Pre-Holiday Maintenance

The holidays may be the worst time to have to deal with a home maintenance issue.  With a little planning and the right information, you can be sure to have your home in tip-top shape for all your gatherings! Let’s start with the basics –

Heating Systems:  Make it a annual task to have your HVAC unit serviced before the cold weather hits hard.  One of the biggest causes of wasted energy is restricted air flow to the heating system, so have a contractor check that the filters and coils are allowing for enough air flow. Getting ahead of this issue will help you avoid appointment delays during the busy winter season and give you peace of mind.

Check Doors & Windows:  Walk around the inside and outside of your home and check it for air tightness, carefully looking for any signs of cracks where air could leak out, as this can be a significant source of energy loss. An inexpensive tube of caulk can help seal the leaks and also help prevent moisture from getting inside the walls of your home. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring comes through walls or floors.  Inspect all doors that open to the outside or to the attic and be sure that they close tightly. If you have a leak, take a photo of your door and door jamb, and ask an employee at your local hardware store for help finding the right weatherstripping or door sweeps. Air leaks cause your heating system to work harder, which costs you more money on your utility bills—and can shorten the lifespan of your system.

Gutters & Downspouts:  Michigan definitely provides us some beautiful views during the change of season, but eventually as the temperatures fall, so do those leaves.  Often leaves, twigs and debris can clog gutters which can lead to ice dams.  Ice dams cause melting water to back up and flow into the house, resulting in a very expensive repair. Save yourself the money and trouble by thoroughly cleaning out your gutters after the leaves have fallen. Make sure to tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets, and replace any worn sections before it’s too late. Check that downspouts extend at least five feet away from the foundation. If they don’t, buy an inexpensive extension.

Spending a little time with these tasks can give you peace of mind and energy savings!

Holiday Light Displays and Energy Costs

The holiday season has arrived and for most, that comes with some decor changes and outdoor lighting.  The U.S. uses more electricity in the month of December than some countries use in an entire year!  But how much is that light display really costing you?  The folks at HomeAdvisor have a detailed plan to help you calculate your costs and energy saving ideas to make your display beautiful and efficient.  Click Here to read the full article.  

Maintain Your Whole House Fan

Whole house fans move a lot of air fast and as with any fan, that means a lot of dust. Cleaning your whole house fan regularly will extend its life and ensure that your fan stays in good working order longer.

Dusting Your Fan

By simply dusting your fan off once a season you will extend the life of the fan’s motor. The dust accumulates on the fan blades, the motor and all its other surfaces. When dust accumulates on the motor housing, the motor gets very hot. When the motor gets hot, it burns up long before it should.

Before cleaning your fan, be sure to cut the power supply to your fan. These fans spin very fast and can be extremely dangerous, so it is imperative that the power is off. Use a cloth with a mild household cleaner sprayed on it to clean all parts of the fan after removing the vent cover. Be sure to clean the motor, both sides of the fan blades and surrounding encasing. Put the cover back on and restore power.

By doing this simple cleaning once annually you will prolong the life of your fan and ensure that you are not spreading dust around your house when cooling it this summer.

Drafty Windows and Doors

Drafty windows and doors can increase heating bills, and no one wants that!  Take the time to inspect both the interior and exterior of all windows and doors.


If you inspect the property on a windy day, it may make it easier to detect any air leaks.

  • Make Sure the Windows Close Tightly

This seems like a no-brainer, until you get that cool draft followed by a quick shiver only to realize that you have an open window. Especially in older windows, it is not uncommon for the top portion of the window to creep down, leaving a slight gap for air to come in. You simply have to unlock the window and push the top portion of the window up and the bottom portion of the window down to make sure it is properly closed. You can then lock the window again.

  • Check Weather Stripping

You will want to look around each frame for any obvious holes or deteriorating caulk. Look for any loose or damaged weather stripping. You will want to re-caulk any deteriorating caulk and replace any damaged weather stripping.

  • Feel for Drafts

On the interior of the property, you can look for signs of light around the perimeter of the windows or doors. You can also physically feel for drafts. If you want to get fancy, you can even purchase an infrared thermometer, which you simply point at any spot and it will give you a temperature reading.

  • Door Sweeps

You can consider adding door sweeps on the bottom of entrance doors.  You can get temporary ones that you can slide onto the bottom of the door or more permanent ones that you can screw into the bottom of the doors.

  • Single Pane Windows

If your home has older, single pane windows, you may consider wrapping them in plastic window wrap that you can purchase at stores like Home Depot or Lowes. This wrap will help to keep out drafts.

As a longer term investment, you may consider upgrading to double pane windows. This could help save you money not having to turn the heat up so high since heat will not be escaping. Shoring up these air leaks will help keep the property warm in the winter.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive review – contact Home Inspection Professionals for a customized energy audit and see where you can save!

Sewer Line Inspection

Many home buyers are familiar with and understand the importance of a home inspection.  But what about a Sewer Line Inspection?  It’s almost an afterthought, if a thought at all.  Its always best to find out if a sewer line needs repair or replacement before buying a home, not after.

The purpose of a sewer line inspection is to determine the condition of the lines and if the system is functioning as intended.  A sewer line inspection is recommended for any home more than 20 years old.  While this may seem fairly new compared to a home built in the 1950s, 20 years is plenty of time for roots to completely block a line.  Sewer inspection is highly recommended for homes on a property with large or mature trees regardless of the age.

What can you expect to find during a sewer inspection? 

We hope you find a pristine, structurally sound, clear flowing line.  However, that is not always the case.  Camera inspections pinpoint problems like these:

  • Broken, cracked or collapsed pipe — damaged pipes requiring repair or replacement
  • Offset pipe — sewer pipes have become misaligned due to shifting soil, frozen ground, settling, etc.
  • Blockage — grease buildup or a foreign object is restricting or prohibiting proper flow and/or cleaning of the line
  • Corrosion — the pipe has deteriorated and/or broken, causing sections to collapse and restrict water flow.
  • Bellied pipe — a section of the pipe has sunk due to ground or soil conditions, creating a valley that collects paper and waste.
  • Leaking joints — the seals between pipes have broken, allowing water to escape into the area surrounding the pipe.
  • Root infiltration — tree or shrub roots have invaded the sewer line, preventing normal cleaning and/or roots have damaged the pipe.
  • Off-grade pipe — existing pipes are constructed of substandard or outdated material that may have deteriorated or corroded.

How is a sewer scope conducted?

A video camera on the end of a long cable is fed into a clean-out, through the sewer line and sends images back to a monitor and recorded for later viewing.  A stream of water from the house may be run through the pipes to make it easier to move the camera, but it is not necessary.  This process takes up to 90 minutes and can be scheduled at the same time as your home inspection.  A written summary and video footage will be provided to you at the completion of the inspection.

Looking for more information or have questions about your specific property?  Contact our office at (877) HIP-3200 and speak with one of our staff or schedule your inspection today!

Swing your HVAC into Spring and Summer

At long last, spring is here! The days are brighter and getting warmer. Soon we’ll be turning on the Air Conditioning as we head into summer. Prepare now with a few simple steps.

  • Change the HVAC Filter
  • Turn off the Humidifier:
    • Locate your humidistat.  Your humidistat may be located near your thermostat or mounted at the furnace on the plenum (sheet metal box).
    • Set humidistat to the OFF position.
    • Set bypass damper (if equipped).  You may see the works open/closed, summer/winter, or it may not be labeled at all.  Set damper lever perpendicular to duct to “close” or set to “summer” setting.

You don’t want to wait until that really hot first day of summer to turn on your AC only to find it isn’t working properly or not at all.  Call your HVAC professional now for a maintenance check.  If you’re someone who’s a little more handy, you could prepare your Air Conditioner ahead of time without calling a professional using the steps below.

  • Safety First

    Before working on a central air conditioner, always turn off the power to the condenser at the service panel. The condenser also typically has a 240-volt weatherproof disconnect box located near the unit; this contains a lever, fuses, or a circuit breaker to shut off the condenser. Turn this off, as well.
  • Clean the Air Conditioner Condenser Coils
  • Clean & Clear Debris
  • Check the Coolant Lines
  • Test the Unit

For more detailed instructions on these steps, visit

Spring Forward

It’s the time of the year when we all spring our clocks forward one hour and start to gain that extra bit of precious daylight every day as we inch into summer. It’s also a great time to perform a few simple home maintenance tasks to be sure things are safe and sound. So besides moving those clocks, try these 5 simple tasks.

1.) Electrical Breakers: One at a time, you must push the breaker handle firmly and fully to the off position, and then back to on.
2.) Smoke & CO Detectors: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends using the daylight saving time as a reminder to tackle basic smoke alarm maintenance. Test alarms and replace all batteries. Testing only takes a few seconds and it could save your life. If your alarms are more than 10 years old, replace them.
3.) Fire Extinguishers: Now is the time to have them tested and replaced if necessary. If you do not have one – GET ONE. It will even save you money on your homeowners insurance.
4.) Check your First-Aid kit: Check expiration dates, replenish supplies and replace any missing items.
5.) Appliance Filters: Dirty filters can cause the appliances to require more energy. While it is recommended to change furnace/air conditioning filters monthly during their use seasons, this is a great time to think about the other filters in your home:

  • Air Purifiers
  • Humidifiers
  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • Dishwashers
  • Refridgerator Water Filters

A little maintenance can go a long way in protecting your investment and keeping your home in tip-top shape!

Winterizing Outdoor Faucets

Most any Michigander can explain the importance of winterizing exterior faucets, but do you actually know how?  It seems like a simple task, but there are a few tricks to getting it right.

1.)  Disconnect the Garden Hose – Simple, drain and store the hose and any accessories in the garage or shed.

2.)  Inspect – check fixtures for leaks and drips.  Water dripping, no matter how slowly can freeze in the pipe or the fixture.  While a frozen outdoor faucet may not be apparent until the next season, it may be possible to minimize the damage by repairing the leak before the winter.

3.) Drain – Getting as much water out of the pipes is the second step to winterize outdoor faucets. If you have a hose bib that is not freeze proof the best way to do this is to shut off that line if possible and drain it down. If you cannot isolate the water supply to hose bib to shut it off be sure to use extra insulation in the next step.

For a frost free hose bib this step isn’t necessary since the fixture’s design (when properly installed) keeps water well back away from the end of the spigot. Just as with regular hose bibs, however, hoses and other attachments should be removed from frost free hose bibs before the winter or they may not drain down properly.

4.)  Protect – The last step to winterize outdoor faucets is to protect them with insulation. An easy way to do this is to install a hose bib cover on each outdoor fixture including frost free hose bibs. Hose bib covers are square or dome shaped to fit right over outdoor faucets. They are made of thick foam so they are quite effective at keeping most of the cold away from the valve. When covering regular hose bibs that could not be drained extra insulation can be installed inside the hose bib cover to keep it warm and dry throughout the winter. In most situations, however, the hose bib cover will provide enough insulation.
Although they are resistant to freezing, Frost free hose bibs should be covered as well because although they are resistant to freezing they are not completely frost proof in the coldest weather. There are rubber gaskets and washers inside the frost free hose bibs that will benefit from the extra protection from the cold that a hose bib cover can provide.
Hose bib covers can be found in most hardware or home improvement stores and are very inexpensive and easy to install. Covers can usually be reused for several years so they are a good long term purchase. For just a few dollars per fixture you can winterize outside faucets quickly and then move on to any other winterizing plumbing tasks that may be necessary.

Avoid Irrigation Irritation

Fall is the time to drain and winterize your irrigation system.  sprinkler-pop_up_headBuried irrigation lines can freeze, leaving you with burst pipes  and broken sprinkler heads.  A few simple steps can save you some spring time Irrigation Irritation.

  1. Using the main valve, turn off the water that feeds the system.
  2. Turn off the automatic controller
  3. Remove water from the system by opening the drain valves.
  4. Remove above-ground sprinkler heads, shake any remaining water out and replace them.

Perhaps you don’t have drain valves or are unfamiliar with the system – Hire an irrigation professional to use an air compressor to blow out the system.  The $75-$150 charge is worth making sure the job is done right and not having repairs to make in the spring.

Don’t Let Water Drip

garden-hoseDripping Water is almost never a good thing.  Fall preparations must include removal of garden hoses from outdoor faucets.   Don’t get caught by a sudden cold snap and have surprise damage – make this one a priority!  Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the pipes inside the exterior walls.  When the colder temps arrive, the water left behind could freeze, expand and crack the faucet or pipes.

Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.   Don’t forget to drain those hoses and store them in the garage or outdoor storage shed.