15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own

The following items are essential tools, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next inspection about other tools that you might find useful. 1. Plunger A clogged sink or toilet is one of the most inconvenient household problems that you will face. With a plunger on hand, however, you can usually remedy these plumbing issues relatively quickly. It is best to have two plungers — one for the sink and one for the toilet. 2. Combination Wrench Set One end of a combination wrench set is open and the other end is a closed loop. Nuts and bolts are manufactured in standard and metric sizes, and because both varieties are widely used, you’ll need both sets of wrenches. For the most control and leverage, always pull the wrench toward you, instead of pushing on it. Also, avoid over-tightening. 3. Slip-Joint Pliers Use slip-joint pliers to grab hold of a nail, a nut, a bolt, and much more. These types of pliers are versatile because of the jaws, which feature both flat and curved areas for gripping many types of objects. There is also a built-in slip-joint, which allows the user to quickly adjust the jaw size to suit most tasks. 4. Adjustable Wrench Adjustable wrenches are somewhat awkward to use and can damage a bolt or nut if they are not handled properly. However, adjustable wrenches are ideal for situations where you need two wrenches of the same size. Screw the jaws all the way closed to avoid damaging the bolt or nut. 5. Caulking Gun Caulking is the...

Asbestos

What is Asbestos? Asbestos is a mineral fiber that can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. InterNACHI inspectors can supplement their knowledge with the information offered in this guide. How Can Asbestos Affect My Health? From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer in the forms of mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity, and asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue. The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increase with the number of fibers inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke. People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos. Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more...

Attached Garage Fire Hazards

The purpose of this article is twofold. First, at InterNACHI, we’d like you to take measures to keep your garage free from fire. Fortunately, there are ways this can be done, some of which are described below. Secondly, garage fires do happen, and we’d like you to make sure that a fire cannot not easily spread to the rest of your house. While you can perform many of the recommendations in this article yourself, it is a good idea to hire an InterNACHI inspector to make sure your home is safe from a garage fire. Why do many garages pose a fire hazard? • Where are you most likely to do any welding, or any work on your car? These activities require working with all sorts of flammable materials. • Water heaters and boilers are usually stored in garages, and they can create sparks that may ignite fumes or fluids. Car batteries, too, will spark under certain conditions. • Oil and gasoline can drip from cars. These fluids may collect unnoticed and eventually ignite, given the proper conditions. • Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, motor oil and paint are commonly stored in garages. Some other examples are brake fluid, varnish, paint thinner and lighter fluid. The following tips can help prevent garage fires and their spread: • If the garage allows access to the attic, make sure a hatch covers this access. • The walls and ceiling should be fire-rated. Unfortunately, it will be difficult for untrained homeowners to tell if their walls are Type X fire-rated gypsum. An InterNACHI inspector can examine the walls and ceiling to make...

Biological Pollutants in the Home

Outdoor air pollution in cities is a major health problem. Much effort and money continue to be spent cleaning up pollution in the outdoor air. But air pollution can be a problem where you least expect it, in the place you may have thought was safest — your home. Many ordinary activities, such as cooking, heating, cooling, cleaning and redecorating, can cause the release and spread of indoor pollutants at home. Studies have shown that the air in our homes can be even more polluted than outdoor air. Many Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors, often at home. Therefore, breathing clean indoor air can have an important impact on health. People who are inside a great deal may be at greater risk of developing health problems, or having problems made worse by indoor air pollutants. These people include infants, young children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. Many factors determine whether pollutants in your home will affect your health. They include the presence, use and condition of pollutant sources, the level of pollutants both indoors and out, the amount of ventilation in your home, and your overall health. What are Biological Pollutants? Biological pollutants are or were living organisms. They promote poor indoor air quality and may be a major cause of days lost from work and school, and of doctor and hospital visits. Some can even damage surfaces inside and outside your house. Biological pollutants can travel through the air and are often invisible. Some common indoor biological pollutants are: • animal dander (minute scales from hair, feathers, or skin); • dust mite and...

Biowall Inspection

Biowalls — also referred to as living walls, vertical gardens, green facades, and green walls — are interior or exterior walls that are covered with living vegetation. Biowalls have practical applications for both indoor and outdoor use. Many indoor biowalls are implemented in homes and offices for their natural air-filtration properties, Biowalls have many health and financial benefits when implemented properly. This biowall was constructed by Team Montreal for the Solar Decathlon 2007.and are used in tandem with traditional HVAC systems. Outdoor biowalls are most commonly found in urban environments, and serve to insulate buildings and combat the urban heat island (or UHI) effect, where exposed concrete surfaces reflect heat and cause urban centers to be excessively hot in the summertime. Biowalls are also effective for mitigating the UHI effect in urban centers located in warm and dry climates. Facts and Figures The EPA estimates that even in buildings employing state-of-the-art HVAC systems, indoor air quality can be significantly worse than outdoor air quality due to the emission of volatile organic compounds (or VOCs). VOCs result from the off-gassing of paint, refrigerants, new carpeting, glues, electronics, and other petrochemical products. VOCs may not be hazardous in small quantities but, over time, they contribute to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), which causes occupants of affected buildings to suffer headaches, dizziness, and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. In a 1984 study, NASA found that vegetation sequesters and purifies a significant amount of VOCs from enclosed indoor spaces. Plant foliage is responsible for turning carbon dioxide into oxygen, but it is the root system that actually sequesters hazardous VOCs. How do...