Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Don't Play Around with Playground Safety

The backyard: a haven for children to run, swing, jump, climb, bounce, and play. In today’s technologically advanced society, it’s imperative for kids to get outside and play. But before you encourage your kids to let loose on the playground this summer, you must make sure your playground equipment is safe. About 50,000 children go to the emergency room each year due to injuries on home playgrounds. Proper installation (following the manufacturer’s instructions) and maintenance are the keys to preventing future injuries.

Location

A home playground or other forms of outdoor recreation must be located in an area of the backyard that is far from the street/driveway and also visible from inside the home or patio. There should be no obstructions nearby such as tree limbs, stumps, electrical wires, large tree roots, rocks, or holes in the ground. The play equipment must be at least 9 feet from any other structure like the house, fence, shed, etc. Additionally, the playground must be located in a level area of the backyard to reduce the chances of tipping.

Protective Surfacing

Because children inevitably fall off of playground equipment, a protective surfacing should be installed and maintained underneath and around your playground. A home playground should never be located on concrete or asphalt. Likewise, packed earth and grass also aren’t the most safe surfaces. The best materials include wood chips, mulch, shredded rubber, sand, pea gravel, and safety-tested rubber mats. This cushioning should extend at least 6 feet beyond the perimeter of all the playground equipment and be at least 6 inches deep.

Maintenance

Like anything else, a home playground is subject to wear and tear over time. As a result, it is best to save the manufacturer’s instructions as a helpful reference tool. Periodically check for corrosion on any metal parts including bolts, screws, washers, nuts, and hooks and replace if needed. Also make sure all bolts, nuts, and screws are tightly fastened, capped, and not protruding. A protruding piece of hardware could cause lacerations and catch clothing. Check swing seats, ropes, cables, and chains for deterioration and replace as necessary. Clean and repaint any rusted metal with non-lead-based paint. Occasionally rake the surface material to ensure it is spread out and proper depths are evenly maintained.
Trampolines

Trampolines are the most dangerous piece of playground equipment to have, resulting in an average of 246,875 injuries annually according to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons. The biggest tip for trampoline safety is not to have one; however, if a trampoline is a must in your home, make sure you follow the same location, protective surfacing, and maintenance tips/precautions listed above. It’s also a wise idea to install a surrounding net and cover all portions of the steel hooks and frames with safety pads.

Make your summer a safe one and inspect your playground today.
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Jeff Polakiewicz, a Knoxville home inspector, specializes in home inspections located in the Knoxville and surrounding areas. With over 30+ years of experience in the housing industry, Jeff brings a wealth of inspection knowledge and provides a full comprehensive inspection with no 'brick' left unturned! www.homeinspectorknoxville.net


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Dryer Vent Safety

One of the biggest fire hazards in a home is the dryer. While most people think they are preventing fires by simply emptying the lint screen regularly, there is more to maintaining a safe dryer than meets the eye.

Here’s what happens: When the dryer is running, warm, moist air is escaping- this means the dryer and its ventilation system is working properly. However, this moist air carries lint particles with it that pass the initial lint screen. This lint can then build up in the dryer duct, the metal tubing that carries the moist air from inside your dryer to the outside of your home. If too much lint congregates in the duct, your safety is at risk.

Here are a few warning signs that your dryer duct and/or vent may be clogged:
  • Clothes are taking longer than usual to dry
  • Clothes feel hotter than usual at the end of a cycle
  • The laundry room feels more humid than usual
  • The exterior of the dryer is very hot to the touch.
  • The exterior dryer vent isn’t working properly.
    • This is perhaps the most important symptom of a dryer hazard. The vent should be free of any lint, and the flap on the outdoor vent should open fully, indicating a strong stream of exhaust. If you don’t feel or see escaping air and moisture, the vent or exhaust duct could be blocked.
Dryer Maintenance Tips:
  1. Clean the lint screen before each load of laundry.
  2. Occasionally vacuum the lint trap cavity that houses the lint screen.
  3. If you suspect a problem, disconnect the duct from the dryer and inspect for potential lint blockage. If cleaning is needed, you can purchase a dryer vent
    cleaning brush kit, or hire a company to come do the job for you. Once you finish, remember to reconnect the duct to the dryer correctly.
  4. Install the right duct line. The most common issue regarding dryer ventilation is using the wrong type of dryer duct line. Only rigid metal and/or plastic pipe specifically designed for dryer ventilation should be used. Flexible dryer vent lines, the accordion style ones that come in a small package and are made out of thin, flimsy metal material, never stay on well and end up with holes in them a year or two after they are installed. These holes and gaps then cause moisture related problems that are nearly undetectable for a long time. Do yourself a favor- install it right the first time. 

With the dryer being such a necessity, don’t risk taking it for granted. Be vigilant in checking the dryer vents to make sure your dryer is operating safely. A home inspector can point out any potential issues with the dryer duct installation or dryer vent efficiency. Call Pinnacle Property Inspections today.


To your best home!

Jeff Polakiewicz, a Knoxville home inspector, specializes in home inspections located in the Knoxville and surrounding areas. With over 30+ years of experience in the housing industry, Jeff brings a wealth of inspection knowledge and provides a full comprehensive inspection with no 'brick' left unturned! www.homeinspectorknoxville.net

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Avoiding Ant Infestation

Spring has sprung and summer isn’t too far off- a sure sign that pesky insects will start making their way into your home. One of the most common bugs found in homes are ants, social little creatures usually found in large quantities. While mostly harmless to humans, some ants can cause structural damage to your home. The areas most vulnerable to ant infestation in your home are the kitchen and the bathroom. Why? These rooms provide ants a source of food and water.   

Warning Signs
  • A long trail of ants leading to an electrical outlet, cracked baseboard, or gap around a water pipe. This could be the colony’s entryway to your home and lead to a nest within the walls.
  • A few straggler ants. These ants are usually scouting for food, water, and future nesting locations.
  • Cracks or holes in the walls, the foundation, and/or around windows and doors. These gaps can be the ants’ entrance into your home, especially in kitchens.
  • Outdoor ant nests in the vegetation or mulch near the foundation of your home. If there is a crack in the foundation or near a window, ants will find their way inside. Check around your landscaping, potted plants, piles of rocks, and stacks of firewood.
Prevention 
  1. Keep your kitchen clean
    • Put all foods (especially sweet and syrupy items) in sealed containers
    • Thoroughly clean after spills and messes
    • Rinse out empty soda containers kept for recycling
    • Take out the trash frequently
    • Avoid keeping a fruit bowl
  2. Correct any moisture issues/leaks in your home (ants are attracted to water and moisture-laden areas)
  3. Keep landscaping trimmed and away from the exterior of your home
  4. Seal any cracks or gaps in the foundation, especially in areas around pipes or wires
  5. Store firewood away from the foundation and keep it elevated (ants are highly attracted to stacked firewood)
  6. Spray insecticide around the perimeter of your home (interior and exterior) and around door/window frames
Not only can ants be a nuisance, but they can also cause structural damage to your home if nests are left unattended. Do yourself a favor and follow these steps today to prevent potential infestations in your home.

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Jeff Polakiewicz, a Knoxville home inspector, specializes in home inspections located in the Knoxville and surrounding areas. With over 30+ years of experience in the housing industry, Jeff brings a wealth of inspection knowledge and provides a full comprehensive inspection with no 'brick' left unturned! www.homeinspectorknoxville.net


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Let's Talk Numbers

Does the pizza delivery guy always run late? Do party guests struggle to find your house? Does the cab you called pass right by your driveway? Your house numbers could be the problem. This simple concept is often overlooked on the exterior of homes. House numbers must be clear and visible from the street- this not only helps house guests and delivery services easily find your home, but also ensures the police, fire department, and paramedics can quickly locate your home in an emergency.

Here are a few recommendations for guaranteeing your house numbers can be seen from the road:
  1. The numbers should be large- at least 5 to 6 inches tall.
  2. The color of the numbers should contrast with the background of your home. If you have dark brick or siding, bright numbers work best. If you have light brick or siding, choose dark numbers instead. Reflective numbers are also an excellent choice for trouble-free night visibility.  
  3. The positioning of your numbers is imperative. They should be near the front door, above eye level, and within the radius of a porch light. This ensures the numbers can be seen at night.
  4. The numbers should not be blocked by any landscaping. Trees, shrubs, and bushes need to be trimmed back so they do not cover the numbers.
  5. The numbers must face the street that is on the address.
  6. The numbers need to be clean. Dusty or muddy numbers will be difficult to see from a distance. Check your house numbers after winter to see if they need cleaning.

If your house is too far away from the road, house numbers should be displayed on both sides of your mailbox. They, too, should be large in size, contrast in color with the mailbox, and not be blocked by any landscaping. Reflective numbers are also great choices for this purpose. The numbers should be placed horizontally for easy readability.

In truth, it’s best to have large, clear house numbers on BOTH your mailbox and your home for convenience and safety reasons. Your home inspector is an excellent resource should you have any questions or uncertainty. Call Pinnacle Property Inspections and ask today!

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Jeff Polakiewicz, a Knoxville home inspector, specializes in home inspections located in the Knoxville and surrounding areas. With over 30+ years of experience in the housing industry, Jeff brings a wealth of inspection knowledge and provides a full comprehensive inspection with no 'brick' left unturned! www.homeinspectorknoxville.net

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bathroom Inspections: The Top Three Most Common Problems

There is no denying that a bathroom can make or break a home sale. Today’s buyers want multiple bathrooms, preferably with modern finishes and updated features. However, bathrooms, especially in previously owned homes, can be bearers of bad news. It’s always a smart idea to hire a home inspector to thoroughly examine each bathroom to look for potential issues that could end up costing you mega money.

A comprehensive bathroom inspection includes a close examination of the flooring, walls, ceiling, toilet, door, vanity, sinktop, fan, tub, shower, jetted tub, faucets, lights, electrical outlets, and windows.  Not only are each of these components visually inspected, but most features are also turned on and further evaluated. While any of these features can pose potential problems for a homebuyer, the following are the top three most common problem areas in bathroom inspections:


1. Toilets:  The importance of a properly installed toilet is monumental. Correct installation ensures the following: effective flushing/ function and leak prevention. The biggest issue found with toilet installation is that they are not firmly anchored to the floor. A loosely secured toilet can result in water leakage—this can damage the floor around and underneath the toilet. Often, a normal homebuyer would never think of grabbing each toilet and shaking it to see if it’s installed properly.  A good home inspector does this day in and day out. 

2. Fans: Each bathroom should have a means of exhausting moist air to the outside of the home either by an operating window or a ceiling exhaust fan. If the cover of the vent fan is clogged with dust, the fan is no longer performing as expected.  However, many times the cover isn’t dirty at all and seemingly looks fine.  This can be a result of two completely different things: a homeowner who thoroughly and routinely cleans the cover OR ineffective installation.  More often than not, (80% of the time or more) it’s the latter. If the builder never ducted the fan properly and the attic insulation has completely clogged the path of the exiting air, no air moves past the vent cover. This means it never gets dirty; it just makes noise.  Furthermore, if the builder neglects to duct the fan through the roof or soffit, all that moisture-laden air is left in the attic. There is high potential for tremendous problems when this occurs.  Stay tuned for “Attic Issues” in a future blog.

3. GFCI outlets: EVERY outlet in each bathroom should be a GFCI protected outlet. This stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, and these outlets are usually identified by their small “Test” and “Reset” buttons.  This type of outlet helps prevent electrical shock.
GFCI-related issues are the most common issues in all home inspections and must be addressed to ensure the safety of those potentially living in the home.

As you can see, there is more than meets the eye to a thorough bathroom inspection. Don’t hire someone who will give you a basic once over—hire someone who will guarantee your bathroom doesn’t turn into a money pit. Hire Pinnacle Property Inspections today.

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 To your best home!

Jeff Polakiewicz, a Knoxville home inspector, specializes in home inspections located in the Knoxville and surrounding areas. With over 30+ years of experience in the housing industry, Jeff brings a wealth of inspection knowledge and provides a full comprehensive inspection with no 'brick' left unturned! www.homeinspectorknoxville.net 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Choosing a Home Inspector

SO HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO IS A GOOD HOME INSPECTOR?

It only takes 90 hours of education to become a licensed home inspector in the State of
Tennessee. Individuals who are good test takers, achieving 80% or better, have no problem
passing, yet many have little to no real “home” experience. Inspectors can only gain so much knowledge from books and classes.  It’s the “hands on” exposure that takes an inspector to the next level; taking years and years of experience troubleshooting, analyzing, and repairing problems in homes to develop an instinct like understanding how a home works.

Choice and Instinct
When it comes to hiring a home inspector, make a CHOICE to hire the best. In fact, after the long, sometimes grueling search for the “perfect” home, you owe it to yourself to hire a home inspector who truly has your best interests in mind. Don’t settle for anyone less than the best. Do your homework to find a home inspector who has significant experience in “everything homes” and uses this “INSTINCT” to perform a quality home inspection for you.

Experience and Insight
Being a member of one or more professional organizations does not guarantee the home inspector is an expert.  At Pinnacle Property Inspections, not only are we InterNACHI certified and a member of many organizations, we also have over 30 years of “hands on” EXPERIENCE building and remodeling homes. We understand the inner and outer workings of a home, and we apply this knowledge to each and every home inspection.  It stands to reason a person who has been framing homes, wiring homes, roofing homes, installing windows and doors, remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, and more for over 30 years has developed a pretty strong INSIGHT about what and how things work. 

Quality or Cheapest
In addition to having significant experience, the best inspectors also provide QUALITY feedback in a timely manner. A good home inspector takes the time to teach you about your home and answer any questions you may have.  At Pinnacle Property Inspections, we promise you QUALITY, detailed feedback and a thorough comprehensive report by the end of the next business day.  When you are ready to hire a home inspector, don’t settle for a quick search on Google or the CHEAPEST company. Choose the experts. Choose Pinnacle Property Inspections today.

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To your best home!

Jeff Polakiewicz, a Knoxville home inspector, specializes in home inspections located in the Knoxville and surrounding areas. With over 30+ years of experience in the housing industry, Jeff brings a wealth of inspection knowledge and provides a full comprehensive inspection with no 'brick' left unturned! www.homeinspectorknoxville.net


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Top 5 Ways to Winterize Your Home


Last winter was plagued with ice, ice, and more ice! If this winter is anything like last year’s, we better be prepared. Get your home ready for severe cold, ice, and snow by following these 5 steps:

1. Trim tree branches: Overhanging and overgrown branches present huge risks to homes, cars, and people during winter storms. Excessive ice and snow buildup can cause these branches to break and fall. Prevent branches from damaging your roof, car, and other structures by trimming them properly before the storms hit.

2. Prepare pipes: Frozen or burst pipes can result in thousands of dollars of damage. A few quick easy tips can help prevent pipes from freezing or bursting:
  • Insulate exposed pipes, especially ones in unheated areas such as crawl spaces, attics, basements, and garages. View this video to learn how: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,20045368,00.html
  • Open sink cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate around pipes
  • Disconnect hoses from water spigots outside
  • Locate the main water valve shut-off so you can turn the water off immediately in case of a leak
3. Check exterior features: Ensure gutters are cleared of debris. Encumbered gutters, compacted with ice and snow build up, can result in gutters tearing away from your home. In addition, check shutters and siding to make sure they are properly fastened to your home’s exterior. Winter storm wind gusts can rip them off your home.

4. Air seal windows and doors: Caulk windows and doors to prevent heat from escaping your home and driving up your electric bill. Install a door sweep underneath your door if you feel a draft coming in from the bottom.

5. Purchase essential items: Before the storms hit, be prepared and purchase a melting agent such as rock salt and a shovel so you can clear your driveway and walkways. Also make certain you have plenty of batteries, flashlights, and a radio. Securing a back-up heating source like firewood or a generator is also advised.

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To your best home!

Jeff Polakiewicz, a Knoxville home inspector, specializes in home inspections located in the Knoxville and surrounding areas. With over 30+ years of experience in the housing industry, Jeff brings a wealth of inspection knowledge and provides a full comprehensive inspection with no 'brick' left unturned! www.homeinspectorknoxville.net