Homes being constructed today are more energy-efficient than those built even just a few years ago, primarily due to significant improvements in building products and techniques, as well as development of high-performance heating and cooling systems and other appliances. At InterNACHI, we believe that the benefits of foundation insulation are often overlooked. Heat loss from an uninsulated, conditioned basement may represent up to 50% of a home’s total heat loss in a tightly sealed, well-insulated home. Foundation insulation is used primarily to reduce heating costs and has little or no benefit in lowering cooling costs. In addition to reducing heating costs, foundation insulation increases comfort, reduces the potential for condensation and corresponding growth of mold, and increases the livability of below-grade rooms.

Foundation Types
Foundations types are either full basement, slab-on-grade, or crawlspace. Deep frostlines and low water tables often make a full basement the primary foundation of choice. However, slab-on-grade with walkout basement construction is common, and home additions often have crawlspace foundations.
 
Full Basements
Basements can be insulated either on the interior or exterior. Interior insulation can use conventional 2×4 framing with batt or wet-spray insulation. Unless the vapor retarder covering on the batt insulation is fire-rated, it should be covered with drywall. Rigid foam is also used on basement interiors. Furring strips are used to hold the foam insulation in place. Extruded or expanded polystyrene or polyisocyanurate insulation boards can also be used. Fire codes require most foam insulation board to be covered with drywall.
Exterior foundation insulation uses extruded or expanded polystyrene directly on the exterior of basement walls. Insulation exposed above-grade must be covered to protect it from physical abuse and the damaging effects of the sun. Typical cover materials include roll-metal stock to match the siding, cementous board attached to the sill plate, or application of a stucco-like finish.

A third option is to use a foam-form foundation system. Polystyrene foundation forms are set on conventional footings, much like building a Lego® wall. Concrete is placed into the forms where it cures to form both the structural and thermal components of the basement wall. Exterior foam, either foam boards placed on the exterior of a conventional foundation, or in a foam-form wall system, may provide a concealed entry path for subterranean termites. Termites can tunnel through and behind many foam products. If exterior foam insulation is used, a continuous metal termite shield must be used between the top of the foundation and the sill plate to force termites out of the foam and into view. Even then, treatment with conventional termiticides to stop the infestation may be difficult. Foundation waterproofing, site and footing drainage, and termite treatments are similar for insulated and uninsulated basements. However, if exterior foam insulation is to be used, use waterproofing products compatible with the foam.

Crawlspaces
In many respects, crawlspace walls are just short basement walls. Exterior foam and foam-form insulation systems can be used. However, interior crawlspace wall insulation is usually either foam board or draped insulation. If foam insulation is used, it extends from the top of the foundation to the top of the footing. The cavity formed by the rim joist should be filled with fiberglass batts or a foam-in-place product. Most fire codes allow up to 2 inches of polystyrene exposed on the interior of a crawlspace before covering is required.
If crawlspaces are insulated with fiberglass or mineral wool batts, the batts are usually tacked to the sill plate and draped down and onto the floor. Four-foot-wide batts encased in a plastic cover work well when installed horizontally. Conventional 16- or 24-inch-wide batts leave voids between the batts and do not perform as well.
Some jurisdictions require a ventilated crawlspace to help control moisture. Vent requirements are significantly reduced if the floor of the crawlspace is covered with plastic sheeting with edges overlapped and taped to reduce crawlspace moisture. If required, install operable vents so they can be closed. Don’t forget to fill the rim joist space with fiberglass batt or foamed-in-place foam to complete the insulation treatment.
The floor over the crawlspace can also be insulated. This raises the thermal envelope from the crawlspace walls to the floor. While this technique offers many advantages, piping must be freeze-proofed, and heating and cooling ducts must also be insulated.
Slab-on-Grade
Heat loss is greatest at or near the exterior grade. To reduce heating costs and reduce the cold-floor syndrome common to slab-on-grade construction, insulation is critical. Exterior foam insulation, similar to exterior basement insulation, works well. Insulation should extend from the top of the slab to the top of the footing. Foam insulation inside the footing is also common. It is necessary to provide a thermal break to prevent thermal wicking from the slab to the outside. Installing a pressure-treated nailer or beveled slab edge provide the thermal break while still allowing floor-covering attachment. Climate, cost of fuel, efficiency of heating equipment, and type of foundation help determine the cost-effective level of insulation.Savings from insulated foundations vary with fuel price, heating equipment performance, and climate. The cost of full-basement foundation insulation will vary, but builders have reported prices between $800 and $1,200. If the mortgage of a new home were increased by $1,200, the increase in home payment would be $106 annually for a 30-year, 8% loan. The combined heating and mortgage costs would be similar, and the home would be more comfortable and provide a healthier indoor environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

If a basement is unfinished, does it still need foundation insulation?

Yes, unless the floor above is insulated. Even if used only for storage and heating and cooling equipment, the basement is thermally connected to the rest of the house.
Is floor insulation above a basement or a crawlspace an alternative to foundation insulation?  

Yes, but keep in mind that pipes, ducts and HVAC equipment located in the basement would then need to be insulated to protect pipes from freezing. Sometimes these can be grouped in a small area with insulated walls while the floor above the rest of the basement is insulated.

Doesn’t placing insulation on the exterior improve energy performance?
If the basement incorporates passive solar design with a significant amount of south-facing windows, exterior insulation will be beneficial, provided the walls are exposed to solar gain. In a typical basement, the energy savings are negligible.
Should the interior of foundation walls have vapor barriers?
If interior insulation is used, yes. The concrete must be allowed to dry, but moist basement air typical of Midwest summers should not be allowed to reach the cool wall where it can condense. Batt insulation specifically designed for the interior of foundation walls has a perforated poly facing that prevents air from circulating through the batt, but allows water vapor from the wall to escape.
Will foundation insulation increase the risk of termite entry?
Foundation insulation does not increase the risk of termine entry. If termites are present in the soil and wood is used in the building, the risk of infestation exists. Exterior insulation may reduce the probability of early discovery, and inhibit treatment when discovered.
It is a good idea for the purposes of foundation inspection for termites to allow an open band or a small area where foundation insulation is omitted?
In some southern states with a high incidence of termite infestation, including Florida, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, eastern Texas, southern and central California, Georgia, Tennessee, and Hawaii, rigid foam insulation is not allowed to come in contact with the soil. In other areas, a 6-inch gap between the top of the foundation insulation and any wood framing member is required to permit visual inspection for termites. An InterNACHI inspector can be hired to perform required pest inspections.
Will exterior foundation insulation materials be chemically attacked by damp-proofing?
In can happen. Always follow the insulation manufacturer’s instructions for damp-proofing.
What about waterproofing?
Codes often require waterproofing instead of damp-proofing if the wall is adjacent to habitable space. Manufacturers of some foam products offer specific recommendations for waterproofing their foam systems.
How long will exterior foundation insulation last?
Properly installed foundation insulation should last as long as insulation installed anywhere else in the building.
Should foam insulation above grade be protected?
Foam above grade must be protected from both sun and physical damage. Ultraviolet light degrades and destroys most foams. In addition, damage from lawnmowers, balls, and other incidental contact can degrade the appearance and performance of the foam. Common materials used to protect the foam above grade include two- or three-layer stucco finishes, brush-on elastomeric or cementitious finishes, vertical vinyl siding, cement board, aluminum coil stock, and fiberglass panels.
Will insulating the foundation increase the risk of radon problems?
Radon entry into a home occurs through cracks and other openings below grade. The use of foundation insulation should minimize thermal stresses on the foundation and help minimize cracking, thus reducing radon entry.
Should crawlspaces be ventilated?
The CABO One and Two Family Code requires 1 square foot of crawlspace ventilation for each 150 square feet of floor area. Operable vents 1/10th as large can be used if a vapor barrier is installed. Warm, damp summer air can condense on the cool earth, even when covered with a poly vapor diffusion-retarder, increasing the risk of crawlspace moisture problems. Installing a vapor barrier and closing the operable vents is preferred. If local code interpretation requires crawlspace ventilation, insulating the floor and incorporating a vapor barrier is preferred.
Do foam insulation boards installed on the interior require fire protection?
All foams require thermal protection equal to ½-inch of gypsum wall board when installed on the interior of a building, including a crawlspace. The only exception is Celotex ThermaxÒ polyisocyanurate, which may be installed without a thermal barrier where approved by the local building code official.
Are insulating concrete form (ICF) systems less expensive than an insulated, poured-in-place concrete wall?
ICFs can be competitive, but costs are project-specific. Foam used in these systems should address the same concerns outlined above for foam board.

In summary, taking time to plan the best insulation system for you new home, and taking stock of the insulation currently installed in your home, can lead to energy savings in the long run. https://www.nachi.org/foundationinsulation.htm

Red Horse Home Inspection is proud to service the Black Hills of South Dakota including Rapid City, Black Hawk, Piedmont, Sturgis, Whitewood, Belle Fourche, Spearfish, Deadwood, Lead, Custer, Hot Springs, Hill City, Keystone, Hermosa, Box Elder, and surrounding areas.   Schedule your home inspection online  today.

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by Nick Gromicko, CMI® and Ben Gromicko

 

Building orientation is the practice of facing a building so as to maximize certain aspects of its surroundings, such as street appeal, to capture a scenic view, for drainage considerations, etc. With rising energy costs, it’s becoming increasingly important for builders to orient buildings to capitalize on the Sun’s free energy. For developers and builders, Graphic from EcoWho.comorienting a new home to take advantage of the warmth of the Sun will increase the home’s appeal and marketability.  For homeowners, it will increase their indoor comfort and reduce their energy bills.
Thus, building orientation, along with daylighting and thermal mass, are crucial considerations of passive solar construction that can be incorporated into virtually any new home design.  InterNACHI inspectors who consult with new homeowners can pass along this valuable information to help their clients reap long-term energy benefits and savings.

Facts and Figures

  • Many older homes’ designs were oriented through the use of a heliodon, which is a moveable light source used to mimic the Sun’s path that hovered over a small-scale model of a proposed building. Today, mathematical computer models calculate location-specific solar gain and seasonal thermal performance with precision, and have the added ability to rotate and animate a 3D color graphic model of a proposed building design in relation to the Sun’s path.
  • Homeowners may now tap into a specialty market of homes designed to spin on their axis in order to follow the hourly and seasonal path of the Sun. These UFO-shaped homes can spin a full 360 degrees in minutes and are built with unusually tall ceilings and windows for maximum efficiency in powering their solar energy system.
  • While some passive solar features are relatively recent innovations, the practice of orienting a home to the path of the Sun is as old as civilization itself. Examples are numerous, from south-facing doors on Neolithic and ancient Ming Dynasty houses, to the astonishing Pueblo ruins in southwestern Colorado.

The Sun’s True PositionGraphic from EcoWho.com

Schoolchildren (and most homeowners) will tell you that the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and, if this were true, building orientation would be a fairly simple matter. In reality, the sun rises and sets in the east and west only on the autumnal and vernal equinoxes, and something very different happens during the remaining 363 days of the year. The Earth’s tilt causes the Sun to rise and set slightly south of east and west in the winter, and slightly north of east and west in the summer.  This slight angle depends on the time of year and the observer’s distance from the equator.

As a result, the winter sun spends all of its time in the southern sky, and the summer sun spends much of its time in the northern sky (the sun crosses over into the southern sky during part of the day, depending on latitude). In the Southern Hemisphere, all of these directions are reversed, so the winter sun rises and sets in the northeast and northwest, respectively, and the summer sun rises and sets in the southeast and southwest, respectively.

How the Sun’s Variations in Position Can Affect Building Design

The relative position of the Sun is a major factor in heat gain in buildings, which makes accurate orientation of the building a fundamental consideration in passive solar construction.

Most importantly, a rectangular house’s ridgeline should run east-west to maximize the length of the southern side, which should also incorporate several windows in its design. For this reason, fewer windows should be located on the northern side of the house, where the summer sun can be intense. A deep roof overhang can shade the few windows in this area, as can different types of shade trees and bushes. Research supports an east-west ridgeline.  Homes re-oriented toward the Sun without any additional solar features save between 10% and 20% and some can save up to 40% on home heating, according to the Bonneville Power Administration and the City of San Jose, California.

Builders should note that these directions are given in reference to the Sun and not magnetic north, which can vary significantly from the Sun’s actual position. Magnetic north, as read from a compass, can still be used as a reference if the builder adjusts the figure based on the location-specific magnetic variation, which can be found in publicly available maps.

Building Tips for New Construction

The following tips will also assist homeowners and builders in maximizing heat gain through building orientation:

  • Orient the floor plan – not merely the building’s profile – toward the Sun. Design the home so that frequently used rooms, such as the kitchen and living room, are on the southern side. Occupants will appreciate the sunrays in the winter and relief from the sun in the summer. Patios and decks should be built on the south side of the house, where direct sunlight will permit their use for more hours during the day and more days during the year. Likewise, the garage, laundry room and other areas that are less frequently used should be situated at the northern part of the house, where they will act as buffers against cold winter winds.

Graphic from House-Energy.com

 

  • Beware of mountains. The north/south sun differential is exaggerated in hilly and mountainous regions, where significant climatic differences can be seen over comparatively small areas. A passive solar house should be constructed on the south-facing slope of a mountain to avoid the extreme shading created where the low-angled sun is blocked by the mountain on the north side. Halfway up the slope is ideal, as the mountain’s peak is exposed to strong winds, while cold night-time air flows into the underlying valley, which is also a natural drainage point.Where to locate a home built in a hilly area can greatly determine how much sun it receives if it's relying on passive solar energy for heat and natural light.
  • Plan for tree shade. Trees are an important factor in passive solar design because they can both provide needed shade on a balmy summer day and starve the house of natural light when it is needed most. Deciduous trees planted on the south side will lose their leaves in the winter and allow natural light to enter the house, while evergreen trees planted on the north side will provide shade from the summer sun. Builders should carefully consider the age, species, growth rate and mature canopy cover of existing trees before deciding where to orient a structure on a building lot. Trees also pose unique dangers, which are covered in InterNACHI’s article on Tree Dangers.
  • Install as many windows as possible, but not too many! The exact number of windows required is different for each house because it’s based on – among other considerations – the local climate.  A “sun-tempered” house should include enough glazing to equal 5% of the conditioned square footage of the house. Remember, though, that windows allow heat transfer more easily than walls, so too many windows can actually drain heat from the house during the cold winter months. Read InterNACHI’s article on Window Gas Fills and Window Films to learn how to insulate a house’s glazing.
  • Stray from the rule on east-west orientation, if needed. The east-west orientation of the ridgeline may be adjusted to accommodate other factors by up to 20 degrees with only a minimal impact on heat gain.
  • Driveways can get hot! Driveways and parking lots are made using gravel and asphalt – materials that heat up faster and reach higher temperatures than the rest of the yard. Excessive heat there can spill over to the adjacent house, which is why placement of the driveway or parking lot to the south or east of the building can reduce summer heat buildup in southern climates. During the cold winter months in northern climates, a south- or west-oriented driveway will melt snow faster and provide the home with greater warmth.
  • Glass need not be vertical. Custom glass is available that may be tilted to match the angle of the sun and minimize reflection. Angling glass away from the vertical makes it less insulative, however, so builders should balance potential gains in sun exposure with loss of heat to the outdoors.
  • Another environmental factor that should be considered in the equation of building orientation and positioning is prevailing winds, which are the winds that blow predominantly from a single, general direction over a particular point. Data for these winds can be used to design a building that can take advantage of summer breezes for passive cooling, as well as shield against adverse winds that can further chill the interior on an already cold winter day, or even prevent snow from piling up against windows and doors. Detailed information about prevailing winds for specific locations are plotted in a graphic tool called a wind rose, which is usually available from airports, larger libraries, Internet sources, and county agricultural extension offices. As a general rule of thumb, cold winter winds generally come from the north and west, which can be limited by using insulating glazing on these sides of the house. Also, remember that coastal areas typically experience breezes from an onshore direction, while cool breezes flow down valleys from mountain slopes.

Ultimately, factors such as street appeal and the property’s lot dimensions may restrict a builder’s ability to orient a building in strict accordance with passive solar techniques. Even while working under these constraints, however, a builder can still create an energy-efficient home through the implementation of energy-saving features, such as low-E windows, adequate insulation, air sealing, and cool roofs.  Read more about these energy investment features in InterNACHI’s Green Resources for Inspectors and Consumers.

In summary, homes oriented to the path of the Sun with require less energy for heating and cooling, resulting in lower energy bills and increased indoor comfort.  Homeowners who are considering new builds should consult an InterNACHI inspector who can meet with them and their builder to discuss ways to maximize low-cost and no-cost energy strategies. This article is from InterNACHI and can be found at https://www.nachi.org/building-orientation-optimum-energy.htm
Red Horse Home Inspection is proud do service the Black Hills of South Dakota including Rapid City, Black Hawk, Piedmont, Sturgis, Spearfish, Belle Fourche, Custer, Deadwood, Lead, Hot Springs, Hill City, Keystone, Hermosa, Box Elder, and surrounding areas.  Schedule your home inspection today.
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Electricity is an essential part of our lives. However, it has the potential to cause great harm. Electrical systems will function almost indefinitely, if properly installed and not overloaded or physically abused. Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords.

Some safety tips to remember:
  • Never use anything but the proper fuse to protect a circuit. 
  • Find and correct overloaded circuits.
  • Never place extension cords under rugs.
  • Outlets near water should be GFCI-type outlets.
  • Don’t allow trees near power lines to be climbed.
  • Keep ladders, kites, equipment and anything else away from overhead power lines.
Electrical Panels
Electricity enters the home through a control panel and a main switch where one can shut off all the power in an emergency. These panels are usually located in the basement. Control panels use either fuses or circuit breakers. Install the correct fuses for the panel. Never use a higher-numbered fuse or a metallic item, such as a penny. If fuses are used and there is a stoppage in power, look for the broken metal strip in the top of a blown fuse. Replace the fuse with a new one marked with the correct amperage. Reset circuit breakers from “off” to “on.” Be sure to investigate why the fuse or circuit blew. Possible causes include frayed wires, overloaded outlets, or defective appliances. Never overload a circuit with high-wattage appliances. Check the wattage on appliance labels. If there is frayed insulation or a broken wire, a dangerous short circuit may result and cause a fire. If power stoppages continue or if a frayed or broken wire is found, contact an electrician.
Outlets and Extension Cords
Make sure all electrical receptacles or outlets are three-hole, grounded outlets. If there is water in the area, there should be a GFCI or ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet. All outdoor outlets should be GFCIs. There should be ample electrical capacity to run equipment without tripping circuit breakers or blowing fuses. Minimize extension cord use. Never place them under rugs. Use extension cords sparingly and check them periodically. Use the proper electrical cord for the job, and put safety plugs in unused outlets.

Electrical Appliances

Appliances need to be treated with respect and care. They need room to breathe. Avoid enclosing them in a cabinet without proper openings, and do not store papers around them. Level appliances so they do not tip. Washers and dryers should be checked often. Their movement can put undue stress on electrical connections. If any appliance or device gives off a tingling shock, turn it off, unplug it, and have a qualified person correct the problem. Shocks can be fatal. Never insert metal objects into appliances without unplugging them. Check appliances periodically to spot worn or cracked insulation, loose terminals, corroded wires, defective parts and any other components that might not work correctly. Replace these appliances or have them repaired by a person qualified to do so.
Electrical Heating Equipment
Portable electrical heating equipment may be used in the home as a supplement to the home heating system. Caution must be taken when using these heating supplements. Keep them away from combustibles, and make sure they cannot be tipped over. Keep electrical heating equipment in good working condition. Do not use them in bathrooms because of the risk of contact with water and electrocution. Many people use electric blankets in their homes. They will work well if they are kept in good condition. Look for cracks and breaks in the wiring, plugs and connectors. Look for charred spots on both sides. Many things can cause electric blankets to overheat. They include other bedding placed on top of them, pets sleeping on top of them, and putting things on top of the blanket when it is in use. Folding the blankets can also bend the coils and cause overheating.
Children
Electricity is important to the workings of the home, but can be dangerous, especially to children. Electrical safety needs to be taught to children early on. Safety plugs should be inserted in unused outlets when toddlers are in the home. Make sure all outlets in the home have face plates. Teach children not to put things into electrical outlets and not to chew on electrical cords. Keep electrical wiring boxes locked. Do not allow children to come in contact with power lines outside. Never allow them to climb trees near power lines, utility poles or high tension towers.
Electricity and Water
A body can act like a lightning rod and carry the current to the ground. People are good conductors of electricity, particularly when standing in water or on a damp floor. Never use any electrical appliance in the tub or shower. Never touch an electric cord or appliance with wet hands. Do not use electrical appliances in damp areas or while standing on damp floors. In areas where water is present, use outlets with GFCIs. Shocks can be fatal.
Animal Hazards
Mice and other rodents can chew on electrical wires and damage them. If rodents are suspected or known to be in the home, be aware of the damage they may cause, and take measures to get rid of them.
Outside Hazards
There are several electrical hazards outside the home. Be aware of overhead and underground power lines. People have been electrocuted when an object they are moving has come in contact with the overhead power lines. Keep ladders, antennae, kites and poles away from power lines leading to the house and other buildings. Do not plant trees, shrubs or bushes under power lines or near underground power lines. Never build a swimming pool or other structure under the power line leading to your house. Before digging, learn the location of underground power lines.
Do not climb power poles or transmission towers. Never let anyone shoot or throw stones at insulators. If you have an animal trapped in a tree or on the roof near electric lines, phone your utility company. Do not take a chance of electrocuting yourself. Be aware of weather conditions when installing and working with electrical appliances. Never use electrical power tools or appliances with rain overhead or water underfoot. Use only outdoor lights, fixtures and extension cords. Plug into outlets with a GFCI. Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you see a downed power line, call the electric company, and warn others to stay away. If a power line hits your car while you are in it, stay inside unless the car catches fire. If the car catches fire, jump clear without touching metal and the ground at the same time.
MORE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS :
  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
  • Hire an InterNACHI inspector. InterNACHI inspectors must pass rigorous safety training and are knowledgeable in the ways to reduce the likelihood of electrocution.
  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old and damaged appliance cords immediately.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely and don’t overload them.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Don’t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances, such as space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
  • Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least 3 feet from all heaters.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch, as well as lights that flicker. Use safety closures to childproof electrical outlets.
  • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.
In summary, household electrocution can be prevented by following the tips offered in this guide and by hiring an InterNACHI inspector.https://www.nachi.org/electric.htm
Red Horse Home Inspection in proud to service the Black Hills of South Dakota including Rapid City, Black Hawk, Piedmont, Sturgis, Spearfish, Deadwood, Lead, Custer, Hot Springs, Keystone, Hill City, Hermosa, Box Elder, and surrounding areas.  Schedule your home inspection with us today.
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Buying a home? It’s probably the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. This is no time to shop for a cheap home inspection. The cost of a home inspection is very small relative to the value of the home being inspected. The additional cost of hiring an InterNACHI-Certified Professional Inspector® is almost insignificant.  Choosing the right home inspector can be tough with all of your options out there.

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You have recently been crunching the numbers, negotiating offers, adding up closing costs, shopping for mortgages, and trying to get the best deals. Don’t stop now. Don’t let your real estate agent, a “patty-cake” inspector, or anyone else talk you into skimping here.  InterNACHI-certified inspectors  perform the best inspections by far. 

InterNACHI-certified inspectors earn their fees many times over. They do more, they deserve more, and — yes — they generally charge a little more. Do yourself a favor… and pay a little more for the quality inspection you deserve.

The licensing of home inspectors only sets a minimum standard. Much like being up to code, any less would be illegal.  Imaginary people, children, psychics (who claim to “sense” if a house is OK) and even pets can theoretically be home inspectors.  InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, front-ends its membership requirements.

InterNACHI inspectors:

  • have to pass InterNACHI’s Online Inspector Examination, and re-take and pass it every three years (it’s free and open to everyone, and free to re-take);
  • have to complete InterNACHI’s online Code of Ethics Course (free to take after joining, and self-paced);
  • have to take InterNACHI’s online Standards of Practice Course (free to take after joining, and self-paced);
  • must submit a signed Membership Affidavit;
  • substantially adhere to InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice;
  • abide by InterNACHI’s Code of Ethics;
  • have to submit four mock inspection reports to InterNACHI’s Report Review Committee (for free) before performing their first paid home inspection for a client if the candidate has never performed a fee-paid home inspection previously;
  • within the first year of membership, have to successfully pass the following free online, accredited, and self-paced courses and exams:
    • InterNACHI’s “Safe Practices for the Home Inspector” course,
    • InterNACHI’s “25 Standards Every Inspector Should Know” course,
    • InterNACHI’s “Residential Plumbing Overview for Inspectors” course,
    • InterNACHI’s “How to Perform Residential Electrical Inspections” course,
    • InterNACHI’s “How to Perform Roof Inspections” course,
    • InterNACHI’s “How to Inspect HVAC Systems” course,
    • InterNACHI’s “Structural Issues for Home Inspectors” course,
    • InterNACHI’s “How to Perform Exterior Inspections” course,
    • InterNACHI’s “How to Inspect the Attic, Insulation, Ventilation and Interior” course,
    • InterNACHI’s “How to Perform Deck Inspections” course,
    • InterNACHI’s “How to Inspect for Moisture Intrusion” course, and
    • InterNACHI’s “How to Inspect Fireplaces, Stoves, and Chimneys” course.
  • have to pursue inspection-related training by taking 24 hours of additional accredited Continuing Education each year;
  • have to maintain their Online Continuing Education Log (free), per InterNACHI’s rigorous Continuing Education policy;
  • have access to InterNACHI’s Message Board for exchanging information and tips with colleagues and experts;
  • have access to InterNACHI’s “What’s New” section so that they can keep up with the latest news and events in the inspection industry;
  • have access to InterNACHI’s time-tested Inspection Agreement, which keeps them (and you) away from lawsuits;
  • have access to InterNACHI’s Report Review/Mentoring Service;
  • have to carry E&O Insurance (if their state requires it);
  • have access to a real estate agent Hold-Harmless Clause;
  • and have access to many other benefits, training, marketing tools and information to help themselves, as well as consumers and real estate professionals, provided for free by the world’s largest inspector association.
So, the next time you need a home inspector (or need to refer your clients to one), make sure that inspector is a member of InterNACHI.  https://www.nachi.org/blindc.htm
Red Horse Home Inspection is proud to service the Black Hills of South Dakota including Rapid City, Sturgis, Piedmont, Black Hawk, Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood, Custer, Hot Springs, Hill City, Keystone, Hermosa, Box Elder, and surrounding areas.  Schedule your home inspection today.
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by Nick Gromicko, CMI®, Ben Gromicko, and Kenton Shepard 

Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, and here at InterNACHI, we want to change that.

Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy efficiency, InterNACHI energy auditors can perform in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home.

Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons:

  • Federal, state, utility and local jurisdictions’ financial incentives, such as tax breaks, are very advantageous for homeowners in most parts of the U.S.
  • It saves money. It costs less to power a home that has been converted to be more energy-efficient.
  • It increases the comfort level indoors.
  • It reduces our impact on climate change. Many scientists now believe that excessive energy consumption contributes significantly to global warming.
  • It reduces pollution. Conventional power production introduces pollutants that find their way into the air, soil and water supplies.

1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house. 

As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:

  • Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used in place of air conditioners, which require a large amount of energy.
  • Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters.
  • Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. Specifically, they should be turned down at night and when no one is home. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70° F, for example, saves about 10% on heating costs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by allowing heating and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times that no one is home and at night. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy costs.
  • Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces.
  • At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate the room.
Image of a high-efficiency thermostat at the InterNACHI® House of Horrors® in Colorado.
 

2. Install a tankless water heater.

Demand-type water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don’t produce the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. A gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.

3. Replace incandescent lights.

The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time that lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:

  • CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
  • LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy.
  • LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.

4. Seal and insulate your home.

Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient, and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can assess  leakage in the building envelope and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.

The following are some common places where leakage may occur:

  • electrical receptacles/outlets;
  • mail slots;
  • around pipes and wires;
  • wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;
  • attic hatches;
  • fireplace dampers;
  • inadequate weatherstripping around doors;
  • baseboards;
  • window frames; and
  • switch plates.

Because hot air rises, air leaks are most likely to occur in the attic. Homeowners can perform a variety of repairs and maintenance to their attics that save them money on cooling and heating, such as:

  • Plug the large holes. Locations in the attic where leakage is most likely to be the greatest are where walls meet the attic floor, behind and under attic knee walls, and in dropped-ceiling areas.
  • Seal the small holes. You can easily do this by looking for areas where the insulation is darkened. Darkened insulation is a result of dusty interior air being filtered by insulation before leaking through small holes in the building envelope. In cold weather, you may see frosty areas in the insulation caused by warm, moist air condensing and then freezing as it hits the cold attic air. In warmer weather, you’ll find water staining in these same areas. Use expanding foam or caulk to seal the openings around plumbing vent pipes and electrical wires. Cover the areas with insulation after the caulk is dry.
  • Seal up the attic access panel with weatherstripping. You can cut a piece of fiberglass or rigid foamboard insulation in the same size as the attic hatch and glue it to the back of the attic access panel. If you have pull-down attic stairs or an attic door, these should be sealed in a similar manner.

5. Install efficient showerheads and toilets.

The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:

  • low-flow showerheads. They are available in different flow rates, and some have a pause button which shuts off the water while the bather lathers up;
  • low-flow toilets. Toilets consume 30% to 40% of the total water used in homes, making them the biggest water users. Replacing an older 3.5-gallon toilet with a modern, low-flow 1.6-gallon toilet can reduce usage an average of 2 gallons-per-flush (GPF), saving 12,000 gallons of water per year. Low-flow toilets usually have “1.6 GPF” marked on the bowl behind the seat or inside the tank;
  • vacuum-assist toilets. This type of toilet has a vacuum chamber that uses a siphon action to suck air from the trap beneath the bowl, allowing it to quickly fill with water to clear waste. Vacuum-assist toilets are relatively quiet; and
  • dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush toilets have been used in Europe and Australia for years and are now gaining in popularity in the U.S. Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water consumption by an additional 30%.

6. Use appliances and electronics responsibly.

Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances:

  • Refrigerators and freezers should not be located near the stove, dishwasher or heat vents, or exposed to direct sunlight. Exposure to warm areas will force them to use more energy to remain cool.
  • Computers should be shut off when not in use. If unattended computers must be left on, their monitors should be shut off. According to some studies, computers account for approximately 3% of all energy consumption in the United States.
  • Use efficient ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and electronics. These devices, approved by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program, include TVs, home theater systems, DVD players, CD players, receivers, speakers, and more. According to the EPA, if just 10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1.7 million acres of trees.
  • Chargers, such as those used for laptops and cell phones, consume energy when they are plugged in. When they are not connected to electronics, chargers should be unplugged.
  • Laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than desktop computers.

7. Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.

Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home’s interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches:

  • skylights. It’s important that they be double-pane or they may not be cost-effective. Flashing skylights correctly is key to avoiding leaks;
  • light shelves. Light shelves are passive devices designed to bounce light deep into a building. They may be interior or exterior. Light shelves can introduce light into a space up to 2½ times the distance from the floor to the top of the window, and advanced light shelves may introduce four times that amount;
  • clerestory windows.  Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set high on the wall. Protected from the summer sun by the roof overhang, they allow winter sun to shine through for natural lighting and warmth; and
  • light tubes.  Light tubes use a special lens designed to amplify low-level light and reduce light intensity from the midday sun. Sunlight is channeled through a tube coated with a highly reflective material, and then enters the living space through a diffuser designed to distribute light evenly.

8. Insulate windows and doors.

About one-third of the home’s total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:

  • Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option.
  • Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, apply weatherstripping around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when they’re closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors, if they aren’t already in place.
  • Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
  • If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don’t work, they should be repaired or replaced.

9. Cook smart.

An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking:

  • Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens. They use fans to force hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection ovens use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
  • Microwave ovens consume approximately 80% less energy than conventional ovens.
  • Pans should be placed on the matching size heating element or flame.
  • Using lids on pots and pans will heat food more quickly than cooking in uncovered pots and pans.
  • Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically.
  • When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster.

10. Change the way you do laundry.

  • Do not use the medium setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the medium setting saves less than half of the water and energy used for a full load.
  • Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not very soiled. Water that is 140° F uses far more energy than 103° F for the warm-water setting, but 140° F isn’t that much more effective for getting clothes clean.
  • Clean the lint trap every time before you use the dryer. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
  • If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks.
  • Spin-dry or wring clothes out before putting them into a dryer.
Homeowners who take the initiative to make these changes usually discover that the energy savings are more than worth the effort. InterNACHI home inspectors can make this process much easier because they can perform a more comprehensive assessment of energy-savings potential than the average homeowner can. Thank you InterNACHI for the article, find the original at  https://www.nachi.org/increasing-home-energy-efficiency-client.htm
Red Horse Home Inspection is proud to service the Black Hills of South Dakota including Rapid City, Sturgis, Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood, Custer, Hot Springs, Keystone, Hill City, Hermosa, Box Elder, and surrounding areas.  Schedule your home inspection today.
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Drinking Water

 The United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world. However, national statistics don’t tell you specifically about the quality and safety of the water coming out of your tap. That’s because drinking water quality varies from place to place, depending on the condition of the source water from which it is drawn, and the treatment it receives. Now you have a new way to find information about your drinking water if it comes from a public water supplier (The EPA doesn’t regulate private wells, but recommends that well.  owners have their water tested annually.) Starting in 1999, every community water supplier must provide an annual report (sometimes called a “consumer confidence report”) to its customers. The report provides information on your local drinking water quality, including the water’s source, the contaminants found in the water, and how consumers can get involved in protecting drinking water. You may want more information, or you may have more questions. One place you can go is to your water supplier, who is best equipped to answer questions about your specific water supply. 
 
What contaminants may be found in drinking water?
There is no such thing as naturally pure water. In nature, all water contains some impurities. As water flows in streams, sits in lakes, and filters through layers of soil and rock in the ground, it dissolves or absorbs the substances that it touches. Some of these substances are harmless. In fact, some people prefer mineral water precisely because minerals give it an appealing taste. However, at certain levels, minerals, just like man-made chemicals, are considered contaminants that can make water unpalatable or even unsafe. Some contaminants come from the erosion of natural rock formations. Other contaminants are substances discharged from factories, applied to farmlands, or used by consumers in their homes and yards. Sources of contaminants might be in your neighborhood or might be many miles away. Your local water quality report tells which contaminants are in your drinking water, the levels at which they were found, and the actual or likely source of each contaminant. Some ground water systems have established wellhead protection programs to prevent substances from contaminating their wells. Similarly, some surface-water systems protect the watershed around their reservoir to prevent contamination. Right now, states and water suppliers are working systematically to assess every source of drinking water, and to identify potential sources of contaminants. This process will help communities to protect their drinking water supplies from contamination. 
 
Where does drinking water come from?
A clean, constant supply of drinking water is essential to every community. People in large cities frequently drink water that comes from surface-water sources, such as lakes, rivers and reservoirs. Sometimes, these sources are close to the community. Other times, drinking water suppliers get their water from sources many miles away. In either case, when you think about where your drinking water comes from, it’s important to consider not just the part of the river or lake that you can see, but the entire watershed. The watershed is the land area over which water flows into the river, lake or reservoir. In rural areas, people are more likely to drink ground water that was pumped from a well. These wells tap into aquifers, the natural reservoirs under the earth’s surface, that may be only a few miles wide, or may span the borders of many states. As with surface water, it is important to remember that activities many miles away from you may affect the quality of ground water. Your annual drinking water quality report will tell you where your water supplier gets your water.
How is drinking water treated?
When a water supplier takes untreated water from a river or reservoir, the water often contains dirt and tiny pieces of leaves and other organic matter, as well as trace amounts of certain contaminants. When it gets to the treatment plant, water suppliers often add chemicals, called coagulants, to the water. These act on the water as it flows very slowly through tanks so that the dirt and other contaminants form clumps that settle to the bottom. Usually, this water then flows through a filter for removal of the smallest contaminants, such as viruses and Giardia. Most ground water is naturally filtered as it passes through layers of the earth into underground reservoirs known as aquifers. Water that suppliers pump from wells generally contains less organic material than surface water, and may not need to go through any or all of these treatments. The image The quality of the water will depend on local conditions. The most common drinking water treatment, considered by many to be one of the most important scientific advances of the 20th century, is disinfection. Most water suppliers add chlorine or another disinfectant to kill bacteria and other germs. Water suppliers use other treatments as needed, according to the quality of their source water. For example, systems whose water is contaminated with organic chemicals can treat their water with activated carbon, which adsorbs or attracts the chemicals dissolved in the water.
 
What if I have special health needs?
People who have HIV/AIDS, are undergoing chemotherapy, take steroids, or for another reason have a weakened immune system may be more susceptible to microbial contaminants, including Cryptosporidium, in drinking water. If you or someone you know fall into one of these categories, talk to your healthcare provider to find out if you need to take special precautions, such as boiling your water. Young children are particularly susceptible to the effects of high levels of certain contaminants, including nitrate and lead. To avoid exposure to lead, use water from the cold tap for making baby formula, drinking and cooking, and let the water run for a minute or more if the water hasn’t been turned on for six or more hours. If your water supplier alerts you that your water does not meet the EPA’s standard for nitrates, and you have children under 6 months old, consult your healthcare provider. You may want to find an alternate source of water that contains lower levels of nitrates for your child.
 
What are the health effects of contaminants in drinking water?
The EPA has set standards for more than 80 contaminants that may be present in drinking water and pose a risk to human health. The EPA sets these standards to protect the health of everybody, including vulnerable groups like children. The contaminants fall into two groups, according to the health effects that they cause. Your local water supplier will alert you through the local media, direct mail, or other means if there is a potential acute or chronic health effect from compounds in the drinking water. You may want to contact them for additional information specific to your area. Acute effects occur within hours or days of the time that a person consumes a contaminant. People can suffer acute health effects from almost any contaminant if they are exposed to extraordinarily high levels (as in the case of a spill). In drinking water,microbes, such as bacteria and viruses, are the contaminants with the greatest chance of reaching levels high enough to cause acute health effects. Most people’s bodies can fight off these microbial contaminants the way they fight off germs, and these acute contaminants typically don’t have permanent effects. Nonetheless, when high-enough levels occur, they can make people ill, and can be dangerous or deadly for a person whose immune system is already weak due to HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy, steroid use, or another reason. Chronic effects occur after people consume a contaminant at levels over the EPA’s safety standards for many years. The drinking water contaminants that can have chronic effects are chemicals (such as disinfection byproducts, solvents, and pesticides), radionuclides (such as radium), and minerals (such as arsenic). Examples of these chronic effects include cancer, liver and kidney problems, and reproductive difficulties. 
 
Who is responsible for drinking water quality?
The Safe Drinking Water Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the responsibility for setting national drinking water standards that protect the health of the 250 million people who get their water from public water systems. Other people get their water from private wells which are not subject to federal regulations. Since 1974, the EPA has set national standards for over 80 contaminants that may occur in drinking water. While the EPA and state governments set and enforce standards, local governments and private water suppliers have direct responsibility for the quality of the water that flows to your tap. Water systems test and treat their water, maintain the distribution systems that deliver water to consumers, and report on their water quality to the state. States and the EPA provide technical assistance to water suppliers and can take legal action against systems that fail to provide water that meets state and EPA standards.
What is a violation of a drinking water standard?
Drinking water suppliers are required to monitor and test their water many times, for many things, before sending it to consumers. These tests determine whether and how the water needs to be treated, as well as the effectiveness of the treatment process. If a water system consistently sends to consumers water that contains a contaminant at a level higher than EPA or state health standards regulate, or if the system fails to monitor for a contaminant, the system is violating regulations, and is subject to fines and other penalties. When a water system violates a drinking water regulation, it must notify the people who drink its water about the violation, what it means, and how they should respond. In cases where the water presents an immediate health threat, such as when people need to boil water before drinking it, the system must use television, radio and newspapers to get the word out as quickly as possible. Other notices may be sent by mail, or delivered with the water bill. Each water suppliers’ annual water quality report must include a summary of all the violations that occurred during the previous year.
How can I help protect my drinking water?
Using the new information that is now available about drinking water, citizens can be aware of the challenges of keeping drinking water safe and take an active role in protecting drinking water. There are lots of ways that individuals can get involved. Some people will help clean up the watershed that is the source of their community’s water. Other people might get involved in wellhead protection activities to prevent the contamination of the ground water source that provides water to their community. These people will be able to make use of the information that states and water systems are gathering as they assess their sources of water.  Concerned citizens may want to attend public meetings to ensure that their community’s need for safe drinking water is considered in making decisions about land use. You may wish to participate when your state and water system make funding decisions. And all consumers can do their part to conserve water and to dispose properly of household chemicals. https://www.nachi.org/waterquality.htm
Schedule your water test with Red Horse Home Inspection today.  We proudly service the Black Hills including Rapid City, Sturgis, Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood, Custer, Hot Springs, Keystone, Hill City, Hermosa, Box Elder, and surrounding areas.
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Eventually, your buyers are going to conduct an inspection. You may as well know what they are going to find by getting a pre-listing inspection. As the seller it is a good idea to get a pre-listing inspection performed ahead of time.  This helps in many ways, such as:

  • It allows you to see your home through the eyes of a critical and neutral third party.
  • It alerts you to immediate safety issues before agents and visitors tour your home.
  • It may alert you to items of immediate concern, such as radon gas or active termite infestation.
  • It permits you to make repairs ahead of time so that …
  • Defects won’t become negotiating stumbling blocks later.
  • There is no delay in obtaining the Use and Occupancy Permit.
  • You have the time to get reasonably priced contractors or make the repairs yourself, if qualified.
  • It helps you to price your home realistically.
  • It may relieve prospects’ concerns and suspicions.
  • It may encourage the buyer to waive his inspection contingency.
  • It reduces your liability by adding professional supporting documentation to your disclosure statement.

Never hire an inspector who is not a member of InterNACHI, which provides the most trusted and rigorous training for inspectors in the industry.

Copies of the inspection report, along with receipts for any repairs, should be made available to potential buyers.  This article is from InterNACHI and can be found at https://www.nachi.org/sellersinspection.htm
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Roofs play a key role in protecting building occupants and interiors from outside weather conditions, primarily moisture. The roof, insulation and ventilation must all work together to keep the building free from moisture. Roofs also provide protection from the sun. In fact, if designed correctly, roof overhangs can protect the building’s exterior walls from moisture and sun. The concerns regarding moisture, standing water, durability and appearance are different, reflected in the choices of roofing materials.
 
Maintaining Your Roof
Homeowner maintenance includes cleaning the leaves and debris from the roof’s valleys and gutters. Debris in the valleys can cause water to wick under the shingles and cause damage to the interior of the roof. Clogged rain gutters can cause water to flow back under the shingles on the eaves and cause damage, regardless of the roofing material. including composition shingle, wood shake, tile or metal. The best way to preserve your roof is to stay off it. Also, seasonal changes in the weather are usually the most destructive forces.
A leaky roof can damage ceilings, walls and furnishings. To protect buildings and their contents from water damage, roofers repair and install roofs made of tar or asphalt and gravel; rubber or thermoplastic; metal; or shingles made of asphalt, slate, fiberglass, wood, tile, or other material. Roofers also may waterproof foundation walls and floors.
There are two types of roofs:  flat and pitched (sloped). Most commercial, industrial and apartment buildings have flat or slightly sloping roofs. Most houses have pitched roofs. Some roofers work on both types; others specialize. Most flat roofs are covered with several layers of materials. Roofers first put a layer of insulation on the roof deck. Over the insulation, they then spread a coat of molten bitumen, a tar-like substance. Next, they install partially overlapping layers of roofing felt, a fabric saturated in bitumen, over the surface. Roofers use a mop to spread hot bitumen over the surface and under the next layer. This seals the seams and makes the surface watertight. Roofers repeat these steps to build up the desired number of layers, called plies. The top layer either is glazed to make a smooth finish or has gravel embedded in the hot bitumen to create a rough surface. An increasing number of flat roofs are covered with a single-ply membrane of waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compounds. Roofers roll these sheets over the roof’s insulation and seal the seams. Adhesive mechanical fasteners, or stone ballast hold the sheets in place. The building must be of sufficient strength to hold the ballast.
Most residential roofs are covered with shingles. To apply shingles, roofers first lay, cut, and tack 3-foot strips of roofing felt lengthwise over the entire roof. Then, starting from the bottom edge, they staple or nail overlapping rows of shingles to the roof. Workers measure and cut the felt and shingles to fit intersecting roof surfaces and to fit around vent pipes and chimneys. Wherever two roof surfaces intersect, or where shingles reach a vent pipe or chimney, roofers cement or nail flashing strips of metal or shingle over the joints to make them watertight. Finally, roofers cover exposed nailheads with roofing cement or caulking to prevent water leakage. Roofers who use tile, metal shingles or shakes follow a similar process. Some roofers also water-proof and damp-proof masonry and concrete walls and floors. To prepare surfaces for waterproofing, they hammer and chisel away rough spots, or remove them with a rubbing brick, before applying a coat of liquid waterproofing compound. They also may paint or spray surfaces with a waterproofing material, or attach a waterproofing membrane to surfaces. When damp-proofing, they usually spray a bitumen-based coating on interior or exterior surfaces.
A number of roofing materials are available…
 
Asphalt
 
Asphalt is the most commonly used roofing material. Asphalt products include shingles, roll-roofing, built-up roofing, and modified bitumen membranes. Asphalt shingles are typically the most common and economical choice for residential roofing. They come in a variety of colors, shapes and textures. There are four different types: strip, laminated, interlocking, and large individual shingles. Laminated shingles consist of more than one layer of tabs to provide extra thickness. Interlocking shingles are used to provide greater wind resistance. And large individual shingles generally come in rectangular and hexagonal shapes. Roll-roofing products are generally used in residential applications, mostly for underlayments and flashings. They come in four different types of material: smooth-surfaced, saturated felt, specialty-eaves flashings, and mineral-surfaced. Only mineral-surfaced is used alone as a primary roof covering for small buildings, such as sheds. Smooth-surfaced products are used primarily as flashing to seal the roof at intersections and protrusions, and for providing extra deck protection at the roof’s eaves and valleys. Saturated felt is used as an underlayment between the roof deck and the roofing material. Specialty-eaves flashings are typically used in climates where ice dams and water backups are common. Built-up roofing (or BUR) is the most popular choice of roofing used on commercial, industrial and institutional buildings. BUR is used on flat and low-sloped roofs and consists of multiple layers of bitumen and ply sheets. Components of a BUR system include the roof deck, a vapor retarder, insulation, membrane, and surfacing material. A modified bitumen-membrane assembly consists of continuous plies of saturated felts, coated felts, fabrics or mats between which alternate layers of bitumen are applied, either surfaced or unsurfaced. Factory surfacing, if applied, includes mineral granules, slag, aluminum or copper. The bitumen determines the membrane’s physical characteristics and provides primary waterproofing protection, while the reinforcement adds strength, puncture-resistance and overall system integrity.

Metal

Most metal roofing products consist of steel or aluminum, although some consist of copper and other metals. Steel is invariably galvanized by the application of a zinc or a zinc-aluminum coating, which greatly reduces the rate of corrosion. Metal roofing is available as traditional seam and batten, tiles, shingles and shakes. Products also come in a variety of styles and colors. Metal roofs with solid sheathing control noise from rain, hail and bad weather just as well as any other roofing material. Metal roofing can also help eliminate ice damming at the eaves. And in wildfire-prone areas, metal roofing helps protect buildings from fire, should burning embers land on the roof. Metal roofing costs more than asphalt, but it typically lasts two to three times longer than asphalt and wood shingles.

Wood

Wood shakes offer a natural look with a lot of character. Because of variations in color, width, thickness, and cut of the wood, no two shake roofs will ever look the same. Wood offers some energy benefits, too. It helps to insulate the attic, and it allows the house to breathe, circulating air through the small openings under the felt rows on which wooden shingles are laid. A wood shake roof, however, demands proper maintenance and repair, or it will not last as long as other products. Mold, rot and insects can become a problem. The life-cycle cost of a shake roof may be high, and old shakes can’t be recycled. Most wood shakes are unrated by fire safety codes. Many use wipe or spray-on fire retardants, which offer less protection and are only effective for a few years. Some pressure-treated shakes are impregnated with fire retardant and meet national fire safety standards. Installing wood shakes is more complicated than roofing with composite shingles, and the quality of the finished roof depends on the experience of the contractor, as well as the caliber of the shakes used. The best shakes come from the heartwood of large, old cedar trees, which are difficult to find. Some contractors maintain that shakes made from the outer wood of smaller cedars, the usual source today, are less uniform, more subject to twisting and warping, and don’t last as long.

Concrete and Tile

Concrete tiles are made of extruded concrete that is colored. Traditional roofing tiles are made from clay. Concrete and clay tile roofing systems are durable, aesthetically appealing, and low in maintenance. They also provide energy savings and are environmentally friendly. Although material and installation costs are higher for concrete and clay tile roofs, when evaluated on a price-versus-performance basis, they may out-perform other roofing materials. Tile adorns the roofs of many historic buildings, as well as modern structures. In fact, because of its extreme durability, longevity and safety, roof tile is the most prevalent roofing material in the world. Tested over centuries, roof tile can successfully withstand the most extreme weather conditions including hail, high wind, earthquakes, scorching heat, and harsh freeze-thaw cycles. Concrete and clay roof tiles also have unconditional Class A fire ratings, which means that, when installed according to building code, roof tile is non-combustible and maintains that quality throughout its lifetime. In recent years, manufacturers have developed new water-shedding techniques and, for high-wind situations, new adhesives and mechanical fasteners. Because the ultimate longevity of a tile roof also depends on the quality of the sub-roof, roof tile manufacturers are also working to improve flashings and other aspects of the underlayment system. Under normal circumstances, properly installed tile roofs are virtually maintenance-free. Unlike other roofing materials, roof tiles actually become stronger over time. Because of roof tile’s superior quality and minimal maintenance requirements, most roof tile manufacturers offer warranties that range from 50 years to the lifetime of the structure.

Concrete and clay tile roofing systems are also energy-efficient, helping to maintain livable interior temperatures (in both cold and warm climates) at a lower cost than other roofing systems. Because of the thermal capacity of roof tiles and the ventilated air space that their placement on the roof surface creates, a tile roof can lower air-conditioning costs in hotter climates, and produce more constant temperatures in colder regions, which reduces potential ice accumulation. Tile roofing systems are made from naturally occurring materials and can be easily recycled into new tiles or other useful products. They are produced without the use of chemical preservatives, and do not deplete limited natural resources.

Single-Ply

Single-ply membranes are flexible sheets of compounded synthetic materials that are manufactured in a factory. There are three types of membranes: thermosets, thermoplastics, and modified bitumens. These materials provide strength, flexibility, and long-lasting durability. The advantages of pre-fabricated sheets are the consistency of the product quality, the versatility in their attachment methods, and, therefore, their broader applicability. They are inherently flexible, used in a variety of attachment systems, and compounded for long-lasting durability and watertight integrity for years of roof life. Thermoset membranes are compounded from rubber polymers. The most commonly used polymer is EPDM (often referred to as “rubber roofing”). Thermoset membranes make successful roofing materials because they can withstand the potentially damaging effects of sunlight and most common chemicals generally found on roofs. The easiest way to identify a thermoset membrane is by its seams, which require the use of adhesive, either liquid or tape, to form a watertight seal at the overlaps. Thermoplastic membranes are based on plastic polymers. The most common thermoplastic is PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which has been made flexible through the inclusion of certain ingredients called plasticizers. Thermoplastic membranes are identified by seams that are formed using either heat or chemical welding. These seams are as strong or stronger than the membrane itself. Most thermoplastic membranes are manufactured to include a reinforcement layer, usually polyester or fiberglass, which provides increased strength and dimensional stability. Modified bitumen membranes are hybrids that incorporate the high-tech formulation and pre-fabrication advantages of single-ply with some of the traditional installation techniques used in built-up roofing. These materials are factory-fabricated layers of asphalt, “modified” using a rubber or plastic ingredient for increased flexibility, and combined with reinforcement for added strength and stability. There are two primary modifiers used today: APP (atactic polypropylene) and SBS (styrene butadiene styrene). The type of modifier used may determine the method of sheet installation. Some are mopped down using hot asphalt, and some use torches to melt the asphalt so that it flows onto the substrate. The seams are sealed by the same technique.

Are You at Risk?

 
If you aren’t sure whether your house is at risk from natural disasters, check with your local fire marshal, building official, city engineer, or planning and zoning administrator. They can tell you whether you are in a hazard area. Also, they usually can tell you how to protect yourself and your house and property from damage. It is never a bad idea to ask an InterNACHI inspector whether your roof is in need of repair during your next scheduled inspection. Protection can involve a variety of changes to your house and property which that can vary in complexity and cost. You may be able to make some types of changes yourself. But complicated or large-scale changes and those that affect the structure of your house or its electrical wiring and plumbing should be carried out only by a professional contractor licensed to work in your state, county or city. One example is fire protection, accomplished by replacing flammable roofing materials with fire-resistant materials. This is something that most homeowners would probably hire a contractor to do.

Replacing Your Roof

The age of your roof is usually the major factor in determining when to replace it. Most roofs last many years, if properly installed, and often can be repaired rather than replaced. An isolated leak usually can be repaired. The average life expectancy of a typical residential roof is 15 to 20 years. Water damage to a home’s interior or overhangs is commonly caused by leaks from a single weathered portion of the roof, poorly installed flashing, or from around chimneys and skylights. These problems do not necessarily mean you need a new roof.

Fire-Resistant Materials

 
Some roofing materials, including asphalt shingles, and especially wood shakes, are less resistant to fire than others. When wildfires and brush fires spread to houses, it is often because burning branches, leaves, and other debris buoyed by the heated air and carried by the wind fall onto roofs. If the roof of your house is covered with wood or asphalt shingles, you should consider replacing them with fire-resistant materials. You can replace your existing roofing materials with slate, terra cotta or other types of tile, or standing-seam metal roofing. Replacing roofing materials is difficult and dangerous work. Unless you are skilled in roofing and have all the necessary tools and equipment, you will probably want to hire a roofing contractor to do the work. Also, a roofing contractor can advise you on the relative advantages and disadvantages of various fire-resistant roofing materials.

 

Hiring a Licensed Contractor
One of the best ways to select a roofing contractor is to ask friends and relatives for recommendations. You may also contact a professional roofers association for referrals. Professional associations have stringent guidelines for their members to follow. The roofers association in your area will provide you with a list of available contractors. Follow these guidlines when selecting a contractor:
  • get three references and review their past work;
  • get at least three bids;
  • get a written contract, and don’t sign anything until you completely understand the terms;
  • pay 10% down or $1,000 whichever is less;
  • don’t let payments get ahead of the work;
  • don’t pay cash;
  • don’t make final payment until you’re satisfied with the job; and
  • don’t rush into repairs or be pressured into making an immediate decision.
You’ve Chosen the Contractor… What About the Contract?
 
Make sure everything is in writing. The contract is one of the best ways to prevent problems before you begin. The contract protects you and the contractor by including everything you have both agreed upon. Get all promises in writing and spell out exactly what the contractor will and will not do.
…and Permits?
 
Your contract should call for all work to be performed in accordance with all applicable building codes. The building codes set minimum safety standards for construction. Generally, a building permit is required whenever structural work is involved. The contractor should obtain all necessary building permits. If this is not specified in the contract, you may be held legally responsible for failure to obtain the required permits. The building department will inspect your roof when the project has reached a certain stage, and again when the roof is completed.
and Insurance?
 
Make sure the contractor carries workers’ compensation insurance and general liability insurance in case of accidents on the job. Ask to have copies of these policies for your job file. You should protect yourself from mechanics’ liens against your home in the event the contractor does not pay subcontractors or material suppliers. You may be able to protect yourself by having a “release of lien” clause in your contract. A release of lien clause requires the contractor, subcontractors and suppliers to furnish a “certificate of waiver of lien.” If you are financing your project, the bank or lending institution may require that the contractor, subcontractors and suppliers verify that they have been paid before releasing funds for subsequent phases of the project.
Keep these points in mind if you plan to have your existing roofing materials replaced:
  • Tile, metal, and slate are more expensive roofing materials, but if you need to replace your roofing anyway, it may be worthwhile to pay a little more for the added protection these materials provide.
  • Slate and tile can be much heavier than asphalt shingles or wood shingles. If you are considering switching to one of these heavier coverings, your roofing contractor should determine whether the framing of your roof is strong enough to support them.
  • If you live in an area where snow loads are a problem, consider switching to a modern standing-seam metal roof, which will usually shed snow efficiently.  This article is from InterNACHI and can be found at https://www.nachi.org/roofs.htm.
  • Schedule your home inspection with Red Horse Home Inspection LLC.
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The term “manufactured home” was adopted in 1980 by the the U.S. Congress to describe a type of house that is constructed in a factory to comply with a building code developed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In the past, manufactured homes were called “mobile homes,” a term that many people still use. However, “mobile” is no longer an accurate name because fewer than 5% of such homes are ever moved off the owner’s original site.

Warranties and Other Protections for the Home Buyer

Federal standards and written warranties protect buyers of manufactured homes. Every manufactured home now offered for sale has a small red and silver seal that certifies that the home has been inspected during construction and meets federal home construction and safety standards. These standards were developed to assure a suitable level of performance in every manufactured home constructed in the U.S. Such standards, together with the manufacturers’ warranties, serve to protect you — the home buyer.

Federal Construction and Safety Standards
Since mid-1976, all manufactured homes have been constructed to meet the federal building standards adopted and administered by HUD. This national code is called the National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. The code regulates manufactured home design and construction, strength and durability, fire-resistance, and energy-efficiency. It also prescribes the performance standards for the heating, plumbing, air conditioning, thermal, and electrical systems. The National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act also requires that you receive a homeowner’s manual when you buy your home. This manual will explain, among other things, what to do if something goes wrong with your home. Some of the important subjects covered in the homeowner’s manual include general maintenance, safety (including a fire-safety checklist), and state agencies involved in enforcing the federal manufactured home standards.
 
The Manufacturer’s Warranty
Warranties vary among different manufacturers. Ask to see the warranties on the manufactured homes that interest you and compare them before you buy. All retailers are required to have copies of the manufacturers’ warranties that are offered on the homes they sell, and they will make them available to you if you ask to see them. By reading the warranty before you buy your home, you can make sure the home you buy is covered by the kind of warranty protection you want.

When you buy your manufactured home, you will receive the manufacturer’s written warranty from your retailer. The manufacturer’s written warranty usually covers substantial defects in workmanship in the structure, including factory-installed plumbing, heating, and electrical systems, and factory-installed appliances (and these also may be covered by appliance warranties). It is important to understand that the manufacturer’s warranty will not provide coverage for problems resulting from lack of proper installation or maintenance, accidents, owner’s negligence, or unauthorized repairs. Therefore, to make sure that your home’s warranty will be honored, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing, maintaining and repairing your home. In many cases, the retailer will perform service under the manufacturer’s warranty. However, it is the manufacturer who has the final responsibility. Be aware that if the retailer must order parts from the manufacturer to make a warranty repair, shipping and delivery of those parts may affect the amount of time it takes to get service. Before you buy your manufactured home, ask to see the written warranties offered on the homes that the retailer sells. Manufacturers warranties cover many, but not all, types of potential problems.

The answers to the following questions should help you get the kind of warranty protection you want:

  • What warranties come with the manufactured home? You may get warranties from the home manufacturer, the retailer, the transporter, the installer, and the appliance manufacturers.
  • What exactly does each of these warranties cover? What don’t they cover?
  • Do the manufacturer’s or retailer’s written warranties on the home cover transportation and installation? If not, are installation and transportation covered by separate, written warranties?
  • How long do the warranties last?
  • How do you get warranty service?
  • Who will provide service under the warranties?
  • Where will the warranty service be performed?

Consider these important questions about warranty coverage before you decide which home to buy. “Implied warranties” are unspoken, unwritten promises created by state law. Ask to see all warranties in writing. Make sure you understand who offers the warranty, who performs the service, and what is and is not covered before selecting and buying your manufactured home. In addition to any written warranty offered by the manufacturer, you may have certain “implied warranties” when you buy a manufactured home. An implied warranty includes the unspoken, unwritten promise that a product is fit to be sold and used for its intended purposes–for example, that a manufactured home is fit to be sold and lived in. Such implied warranties protect you even if no written warranty is offered by the manufacturer or retailer. Most states allow sales that exclude implied warranties (or “as is” sales). However, some states do not permit a seller to exclude or limit implied warranties. Contact your state or local consumer protection office to ask about implied warranty protections in your state. When buying a manufactured home, especially a used one, make sure you know whether it is being sold “as is” — with no implied or written warranty.

The Retailer’s Warranty

A retailer may offer a written warranty on a home. Written warranties are not alike. But, typically, the retailer’s warranty will tell you the terms of the warranty, what you must do to keep the warranty in effect, what you can reasonably expect from the retailer, and that the home has been installed according to manufacturer specifications and local regulations. The warranty also will guarantee that the home has a HUD inspection seal, and that optional appliances and equipment have been properly installed. Remember to ask to see the retailer’s warranty before buying to check on what it does and does not cover. You should know that a retailer’s warranty will not provide coverage for problems that arise from owner’s negligence, failure to provide proper notice for service, and unauthorized repairs.

Appliance Warranties

The appliances in your home will also be covered by warranties. In many cases, these warranties, along with use and care manuals, are provided by the individual appliance manufacturers. In addition, some states require that the home manufacturer’s warranty cover the appliances that come with your home. Read the appliance warranties and note the duration and terms. In addition, check instructions in the warranty about how to get service. In most cases, the quickest service can be obtained from the appliance manufacturer’s authorized service centers. Check the use and care information on the appliance warranties for a list of such service centers or service agents. However, if warranty service is not available from the appliance manufacturer or its servicer, contact your retailer for assistance. The home manufacturer’s warranty, if any, may provide warranty service for your problem. The retailer may offer a written warranty, but not everything will be covered.

Placement and Selection of Your Manufactured Home

Manufactured homes offer a wide variety of styles and prices. There is a manufactured home to fit almost every budget. Some models are designed for those whose budgets limit them to a lower-cost home. Other models have such higher-priced features as cathedral ceilings, formal dining rooms, and wood-burning fireplaces. The home can be a single-section unit or a larger multi-section unit. Multi-section homes come from the factory in two or more parts that are joined at the site. A single-section home comes from the factory as one complete unit. With more than 150 companies building manufactured homes in more than 400 factories, and with manufactured home sales centers located throughout the United States, you have an opportunity to choose from a wide variety of home styles.

Placing Your Manufactured Home

Before you select and buy your home, you should decide where it will be located. There are three basic options you can consider. First, you could plan to place your manufactured home on land you own or intend to buy. If you choose this option, you must consider zoning laws, restrictive covenants, and hookup regulations. Such restrictions may prevent you from placing a manufactured home on a particular piece of land. Second, you could plan to place your manufactured home on a leased homesite in a manufactured housing development, in which case the company managing the development will normally take care of these considerations. Third, you could decide to buy a home already on a homesite in a planned community. Then, of course, you would not be faced with the typical placement concerns.

Placing Your Home on Your Own Land
If you own or plan to buy land for your manufactured home, there are several matters you should consider.
  • zoning:  In cities and suburban areas, and in some semi-rural areas, you may face zoning requirements that must be met. In certain areas, there may be a prohibition against manufactured homes, or certain requirements regarding their size and exterior appearance. You can find out if there are any restrictions or requirements by contacting the local community’s planning and land use department. Consult your local telephone directory for the office nearest you.
  • restrictive covenants:  These are limitations in property deeds that control how you can use the land. These may include a requirement that homes be a certain size, or a prohibition that lands not be used for certain purposes. The title search, conducted when you buy the land, may reveal information about such restrictions. Sometimes, however, the restrictions are described in ways that are difficult to understand. You may want to check with an experienced real estate attorney to see if there are any restrictive covenants that would keep you from placing your home on the land you are considering.
  • utilities:  Although a manufactured home comes complete with plumbing, electrical, and heating systems, it must, like all homes, be connected to electrical, water and sewage facilities. If your site is in a well-developed area, all necessary utilities may be available, subject to connection charges. Find out exactly what utilities are available and how much it will cost to connect your home to all utility sources. Contact your local public utilities division for information about utility services in your area. Make sure that the applicable zoning laws and the deed on your land will allow a manufactured home to be placed there.
Placing Your Home in a Rental Community
You may want to place your home on a leased site in a community especially planned for manufactured housing. Placing your home in such a community usually involves fewer practical problems. If you are interested in a rental community, visit the ones in the area where you wish to live. In addition, some manufactured home retailers may operate their own rental communities, so you may wish to ask the retailer for information and advice about them. Find out what each community offers and the differences among them, including the financial aspects, such as rental and installation costs and any miscellaneous service charges. There also are several questions you will want to ask before deciding upon a particular rental community.
  • Is a written lease required and, if so, for how long?
  • What are the charges for utility connections or other services?
  • Do the community’s rules require that it be responsible for installing your home, or can you let your retailer do the job?
  • What charges will be made for installation? Who will be responsible for ground maintenance, snow removal, refuse collection, street maintenance, and mail delivery?
  • What are the community’s rules and regulations? For example, are pets prohibited? Can you accept and live with such rules?
  • Are there any special requirements or restrictions when you sell your home?
  • Are there any provisions to protect you if the owner of the manufactured home community where you lease your homesite sells the property for another purpose?
Here are some issues regarding utilities that you must consider when placing your manufactured home in a rental community:
  • electrical facilities: Electricity is usually available in all areas. But if the area where you plan to live does not have ready access to electric power, connection could be quite expensive. Check with the local power company to find out whether electricity is readily accessible.
  • water facilities: In many locations, there may not be local government-supplied water lines. If there is no water, you may have to drill a well. Do not assume that all drilling will provide water. Check with a local well-drilling company about costs and whether success is guaranteed. Also, check with local health authorities to make certain there are no problems with the quality of the water in the area.
  • sewage facilities: Many areas still rely on septic tank systems instead of a city or county sanitary sewage system. If you cannot connect your home to a sewage system, you must check with local authorities about installing a septic tank. Properly installed septic systems can work quite well. But sometimes they cannot be used, for example, where there is soft ground that is not able to absorb the discharged waste. For more information, contact the local health department or the office responsible for granting building permits.

Buying a Manufactured Home in a Planned Community

You may want to consider another alternative and buy a home that already is located in a planned community. As with a rental community, there are fewer practical problems involved because you do not have to concern yourself about placement. Be sure to check into the costs, services, and rules of any planned community before you buy. You should consider the matters such as who is responsible for utility connections, if there will be any restrictions on resale of your home, and whether you can live with that community’s rules.
Choosing a Manufactured Home
There are several matters you may want to consider when choosing a home.
  • How do I want my home to look?

You may select from a variety of exterior designs, depending upon your taste and your budget. External siding options come in a variety of colors and materials, including metal, vinyl, wood and hardboard. You also may select such outside design features as a bay window, a gable front, or a pitched roof with shingles. Awnings, enclosures around the crawlspace, patio covers, decks, and steps also are available.

  • What size home and floor plan do I want or need?

Manufactured homes are available in a variety of floor plans that include spacious living rooms, dining rooms, fully equipped kitchens, one or more bedrooms, family rooms, and utility rooms. Depending upon your needs and the size of your lot, you can choose a single-section home plan or a larger multi-section design. Homes range in size from 400 to 2,500 square feet.

  • Check state laws.

They may limit the movement of your home after installation. If there is a chance that you might relocate your home to another state, find out about state laws covering transportation of manufactured homes. Some states, particularly eastern states, have certain regulations, such as weight, size or width limitations, that may prevent you from moving your home. Before you purchase, check with the appropriate authorities in the states through which you may want to transport your home. If you do move your home, you will be faced with extra expenses. Besides transporting costs, which include licensing fees to take your home through a state, you will have the cost of foundation construction, installation, and utility hookups.

  • What interior options and features are available?

Manufactured homes have many options and features for a variety of floor plans. You can also choose color and quality options for carpets and wall coverings, and you can choose other features, such as custom cabinets, window designs, and wood-burning fireplaces. Some home models and manufacturers offer more custom options than others. Ask your retailer what options are offered on the homes they sell.

  • What appliance packages are available?

Most manufactured homes are sold with a refrigerator and range. But some appliance packages may include a microwave oven, trash compactor, garbage disposal, washer/dryer, and built-in indoor grill. Central air conditioning also is an option. Be sure your energy package is designed for the climate zone where your home is located.

  • What energy-efficiency options are available?

The National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards require separate energy-efficiency levels for the three different temperature zones of the United States. However, you may wish to increase your home’s energy-efficiency. There are a variety of optional energy packages available, such as increased insulation, double- and triple-glazed windows, sheathing products, self-storing storm windows, and high-efficiency water heaters, furnaces, refrigerators, and air conditioners. Ask your retailer about available energy-saving features and their costs. You should especially note the “Heating Certificate,” which specifies the temperature zone for which the home is designed, and the “Comfort Cooling Certificate,” which specifies the appropriate central air-conditioning system for the home. Both certificates are located on the inside of the home. You should not place your home in a climate zone for which it was not designed.

  • What written warranty coverage is offered on the home, its transportation, and its installation on the homesite?

Nearly all manufacturers offer a written warranty on the home itself. There are, however, important differences among warranties. For example, manufacturers’ warranties may exclude coverage of installation and transportation, although reliable retailers or contractors usually offer written warranties on these services. Although you may never need such warranty services, it is a good idea to check the coverage of any warranties that are offered before you buy. 

Buying a Manufactured Home

Most likely, you will buy your home from a retail sales center, although today, in some states, you also could buy your manufactured home from a real estate agent if the home is already located in a community. Some retail sales centers are owned and operated by a home manufacturing company, but most retail businesses are independently owned and operated. They sell homes built by several manufacturers. You should use as much care in choosing your retailer as you do in choosing your home and its features. This is because the retailer will help you choose your home and, if you wish, custom-order it from the factory. In addition, the retailer will usually be the one responsible for having your home delivered and installed. The retailer may also arrange for financing and insurance for your home. Finally, after you move into your home, your retailer will likely be the person you contact for warranty service.

One of the best ways to find a reputable retailer is to talk with friends who live in manufactured homes and get their recommendations. You also might ask them to recommend a home manufacturer. You may wish to contact your local Better Business Bureau to find out if a particular retailer or manufacturer has a record of unsettled or unresolved complaints on file. You may also wish to contact your state manufactured home association and request the names and addresses of manufacturers or retailers in your area. Compare warranties offered by various manufacturers and retailers.

Site Preparation, Transportation and Home Installation

Proper site preparation and installation are necessary for comfort, durability, and correct functioning of your home. Make sure the transporting company warrants its services in writing. Before your home is installed, you must ensure that the site has been prepared properly. If you are placing your home on your own land, your retailer can provide advice on how to prepare the site. If you will be living in a rental community, the community manager will probably take care of site preparation. Before signing your lease, ask about this and any other costs.

Site Preparation
If you are having your home installed on your own land, you are responsible for site preparation. However, it is a good idea to ask your retailer (or whoever is going to install your home and warrant the installation) to inspect the site prior to installation to make sure that everything has been prepared properly. As always, a qualified InterNACHI inspector should be hired. Here are some guidelines that must be followed in preparing the site:
  • The site must be accessible by the truck transporting your home.
  • The site must be as level as possible.
  • The precise site area must be cleared of trees, rocks, and any other surface debris.
  • The soil must be graded and sloped for water runoff.
  • The soil must be compacted so that the foundation will not sink or shift on loose earth-fill.

Although you may be able to do some work yourself, such as removing trees and shrubs, most site-preparation tasks, such as grading and compacting the soil, require technical expertise. You will need to contract for expert assistance to ensure that your home is installed on firm land that adequately drains.

Transporting Your Home

In most instances, your home will be transported first from the factory to the retail sales center. At the center, your retailer will use a checklist to make sure your home has arrived undamaged, and if any problem occurred while your home was being transported from the factory, it will be repaired before delivery to your homesite. If any damage occurs while the home is being transported to your site, the company transporting your home is usually responsible. Therefore, you should check for damage as soon as your home is delivered. If you find any damage, contact the transporting company immediately. If you allow your home to be transported by a company that does not provide a written transportation warranty, it may be difficult to obtain free repairs, if any are necessary. Therefore, before you purchase your home, make certain that the transporting of your new home is protected by a written warranty.

Installing Your Home

After you have chosen the retailer and your home, have complied with local building and zoning requirements, have obtained state inspections (when necessary), have properly prepared the site, and have received adequate warranty protection on the home and its transportation and installation, you are ready to have your home installed on a homesite. This also requires careful attention.

Every manufacturer is required by the federal standards to provide instructions for installing your home. However, the actual installation typically is not within the manufacturer’s control. Therefore, the installation of your manufactured home is not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. These cautions are not designed to worry you but, rather, to alert you to the importance of installation. Hundreds of thousands of manufactured homes are installed on sites each year without major problems. You should not have problems if your home is installed by a reliable retailer or by a company that specializes in manufactured-home installation. Check for damage as soon as your home is delivered, and report any problems to the retailer or transporter as soon as possible. The manufacturer’s written warranty on the home generally will not cover problems that are caused by improper installation. Usually, the retailer will install your home or will contract with a professional installation crew to do the work. In most cases, the price of your home will include the cost of installation by such qualified professionals. Be sure to check this with your retailer before you sign the sales contract. If installation is not included in the price, you may have to contract with a separate company to install your home. Ask your retailer for the names of such companies.

Clarify in writing what installation services are provided, who is providing them, and who warrants the work. The retailer should spell out, in writing, the full scope of installation services that are included in the price of your home. This should assure you that everything is covered and that there will be no misunderstandings about who is responsible for what. Regardless of whether the retailer or a separate company installs your home, you should follow several guidelines.

  • Discuss with the contractor the steps involved in installation so that you understand them.
  • Have the contractor write these steps into the contract.
  • Ask if there is a written warranty covering your home’s installation. If not, then ask to have it put in writing.

By following these guidelines, you will know exactly what you are paying for, how to check your home to see that the work has been done properly and, equally important, what kind of warranty protection covers each step. Installing your home involves six steps. The price of your home usually includes all of these steps. Therefore, ask to see an itemized list (in writing) before signing the contract to purchase your home.

1. Transporting Your Home From the Retailer’s Sales Center to Your Homesite:
The manufacturer normally is responsible for transporting the home from the factory to the retailer, and the retailer is usually responsible for getting the home to your land. However, if the roads are not adequate or there are obstacles that will make it difficult to get the home to your site, your retailer may be unable to accept responsibility for delivering your home. Be sure to check the route to your homesite for such things as low-hanging tree limbs and loose rocks.
2.  Constructing a Foundation for Home Placement:
In addition to following the manufacturer’s instructions and complying with local law, find out if the institution financing your home (or the rental community in which you place your home) has foundation requirements. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) also have special foundation requirements. Remind your retailer about the kind of financing you are using so that all applicable foundation requirements will be met. If you place your home on your own property, you have the option of choosing from a number of different foundation types. Several types of foundations are available, from concrete slabs to full basements. Remember, local codes reflecting the different climates and soil conditions must be followed. A professional installer will know which foundation codes are required by local law or what is required by your financing institution.
3.  Leveling Your Home:
It is essential that an experienced crew installs your home to assure that it is leveled correctly. Leveling is one of the most important steps in setting up your home. It must be done according to the manufacturer’s specifications. If your home is not level on its foundation, the weight of the home will not be distributed evenly. Poor leveling could result in such problems as doors that do not open and close easily, or floors or walls that buckle. If any of these problems do occur because your home was not properly leveled, the manufacturer’s warranty will not cover the repairs. Remember that the manufacturer’s warranty only covers problems resulting from faulty construction. Insist on walking through the home before the installation crew leaves to check for signs that your home may not be level. Leveling is critical and must be performed by a professional crew. After installation has been completed and you have checked out the installed home, it is very important to periodically re-check the leveling of your home. This is important because, over time, such things as foundation supports may settle unevenly and create an un-level condition. Such conditions can, in extreme cases, cause serious damage to the walls and floors. Normally, you should re-check leveling about 60 to 90 days following installation and, perhaps, once a year after that.
4.  Securing Your Home to the Foundation:
It is not sufficient to merely place your home on a properly constructed foundation. There are certain minimum requirements that should be met. To ensure that your home does not shift and become damaged, it must be anchored to the ground, according to the manufacturer’s instructions or as required by local codes. Anchoring should prevent severe winds from damaging your home. Although your home will come with instructions for properly securing it to its foundation, anchoring is not a do-it-yourself project. Talk with your retailer about anchoring, and be sure that your home’s installation includes this very necessary step. Anchoring your home to the ground should be done by experts.
5.  Finishing Your Home:
Once your home is secured to the foundation, finishing work may be needed, such as an enclosure around the crawlspace or landscaping. If your home is a multi-section, finishing may include applying molding and joining carpet on the interior, or completing work on the exterior siding.
6.  Connecting Your Home to Utilities:

Installation services should include connecting your home to the necessary water, electrical, gas, and sewage lines. If this is not included in your installation price, you will have to contract for these services yourself. Your retailer can tell you how to make arrangements for utility connections. Alternatively, you can obtain the information from the local government agency that oversees building permits.

Inspection of Your New Manufactured Home

When you take possession of your new home, the first thing to do is to check it over thoroughly. It is important to discover problems early and report them to the retailer or the installer within the warranty’s time limits.

Installation Inspection

First, check to see that your home was installed properly. If you are present during installation, ask the installation crew manager to walk through your home with you to assist in identifying problems and to answer your questions. Open and close all interior and exterior doors. If a door does not open and close smoothly, it may indicate a need for a minor hinge adjustment, but it also may be a sign that the home is not level. Immediately call this to the attention of the person responsible for installation. Also, examine the entire house. Look at the walls, the floors, and the ceilings. Be certain that all faucets and appliances work.

General Inspection
You will want to make your inspection of the home in an organized way. A good strategy is to inspect the outside of your home first, and then check the interior, carefully going through each room. Many manufacturers provide a checklist in the owner’s manual of items you should inspect. You should fill out the checklist and return it to the manufacturer as soon as possible. As you make your inspection, jot down on paper every item you think requires service. When you are finished, make copies of the list — one for yourself, one for your retailer, and an extra copy for the manufacturer. It is also a good idea to put the date of your inspection on the list. Carefully inspect your home for any problems as soon as it is installed; make sure that it is level — check doors, windows and drawers. Remember that installation is the key to durability and the proper functioning of your home.  Thanks to InterNACHI for the article.
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If your family gets drinking water from a private well, do you know if your water is safe to drink? What health risks could you and your family face? Where can you go for help or advice? The EPA regulates public water systems; it does not have the authority to regulate private drinking water wells. Approximately 15% of Americans rely on their own private drinking water supplies, and these supplies are not subject to EPA standards, although some state and local governments do set rules to protect users of these wells. Unlike public drinking water systems serving many people, they do not have experts regularly checking the water’s source and its quality before it is sent to the tap. These households must take special precautions to ensure the protection and maintenance of their drinking water supplies.
Basic Information 
There are three types of private drinking water wells: dug, driven, and drilled. Proper well construction and continued maintenance are keys to the safety of your water supply. Your state water-well contractor licensing agency, local health department, or local water system professional can provide information on well construction. The well should be located so rainwater flows away from it. Rainwater can pick up harmful bacteria and chemicals on the land’s surface. If this water pools near your well, it can seep into it, potentially causing health problems. Water-well drillers and pump-well installers are listed in your local phone directory. The contractor should be bonded and insured. Make certain your ground water contractor is registered or licensed in your state, if required. If your state does not have a licensing/registration program, contact the National Ground Water Association.

To keep your well safe, you must be sure that possible sources of contamination are not close by. Experts suggest the following distances as a minimum for protection — farther is better (see graphic on the right): 

  • septic tanks:  50 feet;
  • livestock yards, silos, septic leach fields:  50 feet;
  • petroleum tanks, liquid-tight manure storage and fertilizer storage and handling:  100 feet; and
  • manure stacks:  250 feet.

Many homeowners tend to forget the value of good maintenance until problems reach crisis-levels. That can be expensive. It’s better to maintain your well, find problems early, and correct them to protect your well’s performance. Keep up-to-date records of well installation and repairs, plus pumping and water tests. Such records can help spot changes and possible problems with your water system. If you have problems, ask a local expert to check your well construction and maintenance records. He or she can see if your system is okay or needs work.

Protect your own well area. Be careful about storage and disposal of household and lawn-care chemicals and wastes. Good farmers and gardeners minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Take steps to reduce erosion and prevent surface water runoff. Regularly check underground storage tanks that hold home heating oil, diesel, or gasoline. Make sure your well is protected from the wastes of livestock, pets and wildlife.

 
Dug Wells

Dug wells are holes in the ground dug by shovel or backhoe. Historically, a dug well was excavated below the ground water table until incoming water exceeded the digger’s bailing rate. The well was then lined (cased) with stones, brick, tile, or other material to prevent collapse. It was covered with a cap of wood, stone or concrete. Since it is so difficult to dig beneath the ground water table, dug wells are not very deep. Typically, they are only 10 to 30 feet deep. Being so shallow, dug wells have the highest risk of becoming contaminated.To minimize the likelihood of contamination, your dug well should have certain features. These features help to prevent contaminants from traveling along the outside of the casing, or through the casing and into the well.

Dug Well Construction Features
  • The well should be cased with a watertight material (for example, tongue-and-groove pre-cast concrete), and a cement grout or bentonite clay sealant poured along the outside of the casing to the top of the well.
  • The well should be covered by a concrete curb and cap that stands about a foot above the ground.
  • The land surface around the well should be mounded so that surface water runs away from the well and is not allowed to pond around the outside of the wellhead.
  • Ideally, the pump for your well should be inside your home or in a separate pump house, rather than in a pit next to the well.

Land activities around a dug well can also contaminate it. While dug wells have been used as a household water supply source for many years, most are relics of older homes, dug before drilling equipment was readily available, or when drilling was considered too expensive. If you have a dug well on your property and are using it for drinking water, check to make sure it is properly covered and sealed. Another problem relating to the shallowness of a dug well is that it may go dry during a drought when the ground water table drops.

Driven Wells

Like dug wells, driven wells pull water from the water-saturated zone above the bedrock. Driven wells can be deeper than dug wells. They are typically 30 to 50 feet deep and are usually located in areas with thick sand and gravel deposits where the ground water table is within 15 feet of the ground’s surface. In the proper geologic setting, driven wells can be easy and relatively inexpensive to install. Although deeper than dug wells, driven wells are still relatively shallow and have a moderate-to-high risk of contamination from nearby land activities.

Driven Well Construction Features
  • Assembled lengths of 2- to 3-inch diameter metal pipes are driven into the ground. A screened “well point” located at the end of the pipe helps drive the pipe through the sand and gravel. The screen allows water to enter the well and filters out sediment.
  • The pump for the well is in one of two places: on top of the well, or in the house. An access pit is usually dug around the well down to the frost line, and a water discharge pipe to the house is joined to the well pipe with a fitting.
  • The well and pit are capped with the same kind of large-diameter concrete tile used for a dug well. The access pit may be cased with pre-cast concrete.

To minimize this risk, the well cover should be a tight-fitting concrete curb and cap with no cracks, and should sit about a foot above the ground. Slope the ground away from the well so that surface water will not pond around the well. If there’s a pit above the well, either to hold the pump or to access the fitting, you may also be able to pour a grout sealant along the outside of the well pipe. Protecting the water quality requires that you maintain proper well construction and monitor your activities around the well. It is also important to follow the same land-use precautions around the driven well as described under dug wells.

 

Drilled Wells

Drilled wells penetrate about 100 to 400 feet into the bedrock. Where you find bedrock at the surface, it is commonly called ledge. To serve as a water supply, a drilled well must intersect bedrock fractures containing ground water.

Drilled Well Construction Features
  • The casing is usually metal or plastic pipe, 6 inches in diameter, that extends into the bedrock to prevent shallow ground water from entering the well. By law, the casing has to extend at least 18 feet into the ground, with at least 5 feet extending into the bedrock. The casing should also extend a foot or two above the ground’s surface. A sealant, such as cement grout or bentonite clay, should be poured along the outside of the casing to the top of the well. The well should be capped to prevent surface water from entering the well.
  • Submersible pumps, located near the bottom of the well, are most commonly used in drilled wells. Wells with a shallow water table may feature a jet pump located inside the home. Pumps require special wiring and electrical service. Well pumps should be installed and serviced by a qualified professional registered with your state.
  • Most modern drilled wells incorporate a pitless adapter designed to provide a sanitary seal at the point where the discharge water line leaves the well to enter your home. The device attaches directly to the casing below the frost line, and provides a watertight sub-surface connection, protecting the well from frost and contamination.
  • Older drilled wells may lack some of these sanitary features. The well pipe used was often 8, 10 or 12 inches in diameter, and covered with a concrete well cap either at or below the ground’s surface. This outmoded type of construction does not provide the same degree of protection from surface contamination. Also, older wells may not have a pitless adapter to provide a seal at the point of discharge from the well.
Hydrofracting a Drilled Well

Hydrofracting is a process that applies water or air under pressure into your well to open up existing fractures near your well, and can even create new ones. Often, this can increase the yield of your well. This process can be applied to new wells with insufficient yield and to improve the quantity of older wells.

How can I test the quality of my private drinking water supply? 
Consider testing your well for pesticides, organic chemicals, and heavy metals before you use it for the first time. Test private water supplies annually for nitrate and coliform bacteria to detect contamination problems early. Test them more frequently if you suspect a problem. Be aware of activities in your watershed that may affect the water quality of your well, especially if you live in an unsewered area.
 
Human Health
The first step to protect your health and the health of your family is learning about what may pollute your source of drinking water. Potential contamination may occur naturally, or as a result of human activity.

What are some naturally occurring sources of pollution?
  • micro-organisms:  Bacteria, viruses, parasites and other microorganisms are sometimes found in water. Shallow wells — those with water close to ground level — are at most risk. Runoff, or water flowing over the land surface, may pick up these pollutants from wildlife and soils. This is often the case after flooding. Some of these organisms can cause a variety of illnesses. Symptoms include nausea and diarrhea. These can occur shortly after drinking contaminated water. The effects could be short-term yet severe (similar to food poisoning), or might recur frequently or develop slowly over a long time.
  • radionuclides: Radionuclides are radioactive elements, such as uranium and radium. They may be present in underlying rock and ground water.
  • radon: Radon is a gas that is a natural product of the breakdown of uranium in the soil and can also pose a threat. Radon is most dangerous when inhaled, and contributes to lung cancer. Although soil is the primary source, using household water containing radon contributes to elevated indoor radon levels. Radon is less dangerous when consumed in water, but remains a risk to health.
  • nitrates and nitrites: Although high nitrate levels are usually due to human activities (see below), they may be found naturally in ground water. They come from the breakdown of nitrogen compounds in the soil. Flowing ground water picks them up from the soil. Drinking large amounts of nitrates and nitrites is particularly threatening to infants (for example, when mixed in formula).
  • heavy metals: Underground rocks and soils may contain arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and selenium. However, these contaminants are not often found in household wells at dangerous levels from natural sources.
  • fluoride: Fluoride is helpful in dental health, so many water systems add small amounts to drinking water. However, excessive consumption of naturally occurring fluoride can damage bone tissue. High levels of fluoride occur naturally in some areas. It may discolor teeth, but this is not a health risk.

What human activities can pollute ground water?

  • Septic tanks are designed to have a leach field around them, which is an area where wastewater flows out of the tank. This wastewater can also move into the ground water.

    bacteria and nitrates: These pollutants are found in human and animal wastes. Septic tanks can cause bacterial and nitrate pollution. So can large numbers of farm animals. Both septic systems and animal manure must be carefully managed to prevent pollution. Sanitary landfills and garbage dumps are also sources. Children and some adults are at higher risk when exposed to waterborne bacteria. These include the elderly and people whose immune systems are weak due to AIDS or treatments for cancer. Fertilizers can add to nitrate problems. Nitrates cause a health threat in very young infants called “blue baby syndrome.” This condition disrupts oxygen flow in the blood.

  • concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs): The number of CAFOs, often called “factory farms,” is growing. On these farms, thousands of animals are raised in a small space. The large amounts of animal waste/manure from these farms can threaten water supplies. Strict and careful manure management is needed to prevent pathogen and nutrient problems. Salts from high levels of manure can also pollute ground water.
  • heavy metals: Activities such as mining and construction can release large amounts of heavy metals into nearby ground water sources. Some older fruit orchards may contain high levels of arsenic, once used as a pesticide. At high levels, these metals pose a health risk.
  • fertilizers and pesticides: Farmers use fertilizers and pesticides to promote growth and reduce insect damage. These products are also used on golf courses and suburban lawns and gardens. The chemicals in these products may end up in ground water. Such pollution depends on the types and amounts of chemicals used and how they are applied. Local environmental conditions (soil types, seasonal snow and rainfall) also affect this pollution. Many fertilizers contain forms of nitrogen that can break down into harmful nitrates. This could add to other sources of nitrates mentioned above. Some underground agricultural drainage systems collect fertilizers and pesticides. This polluted water can pose problems to ground water and local streams and rivers. In addition, chemicals used to treat buildings and homes for termites and other pests may also pose a threat. Again, the possibility of problems depends on the amount and kind of chemicals. The types of soil and the amount of water moving through the soil also play a role.
  • industrial products and waste: Many harmful chemicals are used widely in local business and industry. These can pollute drinking water if not well-managed. The most common sources of such problems are:
    • local businesses: These include nearby factories, industrial plants, and even small businesses such as gas stations and dry cleaners. All handle a variety of hazardous chemicals that need careful management. Spills and improper disposal of these chemicals and other industrial wastes can threaten ground water supplies.
    • leaking underground tanks and piping: Petroleum products, chemicals and waste stored in underground storage tanks and pipes may end up in the ground water. Tanks and piping leak if they are constructed or installed improperly. Steel tanks and piping corrode with age. Tanks are often found on farms. The possibility of leaking tanks is great on old, abandoned farm sites. Farm tanks are exempt from the EPA rules for petroleum and chemical tanks.
    • landfills and waste dumps: Modern landfills are designed to contain any leaking liquids. But floods can carry them over the barriers. Older dumpsites may have a wide variety of pollutants that can seep into ground water.
  • household waste: Improper disposal of many common products can pollute ground water. These include cleaning solvents, used motor oil, paints, and paint thinners. Even soaps and detergents can harm drinking water. These are often a problem from faulty septic tanks and septic leaching fields.
  • lead and copper: Household plumbing materials are the most common source of lead and copper found in home drinking water. Corrosive water may cause metals in pipes or soldered joints to leach into your tap water. Your water’s acidity or alkalinity (often measured as pH) greatly affects corrosion. Temperature and mineral content also affect how corrosive it is. They are often used in pipes, solder and plumbing fixtures. Lead can cause serious damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system, and red blood cells. The age of plumbing materials — in particular, copper pipes soldered with lead — is also important. Even in relatively low amounts, these metals can be harmful. The EPA rules under the Safe Drinking Water Act limit lead in drinking water to 15 parts per billion. Since 1988, the Act allows only lead-free pipe, solder and flux in drinking water systems. The law covers both new installations and repairs of plumbing.

What You Can Do…

Private, individual wells are the responsibility of the homeowner. To help protect your well, here are some steps you can take:

Have your water tested periodically. It is recommended that water be tested every year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. If you suspect other contaminants, test for those. Always use a state-certified laboratory that conducts drinking water tests. Since these can be expensive, spend some time identifying potential problems. Consult your InterNACHI inspector for information about how to go about water testing.

Testing more than once a year may be warranted in special situations if:

  • someone in your household is pregnant or nursing;
  • there are unexplained illnesses in the family;
  • your neighbors find a dangerous contaminant in their water;
  • you note a change in your water’s taste, odor, color or clarity;
  • there is a spill of chemicals or fuels into or near your well; or
  • you replace or repair any part of your well system.

Identify potential problems as the first step to safe-guarding your drinking water. The best way to start is to consult a local expert — someone who knows your area, such as the local health department, agricultural extension agent, a nearby public water system, or a geologist at a local university.
Be aware of your surroundings. As you drive around your community, take note of new construction. Check the local newspaper for articles about new construction in your area.

Check the paper or call your local planning and zoning commission for announcements about hearings or zoning appeals on development or industrial projects that could possibly affect your water.
Attend these hearings, ask questions about how your water source is being protected, and don’t be satisfied with general answers.  Ask questions, such as:  “If you build this landfill, what will you do to ensure that my water will be protected?” See how quickly they answer and provide specifics about what plans have been made to specifically address that issue.

Identify Potential Problem Sources

To start your search for potential problems, begin close to home. Do a survey around your well to discover:

  • Is there livestock nearby?
  • Are pesticides being used on nearby agricultural crops or nurseries?
  • Do you use lawn fertilizers near the well?
  • Is your well downstream from your own or a neighbor’s septic system?
  • Is your well located near a road that is frequently salted or sprayed with de-icers during winter months?
  • Do you or your neighbors dispose of household waste or used motor oil in the backyard, even in small amounts?

If any of these items apply, it may be best to have your water tested and talk to your local public health department or agricultural extension agent to find ways to change some of the practices which can affect your private well.

In addition to the immediate area around your well, you should be aware of other possible sources of contamination that may already be part of your community or may be moving into your area. Attend any local planning or appeals hearings to find out more about the construction of facilities that may pollute your drinking water. Ask to see the environmental impact statement on the project. See if the issue of underground drinking water sources has been addressed. If not, ask why.

Common Sources of Ground Water Contamination

Category        Contaminant Source
Agricultural
  • animal burial areas
  • drainage fields/wells
  • animal feedlots
  • irrigation sites
  • fertilizer storage/use
  • manure spreading areas/pits, lagoons
  • pesticide storage/use
Commercial
  • airports
  • jewelry/metal plating
  • auto repair shops
  • laundromats
  • boat yards
  • medical institutions
  • car washes
  • paint shops
  • construction areas
  • photography establishments
  • cemeteries
  • process waste-water drainage
  • dry cleaners fields/wells
  • gas stations
  • railroad tracks and yards
  • golf courses
  • research laboratories
  • scrap and junkyards
  • storage tanks
Industrial
  • asphalt plants
  • petroleum production/storage
  • chemical manufacture/storage
  • pipelines
  • electronic manufacture
  • process waste-water drainage
  • electroplaters fields/wells
  • foundries/metal fabricators
  • septage lagoons and sludge
  • machine/metalworking shops
  • storage tanks
  • mining and mine drainage
  • toxic and hazardous spills
  • wood-preserving facilities
Residential
  • fuel oil
  • septic systems, cesspools
  • furniture stripping/refinishing
  • sewer lines
  • household hazardous products
  • swimming pools (chemicals)
  • household lawns
Other
  • hazardous waste landfills
  • recycling/reduction facilities
  • municipal incinerators
  • road de-icing operations
  • municipal landfills
  • road maintenance depots
  • municipal sewer lines
  • Storm water drains/basins/wells
  • open burning sites
  • transfer stations

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