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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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
  • animal burial areas
  • drainage fields/wells
  • animal feedlots
  • irrigation sites
  • fertilizer storage/use
  • manure spreading areas/pits, lagoons
  • pesticide storage/use
  • 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
  • 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
  • fuel oil
  • septic systems, cesspools
  • furniture stripping/refinishing
  • sewer lines
  • household hazardous products
  • swimming pools (chemicals)
  • household lawns
  • 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

Schedule your home inspection today.

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Buying a home?

 So what really matters in a home inspection?  The process can be stressful.  A home inspection is supposed to give you peace of mind but, depending on the findings, it may have the opposite effect. You will be asked to absorb a lot of information over a short period of time.  Your inspection will entail a written report, including checklists and photos, and what the inspector tells you during the inspection. All of this combined with the seller’s disclosure and what you notice yourself can make the experience overwhelming. What should you do?  Here is what matters in a home inspection.
Home inspectors are professionals, and if yours is a member of InterNACHI, then you can trust that he is among the most highly trained in the industry. Most of your inspection will be related to maintenance recommendations and minor imperfections. These are good to know about.

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

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

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

Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection. It’s important to realize that a seller is under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in your inspection report. No house is perfect. Keep things in perspective.
And remember that homeownership is both a joyful experience and an important responsibility, so be sure to call on your InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector® to help you devise an annual maintenance plan that will keep your family safe and your home in top condition for years to come.
Schedule your home inspection today with Red Horse Home Inspection today.  I am proud to service the Black Hills including Rapid City, Sturgis, Spearfish, Custer, Lead, Deadwood, Hot Springs, Keystone, Hill City, Hermosa, Box Elder and surrounding areas.
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As a home inspector, we come across a lot of the same issues.  I wanted to share 5 common defects found during a home inspection.  Some of these issues could have been easily prevented with education.  Others can be fixed before they cause damage and cause costly repairs.  Let’s take a look at the 5 common defects found during a home inspection and how to fix or prevent them.

Defect #1:  Foundation Clearance to Grade

The soil around your home’s perimeter should be a minimum of 6″ below brick and 8″ below siding or stucco.  This clearance is there to prevent water from intruding during heavy rain.  It also helps water from splashing up and soaking into the siding.   Sometimes planters or gardens are installed against a homes brick or siding.  This can lead to water infiltration and cause damage to siding, sill plate, rim and floor joist, and drywall.  Make sure the grading slopes away form your home, it should slope 6″ in the first 10′.

Defect #2:  Attic Ventilation

Attics should be ventilated.  This is to guard against moisture build-up and mold formation.  It also extends the life of the roof covering.  Many times exhaust fans are not vented to the exterior of the home like they should be and are vented into the attic.  This adds moisture to the attic and can lead to a mold issue.  Proper attic ventilation can help prevent ice dams, too.  The best ventilation would be continuous ridge and soffit vents.

Defect #3:  Gutter and Downspout Placement

Gutters and downspouts carry water from the roof away from the foundation.  Downspouts should not drain onto lower roofs.  This can damage the roof and void manufacture’s warranty.   They should drain into a lower gutter or drain at least 6′ away from the home’s foundation.  These two tips will keep your basement dry and prevent damage to your roof.



Defect #4:  Structure Damaged Caused by Plumbing

Some times joist, studs, and foundations can be damaged when pipes are ran for plumbing. Lack of planning can lead to the home’s structure being modified without engineers approval.  Most of the times these issues can’t be seen, that is why a phase inspection is recommended during the construction.

Defect #5:  Lack of GFCI

Over the years the requirement for GFCI’s in your home have changed.  Most homes are not up to the current safety standards.  GFCI’s are required in garages, bathrooms, kitchens, exterior receptacles, swimming pools, wet bar, crawlspaces, and laundry areas.  If your home’s electrical system has not been updated with GFCI’s, we highly recommend it.

Schedule your home inspection today.




by Nick Gromicko, CMI® and Kate Tarasenko
About 2.5 million children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year. The good news is that many of these incidents can be prevented by child proofing your home using simple child-safety devices on the market today. Any safety device you buy to child proof your home should be sturdy enough to prevent injury to your child, yet easy for you to use. It’s important to follow installation instructions carefully when child proofing your home.
In addition, if you have older children in the house, be sure they re-secure safety devices. Remember, too, that no device is completely childproof; determined youngsters have been known to disable them. You can childproof your home for a fraction of what it would cost to have a professional do it. And safety devices are easy to find. You can buy them at hardware stores, baby equipment shops, supermarkets, drug stores, home and linen stores, and through online and mail-order catalogues.

InterNACHI inspectors, too, should know what to tell clients who are concerned about the safety of their children. Here are some child-safety devices that can help prevent many injuries to young children.

1.  Use safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas to help prevent poisonings and other injuries. Safety latches and locks on cabinets and drawers can help prevent children from gaining access to medicines and household cleaners, as well as knives and other sharp objects.

Look for safety latches and locks that adults can easily install and use, but that are sturdy enough to withstand pulls and tugs from children. Safety latches are not a guarantee of protection, but they can make it more difficult for children to reach dangerous substances. Even products with child-resistant packaging should be locked away out of reach; this packaging is not childproof.

But, according to Colleen Driscoll, executive director of the International Association for Child Safety (IAFCS), “Installing an ineffective latch on a cabinet is not an answer for helping parents with safety.  It is important to understand parental habits and behavior.  While a latch that loops around cabinet knob covers is not expensive and easy to install, most parents do not consistently re-latch it.”

Parents should be sure to purchase and install safety products that they will actually adapt to and use.
2.  Use safety gates to help prevent falls down stairs and to keep children away from dangerous areas. Look for safety gates that children cannot dislodge easily, but that adults can open and close without difficulty. For the top of stairs, gates that screw into the wall are more secure than “pressure gates.”
New safety gates that meet safety standards display a certification seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). If you have an older safety gate, be sure it doesn’t have “V” shapes that are large enough for a child’s head and neck to fit into.
3.  Use door locks to help prevent children from entering rooms and other areas with possible dangers, including swimming pools.
To prevent access to swimming pools, door locks on safety gates should be placed high, out of reach of young children. Locks should be used in addition to fences and alarms. Sliding glass doors with locks that must be re-secured after each use are often not an effective barrier to pool access.
Door knob covers, while inexpensive and recommended by some, are generally not effective for children who are tall enough to reach the doorknob; a child’s ingenuity and persistence can usually trump the cover’s effectiveness.
4.  Use anti-scald devices for faucets and shower heads, and set your water heater temperature to 120° F to help prevent burns from hot water. A plumber may need to install these.
5.  Use smoke detectors on every level of your home and near bedrooms to alert you to fires. Smoke detectors are essential safety devices for protection against fire deaths and injuries. Check smoke detectors once a month to make sure they’re working. If detectors are battery-operated, change batteries at least once a year, or consider using 10-year batteries.
6.  Use window guards and safety netting to help prevent falls from windows, balconies, decks and landings. Window guards and safety netting for balconies and decks can help prevent serious falls.  Check these safety devices frequently to make sure they are secure and properly installed and maintained. There should be no more than 4 inches between the bars of the window guard. If you have window guards, be sure at least one window in each room can be easily used for escape in a fire. Window screens are not effective for preventing children from falling out of windows.
7.  Use corner and edge bumpers to help prevent injuries from falls against sharp edges of furniture and fireplaces. Corner and edge bumpers can be used with furniture and fireplace hearths to help prevent injuries from falls, and to soften falls against sharp and rough edges.
Be sure to look for bumpers that stay securely on furniture and hearth edges.
8.  Use receptacle or outlet covers and plates to help prevent children from electrical shock and possible electrocution.
Be sure the outlet protectors cannot be easily removed by children and are large enough so that children cannot choke on them.
9.  Use a carbon monoxide (CO) detector outside bedrooms to help prevent CO poisoning. Consumers should install CO detectors near sleeping areas in their homes. Households that should use CO detectors include those with gas or oil heat or with attached garages.
10.  Cut window blind cords to help prevent children from strangling in blind-cord loops. Window blind cord safety tassels on mini blinds and tension devices on vertical blinds and drapery cords can help prevent deaths and injuries from strangulation in the loops of cords. Inner cord stops can help prevent strangulation in the inner cords of window blinds.
However, the IAFCS’s Ms. Driscoll states, “Cordless is best.  Although not all families are able to replace all products, it is important that parents understand that any corded blind or window treatment can still be a hazard.  Unfortunately, children are still becoming entrapped in dangerous blind cords despite advances in safety in recent years.”

For older mini blinds, cut the cord loop, remove the buckle, and put safety tassels on each cord. Be sure that older vertical blinds and drapery cords have tension or tie-down devices to hold the cords tight. When buying new mini blinds, vertical blinds and draperies, ask for safety features to prevent child strangulation.

11.  Use door stops and door holders to help prevent injuries to fingers and hands. Door stops and door holders on doors and door hinges can help prevent small fingers and hands from being pinched or crushed in doors and door hinges.

Be sure any safety device for doors is easy to use and is not likely to break into small parts, which could be a choking hazard for young children.

12.  Use a cell or cordless phone to make it easier to continuously watch young children, especially when they’re in bathtubs, swimming pools, or other potentially dangerous areas. Cordless phones help you watch your child continuously without leaving the vicinity to answer a phone call. Cordless phones are especially helpful when children are in or near water, whether it’s the bathtub, the swimming pool, or the beach.
In summary, there are a number of different safety devices that can be purchased to ensure the safety of children in the home. Homeowners can ask an InterNACHI inspector about these and other safety measures during their next inspection.  Parents should be sure to do their own consumer research to find the most effective safety devices for their home that are age-appropriate for their children’s protection, as well as affordable and compatible with their household habits and lifestyles. https://www.nachi.org/childsafety.htm
Red Horse Home Inspection of the Black Hills services Rapid City, Sturgis, Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood, Custer, Hot Springs, Hill City, Keystone, Hermosa, Box Elder, and surrounding area.
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At Red Horse Home Inspection LLC, we have five goals for every home we inspect.  Our first goal is to identify major defects that could lead to costly repairs for the home buyer.  No one wants to pay out for costly repairs after moving in to their new home.  Our second goal is to give the home buyer an overall condition of the home.  This could include identifying any deferred maintenance issues, pointing out issues that could lead to future problems.  The third goal is to identify safety issues. This could include pointing out trip and fall hazards around the property, identifying unsafe decks and guardrails and informing you of electrical issues that could be dangerous.  The forth goal is to educate our clients about their new home.  We make sure that you know where the main water and gas shutoffs are located.  Let you know what type of energy is used to heat and cool your home.  We will try and answer any questions you have about your home the day of the inspection or you can call us anytime and we will be happy to answer any questions you have.  Our final goal is you let you know the age of all your major components.  This includes water heaters, central heating and cooling system, refrigerator, and oven.  With every inspection we give our clients a home maintenance book which includes a life expectancy chart for almost all components of your home.  This will give you an idea on how long your components will last before needing replaced.  Red Horse Home Inspection is proud to service Rapid City, Sturgis, Spearfish, Deadwood, Lead, Custer, Hot Springs, Keystone, Hill City, Hermosa, Summerset, Box Elder and surrounding areas.  If you are ready to schedule you home inspection please call 605-490-2916 or schedule online.

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by Nick Gromicko, CMI®

A building’s central air-conditioning system must be periodically inspected and maintained in order to function properly. While an annual inspection performed by a trained professional is recommended, homeowners can do a lot of the work themselves by following the tips offered in this guide.Exterior Condenser Unit
Clean the Exterior Condenser Unit and Components
The exterior condenser unit is the large box located on the side of the building that is designed to push heat from the inside of the building to the outdoors. Inside of the box are coils of pipe that are surrounded by thousands of thin metal “fins” that allow the coils more surface area to exchange heat. Follow these tips when cleaning the exterior condenser unit and its inner components — after turning off power to the unit!
  • Remove any leaves, spider webs and other debris from the unit’s exterior. Trim foliage back several feet from the unit to ensure proper air flow.
  • Remove the cover grille to clean any debris from the unit’s interior. A garden hose can be helpful for this task.
  • Straighten any bent fins with a tool called a fin comb.
  • Add lubricating oil to the motor. Check your owner’s manual for specific instructions.
  • Clean the evaporator coil and condenser coil at least once a year.  When they collect dirt, they may not function properly.
Inspect the Condensate Drain Line
Condensate drain lines collect condensed water and drain it away from the unit. They are located on the side of the inside fan unit. Sometimes there are two drain lines—a primary drain line that’s built into the unit, and a secondary drain line that can drain if the first line becomes blocked. Homeowners can inspect the drain line by using the following tips, which take very little time and require no specialized tools:
  • Inspect the drain line for obstructions, such as algae and debris. If the line becomes blocked, water will back up into the drain pan and overflow, potentially causing a safety hazard or water damage to your home.
  • Make sure the hoses are secured and fit properly.
Clean the Air Filter
The air filter slides out for easy replacement
Air filters remove pollen, dust and other particles that would otherwise circulate indoors. Most filters are typically rectangular in shape and about 20 inches by 16 inches, and about 1 inch thick. They slide into the main ductwork near the inside fan unit. The filter should be periodically washed or replaced, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. A dirty air filter will not only degrade indoor air quality, but it will also strain the motor to work harder to move air through it, increasing energy costs and reducing energy efficiency. The filter should be replaced monthly during heavy use during the cooling seasons. You may need to change the filter more often if the air conditioner is in constant use, if building occupants have respiratory problems, if  you have pets with fur, or if dusty conditions are present.
Cover the Exterior Unit

When the cooling season is over, you should cover the exterior condenser unit in preparation for winter. If it isn’t being used, why expose it to the elements? This measure will prevent ice, leaves and dirt from entering the unit, which can harm components and require additional maintenance in the spring. A cover can be purchased, or you can make one yourself by taping together plastic trash bags. Be sure to turn the unit off before covering it.

Close the Air-Distribution Registers
Air-distribution registers are duct openings in ceilings, walls and floors where cold air enters the room. They should be closed after the cooling season ends in order to keep warm air from back-flowing out of the room during the warming season. Pests and dust will also be unable to enter the ducts during the winter if the registers are closed. These vents typically can be opened or closed with an adjacent lever or wheel. Remember to open the registers in the spring before the cooling season starts. Also, make sure they are not blocked by drapes, carpeting or furniture.
In addition, homeowners should practice the following strategies in order to keep their central air conditioning systems running properly:
  • Have the air-conditioning system inspected by a professional each year before the start of the cooling season.
  • Reduce stress on the air conditioning system by enhancing your home’s energy efficiency. Switch from incandescent lights to compact fluorescents, for instance, which produce less heat.
In summary, any homeowner can perform periodic inspections and maintenance to their home’s central air-conditioning system. https://www.nachi.org/central-air-conditioning-system-inspection.htm

Red Horse Home Inspection recommends that you have a radon test with your home inspection.  A radon test insures the safety of you and your family.  We use Airthings Corentium Pro radon monitor.  The results are available in as little as 48 hours.  Here is short article from InterNachi on radon.  The full article is available at https://www.nachi.org/radon.htm

Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon 

The EPA recommends that you test for radon if you are buying or selling a home. For a new home, ask if radon-resistant construction features were used and if the home has been tested.  Fix the home if the radon level is 4 picoCuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher. The EPA estimates that radon causes thousands of cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.

Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas

You cannot see, smell or taste radon. Your risk of lung cancer is increased if you breath air with radon gas.  The Surgeon General of the United States has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today.  Your chance of getting lung cancer are increased if your are a smoker.

Should You Test for Radon

Testing is the only way to find out your home’s radon levels. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.

Can You Fix a Radon Problem

If you find that you have high radon levels, there are ways to fix a radon problem. You can reduce your radon to safe level even with high readings.

Should I Test My House

If you put your home on the market, you should have your home tested for radon.  If elevated radon levels are found, steps should be taken to lower your radon levels. Make sure that you keep all records to show the new  home buyers.  This could be a positive selling point.

If  You Are Buying a Home

The EPA recommends that you know what the indoor radon level is in any home you are considering buying.  Ask the seller for their radon test results.  If the home has a radon-reduction system, ask the seller for information they have about the system.

The home should be tested if it has not been tested yet.

This guide recommends three short-term testing options for real estate transactions.  The EPA recommends testing a home in the lowest level which is currently suitable for occupancy.

Why Do You Need to Test For Radon?

Radon gas can found in homes all over the United States. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water, and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above, and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Even well water can allow radon to enter your home. Your home can trap radon inside.

Any home can have a radon problem, including new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. You and your family are most likely to get your greatest radiation exposure at home.

Nearly one out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have an elevated radon level (4 pCi/L or more).  Elevated levels of radon gas have been found in homes in your state.

The EPA and the Surgeon General Recommend That You Test Your Home

Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.

You cannot predict radon levels based on state, local, or neighborhood radon measurements.  Do not rely on radon test results taken in other homes in the neighborhood to estimate the radon level in your home.  Homes which are next to each other can have different radon levels.  Testing is the only way to find out what your home’s radon level is. If you need a radon test please schedule.

Check out https://www.nachi.org/radon.htm for the rest of the article.