• Properly constructed private water supply systems require littleroutine maintenance. These simple steps will help protect your system andinvestment.
• Always use licensed or certified water well drillers and pump installers when a well is constructed, a pump is installed or the system is serviced.
• An annual well maintenance check, including a bacterial test, is recommended. Any source of drinking water should be checked any time there is a change in taste, odor or appearance, or anytime a water supply system is serviced.
• Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from your well.
• Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair.
• Always maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems or chemical storage facilities. Your professional contractor knows the rules.
• Don’t allow back-siphonage. When mixing pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals, don’t put the hose inside the tank or container.
• When landscaping, keep the top of your well at least one foot above the ground. Slope the ground away from your well for proper drainage.
• Take care in working or mowing around your well. A damaged casing could jeopardize the sanitary protection of your well. Don’t pile snow, leaves, or other materials around your well.
• Keep your well records in a safe place. These include the construction report, as well as annual water well system maintenance and water testing results.
• Be aware of changes in your well, the area around your well, or the water it provides.
• When your well has come to the end of its serviceable life (usually more than 20 years), have your qualified water well contractor properly decommission your well after constructing your new system.
How Long Liquids Must Remain In Tank
Flow Into And Out Of The Tank
Microbes in Septic Tanks Digest, Dissolve, and Gasify Complex Organic Wastes.
FUNCTION OF THE SEPTIC TANK
While relatively simple in construction and operation, the septic tank provides a number of important functions through a complex interaction of physical and biological processes. The essential functions of the septic tank are to: receive all wastewater from the house separate solids from the wastewater flow cause reduction and decomposition of accumulated solids provide storage for the separated solids (sludge and scum) pass the clarified wastewater (effluent) out to the drain field for final treatment and disposal.
As stated, the main function of the septic tank is to remove solids from the wastewater and provide a clarified effluent for disposal to the drain field. The septic tank provides a relatively quiescent body of water where the wastewater is retained long enough to let the solids separate by both settling and flotation. This process is often called primary treatment and results in three products: scum, sludge, and effluent.
Scum: Substances lighter than water (oil, grease, fats) float to the top,
where they form a scum layer. This scum layer floats on top of the water surface in the tank. Aerobic bacteria work at digesting floating solids.
Sludge: The “sinkable” solids (soil, grit, bones, unconsumed food particles)
settle to the bottom of the tank and form a sludge layer. The sludge is denser than water and fluid in nature, so it forms a flat layer along the tank bottom. Underwater anaerobic bacteria consume organic materials in the sludge, giving off gases in the process and then, as they die off, become part of the sludge.
Effluent: Effluent is the clarified wastewater left over after the scum has floated to the top and the sludge has settled to the bottom. It is the clarified liquid between scum and sludge. It flows through the septic tank outlet into the drain field.
HOW LONG LIQUIDS MUST REMAIN IN TANK
Effective volume: The floating scum layer on top and the sludge layer on the bottom take up a certain amount of the total volume in the tank. The effective volume is the liquid volume in the clear space between the scum and sludge layers. This is where the active solids separation occurs as the wastewater sits in the tank.
Retention time: In order for adequate separation of solids to occur, the wastewater needs to sit long enough in the quiescent conditions of the tank. The time the water spends in the tank, on its way from inlet to outlet, is known as the retention time. The retention time is a function of the effective volume and the daily household wastewater flow rate:
Retention Time (days) = Effective Volume (gallons)/Flow Rate (gallons per day)
A common design rule is for a tank to provide a minimum retention time of at least 24 hours, during which one-half to two-thirds of the tank volume is taken up by sludge and scum storage. Note that this is a minimum retention time, under conditions with a lot of accumulated solids in the tank. Under ordinary conditions (i.e., with routine maintenance pumping) a tank should be able to provide two to three days of retention time. As sludge and scum accumulate and take up more volume in the tank, the effective volume is gradually reduced, which results in a reduced retention time. If this process continues unchecked-if the accumulated solids are not cleaned out (pumped) often enough-wastewater will not spend enough time in the tank for adequate separation of solids, and solids may flow out of the tank with the effluent into the drain field. This can result in clogged pipes and gravel in the drain field, one of the most common causes of septic system failure.
In order to avoid frequent removal of accumulated solids, the septic tank is (hopefully) designed with ample volume so that sludge and scum can be stored in the tank for an extended period of time. A general design rule is that one-half to two-thirds of the tank volume is reserved for sludge and scum accumulation. A properly designed and used septic system should have the capacity to store solids for about five years or more. However, the rate of solids accumulation varies greatly from one household to another, and actual storage time can only be determined by routine septic tank inspections.
While fresh solids are continually added to the scum and sludge layers, anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that live without oxygen) consume the organic material in the solids. The by-products of this decomposition are soluble compounds, which are carried away in the liquid effluent, and various gases, which are vented out of the tank via the inlet pipe that ties into the house plumbing air vent system. Anaerobic decomposition results in a slow reduction of the volume of accumulated solids in the septic tank. This occurs primarily in the sludge layer but also, to a lesser degree, in the scum layer. The volume of the sludge layer is also reduced by compaction of the older, underlying sludge. While a certain amount of volume reduction occurs over time, sludge and scum layers gradually build up in the tank and eventually must be pumped out.
FLOW INTO AND OUT OF THE TANK
The inlet and outlet ports of the tank are generally equipped with devices such as baffles, concrete tees, or in more recent years, sanitary tees (T-shaped pipes with one short and one long leg).
The inlet device dissipates the energy of the incoming flow and deflects it downwards. The vertical leg of the tee extends below the liquid surface well into the clear space below the scum layer. This prevents disturbance of the floating scum layer and reduces disruptive turbulence caused by incoming flows. The inlet device also is supposed to prevent short-circuiting of flows across the water surface directly to the outlet. The upper leg of the inlet should extend well above the liquid surface in order to prevent floating scum from backing up into, and possibly plugging, the main inlet pipe. The open top of the inlet tee allows venting of gases out of the tank through the inlet pipe and fresh air vents of the household plumbing.
The outlet device is designed to retain the scum layer within the tank. A sanitary tee can be used with the lower leg extending below the scum layer. The elevation of the outlet port should be 2 to 3 inches below the elevation of the inlet port. This prevents backwater and stranding of solids in the main inlet pipe during momentary rises in the tank liquid level caused by surges of incoming wastewater.Typical inlet/outlet tees
Gas Deflection Baffle
Gases are produced by the natural digestion of sludge at the bottom of the tank, and particles of sludge can be carried upward by these rising gases. Some tanks have a gas deflection baffle, which prevents gas bubbles (to which solid particles often adhere) from leaving the tank by deflecting them away from the outlet and preventing them from entering the drain field.
THE EFFLUENT FILTER
In newer systems, there is often an effluent filter: one of the significant improvements in septic tank design in decades. They range from 4 to 18 inches in diameter. As we have described, the most serious problem with septic systems is the migration of solids, grease, or oil into the drain field, and the filter is effective in preventing this. A filter restricts and limits passage of suspended solids into the effluent. Solids in a filtered system’s effluent discharge are significantly less than those produced in a non-screened system.
The septic tank also provides a buffering of flows between the house and the drain field. Large surges from the household, such as toilet flushing or washing machine drainage, are dampened by the septic tank so that the flows leaving the tank and entering the drain field are at substantially lower flow rates and extend over a longer period of time than the incoming surges.
MICROBES IN SEPTIC TANKS DIGEST, DISSOLVE, AND GASIFY COMPLEX ORGANIC WASTES
In 1907, W. P. Dunbar conducted tests on the decomposition of vegetable and animal matter in septic tanks. He stated, “The author has investigated the subject by suspending in septic tanks a large number of solid organic substances, such as cooked vegetables, cabbages, turnips, potatoes, peas, beans, bread, various forms of cellulose, flesh in the form of dead bodies of animals, skinned and unskinned, various kinds of fat, bones, cartilage, etc., and has shown that many of these substances are almost completely dissolved in from three to four weeks. They first presented a swollen appearance, and increased in weight. The turnips had holes on the surface, which gradually became deeper. The edges of the cabbage leaves looked as though they had been bitten, and similar signs of decomposition were visible in the case of other substances. Of the skinned animals, the skeleton alone remained after a short time; with the unskinned animals the process lasted rather longer. At this stage I will only point out that the experiments were so arranged that no portion of the substances could be washed away; their disappearance was therefore due to solution and gasification.“
What is Radon?
Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rockand water.
The release of this radioactive gas enters the air you breathe,causing a potential health risk to you and your family.
Radon gas can be found in just about anywhere. It can get into anytype of building — homes, offices, and schools — and build up to high levels.
What you should know about Radon
Radon is a cancer causing radioactive gas. You cannot see radon and you cannot smell it or taste it, but it may be a problemin your home. This is because when you breathe air-containing radon, youincrease your risk of getting lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General haswarned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
You should test for radon. Testingis the only way to find out about your home’s radon level. The EPA and theSurgeon General recommend testing of all homes below the third floor for radon.
You can fix a radon problem. If youfind that you have high radon levels, there are ways to fix a radon problem.Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.
If you are buying a home. EPArecommends that you obtain the radon level in the home you are consideringbuying. An EPA publication “The Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide” isavailable through most State Health Departments or Regional EPA offices listedin your local phone book. EPA also recommends that you use a certified or statelicensed radon tester to perform the test. If elevated levels are found it isrecommended that these levels be reduced. In most cases, a professional canaccomplish this at reasonable cost or homeowner installed mitigation systemthat adheres to the EPA’s approved methods for reduction of radon in aresidential structure.
What are the Risk Factors?
The EPA, Surgeon General and The Center for Disease Control, haveall agreed that continued exposure to Radon gas can cause lung cancer.
In fact, their position on the matter is that all homes should betested for radon gas exposure, and all homes testing over 4 pCi/L should befixed.
How Does Radon Enter the Home?
Typically the air pressure inside your home is lower than thepressure in the soil around your home’s foundation.
Due to this difference, your house acts like a vacuum, drawing radongas in through foundation cracks and other openings of your home.
Radon may also be present in well water and can be released intothe air in your home when water is used for showering and other household uses.
Potential Entry Points:
1. Cavities inside walls 2. Cracks in solid floors 3. Construction joints
4. Cracks in walls 5. The water supply 6. Gaps in suspended floors
7. Gaps around service pipes
What is Mold?
Molds are fungi. Molds grow throughout the natural and built environment. Tinyparticles of mold are present in indoor and outdoor air. In nature, molds helpbreak down dead materials and can be found growing on soil, foods, plantmatter, and other items. Molds produce microscopic cells called”spores” which are very tiny and spread easily through the air. Livespores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) when they find theright conditions.
What does mold need to grow?
Mold only needs a few simple things to grow and multiply:
Suitable place to grow
Of these, controlling excess moisture is the key to preventing andstopping indoor mold growth.
Should I be concerned about mold in my home?
Mold should not be permitted to grow and multiply indoors. When this happens,health problems can occur and building materials, goods and furnishings may bedamaged.
Can mold make me and my family sick?
Mold can affect the health of people who are exposed to it. People are mainlyexposed to mold by breathing spores or other tiny fragments. People can also beexposed through skin contact with mold contaminants (for example, by touchingmoldy surfaces) and by swallowing it.
The type and severity of health effects that mold may produce areusually difficult to predict. The risks can vary greatly from one location toanother, over time, and from person to person.
What symptoms might I see?
The most common health problems caused by indoor mold are allergysymptoms. Although other and more serious problems can occur, people exposed tomold commonly report problems such as:
Nasal and sinus congestion
Skin and eye irritation
Upper respiratory infections (including sinus)
Are the risks greater for some people?
There is wide variability in how different people are affected byindoor mold. However, the long term presence of indoor mold growth mayeventually become unhealthy for anyone. The following types of people may beaffected more severely and sooner than others:
Infants and children
Individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as allergies and asthma
Persons having weakened immune systems (for example, people with HIV infection, chemotherapy patients, organ transplant recipients)
Those with special health concerns should consult a medicalprofessional if they feel their health is affected by indoor mold. Are some molds more hazardous thanothers?
Some types of mold can produce chemical compounds (calledmycotoxins) although they do not always do so. Molds that are able to producetoxins are common. In some circumstances, the toxins produced by indoor moldmay cause health problems. However, all indoor mold growth is potentiallyharmful and should be removed promptly, no matter what types of mold is presentor whether it can produce toxins.
How do I tell if I have a mold problem?
Investigate, don’t test. The most practical way to find a mold problem is byusing your eyes to look for mold growth and by using your nose to locate thesource of a suspicious odor. If you see mold or if there is an earthy or mustysmell, you should assume a mold problem exists. Other clues are signs of excessmoisture or the worsening of allergy-like symptoms.
• Look for visible mold growth (may appear cottony, velvety, granular, or leathery and have varied colors of white, gray, brown, black, yellow, green). Mold often appears as discoloration, staining, or fuzzy growth on the surface of building materials or furnishings. When mold is visible, testing is not recommended.
• Search areas with noticeable mold odors.
• Look for signs of excess moisture or water damage. Look for water leaks, standing water, water stains, condensation problems. For example, do you see any watermarks or discoloration on walls, ceilings, carpet, woodwork or other building materials?
• Search behind and underneath materials (carpet and pad, wallpaper, vinyl flooring, sink cabinets), furniture, or stored items (especially things placed near outside walls or on cold floors). Sometimes destructive techniques may be needed to inspect and clean enclosed spaces where mold and moisture are hidden; for example, opening up a wall cavity.
Should I test for mold?
We do not recommend testing for mold yourself. Instead, you shouldsimply assume there is a problem whenever you see mold or smell mold odors.Testing should never take the place of visual inspection and it should neveruse up resources that are needed to correct moisture problems and remove allvisible growth.
Sometimes, mold growth is hidden and difficult to locate. In suchcases, a combination of air (outdoor and indoor air samples) and bulk(material) samples may help determine the extent of contamination and wherecleaning is needed. However, mold testing is rarely useful for trying to answerquestions about health concerns.
Mold Clean-up and Removal
To clean up and remove indoor mold growth, follow steps 1-6 asthey apply to your home.
1. Identify and Fix the Moisture Problem – themost important step in solving a mold problem is to identify and correct themoisture sources that allowed the growth in the first place. Common indoormoisture sources include:
– Condensation(caused by indoor humidity that is too high or surfaces that are too cold)
– Movementthrough basement walls and slab
– Roof leaks
– Overflowfrom tubs, sinks, or toilets
– Firewoodstored indoors
– Inadequateventing of kitchen and bath humidity
– Improperventing of combustion appliances
– Failure tovent clothes dryer exhaust outdoors (including electric dryers)
– Linedrying laundry indoors
– Houseplants – watering them can generate large amounts of moisture
To keep indoor surfaces as dry as possible,try to maintain the home’s relative humidity between 20-40 percent in thewinter and less than 60 percent the rest of the year. You can purchase devicesto measure relative humidity at some home supply stores. Ventilation, aircirculation near cold surfaces, dehumidification, and efforts to minimize theproduction of moisture in the home are all very important in controlling highhumidity that frequently causes mold growth in our cold climate.
2. Begin Drying All Wet Materials – as soonas possible, begin drying any materials that are wet. For severe moistureproblems, use fans and dehumidifiers and move wet items away from walls and offfloors. Check with equipment rental companies or restoration firms to see ifyou can rent fans and dehumidifiers.
3. Remove and Dispose of Mold ContaminatedMaterials – items which have absorbed moisture (porous materials) and whichhave mold growing on them need to be removed, bagged and thrown out. Suchmaterials may include sheet rock, insulation, plaster, carpet/carpet pad,ceiling tiles, wood products (other than solid wood), and paper products.Likewise, any such porous materials that have contacted sewage should also bebagged and thrown away. Non-porous materials with surface mold growth may besaved if they are cleaned well and kept dry (see step 4).
Take Stepsto Protect Yourself – the amount of mold particles in air can increase greatlywhen mold is disturbed. Consider using protective equipment when handling orworking around mold contaminated materials. The following equipment can helpminimize exposure to mold:
Outerclothing (long sleeves and long pants) that can be easily removed in the workarea and laundered or discarded
Medium-efficiencyor high-efficiency filter dust mask (these can be found at safety equipmentsuppliers, hardware stores, or some other large stores that sell home repairsupplies) — at a minimum, use an N-95 or equivalent dust mask
Take Steps to Protect Others – plan and perform all work to minimize the amount of dust generated. The following actions can help minimize the spread of mold spores:
Encloseall moldy materials in plastic (bags or sheets) before carrying through the home
Hangplastic sheeting to separate the work area from the rest of the home
Removeouter layer of work clothing in the work area and wash separately or bag
Damp clean the entire work area to pick up settled contaminants in dust
4. Clean Surfaces – surface mold growing on non-porous materials such as hard plastic, concrete, glass,metal, and solid wood can usually be cleaned. Cleaning must remove and capture the mold contamination, because dead spores and mold particles still cause health problems if they are left in place.
Thoroughly scrub all contaminated surfaces using a stiff brush, hot water and anon-ammonia soap/detergent or commercial cleaner
Collect excess cleaning liquid with a wet/dry vacuum, mop or sponge
Rinse area with clean water and collect excess rinse water
5. Disinfect Surfaces (if desired) – after cleaning has removed all visible mold and other soiling from contaminated surfaces, a disinfectant may be used to kill mold missed by the cleaning. In the case of sewage contamination, disinfection must be performed. Contact your home inspector for advice.
Mix 1/4 to1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water and apply to surfaces where mold growth wasvisible before cleaning. The solution can be applied with a spray bottle,garden sprayer, it can be sponged on, or applied by other methods.
Collectany run-off of bleach solution with a wet/ dry vacuum, sponge or mop. However,do not rinse or wipe the bleach solution off the areas being treated — allowit to dry on the surface.
Always handle bleach with caution. Never mixbleach with ammonia — toxic chlorine gas may result. Bleach can irritate theeyes, nose, throat, and skin. Provide fresh air (for example, open a window ordoor). Protect skin and eyes from contact with bleach. Test solution on a smallarea before treatment, since bleach is very corrosive and may damage some materials.
6. Remain on Mold Alert -Continue looking for signs of moisture problems or return of mold growth. Beparticularly alert to moisture in areas of past growth. If mold returns, repeatcleaning steps and consider using a stronger solution to disinfect the areaagain. Regrowth may signal that the material should be removed or that moistureis not yet controlled.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber found in rocks, of naturally occurring silicate minerals that can be separated into fibers. There are several kinds of asbestos fibers, all of which are fire resistant and not easily destroyed or degraded by natural processes. The fibers are strong, durable, and resistant to heat and fire. They are also long, thin and flexible, so that they can even be woven into cloth, because of these qualities, asbestos has been used in thousands of consumer, industrial, maritime, automotive, scientific and building products.
During the twentieth century, some 30 million tons of asbestos have been used in industrial sites, homes, schools, shipyards and commercial buildings in the United States. There are several types of asbestos fibers, of which three have been used for commercial applications: (1) Chrysotile, or white asbestos, comes mainly from Canada, and has been very widely used in the US. It is white-gray in color and found in serpentine rock. (2) Amosite, or brown asbestos, comes from southern Africa. (3) Crocidolite, or blue asbestos, comes from southern Africa and Australia.
Is Asbestos Dangerous?
Asbestos has been shown to cause cancer of the lung and stomach according to studies of workers and others exposed to asbestos. There is no level of exposure to asbestos fibers that experts can assure is completely safe. Some asbestos materials can break into small fibers which can float in the air and these fibers can be inhaled. The tiny fibers are so small they can not be seen with the naked eye. They can pass through the filters of normal vacuum cleaners and get back into the air. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers can become lodged in tissue for a long time. After many years cancer or mesothelioma can develop.
Are All products With Asbestos A Health Risk?
No. A health risk exists only when asbestos fibers are released from the material or product. Soft, easily crumbled asbestos containing material has the greatest potential for asbestos release and therefore has the greatest potential to create health risks.
Do All People Exposed To Asbestos, Develop Asbestos Related Disease?
No. Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos do not develop any related health problems. Health studies of asbestos workers and others, however, show that the chances of developing some serious illnesses, included lung cancer, are greater after exposure to asbestos.
What Are Asbestos-Containing Products?
What is common to many asbestos-containing products is that they were (are) used to contain heat (i.e. thermal insulation.) This was the main reason for their use. It is impossible to list all of the products that have, at one time or another, contained asbestos. One of the most common products asbestos is found in, is in the insulation material found on heating pipes and ducts of homes built before 1960.
Some of the other common asbestos-containing products are insulating cement, insulating block, asbestos cloth, gaskets, packing materials, thermal seals, refractory and boiler insulation materials, transite board, asbestos cement pipe, fireproofing spray, joint compound, vinyl floor tile, ceiling tile, mastics, adhesives, coatings, acoustical textures, duct & pipe insulation for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, roofing products, insulated electrical wire and panels, and brake and clutch assemblies.
How Can I tell If I Have Asbestos In My Home?
People who have frequently worked with asbestos (such as plumbers, building contractors or heating contractors) often are able to make a reasonable judgment about whether or not a material contains asbestos on a visual inspection. Many professional home inspectors also can make a reasonable visual judgment. To be absolutely certain, an industrial hygienist would have to make the identification.
If Asbestos Is Found In My Home, What Should I Do?
In most cases, asbestos containing materials are best left alone.
When it is necessary to disturb asbestos, you should contact a licensed asbestos contractor. You can also obtain a copy of Asbestos in the Home published by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (800-638-2772) which discusses the situation and makes recommendations. Remember, do not dust, sweep, or vacuum particles suspected of containing asbestos fibers.
Lead-based paints were used in many homes prior to its banning by the federal government in 1978. Lead-based paints, as the name implies, contains lead. Many documented cases of lead poisoning can be attributed to lead contamination resulting from the degradation of such paints. Lead-based paints in good condition pose little risk but those that begin to peel, chip, chalk, or crack do pose a health risk.
As lead-based paint products degrade lead can be released into the surrounding environment in the form of dust. Lead dust can also be formed and become airborne when lead-based paint is sanded or scrapped. Painted surfaces when rubbed together can also produce lead dust. The lead dust can settle and then become airborne again when disturbed by sweeping, vacuuming, or just walking through a contaminated area. Chips of paint flaking off of exterior surfaces can even cause ground contamination.
Lead poisoning can occur when lead is ingested if inhaled and the concentration of lead in the body will grow over time with continued exposure. Physical symptoms of lead poisoning in children can include: damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems, slowed physical development, hearing problems, and chronic headaches. Adults are also affected and can have: difficulties during pregnancy, reproductive problems, high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, muscle and joint pain.
Dealing with Lead-Based Paints in Your Home
It is sometimes better to just assume that if your home was build prior to 1980 that is contains lead based paints (Even though lead-based paints were banned in 1978, it is certain that some builders and paint supplies continued to sell and use existing stocks beyond that date). The Housing and Urban Development department of the federal government (HUD) has a 16 page brochure giving tips on dealing with lead paint.
Swimming Pool Information
This information can clarify and help answer some questions.
Pool types: Pools are available in two types: above ground and in-ground. The type can determine the amount and kind of cleaning methods.
Pool materials: Pools come in a variety of different materials, some requiring more maintenance than others.
Fiberglass is used for a one-piece tub fitted into a pre-dug hole. The slick surface repels algae, but it will need occasional re-coating.
Concrete is covered with a plaster water seal that can take more wear and tear than other pool materials. It’ll probably need to be replaced every 7 to 10 years.
Aggregate finish is a concrete pool with a specialized finish that has better traction. It’s covered with a layer of embedded rounded gravel.
Tile is a concrete pool with a tile finish instead of a plaster finish. The tile surface requires less surface maintenance than other surfaces.
The slick surface of a vinyl liner, like fiberglass, repels algae.
Pool problems: How much your pool is used will help determine the amount of cleaning needed. For instance, murky or colored water may mean you have chemical imbalances, pollutants such as microorganisms, or a clogged filter. Clogged filters can mean money down the drain.
Algae can be another spoiler. It needs to be attacked two ways — through chemical treatment, and a lot of filtering, backwashing, scrubbing, and skimming. Whether it is green, brown, or little black spots of algae, it will take over your pool if it is not dealt with immediately.
Features: Pools can have several features that can affect your cleaning job. Many larger pools have heaters, especially those installed in cooler climates. Many homeowners turn off the heater in the warmer months to save on the utility bill. Your filtration system keeps the water clean.Improper chemical balances open the door to contamination, therefore it?s also advisable to use a water testing kit. It gives a good indication when you need temporary treatment, and when a pool service professional is needed.
Some manual pool covers are designed for safety to keep kids out of the water in case they slipped on the edge. Winter covers can also lower your heating and chemical use. It’s a nice feature to keep leaves and bugs at a minimum.
An automatic pool cover is just like a manual pool cover, except a machine rolls it back and forth along tracks. There is more to cleaning a pool, however, than keeping a proper pH balance. Not only is there skimming for floaties, but also vacuuming; scrubbing the tiles, sides, and floor; and cleaning, maintaining, emptying, and backwashing the filter and pump. A professional pool cleaning service will give you many clean, clear hours free of scale, rust, pollutants, bacteria and cloudy water. (But it?s up to you to watch for that occasional leaf.)
If you own an outdoor pool in a climate that gets cold during the winter, many experts strongly suggest you winterize your pool. Winterization usually entails draining most of the water, blowing out the pipes, applying algaecide and antifreeze in key areas, and covering the pool. Winterization will protect your pool from any freeze damage that can harm your pool surface and equipment
Water is the universal solvent, and it has the capability of dissolving just about anything.
Because of this unique property, water can easily become contaminated. Serious contaminates such as Lead and E. Coli Bacteria may be toxins affecting your family’s health. Listed below are the four major testing categories that we can examine when doing a water test.
Inorganic—Minerals and physical properties Organic—Petroleum products, gasoline, fuel oil, and solvents
Microbiology—Coliform and other bacteria Radiology—Radon gas Test Options
1. Standard Test includes Microbiology and Inorganic.
2. Comprehensive Test includes all four testing categories: inorganic, organic, microbiology, and radon. The comprehensive test is good way to start. It is a powerful tool in detecting contaminants commonly found in surface and deep well waters.
3. If you are suspicious of pesticides or herbicides, the Comprehensive Plus Pesticides test is recommended. We can also test for individual items such as Lead in Water.
What is Polybutylene?
Polybutylene is a form of plastic resin that was used extensively in the manufacture of water supply piping from 1978 until 1995. Due to the low cost of the material and ease of installation, polybutylene piping systems were viewed as “the pipe of the future” and were used as a substitute for traditional copper piping. It is most commonly found in the “Sun Belt” where residential construction was heavy through the 1980’s and early-to-mid 90’s, but it is also very common in the Mid Atlantic and Northwest Pacific states.
The piping systems were used for underground water mains and as interior water distribution piping. Industry experts believe it was installed in at least 6 million homes, and some experts indicate it may have been used in as many as 10 million homes. Most probably, the piping was installed in about one in every four or five homes built during the years in which the pipe was manufactured.
How to Tell If You Have Poly
Exterior – Polybutylene underground water mains are usually blue, but may be gray or black (do not confuse black poly with polyethelene pipe). It is usually 1/2″ or 1″ in diameter, and it may be found entering your home through the basement wall or floor, concrete slab or coming up through your crawlspace; frequently it enters the home near the water heater. Your main shutoff valve is attached to the end of the water main. Also, you should check at the water meter that is located at the street, near the city water main. It is wise to check at both ends of the pipe because we have found cases where copper pipe enters the home, and poly pipe is at the water meter. Obviously, both pipes were used and connected somewhere underground.
Interior – Polybutylene used inside your home can be found near the water heater, running across the ceiling in unfinished basements, and coming out of the walls to feed sinks and toilets. Warning: In some regions of the country plumbers used copper “stub outs” where the pipe exits a wall to feed a fixture, so seeing copper here does not mean that you do not have poly.
Will the Pipes Fail?
While scientific evidence is scarce, it is believed that oxidants in the public water supplies, such as chlorine, react with the polybutylene piping and acetal fittings causing them to scale and flake and become brittle. Micro-fractures result, and the basic structural integrity of the system is reduced. Thus, the system becomes weak and may fail without warning causing damage to the building structure and personal property. It is believed that other factors may also contribute to the failure of polybutylene systems, such as improper installation, but it is virtually impossible to detect installation problems throughout an entire system.
Throughout the 1980’s lawsuits were filed complaining of allegedly defective manufacturing and defective installation causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. Although the manufacturers have never admitted that poly is defective, they have agreed to fund the Class Action settlement with an initial and minimum amount of $950 million. You’ll have to contact the appropriate settlement claim company to find out if you qualify under this settlement.
EIFS – Exterior Insulation and Finishing Systems
What are EIFS?
Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS) are multi-layered exterior wall systems that are used on both commercial buildings and homes. EIFS were introduced in the U.S. almost 30 years ago and were first used on commercial buildings and then later on homes. EIFS typically consist of an insulation board made of polystyrene foam (which is secured to the exterior wall surface with adhesive and/or mechanical attachments), a water-resistant base coat applied on top of the insulation and reinforced with fiberglass mesh, and a finish coat typically using acrylic co-polymer technology. This type of system is often referred to as artificial stucco.
EIFS System Components
The Potential Problem with EIFS…
The potential problem with EIFS is that moisture can get trapped behind the highly water resistant material with no way out. This can cause the framing to rot and foster the growth of mold between the exterior and interior walls. Damp and rotting wood is also a prime target for subterranean termites. It should be stated that the potential for these conditions exist with any type of exterior siding product be it brick veneer, wood, or vinyl siding. The potential for this condition with EIFS however can be exacerbated by its superior water resistance. Once moisture gets in, regardless of its origin, it usually has no escape.
The main locations where water tends to infiltrate into the framing structure of a building using an EIFS is around doors and windows, where the roof connects to the EIFS (roof flashing), and below extended exterior deck connections. Also, any moisture from within the home trying to find a path out will likely be thwarted by the EIFS.
The EIFS industry has been plagued by class action, and individual lawsuits (particularly in humid climates). The public’s confidence in the products has been shaken to say the least. The lawsuits contend that the problem is with the nature of the product and the manufacturers contend that sloppy installation and poor maintenance are the culprits.
Regardless of who is “right”, its clear that homes with EIFS require special scrutiny during inspection
Most Common Defects
No house is perfect. Even the best built and best maintained homes will always have a few items in less than perfect condition. Below are some of the items we most commonly find when inspecting a home:
Roofing Problems with roofing material are the single most common defect we find. Usually it doesn’t mean the roof needs replaced, simply that it is in need of maintenance or repair.
Ceiling stains Caused by past or present leaks, ceiling stains are very common. It can be difficult to tell whether the stains are from leaks still present, or were caused by leaks which have since been repaired.
Electrical hazards Most common in older homes, but often found in newer homes as well. Electrical hazards come in many forms, from ungrounded outlets to wiring done incorrectly by the homeowner.
Rotted wood Caused by being wet for extended periods of time, most commonly found around tubs, showers and toilets inside, or roof eaves and trim outside.
Water heater installations Many water heaters are not installed in full compliance with local plumbing code.
Gas furnace Most gas furnaces seem to be in need of routine maintenance such as new filters or gas company certification at the least. Many have other issues such as faulty operation or inadequate fire clearance as well.
defects Plumbing issues commonly found include dripping faucets, leaking fixtures, slow drains etc… Even in brand new homes, it is common to identify minor plumbing defects.
Of all the problems you can encounter around the house, roofing problems are by far the sneakiest. Leaks can develop unnoticed for years causing rot, mold, warping and other expensive damage.
Experts recommend that you go into your attic or crawlspace at least once a year after a rainstorm to check for leaks and water damage. Special attention should be paid to areas where you have flashing (the metal or plastic weather stripping that will be around chimneys, pipes, vents, roof planes and eves) because this is typically the most likely area to develop leaks. It is also recommended that you visit the surface of your roof yearly during good weather to look for any loose, missing, eroded, warped or otherwise damaged shingles and to check the overall condition of your roof.
You should also clean rain gutters and downspouts of leaves and other debris regularly, preferably in the fall once the trees are bare. While doing this, check for mineral deposits which could indicate the erosion of asphalt shingles.
Many people would prefer not to inspect their roofs themselves. Roofs can be pitched at very steep angles and pose quite a challenge to those leery of heights. Inspecting the roof from an attic or crawlspace full of spiders and other creepy inhabitants may not be too attractive either. Another issue is most people are unsure of what to look for. Leaks can be hard to track water travels downward and the damage can be far from the actual leak. Because of this, hiring an expert to inspect the roof for you is something you should consider.
We offer full service, unbiased roof inspections and will provide you with a detailed report of our findings complete with recommended maintenance and repair suggestions. Please contact us for quotes.