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The Critical Eye!

Michael Leavitt’s professional inspection related blog.

Since 1995, Master Inspector Michael Leavitt has continued to run the finest inspection firm in Northern Utah. Michael Loves to write and this business portion of his blog captures fun moments and informative topics geared towards educating and entertaining homeowners and other real estate professionals. Michael has consistently built his inspection reputation by being extremely thorough in our inspection protocols. If you are looking for the finest inspection firm in Northern Utah, then confidently draw upon Michael’s experience and order your inspection today!!!

Weird Roof Snow Melt = Poor Insulation???

Weird Roof Snow Melt = Poor Insulation???
HOMEOWNER'S GUIDE TO SELF-DIAGNOSE INSULATION WOES It is bitter cold here in Northern Utah and this 2015-16 snow season is much greater than recent years. The snow, combined with the below freezing temperatures makes it rather easy to tell which homes have good insulation and which homes are severely lacking. This blog entry will give homeowners a way to self-diagnose attic insulation issues. NOTE: If you live in snow country, then you will love the following information. However, if you are my warm weather friends catching waves in 60 degree weather in Southern California, then you will find it amusing at best. WHAT DOES ATTIC INSULATION DO? Attic insulation is designed to help keep the temperature inside the home constant. We spend lots ...
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Sprinklers - Utah Disclosure Update

Sprinklers - Utah Disclosure Update
NOVEMBER 21, 2015 - As a home inspector here in Northern Utah, when I read the newsflash article in the latest edition of the Utah Realtor magazine I just giggled. I was once again struck with the way that everybody has to protect themselves from common sense. In previous times, buyers of homes had to close on a property, take a look around, and decide what they needed to do to protect the structure. If it was fall time, then they would have to shut down their sprinkler system.  If there was snow on the ground, then they should have already inquired with a seller how to shut down the sprinklers and how to bring it back online in the spring, as well as to whether or not this winterization process had already been done. Then in the Sprin...
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Blue Flash - Key Cleaner - Giggles!!!

Blue Flash - Key Cleaner - Giggles!!!
Every now and then I see a photo on the internet and it just makes me giggle.  This is one of them... The thought that somebody might follow the hand written directions and stick their key in the outlet is kind of scary, but everybody has got to go through that type of experience at least once in their life. MY "BLUE FLASH" BACK EXPERIENCE When I was about 8 years old and living in Highland Park, California I was home alone and up to some creative mischief. I loved to take things apart and then put them back together again. Since everybody was gone I had probably changed my older brother's stereo from FM KLOS to something on the AM dial like 93 KHJ. I remember taking a lamp and cutting into the wires and then twisting on a longer cord....
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Michael's Inspection Tip - A/C Cutoff Switch

Michael's Inspection Tip - A/C Cutoff Switch
On a recent 2013 home I found the furnace located in a closet on the second floor of the home. It was a combination forced air furnace with air conditioning coils installed below the furnace. The issue was that there was no safety pan installed under the furnace and no A/C condensate cutoff switch installed. Here is a photo... Here is what I reported... REPAIRS ARE NEEDED -I recommend further evaluation/repair by a licensed HVAC air conditioning specialist. "The unit located on second floor does not have the recommended overflow drip pan.  This pan protects the home from any condensate leaking or overfilling = Consider either adding the recommended overflow pan and drain line or the A/C emergency condensate cut-off switch." This ...
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Matthew Flinders - ENDORSEMENT by Michael Leavitt

Matthew Flinders - ENDORSEMENT by Michael Leavitt
MICHAEL LEAVITT'S ENDORSEMENT When it comes to real estate agents, my feelings are all over the board. Fortunately the unscrupulous agents and those focused on closing the deal at all cost do their best to avoid me as a home inspector. Over the past twenty years I have come to know a few thousand agents. The cream of the grop do their best to represent their clients with honesty and integrity, and this blog entry is a direct endorsement of a real estate agent who I have come to respect greatly. MATTHEW FLINDERS - Armstrong/Flinders & Associates Matthew Flinders Matthew Flinders has been selling real estate in Northern Utah since the mid to late 1990's. I love inspecting for Matthew's clients because he does a great job of educatin...
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You Can Do It... But Only If You Try!

You Can Do It... But Only If You Try!
MICHAEL'S MOTIVATIONAL MEMORIES ARCHIVE YOU CAN DO IT! -January 26, 2015 - You can be the hero, but you have to be willing to drop in and enjoy the ride! You Can Do It... But Only If You Try!!! Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah - www.TheHomeInspector.com   MICHAEL'S MOTIVATIONAL MEMORIES ARCHIVE    
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I Recommend Scott Asbell - Rocky Mountain Mortgage Loans

I Recommend Scott Asbell - Rocky Mountain Mortgage Loans
Scott Asbell - Rocky Mountain Mortgage LoansOCTOBER 9, 2014 - Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending time with lender, Scott Asbell, as we shot some great video footage. Scott has 21 years in the lending industry and his firm is Rocky Mountain Mortgage Loans. MY RECOMMENDATION - As a Home Inspector here in Northern Utah, I get the chance to meet a lot of people in the lending and real estate industries. I find that many are just concerned with getting the loans closed so that commissions can be paid. At the other end of the spectrum is Scott Asbell. Scott's primary concern is his customer's satisfaction. He has a very low key and genuine style. Scott is a full time mortgage consultant that stays on top of all the latest changes and trend...
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Sad News - Roger Robinson - We Lost A Great One!

Sad News - Roger Robinson - We Lost A Great One!
Roger Robinson Died... What??? I was just blind-sided hearing the news that the home inspection world has just lost one of the great ones. Yes, Roger Robinson from Oakland, Northern California died of pneumonia and a heart attack on October 2, 2014. He was just 69 years old and the news was reported as being a shock to his immediate family. There are a couple dozen home inspectors who really had a huge impact on my formative inspection years, and Roger was one of them.  We would regularly see each other at ASHI and CREIA conferences and he always made time for me. Why? Well I had some pretty incredible introductions and Roger welcomed me right into his circle of influence with the biggest smile and genuine care. Roger had a way of ma...
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Winter Prep - Do It While The Weather Is Still Good!

Winter Prep - Do It While The Weather Is Still Good!
MICHAEL'S "TOP 10 WINTER PREPARATION TIPS" OCTOBER 7, 2014 - The weather is fabulous outside and most of us are wanting to do everything other than house and yard work. But let's face it, there is a dusting of snow on Mt. Timpanogos and the cold winter weather is coming. So with that reality as our primary mindset, let's buck up to the task and get the following things done while the weather is warmer. The following "Top 10" list comes from my own experiences and also what I see on a day to day basis while inspecting homes in Northern Utah. Please help me and Like, Share, Re-Tweet, and Forward to your friends, co-workers, family members and circle of influence. The gutter is loosely mounted and water flows behind the gutter. There are als...
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Squeaky Floors - Solution

Squeaky Floors - Solution
I found a solution for that squeak, squeak, squeak found in so many older homes with carpeted flooring. This is often complicated by newer carpeting that won't be being replaced for years to come. The solution is "Squeak No More." That's right, this is a specialty screw that gets installed right through the top of the carpet and then it gets broken off below the carpet line. It is a pretty clever fix. I just wish that they had them in stock. The best I can recommend is that you figure out how to order it into the store for pick-up. Priced at $19.95 for the kit, it is a great option. Michael Leavitt HOME DEPOT LINK
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Failing Engineered Garage Slab

Failing Engineered Garage Slab
My good friend Ken Salvo from New Jersey shared: Howdy...need some advice from the Indagator braintrust. I did a home inspection in 1999 for a very nice lady. She just called and asked me to come out to look at her garage floor. This is a 1950s garage, with a cellar below. There is a poured concrete deck, and the rebar is rusting, expanding, and is breaking the underside of the deck apart. Chunks are falling onto the floor, and some rebar is visible. There are some cracks in the surface, in the garage, though nothing major. As is normal, most of the spalling is occurring under the area where a car is regularly parked. Snow melt has likely seeped into the cracks, accelerating the corrosion of the rebar - mostly directly below the car par...
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Meth Discovered - 74-year-old suffers symptoms

Meth Discovered - 74-year-old suffers symptoms
  While researching meth contamination news stories online, I came upon this article and video about a 74 year old woman who discovered that her home had elevated levels of meth contamination. She had lived in the 100 year old apartment for a couple of years and saw a great decrease in her quality of life, so her daughter did a self-test for meth. The results were very low, but above the State of Utah regulated levels so they got the Health Department involved. More testing was performed and it was confirmed that elevated levels were present. Typically, these levels have no affect upon the majority of mankind, but the most susceptible are the very young, the elderly, and those with respiratory illness. Once again though, very low leve...
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PHOTO CHALLENGE - Deck Ledger - Brick Veneer

PHOTO CHALLENGE - Deck Ledger - Brick Veneer
As home inspectors we get to see installations that most people don’t even notice as being wrong. While researching images on the internet I found a specialty website dealing with front porches and this photo was prominently displayed. How many things can be wrong?... Let me count the ways!!! INSPECTOR CHALLENGE - Take a look at the photo and list the items that you see wrong. If you see anything done right, then you might want to list those as well, but that list should be short. LINK TO WEBPAGE HOSTING THE PHOTO PHOTO CREDIT: Front-Porch-Ideas-And-More.com What issues do you see?
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FROZEN PIPES - The Deep Freeze Is On!!!

FROZEN PIPES - The Deep Freeze Is On!!!
It was 3 degrees outside when my son Aaron came into my home office this morning and said, “Hey Dad, when I turn the shower water on, nothing happens.” There are few things that bring more fear to my soul than the thought of frozen pipes. “How could I have been so stupid?” I told myself again. Why is it that I did not give any thought to protecting myself this year from pipe freeze ups? It was a few years back when our laundry room froze up and as I got the water to flow again I realized there was a ruptured pipe and we had major flooding until I could dig out the water meter shut off cover and get the water shut off at the meter. Few things are worse than winter time flooding. Everything is freezing cold and the conditions are absolutely ...
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Meth Contamination Makes 3 Girls Dizzy

Meth Contamination Makes 3 Girls Dizzy
One of the best things I ever learned in my earliest of schools days was that A+B does not automatically equal C. You would think that I would be all for any news story and video that helps promote meth contamination testing, but I do not. I love it when the reporting is fair and on target, but when it misses the mark and spreads unfounded fear, then it is bad for everybody. I am left to wonder if meth contamination was the actual cause of the long term dizziness suffered by three Western Washington University students who fled their 100 plus year old near college rental home when very low levels of meth contamination was discovered... Meth found in Washington home after renters felt dizzy Updated 6:51 pm, Friday, December 6, 2013 ...
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CPSC RECALL - Crown Boiler Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

CPSC RECALL - Crown Boiler Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The following is cast iron water boiler recall. In my area I have never seen a Crown Boiler, but this recall is a safety hazard that gets added to the list. The majority of homeowners here in Northern Utah have forced air gas fired furnaces and not radiant heat boiler systems. QUESTION: What is the risk associated with this recall? ANSWER: Carbon monoxide poisoning. QUESTION: What should you do if you have one of these boilers? ANSWER: Consumers with recalled boilers should immediately contact the installer or distributor from whom they purchased the boiler or Crown Boiler to schedule a free in-home repair. Consumers who continue using the boilers while awaiting repair, should have a working carbon monoxide alarm installed outside of sl...
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Moisture Meters - An Inspector’s Lifesaver

Moisture Meters - An Inspector’s Lifesaver
When I was trained as a home inspector back in the mid-1990’s it was common to be told to not take pictures (film cameras) for fear of missing something displayed in the background of a shot, and never to use a moisture meter. Both of these concepts are flawed, as modern tools help home inspectors do a better job. Yes we still have our minimal Standards of Practice which help establish realistic expectations, but if I can find an otherwise concealed issue or do a better job of documenting an issue, then I greatly lessen my liability because I have better protected my client. Fellow home inspector Reuben Saltzman from St. Louis Park, Minnesota shared in his blog... Home Inspectors Shouldn’t be Nail Biters While having lunch during a rece...
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Certainteed Fiber Cement Siding Litigation

Certainteed Fiber Cement Siding Litigation
This morning, after I posted the class action settlement on the Trex decking mold and color fade issue, my good friend and fellow home inspector, Darryl Piatt, from Coos Bay, Oregon, responded with information on yet another settlement from another brand. Darryl wrote... Michael, I posted information some time back on the Certainteed Fiber Cement class action settlement. I just noticed that you are blogging about the plastic lumber Trex suit so thought you might be interested so I thought you might be interested in the link... http://www.certainteedfibercementsettlement.com/hc/en-us Darryl Piatt - Coos bay, Oregon I just love it when friends, family, and fellow home inspectors share informational links and stories with me because it he...
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TREX - Mold & Color Fade Settlement

TREX - Mold & Color Fade Settlement
Have you heard the news? There has been a settlement to the Trex decking mold and color fading class action lawsuit. Now don’t mistake this for the prior settlement almost a decade ago dealing with deterioration. This latest settlement deals with color inconistencies and staining only. IMPORTANT DATES PRIOR ROT, SPLINTER SETTLEMENT FOR PRODUCT SOLD PRIOR TO: July 31, 2004 CURRENT SETTLEMENT FOR PRODUCTS SOLD BETWEEN: Aug. 1, 2004 and Aug. 19, 2013 This one may have slipped by your radar, as it did mine. I just barely saw the notice in the latest issue of the Journal of Light Construction magazine. Here are the major links... Trex® Mold and Color Fading/Variation Class Action Settlement Mahan, et al. v. Trex Company, Inc. Case N...
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FLIPPER ALERT - Email To The Orem City Building Official

FLIPPER ALERT - Email To The Orem City Building Official
I felt it important to keep this blog thread going about the home being flipped here in Orem, Utah that is currently a very good looking 1944 home, but unsafe. This is the home that shocked me (CLICK HERE TO READ). I felt it important to personally discuss the situation with the Chief Building Official here in Orem. “Who is that?” you ask. Well I did not know either. So I put together a 1-page summary detailing the prime issues present in the home as the result of the lack of using licensed professionals and failure to pull the legally required building permits. Then I headed down to the Orem City Offices and found out the Mr. Bill Bell was in a meeting. I then asked, “Is it a quick meeting, the type that lasts all day, or the type that ext...
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The Shocking Truth - I’m Hopping Mad!!!... But Glad To Be Alive

The Shocking Truth - I’m Hopping Mad!!!... But Glad To Be Alive
I must say that 38 hours later I am still hopping mad at the recent purchaser of a 1944 home who bank-rolled the renovation of the home to place it once again upon the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) market to take advantage of some poor unsuspecting souls. Does it matter most to me that he completely renovated the basement that featured enlarged window wells in the two bedrooms to allow egress, yet create negative grading that turns them into the fonts of living water that still seeps into the home? Oh I can’t prove this due to the fresh paint and carpet that removed all the visible evidences from prospective buyers, but I know that it is an ongoing issue. How? I just know. Or does it matter that the bedroom (and I use that term loosely), that ha...
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Real Estate Broker - Jail Time For Forging Termite Documents

Real Estate Broker - Jail Time For Forging Termite Documents
And fear spread throughout the Northern Utah real estate community... I was saddened to read the story of the real estate broker in Vernal that felt he needed to forge   documents to complete his real estate transactions. One of the documents he forged must have been the NPMA-33 termite, since this is the official report needed for many HUD backed loans. I look forward to learning more about the how’s and why’s, since all he had to do was make a call to somebody like me and the termite inspections could have been done the same day he called. This was especially true back in the 2011 to 2012 time frame of which he did this at least 14 times. It isn’t like the real estate market was booming then, and I am sure the termite inspector...
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Want Solar??? Residential PV Info

Want Solar??? Residential PV Info
For a quick primer on residential solar systems, ECO Building Pulse shared the following... Reach for the Sun A guide to understanding photovoltaic systems for residential applications. By Hallie Busta Federal and state incentives have lowered the cost of residential photovoltaic (PV) systems, piquing the interest of homeowners hoping to slash their energy bills. But when choosing among the growing stable of solar technologies available, designers must consider other factors beyond economics. Before specifying a PV system, an architect or consultant must calculate how many kilowatt-hours of energy a project will require. Austin, Texas–based architect Peter Pfeiffer, FAIA, uses an energy-modeling program that combines information about ...
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Radon Mitigators - Preferential Referral Conflict of Interest

Radon Mitigators - Preferential Referral Conflict of Interest
I climbed up on my soap box again today and wrote a letter to the State of Utah official over radon at our Department of Environmental Quality regarding an added revenue program that affects their squeaky clean reputation. NOTE: This information is not meant to reflect badly on John Seidel and/or Radon Be Gone, Inc.. I wrote...   Mr. John Hultquist: John, this is Michael Leavitt, a home inspector from Orem Utah. A stinky situation has come to my attention regarding the business practices of a service entity that is directly linked to from the Utah State DEQ radon website found at http://www.radon.utah.gov/. If you look at screenshot 1 you will see that your DEQ “Order Radon Test Kit” link takes Utah consumers directly to the “Dr H...
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Home Inspector Scam - Ukraine Troubles

Home Inspector Scam - Ukraine Troubles
Just the other day I wrote about a scam geared towards the real estate professionals regarding search engine optimization. The prior scam was phone call related and gave one a chance to listen to the liar on the other end of the phone. Today I opened my email box and just like scavenger subterranean termites looking for soft and easy wood targets, the Nigerian money scammers have targeted soft and unsuspecting targets in the Home Inspection industry. No longer do I have to read sad woes from dignitaries and royalty in Nigeria, because now I can read the woes of vacationing home inspectors in the Ukraine. Check it out...   Unexpected trip turns sour....................Lou Gustafson I really hope you get this quickly. My trip was rath...
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Termites Feast Upon Drywall

Termites Feast Upon Drywall
A recent client was shocked to learn that Northern Utah subterranean termites can tunnel through drywall. The blog title “Termites Feast Upon Drywall” is kind of a misnomer because they don’t enjoy the gypsum, other than it makes a very easy substrate to bore their tunnels to get them to the really good wood in the home. What the termites do enjoy is the paper skin on both sides of the drywall. But I guess the title “Termites tolerate the gypsum in order to feast upon the paper skin on the outer surfaces of the drywall” is just not that catchy. TERMITES LOVE... Subterranean termites love soft wood, moist soft wood, and almost any type of cellulose products. They especially love to migrate through moist soil to the heated portion of baseme...
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SCAMMERS - Search Engine Rankings

SCAMMERS - Search Engine Rankings
SCAMMER ALERT   Fellow real estate professionals. Watch out if you get a call from (323) 271-4533 This number is from professional scammers. It took me a few minutes to reveal them for what they are, but I am glad I took the time.I hope that you can learn from their tactics. It is really sad because there are legitimate firms doing this work, but this was NOT one of them. Ring ring ring....“It’s a great day, this is Michael!”Long pause of silence...“Hello, Hello this is Michael”, I say again and then a small click and “Hello is this Michael Leavitt?”“Why yes it is, how can I be of help?”“Michael, this is Neil, and we are looking for a real estate agent in your area”///To which I immediately cut him off and say, “Well I am a home...
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Firestop Collars on Garage Fire Separation Penetrations

Firestop Collars on Garage Fire Separation Penetrations
On January 21st of this year I composed a lengthy blog entry regarding a question that Sacramento, California Home Inspector Ken Ives had regarding garage fire separation wall penetrations’ Ken asked... “Maybe I was on Maui for too long (if that is even possible), but I saw this today and it looked odd. PVC exhaust piping thru the ceiling of a garage.  Is this a fire wall compromise issue?” Ken Ives - Sacramento, CA - www.KenIves.com I did a lot of research and thought I had come up with all of the right answers, until today. So flash forward 10 months and I received a call from another good friend and fellow Utah Home Inspector, Kurt Salomon. Kurt is one of the busiest radon mitigation contractors in Utah and he ran this scenario...
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11-year old boy dies in accidental hanging

11-year old boy dies in accidental hanging
It is with great reverence that I share the following news story from a home accident that ultimately took the life of an 11 year old boy. My online news alert system notified me of the headline from 6 days ago and I quickly read the story and sat back with shock, thinking of the horrible nature of the accident. As a Home Inspector I inspect a lot of homes in the Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain area. Since all of the homes are newer, many of them have unfinished basements that get turned into adventurous indoor play areas, especially when the weather turns cold and outside play diminishes. I searched the various accounts and none really shared very many details about how it actually happened, so I am left to my imagination by rememberi...
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Water Heater Fire Leaves 6 Homeless

Water Heater Fire Leaves 6 Homeless
As a Northern Utah Home Inspector, only a small percentage of my home inspections involve mobile homes. Most of our housing stock includes houses with basements. This means that the water heater is usually located on solid concrete, so when they leak the floor does not rot out. However, mobile homes, multi-story condos, and houses with crawl spaces usually have their water heaters positioned on a raised wood floor. When the units leak, then the wood subflooring gets wet, rots, and turns into “Was Wood”. Water heaters usually have a minimum of 40 gallons of water at about 8 pounds per gallon. That means 320 pounds, plus the weight of the water heater concentrated onto a 24”x24” area. When the wood floor gives way, the unit shifts. This can c...
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Giant Stucco Eating Snails - Watch Out Florida!!!

Giant Stucco Eating Snails - Watch Out Florida!!!
As a Utah Home Inspector, there are few things as scary as the thought of giant African snails, as large as a football, showing up in the U.S.A., and loving traditional stucco homes upon which to feast. I heard about this phenomena and shivers immediately went up and down my spine. Relief only came as I considered the great distance between Orem, Utah and the shores of Cocoa Beach, Utah where I spent part of my youth. Luckily these destructive slimey and overgrown snails only prefer the tropical portions of our great land and they could not make a go of it here in the high desert of Northern Utah... Huge sighs of relief!!! As I investigated the recent news stories and videos I became that much more thankful that I am not inspecting homes i...
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Wildfire Damage Prevention

Wildfire Damage Prevention
The summer heat is here and wildfire season is in full gear. I have inspected lots of hillside home along the Wasatch Front and cabins in the local mountains that are anything but prepared for a wildfire. Once news of the fire is announced, then the chance for preparation has passed. I have spent many hours watching the victims on CNN as they return to what is left of the home they had to flee. I find it amazing when I see cars burned to the ground and possessions smouldering in the rubble after the homeowners were given very little notice. The time to prepare is now and although this article may not apply to you, we all know someone with a home set in the mountains that do need the reminder. Follow the story links learn... I was most intri...
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Over 24 Injured in Miami Heat Deck Collapse

Over 24 Injured in Miami Heat Deck Collapse
It is always sad to report another deck failure that causes injury. Last night’s warm Southern Florida weather brought a huge crowd to the Shucker’s Bar in Miami, Florida to watch their home town Miami Heat baseketball team play the San Antonia Spurs in the fourth game of the NBA Finals. Just before halftime, as the Heat were on a run, the deck over the bay gave way in the middle, folded in a V, and the inebriated patrons went into the drink. 15 had to be transported to local hospitals and many more were treated on the scene. This collapse was complicated by the need to rescue the fallen victims from water and the fact that nobody knew exactly how many people they were searching for. This is far different than a backyard party where you kno...
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James Hardie Kickout Flashing - Stop the water entry!!!

James Hardie Kickout Flashing - Stop the water entry!!!
All of North America is coming to know James Hardie as one of the premier cemetitious sidings for residential and commercial structures. We are finally starting to see more of it than vinyl siding on newer construction. I love James Hardie and HardiePlank because they have such good installation specs for their products. When an installation is done wrong, then I find it is very easy to research their website and find the correct detail and installation description. Their information has long been a great resource for several of my specialty websites, one of which is www.Kickout.info. Kickout.info is not a site devoted to 50 ways to kick your children out of your house. Instead, it is a website devoted to one piece of flashing that is crit...
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Top 10 List to Avoid Deck Failures

Top 10 List to Avoid Deck Failures
I spend many dozens of hours each year scouring the internet for deck failure related information and articles. The way I see it, if my compiling this information saves even one life from the prevention of a deck collapse, then my efforts are worth the time invested. I want your next family BBQ to be filled with fun and laughter, and not with screams and ambulances carrying your friends and loved ones off to the local hospital. I was impressed with this well written article from the Gaudette Insurance Agency in Whitinsville, Massachusetts. NOTE: I have a specialty website, www.DeckFailure.com, that has the news accounts of the major collapse of decks and balconies archived for research and educational purposes. Top 10 Tips to Avoid Balcon...
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This Zinsco Panel Needs To Be Replaced!

This Zinsco Panel Needs To Be Replaced!
Long time Sacramento, California home inspector Ken Ives sent along some great Zinsco electrical panel pics. Ken shares with his clients... “It would be best to have this panel further evaluated by a licensed electrician and if there are any evidences of charring at the breaker to bus bar connections, then you should upgrade the panel.”Ken Ives Sacramento, Ca. That is the very least that a good home inspector should be recommending when they encounter a Zinsco panel. Why? Because they are prone to poor connections that can escalate to a fire in the home. But what happens when we make that recommendation to our clients? Do they actually call in an electrician?   Read the full blog entry at our newest MLC specialty website www.E...
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Zinsco Panel Hazards - www.ElectricalFire.info

Zinsco Panel Hazards - www.ElectricalFire.info
I have been having an incredible time researching and formatting information and photos for my latest specialty website www.ElectricalFire.info. The site deals with electrical risks inside the homes that I inspect here in Northern Utah, but the same issues are widespread all across North America. The current project has been my compiling and organizing information regarding antiquated Zinsco electrical panels. These older electrical panels are proving themselves hazardous and the source of many electrical fires.  Do you know what brand electrical panels you have in your home? You might find one brand outside and different brands of interior subpanels. If your electrical panels were installed between 1950 and 1985, then you better ta...
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Rain Gutter Guards - Do they work?

Rain Gutter Guards - Do they work?
I have been getting spam wanting me to be a dealer/installer for gutter guard protectors. I am not tempted to take them up on their “Special Offer” but they made me stop and think about the few that I have encountered over the years while inspecting homes along the Wasatch Front of Utah. What is you experience? Do these things really work? As a home inspector here in Orem, Utah when I see a tree I know it was planted by man. That is just the nature of living in a high desert area. In mature neighborhoods we do have tall trees and do have issues with leaves and debris. In the newer neighborhoods it will be another 10 years before their trees are tall enough to be an issue. In the local mountains they can’t have gutters because of the heavy ...
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Polybutylene Pipe - What’s The Big Deal???

Polybutylene Pipe - What’s The Big Deal???
POLYBUTYLENE PIPE As a Master Home Inspector inspecting in Northern Utah, part of my responsibility inspecting homes is to identify the types of piping used to supply water throughout the home. The piping that always draws the most attention is polybutylene. Have you ever wondered why home inspectors always make such a big deal about polybutylene piping? Is there really anything to worry about if you have it in your home? When polybutylene piping is identified during an inspection the inspector should always include a recommendation for further evaluation by a qualified plumber. It is that recommendation that always gets the client, the seller and the agents asking the same questions. What is polybutylene pipe? What ca...
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Roof Repair Needed ASAP - Is it spam?

Roof Repair Needed ASAP - Is it spam?
Email is an amazing tool that definitely is key in gaining me business. I am always flattered when somebody finds one of my websites and contacts me for more information. More often than not they live outside my geographic region, so an on site visit to earn revenue is not possible. I often take time to respond and help to whatever extent is possible. But then there are those dark individuals that have exploited this tool to extract money from the bank accounts of the unsuspecting. And then there are those emails that fall somewhere in the middle. Are they a real request that will ultimately generate business, or are they just trying to exploit for their own personal gain. This brings to light the email that came into my inbox not les...
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Jack & Corona - Does this influence your inspection?

Jack & Corona - Does this influence your inspection?
When you walk around the property and find dozens of broken bottles in the poorly maintained yard, does this influence your inspection? Or better stated, does it put you “under the influence” and cause you to be biased? If so, then what do you find yourself being more harsh upon? As I inspect the housing stock in Northern Utah it is rarer for me to inspect the visible party houses. Most people trying to sell the home for the highest value see this as a negative and they take the time to clean the yard first. But this particular home is a true sign of our sellers market where the owner knew he would have multiple offers within hours of the listing hitting the MLS. The home was foreclosed and sold on the steps of the courthouse and then quic...
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Google Nose - The Bleeding Cutting Edge

Google Nose - The Bleeding Cutting Edge
Fellow Inspectors, Family, and Friends: I have been having an incredible time playing with the newest beta from Google called Google Nose. It is free and quite an incredible feature. My kids are raving about it and I was feeling like such an out of the loop old fuddy dud. This email will help get any of you feeling the same back on top of technology’she cutting edge. I look forward to your feedback. It works with laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones. bleeding cutting edge. DIRECT LINK: http://www.google.com/landing/nose/index.html YOUTUBE VIDEO:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFbYadm_mrw Make it a great day! Michael Leavitt – Orem, Utah – www.TheHomeInspector.com – Michael Leavitt & Co Inspections, Inc.
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Buying Used - Appliance Exchange of Utah

Buying Used - Appliance Exchange of Utah
Buying new major appliances seems to always be expensive because it usually is a non-planned purchase. You find yourself in the middle of a big clothes washing day and the unit all of the sudden won’t spin out the water. It seemed to work fine yesterday. I know it was working fine last week. In fact, I haven’t thought about it for years. But all of the sudden doing a load of laundry is impossible as I look into the fully loaded wash chamber completely filled with water. It fills, it churns, but it will not spin out the water... I’m hosed!!! When this happened to us recently I decided to roll the dice and buy used instead of new. $700 just was not in the budget and I didn’t want to buy a new unit and have a non-matching dryer to go with the...
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North Carolina 6 Year Code Cycle Change - BAD IDEA!!!

North Carolina 6 Year Code Cycle Change - BAD IDEA!!!
I was shocked to hear about a new proposal in North Carolina that will modify the current 3 year adoption cycle for new building codes and extend it out to 6 years. On the surface this is absurd and I think it is damaging to the end consumer and benefits the pocketbook of the larger builders. I know they have a strong lobby, but we must always keep the end consumer in mind. North Carolina Lawmakers Vote For Six-Year Code Cycle From the Journal of Light Construction The North Carolina House has voted 98-18 for a bill that would change the state’s code adoption cycle to every six years instead of every three, the Charlotte Observer reports (“NC House OKs building code editions to last longer,” by Associated Press). The bill would also proh...
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Water Leak Alarms - Water Is The Big Destroyer

Water Leak Alarms - Water Is The Big Destroyer
When it comes to major issues involving houses, with the exceptions of the earth moving and tornadoes, the biggest issue is water. As a Utah Home Inspector, I find that percentage wise, water is the biggest destroyer of homes. Whether it is a flood, a rising water table, a leaking water heater, a leaking roof, or a dishwasher that just refuses to contain all the water inside the wash chamber, water causes major damage to wood structures. With the exception of the breaking of the levy type Hurricane Katrina floods, most water damage goes unnoticed until there is major evidence and damage. It is for that reason that I regularly tell my clients about water leak detectors. Homeowners have come to expect smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms ...
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Closed To Occupancy - What Does it Mean? Beware of HUD Homes!!!

Closed To Occupancy - What Does it Mean? Beware of HUD Homes!!!
As a Utah Home Inspector, I found myself walking up to the front door of yet another bank-owned, foreclosed, and vacant property, I was confronted with a sign taped at eye level to the outside of the front door. “CLOSED TO OCCUPANCY by order of the Salt Lake Valley Health Department.” The yellow and black police tape was also a nice touch. If you look close at the sign you will see that I removed the address, but this sign was posted back in September of 2012. What does it mean? Is it safe to enter and evaluate? Am I risking my health to inspect this home for my client? And what were the causes of the sign placement? A little history of the sale process would help put you in my shoes. My client was deemed the “Eternal Optimist” by his F...
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CPSC Disco Light Recall

CPSC Disco Light Recall
As a Utah Home inspector, I need to issue a warning to all of you Saturday Night Fever disco fever types that are still sporting your Angel Flight leisure suits with buttoned down shirts and hair chests. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has just recalled the black style disco lights that probably adorn your bedrooms. Over 19,00 of them are out there in the marketplace and they are currently overheating and posing a shock hazard to all of those nearby the units. On a serious note, these are in many of the teenager bedrooms of the homes Utah Home inspectors are inspecting. If you see one, then contact the manufacturer for a full refund, and oh yes, stop using them immediately. For more information please visit my CPSC Recall page devo...
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Say What? - Mold Smells

Say What? - Mold Smells
It is Saturday night and I am slaving over a report dealing with water entry. I am typing hundreds and hundreds of words identifying reportable conditions, conveying the severity, and providing clear courses of action. The entire time I am frustrated because there are others in my local area who put forth 20% of the effort and collect similar inspection fees. How can this be? Unfortunately many consumers just do not know any better. For example, while I was reviewing some online inspection reports of other local inspectors I found this one report that left me shaking my head wondering who trained this guy and to what inspection Standard of Practice is he preparing his reports. I felt sorry for the paying client when I read the following... ...
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Sub $325 Thermal Imager - This is not a joke!

Sub $325 Thermal Imager - This is not a joke!
As a gadget guy I was pleased to come across this soon to be released thermal imager that will retail for just $325. Of course it is not to be compared with $10,000 to $50,000 self contained thermal imaging cameras, but from the specs shared below I would easily compare it with the sub $4,000 models. What’s the catch? Well it is worthless without a phone or tablet since they are the brains and the brawn of the IR process. That’s right, it runs off either an iOS or Android app and plugs into either the phone or tablet via the mini USB port. So why do I think this is a viable solution? Well the resolution is equivalent to the lesser model cameras, but there are future goals of increasing the resolution. But I think this is a gadget that you...
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Cabela’s Recall Furry Friend Flashlights - Beamerzzz

Cabela’s Recall Furry Friend Flashlights - Beamerzzz
Happy Valentine’s Day! On this romantic day it is a bummer for those home inspectors who are used to taking their cuddly stuffed animal friends in the crawlspace with them to both provide protection and light the way. I can think of fellow home inspectors Jim Maass in South Carolina, Mike Campbell in Montana, and Jeff Herboldshimer in Northern California who are all going to be heartbroken. You see, Jim can successfully shoot anything that moves, Mike loves the remote freedoms of Montana living, and Jeff just loves new gadgets. But all three have a fondness for furry stuffed animals, and have since their youth. So how could Cabela’s be so cruel as to sell them trusted stuffed animal friends and then have them recalled immediately without wa...
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