Category Archives: Health and Safety

CPSC Identifies Manufacturers of Problem Drywall Made in China

Chinese DrywallWASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is releasing today the names of the problem drywall manufacturers whose drywall emitted high levels of hydrogen sulfide in testing conducted for the agency by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). There is a strong association between hydrogen sulfide and metal corrosion.

 

Of the samples tested, the top ten reactive sulfur-emitting drywall samples were all produced in China. Some of the Chinese drywall had emission rates of hydrogen sulfide 100 times greater than non-Chinese drywall samples.
“Homeowners who have problem drywall in their homes are suffering greatly”, said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “I appeal to these Chinese drywall companies to carefully examine their responsibilities to U.S. families who have been harmed and do what is fair and just”.
At the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings in Beijing May 24-25, U.S. officials pressed the Chinese government to facilitate a meeting between CPSC and the Chinese drywall companies whose products were used in U.S. homes, and which exhibit the emissions identified during the testing procedures. The Strategic and Economic Dialogue represents the highest-level bilateral forum to discuss a broad range of issues between the two nations.
The following list identifies the top 10 drywall samples tested that had the highest emissions of hydrogen sulfide, along with the identity of the manufacturer of the drywall and the year of manufacture, from highest to lowest.
– Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co. Ltd.: (year of manufacture 2005) China
– Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd.: (2006) China
– Shandong Taihe Dongxin Co.: (2005) China
– Knauf Plasterboard (Tianjin) Co. Ltd.: (2006) China
– Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd.: (2006) China
– Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd.: (2006) China
– Shandong Chenxiang GBM Co. Ltd. (C&K Gypsum Board): (2006) China
– Beijing New Building Materials (BNBM): (2009) China
– Taian Taishan Plasterboard Co. Ltd.: (2009) China
– Shandong Taihe Dongxin Co.: (2009) China

Other Chinese drywall samples had low or no detectable emissions of hydrogen sulfide as did the drywall samples tested that were manufactured domestically. They include: Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin: (2009) China; Tiger ***ShiGao JianCai***liangpianzhuang: (2006) China; USG Corporation: (2009) U.S.; Guangdong Knauf New Building Material Products Co. Ltd.: (2009) China; 3/8″ drywall manufacturer uncertain (date uncertain): China; Knauf Plasterboard (Wuhu) Co. Ltd.: (2009) China; CertainTeed Corp.: (2009) U.S.; Georgia Pacific Corp.: (2009) U.S.; Dragon Brand, Beijing New Building Materials Co. Ltd.: (2006) China; CertainTeed Corp.: (2009) U.S.; Pingyi Baier Building Materials Co. Ltd.: (2009) China; Sample purchased in China, manufacturer unknown: (2009) China; Panel Rey S.A.: (2009) Mexico; Lafarge North America: (2009) U.S.; National Gypsum Company: (2009) U.S.; National Gypsum Company: (2009) U.S.; Georgia Pacific Corp.: (2009) U.S.; Pabco Gypsum: (2009) U.S.; Temple-Inland Inc.: (2009) U.S.; and USG Corporation: (2009) U.S.
Last month, CPSC released the results of drywall emissions tests by LBNL. The studies showed a connection between certain Chinese drywall and corrosion in homes. In addition, the patterns of reactive sulfur compounds emitted from drywall samples show a clear distinction between certain Chinese drywall samples manufactured in 2005/2006 and other Chinese and non-Chinese drywall samples.
To date, CPSC has spent over $5 million to investigate the chemical nature and the chain of commerce of problem drywall. Earlier this year, CPSC and HUD issued an identification protocol to help consumers identify problem drywall in their homes. Last month, CPSC and HUD issued remediation guidance to assist impacted homeowners.

Go here for the CPSC article: https://www.cpsc.gov/content/cpsc-identifies-manufacturers-of-problem-drywall-made-in-china

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team Inc

Seven Inspection Results That May Require a Specialist

Home inspectors have the expertise and knowledge of home building to make sure that a house is going to be safe and livable. They can provide you with important information that can have a major impact on a sale, but they’re not the only ones who may need to get involved in the process.

But even home inspectors have their limits. Some don’t have the qualifications to inspect certain aspects of the home, like the sewer drains and chimney, which is why home-buyers may want to call in a specialist to review trouble zones.

Often paying the up-front costs for a full inspection today, or before a home ins listed, can save future expenses and headaches further down the line.

roofRoofs:  The roof is one of the most expensive components of a house to repair or replace. Roof repairs are costly and can cause major problems. For homes that have shingle roofs, a home inspector will look for shingles that are cracked, loose, or curling. Inspectors will look for leaks, which they can spot if there are water stains on the back side of the fascia. On tile roofs the inspector will look for loose and cracked tiles. A good inspector will crawl as much of the attic as possible looking for stains and damaged sheathing and trusses / rafters. Also, the inspector will check for indications inside of leaks, which usually appear as stains on the ceiling.  In today’s world, you should hire an inspector that uses thermal imaging, as this can show wet areas that cannot be seen with the naked eye. A good inspector will be able to tell you the approximate, if not the replacement date, of a roof. This will help you in your decision, as all roof systems have a certain life expectancy. On a small house the cost to replace a roof can cost $6000.00. Larger homes can be upwards of $30,000.00. Shingle roofs will be less expensive than tile or metal roofs. We always recommend obtaining estimates prior to the close of the inspection period to have a full understanding of the costs involved.


air conditioningAir Conditioning & Heating:
With the new energy codes in effect, replacing and AC system can cost anywhere from $4000.00 to $8000.00+, depending on the size, SEER rating, and brand. It is important to know the age of the system, as most system have a life expectancy of 10-12 years. Once they reach this point, you have to make a decision on whether to try to repair a system or have it replace. Most home inspectors are not HVAC technicians. They do not carry gauges to test refrigerant pressure or leaks. Newer systems may have required that the liquid and gas lines be replaced. These are two things a licensed AC contractor can confirm.
chimneyChimneys: If the roof inspection reveals signs of damage around the chimney, a chimney specialist should give it a closer examination. This is done with the aid of a chimney inspection camera. Inspectors will also look at the exterior, interior, and accessible parts of the chimney, giving special attention to the strength of the chimney structure and the condition of the flue, The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends a level II inspection on all homes that are sold.

sewer lineSewers: A sewer line is a heavily used piece of equipment in any home that is underneath a property and connect to a public sewer system or septic system. Home inspectors sometimes call on plumbers and specialty contractors to do a “sewer scoping” with a specialized camera. This can show any potential problems with the line. Any home-built before 1975 might have cast iron pipe. This pipe can corrode on the inside. Also, if there are trees in the path of the sewer line, the roof could damage the pipe. Plumbers can unclog the sewer pipe to get it operational again. But if a sewer pipe needs to be replaced, the price to do so can go upwards of $10,000.
termiteTermite: Buyers often pay for a termite inspection since many lenders require a full report on any termite-related issues before approving a loan. Termite damage is something that may be impossible to access because most of the damage may be hidden behind walls. Most termite reports will identify termite damage, but not the extent of damage. A home inspector will also not be able to determine the extent of damage. He can only inspect the areas that are visible and make recommendations for further investigation. Subterranean termites cause the most damage. Door frames and the attic truss / rafter system should be inspected closely. If damage is found, we suggest having more exhaustive inspection done.
moldMoisture and Mold: Every last inch of a house needs to be checked for these potential deal killers. Inspectors will look for physical signs of mold and moisture and take temperature and moisture readings. Once again, you should consider hiring an inspector that uses thermal imaging. This can pick up moisture in the wall that may not be visible to the naked eye. All suspect areas need to be verified with moisture meter. When wet areas are found, further investigation will be needed to determine the exact cause of the moisture and the extent of damage. A lot of the damage may be contained within the walls or between the floors.
permit

Proper Use: Any major additions or alterations to a home need to have been properly permitted for the sale to be legal. The garage that was converted into a home office might be beautiful, but if the inspector finds out that the proper permits weren’t obtained it could negate the deal. Your home inspector, or real estate agent, should alert you to possible additions, conversions, and remodeling, all of which require permits. If you are unsure if a permit was required, contact the local building department. Remember, any violations stay with the property owner and not the person. Once the house closes, everything passes on to the new owner.

Posted by BIll Siegel. Florida Home Inspection Team Inc. 305-490-2513 Miami Home inspector

General Roof Information for Florida

roof

The following article off roof systems apples to Florida only. Other areas of the county may have different rules and regulations.

Roofing System: Your  roofing is more than shingles, tiles, or metal – it is a system that brings it all together. The key to a roof systems’ effectiveness is complete protection, which can be negatively affected by even a few missing, torn, or worn out shingles. Moisture protection is a factor from all angles in a roof system. This requires consideration of factors such as avoiding condensation and proper flashing.

Roofing Materials: There are many different types of roofing materials available. In Florida they must meet a certain minimum standard. The most common roofing materials are fiberglass / asphalt singles, metal, tile (clay or concrete), and built up (modified bitumen or cap sheet. Other types include wood, slate, copper, EPDM, PVC, SPF and TPO. When choosing a material for your roof, cost can become a factor, but this involves more than looking at up front costs. More expensive materials may yield immediate savings in lower utility bills and possible lower insurance rates, intermediate savings in better protection from storms, and long-term savings in the longevity before your next roof replacement.

Contractor Qualifications: All roofing contractors are not alike. Hiring the right contractor will make a big difference in the quality of your roof and the experience of roofing your house. Florida requires that all roofing contractors be licensed under chapter 489, Florida Statutes. They may also need a local occupational license. In addition to licensure, Florida law requires compliance with workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This is especially important since roofing is dangerous work. If your contractor does not have proper insurance, you may be held responsible for any injury or damage.

Cautions:

  • Re-roofing estimates and work can be heavily impacted by the quality of previous roofing work, including repairs.
  • If roof damage is extensive, you may be required to bring your entire roof (not just the damaged portions) up to current building standards. This should be verified with your local building department.
  • Failure to hire a contractor properly licensed and qualified may invalidate your homeowners insurance coverage for roofing or other damage related to the performance of your roof. It may also subject you to criminal charges.
  • Failure of your contractor to obtain a permit and comply with workers’ compensation and safety requirements may stop work and cost you more money to complete the work.
  • Your contractor should always obtain the permit. It is never a good idea for the homeowner to do so. It is your responsibility to make sure that all the material suppliers an subcontractors (if any) are paid. If you pay your contractor and they do not pay others, you may legally be required to pay twice (Florida Constriction Lie Law, part 1, Chapter 713, Florida Statutes).

Posted by Bill Siegel. Florida Home Inspection Team Inc. 305-490-2513 Miami home inspector

Is Hurricane Protection Included in a Home Inspection

 hurricane shuttersHurricane protection is vital in the state of Florida. This topic recently came up on one of the message boards recently. A client call a home inspector complaining because there were not enough shutters to cover the windows during Hurricane Matthew. He felt that the home inspector did not do their job. I do not know at this time if the inspector included a disclaimer / exclusion of any kind prior to the inspection with regards to the shutters.

So, is it our job to comment on hurricane protection?

Under section 61.30.810 of the state standards of practice, Exterior components it states: 3.a: The inspector is not required to inspect windows  and door screening, shutters, awnings, and similar seasonal or protective accessories and devices.

So, what does this mean? It specifically states shutters, but then groups them into seasonal or other protective accessories and devices. Hurricane shutters are not seasonal and they are not an accessory. They are required by the building code. If something is required, it is my feeling that we should mention them in  our report. Does that mean that we have to test each accordion shutter or count and / or install the panels for verification. I do not believe it does. But I do believe that we should comment on the presence or absence of shutters and state that we do not test them and to have our client verify that they are all present prior to closing. Our standards state two things in section 61.0.810. The first is that it is not required to inspect those items. That does not meant that they cannot be inspected. I do not believe we have to inspect non compliant shutters, but, once again, it should be mentioned that they are not impact rated.

The next argument comes from our license law. All contractors are required to report on health and safety issues. We are supposed to look out for the health, safety, and welfare of our clients. I believe this covers the presence or absence of shutters. If they were supposed to be installed and were not, that puts our clients at risk in the event of a high wind event. 

While it is not specifically stated in our standard of practice, the standards do not preclude an inspector from rising above the standards and reporting on shutter issues. The problem, as I see it, is that too many inspectors only want to do the minimum and as many inspections in a day as possible. Their pricing structure does not consider the amount of work that really needs to be done. This is hurting the entire home inspection industry, as prices are at the same level as they were 15 years ago.

This is one of the reasons that I charge more than most inspectors. I take the time to verify that shutters are present. If newer windows were installed, I look for permits. If they were installed after a certain date, they must have opening protection. Do I verify that shutters are all present and accounted for. No, I do not. But I put in my report that my client needs to verify this with the seller. If they are not on the property, and are supposed to be, my client now has a negotiation  point. Houses that are supposed to have hurricane protection, but do not, are not code compliant. People are putting themselves at risk by not being protected. 

In my opinion, verification of shutters should be noted in every report, especially for houses that required them by code. 

Posted by Bill Siegel. Florida Home Inspection Team Inc. 305-490-2513 Miami home inspection

 

Tips from NFPA for Fire Prevention Week

 

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Fire Prevention Week

 his year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years,” represents the final year of our three-year effort to educate the public about basic but essential elements of smoke alarm safety.Why focus on smoke alarms three years in a row? Because NFPA’s survey data shows that the public has many misconceptions about smoke alarms, which may put them at increased risk in the event of a home fire. For example, only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced. Read more from NFPA Journal.

As a result of those and related findings, we’re addressing smoke alarm replacement this year with a focus on these key messages:

  • Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.
  • Make sure you know how old all the smoke alarms are in your home.
  • To find out how old a smoke alarm is, look at the date of manufacture on the back of the alarm; the alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date.
FPW Photo Contest

Fire departments that think they’re worthy of some “flashy” attention should start getting camera-ready: Between now and October 7, NFPA is hosting its first-ever “Get Ready for Your Close-Up” catalog contest, where one U.S. fire department will be randomly selected to receive a professional photo shoot for the cover of NFPA’s 2017 Fire Prevention Week catalog.


Teach FPW

Take the opportunity to introduce Fire Prevention Week to students, members of your community and high-risk populations. NFPA has several free downloads for you to use, including:

2016 FPW infographic

FPW infographic (PDF) for your website, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Place wherever you want to use it, and link the infographic to www.fpw.org.

Fire Prevention Week Lesson Plan
Building a Stronger Community  — The Importance of Working Smoke Alarms (PDF) is a lesson plan for grades 1-5.
Fire Prevention Week parent letter

Teachers can send home a letter to parents in English (PDF) or Spanish (PDF) to encourage families to check the expiration date of smoke alarms.

See all of NFPA’s FPW teaching materials.

Promote FPW

There are simple steps you can take to promote this year’s campaign. And, if you don’t have the resources to promote FPW in your community, download our fundraising letter and ask local businesses for help (PDF). They’re often more willing to work with you than you may think.

See all of NFPA’s FPW promotional materials.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJQjpG-lGY4


Is it time for your smoke alarm to retire? Sparky reminds everyone that smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years, and demonstrates how to find out the age of an alarm.

  • FPW infographic (PDF) to use on your website, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Just download the graphic and place wherever you want to use it. Please link the infographic to www.fpw.org.

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Posted by Bill Siegel Florida: Home Inspection Team Inc. 305-490-2513

Dryer safety

Protect Your Home: Dryer Safetydryer safety

Controversial code change & your impact windows

CaptureThe following video talks about a change in the energy code that affects impact windows here in Florida. This change could actually cost consumers money in the short and long run.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBMBk_5zuJI

Posted by Bill Siegel Florida Home Inspection Team Inc. 305-490-2513. Miami Home Inspector

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