3 Fast & Easy Winter Home Maintenance Tips – That you can do this weekend!

1) Check Batteries in Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Yep, it’s something we typically do when we adjust our clocks for daylight savings time. Hopefully you already did it, but just in case you forgot, please do it now for those you love and for those who love you! According to the U.S. Fire Administration, heating is the cause of 27 percent of structure fires during the winter months. Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working in your home. You should have a minimum of one on each floor. The NFPA requires one in each sleeping room as well as outside each sleeping area. Check the batteries in all alarms once a month.

2) Test Your Sump Pump (or lubricate your palmer valve if you have one) & Drain Sediment From Your Water Heater
Your sump pump will help you keep your basement dry. You can address 2 issues at once if you connect a garden hose to the faucet at the bottom of your water heater and insert the other end into your sump crock. Let the water run for a few minutes until the water is clear and you hear the sump pump energize. Sediment collects at the bottom of hot water tanks overtime creating hot spots that can damage the tank and cause premature failure. On an electric water heater, sediment buildup can cause the lower heating element to fail. Draining a water heater once a year may help lower energy bills and extend its life. The typical lifespan of a sump pump is 10 years, water heaters are now only lasting between 8 – 12 years.

3) Protect Your Air Conditioning Unit
Even though the condensing unit is built to be outdoors, it can still be damaged by falling ice and other debris. Place a sheet of plywood on top and hold it down with some bricks. DO NOT cover it with a tarp unless the cover is breathable, like house wrap. Otherwise you can trap condensation under the tarp which will make the unit rust out prematurely.

Orphaned Hot Water Heater – Hot Water Heater Safety & Home Inspections

Orphaned Hot Water Heater article by Donn Anderson of Anderson Home Inspection LLC – from Waukesha to Milwaukee and all of Southeast Wisconsin

Original Older Metal Furnace

When someone replaces an older metal vented furnace with a new high efficiency pvc vented furnace, the flue gases from the furnace no longer leave the house through the chimney. They leave the house through white PVC piping.

Since the size of the old chimney flue was determined by the size of the furnace and water heater, the chimney flue will now be too big for handling the just the water heater gases.
This condition is often referred to as an Orphan Water Heater.

In northern climates such as Wisconsin, the negative effects can pose a health/ safety concern.

One of the byproducts of combustion is a vapor gas.

Newer High Efficiency Furnace

Since the chimney is now oversized for the water heater, there will not be enough heat to allow a proper draft to get rid of the gases. The flue gases condense on the inside of the clay chimney flue (if the chimney has a clay flue), and when the temperatures drop, spalling occurs.

When moisture is absorbed into the porous clay, brick, block or mortar, and the temperatures drop, the moisture freezes, expands and forces chips to flake off of the surface.

With enough spalling, gaps are created which can allow dangerous flue gases such as Carbon Monoxide to find a path into the home.

Flexible Metal Flue Liner

The verbiage I use in my home inspection reports is:
Orphan water heater – A high efficiency furnace has been installed without installing a flue liner in the chimney for the natural draft water heater. Due to the removal of the natural draft furnace vent from the chimney to accommodate the high efficiency furnace conversion, the increased condensation will damage the interior of the chimney and create unwanted paths for dangerous flue gases such as Carbon Monoxide.

The current condition is a violation of WI Administrative Code SPS 323.11 (3) and the National Fuel Gas Code NFPA 54. For Health and Safety, contact a qualified specialist to discuss and implement a safety compliant alternative.

Installation of a power vented water heater is an acceptable alternative to the present condition. Contact a licensed plumber for remedial options and cost estimate

I hope you find this information valuable in keeping you safe.
Donn Anderson – Certified Master Inspector
Anderson Home Inspection
anspect.com | (262) 534-5075

It’s Heating Season. Is Your Furnace Safe?

anderson home inspection furnace inspection waukesha milwaukee
Sources of Carbon Monoxide in a Home
It’s heating season, don’t “just” depend on CO detectors. Is your furnace safe?

I started inspecting homes in WI over 25 years ago.

For years I checked every furnace for Carbon Monoxide even though testing for Carbon Monoxide (CO) is beyond the scope of a Home Inspection in WI. I’ve always tried to offer our customers more than just the minimum.

Unfortunately, there had often been a perception in the real estate community that if the CO reading was low, the furnace was safe.
That’s not true.
Safety is not just an instant in time, it’s a risk issue. And the risk grows greater as the furnace grows older. A relatively new furnace can have high CO readings in the flue gases and the risk of CO exposure may be relatively insignificant.
A 20 year old furnace may have low levels of CO if the burners were recently tuned up and burning clean, but the risk of a cracked heat exchanger and exposure is much more significant on a furnace that is near or past the end of its design life.

When I went through training with Focus on Energy and the Building Performance Institute in the 90s, I learned that different organizations had different protocol for testing and different criteria for acceptable levels of CO.

Now when I inspect a furnace, I place more of an emphasis on issues such as signs of leaks at the plenum, corrosion in the furnace cabinet, scorching & pitting on the metal in and around the heat exchanger, roll out from burners in older units, standing water in the furnace cabinet and ultimately whether or not the unit is at the end of its design life.
Planned obsolescence is real.
I look for reasonable signs of concerns that prompt me to advise Further Evaluation by a Qualified Specialist. These signs tell us something is not right. When we deal with the consequences of Carbon Monoxide exposure, I advise my customers of the danger and that it is in their best interest to have a specialist evaluate the system for issues beyond the scope of the home inspection.

I’ve often heard the comment: “You are the expert”.
Home inspectors are more like General Practitioners than Experts or Specialists. It’s often easy to determine if a condition is acceptable or not. I’m writing about the gray areas. We need to understand the limitations of a home inspection. We need to be aware of signs that “may” indicate a more significant concern, and that confirmation of these conditions is beyond the scope of a home inspector. We need to know when it’s reasonable to request Further Evaluation by a Qualified Specialist.

I will never forget an email I received from an attorney 4 days after I inspected his home. During the inspection, I noticed some staining above the furnace below the condensate line from the A/C unit. I reported that this condition could mean something significant if the moisture had been dripping on the heat exchanger and caused a crack which could lead to hazardous Carbon Monoxide entering the home.

He informed me that he took my advice, hired a heating contractor for Further Evaluation and discovered the furnace e indeed had a cracked heat exchanger. He thanked me for saving him $3,500.00. Had I only suggested a service call after occupancy, it may not have just been the cost of a new furnace, but the potential consequences of exposure to the hazardous CO gas.

It’s important to understand that if a furnace has been recently tuned up, the burners may be burning clean and there could be no significant CO readings if tested. Depending on where a crack is located, bottom, back, seam of a heat exchanger, the CO readings “may” be negligible at the time of testing, but that crack will grow and so will the risk of CO exposure.

The point I’m trying to make is that we should not depend solely on a CO test to determine if a furnace is safe.
An analogy would be a basement that has recently flooded. If you test for mold the same day as the flooding, your results may be negative. The spores may not have had a chance to grow to a detectable level.

A crack in a heat exchanger will get larger as time goes on; it will put you and your family at a greater risk of exposure to hazardous Carbon Monoxide.

I hope this helps.
Be safe.
Donn Anderson
Anderson Home Inspection
Certified Master Inspector – Since 1995

Article on Google MyBusiness also: https://posts.gle/kD1s1


Donn Anderson presents a seminar to pro-active home buyers

Donn Anderson presents a seminar to pro-active home buyers at the Landmark Credit Union in southeast Wisconsin on 4/2/2019.

Donn answers new home buyer audience questions:

  • poured foundations vs concrete block
  • tips and importance on pitching soil away from your home
  • inspecting furnaces and air conditioning units
  • window inspections

Home Buying / Home Inspection Risk Reduction – During the Inspection (Part 2 of 3)

puzzle pieces risk reduction
To help make the Home Inspection a satisfying experience, here are some things you can do DURING the home inspection:

Even if you’ve already read “The Standards of Practice”, review it once more. It will remind you what’s within the scope of a Home Inspection, as well as what’s not.

Remember, a home inspection is NOT All Inclusive and it’s not a To-Do List of Maintenance Items. It’s about the Major Defects.

  • Unless you’ve already done so, Review the seller’s Real Estate Condition Report
  • This document may have disclosures that could affect your opinion of the homes condition

  • Ask your inspector for any feedback or insights into the statements the sellers made.
  • Review Receipts, Proposals and Warranties provided by the seller
  • Review the Permits that were pulled. Make sure they were all closed.

Take a moment and ask yourself: “How do distractions affect me when I’m trying to concentrate?”

Give your inspector space to focus on inspecting your home while you explore, and evaluate things that are important to you, that may not be part of a home inspection.
Use your phone to take pictures of things you want to discuss with your inspector.

Then, every 20 to 30 minutes, get together for updates.

Most inspections will last at least 2 ½ – 3 hours. This gives you time to explore your prospective home more thoroughly while giving your inspector time to focus on your inspection.

  • Windows – Did you notice that the Standards of Practice requires a Home Inspector to check “… a random sampling of doors and windows?”

    Since the inspector is not required to check all doors and window, wouldn’t it be a good idea to also check them yourself while you are there? Why even miss one window when you are already at the inspection. Look for ease of operation, water damage, fogging and condensation between the panes of glass, cracked or broken glass. Some windows may be painted or caulked shut, some windows may show signs of rot and some window sashes may fall when you try to open them. For safety reasons, keep your fingers close to you when you unlatch the sash locks.

  • Look for signs of water stains on ceilings and walls, especially on the exterior walls that may have been subject to ice damming. Use your phone to take pictures of any issues you want to discuss with your home inspector during the Summary at the end of the inspection
  • In the Basement – see if there are any signs of moisture seepage or cracking of the foundation walls.
  • Again, use your phone to document questions you have for the inspector.
  • In the attic – Ask your inspector if there were any signs of water leaks, mold or mice. Though inspecting for mold and mice are beyond the scope of a home inspection, a good inspector would still document these conditions if they were noticed.
  • According to Insurance companies, most claims are related to water damage. If you see any signs of seepage, ask your inspector if it was documented.

    At the end of the Home Inspection

    • Review the report with your inspector & review any notes or photos you took to make sure the inspector has answered all of your questions.

    Stay tuned for Part 3: Learn what you can do AFTER your Home Inspection.

    Thanks again for your time. We are here for you!
    Call to schedule (262) 534-5075
    Convenient Hours 7am-8pm and special appointments available.
    Don’t forget to ask if you qualify for one of our many discounts!

    ✓ New & Pre-Built Home Buyer Home Inspections
    ✓ Pre-Sale Home Inspections
    ✓ Basement and Foundation Inspections
    ✓ Thermal Imaging
    ✓ Radon Testing
    ✓ Indoor Air Quality & Mold Testing
    ✓ Peace of Mind Home Inspection

    Read Part 1 of 3 – Reducing Your Risk

    Home Buying / Home Inspection Risk Reduction (Part 1 of 3)

    puzzle pieces risk reductionAs well as EXCITEMENT, we might also feel a little nervous or stress when it comes to buying a home. Could there be major issues my home inspector won’t find? Well, there’s something you can do to help lower your risk.

    My name is Donn Anderson.

    I’m a Certified Master Home Inspector® in Southeastern Wisconsin and I’ve inspected over 16,000 homes since 1995. I also serve as an Expert Witness & Arbitrator in cases of Inexperienced or Low-priced Home Inspectors who have left some homebuyers paying for repairs that should have been discovered during the inspection.

    We’ve maintained over a 99% customer satisfaction rate by educating our customers Before…, During… and After the Inspection.

    If you’re in the market to buy or sell a home, I’d like to help you Reduce your Risk and your Stress. RISK often starts with the assumption that all Home Inspectors are licensed, and the only difference is price.

    Every Inspector has a different background, credentials and experiences.
    There are Home Inspection schools that guarantee ANYONE can pass the exams after a 5 day course.
    Do you think it’s wise saving money on an inspector who was only trained for 5 days?

    I hope you have us inspect your next home, but if you don’t, still consider the following to help you reduce Stress and your Risk of a bad outcome.

    Here’s what YOU can do BEFORE your next Home Inspection

    • Research Home Inspectors
    • Research the Home and
    • And CAREFULLY read the Standards of Practice

    Compare Credentials & Research Reviews of several Inspectors.

    The CHEAPEST is usually the LEAST qualified and puts you at the MOST risk of financial loss.

    Besides licensing, ask potential home inspectors if they are:

    • A Full time or part time Home Inspector
    • Do they have a Construction Background.
    • Do they have Errors and Omissions Insurance in case they miss something big, such as a basement problem
    • Are they a Certified Master Inspector®
    • Have they performed a minimum 2,000 inspections
    • Do they have a working knowledge of the Building Codes and
    • Do they have Experience as an Expert Witness?

    If you get referrals from your Real Estate Agent, your Lender, your Attorney and Friends, check out their reviews on the internet.

    Once you’ve narrowed down your search to your top 3 picks, check their background with:

    • The Better Business Bureau
    • Angie’s List
    • Google, Facebook & other Social Media and
    • CCAP – the Wisconsin Circuit Court of Public records to see if they have any judgments against them.

    Remember, the more experience & relevant credentials, the more thorough your inspection will be, and the more likely problems will be found during the inspection, rather than after you move in.

    For more help, you can download the Home Inspector Credential Comparison Worksheet from our website

    Next – Research the Home
    Contact the Municipality to find out if the sellers pulled and closed all Permits for any remodeling.

    Ask for and read the sellers Real Estate Condition Report
    Ask the seller to provide copies of Receipts & Warranties for your review DURING the Home Inspection for any:

    • Basement repairs
    • Roof replacement (& repairs)
    • Window Replacement
    • And any Electrical, Plumbing or Heating & Cooling Service calls

    Next, carefully read “The Standards of Practice”
    This is the heart of your Home Inspection Agreement.
    Remember, a home inspection is NOT All Inclusive and it’s not a To-do List of Maintenance items.
    It’s about finding the Major Defects.
    Maintenance issues are documented only as a courtesy.


    • Research Home Inspectors
    • Research the Home and
    • Read the Standards of Practice

    For more info on Risk Reduction, learn what you can do During your Home Inspection in the next upcoming article.

    8 Budget Friendly Home Improvement Ideas

    Improve your light fixtures
    Replace old, outdated and energy-hog light fixtures. Nowadays, there are lots of available light fixtures that are energy efficient and designed specifically for modern homes. There are some that are specifically designed for the living room, kitchen and bedroom. Some might cost a bit more than the regular lights but in the long run, it will help you save a lot of cash.

    Improve kitchen storage
    Give your kitchen more storage space by installing open shelves at unclaimed walls. Hooks can also be used to hold up some cooking tools. In addition, you can paint up those old looking kitchen cabinets to give your kitchen a fresh new look.

    Restore your floor’s beauty
    Clean and polish your floor to make it shine as new. You’ll be amazed on how this simple tip or task can boost your home’s overall look. If some parts of your flooring needs replacement, better do it before it cause further damage.

    Stop clutter at the door
    Keep your drop zone near your front door tidy at all times. Place some storage baskets; install some hooks along with a small bench to keep it a functional and efficient drop zone area. Remember to tidy it up at the end of the day to avoid clutter from piling up.

    Organize your closet
    Although your closet clutter is not visible at all times, it’s highly recommended to keep it organized at all times. Improvement starts within so start with your closet organization and make sure that everything is well kept inside of it.

    Accessorize your entryway
    Accessorize your entryway with some lighting, address number and letter box. For design inspirations, you can check out some of the most popular Pinterest boards. Remember, first impression last so better make your entry way stand out.

    Clean your carpets thoroughly
    If your carpet is too much to clean for you, hire professional help to do it. Professional cleaning of carpet can make it look and shine bright like new. It will be worth your money to have it cleaned professionally as it can give your home a cleaner and brighter look.

    Add some greenery
    Small potted plants inside your house can improve its overall look. Place some greenery at the corners of your house and be amazed on how it can give your interior a boost. You can place some small indoor plants on top of your kitchen table, coffee table and bedside table too!

    These home improvement ideas will not cost you a lot (some of them are even free to do!). So follow them along and pretty sure you can totally improve your home.

    Original article source