<![CDATA[For Your Investment LLCFYI Home Inspections - Blog]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 23:45:29 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[           How to Avoid Costly Home Repairs This Winter]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 01:08:17 GMThttp://www.foryourinvestment.com/blog/-how-to-avoid-costly-home-repairs-this-winter                                         
   A guest article Written By Angela Tollersons of ForFamilyHealth.net

Take Care 
How to Avoid Costly Home Repairs This Winter
When you think of home maintenance, you might think about tasks such as repainting your walls, refinishing a floor, or simpler chores such as mowing the lawn. But there are other regular home maintenance activities that are critical for avoiding costly catastrophes. Winter is a season that’s particularly harsh on homes, with snow, ice, and frigid temperatures creating the potential for fallen tree limbs, damaged roofs, broken pipes, and more. Here’s how to avoid costly home repairs this winter.

Clean Your Gutters
Cleaning the gutters isn’t anyone’s idea of a great time, but it’s a chore that can save you many headaches (and plenty of money) later. That’s because clogged gutters don’t allow water to drain from your roof and away from your home, which can lead to ice dams in freezing temperatures, subsequently damaging your roof. If replacing your roof this spring isn’t on your agenda or in your budget, it’s well worth your time to spend a few hours cleaning your gutters.

Drain and Flush Your Water Heater
Your water heater is one of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind appliances, that is until you find yourself in a cold shower with no hot water in sight. Periodically draining and flushing your water heater can prevent sediment buildup – a common issue in homes with hard water – and keep your water heater running efficiently. With regular maintenance, your water heater is less likely to go on strike when you least expect it. That said, if your water heater is 10 to 15 years old, it might be time to consider a replacement anyway.

Repair Cracks in Your Foundation and Concrete Sidewalks or Slabs
One of the biggest hazards to your home in the winter is freezing temperatures coupled with precipitation. When water freezes, it expands, which is one of the most common causes of broken pipes. Frozen water can also cause big problems in your home’s foundation and concrete slabs, such as sidewalks. If water seeps into tiny cracks and then freezes, those cracks will grow larger and you’ll have more damage to contend with in the spring. Avoid this by having these areas inspected by a professional and repairing small cracks before freezing temperatures hit.

Take Care of Problematic Tree Limbs
If you have trees with limbs that stretch over the roof of your home, these limbs could end up being the cause of serious damage to your home this winter. It’s a good idea to remove any dead or especially weak limbs, as well as those that hang over your roof, as the weight of ice and snow can cause these limbs to snap.

Know Your Insurance Policy
Many home owners are surprised to learn that their homeowners’ insurance policy won’t cover certain damages. Insurance companies sometimes have clauses that exclude any disasters deemed an “act of God,” and in other cases, policies won’t cover damages to certain property features, such as an overflowing septic tank. Even if your policy covers the specific damages your property has suffered, you might be responsible for a pretty hefty deductible – often $500, $1,000, or more. Understanding precisely what your policy covers and what it won’t will allow you to be better prepared when unexpected costs arise.
If you know your potential costs, evaluate your risks, and take steps to protect your home and its features from the harsh winter elements, you’ll be less likely to find yourself in the midst of an unfortunate and costly experience this winter.

Angela Tollersons has a passion for family health and wellness. She currently volunteers as often as possible in her community with parenting and child advocacy groups, especially those who focus on special education and anti-bullying. When she is not updating her blog, she is usually exploring the great outdoors or playing a game of Scrabble with her family.

<![CDATA[February 09th, 2016]]>Tue, 09 Feb 2016 23:37:59 GMThttp://www.foryourinvestment.com/blog/february-09th-2016        The Good and Bad Aspects of a heat pump.

I've been asked on several occasions if a heat pump is cost effective and worth while in Pennsylvania. 
                                        Here are a few pros and cons on heat pumps in colder climates.

   Many homes are equipped with heat pumps as their heating and cooling system.  Heat pumps work well at most temperatures; however, in extreme temperatures they may not provide the comfort level you expect.  The following are some operating and maintenance tips to help you set realistic expectations about heat pumps and to maintain the system at peak energy efficiency and operating effectiveness.
Heat pumps absorb heat from one place and transfer it to another.  In air conditioning mode, they absorb heat from inside the home and transfer it outside.  In heating mode, they absorb heat from outside and transfer it inside.  This process works well when the outside temperature is between about 30˚ and 95˚ F.  It is more difficult for the system to maintain comfortable interior temperatures when the outside temperature is beyond this range and when the humidity is high.  Older systems and systems that are poorly maintained may have a narrower outside temperature range within which they can maintain comfortable interior temperatures. 
Heat pumps, and all heating and cooling systems, should be correctly sized for the home.  A common misconception about heat pumps is that a larger system is better.  In fact, too large is bad.  A heat pump that is too large may not run long enough in air conditioning mode to effectively remove humidity from the air.  This can create moisture control problems that can contribute to mold growth.  A heat pump is less energy efficient when it begins operating and does not reach full energy efficiency for several minutes.  A heat pump that runs for short periods costs more to run and may have a shorter service life.
 Heat pumps are less effective in very cold weather.  This is why they are less common in northern areas.  When the outside temperature falls below about 30˚ F., a heat pump may not be able to raise the internal temperature to a comfortable level.  Heat pumps in cooler climates should be equipped with auxiliary heating elements.  These elements look and act much like the wires that glow red in a toaster.  Like their cousins in a toaster, these elements provide additional heat to help bring the inside temperature to a normal level.  Because it is difficult to know if these elements are operating properly, you should have them tested as part of normal system maintenance.
A heat pump should maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. Reasonable temperature expectations are 68˚ F in heating mode and 78˚ F. or 15˚ F. below an outside air temperature of 95˚ F in cooling mode.  Temperature should be measured near the center of the room and about five feet above the floor.
Use of setback thermostats is generally not recommended with heat pumps, particularly in heat mode.  Heat pumps, especially older ones, may be designed so that in heating mode the auxiliary heating elements will activate if there is a difference of about 3 or more degrees between the thermostat setting and inside air temperature.  The heating elements are far more expensive to run than the heat pump itself, so use of the heating elements should be avoided.
Heat pump maintenance starts with regular filter replacement.  If you choose disposable filters, use the inexpensive blue or white fiberglass mesh type.  The more expensive pleated paper filters can restrict the air flow in the system making it work longer.  Change filters every month.
If you have an access tube in the condensate drain pipe at the air handler, pour about ½ cup of bleach into the line when you change the filter.  This will help keep the pipe clean and reduce the chance that it will clog and force water into your home.  If you do not have an access tube, consider having one installed at the next service call.
Use a garden hose to wash the fins on the condenser (the outside unit) about twice per year.  Keep walls and plants at least 1 foot from the sides and 6 feet from the top of the condenser.  Keep the condenser shaded from direct sunlight to the extent practical.
Finally, have preventative maintenance service performed on the system at least once per year.  Spring or fall are good times so both heating and cooling modes can be tested.
Like all mechanical components, heat pumps wear out.  Condensers typically last about 15 years.  Air handlers typically last about 20 years.  You should replace both units when one wears out.
The Bottom Line
Heat pumps are a good choice for heating and cooling in warm climates where gas service is not available.  A gas furnace is usually a more cost-effective choice where gas service is available.  Heat pumps can provide energy efficient service for many years when properly installed, operated, and maintained.

<![CDATA[Getting ready for the Winter months]]>Mon, 14 Sep 2015 01:03:51 GMThttp://www.foryourinvestment.com/blog/getting-ready-for-the-winter-monthsBefore those cold winds start blowing in, I’ll be taking some steps to winterize our home. Winterizing your home makes your place more energy efficient so you can keep your family warm and toasty without breaking the bank on energy bills. In addition to making your house more energy efficient, winterizing your home also entails doing small chores that will help prevent damage to your home from snow and ice.

It doesn’t take much to get your home ready for Old Man Winter. A single weekend is all you need to properly winterize your home. Below, I’ve listed 15 things you can do to ensure you have a warm, safe house this winter and money left in your pocket for holiday shopping.

1. Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace. Before you turn on that furnace for the first time this winter, have an HVAC professional come check it out and give it a tune-up. They’ll make sure your furnace is running efficiently and safely. During a furnace inspection the HVAC will likely do the following:

  • Do a safety check for carbon monoxide
  • Clean and replace air filters
  • Check blower operation
  • Clean motor and fan
  • Inspect gas piping to furnace
A furnace inspection will set you back $100 or more, but the energy savings and your family’s safety is well worth the investment. You might get the bad news that you need to replace the entire furnace. If that’s the case, take advantage of federal tax credits for new furnaces, which cover 30% of the cost, up to $1,500.

2. Have the HVAC technician clean and inspect heating ducts. While the HVAC man is at your house inspecting your furnace, have him do the same to your heating ducts. Studies have shown that up to 60% of heated air escapes from ducts before making it to the vents. That’s a lot of money leaking out of your pocket. The HVAC guy can check for any leaks in your air duct system and then take steps to seal them.

3. Trim any nearby trees. If you have any tree branches hanging near your roof, windows, or driveways, trim them back. Snow and ice will weigh them down and possibly cause them to break. A few years ago we had a pretty bad ice storm here in Tulsa. I remember driving by one house that had a parked car in the driveway. So much ice had accumulated on a large branch that it had snapped off and smashed the car’s roof. The owner could have easily prevented this misfortune if he had taken the time to trim his trees.

4. Reverse ceiling fans. Most people don’t know that you can use your fans during the winter to keep your house warm. On every ceiling fan there’s a switch that allows you to reverse the direction of the blades. Switch it so your ceiling fan rotates clockwise. That will push warm air down and force it to recirculate throughout the room. Don’t forget to make the switch again when it starts to warm up!

5. Block air leaks. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your energy use. To find those leaks use the Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector. You’re likely to find drafts underneath doors and near windows. If you find a leak underneath your door put a draft snake across the bottom of it. A simple rolled up bath towel will work. If you have leaks near your windows, get some weather-resistant caulk and caulk them from the outside. You can use weather stripping as well. Other places you might want to check for leaks are where pipes and wires exit your foundation.

6. Winterize the A/C. You’re probably not going to be using your air conditioner during the winter, so taking some steps to protect it during this time can extend the life of your machine. Winterizing your A/C is easy. Drain any pipes or hoses coming from your air conditioner. You don’t want them freezing during the winter months. Also make sure to vacuum out any pools of water you have in the A/C’s drain pan. Another step you can take is to cover your central air unit with a plastic air conditioner cover. The cover will keep water and snow out of the unit and prevent rusting.

7. Replace your furnace filter regularly. Regularly change your furnace’s filters throughout the winter. A dirty filter impedes air flow, reduces efficiency, and could even cause a fire in an extreme case. You might consider replacing your disposable filters with reusable electrostatic or electronic ones. You just have to give them a monthly wash, and they’re good to go another round.

8. Install storm doors and windows. Storm doors and windows can increase energy efficiency in your home by 45%. You install storm doors and windows on the outside of your regular doors and windows. Federal tax credits are available to help offset the cost of purchasing them.

9. Check your insulationSimply adding more fiberglass insulation in your attic can boost the energy efficiency in your home. You need a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in your attic. If your insulation falls short, just add another layer of the pink or yellow itchy stuff. If you’re adding new insulation to your current insulation, make sure the new insulation doesn’t have a paper-backing. The paper acts as a vapor barrier and can cause problems for you down the road.

10. Wrap your pipes. Insulating your pipes reduces heat loss and can raise hot water temperatures delivered through your pipes, which allows you to reduce the heat on your boiler. That will save you money on your gas bill. And by making your pipes energy efficient, you also don’t have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on the shower, which helps conserve water and time. Wrapping your pipes with insulation will also help prevent your pipes from freezing during those long cold nights. You can get pre-slit pipe foam at the hardware store. Simply cut the foam to the length you need, wrap it around the pipe, and fasten it in place with duct tape.

11. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Winter sees an uptick in the number of home fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning because people are running their furnaces and boilers overtime in order to keep warm. To keep your family safe, check the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change them if needed.

12. Prepare a 72 hour kit. During that big ice storm that hit Tulsa a few years ago, our house lost power for almost a week. And the roads, covered with a layer of ice, made it treacherous to drive. Thankfully we had a 72-hour kit stocked with food, water, and other supplies. You can buy pre-made 72-hour kits online or at most camping and outdoor stores. Better yet, save some money by making your own 72-hour kit (Hmmm… that would be a good follow-up post.)

13. Get your chimney inspected. Before you start roasting chestnuts on an open fire, have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean your chimney. Thousands of fires each winter originate in chimneys. A chimney sweep can check the structure of your flue and remove any combustibles or obstructions in your chimney. For more information on finding a chimney sweep, visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s website at csia.org.

14. Wear a damn sweater. One of the easiest ways to lower your energy bill is to harness your inner Jimmy Carter by putting on a sweater while you’re in the house. A heavy sweater adds about 4 degrees of warmth to your body. If you set your thermostat to 68 degrees and wear a sweater, your abode will feel like a balmy 72. Nice!

15. Clean your gutters. Clogged gutters can lead to the formation of ice dams on your roof. Ice dams occur when water backs up and freezes near the edge of the roof. The ice continues to build up and eventually forms “dams” that block the path of melted snow from your roof. Water starts pooling in mini reservoirs and begins to seep into your house, causing water damage. To prevent ice dams, clean out the dead leaves and other gunk in your gutters so water can drain freely.

<![CDATA[                  Wet basements can be a Huge Headache.                         Here are a few tips to test your basement walls for moisture               Intrusion and how to help keep water out of your basement]]>Wed, 08 Apr 2015 00:10:11 GMThttp://www.foryourinvestment.com/blog/-wet-basements-can-be-a-huge-headache-here-are-a-few-tips-to-test-your-basement-walls-for-moisture-intrusion-and-how-to-help-keep-water-out-of-your-basement
Diagnose the Water Problem

Water or moisture in basements comes from two sources. One source is indoor humidity that condenses on cold surfaces, much like water droplets form on a cold drink on a humid day. The other is water—or water vapor—that comes from outside. Rainwater, melting snow or groundwater can saturate the soil around your foundation and leak in. Water can leak through cracks, or it can penetrate porous concrete or masonry walls in the form of water vapor. To figure out what's causing the problem, tape aluminum foil to your basement wall and inspect it a few days later. Moisture on the outside surface of the foil indicates high indoor humidity. Moisture behind the foil means moisture is leaking through the walls.

Get Rid of Excess Humidity

Eliminating the sources of humid air will help dry out your basement. Seal leaky dryer vents with foil tape to prevent unwanted humid air from entering your basement. Don't just use duct tape; it'll eventually fall off. Add a vent fan to your basement bathroom and make sure your family turns it on during showers. Keep your basement windows closed during humid weather. And if you're still getting condensation on cool surfaces, run a dehumidifier to lower the indoor humidity.

Insulate Pipes

Condensation dripping from cold pipes can contribute to basement water problems. Cover cold water pipes with foam pipe insulation to stop condensation. The foam insulation is inexpensive and easy to cut with scissors.

Insulate Walls

Insulate exterior walls to prevent condensation. In cold climates, insulating basement walls also saves energy and reduces your heating bill. But don't cover the walls with insulation if water is leaking in from outside; you'll just create a potential mold problem.

Keep Water Away From the Foundation

If your basement leaks after heavy rains or after snow melts, making sure water is diverted away from your foundation may solve the problem. It's common for the soil alongside your house to settle over time, creating a moat that collects runoff and directs it down your foundation wall and into the basement. Lawn edging and gravel along the foundation can make things worse. Solve the problem by creating a 6-ft.-wide slope that drops about 4 in. away from the foundation. For extra insurance, cover the sloping soil with a layer of 6-mil poly. Then hide the poly with mulch, gravel or a layer of soil covered with grass. This will keep water from soaking in near the foundation.

Add Gutters and Extend Downspouts

If your basement leaks after it rains and you don't have gutters, consider adding them. Gutters catch the rain and channel it to the downspouts, which direct it away from the house. Whether you're installing new gutters or already have them, be sure the downspouts have 4- to 6-ft. horizontal extensions to move the water away from the house.

Waterproof the Walls

Waterproofing materials that go on like paint fill the pores in the concrete or masonry walls and prevent water from leaking in. To be effective, these coatings must be applied to bare concrete or masonry walls. Start by removing loose material with a wire brush. Then clean off any white powdery “efflorescence” with masonry cleaner. Follow the safety and application instructions carefully. A common mistake when using masonry waterproofing products is to spread them too thin. The goal is to fill every pinhole to create a continuous waterproofing membrane. Brush the coating in all directions to completely fill every pinhole. Add a second coat after the first dries.

Install a Drainage System

The best permanent fix for chronic basement leaks is to install drainage tubing below the basement floor that's connected to a sump basket and pump. You can install a system like this yourself, but breaking out the concrete floor, burying the tubing, and patching the floor is a lot of backbreaking work. Materials to do an average basement will cost $600 to $1,000. Expect to spend $3,000 to $8,000 for a professionally installed system in a standard-size basement.

Simple Way To Test Your Basement Walls for Moisture Problems

Insulation System on Basement Walls

Proper Grading of Exterior 

Typical Drainage System

<![CDATA[Spring into home maintenance]]>Wed, 25 Feb 2015 23:07:37 GMThttp://www.foryourinvestment.com/blog/spring-into-home-maintenance                        It may not seem like Spring is quickly approaching because we are still in the deep freeze, but the flowers will soon be blooming and the grass will soon need cutting.
  Here's a few spring home maintenance tips to help
   keep your house in tip top shape.

  • Safety Equipment: Ensure that all smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are in good working order. Replace batteries in appropriate devices as needed, or when we change the clocks. remember we spring ahead March 8th!!

The Exterior
  • Roof: Check roof and around vents, skylights and chimneys for leaks. Check for loose, damaged or missing roofing. Repair as necessary. Remove any debris.
  • Foundation Vents – Open foundation vents when nighttime temperatures get above freezing.
  • Gutters: Clean gutters and drain pipes and be sure they drain away from the house.  Look for signs of winter damage.
  • Garage Door – Lubricate hardware. Inspect mechanism for free travel.
  • Exterior Siding– Inspect siding for sagging or damaged panels that may need replacing. Inspect wood soffits and fascia for signs of rotting or pests.
  • Paint – The life of exterior paint can be prolonged with annual touch-ups. Repaint any patches that are peeling before the wood deteriorates. Trim shrubs and plants back at least 18 inches from the house, as they can cause moisture damage
  • Exterior Faucets: Check your hoses for holes, leaks and dry rot. Replace if necessary. Inspect the faucets and call a plumber if you have leaks or other winter damage.
  • Sprinkler System: If necessary, call your landscaper to turn your system back on. Inspect and clean any filters, heads and drip system emitters.
  • Lawnmowers and Other Power Equipment: If you have a lawnmower, leaf blower, or other power equipment that has been sitting in the garage or shed all winter, now is a good time to clean it, service it and make sure it is working properly.


  • Storm Windows and Screens: Take down storm windows and replace with screens. Check and patch all door and window screens.
  • Windows and Doors: Inspect all windows for tight seals and air leakage; caulk or apply weather stripping if necessary. Inspect all doors for tight seals and air leakage; apply weather stripping or door guards if necessary.
  • Interior Faucets: Check for leaky faucets in kitchen and bathrooms. Replace washers as necessary. Check the water hoses on the clothes washer, refrigerator icemaker and dishwasher for cracks and bubbles.
Heating and Cooling
  • Ceiling Fans: Clean the blades and reverse the flow.
  • Fireplace: Clean fireplace of ashes. Check chimney for loose or missing mortar. Have chimney professionally cleaned. Make sure damper closes tightly.
  • Ductwork: Spring is a good time to schedule an Air Duct Cleaning so that your HVAC system will work efficiently, improving your home’s Indoor Air Quality
  • Filters: Remember to clean or replace filters once a month, or as needed. Check and clean dryer vent, air conditioner, stove hood and room fans. Keep heating and cooling vents clean and free from furniture and draperies.
  • Air Conditioning: If you have a window unit clean the filters and coils. If you have a central AC (lucky you!) call a professional to have it inspected and serviced.
  • When going on vacation or leaving the house vacant, shut off the water and turn the hot water heater to vacation mode.