Category Archives: Insurance Inspections

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Homeowner Maintenance: Changing the HVAC Filter

Homeowner Maintenance: Changing the HVAC Filter

Part of responsible homeownership includes, of course, regular home maintenance. And there are some tasks that, if deferred, can lead to a home system that’s inefficient and overworked, which can result in problems and expenses. One such task is changing the filter of the home’s HVAC system. It’s simple and inexpensive, and taking care of it at least every three months can mean the difference between optimum comfort and avoidable repairs.

What Can Go Wrong

Most homes have some sort of furnace or heat pump, and manA-C System Home Inspectiony of those homes (especially newer ones) have combined heating, ventilation and air-conditioning or HVAC systems. Each type uses some type of air filter or screen to prevent larger airborne particles (up to 40 microns) from entering the system and clogging sensitive machinery. A system that has a dirty filter can suffer from pressure drop, which can lead to reduced air flow, or “blow-out,” resulting in no air infiltration at all. Any of these conditions can cause the system to work harder to keep the home warm or cool (depending on the season and the setting). And any mechanical component that has to work harder to run efficiently puts undue stress on the whole system, which can lead to premature failure, resulting in repair or replacement.

Also, a dirty filter that’s exposed to condensation can become damp, which can lead to mold growth that can be spread throughout the home by the HVAC system. This can lead to serious health consequences, not to mention a compromised unit that will likely require servicing and may require replacement, depending on the severity of the moisture problem.

Types of Filters

Most HVAC and furnace filters are disposable, made of biodegradable paper or similar media, and shaped in cells, screens or fins designed to trap as much airborne debris as possible. Filters can typically be purchased in economical multi-packs, and there are many types that will fit different models of furnace/HVAC units. It’s important to use the appropriate filter for your unit; using the wrong filter that doesn’t fit the unit properly can create the same types of problems as having a dirty filter. Your HVAC installer can show you where the filter goes and how to remove the old one and install a new one. Your unit may also have an affixed label with directions for easy filter replacement.

How Often?

Your HVAC or furnace technician should service your unit once a year. Because a furnace/HVAC unit contains moving parts, it’s important that belts are not cracked and dry, ventilation ductwork is not gapped, cracked or rusted, and components, such as coils and fans, are clog-free and adequately lubricated for unimpeded operation. This sort of evaluation is best left to the professional, unless the homeowner has had the appropriate training.
The filter of the unit, especially if it’s an HVAC unit that will tend to get nearly year-round use, should be changed by the homeowner at least every three months, but possibly more often.
Check your filter’s condition and change it once a month if:
You run your unit six months a year to year-round.
You have pets. Pet dander can become airborne and circulate through the home’s ventilation system just as typical household dust does.
You have a large family. More activity means more household dust, dirt and debris.
You smoke indoors.
You or someone in your household suffers from allergies or a respiratory condition.
You live in a particularly windy area or experience high winds for extended periods, especially if there are no nearby shrubs or trees to provide a natural windbreak.
You live in an area prone to or having recently experienced any wildfires. Airborne ash outdoors will eventually find its way indoors.
You have a fireplace that you occasionally use.
You live on a working farm or ranch. Dust and dirt that gets kicked up by outdoor work activity and/or large animals can be pulled into the home’s ventilation system, especially through open windows.
You have a large garden. Depending on its size and how often you work it, tilling soil, planting, pulling weeds, using herbicides and pesticides, and even watering mean that dirt, chemicals and condensation can be pulled into your home’s ventilation system.
There is construction taking place around or near the home. You may be installing a new roof or a pool, or perhaps a neighbor is building a home or addition. Even if the activity is only temporary, dust and debris from worksites adjacent to or near the home can be sucked into the home’s ventilation system, and this increased activity can tax your HVAC system.

Change the filter immediately if:

The filter is damaged. Whether it happened inside the packaging or while being installed, a damaged filter that has bent fins, collapsed cells or holes will not work as well as an undamaged filter, especially if it allows system air to bypass the filter at any point.
The filter is damp. A filter affected by moisture intrusion, system condensation, or even high indoor humidity can quickly become moldy and spread airborne mold spores throughout the home via the ventilation system.
There is evidence of microbial growth or mold on the filter. Mold spores already infiltrating the home via the HVAC system are not only bad for the unit itself, but they can pose a health hazard for the family, ranging from an irritated respiratory system to a serious allergic reaction. The musty smell produced by a moldy HVAC filter is also unpleasant and may take a while to completely eradicate from inside the home. If you discover that you have moldy air filter, it’s important to have the cause investigated further. An InterNACHI certified Cris Home inspector can help determine the problem so that it doesn’t recur.

Tips on Changing the Filter

Turn off the unit before replacing the filter.
Use the right filter for your unit and make sure it’s not damaged out of the package.
Follow the directions for your unit to make sure you’re installing the filter properly. For example, many filters use different colors for the front and back (or upstream and downstream flow) so that they’re not installed backwards.
Make sure there aren’t any gaps around the filter frame. If this is the case, you may have the wrong size filter, or the filter itself may be defective or damaged.
Use a rag to clean up any residual dust before and after you replace the filter.
Securely replace any levers, gaskets and/or seals.
Turn the unit on and observe it while it’s operating to make sure the filter stays in place.
Note the date of filter replacement in a convenient location for the next time you inspect it. A filter that becomes dirty enough to change within a short period of time may indicate a problem with the unit or ventilation system, so monitoring how often the filter requires changing is important information for your technician to have.

Call a technician for servicing if:

Your unit fails to turn back on.
The fan is slow or makes excessive noise, or the fins are bent.
The coils are excessively dusty or clogged.
You notice moisture intrusion from an unknown source anywhere in the system.
Homeowners who take care of the easy task of changing their HVAC filter can help prevent system downtime and avoidable expenses, as well as keep their families living and breathing comfortably. Cris home inspections Cris Home inspector can provide more useful tips and reminders during your annual home maintenance inspection.


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Home Inspection Services

Cris Home Inspections Has been in business for over 15 years and our Inspectors are experienced in the construction and electrical industries. We have the knowledge and experience to do the Home Inspection right. We are fully licensed, insured, binded and guarantee your satisfaction.

Home Buyers Inspection Services:

One of the many steps in the real estate purchase is to have a home inspection on your future home so there wouldn’t be any surprises and home that is being purchased should be inspected no matter of the age new or old. So the Buyer could learn true conditions of the home. Cris Home Inspectors will review different components in the home with you and discuss were those components fall in their life cycle, and how to maintain and improve the condition of the home. We provide a detailed home inspection report explaining the condition of the home both positive and negative. Our Home Inspection Reports are easy to read and understand with high resolution photos. During the Home Inspection process we will inspect and discuss any problems the home may have. Our professional Home Inspectors will do the job right.

Home inspection Services for Real Estate Professionals:

Your clients turn to you for advice during many stages of the home buying and selling process. In particular, many clients look for guidance in hiring a home inspector. Our work is a commitment to the understanding that your reputation is our responsibility. We are there as a resource to assist you and your clients making the ever important decision of buying or selling a home. We walk the client through the Home Inspection process from the beginning to the end. We are always available to answer any questions you might have and to be helpful home inspection resource for you and your client. We are fully insured Home Inspection Company and all of our Home Inspectors are Internachi Certified and you can be sure that your client will receive excellent service from a qualified home inspector.

Home Sellers inspection Services:

Pre-Sale Home Inspection provides confidence in the condition and value of your home. The last minute discovery of problems by a buyer can lead to a time delay, Expenses and even to derail of the sale. By taking care of any repairs or modifications up front, the final sale will have fewer complications and expedite the escrow process. Buyers have more confidence when looking at a house that has already been inspected. More confidence means more offers.


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Wind Mitigation Inspection saves me money on homeowners insurance.

Wind Mitigation Inspection – How can wind mitigation inspection saves me on my homeowners insurance.

You are a Florida resident – Florida state exhibits tropical storms and hurricanes every summer and fall.

Wind Mitigation InspectionMany home owners receive wind mitigation inspections to assess the preparedness of their homes and businesses in resisting the effects of windstorm damage or loss. Interestingly, even in Florida, wind mitigation inspections are not required by insurance companies or mortgage lenders – it’s totally optional, unlike some derivative of the four-point home inspection (which assesses the status of a property’s electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems plus the roofing) or a more intensive roof condition inspection. So why would someone want to order an extra inspection if it isn’t 100% needed? Because it could save you money!

That’s right – SAVE YOU MONEY. Wind Mitigation Insurance is the only inspection that is almost guaranteed to result in some level of insurance discount on your insurance premium.

Here is why – Following an intensely active tropical storm season and resulting all-out battery on the US, a handful of insurance companies not-surprisingly went bankrupt over mounting claim and reparation costs. Officials in states like Florida and Louisiana, hard hit by strong storms like 2004’s Charley and Ivan and 2005’s Katrina and Rita, saw an exodus of insurance companies and homeowners left high and not-so dry. They knew they needed to do something to help property owners and insurance companies alike… FAST.

Their solution: Incentivizing wind mitigation inspections as a means of properly safeguarding properties in targeted areas, in the hopes that insurance companies increase their odds of insuring more secure, less damage-susceptible properties

In 2006, Florida became the first state in the nation to mandate that insurance companies offer some reduction insurance costs if a wind mitigation inspection is sought and certified upon review by a qualified inspector (usually a board-certified inspections contractor)

So you’re wondering – Do I just get an inspection and save on insurance? And how much could a person stand to save?

Well, that all depends on the features of your property. An inspector will evaluate the wind-mitigating characteristics of your home or business. Post-inspection, that inspector will make recommendations for any improvements or repairs the property owner could make on their home to enhance its sustainability against windstorm damage. He or she then submits a state-standard inspection report to your insurance agency. The report is viewed as a benchmark of your home’s ability to withstand storm damage, and an appropriate discount is then applied – in Florida, an average discount of 30% is typical, saving a few hundred to over $1000 annually on your insurance premium.

Every state can vary on what safety features inspectors look for. As an example, Florida looks at 8 key categories, described below:

Roof Covering: inspectors want to know when the roof was installed and does if it meets building codes. In Florida, the code standard was updated in 2001.
Roof Deck Attachment: inspectors will determine what type of roof decking is used and how it’s attached to the underlying structure, like if it’s nailed or stapled down. If nails are used, nail length and spacing between each will also be noted.
Roof to Wall Attachment: the roof attachments become the focus here: are trusses attached with nails or hurricane clips? Are the wraps single or double? The more secure your roof, the better impact on your wallet!
Roof Geometry: is your roof hip or not? Nope, the inspector won’t care how cool it is, just how it’s shaped – a hip roof resembles that of a pyramid, and is a definite qualifier for a discount.
Gable End Bracing: if the roof is a gable style, an inspector will review if the gable ends are braced to Florida Building Code standards. Gable ends measuring more than 48 inches tall should be braced for reinforcement, and inspectors will be checking for this qualification for discount.
Wall Construction Type: Inspectors will review the construction materials used on your home for framing, reinforcement, and outer fascia, and at what percentages. Steel reinforced concrete block homes may yield a better discount than one with a plywood-only frame and plastic siding.
Secondary Water Barrier: This is a newer item for roofs. If your roof was installed or upgraded before 2008, it’s fairly unlikely you’ll have this sort of barrier. As with most newer features, photo documentation, at a minimum, will be required for a discount in this area.
Opening Protection: Here, inspectors are looking for impact rated shutters or impact windows and installed-protection devices from wind-born debris for doors and windows. They will also be checking the rating of the devices, if you have them (as in- are they hurricane-rated?). 100% of all openings need to be covered with Hurricane rated protection to qualify for this discount.
In the end, investing in a wind mitigation inspection is at your own discretion. The potential cost-savings per year could easily outweigh the cost. If you live in a coastal region, avoiding a wind mitigation inspection is at your own peril.


Recommended Links

Eaton Insurance
Phone (561) 966-1848
www.eatoninsurance.net

Furman Insurance
Phone (954) 943-5050
www.furmaninsurance.com

Real Estate Agent
Mark Baker
Phone 561-336-6333
www.buyingpalmbeachhomes.com