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Carpenter ants

By : John Martino | In : Home Inspections
Carpenter ants are another wood destroying insect that I look for during your New Jersey Home Inspection. They usually do not cause as much damage to wood as termites. They are different then termites because they do not consume wood they tunnel into the wood. In most instances carpenter ants will attack wood that is moist or already damaged. Structural damage from carpenter ants is limited to the size of the carpenter ant colony. Often carpenter ants are discovered while undertaking repairs on the home. They will nest in hollow doors, sills, saddles, behind siding, in wood columns and many other places where they can find a moisture source. Carpenter ants can be controlled by using certain spray or power type insecticides.
LookSmart Home Inspections is an independent New Jersey Home Inspection company.

Expansion tanks

By : John Martino | In : Home Inspections

What is that tank there?

The question relates to an expansion tank found on water boilers. When the water inside the boiler is heated the water expands. The space in the expansion tank provides room for the water to expand as it is heated. Inside the expansion tank there is water and air. As the boiler heats up it takes up some of the space provided by the air in the expansion tank. The expansion tank is normally located above the boiler. Some of these tanks are sometimes attached to the ceiling. More modern expansion tanks are connected right above the boiler. The main issue with old expansion tanks is that they can completely fill with water over time. When this occurs there is no room for the pressure to expand. As a result the boiler pressure relief valve may expel. To remedy this issue the older expansion tank should be emptied by a heating professional to avoid this issue. The more modern expansion tanks have a bladder or diaphragm that is installed inside the tank. The diaphragm prevents the water and the air from mixing and thus the issue of the tank filling with water is alleviated. For the most part modern expansion tanks are maintenance free. If

Collar ties-what are they?

By : John Martino | In : Home Inspections

What are collar ties and what do they do? Collar ties are wood frame members that are installed across the rafters. They are connected from one side to the other side of the opposing rafter. Collar ties add stiffness to the rafter and roof structure. They help in keeping the roof from sagging and also prevent rafter spread. They are simple members but rather important for the integrity of a roof structure. Ideally there should be one collar tie for each opposing rafter.

During a New Jersey home inspection I viewed a deep sag in a house roof. There was only one layer of roof covering installed and there was plywood decking. There were however no collar ties installed. You could see the bow from the interior of the attic which is very rare. Usually roof sagging is more easily viewed from the exterior of the home. I felt the reason for the defects was the lack of collar ties and roof rafters that were too light. I am not an engineer so I directed my home inspection client to have the condition evaluated by a structural specialist to determine what the proper corrective actions would be to correct the issue.

Some defects that I find with the collar ties

Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI)

By : John Martino | In : Home Inspections

I had a home inspection client ask me about UFFI insulation and I thought I would say a few things about the product.

Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was used in residential construction until the early 1980’s. It was determined that this type of expandable insulation produced high levels of formaldehyde gas. The gas was then determined to have negative health effects.

UFFI insulation was developed in the 1950’s as an alternative product to retrofit insulation into residential dwellings. This type of insulation was usually prepared on site and then pumped into the wall cavity. The foam insulation would then harden and become an effective means of insulation. Formaldehyde was often added to the mixture to help the hardening and curing process. The negative health effects were caused by the release of formaldehyde gas.

Some known negative heath effects of high levels of formaldehyde are nausea, dizziness, watering eyes, difficulty in breathing, flu like symptoms, fatigue and increased risk of developing asthmatic conditions. There may be elevated cancer risks associated with it. There are two opposing studies done on the cancer e

Buying a house is one of life’s biggest decisions. Before you close, you’ll want a professional inspection of the house to ascertain its true condition. John Martino is a formally trained New Jersey home inspector and member of the American Society of Home Inspectors...ReadMore