Visual Inspections Key to Garage Door Safety

Visual Inspections Key to Garage Door Safety
Courtesy of Nashville Home Inspections | June 2015 Monthly Tip

Garage-3As long as garage doors go up and down… and do so in a reasonably quiet fashion… most homeowners don’t give this important entryway much thought. But get locked out of the front door, or have the garage door freeze in place (up and down) and it will loom front and center on everyone’s mind. Not only are ingress and egress blocked, but cars, bikes, lawn mowers and other equipment may be inaccessible.

Experts make several suggestions when it comes to garage door maintenance. The first and easiest one is a visual inspection that can be carried out monthly or bimonthly by standing inside the garage with the door closed. A visual examination of the garage door springs, cables, rollers, pulleys and mounting hardware may reveal signs of wear or damage. Things to notice in particular are cable wear or fraying, loose hardware anything that doesn’t look – or sound right. At this point, closer inspection by a professional may be warranted.

Garage-1It is easy today to take the operation of an automatic garage door for granted. In fact, automatic doors were a rarity fifty years ago, and when first included in new construction, not always installed with safety in mind. A federal law, enacted in 1992, changed that, requiring all doors manufactured after January 1, 1993, to be equipped with a reversing mechanism and a sensor to prevent entrapment. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) prompted the law to reduce the number of deaths to children who become entrapped under garage doors with automatic openers.

If an automatic door does not include these features, it is recommended that the system be replaced for safety reasons. Doors that are equipped with pressure sensors can be tested by placing a 2 x 4 on the ground underneath the closing door. This will allow the door to press against an unyielding object. If the door does not automatically reverse direction, the door should be immediately serviced by a trained technician. Testing the force it takes to reverse the door can be done by holding the bottom of the door with hands outstretched and firm. If the door continues to close, the sensor could be set too high and there may be an issue.

To test the photo eye sensor, if that is the system in the garage door, waving an object such as a broomstick in front of one of the door’s photo eyes should cause the door to reverse direction. If the door continues downward, and cleaning the eye with a cloth does not help, a technician should be enlisted.

Depending on the age of the garage door, it may come with self-lubricated or plastic parts that need no oil. In an older door, that may not be the case. After using a leaf blower to remove any debris trapped in the door tracks (this can also be done using a rag or brush), a small amount of spray lubricant applied to door hinges, rollers and tracks may keep the mechanism sliding smoothly.

The rubber seal on the bottom of the garage door is an important line of defense against rodents and other pests, as well as dirt, debris or moisture. If the rubber seal has hardened or chipped, the seal should be replaced. This can be done for under $100.

Although it’s easy to forget, it never hurts to clean and inspect the interior door leading into the house in an attached garage. This should be done at least every other year, if not every year. To keep energy from escaping into and out of the garage, this door should be properly weather-stripped with a threshold seal that fits snugly against the bottom of the door.

Most building codes require this door to be fire-rated and self-closing. If the door is damaged or put in place before more stringent fire codes were enacted, a new fire-rated door can be purchased and installed. Check with your local municipality for exact building codes.

Source: John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection; June 2015 Monthly Tip eblast distribution


Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

Refacing Kitchen Cabinets
Courtesy of Nashville Home Inspection | May 2015 Monthly Tip

NHI-Mayeblast-imageWhat is the remedy for kitchen cabinets that are beginning to look a little down-and-out? A new face, of course.

How do you go about getting your cabinets a new face? Refacing means covering the exposed cabinet frames (boxes) with a veneer of real wood or plastic laminate. Doors and drawer fronts are then replaced to match or compliment the new veneer, and new hinges, knobs and pulls complete the face-lift.

There are a number of benefits to refacing such as a cost savings of half or more over replacing cabinets. It is also quicker to do, and infinitely less messy than tearing out or cabinets and installing new ones. And it can be an environmental-friendly gesture, because the old cabinets remain in place instead of adding to a land-fill.

There is no shortage of refacing options, with veneers available in a wide variety of colors, patterns and textures. Some options include rigid thermofoil (RTF) doors, which feature a durable plastic coating over fiberboard, along with plastic laminates and real wood veneers in style including oak, cherry and maple. (Wood veneers are the most expensive option and need to be sealed to protect against moisture).

In addition to choosing the style of materials and hardware, homeowners need to decide whether to hire a professional installer or to tackle the job themselves over a couple of weekends.

Here are some other questions that will be important to think about before starting the project – will the backsplash or countertops be replaced at the same time? Will anything else in the kitchen be changed such as appliances or lighting?

Once homeowners have a good handle on the scope of the project, the next decision will be determining if refacing is a viable option. It won’t be worth the investment unless the refaced cabinets will hold up for at least another ten years of life. If the cabinet boxes are sagging, water damaged or won’t hold up to refinishing, they may have to be replaced.

If the cabinets can be refaced, the cabinet doors must be measured accurately to determine the amount of veneer required, and the correct sizes and quantities of doors and drawer fronts that need to be replaced and ordered. It should be noted that doors and drawer fronts may take up to two weeks or more for delivery.

Regardless of who handles the work, the first steps include removing the old cabinet door and drawer fronts and washing the exteriors of the cabinets with a degreaser. The finish on the boxes needs to be lightly sanded so that the new veneers will adhere correctly. The veneer is then applied and then the new cabinet doors, drawer fronts and hardware is mounted.

Refacing an average kitchen with laminate is estimated to cost between $1,000 and $3,000 installed, and $2,500 to $5,000 or more for real wood veneers. Wood veneers can range even higher, depending on the wood that is chosen. Replacing kitchen cabinets completely can easily run double or triple the cost of refacing cabinets.

Source: John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection, May 2015 Monthly Tip, 052015 eblast distribution


Long-awaited Improvements for Clothes Dryers

Long-awaited Improvements for Clothes Dryers
Courtesy of Nashville Home Inspection | April 2015 Monthly Tip

Clothes-Image-1The home appliance that consumes the most energy isn’t the refrigerator. And it isn’t the washing machine. Or the dishwasher. It’s the typical clothes dryer that is the most energy-intensive. In fact, an older model electric clothes dryer sometimes consumes as much energy annually as a new energy efficient refrigerator, dishwasher and clothes washer combined.

Clothes washers have seen a 70 percent reduction in energy use since 1990, but until now, dryers have largely remained inefficient. Currently, Americans spend $9 billion annually to operate their dryers, but research done by the National Resources Defense Council has shown that updating residential dryers to the level of energy efficient versions now available could save U.S. consumers $4 billion a year.

In addition to the financial savings, the atmosphere would experience the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Clothes-Image-2Clothes dryers are used by an estimated 80 percent of households in the United States, of which 75 percent are electric models and 25 percent natural gas. Electric dryers dominate the U.S. market yet natural gas dryers typically cost 50 percent to 75 percent less to operate.

Fortunately, a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program was unveiled in February, featuring 45 Energy Star clothes dryer models. Energy Star certified dryers include gas, electric and compact models. Manufacturers offering them include LG, Whirlpool Kenmore, Maytag and SafeMate.

All of the energy efficient models include moisture sensors to ensure that the dryer does not continue running after the clothes are dry, which reduces energy consumption by around 20 percent, according to the EPA.

In addition, two of the Energy Star-approved models – LG’s EcoHybrid Heat Pump Dryer and Whirlpool’s HybridCare Heat Pump Dryer include innovative “heat pump” technology, which reduces energy consumption by almost forty percent more that other models.

Heat-pump dryers combine conventional vented drying and heat-pump technology, which recycles heat. The technology, a standard in Europe, is similar to that used in air conditioners and dehumidifiers.

For consumers not quite ready to upgrade their dryer, how the appliance is used can be almost as important as the type of dryer in the home. Choosing a lower operating temperature can slow the drying process a little, but will cut energy use significantly. On some dryers, this means switching the dryer to run on the “delicate” cycle or other low-heat setting. In addition, stopping the dryer before all of the clothes are bone-dry will also save energy, reduce wrinkles and help clothes last longer.

Although some Energy Star models can cost almost $600 more than other comparable models, the higher cost may be balanced by energy savings and, in some areas of the country, up to $600 in rebates offered by government and utility incentive programs.

Source: John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection; April 2015 Monthly Tip


Stressed Over Clutter?

Stressed Over Clutter?
Courtesy of John Watkins; Nashville Home Inspection
February 2015 Home Tip of the Month eblast

FebClutterPost-2Why is it so hard to get organized at home? Often it’s easier to sneak quietly out of the room and live to clean another day. But organization definitely does have value. Employing it can provide the ability to find everyday items quickly.

A 2014 survey of one thousand people reported that eighty-four percent of stressed Americans say they worry their home isn’t clean or organized enough. Men and women reported experiencing anxiety over home upkeep, with clutter being named as the main source of stress.

There are many ways to explain why homes are cluttered and lacking organization, but some professional organizers simply note that it is not – but should be – a skill that is taught in school. Knowing how to organize and declutter can make the task less daunting. And setting aside the time to organize makes it more likely that it will actually get done.

FebClutterPost-1The first step is identifying an area that needs to be organized. In most homes, there are multiple areas that can use attention, but it can be overwhelming to try and organize the whole house in a single day. Starting small – and organizing a closet or a couple of drawers – is manageable and will engender a feeling of accomplishment when it is completed.

According to organizational experts, a homeowner should plan on emptying the area completely, whether it is a drawer, closet, cupboard or an entire room being cleaned. Each item should be placed in another area – on the floor, a table or even on top of an old sheet. This removal will allow each item to be evaluated quickly and objectively.

When attempting to sort through the clutter, possessions can be relegated to separate piles. Examples: items that are used (and needed) regularly; items that are cherished; items that can be recycled and items that can be thrown away. As things are placed in the appropriate pile, it will be easier to judge how much storage will be necessary for the remaining items. And while everything is cleaned out, it can be a good time to clean, vacuum, reline a drawer or paint the inside of a closet.

Once the categorization is complete, the tools, utensils, books, furnishings and other items that were removed can be returned, stacked, filed, folded and contained appropriately. To be most efficient, items should be replaced where they are used the most.

Things that are rarely used can be placed at the bottom of a storage container, drawer or cabinet. Where it makes sense, folders or other collections of items can be labeled so it is quick and easy to find papers, documents, tools and parts.

The good news is that after categorizing and downsizing a drawer or cabinet, there may be room left. The bad news is that our impulse is to fill it back up.

But there are good reasons to resist the impulse. A lack of clutter will create a calming environment suitable for relaxation, and lowering overall stress levels. Over time, creating small daily routines of picking up, sorting and replacing will result in a home that is more organized and easy to enjoy.

Source: February 2015 Home Tip of the Month; John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection


Garbage Disposal Tips

Garbage Disposal Tips
John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection
eblast Monthly Tip, November 2014

GarbDis1A garbage disposal can be a handy appliance that can make cleaning up the kitchen quicker and easier. But when poorly maintained, or not maintained at all, a garbage disposal is prone to drain clogs and breaking.

What are some best practices when it comes to a garbage disposal?

As with all appliances, it pays to keep it clean. An there are a number of ways to do so. Running water helps keep things flowing, so cold water when grinding will always make the disposal run better. Cold water helps solidify any grease or oil that is accidentally spilled into the unit, allowing the grease to be chopped up before it reaches the trap.

To clean the disposal periodically, pour one half cup of baking soda into the garbage disposal followed by one cup of white vinegar (do not pre-mix the two). Allow the mixture to work its magic for a few minutes while you boil water in a teakettle or similar size pot. The baking soda and vinegar will make “fizzing” noises. Once the water reaches a boil, carefully pour it into the disposal. Once drained, run cold water for fifteen seconds to flush away any residue.

For sharpening the blades of your garbage disposal fill it half way with ice cubes, run cold water into the unit at full pressure, and turn on the disposal to grind the ice. For a nice, fresh scent, put some peels from a lemon, orange, lime, or grapefruit in the drain with the ice cubes. Ice cubes (or any other item) could possibly shoot out of the disposal, so hold something over the opening, but be sure the water is still flowing to the inside of the unit.

Is there really a category on the food pyramid for expanding food? Probably not, but if you put some down your garbage disposal, you’ll know it in a very short time. Expandable food refers to ingredients that absorb water and may become starchy and sticky if put down the disposal. Rice, pasta and potato peelings will expand in the disposal just the way they expand in the pot or cooker and should not be put in the disposal.

GarbDis2Fibrous foods are relegated to a similar category on the garbage disposal “no-no” list. While high fiber is good for the diet, in garbage disposals fibrous material can tangle with the blades and jam the disposal motor These foods include corn husks, celery stalks, onion skins, banana peels and artichokes.

Non-food items are not meant to be put into a garbage disposal, but that doesn’t mean people won’t give it a try. Plumbers have retrieved pieces of glass, plastic, metal, and even paper from a clogged disposal.

The biggest “no-no” of all? Putting fingers in the garbage disposal to attempt to unclog a jam. Fingers simply don’t belong near blades.

And there is a proper way to turn off the disposal. When grinding is complete, turn off the garbage disposal first, while cold water continues to run down the disposal for at least 15 seconds. This will create a flushing action to wash away any remaining particles.

If the disposal will not turn on, first make sure the unit is still plugged in. If it is plugged in, press the Reset button on the bottom of the unit. If that doesn’t work, check to see if the circuit breaker has tripped in the electrical service panel. If the breaker has not tripped, then it’s either a faulty switch or a faulty garbage disposal. If the disposal turned on in the previous steps but the blades are not moving (you hear a humming noise), the blades are jammed. In this case, refer to the manufacturer’s operating manual (often found online for easy access).

Source: Nashville Home Inspection Monthly Tip, November 2014

KENNETH BARGERS, REALTOR® | Bargers Solutions real estate : marketing
a proud member of Pilkerton Realtors

(615) 512-9836 cellular | (615) 371-2474 office email | web blog | web

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The ABCs of Fire Extinguishers

The ABCs of Fire Extinguishers
Nashville Home Inspection’s Monthly Tip; October 2014

FireExtOver half of U.S. homes are equipped with a portable fire extinguisher. It is important to understand fire extinguisher ratings and know how and when to use one.

Fire extinguishers are not the first thing to grab in the event of a fire – but rather a landline or cell phone. The fire department must always be alerted first before an attempt to fight a home fire and all occupants of the home must be evacuated. Finally, an evaluation of the fire should be made quickly, regarding its size and scope. If a fire is already raging or the room is filled with smoke, staying far away from the structure is the best option.

For small or contained fires, however, a homeowner can reach for an appropriately-rated fire extinguisher that may be on hand.

Extinguishers are rated according to the properties of the fire, the most common for residential use are Class A, B or C, or a multi-use extinguisher. Most fire extinguishers display symbols to show suitability for use on a fire, based on material(s) burning.

For example, Class A extinguishers will put out fires in ordinary combustibles, such as wood or paper. Class B extinguishers should be used on fires involving flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline, oil, etc. Class C extinguishers are suitable for fires in “live” electrical equipment. Extinguishers intended to handle this type of fire cannot use chemicals that are conductive.

Fire extinguishers assigned multiple letters, such as ABC, can be used against fires of types A, B or C. Most residential extinguishers are BC or ABC rated. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends selecting a multi-purpose extinguisher that can be used on all types of home fires.

The NFPA also recommends that home extinguishers be tested every five or twelve years, depending on the model of extinguisher. The standard method of testing, “hydrostatic,” is conducted underwater where the cylinders are subjected to pressures that exceed their ratings. Vessels that fail the test are destroyed, while the rest are reassembled and placed back into service.

Unfortunately, an expiration date cannot be fully trusted. Without testing, there is no guarantee that an older extinguisher is functional. Given the destructive potential of a fire and the relatively low cost for a new extinguisher, it is advisable to replace older extinguishers, or at least have the tested.

Fire extinguishers can be purchased at most home supply stores starting at around $40, and ranging higher, depending on the size of the extinguisher. Most residential models cannot be recharged.

Provided by: John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection

KENNETH BARGERS, REALTOR® | Bargers Solutions real estate : marketing
a proud member of Pilkerton Realtors

(615) 512-9836 cellular | (615) 371-2474 office email | web blog | web

2 Cadillac Drive, Brentwood TN 37027 address

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Big Cost for Wasted Energy

Big Cost for Wasted Energy
Article by Nashville Home Inspection
Eblast Distribution – Monthly Tip for September 2014 092014

The approximately 113 million residences in America today use an estimated 22% of the country’s energy. Unfortunately, much of that energy escapes out the back door, the front door, the attic or through the inefficiencies of heating and cooling systems. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling a typical home is wasted due to air leakage.

Energy-Blog-1Yet whether the energy is absorbed or wasted, everyone pays. The typical family spends more than $2,000 a year on home utility bills. There is a way to lower these bills. There is a way to lower these bills, however. (And any improvements will help. The EPA estimates that energy costs are going to continue to go up at a pace of two to three percent through 2040).

To get a handle on energy costs, an analysis of energy consumption shows that heating and cooling accounts for 54% of energy usage in the home, water heating accounts for an additional 18%. Lighting and refrigeration account for about 5% each. Electronics and appliances of all kinds use the remaining 18%.

Since cooling and heating comprises the bulk of energy usage, checking the home for air leaks is a first step. On a windy or cool day, air leaks are easy to track down (by touch) around windows, under and around doors, and from attics or exterior walls.

Sealing air leaks and adding insulation is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste and save energy dollars. If leaks are detected around windows or doors, use caulk and weather stripping to eliminate leaks.

Energy-Blog-2Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring comes through the walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets. Install foam gaskets behind outlet switch plates on walls. Using safe work practices, low-expansion polyurethane foam in a can is good for plugging openings ¼-inch to three inches wide, such as those around plumbing pipes and vents.

It may be time to add insulation if a home is uncomfortably hot or cold at any time or if energy bills are higher than might be expected. Be sure to seal any air leaks before you insulate, because insulating materials won’t block leaks.

To cut down on hot water bills, families can use the shower rather than the tub, buy a more energy-efficient hot water heater, turn down the thermostat on the heater and better insulate the tank, but be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. In addition, the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater can also benefit from insulation.

Energy-Blog-3Changing out light bulbs can also make a difference. One of today’s most energy-efficient technologies, ENERGY STAR light-emitting diodes diodes (LEDs) use only 20% to 25% of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs they replace.

While LEDs are more expensive, they still save money because they last a long time and have very low energy use.

Finally, we plug in many more devices per household than in years past, including computers, TVs, phone chargers and gaming consoles, and most devices continue consuming energy when not in use. It’s time to unplug. The transformers in AC adapters draw power continuously, even when the device, such as a laptop, is not plugged into the adapter. Devices that are used only on occasion can remain unplugged until needed.

Source: John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection, September 2014 Month Tip 092014

KENNETH BARGERS, REALTOR® | Bargers Solutions real estate : marketing
a proud member of Pilkerton Realtors

(615) 512-9836 cellular | (615) 371-2474 office email | web blog | web

2 Cadillac Drive, Brentwood TN 37027 address

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