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
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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!
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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!
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