The following links have been selected to provide additional information on some of the complex issues that are discussed during a home inspection. These items may or may not appear in any given report.
Aluminum Wiring: Aluminum wiring has been linked to home fires. This information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission gives a brief history of its use and discusses some of the typical repair methods. However, the recommended repair, called a CopAlum crimp connection typically is not feasible for residential construction. We therefore always recommend consulting a qualified electrician when aluminum wiring is found in 15 and 20 amp branch circuits. The CPSC has reaffirmed their endorsement of the CopAlum repair system in a press release in May of 2003.
Asbestos: Asbestos fibers can cause lung disease. This guide from the EPA discusses the issue and possible abatement methods. This health organization's website has up-to-date and comprehensive information about asbestos and mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer caused almost solely by asbestos.
Flexible Brass Connectors: These connectors are often used to connect gas ranges, water heaters, etc. to the solid gas piping. These older connectors have been linked to numerous fires and deaths. Information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Fuel Oil Tanks: Fuel oil tanks can pose an environmental hazard if not properly maintained. This article from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation discusses tank maintenance and the particular concern over buried fuel tanks.
GFCI’s: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI’s) are inexpensive devices that greatly reduce the risk of shocks and electrocution. These devices are required by code in all “damp” areas of newly constructed homes including the kitchen, bath, exterior, etc. While not required in older homes, these devices are a recommended upgrade in any home. This fact sheet from the Consumer Products Safety Commission further explains the benefits of GFCI’s.
Heat Tapes: Heat tapes are used in many homes to help prevent freezing pipes. Once installed, these devices are easily forgotten. This Fact sheet from the Consumer Product Safety Commission reminds us that heat tapes should be properly installed and periodically replaced to reduce fire risks.
HTPV vents: Some gas fired furnaces and boilers were installed in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s with a gray to black plastic vent pipe called High Temperature Plastic Vent (HTPV). This material was recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission after reports of cracking at joints and connections.
Lead Paint: Information from the EPA.
Mold: Information on mold, moisture and indoor air quality from the EPA.
Pool Safety: from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Radon: Information from the EPA.
Wood Heat Safety: Special care must be taken in the installation and operation of solid-fuel burning appliances (Wood stoves and Fireplaces). Woodheat.org covers this topic and discusses methods for installing clearance-reducing heat shields.
Polybutylene piping (PB): PB has had a history of leaking. Some PB systems are covered under a class action law suit. The University of Arizona has an article on the problems with this material. Photos of PB piping and information on the class action lawsuit can be found at the Consumer Product Recovery Center site.
Wells and Septic Systems: Proper installation and maintenance of private wells and on-site waste disposal systems is critical for your family’s health and protection of the environment. Penn State University has several fact sheets for the homeowner.