Home Maintenance & Inspection Articles

"15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own" by Nick Gromciko & Ben Gromicko

 Don't forget these inexpensive essentials

"Buddy's Backyard Plant Picks"

 Plants that I have found grow well in Colorado

"10 Easy Ways to Save Money & Energy in Your Home" by Nick Gromicko, Ben Gromicko, & Kenton Shepard

 Simple steps to make your home more energy efficient and cost effective

"Go Green, Go LED" by William "Buddy" Reily

Why LED's are my only choice for lighting

"Ten Tips to Speed Up Your Home Inspection"

Prepare your home ahead of time

303-558-0105

15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own

by Nick Gromicko and Ben Gromicko


The following items are essential tools, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next inspection about other tools that you might find useful. 

1.  Plunger 

A clogged sink or toilet is one of the most inconvenient household problems that you will face. With a plunger on hand, however, you can usually remedy these plumbing issues relatively quickly. It is best to have two plungers -- one for the sink and one for the toilet.

2.  Combination Wrench Set

One end of a combination wrench set is open and the other end is a closed loop. Nuts and bolts are manufactured in standard and metric sizes, and because both varieties are widely used, you’ll need both sets of wrenches. For the most control and leverage, always pull the wrench toward you, instead of pushing on it. Also, avoid over-tightening.
3.  Slip-Joint Pliers

Use slip-joint pliers to grab hold of a nail, a nut, a bolt, and much more. These types of pliers are versatile because of the jaws, which feature both flat and curved areas for gripping many types of objects. There is also a built-in slip-joint, which allows the user to quickly adjust the jaw size to suit most tasks.
4.  Adjustable Wrench

Adjustable wrenches are somewhat awkward to use and can damage a bolt or nut if they are not handled properly. However, adjustable wrenches are ideal for situations where you need two wrenches of the same size. Screw the jaws all the way closed to avoid damaging the bolt or nut.
5.  Caulking Gun

Caulking is the process of sealing up cracks and gaps in various structures and certain types of piping. Caulking can provide noise mitigation and thermal insulation, and control water penetration. Caulk should be applied only to areas that are clean and dry. 

6.  Flashlight

None of the tools in this list is of any use if you cannot visually inspect the situation. The problem, and solution, are apparent only with a good flashlight. A traditional two-battery flashlight is usually sufficient, as larger flashlights may be too unwieldy.

7.  Tape Measure

Measuring house projects requires a tape measure -- not a ruler or a yardstick. Tape measures come in many lengths, although 25 feet is best.  Measure everything at least twice to ensure accuracy.
8.  Hacksaw
A hacksaw is useful for cutting metal objects, such as pipes, bolts and brackets. Hacksaws look thin and flimsy, but they’ll easily cut through even the hardest of metals. Blades are replaceable, so focus your purchase on a quality hacksaw frame.
9. Torpedo Level
Only a level can be used to determine if something, such as a shelf, appliance or picture, is correctly oriented. The torpedo-style level is unique because it not only shows when an object is perfectly horizontal or vertical, but it also has a gauge that shows when an object is at a 45-degree angle. The bubble in the viewfinder must be exactly in the middle -- not merely close.
10.  Safety Glasses / Goggles
For all tasks involving a hammer or a power tool, you should always wear safety glasses or goggles. They should also be worn while you mix chemicals.
11.  Claw Hammer
A good hammer is one of the most important tools you can own.  Use it to drive and remove nails, to pry wood loose from the house, and in combination with other tools. They come in a variety of sizes, although a 16-ounce hammer is the best all-purpose choice.
12.  Screwdriver Set
It is best to have four screwdrivers: a small and large version of both a flathead and a Phillips-head screwdriver. Electrical screwdrivers are sometimes convenient, but they're no substitute.  Manual screwdrivers can reach into more places and they are less likely to damage the screw.  

13.  Wire Cutters

Wire cutters are pliers designed to cut wires and small nails. The side-cutting style (unlike the stronger end-cutting style) is handy, but not strong enough to cut small nails. 

 14.  Respirator / Safety Mask
While paints and other coatings are now manufactured to be less toxic (and lead-free) than in previous decades, most still contain dangerous chemicals, which is why you should wear a mask to avoid accidentally inhaling. A mask should also be worn when working in dusty and dirty environments. Disposable masks usually come in packs of 10 and should be thrown away after use. Full and half-face respirators can be used to prevent the inhalation of very fine particles that ordinary facemasks will not stop. 

15.  Duct Tape

This tape is extremely strong and adaptable. Originally, it was widely used to make temporary repairs to many types of military equipment. Today, it’s one of the key items specified for home emergency kits because it is water-resistant and extremely sticky. 

Call Us Today! 303-558-0105

Go Green, Go LED

by William "Buddy" Reily

Light Emitting Diodes (LED) have been available to the consumer for a few years now and can really add to up to big energy savings. We will explore some of the many benefits of LED lighting and I will explain why LED lighting is the only choice for me.


As a licensed electrician in Colorado, I have watched the development of LEDs over the past 20 years. I couldn't wait to get my hands on them but found that they were expensive. Over the years, LEDs have come down in price and have broadened there marketability by adding many different lighting temperatures to their spectrum. There are many different lighting "colors" (temperatures) available today, 4100K for example. There are also many different light output (Lumen) levels and hundreds of bulb styles available.


Several years ago, when incandescent bulbs began replacing CFL (curlyQ) bulbs, many people were not happy with the inability to have instant light when they turned on a switch, LEDs do not have this issue. Most LEDs on the market today are also dimmable, only a few, very expensive CFL (Compact Flourescent Light) bulbs are dimmable. Adding dimming switches to the home lighting scheme allows for the adjustment of light output levels that help the overall feeling and comfort of a room.


LED lighting in comparison to incandescent and CFL lighting, greatly reduces the amount of waste in landfills and the release of harmful chemicals into the environment. LED lights have a life of up to 50 times longer than a standard incandescent bulb, this reduces the amount of glass and metals in landfills. CFL bulbs do last a little longer than incandescent bulbs, however, CFL bulbs have harmful chemicals and gases with in them that can be harmful to people and the environment.  


One of the major reasons that I am so in love with LEDs is the fact that LEDs are available in so many different light temperatures (tones). Your home is your refuge and lighting plays a giant role in the way you feel as well as the functionality of the rooms with in the home. I personally prefer to use "Daylight" LEDs in my kitchen and dining room because they put out light in the same spectrum as the sun and allow you to see the food you are preparing in a clear, white light. I prefer the use of "warm white" LEDs in my living room because they give the room the classic, comfortable feel of the old style "yellow" incandescent bulbs. Add some dimming switches and you are in complete control of your lighting scheme. We all like to save money!


Modern LEDs come in many different color varities, base sizes and styles. There is a LED for any application. LEDs can be used as mood lights, utility lights, undercounter lights, you name it. There are too many benefits to ignore.


Now let's talk about the savings and some of the confusing stuff. One 90 watt incandescent flood light bulb uses the same amount of electricity as four and a half 90 watt equivalent LED flood light bulbs. That means that you can light your entire kitchen with six 90 watt equivalent LED bulbs for the same price it costs to light your kitchen with roughly, just one and a half 90 watt incandescent light bulbs. 


Yes, LEDs do cost more up front than incandescent bulbs but remember, LEDs last more than 50 times longer, light instantly in comparison to CFL bulbs, light in just about any environmental temperature, create less waste and come in hundreds of different styles, sizes, and colors.


Go Green, Go LED! and you may never change a light bulb again!


Call Us Today! 303-558-0105

Ten Tips to Speed Up Your Home Inspection

Speed up your home sale by preparing your home ahead of time using the following tips. Your home inspection will go smoother, with fewer concerns to delay closing.

  1. Confirm that the water, electrical and gas services are turned on (including pilot lights).
     
  2. Make sure your pets won't hinder your home inspection. Ideally, they should be removed from the premises or secured outside. Tell your agent about any pets at home.
     
  3. Replace burned-out light bulbs to avoid a "light is inoperable" report    that may suggest an electrical problem.
     
  4. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace dead batteries.
     
  5. Clean or replace dirty HVAC air filters. They should fit securely.
     
  6. Remove store  items, debris and wood from the foundation. These may be cited as  "conducive conditions" for bugs and other critters.
     
  7. Remove items  blocking access to HVAC equipment, electrical service panels, the water heater, attic and crawlspace.
     
  8. Unlock any locked  areas that your home inspector must access, such as the attic door or  hatch, the electrical service panel, the door to the basement, and any exterior gates.
     
  9. Trim tree limbs  so that they're at least 10 feet away from the roof.  Trim any shrubs  that are too close to the house and can hides pests or hold moisture against the exterior.
     
  10. Repair or replace any broken or missing items, such as doorknobs, locks or latches, windowpanes or screens, gutters or downspouts, or chimney caps.

Call Us Today! 303-558-0105

Buddy's Backyard Plant Picks

If you are like me, you consider your backyard another room of your home. Out of the thousands of choices of plants to choose from, these are a few that I have found do well here on the Colorado front range.

The picture above is a Knock Out Rose bush. These roses require very little maintenance and can be planted in any amount of sunlight.

Quick tip: Roses love potassium, put a banana peel over the top of your root system.

There are many varieties of Lillies and I have found that most all do well in Colorado's sandy soil.

Perennial plants that can tolerate -10 to -20 degrees usually have no problem surviving the winter.

Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your landscaping provides a fun activity for kids and a nutritious, delicious snack.

Like all strawberries, these wild  Montana strawberries do quite well in the Colorado shade.

Although Colorado is known for snowy Rocky Mountains and winter sports, the Front Range can be very dry during the summer.

You may want to consider this when making decisions on which plants to choose for your yard.

Potted annuals, vegetables and herbs are great for small areas. They also create a relaxing atmosphere for your summer BBQ get togethers.

But remember to water potted plants at least once a day and place in  appropriate sun or shade.


Call Us Today! 303-558-0105

10 Easy Ways to Save Money & Energy in Your Home

by Nick Gromicko, Ben Gromicko, and Kenton Shepard 

  

Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, and here at InterNACHI, we want to change that. 

Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy efficiency, InterNACHI energy auditors can perform in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home.  

Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons:


  • Federal, state, utility and local jurisdictions' financial incentives, such as tax break are very advantageous for homeowners in most parts of the U.S. 
  • It saves money. It costs less to power a home that has been converted to be more energy-efficient. 
  • It increases the comfort level indoors. 
  • It reduces our impact on climate change. Many scientists now believe that excessive energy consumption contributes significantly to global warming. 
  • It reduces pollution. Conventional power production introduces pollutants that find their way into the air, soil and water supplies.

1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house. 

As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:


  • Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used in place of air conditioners, which require a large amount of energy. 
  • Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters. 
  • Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. Specifically, they should be turned down at night and when no one is home. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at  least eight hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70° F, for example, saves about 10% on heating costs. 
  • Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by allowing heating and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times that no one is home and at night. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy costs. 
  • Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces. 
  • At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate the room. 

2. Install a tankless water heater.

Demand-type water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don't produce the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. A gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don't need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water. 


3. Replace incandescent lights.

The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time that lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:


  • CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. 
  • LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy. 
  • LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.

4. Seal and insulate your home.

Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient, and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can assess  leakage in the building envelope and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.

The following are some common places where leakage may occur:


  • electrical receptacles/outlets; 
  • mail slots; 
  • around pipes and wires; 
  • wall- or window-mounted air conditioners; 
  • attic hatches; 
  • fireplace dampers; 
  • inadequate weatherstripping around doors; 
  • baseboards; 
  • window frames; and 
  • switch plates.

Because hot air rises, air leaks are most likely to occur in the attic. Homeowners can perform a variety of repairs and maintenance to their attics that save them money on cooling and heating, such as:  


  • Plug the large holes. Locations in the attic where leakage is most likely to be the greatest are where walls meet the attic floor, behind and under attic knee walls, and in dropped-ceiling areas. 
  • Seal the small holes. You can easily do this by looking for areas where the insulation is darkened. Darkened insulation is a result of dusty interior air being filtered by insulation before leaking through small holes in the building envelope. In cold weather, you may see frosty areas in the insulation caused by warm, moist air condensing and then freezing as it hits the cold attic air. In warmer weather, you’ll find water staining in these same areas. Use expanding foam or caulk to seal the openings around plumbing vent pipes and electrical wires. Cover the areas with insulation after the caulk is dry. 
  • Seal up the attic access panel with weatherstripping. You can cut a piece of fiberglass or rigid foamboard insulation in the same size as the attic hatch and glue it to the back of the attic access panel. If you have pull-down attic stairs or an attic door, these should be sealed in a similar manner. 

5. Install efficient showerheads and toilets.

The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes: 


  • Low-flow showerheads. They are available in different flow rates, and some have a pause button which shuts off the water while the bather lathers up;      
  • Low-flow toilets. Toilets consume 30% to 40% of the total water used in homes, making them the biggest water users. Replacing an older 3.5-gallon toilet with a modern, low-flow 1.6-gallon toilet can reduce usage an average of 2 gallons-per-flush (GPF), saving 12,000 gallons of water      per year. Low-flow toilets usually have "1.6 GPF" marked on the bowl behind the seat or inside the tank; 
  • Vacuum-assist toilets. This type of toilet has a vacuum chamber that uses a siphon action to suck air from the trap beneath the bowl, allowing it to quickly fill with water to clear waste. Vacuum-assist toilets are relatively quiet; and
  • Dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush toilets have been used in Europe and Australia for years and are now gaining in popularity in the U.S. Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water consumption by an additional 30%.

6. Use appliances and electronics responsibly.

Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances:


  • Refrigerators and freezers should not be located near the stove, dishwasher or heat vents, or exposed to direct sunlight. Exposure to warm areas will force them to use more energy to remain cool.   
  • Computers should be shut off when not in use. If unattended computers must be left on, their monitors should be shut off. According to some studies, computers account for approximately 3% of all energy consumption in the United States. 
  • Use efficient ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and electronics. These devices, approved by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program, include TVs, home theater systems, DVD players, CD players, receivers, speakers, and more. According to the EPA, if just 10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1.7 million acres of trees. 
  • Chargers, such as those used for laptops and cell phones, consume energy when they are plugged in. When they are not connected to electronics, chargers should be unplugged. 
  • Laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than desktop computers.

7. Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.

Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home's interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches: 


  • Skylights. It’s important that they be double-pane or they may not be cost-effective. Flashing skylights correctly is key to avoiding leaks; 
  • Light shelves. Light shelves are passive devices designed to bounce light deep into a building. They may be interior or exterior. Light shelves can introduce light into a space up to 2½ times the distance from the floor to the top of the window, and advanced light shelves may introduce four times that amount;
  • Clerestory windows. Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set high on the wall. Protected from the summer sun by the roof overhang, they allow winter sun to shine through for natural lighting and warmth; and 
  • Light tubes. Light tubes use a special lens designed to amplify low-level light and reduce light intensity from the midday sun. Sunlight is channeled through a tube coated with a highly reflective material, and then enters the living space through a diffuser designed to distribute light evenly.

8. Insulate windows and doors.

About one-third of the home's total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:


  • Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option. 
  • Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, apply weatherstripping around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when they're closed. Install quality door  sweeprs on the bottom of the doors, if they aren't already in place. 
  • Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window. 
  • If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don't work, they should be repaired or replaced.

9. Cook smart.

An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking: 


  • Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens. They use fans to force hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection ovens use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens. 
  • Microwave ovens consume approximately 80% less energy than conventional ovens. 
  • Pans should be placed on the matching size heating element or flame.  
  • Using lids on pots and pans will heat food more quickly than cooking in uncovered pots and pans. 
  • Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically. 
  • When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster.  

10. Change the way you do laundry.


  • Do not use the medium setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the medium setting saves less than half of the water and energy used for a full load. 
  • Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not very soiled. Water that is 140° F uses far more energy than 103° F for the warm-water setting, but 140° F isn’t that much more effective for getting clothes clean.
  • Clean the lint trap every time before you use the dryer. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry. 
  • If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks. 
  • Spin-dry or wring clothes out before putting them into a dryer. 

Service area for EveryBuddy's Home Inspection Service

We are located in Brighton, Colorado but we serve all of Colorado.

Inspections further than 50 miles from Brighton, Colorado may require a trip charge.

Inspections more than 120 miles may require a stay charge.

Colorado Front Range & Beyond:

Brighton,  Hudson, Ft. Lupton, Thornton, Broomfield, Westminster, Superior, Louisville, Erie, Dacono, Frederick, Firestone, Longmont, Niwot, Boulder, Lyons, Ft. Collins, Loveland, Wellington, Windsor, Greeley, Johnstown, Aurora, Centennial, Englewood, Lakewood, Littleton, Parker, Arvada, Golden, Castle Rock, Larkspur, Berthoud, Campion, Wellington, Eaton, Ault, Kersey, Keenesburg, Wiggins, Ft. Morgan, Estes Park, Nederland, Bennett, Strasburg, Deer Trail, Colorado Springs, Idaho Springs, Central City, Black Hawk, Lucerne, Kelim, Allenspark, Meekerpark, Jamestown, Brush