Winter Is A Popular Vacation Time, But Not For Termites

Winter is the time when New Jersey residents love to take a vacation and get away from the cold. But guess what- not termites!!! Unfortunately termites don’t take a vacation during the winter months just because the weather outside is frightful.

Even though it’s cold outside, termites won’t be slowed down too much, especially if they’ve already created an entryway to your home. Since your home is climate controlled with the aid of heat, conditions are still ideal for termites to continue their favorite activity- eating wood!

Remember the most important signs of a termite infestation in your home:

  1. Damaged wood
  2. Buckling paint or tiny holes on wood
  3. Mud tubes on exterior walls
  4. Presence of frass: (wood-colored droppings produced by drywood termites).
  5. The appearance of a swarm near light sources

There are two different types of termites, requiring different types of treatment programs.

Subterranean termites live in soil and make their way into the foundation of your home by forming mud tubes. From here they can get into baseboards and wall studs without you knowing. They can also easily gain entry through plumbing openings in bathrooms and kitchens.

Drywood termites live in the wood they eat and find their way into homes through cracks and gaps. You can usually find them in attics or rafters.

If you suspect a termite problem in your home, call Aurora Home Inspections of Bergen County a.s.a.p. Termites can be an expensive problem that can spiral out of control quickly!

We have extensive training in all aspects of termite and other wood eating insect inspections. Aurora Home Inspections offers an industry leading 100% satisfaction guarantee as well as a free Wood-Destroying Insect 30-Day Warranty.

For more information on termite inspections call our Bergen County home inspectors at (201) 654-6505.

 

5 Reasons to Vacuum Your Home More Often

How often do you vacuum your home? If you have pets or children, you may vacuum more often as pets and kids tend to bring more of the outside in. But even if you don’t have a busy house, your rugs may need to be vacuumed more often than they are.   Vacuuming the house may seem unappealing- but once you discover what’s lurking in your carpet, you’ll probably want to get in the habit of digging out the vacuum a few times a week or more if your carpets face high traffic.

5 Reasons to Vacuum Your Home Regularly

  1. Humans shed over 1 million skin cells per hour! These cells get together with airborne dust and may accumulate to several pounds in carpets, rugs and furniture! What’s even more discerning is that they provide a great environment for dangerous microorganisms to develop.
  2. How often have you dropped a crumb of food (or two) onto your carpet and forgotten about it? Dropped food can quickly become infected with bacteria like Salmonella, E-Coli or other viruses that can make us and even out pets sick.
  3. Pollen, dust, mites, pet dander and even mold spores can accumulate in carpets. If we continually inhale these particles, we can be at risk for developing certain allergies to them.
  4. Bed bugs can live for months in carpets, rugs and even bare floors!
  5. Dirt and debris can become embedded in the carpet with repeated walking and pounding. If you regularly vacuum, dirt and debris is easier to remove and carpets stay looking like new longer.

How often should you vacuum your carpets? If you do not have pets or kids, you should vacuum weekly. If you do have pets or kids and there is a higher amount of traffic in your home, consider vacuuming every other day or every two days. It really depends on the amount of activity.   If kids or pets track dirt into the home don’t’ wait, vacuum it up immediately before it gets impacted into the carpet. At least once a year you should also have your carpets cleaned by a professional.

About Aurora Home Inspections in Bergen County, NJ

Aurora Home Inspections performs Home Inspections, Mold Inspections and Indoor Air Quality testing in cities and towns throughout Northern NJ, Southern NY including NYC.

Our Bergen County business is a proud member of the New Jersey Better Business Bureau (An ‘A’ rated and Accredited Member), International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), New Jersey Association of Licensed Home Inspectors (NJ ALPHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

For more information call (201) 654-6505 or email Larry Smyj at smyjlarry@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Five Signs You Have Termites In Your Home

A termite infestation is not always apparent to the untrained eye. Just because you don’t see termites, it doesn’t mean they haven’t taken up residency inside your home. There are many signs a termite inspector in Bergen County may look for. If you suspect the presence of termites, be sure to call Aurora Home Inspections in Bergen County immediately to assess the size of the infestation and what damage has been done so far.

Here are five signs you can check for on your own to see if termites may be present.

  1. Damaged wood: Wood may appear crushed or damaged at structural bearing points. Termite damaged wood resonates with a hollow sound when tapped with a hammer.
  2. Buckling paint or tiny holes on wood
  3. Mud tubes on exterior walls: Subterranean termites build mud tubes (a mixture of soil, feces and saliva) on surfaces, such as a home’s foundation, to provide moisture while they are searching for food.
  4. Presence of frass: Drywood termites produce wood-colored droppings called frass as they eat their way through infested wood.
  5. Swarmers: The appearance of a swarm near light sources indicates a nest may be near.

Termites pose a serious threat to your home. If you suspect termites, call Aurora Home Inspections for a thorough inspection of your home. We have extensive training in all aspects of termite and other wood eating insect inspections. Aurora Home Inspections offers an industry leading 100% satisfaction guarantee as well as a free Wood-Destroying Insect 30-Day Warranty.

For more information on termite inspections call our Bergen County home inspectors at (201) 654-6505.

Is It Mold or Mildew?

Mold and mildew are both types of fungi and are similar in many ways. Both are simple microscopic organisms that thrive anywhere there is a moist environment.

Typically mold is black or green and mildew is gray or white. Mold typically grows on food whereas mildew on damp surfaces like bathroom walls, leather or fabrics. Mildew is often referred to as a kind of mold, or as mold in its early stages.

Walk into any home and you’ll likely find mildew in the shower. The shower provides the ideal environment for mildew to grow- damp and dark. Everyone reading this has experienced mildew on his or her shower curtain and in the crevices of their shower.

Although mildew does not usually cause as serious of health effects as mold does- you still need to be mindful of exposure to mildew and do your best to prevent it and clean it.

Inhaling mildew can cause coughing, headaches, a scratchy throat and lung problems. In severe instances, mildew can also start growing in lungs and cause other serious health problems.

To prevent mildew at home, keep mildew prone areas such as the bathroom moisture free. After each shower, use a clean towel to dry the shower/tub or spray a mildew remove along the shower walls and on the shower curtain.

If you already have the presence of mildew- clean it thoroughly with a mildew remover.

If you are not sure if you have mold or mildew in a certain area of your home- get it tested. For mold inspections in Bergen County, call Aurora Home Inspections at (201) 654-6505.

What Do Home Inspectors Look For?

You’re buying a home, so you hire a home inspector to go through the house with a fine-tooth comb and make sure that everything is in good, safe condition. So what exactly do home inspectors look for? How do you know if your home inspector is covering all of the necessary bases?

In 1976, The American Society of Home Inspectors was founded. One of their first orders of business was establishing standards for home inspections and home inspectors; provides training, and attempts to keep its members informed of changes in state regulations and innovations in equipment and construction standards. Membership in the Society should be one criterion to research when hiring a home inspector in Bergen County.

The typical elements of a home inspection include:

  • Structure
  • Exterior
  • Roofing
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Heating/AC Systems
  • Interior (walls, floors, ceilings for signs of intrusion, windows doors, etc)
  • Ventilation
  • Appliances
  • Fireplaces

Aurora Home Inspections in Bergen County can go above and beyond the typical inspection items to also offer mold detection, radon gas testing and general indoor air quality. Our Bergen County business is a proud member of the New Jersey Better Business Bureau (An ‘A’ rated and Accredited Member), International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), New Jersey Association of Licensed Home Inspectors (NJ ALPHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

For more information or to schedule your home inspection call (201) 654-6505 or email Larry Smyj at smyjlarry@gmail.com.

How to Make Sure Your Hot Water Heater Functions Safely

An important aspect of any home inspection is ensuring the water heater is functioning properly and safely.  We often times forget just how important our hot water heater is. It’s not until we are left standing in a freezing cold shower that the maintenance and functionality of our water heaters becomes urgent! Although a hot water heater is a luxury- it sure does make life easier. When it comes to maintaining your water heater, knowing the facts will help ensure yours run smoothly and safely.

Unlike wine, water heaters do not get better with age

Most water heaters last about a decade. If the tank is over 10 years old, have a licensed plumber remove it and replace it with anew one. Doing this is ALWAYS cheaper than flooding the house. How can you tell how old your tank is?? Look at the make and model on the data plate. Sometimes the ANSI number gets confused with the date of the manufacture of the tank, but that date is usually within a year or two of the tanks age if the date of the tanks manufacturing is not visible.

Be Careful of Energy Blankets

Water heater blankets can save you money on your gas bills and reduce your energy consumption. However, if they are not properly installed, they can be a potential fire hazard. Energy blankets almost always obscure the data plate information. On an older tank with an open flame- this could be very dangerous. Make sure your blanket is not obstructing the data plate information and check to be sure the blanket doesn’t come near the open flame.

Pay Attention to the TPR Valve

The temperature relief valve is one of the most important safety devices in the entire house. Without this on the hot water tank the tank can explode. Never put any plastic piping on the TPR piping. Also be sure to never clog, seal off or block the TPR piping. The piping off the tank should either extend down to within 6” of the floor or even better is if it extends into a drain pan that can carry water away to piping into a waste line.

Some additional safety tips from Aurora Home Inspections in Bergen County:

  • The maximum water setting should be 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent anyone from getting scalded.
  • If the gas hot water heater is in a garage there should be at least one bollard in the way to prevent a car from hitting it. In Earthquake prone areas there should be strapping on it.
  • Check for corrosion at the top and bottom on the tank and around the piping.
  • Corrosion means repairs or replacement is needed.
  • NEVER store combustible materials near the hot water tank or boiler or furnace.
  • If there is an expansion tank above the hot water tank it should be installed vertically and not horizontally.
  • ALL gas appliances should have enough ventilation for fresh air for the combustion process and there should be a working CO detector.
  • Look at the metal vent pipes above the hot water tank to make sure they aren’t corroded or rusted. The piping should run upward into the chimney. If it is a brick, block or clay flue chimney the gases from the CO going up the chimney will cause it to degrade over time. A stainless steel pipe inside the chimney is recommended.
  • ALWAYS use a licensed and insured contractor to do repairs, replacement or upgrades.

During our multi-point home inspection in Bergen County, we will review all of the above safety issues when we inspect your hot water heater. To schedule your home inspection please call us at (201) 654-6505.

About Aurora Home Inspections in Bergen County, NJ

Aurora Home Inspections performs Home Inspections, Mold Inspections and Indoor Air Quality testing in cities and towns throughout Northern NJ, Southern NY including NYC.

Our Bergen County business is a proud member of the New Jersey Better Business Bureau (An ‘A’ rated and Accredited Member), International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), New Jersey Association of Licensed Home Inspectors (NJ ALPHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

For more information call (201) 654-6505 or email Larry Smyj at smyjlarry@gmail.com.

 

 

A Home Owner’s Safety Check List For Your Garage Door And Opener

The garage door is the largest moving part in your home and is often used as an entry. If it’s not working properly, the safety and accessibility of your family are at risk.

Automatic garage door openers have been popular since after WWII but it wasn’t until 1993 that safety regulations were updated to require a secondary backup electric eye added onto the garage doorframe for enhanced safety. Recently, manufacturers have also added in pinch resistant joints into the design of the doors.

Your garage door opener requires regular maintenance and inspection to ensure it is working properly and safely. If you are having your home inspected by Aurora Home Inspections in Bergen County, NJ, an inspection of the garage door will be performed by one of our licensed inspectors.

If you can safely and properly inspect your own garage door- here are some items to look at:

First look at the tracks to see if they are lubricated and that all of the wheels inside both tracks are inside of the tracks. Are any of the tracks or the center rail loose? Are they correctly bolted into place?

When the garage door is shut can you see light around the garage door?  If so, heat is leaking out of your home and rodents can be getting in. Often times when there are gaps along the bottom of the door gasket mice, chipmunks and rats can enter. You can fix this by replacing the gaskets on the bottom and adding a gasket (as seen for sale in Sky Mall magazine) on the ground. When the door closes on the gasket on the ground it creates a tighter seal. Also it’s a good idea to install weather stripping on the sides to save energy.

Look at the framing on the sides of the garage door where it touches the ground. Is it an older door and older framing?  Poke the framing with an Awl to see if there is rotted wood or if there are signs of wood destroying insects like termites. This is one of the ways termites get into the house. Not sure regarding insects? Ask a licensed exterminator.  Newer door framing is sometimes made of a pressure treated wood where the wood comes in contact with the ground. In earthquake prone parts of the country, critical connecting hardware is required around the garage door framing.  Simpsonstrongtie.com has great illustrations regarding connecting hardware used in Earthquake prone areas.

Look at and check the primary reversing functions of the door. One way to do this is to put a small block of wood like a 2×4 on the flat under the middle of the door. Then close the door. The door should reverse itself when it hits the block of wood.

When the door is open, hit the button to close it and wave your hand between the electric eyes.  The door should automatically reopen. If there are no electric eyes have a licensed garage door mechanic install them. They provide much greater safety for your family.

Are there safety cables inside the springs? What kind of shape are the springs in? Are they kinked, bent rusted or hanging on by a thread?

When the door is in the open position – activate it to close.  As the door closes grab the bottom of the door to see if there is a little or a lot of resistance. If the door is fighting you to continue to close it needs to be adjusted at the opener.

Check the service door from your home into the garage.  Is that door self-closing and is the door metal and or fire rated?

If you have questions regarding any of these issues with your garage door, hire a garage door mechanic. Have him do an overall safety check of the doors and evaluate what repairs you might need. And like we said above, if you are hiring Aurora Home Inspections in Bergen County, NJ to do a home inspection for you- we will cover all of these points in our inspection.

 

Fall Preparations For The Exterior of Your Home

It’s officially fall here in New Jersey. In addition to dressing warmer for the colder weather, there are also a number of preparations you should make to the exterior of your home.

Below we have listed a few simple steps to ensure the exterior components of your home are protected this fall and winter. If you feel as though you cannot perform any of these steps safely- call the home inspectors of Aurora Home Inspections in Bergen County, NJ.

  1. The in-ground sprinkler system at your home should be blown out and shut down for the season well before the first freeze
  2. If you have a wood-burning stove or a fireplace, inspect both for any potential build-up of creosote on the inside or rust on the outside.
  3. When you are not using your fireplace, consider installing a chimney balloon to help save on heat.
  4. The fireplace and the chimney are often the most misunderstood component in the home. If you don’t know how to inspect them properly, hire a licensed pro from Aurora Home Inspections.

Finding a Licensed Home Inspector in NJ

A good way to find a reputable home inspector in NJ is to check and read reviews on different websites, including the Better Business Bureau. Also make sure they are licensed and insured. And one last step would be to ask a local Realtor. They often know good, local contractors and can give you a trusted recommendation.

About Aurora Home Inspections in Bergen County, NJ

Aurora Home Inspections performs Home Inspections, Mold Inspections and Indoor Air Quality testing in cities and towns throughout Northern NJ, Southern NY including NYC.

Our Bergen County business is a proud member of the New Jersey Better Business Bureau (An ‘A’ rated and Accredited Member), International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), New Jersey Association of Licensed Home Inspectors (NJ ALPHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

For more information call (201) 654-6505 or email Larry Smyj at smyjlarry@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes Made In A Short Sale

If you’re buying a home on a short sale, chances are you are getting the home at a great price. But do you really know what you are getting?

Short sales are, well, short. They sometimes happen rather quickly and buyers tend to get caught up in the excitement of the low sticker price. If you are buying a home on a short sale, it’s important to dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’ before the sale is final. If you don’t, you could end up having to invest thousands into your new home. Discounted homes and foreclosures could come with a long list of expensive problems.

Short sellers are motivated to close a deal quickly. They want to repair their credit and try to move on. Because of this, it’s possible that essential maintenance on the home was not performed. This could include checking the roof for leaks, ensuring the furnace and air conditioner work properly, etc.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when purchasing a short sale:

  1. Skipping a home inspection: You have to always remember that a home inspection is a way to protect your investment.   The inspection could reveal expensive problems that can’t be seen during a quick walk through. You never know how serious a termite infestation is until you peel back the layers. What seems to be a small leak could end up being faulty plumbing. You can either pay a few hundred dollars for an inspection or risk spending thousands in repairs.   Get a home inspection before making an offer- so you know how much you potentially may have to spend in repairs.
  2. Not leaving enough time for the sale to go through. Not all short sales happen quickly. Banks are taking huge losses on these homes. They want to recover as much of their money as possible. Some banks are also overwhelmed with foreclosures and may be slow to respond. Have a strategy in place if the home you plan to buy doesn’t close as quickly as you anticipated.
  3. Not looking past the sticker price. Some people get caught up in buying a home for as cheap as possible. They forget to consider what repairs or renovations the home may need. If you won’t be happy living with pink bathrooms and an outdated kitchen, you’ll have to consider the expense of upgrading those rooms. What looks like a great deal on the outside could really end up costing you. Compare a short sale with another home for sale. After all of the renovations and repairs are complete, will you really have saved much money?

A short sale may be the right home for you to buy- just know what you are getting into first.

About Aurora Home Inspections in Bergen County, NJ

Aurora Home Inspections performs Home Inspections, Mold Inspections and Indoor Air Quality testing in cities and towns throughout Northern NJ, Southern NY including NYC.

Our Bergen County business is a proud member of the New Jersey Better Business Bureau (An ‘A’ rated and Accredited Member), International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), New Jersey Association of Licensed Home Inspectors (NJ ALPHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

For more information call (201) 654-6505 or email Larry Smyj at smyjlarry@gmail.com.

 

How To Prepare Your Home For Autumn

While many lament the end of summer, we at Aurora Home Inspections in NJ happen to love the beginning of fall. Crisp breezes, pumpkin everything and of course- those beautiful rustic fall leaves on the ground. As with every season, you should have your rituals for preparing your home for the change in weather. Below are some items to put on your ‘to do’ list to prepare your home for autumn.

  • Safely trim back any branches hanging over your home or rubbing against the house.
  • Trim away any shrubs and bushes and keep them approximately 12 – 18” away from the house.
  • Inspect and clean your leaders and gutters and make sure that they extend 10 – 12′ away from the house.
  • Shut off any exterior hose bibs and, if they have an interior drain, be sure to drain them off.
  • Have annual maintenance performed on your heating system before the cold weather gets here.
  • Change your furnace filters.
  • Check and clean your humidifier.
  • Caulk any exterior gaps and cracks around or near windows and doors. Use weather stripping where it’s needed.
  • Repair any masonry cracks and gaps in the sidewalks and driveway (tip: rock salt on the sidewalks often makes the cracks and gaps worse).
  • Check and replace any old smoke or CO detectors. Once they are over 5 years old you should consider replacing them. When you get new ones, write on the inside the date when it was installed. Batteries should be replaced every 6 months. Write the dates on them too.
  • Restock your emergency kit and make sure all batteries are charged and that flashlights are loaded with working batteries. During a storm, batteries are often one of the first items to sell out. Be proactive and buy the ones you need now.

About Aurora Home Inspections in Bergen County, NJ

Aurora Home Inspections performs Home Inspections, Mold Inspections and Indoor Air Quality testing in cities and towns throughout Northern NJ, Southern NY including NYC.

Our Bergen County business is a proud member of the New Jersey Better Business Bureau (An ‘A’ rated and Accredited Member), International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), New Jersey Association of Licensed Home Inspectors (NJ ALPHI) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

For more information call (201) 654-6505 or email Larry Smyj at smyjlarry@gmail.com.