If your West Texas home is on fire, how many minutes do you think you have to get out alive?
If you’re like 80 percent of Americans surveyed, you’ll say five or 10 minutes. Wrong! According to Underwriters Laboratories, which conducts state-of-the-art fire safety testing, you have three minutes or less. “Most people underestimate the speed and power of fire and smoke,” according to the National Fire Protection Association. You shouldn’t fumble with the fire extinguisher, grab your photo albums or even rescue your cat. GET OUT!
UL reports that 30 years ago, you had up to 17 minutes to escape a house fire, but today’s homes burn faster. Why is that? Open floor plans can provide oxygen and don’t provide barriers. And synthetic building materials and furnishings burn at a much faster rate than the natural products used decades ago.
UL videotaped a dramatic side-by-side experiment that showed how rapidly a modern living room went up in flames compared with a vintage one.
“You want to have an escape plan and practice it regularly because there is a limited time window to act,” said Stephen Kerber, director of UL’s Firefighter Safety Research Institute. “We can’t emphasize enough: If you can get out, get out.”
The stakes are high. Residential fires kill more people than any other kind, according to the Federal Emergency Management Administration. In fact, roughly seven Americans die every day in house fires.
Some of those deaths are caused by folks that tried to fight the fire themselves. Fire extinguishers are wonderful tools, but most people just don’t know when or how to use them.
FEMA says you should only use a fire extinguisher if:
• You are trained in how to use the extinguisher.
• You can put out the fire in five seconds or less.
• The fire is small and contained — like in a wastebasket.
• There is no flammable debris or hazardous material nearby.
• You have the right type of extinguisher for the type of fire.
• There are two ways to exit the area quickly if you fail.
Your priority should be surviving the fire, not putting out the fire. Here are several steps you can take — before and during a fire — to increase your chances.
Before a fire
Interconnected smoke detectors. You should have smoke alarms/detectors in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home. And those alarms should be wirelessly connected to one another, so that if there’s a fire in your basement, for example, the alarm in your bedroom will go off.
Two exits per room. Map out two ways to get out of every room in your house, even if one of them is a window, and keep those exits clear.
Family fire drills. Practice your evacuation plan so that everyone in the family not only knows how to get out, but also reverts to the plan instead of panicking during a fire.
Clear address numbers. Drive past your house at night and see if the address is clearly visible from the street for emergency crews to find you. If not, install better numbers or lighting.
Close doors while you sleep. Fires that break out while you are sleeping can be particularly devastating. Closing your door keeps smoke out and temperatures down, giving you extra time to evacuate.
Designate a meeting place. Everyone in the family should know of a spot nearby — but out of fire range — where you will meet if you evacuate separately in a fire.
During a fire
Block smoke: If you are stuck in a room, close the doors and windows, and put wet fabric over openings where smoke can get in.
Get low: Bend way down or crawl as you evacuate because smoke rises and kills more people than fire itself.
Check doors: Look for smoke and feel for heat at closed doors, a sign that there’s fire on the other side. If so, exit through another door or window
Close doors/windows behind you. Close doors and windows as you escape to minimize the amount of oxygen that can fuel the fire.
Exit windows wisely. Crawl out backward facing the house. Then lower yourself until you are hanging from the window sill. This puts your feet as close to the ground as possible before you drop.
Don’t go back in. No matter what — or who — don’t go back in. Instead, alert firefighters so they can rescue people
Follow these simple tips and if you are the victim of a house fire, your chances of surviving may be greatly improved.
#realestate #texas #house #home #fire #inspection
Courtesy of US Dept of Energy
Is your water heater the right size for you house? | Photo credit ENERGY STAR®
A properly sized water heater will meet your household's hot water needs while operating more efficiently. Therefore, before purchasing a water heater, make sure it's the correct size.
Here you'll find information about how to size these systems:
If you haven't yet considered what type of water heater might be best for your home, learn more about selecting a new water heater.
Sizing Tankless or Demand-Type Water Heaters
Tankless or demand-type water heaters are rated by the maximum temperature rise possible at a given flow rate. Therefore, to size a demand water heater, you need to determine the flow rate and the temperature rise you'll need for its application (whole house or a remote application, such as just a bathroom) in your home.
First, list the number of hot water devices you expect to use at any one time. Then, add up their flow rates (gallons per minute). This is the desired flow rate you'll want for the demand water heater. For example, let's say you expect to simultaneously run a hot water faucet with a flow rate of 0.75 gallons (2.84 liters) per minute and a shower head with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons (9.46 liters) per minute. The flow rate through the demand water heater would need to be at least 3.25 gallons (12.3 liters) per minute. To reduce flow rates, install low-flow water fixtures.
To determine temperature rise, subtract the incoming water temperature from the desired output temperature. Unless you know otherwise, assume that the incoming water temperature is 50ºF (10ºC). For most uses, you'll want your water heated to 120ºF (49ºC). In this example, you'd need a demand water heater that produces a temperature rise of 70ºF (39ºC) for most uses. For dishwashers without internal heaters and other such applications, you might want your water heated at 140ºF (60ºC). In that case, you'll need a temperature rise of 90ºF (50ºC).
Most demand water heaters are rated for a variety of inlet temperatures. Typically, a 70ºF (39ºC) water temperature rise is possible at a flow rate of 5 gallons per minute through gas-fired demand water heaters and 2 gallons per minute through electric ones. Faster flow rates or cooler inlet temperatures can sometimes reduce the water temperature at the most distant faucet. Some types of tankless water heaters are thermostatically controlled; they can vary their output temperature according to the water flow rate and inlet temperature.
Sizing a Solar Water Heating System
Sizing your solar water heating system basically involves determining the total collector area and the storage volume you'll need to meet 90%–100% of your household's hot water needs during the summer. Solar system contractors use worksheets and computer programs to help determine system requirements and collector sizing.
Contractors usually follow a guideline of around 20 square feet (2 square meters) of collector area for each of the first two family members. For every additional person, add 8 square feet (0.7 square meters) if you live in the U.S. Sun Belt area or 12–14 square feet if you live in the northern United States.
A small (50- to 60-gallon) storage tank is usually sufficient for one to two three people. A medium (80-gallon) storage tank works well for three to four people. A large tank is appropriate for four to six people.
For active systems, the size of the solar storage tank increases with the size of the collector -- typically 1.5 gallons per square foot of collector. This helps prevent the system from overheating when the demand for hot water is low. In very warm, sunny climates, some experts suggest that the ratio should be increased to as much as 2 gallons of storage to 1 square foot of collector area.
Additional calculations involved in sizing your solar water heating system include evaluating your building site's solar resource and determining the proper orientation and tilt of the solar collector. Visit the solar water heaterspage for more on these calculations.
Sizing Storage and Heat Pump (with Tank) Water Heaters
To properly size a storage water heater for your home -- including a heat pump water heater with a tank -- use the water heater's first hour rating. The first hour rating is the number of gallons of hot water the heater can supply per hour (starting with a tank full of hot water). It depends on the tank capacity, source of heat (burner or element), and the size of the burner or element.
The EnergyGuide label lists the first hour rating in the top left corner as "Capacity (first hour rating)." The Federal Trade Commission requires an EnergyGuide label on all new conventional storage water heaters but not on heat pump water heaters. Product literature from a manufacturer may also provide the first hour rating. Look for water heater models with a first hour rating that matches within 1 or 2 gallons of your peak hour demand -- the daily peak 1-hour hot water demand for your home.
To estimate your peak hour demand:
The worksheet example shows a total peak hour demand of 36 gallons. Therefore, this household would need a water heater model with a first hour rating of 34 to 38 gallons.
Worksheet for Estimating Peak Hour Demand/First Hour Rating *
Adapted from information from the Federal Energy Management Program Energy Cost Calculator.
Water heater manufactures recommend setting your water heater temperature at 120 degrees to help prevent scalding and to save energy. Scalding is a real concern if you have small children or elderly in your home.
If your hot water has an unpleasant odor, it is usually caused by some bacteria. Raising the temperature above 140 degrees may help, but bear in mind, the risk of scalding due increases dramatically once the water temperature is above 130 degrees!
Basically you'll need to adjust the temperature to suit your needs, or your budget.
How To Check Your Hot Water Heater Temperature
Allow your water heater to sit for one hour, unused before checking the temperature. Most water heater manufacturers will label the water heater with an FHR - First Hour Rating; this is how much water is heated to the temperature setting in one hour.
You can use a baking thermometer to check your water heater temperature. Go to the faucet nearest the water heater. Run the hot water for one full minute ( this will heat the plumbing supply lines, and give you a more accurate reading ). Fill a coffee cup from the faucet and read the thermometer.
About water heater settings:
Because heat rises (yes, even in water) the water in the top of a water heater can be much hotter than the water in the bottom. This is especially true of a gas water heater where the thermostat and burner are located at the bottom of the tank.
Water heater settings or temperature settings are not exact temperatures. The degree settings on a thermostat are approximate. This is especially true with gas water heater thermostats, and the temperature setting is sometimes based on whatever the person installing the water heater felt like it should mean! In other words, HOT could be 120, 130, 140 degrees, etc.
Gas water heater Adjustment
Gas water heaters use a simple knob on the front, bottom of the tank for temperature settings. Remember, the words or numbers on the front of the knob don't necessarily represent a set temperature. It is crucial that you closely check, and adjust the settings slowly. Test, then adjust. Repeat as necessary.
Electric Water Heater Adjustment
Adjusting an electric water heater temperature setting is not as simple. The water heater will generally have 1 or 2 heating elements. These will be covered by a plastic or metal panel cover on the front of the water heater tank. You will need to adjust each element to the same setting.
Before you do anything, remember to shut off power to the water heater, preferably via the electrical breaker in the electrical panel.
I generally recommend starting with the lower element, and then move to the top element. The cover will need to be removed, where you'll usually find some fiberglass insualtion you can reomve (with gloves). Then you'll find a simple plastic cover you can lilft or remove to find the thermostat. The thermostat will need to be adjusted with a flat head screw driver. Remember, adjsut slowly and carefully! Test as you go to find the ideal temperatuer for your home.
Replace the plastic cover(if you removed it). Place the insulation back over the thermostat and element. Replace the access panels and turn the power back on.
One of the more common defects I come across during home inspections is missing anti-tip devices on free standing ranges. Though a property inspection can reveal many defects that require a repair from a licensed professional, such as electrical defects, this particular defect can be corrected by just about anybody handy enough to give it a go. The truly sad part of this issue is that just about every new range sold should already include an anti-tip device with the range when sold, per the manufacturer. It seems, they're just not installed...
Why these are not properly installed is another one of the many head-scratchers I see as a licensed real estate inspector in west Texas. At any rate, if you find that your free standing range is missing an anti-tip device, it's time to correct that defect. ASAP! Here is an article from several years back providing additional details.
From the N.Y. Times:
Is There a Killer Stove in Your Kitchen?BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD
MARCH 6, 2008 3:44 PMMarch 6, 2008 3:44 pmFor about a year now, consumer groups have been waging a war against killer stoves.
It sounds like a bad horror movie, but it’s for real. Consumer advocates estimate that there have been at least 33 deaths and 84 serious injuries in recent years from stoves that suddenly tip over and burn or kill someone underneath.
Most of the victims have been children scalded by whatever is bubbling on top of the stove, or elderly people trying to get something in or out of the oven.
The stove grandma used probably couldn’t be moved or tilted without using a small forklift. Newer stoves, however, are different.
Many are so light that when their door is opened and weight is applied — by, for example, resting a pot on that open door for a moment — the entire appliance turns into a see-saw, spilling hot food and liquids on cooks and onlookers.
Worse, some stoves have been known to tilt and then fall over completely.
The solution is simple. An anti-tip bracket should be installed with every stove to keep it steady and upright while in use.
In a recent settlement of a class-action lawsuit, Sears agreed to install the necessary brackets on about four million free-standing or slide-in stoves that were sold, delivered, and connected by the store between July 2, 2000 and September 18, 2007. The company also agreed to install anti-tip brackets on all free-standing stoves delivered over the next three years.
The settlement is good news for Sears customers, but what about people who buy their stoves somewhere else?
So far, the Consumer Product Safety Commission hasn’t done a thing for them. Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen last month petitioned Nancy Nord, the acting chair of the commission, to begin recall proceedings against stoves sold by retailers other than Sears.
Discussions are still underway. Unfortunately, in recent years, the commission has been know for its close ties to industry, and its reluctance to stand up for consumer safety. Ms. Nord has been criticized for traveling on industry’s dime — and then failing to rein in industry.
This is not the first time the commission has been asked to fix these stoves. The first accidents started happening almost twenty years ago. After the Sears settlement, the commission did act on stoves — sort of, as Ed Mierzwinski of U.S. PIRG points out. The commission announced a voluntary recall of a toy stove after a child reported being bruised when it tipped over.
Toy stoves bruising children are bad, certainly, and should be stopped. But what about real stoves scalding and killing people?
If you'd like to learn more, have questions, or would like to discuss property inspection, call me! I can help!
(806)544-8540 or (432)202-7544
One of the most common questions I hear from buyers and agents alike is related to inspection of sewer drain lines under the home and on the property. As a home inspector in Texas, this information exceeds that Texas SOP for home inspections, and is generally the purview of a plumbing service company.
The most effective way to provide this information is by using a camera attached to a cable to view the interior of the sewer line for defects. This process is generally referred to as using a sewer scope.
The photo above is a great example of the value of such a service. The photo shows a clear indication that the sewer line below this home(mine!) has been damaged and is compromised by tree roots. The sewer lines below my home are comprised of cast iron, which is known for rusting and degrading over decades. Of course, my home is over 55 year old, so it is no surprise that these lines are beginning to fail. This has presented the good ol’ fruitless mulberry tree in my front yard with a veritable endless supply of nutrient (yuck!) rich moisture to pilfer at will. And that’s just what the tree roots have done. By entering the small crack in the wall of the sewer line, they have accessed the drain line and will only continue to damage the sewer line over time.
The bad news: there is no repairing this type of damage. The modifications necessary would include replacement of the damaged area of the sewer line (though replacement of the entire sewer line is a better long term solution) or having the sewer line lined with a special product that in effect creates a new sewer line from the inside out. Each of these processes are offered by many local plumbing companies. Costs range from about $5000 on up for a home like mine. Needless to say, this is not cheap, or fun. Plan to be without sewer access for a day or more, at least.
However, when buying a used home, or sometimes even a brand new home, hidden problems are everywhere. As an informed home owner, you can plan ahead and be as prepared as possible for the unexpected.
I can offer you some helpful advice if you are facing this problem with your own home. It might even save you some $$$. Call me for more details and we can discuss further!!
(806)544-8540 or (432)202-7544
#realestate #doublec #lubbock #midland #odessa #property #inspection #inspector
Foundation failures are some of the most common worries for the average home buyer, and understandably so. Foundation failures can result in costly repairs, and can sometimes cause additional damage if the repairs are not completed properly.
First: the overwhelming majority of homes I've inspected have not had evidence of foundation defects. This means that homes with foundation problems of any kind are in the minority, to be sure.
How can you tell if your home has foundation concerns? First, the evidence will usually present itself in other locations, and in other ways. One of the ways I look for foundation defects is to observe cracks on the exterior. Cracks on the exterior do not mean you have foundation failures. However, cracks on the exterior, along with similar damage on the interior near the same location can mean we may have a foundation problem.
The photo above was taken at a home with obvious settlement cracks on the exterior and near the same location on the interior. This home was built with a pier and beam foundation, so it therefore had a crawl space. Unfortunately, many crawl spaces are inaccessible. However, this one was accessible, and it didn't take long to establish why there were so many cracks on the exterior and interior.
The ironic thing with this home was that the homeowner claimed to have already paid a foundation repair company to fix his foundation. I don't know whether that was true or not, as that's not a part of my job. But If that were true, the foundation repair company certainly let him down.
Some contractors place themselves in an adversarial position when it comes to home inspectors. Again, if this homeowner is telling the truth, this is a great example of why a professional home inspector is so important! I do not gain or lose because this home has foundation problems. Yet, a foundation contractor has already made $$ off of this home, and some other foundation contractor likely will again. This underscores the importance of having an unbiased expert to take a look at your property before it's too late!
I don't pass or fail homes: the home tells it's own story, I just record it!
#doublec #hireapro #protectyourinvestment #trustyourinstincts #realestate
The photo above is a Zinsco/Sylvania brand electrical panel. This panel is not especially common in West Texas, but I have seen around a dozen so far in my inspection travels. If you're home was built in before 1980, there is a possibility that this panel is installed in your home.
The Zinsco/Sylvania brand electrical panel has a documented history of failure since it's inception. As the decades have passed, savvy electricians and home inspectors have observed and documented that some Zinsco panels can fail to operate as intended and may leave homes and homeowners at risk to both fire and electrical hazards. These panels can work fine for many years, but as homes have increased energy demands (because of more and more electronic devices in the home), these panels may overheat and portions of it melt.
In a situation like this, if a breaker melts to the bus bar of the panel and can no longer adequately trip in case of an overcurrent or short circuit, an extreme amount of power from the outside electrical supply surges into a home’s panel and circuits. Once this scenario plays out, it cannot be stopped or shut off manually. Electricity will burn until it runs out of fuel or the wires melt. The panel could overheat and catch fire, causing serious harm to a home and its occupants.
Many of the documented failures with this brand of panel and breaker relate to just such a scenario: the breaker melts to the bus bar, and then the only way to shut off power to prevent catastrophic electrical failure is to shut off power to the home itself, which is sometimes not an easy task. In fact, there are several highly respected home inspectors nationwide who refuse to even inspect this brand of electrical panel - they will simply recommend replacement.
What can you do if your home has this brand of electrical panel installed? Contact a licensed electrician to replace it with a modern panel and breaker system that is safe.
I would not advise taking chances with this brand of panel; just because it has lasted this long does not mean it can't fail today and endanger you or your family!
If you'd like to learn more, feel free to contact me!
#realestate #hireapro #protectyourinvestment #trustyourinstincts #doublec
August 24, 2017 – Home sales were down again in July 2017 according to the Lubbock Area Housing Market Report. According to the report, 376 homes were sold in July 2017, 14% less than July 2016. Home prices continued their upward trend, however, up 4% compared to July 2016, with the median price for Lubbock area homes being $156,750.
The number of active listings on the market increased almost 7% compared to July 2016, with 953 homes actively listed. Like the majority of Texas, Lubbock remains a strong seller's market in most price ranges. Buyer's should be prepared to make full-price offers, with little to no concessions. Months inventory is the best indicator of a buyer's or seller's market, and this figure increased slightly, from 2.8 months in July 2016 to 3 months in July 2017. The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University cites that 6.5 months of inventory represents a market in which supply and demand for homes is balanced. Months invetory is defined as the number of active listings divided by the average sales per month of the prior 12 months. Lubbock's home invetory has not been more than 3 months since November 2014.
Homes spent an average of 65 days on the market in July 2017, five days less than July of last year.
July 2017 Statistics At-A-Glance
I am a Texas licensed professional home inspector. I inspect properties, big and small, all over West Texas. Texas has the most stringent standards for property inspectors in the U.S.. From training and education, to thorough background checks, we have been through it all to become licensed real estate inspectors. I take great pride in that!
I wanted to take a moment to share with you what you can expect during the home inspection at your property:
First, let me say that I will treat your home with the utmost respect, just as I would any other property. I am a guest, and will conduct myself as such.
It’s important that I can access all areas of the property, inside and out. Some common areas that are difficult to access during inspections are attic access locations, crawlspace access locations, electrical panels, HVAC systems, the garage, storage closets, and the water heater. This list is not all encompassing, of course. As a general rule, the state of Texas does not require property inspectors to move personal belongings to access anything. I would not want to risk damage to your property, so I ask that you do all you can as the homeowner or occupant to make all areas “readily accessible.”
Pets are a non-issue for me personally. However, if your pet could become nervous or anxious with my presence and activity, It might be best for you and I if your pet is placed in a safe location that won’t prevent my access to the entire home for inspection.
I’m often asked if it’s ok if you, the seller or occupant, are present for the inspection. The answer is it’s your property, not mine. I’m your guest.
I will take lots of pictures throughout my inspection. Some are of defects, and trust me your home has defects. I have never inspected a property that was defect free. New, old, it makes no difference. No property is perfect. Some pics I take are merely for my information, and may never make it into the inspection report. Don’t worry, I take all parties privacy very seriously, and would never dream of risking that trust.
I will strive to place everything back just like I found it when I leave.
I appreciate you accommodating me!
TREC License #21098
Double C Home Inspections PLLC