New Construction Inspection/Chimney Cleaning/Sweaty Floors

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2016 at 2:05 pm


My husband and I met you a few years ago when you inspected a house we were planning to purchase, but after the results of your inspection we decided to pull our offer.

We are now a week away from closing on our new house that we had built and we need your opinion whether we should have a house inspection performed since this is a brand new home. The builder provides a one year limited warranty and has a company that does a pre-closing walk-through, where they should point out the defects they find, and they later provide a warranty service performance. What are your thoughts on doing it this way, or should I have you perform our inspection?


I absolutely think and know that you should have a new house inspected. I usually find even more issues with new construction that some older homes. The good thing with new construction inspections is you can give a list to the builder if the problems are real, and the builder is legitimate and conscious he will correct the issues observed. My experience with some builders doing their own final walk-through is that many of them are not all that interested in finding all the defects, if they exist. Regardless, who does this company the builder uses to do your pre-closing walk-through work for, you or the builder? The answer is the builder, since he is the one paying that company.

I am not referring to your particular builder or the company they use since I am not familiar with them. I also never ask who the builder is when inspecting new construction. I have found that even the best builder can have some bad crews, while a terrible builder with a bad reputation could pick up a good crew on occasion.

That being said, you can call my office to set up an inspection.


How often should my fireplace chimney be cleaned and inspected?


If you’re using your fireplace frequently and not having your chimney cleaned and inspected at least annually, you’re playing with fire.

I’m going to go right to the bottom line. If you use your fireplace, let’s say once a week, then the flue should be cleaned annually. If you use it more often, it should be cleaned and inspected accordingly…

Did you know if you build a fire in your fireplace that has no lining or a cracked, damaged liner, you’re basically playing with fire. Wood fires give off soot and tar that can build up as deposits inside the flue, which in turn can suddenly ignite as a spectacular chimney fire. In a well-lined flue, a chimney fire can be harmless, but in an unlined one, a chimney fire can easily spread to the rest of the house.

If you are just using your fireplace to burn gas logs, you shouldn’t have to worry. The heat is not as intense and they burn cleaner.

Remember when looking for a chimney sweep make sure .he is insured, bonded and a member of the Guild or Wood Heating Research Education Foundation.


I am in need of some advice with regard to a cabin that I inherited up north that is on a cement slab. The floors sweat when it’s cold and I was wondering what would be the best flooring for this situation. The floor is currently tiled but would like to know if carpeting or painting can be used.


You have several alternatives to your sweaty situation. Purchasing and operating a dehumidifier is certainly a reasonable solution, but that means using electricity and if there is no way of running a hose to a drain or to the outside, then you’ll have to constantly empty the dehumidifier pail. I’m not fond of that solution, but it is an option you should consider.

There are at least three companies that make sub-floor systems for use on concrete. They are all engineered to be a moisture barrier as well as offer anywhere from a small degree of insulation value up to an R-factor of 4.5.

I think each is worth checking into and you can decide which works best for you and your needs. Here they are:

Dricore™ www.dricore.com

Homasote Company www.homasote.com

Subflor   www.subflor.com

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Remember Holiday Safety For Pets Too!

In Uncategorized on December 11, 2015 at 10:22 am

With the holidays fast approaching we sometimes tend to forget those curious, furry, four-legged family members of ours, well except for when buying them a present.

If you are an animal lover like I am, then you know the holiday season is a time to remember our furry friends too.

Those specialty plants we get as gifts or buy ourselves to make our homes look festive for the holiday season can be beautiful, but can also be toxic for our pets. And if you are a pet owner, then you know just how curious dogs and cats can be, especially when introduced to new things being brought into your home.

Mistletoe and Holly are considered to be moderately to severely toxic plants for dogs and cats as well as lilies and daffodils that are extremely harmful, and in some cases fatal if ingested.

Many people have always associated the Poinsettia plant to be extremely toxic, but this is not entirely true. The sap of Poinsettias is considered to be mildly toxic or irritating, and will probably cause nausea or vomiting, but not death. It is always better to err on the side of caution and just keep pets away from this plant.

Let’s not forget the Christmas tree. These are a candy land for our pets. With the dangling ornaments that they can knock off and break cutting their mouths or even ingesting the broken shards. Let’s not forget the tinsel that can also be ingested and get twisted in their intestines. The tree needles contain fir tree oils, which can be mildly toxic to your pets too.

Even more potentially toxic is the water, which nourishes our fresh-cut trees. The standing water can harbor bacteria, molds, or other agents (such as fertilizers) that can cause your pet to become extremely sick with only a few sips.

Always keep in mind that more than one toxic substance can be involved therefore seeking an Animal Poison Control Center consultation and pursuing treatment with a veterinarian are vitally important.

It is also very important to remember that all of the cautions I have just mentioned pertain to small children as well. These plants are toxic to them also.

Holiday safety should always be in the forefront of your mind. I’ve compiled a holiday safety checklist to get you started and keep you and your family safe each and every holiday season. I know most of the list is common sense, but look it over and at least use it as a reminder.

  • Always buy a fresh-cut healthy tree. Check that the needles do not fall off when tugged on or do not break easily if bent in half.
  • When you bring the tree home, cut a few inches off the bottom of the trunk at an angle so the tree will absorb more water.
  • Make sure your Christmas tree is secure and not able to fall over if accidently tugged on by a child or pet.
  • Keep your tree well watered so it does not dry out and become a fire hazard.
  • Never place your tree too close to a fireplace or heat vent. This will also cause it to dry out and cause a possible fire.
  • Never place your tree in front of a doorway or any exit source in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms have fresh batteries.
  • Use UL listed lighting made for indoor use when decorating your tree.
  • Make sure to inspect for any broken, loose, missing or damaged sockets of the light set.
  • Never shorten or splice any light set.
  • Never put lit candles in windows, too close to Christmas trees or within the reach of small children.
  • Keep all toxic plants (Poinsettias, Mistletoe, Holly) out of reach from small children and pets.

Since the holiday season is the time of joy and giving, I’d like to make one important suggestion; by giving even a small donation to The Leader Dogs For The Blind (www.leaderdog.org), Michigan Humane Society (www.michiganhumane.org) or Detroit Dog Rescue (www.detroitdogrescue.com) (just to name a few) will help these organizations and the animals they help save, have a better life and a brighter future and will make your heart and holiday a little warmer too!

From my home to yours ~ Have a safe and happy holiday!

Santa & Animals

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Lon Grossman

Getting Your Snow Blower Ready fro Winter / Cold Floors Over a Crawl Space

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm


I want to get my snow blower ready for the season. I used up most of the fuel last year. Do you think it’s ready?


Not a chance. As a matter of fact if you haven’t prepped your snow blower here are a couple of tips in addition to what you may have done.

Drain any leftover fuel from the tank and replace it with a fresh supply. Old fuel can turn gummy and really screw up the engine. Change the engine oil in four-cycle engines (two-cycle engines use a gas and oil mixture). Consult your operator’s manual for the recommended weight. If you have a two-cycle engine, you may need to make minor carburetor adjustments. Again, consult your operator’s manual. Also install a new spark plug and keep the old spark plug as a spare after you’ve cleaned it. You better inspect the belts. If they show signs of cracking or thinning, buy and install new ones. If your snow thrower is a chain-driven type, get a spare master link for the chain. Also, lubricate the chain for smoother operation. Buy extra shear pins/bolts. If you hit a rock chances are you’ll have to replace a broken pin. One year I broke four shear pins. Replace the fuel filter and air filter or if they’re washable, wash them. Then put a couple drops of oil on the air filter and then squeeze it out. Apply a wax to the auger and on the inside of the discharge chute to prevent snow from sticking. If you don’t have any wax use a silicone spray or even Pam cooking spray.


I read your column in the Observer and have a question hopefully you can help us with. We have a crawlspace under our 30-year old addition of our house. We redid our family room in the addition two years ago and installed hardwood floors instead of carpet and now the floors are cold in the winter. Can you recommend a way to fix this problem?


Is the crawlspace insulated? If so, how much? I would install at least R-19 insulation to the three perimeter exterior walls. Is there any ductwork in the crawl and if so are the ducts insulated as well? The ductwork as well as any plumbing should be insulated. The pipes, so they don’t freeze or drip condensation, and the ducts so any heat or air conditioning can get into your family room. Make sure the ductwork has not fallen or become loose. You should also have a vapor barrier on top of a dirt floor. The plastic should completely cover the ground in the crawl, overlap each section of plastic and tape it to the adjoining plastic. If you have vents in the perimeter walls, they should be closed in the fall and open in the spring. Now your tootsies should stay toasty.


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