npi: Utility Room Appliances - 04/05/10 02:36 AM
How do you check if your utility room appliances are working properly and are safe? While the washing machine and clothes dryer often leave the house with the seller, certain safety checks in the utility room can still be made regardless. 
A qualified home inspector will first check if the clothes dryer's appliance hose connection is secure. The inspector will then check if the vent piping, from the dryer to the vent exit, is in good condition. The vent exit is where the dryer vent ends, and it must vent outside. The inspector will verify that the vent terminates outside and that the outside … (0 comments)

npi: Foreclosure Properties - 09/14/09 01:57 AM
Foreclosure properties provide new opportunities for home buyers, whether it is for first-time home buyers, home buyers looking for a bigger home or second-home buyers purchasing a vacation home.
There are many improvements and repairs necessary when preparing a foreclosure property. Here are some key areas:
Exterior Paint: Peeling paint is one of the most common problems associated with foreclosure properties. Refreshing the exterior paint as a first step helps attract the interest of renters and buyers to the outside of the home while repairs inside the home are still being completed. Landscaping: Foreclosure properties may have overgrown lawn, trees and … (0 comments)

npi: Inspecting Decks - 07/25/08 06:52 AM
When inspecting exterior structures like decks, consider condition and safety. Alerting clients to possible safety issues can be especially important on move-in day when the extra knowledge could prevent a fall. The visual inspection of a deck can include: supports, attachments, stairs, a floor, handrails, skirts, guardrails and spindles, among other things.
Although regulations for height and width (or rise and run) of steps change by location, the general goal is ease of use. To avoid tripping hazards, steps should be uniform and level. This is also true of decking material. Warped boards or a settled porch can increase the chance … (0 comments)

npi: Gutter Guards - 03/07/08 01:04 AM
Is it really time to start thinking about spring? Officially, spring begins March 20, so it's really not that far away at all. I think everyone I know is ready to open up doors and windows and start thinking about those outside projects. One of the first projects we tackle every year is the gutters. 
Keeping gutters clean and free of debris is essential to preventing failure. When gutters fail, water may be allowed to run into walls and windows, damage the paint, or filter into the foundation. However, not everyone has the time or the skill to balance on a ladder … (0 comments)

npi: Avoiding Electrical Fires in the Home - 02/08/08 07:06 AM
My 4-year-old has practiced fire safety. She has asked questions about the fire alarms in the house and what to do if there is a fire. It's a 100-year-old house. She's no dummy. I keep telling her when she is a little bigger, we will show her how to use the ladder that would go out of one of the big windows in her room. In the back of my mind, I admit I think there is a greater chance she will someday use the ladder to escape in the middle of the night with her friends. I also know, fire is no … (2 comments)

npi: Home Safety Tips for Sellers - 01/29/08 03:15 AM
Obivously an unoccupied house can be a target for burglars. Of nearly all the burglaries reported in 2006, an estimated 66 percent occurred in private residences. Most occurred during the day when the house was unoccupied. As a real estate agent, this knowledge can perhaps be used to help convince sellers who might have already moved out to take the leap and do some home maintenance even though the aren't staying living in the home. An abandoned property may be a prime target, especially one with little curb appeal. Some tips to pass on might be:
Continuing with yard maintenanceRemoving dead plants from around the front entrance or … (0 comments)

npi: Making Cents out of Replacing a Roof - 01/21/08 03:39 AM
Precipitation of any form, rain or snow, can cause additional problems if leaks in the roof allow the water to leak into the home. Water damage can cause mold, mildew and rot that if left untreated can damage wall coverings or even structural components of the home. No one wants to think about roof replacement. It can be costly, and, well, lets be honest, not very exciting.
One of the things to evaluate when adding roof replacement to your home maintenance schedule is whether you want to add the new shingles on top of the old ones, or start from scratch with a new roof, including new flashing. 
Adding a new … (0 comments)

npi: Holiday Home Safety - 12/19/07 01:23 AM
In just a few days, most of us may entertain as part of a holiday tradition.  The last thing we want is a trip or fall during an already busy and stressful time. Maybe we've decorated the interior, put up extra lights, gotten out grandma's best china, but how many of us take the time to check out the safety of our walkways, driveways and porches.
It might be a little cold in some parts of the country, but prior to a big gathering or holiday part is a great time to look outside for safety issues.
When it comes to driveways - … (0 comments)

npi: Exterior Christmas Light Safety - 12/12/07 08:55 AM
Hanging lights outdoors for the holidays has become big business. Companies across the country will put up decorations for you and communities hold contests for the best and brightest. Nearly everyone knows how important it is to watch such lights and decorations indoors, but how many people thing about the dangers associated with outside lighting? Producing the best display on the block means not only being the brightest, but the safest.
The idea for using electric lights to decorate Christmas trees has been around since at least 1882. That's when Thomas Edison's assistant, Edward Johnson, proposed the concept.
To protect your … (0 comments)

npi: Water Heater Maintenance - 12/07/07 08:23 AM
Lifestyle must be considered when choosing a water heater. Those with low hot water needs may be able to reduce energy costs with a tankless water heater or solar system. Others may choose the conventional storage water heater or heat pump with tank. Conventional water heaters, the most common type of water heater found in the U.S. and Canada heat hot water and then store it in a 30-70 gallon tank.
A heating element, fired by oil, gas or propane warms water in the tank from 50 degrees F to around 120 degrees F. In a gas or oil-fired water heater, the … (0 comments)

npi: Storm Testing - 11/30/07 02:10 AM
As a Nebraska resident, I'm fairly familiar with storm chasing -- at least the idea of it. Chasing massive storms to see what develops and record live the effects of such wind to improve safety measures later. It makes sense, although I wouldn't want to do it. For our industry, however, some scientists and researchers are developing ways to simulate conditions under a hurricane, tornado or cyclone. This will allow members of the building industries to test new safety measures before installing them in homes and hoping for the best.
The following are some of the more interesting projects I've found:
At Florida … (2 comments)

npi: Storm Testing - 11/30/07 02:10 AM
Tornadoes and hurricanes wreak havoc in various places across the U.S. every year. To help home builders and remodelers improve the ability of residential and commercial structures to withstand major wind and water events, scientists and engineers are conducting large-scale weather tests around the world.
At Florida International University, researchers have teamed with representatives from the insurance industry to construct the Wall of Wind, a 16-foot high structure containing 6 fans, each with its own high-powered motor. Currently, the Wall of Wind can produce winds of up to 130 miles per hour to batter test structures.
Students and professors at the University … (0 comments)

npi: Tips for Saving Money Spent Heating Water - 11/26/07 08:35 AM
In the United States, about a quarter of every energy dollar spent in a residential home goes to heat hot water. Changing the type of water heater used to a more-efficient model can help, but if your conventional water heater is working fine, consider the following tips:
Install low-flow fixtures in sinks, bathtubs and showers.Fix leaks right away.Purchase energy-efficient dishwashers and clothes washers. To determine if your shower head qualifies as low-flow - a rate less than 2.5 gallons per minute in the United States - the Department of Energy recommends placing a bucket marked in gallon increments under the shower head. … (0 comments)

npi: Landings: Safety at the Top of a Staircase - 10/19/07 06:40 AM
Good stairs have good landings. It only makes sense from a home safety standpoint. A landing, a level place at the top of a staircase, assists in traffic flow and prevents falls or run-ins when opening and closing doors. In most places, landings are required anytime you have three or more stairs. More than three stairs apparently equals a height that's dangerous when it comes to falls.
If a door opens out over the landing, general consensus says the landing should be large enough, usually 3-feet by 3-feet, so that anyone standing on the landing isn't knocked off when the door swings out. … (0 comments)

npi: Outdoor Lighting Design - 10/09/07 09:20 AM
This is probably the best time of year for anyone who enjoys a little "spookiness" at night. Haunted houses, haunted hayrack rides and masks help make Halloween spooky and fun. It's also a great time of year to think about outdoor lighting. No one wants a trip or fall to mean an injury for a little trick or treater. Plus, darkness falls so fast. Finding the right outdoor lighting does take some time and some thought:
Outdoor lighting accents your landscape and makes the home a safer place, especially as days get shorter. When installing the power supply insure the source is … (0 comments)

npi: Cleaning Out Your House: Garage Sales versus Online Auctions - 09/28/07 08:26 AM
My mom happens to be one of the neatest people I know. She prides herself on having at least one empty shelf in every closet just so that she knows she doesn't have too much stuff. She has organized and simplified her life and almost never loses anything. (Dad and I still remind her of the time back in 1983 when she lost her sunglasses in the lake, but it really shouldn't count anymore. And it was probably someone else who lost them anyway.)
Besides my mom, I don't know anyone who wouldn't have to clean up and clean out the closets … (0 comments)

npi: Cleaning Gutters in the Fall - 09/19/07 07:38 AM
The leaves are just beginning to turn colors in beautiful Nebraska. Fall happens to be one of my favorite times of the year. I happen to like fall colors, hayrack rides and the smell of a good soup simmering in my crockpot. Of course, as with any season, fall comes with some chores that aren't so fun. One of those is cleaning out the gutters. I am always suprised at what summer rains can wash into the gutters if I'm not careful.  
I know my gutters are meant to divert rainwater away from the exterior and foundation of my home, but they also collect debris, bugs, stick … (0 comments)

npi: Preparing to Sell Your Home - 09/04/07 09:01 AM
Selling your home can be very stressful, but there are several things you can do to improve your chances of getting an edge over the competition and closing a deal that is beneficial to all involved. Setting your home apart does take some elbow grease and perhaps a little cash, but it certainly isn't impossible for most. Consider the following tips: 
Perform routine maintenanceExceed a buyer's expectations from the beginning. Change your furnace filter. Replace burnt out light bulbs. Make sure hand and guardrails are securely mounted to prevent falls. Trim bushes and rake up leaves. Cut out dead foliage. All of … (4 comments)

npi: Leaks and All: Common Residential Water Problems - 08/23/07 03:06 AM
Water leaks in the home are a problem in many ways. Every drop our of the faucet costs us money. It is also a waste of a resource. And it can make a huge mess. But how big of a mess can water make? If left undiagnosed, a simple water leak can lead to mold growth, rotting wood and eventually structural damage. Our homes are built to put up a constant fight against excess moisture. And it's a fight they must take up every day as the use of showers, dryers and even cooking on the stove adds more moisture to the … (3 comments)

npi: Glass Safety at Home - 08/20/07 08:53 AM
My first day at junior high, I noticed some of the windows had what looked like chain link fence running through them. Others did not. I found out why one morning when one student pushed another through one of the non-reinforced windows during a fight. Later, that window was replaced with one with the wires through it. Before the end of the year, I saw several incidents like this and learned an appreciation of what glass can do to skin. It seems the National Safety Council was way ahead of me when it came to safety glass in residences. My stories are from the late 1980s. 
In the … (1 comments)


M. Murphy

Omaha, NE

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National Property Inspections

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A discussion of the home inspection and commercial building inspection industry. Home maintenance tips for consumers.




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