reasons. Plaster is beautiful and full of character, with superior sound-deadening properties and moisture resistance versus drywall. The feel of authentic craftsmanship permeates the home.
The downside is that it’s tough to find tradespersons with the knowledge to repair it. While there may be more, we only know of one serious plaster repair company in the Tampa Bay region.
And they are always booked solid for months.
A word of caution: Plaster requires skill and patience. Many drywall contractors also claim to be able to fix plaster. But more often than not, they’ll use materials more familiar to them (i.e., drywall and joint compounds) in their work. This can lead to mixed (and sometimes pitiful) results. Don’t believe us? See what the folks over at Walls & Ceilings say about it.
Just be sure to do your research before hiring someone to repair your plaster. Make sure it is up to your standards.
https://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2021/08/10000057/plaster-walls.png7201280Stephenhttps://d3bfc4j9p6ef23.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2022/09/07221907/white_logo_transparent_background1-1030x698-1.pngStephen2021-08-11 10:45:542021-09-01 10:57:25I Have Plaster Walls in My House — Now what? A Guide on How To Handle Plaster Walls