drdiy

Have Your Dream House Inspected Before You Buy / Ridding Carpenter Ants / Using The Proper Light Bulbs in Older Fixtures

In Uncategorized on April 11, 2013 at 10:02 am

Q:

I’m house hunting and once I’ve decided that I’ve found my “dream house” what can I look for myself (to make tentatively sure I won’t wake up to a nightmare) before I call you to fully inspect it?

A:

Browsing around the house you are about to buy won’t give you all the information you should have before committing to such a major purchase. Since it is probably going to be the next home you live in for quite a while, you should also get a feel for it. Open cupboards and drawers in the kitchen (I have actually had them fall off in my hand) and don’t be shy about looking in closets, turning lights on and off, and trying out things like the intercom, doorbells and garage door openers.

If kitchen appliances are included with the home, give them a try out too. After all, if they’re not working you will incur additional costs to get rid of them, not to mention buying new ones. Check the closet shelves to make sure they’re secure, open and close the doors to rooms, check all faucets and look for any areas that may have water damage. Look thoroughly around basement walls for stains. By the way, consider fresh paint on basement walls a “red flag”.

Remember, you’ll be checking everything out eventually, either while you’re negotiating, or after you’ve bought the house. So consider yourself a wise homebuyer and learn as much as possible prior to moving in. That includes doing a personal inspection, as well as having a professional inspector who is a member of NAHI or ASHI. Check out your inspector carefully. Make sure he or she is licensed and insured.

Q:

While doing some renovations I discovered a carpenter ant infestation. I replaced the damaged wood and treated the exterior with appropriate insecticides. My concern is that I may have trapped a colony of ants in the sub-structure of my house. Understanding that I have two small children in the house, can you recommend a product that I could spray and/or inject into my wall spaces to prevent further damage or colonization?

A:

Even if you did “trap” carpenter ants in the wall cavity, they probably won’t do much damage. But there are some caveats to that statement.

The difference between carpenter ants and termites is that termites are subterranean. You don’t know they are eating your house until you step through the floor. Carpenter ants only chew on wood that is wet or damp and you usually only see them walking across the dining room when you have company.

It is difficult to find a colony within the walls, but you have the advantage of knowing the general area where the nest was prior to your renovation. That’s not to say they didn’t relocate, but I would start there.

Carpenter ants are usually dormant in the winter months. When the weather breaks, you start to see them again, call a professional. They have chemicals that are people and pet friendly.

Q:

I have a 1940’s house that has the original light fixtures that came with the house. When I bought the house it had a new circuit breaker system. As I grow older I find that I need brighter lighting inside the house. Is it safe to be using 100-watt bulbs instead of 60 watt in these original fixtures?

A:

Yes and No!

If you replace those 60-watt light bulbs with 100-watt incandescent bulbs the answer is no. It is not safe. The larger wattage gives off additional heat that could, and eventually will, overheat the wires in the ceiling above and cause a fire. At the least, the overheating will crack and shatter the glass on the fixture or cause premature failure of the bulbs.

If your fixture will accommodate a fluorescent bulb, an inexpensive alternate is to replace those 60-watt bulbs with a 100-watt compact fluorescent (CFL’s). You’ll save money and get more light. They use ¼ the watts of incandescent bulbs and last years longer. They also do not give off nearly as much heat, so your house is cooler in the summer.

If the CFLs do not work in your existing fixtures, you should replace the fixture.

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