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Spring is almost here!

Take some time after spring has arrived to give your home a thorough inspection as well as its annual spring cleaning. Including these home maintenance recommendations in your daily routine will help your home run more smoothly.

Check your Air Conditioning

Have a professional HVAC contractor come out and perform a tune-up on your air conditioning system. You should do this once a year to ensure the system is operating at its manufacturer-rated efficiency, which can help you save money on your energy costs and keep you cooler on those soon-to-be-here hot Tennessee days. Check the condensate drain hose on your system as well, since we live in a humid region. Mine becomes blocked with algae and debris and I have to clean it regularly.  You can save money by inspecting the hose yourself on a regular basis. Try to flush any debris out then suction any remaining obstruction with a wet-vac.

Roofs And Gutters

Because the strong Middle Tennessee Summer heat may quickly destroy shingles on a roof, you should call a contractor if you haven’t inspected it in several years.  You can take a look from the ground or at gutter level for any loose shingles or screws. Remove any leaves or other material that has accumulated on them or in your gutters. There are many ‘gutter cover’ companies.  I did get a quote from one once; then went to my local hardware store and bought and installed them myself.  This just depends on your comport level on a ladder.  Double-check to verify if your gutters are securely secured and free of leaks.  Look at the fascias and trim. To avoid a potential basement flood, make sure that downspouts guide water away at least six feet from the house’s foundation.

Remember your Foundation

Before the spring rains arrive, inspect the foundation around your home to ensure that your basement is adequately protected. Remove any leaves that may be around it.  Look for cracks or defects and seal them or, if required, get a contractor to fix these issues. In addition, search for low spots in the yard near the foundation that could collect water during a severe downpour. Fill up the depressions in your yard with compacted earth to make them level. Keep an eye out for any additional “ponding” spots in your yard, as well, because standing water might form after a very heavy rain. Mosquitoes can spawn in these pools, making them a breeding site.  This will also make your Summer more enjoyable.

Exterior Tips

Check your outside faucets for freeze damage.  Make sure your window screens have no damage, and rechaulk doors and windows if necessary.  We have a lot of squirrels in Middle Tennessee so make sure all house entry points are sealed. Now’s a great time to make sure your lawn mower is running; better to get it into the shop now instead of when everyone needs repairs.  Spring is also a great time to think about planting trees.  Last year we got a bunch and planted them around the property.  Check out https://www.tn.gov/agriculture/forests/seedlings.html

Decks

If you have a patio deck, look for stains, discolorations, or warping in the wood before using it. If you discover any, you may want to consider resealing the deck.  For confirmation that your old treatment is still functional, pour some water onto a dry deck and watch to see whether it beads up in any way. Generally speaking, deck-sealer manufacturers recommend that you reseal your deck once a year; I do mine every other year. If there are no obvious problems that need to be addressed, you may likely wait until the next spring to reseal. Examine the wood for any sharp edges, splintered wood, or rotten wood before proceeding. In addition, search for rusted nails or screws, or any that are coming loose or causing their connections to weaken or come loose. Inspect the deck posts for any signs of decay.  Also, make sure that the railings and steps are secure and not shaky before you start using the space.

Don’t Forget Inside Safety

Spring is a good time to check your smoke detectors and Fire Extinguishers.  We have all heard that your smoke detector batteries should be changed twice a year but did you know your home fire extinguishers should be checked at least monthly.  Spring is a great time to make sure they are okay.

 

These simple steps will help you and your home enjoy the cool Middle Tennessee Spring weather.

 

 

 

Because IR cameras help inspectors rapidly and precisely find and document faults, thermal imaging has become a crucial tool for the engineers and inspectors at Middle Tennessee Inspections. Infrared thermal imaging cameras detect slight but significant temperature changes in various sections of a home, indicating problems that the human eye would never notice and that a visual inspection might only guess about. Its capacity to read heat as color and show that information in an easy to understand way for homeowners. Many full color IR photographs will be included in your Middle Tennessee Inspections inspection report.

Moisture is a major concern that these examinations identify, including hidden mold sources, roof leaks, and posts that indicate termite nests. Electrical issues, heat and energy loss, foundation fissures, structural concerns, missing insulation, ventilation issues, and rat infestations are all uncovered. Let’s go over a few of the most common camera issues we encounter, which might save you a lot of money.

William Herschel, the British astronomer best known for discovering Uranus, discovered infrared light almost 200 years ago. After World War II, IR pictures were utilized by the military as a reconnaissance tool, with cameras attached aboard planes collecting photographs. IR technology had advanced to commercial and industrial applications by the time of the Vietnam War. The practical uses of thermography have constantly risen as the technology has evolved and become more portable and less expensive. Thermal imaging has become highly popular for building inspections because it can find and document faults in ways that provide more data and accuracy than many of the more traditional equipment and procedures.

During an inspection, thermal imaging is mostly employed as a non-contact temperature measurement method. This method of measuring temperature differences allows for a fast assessment of huge areas. During building inspections and energy audits, infrared cameras can be used to discover problems by observing temperature changes, which the camera interprets as infrared radiation and displays as gradient colors. Infrared radiation is emitted by all objects, which is invisible to the naked eye but detectable by thermal imaging. Inspectors can use this information to uncover flaws that would otherwise be more difficult and time-consuming to locate. Understanding the data displayed by the camera is critical to properly exploiting IR technology to its full potential.

Infrared cameras are mostly employed in the inspection business to determine what is known as “apparent” temperature. Because of the varying levels of emissivity of different areas and objects, as well as other factors that can affect data, such as wind and weather conditions, determining the e

xact temperature of an anomaly with infrared alone can be difficult, which is why the most common use of thermal imaging in inspections is to locate and document problems.

A dark region in the thermal image of a ceiling, for example, could suggest moisture above it. A moisture meter can be used to confirm moisture penetration once this has been seen. The wet spot’s pattern can be recorded with the camera, and the region above the ceiling can then be studied with infrared to try to figure out where the leak is coming from. Many moisture meter readings and infrared photographs will be included in your Middle Tennessee Inspections report.

In a situation like this,  when infrared is frequently employed in inspections, the precise temperature measurement — the quantitative value — is irrelevant. What matters is that the apparent temperature difference alerted the inspector to a problem location that could be reported and investigated further. As a result, IR camera examination is a qualitative rather than a quantitative measurement. Thermal imaging is used to find abnormalities in the form of temperature variations,

evaluate the patterns, and document the problems.

In most inspection reports, thermal pictures are utilized to visually document faults discovered on site. The ‘visible-light snapshot’ as well as the IR picture are included as a background in the FLIR IR cameras utilized by Middle Tennessee Inspections, along with a description of the issue that was detected. Because it displays any clear, visible problems, the addition of standard, digital photographs makes side-by-side comparisons easier for both inspectors and clients to understand. IR, on the other hand, does not stop at the obvious. The infrared image accurately depicts a fault that the digital camera was unable to capture. For example, a digital image may show a dried water stain at a wall-ceiling junction, whereas an infrared image may show a black spot in the same location. While the digital image appears to show an old stain, the IR image reveals that moisture is still present, necessitating more study to discover and repair the problem.

Middle Tennessee Inspections’ engineer inspectors are InterNACHI Infrared Certified.

Attic Door Frame

 

 

Recently I inspected a property in Coffee County, TN with a newly installed attic hatch. At Middle Tennessee Inspections we always take a lot of InfraRed (IR) pictures and I’m glad I did here. The attic was insulated, but the door was not. It lacked a ‘weatherstrip

Attic Door IR

Attic Door using IR Camera

ping seal’ to close up the gap between the door and the frame. A quick trip to Lowes or Home Depot might save a lot of money for the homeowner.

Attic hatches have a hidden issue in that they may look to be in good working order but actually still leak a lot of energy. Even if the woodwork and paint on an attic hatch are immaculate, it can still be a gigantic heat leak. Although your attic is probably insulated, there’s a strong possibility your entrance hatch isn’t.  In the Summer, it will radiate heat into the home, and in the Winter, it will release heat and let warm air out. Despite the fact that attic hatches can be the source of massive air leaks and radiant heat loss, they are rarely repaired.

Here are two suggestions for saving energy and you some money. Increase the thickness of the insulation on and around the door itself. Then, and this is frequently the most important step, close the space between the door and the hatch to prevent air flow and heat loss. For this example, we’ll utilize a standard plywood hatch with finish molding over the rough-cut hole.

Fiberglass insulation on the top of the door will help, but a better long-term option is to construct a box out of solid insulation that fits over the framed opening of the door, as well as any folded steps if you have them. Rigid insulation is more effective than fiberglass in terms of sealing the box. Plus, when you open the hatch, none of that fiberglass will fall into your house. There are commercially available alternatives. For attic stair insulation, your local hardware store has everything from ready-made reflective foil tents to complex covers manufactured from thick expanded polystyrene (EPS).  You can also readily purchase pre-cut kits at hardware stores or on-line. They come in a number of sizes to fit a variety of attic door styles. Over time, that initial investment will save you a lot of money.

The weather-stripping on the hatches is frequently missing or insufficient. Even if it was fitted, there’s a good chance it’s been damaged as a result of use over time. When they dry out, they lose their effectiveness as well. Examine the weatherstripping and gaskets surrounding your attic hatch’s opening. If they appear to be damaged or dried out you should consider replacing them. It’s possible that they’ll simply rip away from the frame but if the weatherstripping was fastened with nails or screws, simply pull them out with a screwdriver or plyers.  A wire cutter works to remove all of the fasteners as well.  Two inch wood stays should be installed all the way around the opening if the attic hatch sits directly on the molding. These stops allow you to apply fresh weatherstripping with more ease. Hook and loop fasteners are a great idea to secure your door and hold it close to the weatherstripping.

After removing the old weatherstripping, or if there was none to begin with, you’re ready to install new weatherstripping. Cut it to fit snuggly on all four sides along the bottom edge of the trim as well as the other three edges. It’s much easier to use self-adhesive weatherstripping.  When finished, completely close the door/hatch and press down on the gasket to create a complete seal.

Let the engineers and inspectors at Middle Tennessee Inspections assist you in minimizing your heating bills. We have the experience, knowledge, and equipment necessary to quickly diagnose problems and save you money.

Attic Door Frame

Attic Door Frame with no Weatherstripping