Archives for September 2013

When Should I Change My Furnace Filter?

Conventional furnace filters capture dirt as it returns from the house before it enters the blower compartment. This means that the side furthest away from the blower, or fan, is the one that’s going to get dirty. As time goes on, the dust and dirt clogs in the pores of the filter and then starts to accumulate in a layer on the filter. If you can easily tell the difference in colour from one side to the other, the filter is ready to be changed. The change is overdue if it looks like there is a dirty blanket of lint built up on the filter.

Filter change past due. Collapsed furnace filter.
Way past due. Sucked into the blower.

So why do some people say to change it every month, while others say three months and some say as long as a year? All these answers are correct for someone, but might not be right for you. The time frame that it takes for a filter to get dirty enough to replace varies by a number of factors. Families with pets, or that have a woodworker creating sawdust in the house are providing more particulate matter for the filter to catch. Some people buy filters that have very fine pores in them to capture pollen and such to help a family member with allergies. These smaller pores clog up faster. In each of these cases, furnace filters are going to need to be changed more frequently.

Conventional filters are one inch thick. Some high end filters have a special housing that hold filters that are as much as five inches thick. Because the pleated filter medium they use has so much surface area, they typically last much longer.

A clogged filter lets less and less air through to the furnace. The blower motor has to strain to provide air to the furnace and may eventually fail; requiring an expensive repair. In other cases, the fan can pull the clogged filter right into the fan compartment. With the filter collapsed and out of the way, dirt will get straight through to the furnace components that the filter was designed to protect.

As a home inspector, I often find filters that are past due for replacement. It seems like a minor oversight but the cost can be significant. You should check your filter every month until you get used to the frequency that suits your family. Set a repeating alert in your smart phone to remind you when you need to have a look.

Author: Rob Cornish is a Home Inspector in Ottawa, Canada. © 2013 HomeXam Inc.
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Beyond Staging: A Better Home Inspection Report

Conventional sales advice calls for removing the clutter from a home when you put it on the market. Tiding up a home’s appearance helps prospective buyers to picture themselves living in the home without the distractions of the previous owner’s personal belongings. More recently, this has evolved to include staging the home with rented furniture and sometimes a certain amount of judicious redecorating. With the right professional help, staging can make a tremendous difference in the appearance and marketability of the house. This is all the more important in a buyer’s market where you need to differentiate yourself from other properties in the same price range.

You’ve done all the right things to beautify the house on the surface. Why not take a little more time to remove the easily addressed defects beneath the surface? They may not be obvious to the seller or the prospective buyer, but to a Home Inspector they are. By the time the inspector arrives, you have a deal on the table and it seems as if he or she is pouncing on tiny little flaws in an otherwise beautiful home. Each defect, tiny or not, adds to the volume of the report and to some degree can taint the buyer’s overall perception of the house. A short repair list is a lot more attractive to a buyer.

Missing cauking is a quick fixAs a Home Inspector, I see lots of defects that a few minutes attention could fix. It can be as simple as a broken cover-plate on an electrical switch or receptacle, a dirty furnace filter or some missing caulking. Some defects can be addressed with a little physical effort and some might call for a few dollars investment. Here’s a guide that explains a variety of common defects and organizes them starting with the quick and cheap fixes. There’s also a checklist to help manage the work. You don’t have to be a trades-person to do these repairs. But if you are just not into the do it yourself stuff, hiring a handy man for a few hours can get a lot done in a hurry.

By all means acquire the skills of the best Home Stager you can find. They know how to put the right colours and items together to present your home at its best. None the less, a bit of work on your part might cut down the number of defects by as much as a third. Remember, a thinner inspection report is always better report. So if you want to do everything you can to sell your home, take a step beyond staging.

Author: Rob Cornish is a Home Inspector in Ottawa, Canada. © 2013 HomeXam Inc.
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