Phone a Friend

Phone a Friend

I have always offered clients the opportunity to call me long after the inspection for my advice or just to get my opinion on an issue they see.

Sometimes it is right after the inspection and they forgot the priorities of issues they want to fix and just need someone to bounce things off of or maybe just to restate the significance.

I have also always offered Realtors, Mortgage Reps and others I work with the option to call me for my opinion.

This has ranged from “Who can complete these VA 26-8731 Inspection Forms” to “Why isn’t the Heat Pump working when we try and test it?”

Up until now, I have limited free phone support to agents and clients I have worked with in the past. But I am going to open this service up to more.

For the holidays I am going to offer our Phone a Friend service to all real estate agents through the end of the year.

So I invite you to keep my phone number close by and let me show you why agents and clients use us again and again. ServusPartners believes in service to our clients and partners.

Tony Pynes 512-296-2376| tony@servuspartners.com

You don’t have to go alone.

Your ServusPartners PLLC

Brand New Homes Don’t Need an Inspection, Right?

So you looked around at homes and after days or weeks or even months of seeing nothing that is as nice as you would want it you decided to buy a new home.

And I have to say a new home is pretty nice.

As much as I like older homes a brand spanking new home that still has that new house smell and no one has lived in is pretty exciting for most of us.

There are so many advantages to buying new. If you have read any of my blogs you know that everything in a house has a limited lifespan. All appliances will need replacing. Roofs reshingled, pipes rust and drains clog up with grease after decades of use. But with a new home you are starting a day one….woohoo!

Nothing to worry about but where things will go and who to invite over for the first dinner. Heck, we don’t even need an inspector because nothing could be broken or wrong.

And if you think like that you are only about half right.

There’s a reason that 40% of my inspections are brand new homes.

People make mistakes and so do builders and tradespeople.

No, you usually don’t have to worry about rusted pipes or worn out systems in a house.

But that is only part of the inspection.

What do I mean?

Well, every brand new home I inspect has a laundry list of issues it would be best the builder took care of before it became a bigger problem later…usually it is a minor issue but sometimes well, it isn’t so minor and can be a safety issue.

Like electrical wires hanging loose in an electrical panel. Or improper bonding. Or walls and windows that are cracked and repaired due to shifting. Or ovens calibrated 150 degrees too hot. And I have found more than one brand new house that had grading that would ensure flooding or foundation problems down the road.

Many of the issues inspectors find in new homes are going to be problems later. Like the hole big enough for bugs to take up residence in the walls. Or the insulation that someone forgot to put in the back of the house attic. Maybe the shower that wasnt sealed correctly…happens 90% of the time. The water will seep and seep until paint and wood rots and well things happen.

But then there are the safety issues like the garage door I test and find it wouldn’t stop if your car was caught under it….or your child. or the glass in the shower door that isn’t safety glass.

Things happen, people make mistakes, errors are made and things overlooked. A residential job site is a busy place with several houses being built at the same time. Even the guys that have been doing it for decades make mistakes.

So the next time you buy a new home, have a licensed, certified home inspector create your punch list. Better yet. Let us really help by inspecting the house before the drywall goes on. Then we get to see everything.

So when you are having dinner with your first guests the dinner will be cooked to perfection and the house will be just as perfect as you feel right then.

Visit our site to learn more. Your ServusPartners

Texas Real Estate Commission Consumer Warning

Our Reviews

Asbestos: Facts and Tips for Home Inspectors and Homeowners

What Is Asbestos? Asbestos is a mineral fiber that can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. InterNACHI inspectors can supplement their knowledge with the information offered in this guide.

How Can Asbestos Affect Human Health? From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer in the forms of mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity, and asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.

The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increase with the number of fibers inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke. People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.

Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard.

Where Would Asbestos Be Found, and When Can it Be a Problem? Most products made today do not contain asbestos. Those few products made which still contain asbestos that could be inhaled are required to be labeled as such. However, until the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos.

Common products that might have contained asbestos in the past, and conditions which may release fibers, include:

steam pipes, boilers and furnace ducts insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape. These materials may release asbestos fibers if damaged, repaired, or removed improperly;resilient floor tiles (vinyl asbestos, asphalt and rubber), the backing on vinyl sheet flooring, and adhesives used for installing floor tile. Sanding tiles can release fibers, and so may scraping or sanding the backing of sheet flooring during removal;cement sheet, millboard and paper used as insulation around furnaces and wood-burning stoves. Repairing or removing appliances may release asbestos fibers, and so may cutting, tearing, sanding, drilling, or sawing insulation;door gaskets in furnaces, wood stoves and coal stoves. Worn seals can release asbestos fibers during use;soundproofing or decorative material sprayed on walls and ceilings. Loose, crumbly or water-damaged material may release fibers, and so will sanding, drilling or scraping the material;patching and joint compounds for walls and ceilings, and textured paints. Sanding, scraping, or drilling these surfaces may release asbestos fibers;asbestos cement roofing, shingles and siding. These products are not likely to release asbestos fibers unless sawed, dilled or cut;artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces, and other older household products, such as fireproof gloves, stove-top pads, ironing board covers and certain hairdryers; andautomobile brake pads and linings, clutch facings and gaskets.

Where Asbestos Hazards May Be Found in a Home

Some roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement.Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation.Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints. Their use was banned in 1977.Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces may contain asbestos.Older products, such as stove-top pads, may have some asbestos compounds.Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard or cement sheets.Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape.Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation.

What Should Be Done About Asbestos in the Home?

If you think asbestos may be in your home, don’t panic.  Usually, the best thing to do is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. There is no danger unless the asbestos is disturbed and fibers are released and then inhaled into the lungs. Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don’t touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage, such as tears, abrasions or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow. Sometimes, the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it. Discard damaged or worn asbestos gloves, stove-top pads and ironing board covers. Check with local health, environmental or other appropriate agencies to find out proper handling and disposal procedures. If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed. Before you have your house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present.

How to Identify Materials That Contain Asbestos You can’t tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos, or have it sampled and analyzed by a qualified professional. A professional should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples yourself is not recommended. If you nevertheless choose to take the samples yourself, take care not to release asbestos fibers into the air or onto yourself. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone. Only material that is damaged or will be disturbed should be sampled.

Anyone who samples asbestos-containing materials should have as much information as possible on the handling of asbestos before sampling and, at a minimum, should observe the following procedures:

Make sure no one else is in the room when sampling is done.Wear disposable gloves or wash hands after sampling.Shut down any heating or cooling systems to minimize the spread of any released fibers.Do not disturb the material any more than is needed to take a small sample.Place a plastic sheet on the floor below the area to be sampled.Wet the material using a fine mist of water containing a few drops of detergent before taking the sample. The water/detergent mist will reduce the release of asbestos fibers.Carefully cut a piece from the entire depth of the material using a small knife, corer or other sharp object. Place the small piece into a clean container (a 35-mm film canister, small glass or plastic vial, or high-quality resealable plastic bag).Tightly seal the container after the sample is in it.Carefully dispose of the plastic sheet. Use a damp paper towel to clean up any material on the outside of the container or around the area sampled. Dispose of asbestos materials according to state and local procedures.Label the container with an identification number and clearly state when and where the sample was taken.Patch the sampled area with the smallest possible piece of duct tape to prevent fiber release.Send the sample to an asbestos analysis laboratory accredited by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Your state or local health department may also be able to help.

How to Manage an Asbestos Problem If the asbestos material is in good shape and will not be disturbed, do nothing! If it is a problem, there are two types of corrections: repair and removal. Repair usually involves either sealing or covering asbestos material. Sealing (encapsulation) involves treating the material with a sealant that either binds the asbestos fibers together or coats the material so that fibers are not released. Pipe, furnace and boiler insulation can sometimes be repaired this way. This should be done only by a professional trained to handle asbestos safely. Covering (enclosure) involves placing something over or around the material that contains asbestos to prevent the release of fibers. Exposed insulated piping may be covered with a protective wrap or jacket. With any type of repair, the asbestos remains in place. Repair is usually cheaper than removal, but it may make removal of asbestos later (if found to be necessary) more difficult and costly. Repairs can either be major or minor. Major repairs must be done only by a professional trained in methods for safely handling asbestos. Minor repairs should also be done by professionals, since there is always a risk of exposure to fibers when asbestos is disturbed.

Repairs  Doing minor repairs yourself is not recommended, since improper handling of asbestos materials can create a hazard where none existed. If you nevertheless choose to do minor repairs, you should have as much information as possible on the handling of asbestos before doing anything. Contact your state or local health department or regional EPA office for information about asbestos training programs in your area. Your local school district may also have information about asbestos professionals and training programs for school buildings. Even if you have completed a training program, do not try anything more than minor repairs. Before undertaking minor repairs, carefully examine the area around the damage to make sure it is stable. As a general rule, any damaged area which is bigger than the size of your hand is not considered a minor repair.

Before undertaking minor repairs, be sure to follow all the precautions described previously for sampling asbestos material. Always wet the asbestos material using a fine mist of water containing a few drops of detergent. Commercial products designed to fill holes and seal damaged areas are available. Small areas of material, such as pipe insulation, can be covered by wrapping a special fabric, such as re-wettable glass cloth, around it. These products are available from stores (listed in the telephone directory under “Safety Equipment and Clothing”) which specialize in asbestos materials and safety items.

Removal is usually the most expensive method and, unless required by state or local regulations, should be the last option considered in most situations. This is because removal poses the greatest risk of fiber release. However, removal may be required when remodeling or making major changes to your home that will disturb asbestos material. Also, removal may be called for if asbestos material is damaged extensively and cannot be otherwise repaired. Removal is complex and must be done only by a contractor with special training. Improper removal may actually increase the health risks to you and your family.

Asbestos Professionals: Who Are They and What Can They Do? Asbestos professionals are trained in handling asbestos material. The type of professional will depend on the type of product and what needs to be done to correct the problem. You may hire a general asbestos contractor or, in some cases, a professional trained to handle specific products containing asbestos. Asbestos professionals can conduct inspections, take samples of suspected material, assess its condition, and advise on the corrections that are needed, as well as who is qualified to make these corrections. Once again, material in good condition need not be sampled unless it is likely to be disturbed. Professional correction or abatement contractors repair and remove asbestos materials. Some firms offer combinations of testing, assessment and correction. A professional hired to assess the need for corrective action should not be connected with an asbestos-correction firm. It is better to use two different firms so that there is no conflict of interest. Services vary from one area to another around the country. The federal government offers training courses for asbestos professionals around the country. Some state and local governments also offer or require training or certification courses. Ask asbestos professionals to document their completion of federal or state-approved training. Each person performing work in your home should provide proof of training and licensing in asbestos work, such as completion of EPA-approved training. State and local health departments or EPA regional offices may have listings of licensed professionals in your area.

If you have a problem that requires the services of asbestos professionals, check their credentials carefully. Hire professionals who are trained, experienced, reputable and accredited — especially if accreditation is required by state or local laws. Before hiring a professional, ask for references from previous clients. Find out if they were satisfied. Ask whether the professional has handled similar situations. Get cost estimates from several professionals, as the charges for these services can vary.

Though private homes are usually not covered by the asbestos regulations that apply to schools and public buildings, professionals should still use procedures described in federal or state-approved training. Homeowners should be alert to the chance of misleading claims by asbestos consultants and contractors. There have been reports of firms incorrectly claiming that asbestos materials in homes must be replaced. In other cases, firms have encouraged unnecessary removal or performed it improperly. Unnecessary removal is a waste of money. Improper removal may actually increase the health risks to you and your family. To guard against this, know what services are available and what procedures and precautions are needed to do the job properly.

In addition to general asbestos contractors, you may select a roofing, flooring or plumbing contractor trained to handle asbestos when it is necessary to remove and replace roofing, flooring, siding or asbestos-cement pipe that is part of a water system. Normally, roofing and flooring contractors are exempt from state and local licensing requirements because they do not perform any other asbestos-correction work.

Asbestos-containing automobile brake pads and linings, clutch facings and gaskets should be repaired and replaced only by a professional using special protective equipment. Many of these products are now available without asbestos.

If you hire an InterNACHI® inspector who is trained in asbestos inspection:

Make sure that the inspection will include a complete visual examination, and the careful collection and lab analysis of samples. If asbestos is present, the inspector should provide a written evaluation describing its location and extent of damage, and give recommendations for correction or prevention.Make sure an inspecting firm makes frequent site visits if it is hired to assure that a contractor follows proper procedures and requirements. The inspector may recommend and perform checks after the correction to assure that the area has been properly cleaned.

If you hire a corrective-action contractor:

Check with your local air pollution control board, the local agency responsible for worker safety, and the Better Business Bureau. Ask if the firm has had any safety violations. Find out if there are legal actions filed against it.Insist that the contractor use the proper equipment to do the job. The workers must wear approved respirators, gloves and other protective clothing.Before work begins, get a written contract specifying the work plan, cleanup, and the applicable federal, state and local regulations which the contractor must follow (such as notification requirements and asbestos disposal procedures). Contact your state and local health departments, EPA regional office, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s regional office to find out what the regulations are. Be sure the contractor follows local asbestos removal and disposal laws. At the end of the job, get written assurance from the contractor that all procedures have been followed.Assure that the contractor avoids spreading or tracking asbestos dust into other areas of your home. They should seal off the work area from the rest of the house using plastic sheeting and duct tape, and also turn off the heating and air conditioning system. For some repairs, such as pipe insulation removal, plastic bags may be adequate. They must be sealed with tape and properly disposed of when the job is complete.Make sure the work site is clearly marked as a hazardous area. Do not allow household members or pets into the area until work is completed.Insist that the contractor apply a wetting agent to the asbestos material with a hand sprayer that creates a fine mist before removal. Wet fibers do not float in the air as easily as dry fibers and will be easier to clean up.Make sure the contractor does not break removed material into smaller pieces. This could release asbestos fibers into the air. Pipe insulation was usually installed in pre-formed blocks and should be removed in complete pieces.Upon completion, assure that the contractor cleans the area well with wet mops, wet rags, sponges and/or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaners. A regular vacuum cleaner must never be used. Wetting helps reduce the chance of spreading asbestos fibers in the air. All asbestos materials and disposable equipment and clothing used in the job must be placed in sealed, leakproof, and labeled plastic bags. The work site should be visually free of dust and debris. Air monitoring (to make sure there is no increase of asbestos fibers in the air) may be necessary to assure that the contractor’s job is done properly. This should be done by someone not connected with the contractor.

Caution!

Do not dust, sweep or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos. These actions will disturb tiny asbestos fibers and may release them into the air. Remove dust by wet-mopping or with a special HEPA vacuum cleaner used by trained asbestos contractors.

What Really Matters in a Home Inspection

We all see the postings.

The 5 Most Important Things in a Home Inspection or the 10 Most Serious Defects for an Inspector!….most of these articles are only partly right.

What really matters is to make sure your inspector is trained and knowledgeable. All inspectors in Texas must go through hundreds of hours of training to get their license. But after that, the state only requires about 16 hours a year. Not much for someone who must be knowledgeable of all your home systems and safety issues.

What really matters is to make sure your inspector has recent education and training and is committed to developing additional skills and deep knowledge. An inspector should be able to at least outline what classes he has had recently.

But after you have found a well educated and trained inspector what matters next

Buying a home is a fun time but also a time filled with stress and worry.

The process can be stressful. A home inspection is supposed to give you peace of mind but, depending on the findings, it may have the opposite effect. You will be asked to absorb a lot of information over a short period of time.  Your inspection will entail a written report, including checklists and photos, and what the inspector tells you during the inspection. All of this combined with the seller’s disclosure and what you notice yourself can make the experience overwhelming. What should you do?

Relax.

Home inspectors are professionals, and if yours is a member of InterNACHI as our inspectors are, then you can trust that he is among the most highly trained in the industry. InterNachi Inspectors must take a dozen or more additional classes each year to retain certification. Most of your inspection will be related to maintenance recommendations and minor imperfections. Don’t be surprised if even that new home or recent flip with all the beautiful remodeled kitchen and bathrooms has a laundry list of issues. These are good to know about even if they go on and on.

However, the issues that really matter will fall into four categories:

major defects, such as a structural failure;conditions that can lead to major defects, such as a roof leak;issues that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy, or insure the home if not rectified immediately; andsafety hazards, such as an exposed, live buss bar at the electrical panel.

Anything in these categories should be addressed as soon as possible. Often, a serious problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property (especially in categories 2 and 4).

Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection. It’s important to realize that a seller is under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in your inspection report. No house is perfect. Even new homes have issues. Keep things in perspective.

And remember that homeownership is both a joyful experience and an important responsibility, so be sure to call on your InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector® to help you devise an annual maintenance plan that will keep your family safe and your home in top condition for years to come.

ServusPartners also offer annual or seasonal inspections to help the homeowner understand what they should work on next. Inspectors are the one person when buying or selling a home who has no incentive but to tell you about your home. They do not get paid more or less whether you buy or they find issues. A truly independent inspector who is thorough and takes their time to explain things to you afterward is one of the most important decisions you make when buying a house.

Enjoy the process and engage a Professional Real Estate Inspector to help with what matters the most.

Top 5 Fast Fixes for Faulty Windows

by Joseph Truini for The Home Depot

There’s a common misconception that if your home has older windows that are in less-than-perfect condition, you must replace them with new windows. But as long as the window is structurally sound, you can fix most problems and extend the window’s service life by many years.

Of course, there are instances when a window is so badly damaged that it’s beyond repair, such as when the entire frame is rotted, or if there’s extensive termite damage. Then, it’s time for a new set of windows. However, some of the most common window problems can be fixed with minimal time and money.

Listed below are five window repairs that any DIY-er can handle. All you need are some basic carpentry skills, a few simple tools, and a free afternoon.

1.  Block out drafts.

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Caulk around window frames to block out drafts and wind-driven rain.

The number one problem with older windows is that they don’t seal very tightly, which allows cold air to blow in during the winter and cooled air to escape during the summer.

To fix the seals, start by caulking around the exterior window frame to block the flow of air from the outside. Look for gaps between the perimeter of the frame and the house siding or exterior trim boards.

Use a stiff-bristle brush and putty knife to clean the gaps of all dust, dirt and debris. Then, overfill the gaps slightly with acrylic-latex silconized caulk. Smooth out the caulk bead with a wet finger.

Next, seal around the inside of the window with weatherstripping. Choose window weatherstripping that’s large enough to fill the gaps around the sash but still flexible enough to allow the window to operate. Install the weatherstripping along the two side jambs, the sill, and at the meeting rail where the two sash come together.

2.  Repair rotted wood.

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Carve away rotted wood from the sash and sill, and then apply epoxy wood filler.

The exterior frames of wood windows are susceptible to rot caused by moisture, as well as damage from birds and insects. If you don’t repair the frame in a timely manner, you’ll eventually have to replace the entire window. Fortunately, most wood rot can be fixed in a matter of minutes.

Start by using a sharp chisel to cut and carve away the rotted wood. It’s imperative that you remove all the rot and expose the solid, sound wood underneath.  If you leave behind any decayed wood, the rot will continue to spread.

Next, buy two-part epoxy wood filler and mix it according to the manufacturer’s directions. Use a flexible-blade putty knife to spread the filler over the damaged section. If the repair is more than an inch deep, fill it halfway, then wait for the filler to harden. Then, apply a second coat, overfilling the area slightly.

Allow the epoxy to cure for about an hour, then sand it smooth either by hand with 80-grit sandpaper, or with an orbital finishing sander. Wipe away the sanding dust with a damp cloth, then apply a coat of primer. Finish with two applications of a topcoat of paint.

3.  Unstick stubborn sash.

The sash on older double-hung and single-hung windows are notorious for becoming stuck and difficult to open. A stuck sash is far less of a problem on crank-out casement windows.

Sash typically become stuck either because the counterbalance mechanism breaks or because the sash is painted shut. It’s important to note that if you do have a stuck sash, you should resist the temptation to pound on it with a hammer or hit it with your hand. You’ll only damage the sash or hurt yourself.

The counterbalance mechanism is installed against the side jambs and attached to the sash. It’s spring-loaded and designed to offset the weight of the sash, making it easier to open and close and window. However, if the mechanism seizes up or snaps, it’ll be very difficult to budge the sash.

New counterbalances are available directly from the window manufacturer, as well as from window replacement parts companies found online. The proper way to install new counterbalances differs slightly from one window manufacturer to the next but, typically, you must remove the sash, pry out the old counterbalances, and fasten the new counterbalances to the side jambs. Then, attach the spring-loaded mechanism to the sash and reinstall the sash.

If the window is painted shut, take a sharp utility knife to slice through the paint seal along the interior stops. Then, cut through the paint along the sill and at the meeting rail where the two sash meet.

Once you’ve sliced through the paint-sealed joints, push a stiff-blade putty knife into the joints all around the perimeter of the sash. Then, try lifting the sash with two hands. Position each hand near the upper outer corners of the sash, not in the middle.

If the sash doesn’t open, don’t force it. Instead, cut through the paint seal alongside each of the interior window stops, then use a thin pry bar to carefully pry off the stops. Gently tug the sash loose. Reinstall the old stops, or cut and install new stops against the sash.

4.  Refinish the exterior.

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Scrape away loose, blistered paint, then prime and repaint the surfaces.

To shield wood window frames from the elements, it’s important to maintain a protective coat of paint on all exterior surfaces. Once the paint starts to crack, blister and peel, water can soak into the wood and begin to rot the window frame, sill and sash.

Use a tungsten-carbide paint scraper and wire brush to remove loose, blistered paint. Be careful not to gouge the wood. Next, lightly sand all surfaces with 100-grit sandpaper. You can use a hand-sanding block or orbital finishing sander.

As you sand, try to “feather” the existing paint coat to blend smoothly into any bare wood spots. Also, be sure to sand over the old paint coat, which will roughen the surface and help the new paint coat to adhere.

Patch any cracks, holes and depressions with two-part epoxy wood filler or auto-body filler. Overfill the patches, then sand them smooth with 80-grit sandpaper.

Wipe off all sanding dust with a damp cloth, then apply one coat of exterior-grade primer, followed by two coats of house paint.

It’s good to inspect the paint finish on your windows annually. You should pay particular attention to south-facing windows, which are exposed to the most amount of sunlight and can fade more easily.

5.  Fix busted sash cords.

Before there were mechanical counterbalances, windows were fitted with a system of sash weights, pulleys and cords that offset the weight of the sash. This simple system works surprisingly well—until the sash cords break. When that happens, the weights drop down inside the wall, making it virtually impossible to open the window.

Here are the basic steps to fixing busted sash cords:

Pry off the window stops from the side jambs and remove the bottom sash.Pry off the parting bead from the window frame and remove the top sash.Unscrew the access panel from each side jamb to expose the void inside wall.Fish out the sash weights and broken cords from inside the wall. Cut away the old cords.Thread new cords over the pulleys and tie them onto the sash weights. Drop the weights back inside the wall.Fasten the cords to each side of the top sash.Reinstall the top sash, then replace the parting bead.Repeat these steps to attach new cords to the weights for the bottom sash.Set the bottom sash into the window frame and reinstall the window stops.

Before you replace your drafty, stuck, or partially rotted windows, try out any of these five tips. If you still find yourself at a loss, then it may be time to install new windows.

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As a home improvement specialist, author Joseph Truini provides how-to tips for common projects around the home, including fixing and replacing windows. If your windows are too damaged to fix, visit The Home Depot to see a variety of casement window options.  

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Detectors

by Nick Gromicko

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Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that forms from incomplete combustion of fuels, such as natural or liquefied petroleum gas, oil, wood or coal.

Facts and Figures:

480 U.S. residents died between 2001 and 2003 from non-fire-related carbon-monoxide poisoning.Most CO exposures occur during the winter months, especially in December (including 56 deaths, and 2,157 non-fatal exposures), and in January (including 69 deaths and 2,511 non-fatal exposures). The peak time of day for CO exposure is between 6 and 10 p.m.Many experts believe that CO poisoning statistics understate the problem. Because the symptoms of CO poisoning mimic a range of common health ailments, it is likely that a large number of mild to mid-level exposures are never identified, diagnosed, or accounted for in any way in carbon monoxide statistics.Out of all reported non-fire carbon-monoxide incidents, 89% or almost nine out of 10 of them take place in a home.

Physiology of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

When CO is inhaled, it displaces the oxygen that would ordinarily bind with hemoglobin, a process the effectively suffocates the body. CO can poison slowly over a period of several hours, even in low concentrations. Sensitive organs, such as the brain, heart and lungs, suffer the most from a lack of oxygen.

High concentrations of carbon monoxide can kill in less than five minutes. At low concentrations, it will require a longer period of time to affect the body. Exceeding the EPA concentration of 9 parts per million (ppm) for more than eight hours may have adverse health affects. The limit of CO exposure for healthy workers, as prescribed by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration, is 50 ppm.

Potential Sources of Carbon Monoxide

Any fuel-burning appliances which are malfunctioning or improperly installed can be a source of CO, such as:📷

furnaces;stoves and ovens;water heaters;dryers;room and space heaters;fireplaces and wood stoves;charcoal grills;automobiles;clogged chimneys or flues;space heaters;power tools that run on fuel;gas and charcoal grills;certain types of swimming pool heaters; and boat engines.

CO Detector Placement
CO detectors can monitor exposure levels, but do not place them:

directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, as appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon start-up;within 15 feet of heating and cooking appliances, or in or near very humid areas, such as bathrooms;within 5 feet of kitchen stoves and ovens, or near areas locations where household chemicals and bleach are stored (store such chemicals away from bathrooms and kitchens, whenever possible);in garages, kitchens, furnace rooms, or in any extremely dusty, dirty, humid, or greasy areas;in direct sunlight, or in areas subjected to temperature extremes. These include unconditioned crawlspaces, unfinished attics, un-insulated or poorly insulated ceilings, and porches;in turbulent air near ceiling fans, heat vents, air conditioners, fresh-air returns, or open windows. Blowing air may prevent carbon monoxide from reaching the CO sensors.

Do place CO detectors:

within 10 feet of each bedroom door and near all sleeping areas, where it can wake sleepers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) recommend that every home have at least one carbon monoxide detector for each floor of the home, and within hearing range of each sleeping area;on every floor of your home, including the basement (source:  International Association of Fire Chiefs/IAFC);near or over any attached garage. Carbon monoxide detectors are affected by excessive humidity and by close proximity to gas stoves (source:  City of New York);near, but not directly above, combustion appliances, such as furnaces, water heaters, and fireplaces, and in the garage (source:  UL); andon the ceiling in the same room as permanently installed fuel-burning appliances, and centrally located on every habitable level, and in every HVAC zone of the building (source:  National Fire Protection Association 720). This rule applies to commercial buildings.

In North America, some national, state and local municipalities require installation of CO detectors in new and existing homes, as well as commercial businesses, among them:  Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont and New York City, and the Canadian province of Ontario. Installers are encouraged to check with their local municipality to determine what specific requirements have been enacted in their jurisdiction.

How can I prevent CO poisoning?

Purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors with labels showing that they meet the requirements of the new UL standard 2034 or Comprehensive Safety Analysis 6.19 safety standards.Make sure appliances are installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes. Have the heating system professionally inspected by an InterNACHI inspector and serviced annually to ensure proper operation. The inspector should also check chimneys and flues for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections, and loose connections.Never service fuel-burning appliances without the proper knowledge, skill and tools. Always refer to the owner’s manual when performing minor adjustments and when servicing fuel-burning equipment.Never operate a portable generator or any other gasoline engine-powered tool either in or near an enclosed space, such as a garage, house or other building. Even with open doors and windows, these spaces can trap CO and allow it to quickly build to lethal levels.Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent unless it is specifically designed for use in an enclosed space and provides instructions for safe use in an enclosed area.Never burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent.Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.Never use gas appliances, such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.Never operate un-vented fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping.During home renovations, ensure that appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked by tarps or debris. Make sure appliances are in proper working order when renovations are complete.Do not place generators in the garage or close to the home. People lose power in their homes and get so excited about using their gas-powered generator that they don’t pay attention to where it is placed. The owner’s manual should explain how far the generator should be from the home.Clean the chimney. Open the hatch at the bottom of the chimney to remove the ashes.  Hire a chimney sweep annually.Check vents. Regularly inspect your home’s external vents to ensure they are not obscured by debris, dirt or snow.

In summary, carbon monoxide is a dangerous poison that can be created by various household appliances. CO detectors must be placed strategically throughout the home or business in order to alert occupants of high levels of the gas.