Beware of these Property Defects –  can be expensive to repair.

Aluminum Wiring

Shortly after aluminum wiring became common place, some overheating problems started to appear. These included flickering lights, warm cover plates on switches and receptacles, and burned insulation on wiring. Any kind of overheating condition can lead to the possibility of fires.

1. Softness: Aluminum is a much softer metal than copper. Electricians who had always worked with copper found that it was very easy to nick, cut, or crush the aluminum wiring when removing insulation or making connections. They had to be gentler. Damaged wire creates local hot spots and results in overheating.

2. Creeping: When electricity flows through wire, the wire heats up. Aluminum wire expands more than copper when it heats up. The repeated expansion and contraction as the wire heated up and cooled down caused to the wire to creep out from under the terminal screws that held the wire in place. This wire creeping resulted in loose connections and overheating.

3. Rusting: When metals rust, they form an oxide on the surface. Rust on steel is red, rust on copper is green, and rust on aluminum is white. It’s not a big problem when copper wiring rusts, since the copper oxide that forms is electrically conductive. It doesn’t interfere with the wire’s ability to do its job. When aluminum wiring rusts, the white oxide is not a very good electrical conductor. It does interfere with the flow of electricity, and again, can cause overheating.

Read more about Electrical Deficiencies

Galvanized Plumbing

Most insurance companies will not insure a home with galvanized plumbing because it is well past its predicted life span. Galvanized steel pipes, commonly installed in homes prior to 1950, have an average life expectancy of 40–50 years. Over time, the galvanized steel pipes begin to rust or corrode from the inside out, resulting in reduced water pressure and restricted water flow. This presents an increased risk of leaks or ruptures occurring in the pipes and the potential for flood damage. Your insurance company will probably require you to replace galvanized plumbing with copper and plastic piping before providing you with insurance coverage.
Asbestos in your HOME
Older homes will typically have some asbestos as it was used in drywall, floor tile, ceiling tile and in many types of insulation. Removing asbestos can be expensive and involves setting up decontamination and clean zones in the home. Recommend obtaining multiple quotes for any removal. All asbestos removed has to be tagged and disposed of at an approved waste site. If you are thinking about removing the asbestos yourself buy the proper protective equipment and follow accepted guidelines for removal process. Your health could be at stake if you ignore the hazards involved in asbestos removal. Asbestos, as a product, was removed from acceptable housing materials around the mid-1970’s, so if the home is older than 1970, chances are high that somewhere within the home, there is asbestos.

Read more about Plumbing Deficiencies

Knob & Tube Wiring

Knob and Tube Wiring, also called Open Wiring, was a common wiring method used in the 1900’s to the late 1940’s.. While not illegal, it can be in poor condition with failing insulation and cracked tubes and insulators. Most home insurance companies will not insure a home with knob and tube wiring installed. Many times an older home will have most of the knob and tube wiring removed but often there may be a circuit or two that is overlooked or ignored due to shoddy workmanship. Never install insulation over exposed knob and tube wiring as it requires an open air space to dissipate any heat build up.

Potable Water Tests

A water potability test will check the water for the presence of the most common, dangerous bacteria such as Coliform, E-coli, and Fecal coliform. Testing can be performed on well water or tap water. In addition to checking for harmful bacterium, a chemical test can be conducted to check for magnesium, iron, lead, fluoride, chlorine, and other chemical compound levels in your water. Most home buyers do not know that if you are buying a home with a well that a typical water potability test done by your Realtor at your kitchen or bathroom sink will not detect feces in the water if there is a UV light and Cartridge Filter installed. The water must be collected prior to any water treatment devices such as softeners, carbon filters, reverse osmosis units and ceramic filters. Bypass, remove or disconnect these devices to ensure that the sample is taken before the water enters these treatment devices.

WETT Certified Inspections

If you use a wood burning appliance in your home, such as a wood stove, wood-fired furnace, pellet stove or wood-burning fireplace, and never had it WETT inspected, you should arrange for a WETT inspection for the safety of you and your family. Most insurance companies will also require you to obtain a WETT inspection on a new installation, on an existing installation that has undergone a modification, or when you purchase a home equipped with a wood burning appliance.

Building Permit’s

Building permits are required for just about any renovation  project.  When you buy a home which has had work done without a building permit you are Steel Beam Improperly Supportedassuming responsibility for any deficiencies that may exist.  Plumbing and electrical systems were installed without proper inspection prior to enclosing work.  Any structural change requires a design and a building permit.  Protect yourself and your investment by having a professional home inspection prior to purchasing property.

The steel beam supported on concrete column is improperly installed.  This should have been observed prior to occupancy permit being issued by City Building Department.  This unsafe condition would have continued until possible failure of support except for detection during home inspection.

Read more about Structural Deficiencies

Protect your family and home from Property Defects by calling the Alliston Home Inspector.

Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc. (WETT Inc.) is a non-profit training and education association managed by a volunteer Board of Directors elected by holders of valid WETT certificates. Through its administrative designate, WETT Inc. functions as the national registrar of the WETT program. Through professional training and public education, WETT Inc. promotes the safe and effective use of wood burning systems in Canada.

A certificate holder will not knowingly contravene any federal, provincial or municipal law, regulation or by-law relating to the sale, installation, inspection or maintenance of woodburning systems. Tests of individual advanced technology stoves show that they produce between 60 and 90 per cent less smoke than the old ‘airtights’. Most advanced stoves average between two and five grams of smoke per hour of use, whereas the old stoves emit as much as 40 grams per hour. In Libby, Montana, where 1130 old wood stoves were replaced by EPA certified models between 2005 and 2007, the average outdoor air pollution (from all sources) was reduced by 30 per cent and indoor air pollution by 70 per cent compared to previous years. All cities and towns with concerns about winter air pollution can achieve big improvements by promoting the use of only advanced technology wood heaters.

Like any other human endeavor, wood heating can be done badly or well. Firewood can be harvested poorly, burned dirty and its heat wasted. The harmful behavior of those who burn wood badly has led to continual attacks in the media on the whole idea of residential wood heating. The increasing public backlash and government response to wood smoke, particularly in urban areas, is of such concern to us here at woodheat.org that we created a new site called The Woodpile to serve as a place to discuss the future of wood heating. Please visit The Woodpile and give your views on the state of wood heating today.

Damaged Clay Flue TileEnergy is actively debated on several fronts these days. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill, drilling in the arctic, and the Alberta tar sands spark debate about the environmental wisdom of continued oil exploitation. Climate change is caused mainly by the combustion of fossil fuels, something that goes on at a spectacular rate around the world. Peak oil – meaning the maximum possible global production rate of conventional oil – has entered the mainstream discussion after a decade of lurking in the shadows. But judged by policy discussions about our energy future, wood heating is virtually nonexistent.

In April 2004, the CANMET combustion labs of Natural Resources Canada published results of its own research into dioxin emissions from wood stoves. Here is how the report authors described the results and presented them in a graph:
“When the total emission factors for each stove type are averaged, the certified stove produced 363 pg TEQ/kg dry fuel and the conventional stove produced 847 pg TEQ/kg dry fuel.
The certified woodstove produced lower PCDD [dioxin] and PCDF [furan] emissions than the conventional stove. This result is the opposite to the findings of the Environment Canada study. The effect of burn rate is dependent on the type of stove. For the conventional stove, a high burn rate produced more PCDD and PCDF emissions than a low burn rate. The opposite was observed for the certified stove, a low burn rate produced a more PCDD and PCDF emissions than a high burn rate.” Now we have the two most carefully instrumented investigations into dioxin emissions from wood stoves ever conducted producing opposite results. And the EPA certified stove is shown in the second study to produce less than half dioxin emissions of the conventional stove, on average.

All wood, regardless of species, has about the same energy content per pound. The different species vary mainly in density. Traditionally, the favored trees in central North America were oak and maple because they are very dense and produce long-lasting coals. But these are valuable trees and in many areas are not plentiful enough to burn. No problem, just use softer woods like birch or poplar (aspen) or any other tree that is readily available. By far the most important characteristic of any firewood is its moisture content. Keep in mind that people living in the coldest areas of North America have no hardwoods to burn and they get along just fine – their main firewood species are spruce and aspen. Ultimately, it is more important to have wood that is cut and split to the right size and properly dried than it is to get the hardest wood available.

The Barrie Home Inpector is a Certified WETT Inspector and provides services in Barrie, Alliston, Orillia, Midland, Penetang, Bradford, Newmarket, Innisfil, Tiny Beaches, Oro-Medonte, Springwater, Stayner, Wasaga Beach, Alcona Beach, Lagoon City, Brechin, Angus, New Lowell and many other communities in Simcoe County.