pre-listing inspection will help you avoid unforeseen obstacles that could slow or stall the sale of your home

9 Home Inspection Tips to Help Sellers Get Their Homes Sold Faster

Selling a home can be just as stressful, if not more stressful, than buying a home.

If you are trying to buy a home yourself, and it’s contingent on selling your existing home or actively paying a mortgage on two separate homes, then the pressure to sell quickly can be unbearable.

One way sellers can ease this pressure and avoid obstacles in the closing process is with a pre-listing inspection. This article will outline the benefits of a pre-listing inspection for sellers and outline eleven home inspection tips for sellers to ease this process.

pre-listing inspection will help you avoid unforeseen obstacles that could slow or stall the sale of your homeWhy Should You Get a Pre-Listing Inspection?

The nationwide average for closing times is around 44 days, though this could easily double or triple in length with a bad inspection report.

For sellers under pressure to sell fast, unforeseen issues that inevitably come up in an inspection report can mean waiting weeks to repair or relisting the home at a lower price.

That’s why we often recommend a pre-listing inspection on your current home as the first step in selling it or buying another one.

By conducting a pre-listing inspection and getting an honest assessment of its condition, you will be able to:

  • Price your home accurately, understanding how much you can get in equity to finance a new home.
  • Market your home appropriately to attract the right buyers.
  • Proactively make repairs that could delay closing times and actively imperil any offer you’ve made on another home.

What Does a Pre-Listing Inspection Check?

A pre-listing inspection provides the same overview of your home as a traditional residential home inspection that any buyer would purchase. Some of the most important elements of the inspection include:

  • Structural integrity: The condition of the roof, foundation, and floors.
  • Plumbing Issues: The condition of pipes, water heaters, and water pressure.
  • Electrical Issues: The condition of wires, electrical boxes, and outlets.
  • HVAC Issues: The condition of all heating and cooling equipment.

However, a pre-listing inspection will be more thorough than that. Most inspectors will evaluate every inch of your property and outline any problems they spot, from a chimney with poor flashing to a bedroom door knob that doesn’t function properly.

9 Tips for Homeowners to Prepare for an Inspection

You may think you are powerless during a home inspection, but there are many things you can do to help your inspector and clean up your inspection report.

1. Find the Right Inspector

First, it’s essential to find the right inspector. A good inspector will be able to identify any issues that may come up in a future inspection report and save you the headache.

There are many resources to find an inspector, including:

  • Your realtor or brokerage
  • Referrals from friends and family
  • Online directories and review sites

One thing to keep in mind is certification. Look for things like certification from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) to find a properly qualified inspector. There are even tiers of service, with a Certified Master Inspector representing the highest tier.

2. Make Small Repairs Where Possible

While most people can’t fix a roof, you can be proactive in helping your inspection report by making small repairs wherever possible. Ideas could include:

  • Fixing loose door knobs
  • Sanding down doors that stick
  • Patching any holes in walls or ceilings
  • Tightening railings
  • Fixing leaking or dripping pipes
  • Applying caulk to cracks
  • Using pest control to eliminate any pests
  • Repairing or replacing weatherstripping
  • Fixing light switches or loose outlet covers
  • Ensuring locks work properly

3. Conduct Exterior Maintenance

Likewise, it helps to conduct some exterior maintenance on your home. This will also add some serious curb appeal. Some ideas include:

  • Trimming overgrown brush
  • Clearing out clogged gutters and downspouts
  • Positioning downspouts away from the home
  • Repairing loose bricks, stones, or cement.
  • Painting and sealing wooden decks or porches.
  • Power spraying your siding.
  • Eliminating any birds or wasps nests.

4. Get Your HVAC System Tuned Up

Unlike many appliances in your home, heating and cooling systems require routine maintenance over the years to ensure they are in working order. This includes cleaning filters, though it often pays to hire a local contractor to ensure your refrigerant and coils are working on all cooling systems.

Ductwork inspections should also be done routinely to inspect for cracks and leaks that rob you of energy efficiency.

5. Inspect for Water Damage

Water damage is a massive concern for homeowners, and it can lead to issues like mold, pests, and damage to interior framing components. Inspect for water damage before an inspection to see if any repairs need to be made or if an additional mold inspection should be completed.

  • Look for wet spots around pipes.
  • Inspect pipes in your basement drop ceiling for corrosion and loose fittings.
  • Search for cracks in drywall.
  • Inspect for mold in areas where visible.
  • Monitor humidity and moisture content in rooms with poor ventilation.

6. Clean and Eliminate Any Clutter

Tidying up your home and getting rid of clutter will allow the inspector to thoroughly search every inch of your home without missing any issues. Even just keeping your home neat could result in a more positive inspection report.

7. Ensure Utilities Are in Working Order

Inspect all utility hookups, including electrical, gas, water, and septic, to ensure they are in working order. For homes with septic systems, it often pays to complete a septic inspection to ensure all parts and filters are in working order.

8. Give Inspectors Enough Time and Space for Inspections

Some people recommend being present during inspections, but for sellers, it makes sense to give an inspector enough freedom to conduct the inspection at their own pace. This may require you to leave for an hour or two and possibly take your pet or restrict them to one room of the house.

9. Disclose All Known Issues

State law requires you to disclose all known issues to buyers, but it’s good practice to do the same for your inspector. This will give them a good starting point to look at and allow them to determine the extent of the damage.

Next Steps for Sellers

If the inspection report comes back positive, you can list your home and price it confidently.

However, if the report uncovers some major issues that do require repair or a close eye, there are a few options you can pursue:

  • Hire a Contractor for Repairs: This is often the most straightforward solution, especially for major repairs that require technical knowledge. The important thing here is finding a contractor you trust that can make the repairs quickly.
  • Make the Repair Yourself: This is not recommended for major repairs, but many homeowners don’t want to pay the additional cost of a contractor. Just be sure to disclose that you made the repairs yourself when providing the inspection report, as some buyers may want a follow-up inspection.
  • Sell Home As-Is: This isn’t a bad option if you want to sell your home quickly, but it may require repricing the home.

Overall, a pre-listing inspection will help you avoid unforeseen obstacles that could slow or stall the sale of your home and allow you to make the necessary adjustments before listing.

FAQs

Should I provide documentation of past repairs or maintenance?

Yes, providing documentation of repairs, maintenance, and upgrades can demonstrate that the home has been well cared for and can alleviate buyer concerns.

Do I need to disclose known issues?

Yes, sellers are typically required to disclose known issues with the property. Honesty is crucial to avoiding legal issues and maintaining trust with potential buyers.


residential home inspection can offer homeowners insurance against the worst possible consequences

15 Reasons You Need a Home Inspection in NEPA

Even Northeast Pennsylvania’s housing market is not immune to price hikes and the glut of increased demand that rapidly outpaces supply.

According to Zillow, home values in the area rose by 6% between April 2023 and 2024.

Unfortunately, a National Association of Home Builders Housing Trends Report states that being outbid is the number one reason buyers lose out on homes.

One way that house hunters have tried to gain an advantage in the housing market has been to waive inspection requirements to make their offers more attractive to sellers. However, this has several potential consequences, including financial devastation and health hazards.

While viewed as an added expense, a residential home inspection can offer homeowners insurance against the worst possible consequences and give them confidence in their purchase. Even sellers can benefit from getting their homes inspected before listing by anticipating possible repairs and increasing their marketability.

This article will discuss fifteen benefits of performing a home inspection in NEPA and why you should never waive one.

10 Reasons Buyers Should Perform a Home Inspection Before Purchase

Unlike your deposit, a home inspection is one expense that cannot be refunded when you put an offer on the house.

However, if something in the inspection prevents you from buying that house, then the benefits of the inspection far outweigh the costs.

Here are some concrete reasons why you absolutely should get a home inspected before purchase.

1. Eye Inspections Don’t Pain the Full Picture

Most house hunters are more allured by a home’s cosmetic details than its structural details. Unfortunately, a home walkthrough does not give you the full picture of its safety and condition.

Unless you have extensive knowledge of construction, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC work, you are basically leaving these features up to chance that they are in good condition without a proper inspection.

2. Avoid Safety Hazards

The most important reason to perform a home inspection is to protect the health and safety of your family. A qualified residential home inspector will be able to provide a detailed report of a home from the ground up, including essential components like its:

  • Foundation
  • Roofing
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Siding/Facade
  • Framing

A home inspector will literally inspect every inch of your home, from the porch you first enter through to every door, inch of crawl space, attic component, and everything in between.

3. Protect You from a Potentially Bad Investment

From a financial perspective, a home inspection identifies any issues requiring immediate or future repair.

Many first-time buyers in Pennsylvania don’t anticipate the amount of cash required to cover closing costs, typically 2-5% of the home’s total value. Add in possible roofing, foundation, or HVAC repair, and your dream home can quickly become a financial nightmare.

4. Give You Peace of Mind

Conversely, a good home inspection can give you added peace of mind that you are not trapping yourself into a poor financial decision. If you’ve ever purchased a home, you know the anxiety of waiting to hear back from an inspector and appraiser.

Having confidence in your purchase is simply priceless.

5. Offer Leverage for Negotiations

If a home you are looking to purchase does come back with defects and issues that require immediate repair, this can give you leverage as a seller to lower the asking price and possibly save you short-term money.

In many cases, sellers may be willing to accept this, especially if it means having them avoid covering the cost of repair and waiting to re-list their home (while still paying on the mortgage).

6. Help You Budget for Future Repairs

A detailed home inspection will help you identify issues that require long-term repair. Knowing this will help you avoid surprise purchases down the road, such as installing a new furnace or appliance, which can be equally devastating financially.

7. Option to Bundle Repairs Into the Selling Price

In this scenario, a seller may add the cost of repairs to a home to its asking price, essentially allowing you to pay for those repairs throughout your loan instead of with cash on hand. This strategy is similar to bundling closing costs into your loan and may suit some buyers, depending on their financial needs.

8. Many Homes in NEPA Are Very Old

Depending on the type of home you’re trying to purchase in the area, it could face unique issues related to its age. Outdated electrical work, such as knob-and-tube wiring, is very commonly found in many older homes in the area, especially around Scranton, Bloomsburg, and the Wilkes-Barre areas

Even smaller issues, such as poor insulation, outdated windows, or lack of ventilation in a bathroom, are very commonly found in older homes and should be updated.

9. Even New Construction Runs Into Issues

Likewise, newer homes are not immune to shoddy workmanship. In fact, newer homes are often more likely to suffer from foundation issues, poor flooring installation, and grading/drainage issues.

10. Avoid Health Concerns Like Radon and Mold

Finally, we recommend homeowners protect themselves from dangerous pathogens like radon and mold by performing a special indoor air quality and radon test. While not required, this can protect your family’s health or those of those residing in that home.

5 Reasons Sellers Should Get an Inspection Before Listing

If most buyers are willing to perform an inspection on their own dime, then why should sellers do so? However, there are multiple benefits to a pre-listing inspection, especially in a buyer’s market.

1. Gain Accurate Pricing

Appraisals rely more on cosmetic details and comparative homes in the area for pricing, not necessarily their condition. A home inspection will allow you to gain more accurate pricing. Who knows? A positive home inspection may even allow you to raise the price.

2. Expedite the Listing and Sales Process

One of the best reasons to proactively hire a home inspector is to list your home faster and speed up the closing process. Depending on the buyer, they may accept the results of your home inspection report, especially if a trusted inspector in the area did it.

3. Control the Repairs

Completing a pre-listing inspection gives you control of the repairs, including who’s making them and what you’re paying for them. This allows you to save money and know the job was done right.

4. Avoid Legal Complications

Selling a home that is not up to local building codes can delay and even stop your home sale in its tracks. Depending on the city, you may be required to make immediate repairs or provide certain disclosures to get your home listed.

5. Attract the Right Buyers

Finally, conducting a proactive inspection increases the marketability of your home by outlining its new repairs or features. This will help connect you with the right buyers, especially if you want top dollar for your home.

Do Not Waive a Home Inspection

Waiving a home inspection could end up leaving you saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in repair and an unsafe home.

While there may be a small upfront investment to perform a home inspection, the return on investment in terms of avoided costs and peace of mind far outnumber the few hundred dollars you have to pay a home inspector.

We also recommend additional inspections, such as septic inspections if you are buying a home with a septic tank and a pest inspection if there is evidence of termite damage.

For the most comprehensive and reliable home inspection results in NEPA, turn to the experts at Mountain to Valley Home Inspections. Contact us for a free quote today and to see how we can assist you!

FAQs

What does a home inspection include?

A standard home inspection covers, but is not limited to:

  • Structural components (foundation, walls, roof)
  • Exterior components (siding, windows, doors)
  • Roofing
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical systems
  • Heating and cooling systems (HVAC)
  • Interior components (walls, ceilings, floors)
  • Insulation and ventilation
  • Fireplaces and chimneys

How long does a home inspection take?

The duration of a home inspection varies based on the size and condition of the home, but it typically takes 2-4 hours. Most homeowners can expect to see results in 2-4 business days.

What happens if the inspector finds problems?

If the inspector finds issues, you can use the inspection report to negotiate with the seller for repairs, a price reduction, or credit toward closing costs. In some cases, you may decide to withdraw your offer based on the severity of the issues.


Cracks in Foundation: When to worry

So, you found the house of your dreams and are ready to put in an offer, but noticed some cracks in the foundation. While some cracks are entirely normal, there are a few types of cracks to be noted depending on the foundation type.

Understanding the type of foundation crack you're dealing with can help you determine the condition of your foundation and whether or not you'll need to repair or patch it soon.

Cracks in Foundation Wall vs. Horizontal Slabs

Before we dive into each type of foundation crack, it's important to distinguish between two types of foundations in NEPA. Most homes in freezing climates, like Pennsylvania, are built with foundation walls and typically have a crawl space of attic. Slab foundations are rare to the area since rapid freeze-thaw cycles would greatly reduce their longevity.

The problem with foundation wall cracks is that they are typically more concerning. Unlike slab cracks, foundation wall cracks usually indicate a much more serious structural issue--at least in some circumstances.

We'll discuss what foundation wall cracks you should be worried about in NEPA so that you are prepared as a homeowner, buyer, or seller.

Types of Foundation Cracks and Should I Worry

There are many types of foundation wall cracks that can be easily observed by the layman.

1.) Vertical Cracks: No Concern

These cracks are commonly a result of the foundation and home settling. These cracks are mostly natural and may not give cause for concern especially in an aging house. If the crack gets larger from the point of origin or is wider than a pinky finger, this may be cause for concern and warranty further inspection.

2.) Horizontal Cracks: Be Concerned

These cracks are not as innocuous and are usually caused by soil and hydrostatic water pressure. Horizontal cracks can be costly to fix as they typically indicate deeper problems with the foundation.

3.) Stair StepCracks: Be Concerned

These cracks are easily visible along mortar joints surrounding your basement and the side of your home. While some stairstep cracks and separation can be due to natural settling, they usually indicate a buildup of moisture and warrant concern. By the rule of thumb, if you can fit anything thicker than a quarter through the crack, reach out to a professional for prompt repair.

4.) Diagonal Cracks: No Concern

Sometimes referred to as hairline cracks, diagonal cracks typically form as the foundation naturally settles and cures in new homes. The good news is that these cracks are typically cosmetic and don't warrant repair--though they can be patched.

Common Causes of Foundation Cracks

No foundation is free of cracks, and there are as many natural reasons for cracks due to aging as there are cracks that result from poor practice. The most common causes of cracks in both new and aging foundations are:

Settlement: When the soil underneath a foundation compresses or shifts, it can cause the foundation to settle unevenly, leading to cracks as the structure adjusts to the new position.

Poor Construction: Inadequate reinforcement, improper concrete mixing, or insufficient curing time during construction can result in weak spots in the foundation, which may eventually crack under stress.

Hydrostatic Pressure: Excessive moisture in the soil surrounding the foundation can exert pressure on the walls, causing them to crack as the foundation attempts to resist the force. This is an important reason to winterize your gutters so that water drains properly away from the home!

Tree Roots: Large tree roots growing near the foundation can exert pressure on the walls as they expand, potentially leading to cracks over time as the roots seek water and nutrients.

Signs You Should Be Worried About Cracks in Your Foundation

As we stated, foundation cracks are a natural result of an aging foundation and can even indicate that the foundation has settled properly. However, there are a few worrying signs throughout your home that indicate a foundation is in worse shape than you may have anticipated.

  • Moisture is seeping through cracks. If you are noticing excess moisture buildup in your basement, foundation, or crawl space, this could be a cause for concern. If you are witnessing moisture penetrate cracks in your foundation, this is an even greater cause for concern as it will only compound the issue even greater over time.
  • Cracks continue to grow in width. If you notice cracks in your foundation growing wider with time, this will indicate a serious foundation issue.
  • You're noticing cracks in your ceilings and walls. One of the first signs homeowners notice that there is a problem with their foundation is cracks that form on their interior walls and ceilings. While some cracks are normal, cracks that are wide or form from your ceiling to your floors will indicate a structural issue.
  • Your chimney is separating from your home: If your pre-listing inspection report finds that your chimney is forming gaps between your home, then you can bet there is a foundation issue.
  • Floors are slanting. Slanting or uneven floors not due to a cracked joist or subfloor will certainly indicate a foundation issue.

How Often Should I Inspect My Foundation?

Homeowners should perform a visual inspection of their foundation every year to monitor growing cracks. We recommend going further and performing one every season, especially during the winter and summer.

If you are purchasing a home or selling one, then a foundation inspection will be a must to ensure that your investment is protected.

When it comes to purchasing a home, we here at Mountain to Valley Home Inspections understand that it is an important decision. This is why we are always here to help put your mind at ease! It is important to have an inspection done at any stage in this process to give you the information needed to ensure your family is safe, and that they're no dangerous issues hiding within the home. As always if you have any questions give us a call, we are happy to help!


Eww Mold! What to Do When You Find Mold

Finding mold in your home can be an uncomfortable discovery for any homeowner. If you've recently been dealing with difficulty breathing, allergy-like symptoms, or consistent headaches, it could be a sign of mold.

Unfortunately, many older homes with poor ventilation in Northeast PA are harbingers of mold. The only way to eliminate mold is to identify the extent of the problem and the areas where it lies in your home with a proper indoor air quality inspection. Ideally, a home inspection report would catch many of the culprits of indoor mold in houses, including roof leaks, plumbing issues, and even high humidity, but often, an indoor air quality inspection is required to spot mold that often lies beneath the surface.

Here at Mountain to Valley Home Inspections, we are certified indoor air consultants. This means that we follow the standards for mold testing put in place by the certified body for residential and commercial indoor air quality consultants in North America to ensure that we are providing superior service.

Learn more about how mold inspections work and why they are the first step in eliminating mold if you spot it in your home.

Step 1: Identifying Mold

Depending on where you spot mold in your home, you may be able to identify some of what lies underneath with a simple visual examination. However, hiring a mold inspector to dig beneath the surface is always recommended to uncover the true extent of your mold exposure and where it lies in your home.

What will a Mold Inspector Look For?

A mold inspector will look for some common signs of mold exposure throughout your home, which will help them locate the source of mold.

  • Moisture intrusion
  • Water damage
  • Musty odors
  • Apparent mold growth
  • Results of a laboratory analysis of all mold samples taken at the home or building.

Digging Deep: Following IAC2 Standards of Practice

Mountain to Valley Home Inspections follows strict standards put forth by the International Association of Certified Indoor Air Consultants (IAC2) to provide customers with a more robust inspection. Some areas of your home we will search for signs of mold or causes of mold growth include:

1.) Roofs

  • Roof coverings
  • Roof drainage systems such as gutters and downspouts
  • Vents, flashings, skylights, chimneys, and any other roof penetrations.

2.) Exterior and Grounds

  • Cladding, flashing, and trim
  • Exterior doors, windows, decks, stoops, steps, stairs, porches, railings, etc.

3.) Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace

  • Moisture intrusion
  • Inspection of ventilation for each.

4.) Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation

  • Air handlers, circulating fans, and air filters
  • Central humidifier
  • Central air conditioning unit

5.) Plumbing

  • Visible main water line
  • Visible water supply lines
  • Visible drain, waste, and vent pipes
  • Hot water source
  • Toilets, faucets, showers, and tubs

6.) Attic

  • Insulation
  • Ventilation of Attic Spaces
  • Framing and Sheeting

7.) Interior

  • Walls, ceilings, floors, doors, and windows

  • Ventilation in kitchen, bathroom, and laundry

  • Whole-house ventilation fans

8.) Moisture, Humidity, and Temp.

  • Will measure the moisture of any room or area of the building that has moisture intrusion, water damage, moldy odors, apparent mold growth, or conditions conducive to mold growth.
  • If warranted, the inspector may measure the humidity as well as temperature in any room or area of the building.

Step 2: Eliminating Mold

Treating mold requires careful procedure, as incidental exposure can lead to skin irritation and respiratory illness. Some proper precautions homeowners must take before cleaning and wiping mold off of surfaces include:

  • Wearing a mask with a HEPA cartridge
  • Wearing gloves and safety glasses
  • Covering door and window openings with a plastic sheet to prevent spores from spreading

Once properly equipped, you'll want to apply a general household cleaner solution or one cup of bleach to every gallon of water to wipe away mold from dirty surfaces. Bleach is recommended for black mold.

Then, using a shop vac or a vacuum with a HEPA filter, you'll want to vacuum up any leftover residue or water.

Finally, use a dehumidifer to dry out the area.

Step 3: Protecting Against Mold

Based on the findings of your indoor air quality inspection, you will need to solve any issues contributing to mold growth.

In many cases, fixing leaks, installing vents, or installing a dehumidifier in areas with high moisture content, especially during the summer, will resolve any issues.

However, for deeper issues, such as roof leaks or aging insulation, more serious repairs may be necessary to guard against mold.

Fight Back Against Mold

The only way to eliminate mold is to identify its source and remove all traces of it from your house.

At Mountain to Valley Home Inspections, our indoor air quality tests follow the best standards of practice laid out by industry experts and veterans. Whether you're buying, selling, or living in a home with mold right now, don't hesitate to reach out to us for a mold consultation.


Summer Maintenance Tips For Northeastern PA Homes

As the weather finally warms up and school lets out, we know summer is on its way. 

While most families have a spring cleaning routine, many do not have an established summer maintenance care routine. However, the warm weather is the perfect time to start thinking about home repair projects and getting that home inspection you've been putting off.

If you plan to sell your home in the next year, then a pre-listing inspection and some routine maintenance will pay dividends.

Regardless if you plan to buy or sell a home, here are nine summer maintenance tips that will benefit your home.

  1. Inspect your deck and/or Patio

Wood decks typically require painting or staining every few years to prolong their life. Likewise, if your patio is concrete, it is important to look for any areas that may need to be sealed. If your patio happens to be brick, look for missing pieces or damaged ones so that they may be replaced.

Summer is the perfect time to tidy up that deck and fix any exterior defects that raise alarm bells on that inspection report.

  1. Check your fence

Your fence may not be an area you check often, but it requires some upkeep. If your fence is chain-linked, it is important to look for any broken parts, especially if you have pets. This can also help keep your furry friends out of harm's way.

If your fence is made of wood, it is important to stain or paint it as often as you would a wood deck.

Vinyl fencing may require periodic tightening of the panels, especially if the ground around the posts has shifted. 

  1. Inspect the grading around your home

When doing this you want to ensure that the pitch of the ground around your home's foundation is sloping away from your home. This allows for water to be directed away from your home to lessen water damage. If you happen to notice any low areas, these can be fixed by adding top soil.

Ignoring your grading can lead to structural issues, including foundation cracks that invite moisture in.

  1. Check your gutters

If your gutters are clogged or damaged, this may lead to water issues inside your home.

First, you want to ensure that your gutters are not damaged and that they are all connected. Also, it is important to check your downspouts and make sure that they are taking water away from your home as far away as possible. To help with this, you can purchase inexpensive extensions.

Install leaf guards to prevent your gutters from clogging and winterize them to simplify cleanup, especially during the fall. 

  1. Perform some landscaping

Mowing the lawn is probably already part of your summer chores, but taking care of all of your landscaping needs is essential. Trim back hedges, eliminate standing water, and get rid of any rotting wood or garbage in your yard that can serve as a shelter for pests. 

  1. Inspect and clean siding

Power washing your siding is a great way to eliminate dirt and debris that can lead to mold and cosmetic defects. It will also help prevent ants and other pests from entering your walls.

As a final task, inspect your siding for any damage. Rust, splitting wood, or loose vinyl can be signs of a deeper problem that may require immediate repair. 

  1. Inspect indoor hoses and pipes

Water is the enemy of any homeowner. Be sure to inspect all pipes and hoses, including washer hookups, for any leaks that could lead to mold and foundation damage. 

  1. Eliminate pests wherever possible

Pest protection is a major concern for NEPA homeowners in the summer, especially as wood-destroying organisms like termites can wreak havoc on their homes. Keeping a clean home, landscaping, and cleaning up trash and debris will help limit the amount of 

  1. Monitor humidity

Likewise, you’ll need to monitor humidity in the summer, especially in attics and basements where warm air struggles to circulate. Look for ways to increase ventilation with fans and dehumidifiers. Unchecked humidity will lead to mold and damage to different areas of your home. 

We hope you found these four tips helpful as you prepare your home for summer. If you need help drafting a summer maintenance list, be sure to get an inspection performed to identify any serious issues that require immediate repair. 


Winterizing Your Gutters

As the winter months approach, it is important to remember to clean your gutters properly. When your gutters are full of leaves and other debris, they can cause water buildup, which can go under your roof and end up leaving cracks in your foundation.

In fact, poor water drainage is often one of the most common issues we find on home inspection reports in NEPA.

Avoid the ill effects of water damage from clogged or cracked gutters by winterizing them with this 5-step guide.

The Importance of Winterizing Your Gutters

Winterizing your gutters is important for the safety of your gutters as well as your home.

  • Maintaining Structural Integrity: Ensuring your gutters are securely fastened and free of clogs helps maintain their structural integrity under the weight of snow and ice. This prevents potential damage to the gutter system itself and to your roofline.
  • Preventing Water Damage: Clearing out gutters before winter prevents water from backing up and seeping into your home's foundation or basement, which can cause costly water damage and mold growth.
  • Preserving Landscape: Properly winterized gutters direct melting snow away from your home's foundation and landscaping, protecting them from excessive moisture that can lead to erosion and plant damage.
  • Extending Gutter Lifespan: Regular maintenance and winterization can extend the lifespan of your gutters by preventing rust, corrosion, and structural damage caused by freezing and thawing cycles.
  • Avoiding Safety Hazards: Clean gutters prevent dangerous icicles and ice buildup around your home, reducing the risk of injury to yourself and others from falling ice or slippery pathways.

Do Gutters Cause Ice Dams?

One reason people winterize their gutters is to avoid costly ice dams. However, ice dams are not formed or influenced by gutters and are often the result of poor insulation in the roofing area that leads to moisture buildup.

Considerations for Different Types of Gutters

While most gutters are made of seamless aluminum, it's not unheard of to find steel, vinyl, or even zinc gutters lying around NEPA.

Depending on the type of material your gutter is made of, it may be vulnerable to the harsh effects of winter. Lighter materials like vinyl may crack under the added weight and pressure of ice and snow buildup.

Steel gutters are often vulnerable to rust, as are copper and zinc gutters.

Aluminum gutters provide a good middle ground, though they are doubly susceptible to dents and rust, so winterizing them is crucial for their longevity.

5 Ways to Winterize Your Gutter

Looking to maintain the health of your home and your gutters? Here are five tips to winterize your gutters and ensure they work properly.

1. Clean Your Gutter

First, you need to clean out all debris from your gutters that may be impacting its ability to divert water from your house. Even just a few leaves, acorns, or sticks can cause water to buildup, which then freezes and expands to break your gutters.

Cleaning your gutters can be done on your own or with the help of a professional.

The best tool to use when cleaning your gutter is an old plastic spatula. This will not scratch your gutter, and you can even cut it to fit! The plastic also allows for easy clean-up afterward. A plumber's snake is also a great tool for cleaning out downspouts. You should try to clean your gutters at least once a year, and more if you have a lot of overhanging trees or after a bad storm.

2. Perform an Inspection

A gutter inspection can tell you whether or not it is properly diverting water. You can do this yourself by checking to see that rain is properly exiting each of your gutters or you can have a home inspector perform an inspection for assurance.

3. Add Extra Protection

Leaf guards will prevent large debris from ever entering your gutters, giving you the luxury of avoiding cleanup duty. For many homeowners, it comes down to a question of whether or not they want to invest the money to have them installed upfront or to get their gutters cleaned during the later part of the year.

4. Ensure Gutters Are Aligned

Another important to do is to ensure that your gutters are properly flush with your building and are not sagging or falling off. Misaligned gutters can allow water to penetrate between gaps and buildup around your foundation.

5. Improve Your Attic's Insulation

If you want to avoid ice dams that crack and bend your gutters, then you need to improve your attic or roof's insulation. Talk to an insulation specialist about the best way to insulate your attic and avoid costly ice dams. New insulation will confer several benefits, from preventing your pipes from freezing to lowering your energy bills.

Don't Overlook Your Gutters

Of all the big to-dos a homeowner has to deal with, gutters may not be your biggest priority. But making the effort to clean and inspect your gutters periodically--especially during the fall--can save you thousands in costly repairs and extend the life of your gutters.

For more advice on how to winterize your gutters, reach out to a gutter specialist or a full-service home inspector like Mountain to Valley Home Inspections.


Maintaining your Sump Pump during the Winter

Winter maintenance is important in ensuring that your electrical appliances don’t fail due to extreme weather. Given the unpredictability of the winters in NEPA, we recommend winterizing most appliances in your home that will not be used, from your hot water heater to your sump pump. 

Unfortunately, damaged sump pumps are one of the most common home inspection errors we see in a lot of homes in NEPA. This guide will help you prolong the longevity of your sump pump through some simple winter maintenance.

Remove the Discharge Hose

First, you can begin by removing your sump pump discharge hose for the winter. By removing the hose connecting your sump pump to the discharge pipe and leaving it disconnected until warmer weather returns, you will prevent it from freezing. 

Since this hose is exposed to the elements more than any other part of your system, it’s essential to start here. It’s also important to remember to re-attach the hose when it becomes warmer out as things will begin to thaw.

You can also choose to have an extra discharge hose. With the extra hose, you can remove one hose if it freezes and replace it with the spare while the first thaws out. 

Keep Your Sump Pump Running

A common misconception among homeowners is that you should unplug your sump pump for the winter to protect it.

You should never unplug your sump pump because if the weather warms up and snow or a rain storm hits your area, your basement could flood

Clean Out the Sump Pit

Clear out debris from your sump pump's pit that may have accumulated through the summer and fall. You should make sure that there is no dirt, ice, gunk, or any other debris that might inhibit the system. This will help to prevent clogs in the intake or discharge pipes and prevent mold from accumulating that can spread around the home. 

Test Your Pump to Ensure Its Functional

You should also test your pump regularly. During the winter months, run some water through it to ensure that it is functioning properly. Run a test every few weeks to keep your sump pump running in tip-top shape. 

Inspect Your Discharge Pipe

Another important tip is to make sure that your discharge pipe gets rid of water away from your home. Your pump's discharge pipe takes water from your sump pump and disposes of it away from your home. If your discharge pipe is too close, the water could keep seeping back into your sump pump and cause it to run continuously. It is recommended that water be discharged at least ten feet away from your home's foundation to prevent damage and cracks from forming.

You can even wrap your pipe with a thermal blanket like any other pipe in your home to prevent it from freezing. 

Keep Your Basement Warm 

Lastly, we recommend that you keep your heat on in your basement. By keeping your basement warm, you can prevent any of your home's pipes from freezing. Consider upgrading your insulation to save money and keep your basement warm during the freezing months. 

We hope that these tips will help you prevent damage to your sump pump and ensure that it is properly maintained!


How to Prevent your Pipes from Freezing

Of the many consequences that cold weather can bring in NEPA, frozen pipes are one of the most destructive. Repairing burst pipes could end up costing you hundreds of dollars and lead to issues like mold and foundation cracks. For people with burst pipes, we also recommend a follow-up home inspection to ensure further damage has not occurred. 

Unfortunately, frozen pipes can occur in homes with both plastic and copper pipes, so it is important to know what to do to prevent them. By taking the following precautions, you can reduce the risk of frozen water pipes and the resulting damage a bursting pipe can cause.

  1. Insulate Your Pipes

You can first begin insulating exposed pipes, as these are the most susceptible to freezing. Heat tape and cables can be used to wrap around pipes and retain heat. When using these tapes and cables, it is important that you use products approved by an independent testing organization and only for how you intend to use them, for either exterior or interior pipes. You should also follow all directions provided on the packaging. 

  1. Seal All Leaks

Sealing air leaks in your basement and attic can also be beneficial as it will prevent cold air from entering these areas and freezing your pipes. You should start by looking for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes, and then use caulk or expanding foam insulation to keep the cold out. 

  1. Open Cabinets to Allow Heat In

Opening cabinet doors can allow heat to reach uninsulated pipes that are under your sinks. Do this in any area of the home where pipes are present, such as bathrooms and kitchens. If you have pipes that run along the wall through bedrooms, open up panels and allow heat from the home to keep these pipes warm. 

  1. Allow Water to Trickle

Allowing a trickle of hot or cold water to drip overnight can also prevent the freezing of your pipes. Any water, regardless of the temperature, will help melt ice that forms inside the pipe, preventing it from freezing.  

  1. Disconnect Outdoor Hoses

Securing outdoor houses, valves, and faucets is also an important winter maintenance tip to remember. You should disconnect your garden hose and, if possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain the water from the pipes leading to your outside faucets. This reduces the chances of your pipes freezing in the short amount of pipe inside of your home.

  1. Turn Up Your Thermostat

Adjusting your thermostat can also be yet another way to protect your pipes. By keeping your thermostat set at the same temperature during the day and night, you prevent freezing, and during extreme cold, this helps to reduce the strain that your furnace may also be facing.

  1. Insulate Attics and Basements

If you want long-term relief against frozen pipes, you’ll need to upgrade the insulation in areas of your home where pipes are exposed, such as attics or basements. Work with an insulation contractor to install your insulation so that all areas are properly ventilated. 

What to Do If Your Pipes Do Freeze

Now that you know what should be done to prevent freezing pipes, what happens if yours freeze?

If you turn on your faucet and nothing comes out leave it turned on and call a plumber! You should also avoid the use of appliances near water, as areas with standing water could cause electrocution. 

You should shut off your water supply if your pipes have already burst by cutting them off from the main supply. With the faucet still on, take a hair dryer (if you’re not near standing water) and heat the pipe to allow the ice to thaw. 

Winterizing your pipes will help shield them from the threat of frost. Now that you know what things can be done to prevent your pipes from freezing and the tools necessary if something does go astray to help you, you can rest easy this winter!


Maintaining Your HVAC Filter

One of the most common HVAC issues we find on home inspections is poor maintenance as a result of a dirty or clogged filter. While a dirty filter won’t spell the end of your HVAC unit just yet, it will slowly rob it of its energy efficiency and eventually degrade its interior components. 

Fortunately, maintaining an HVAC filter is very easy and straightforward and only requires routine cleaning about once or twice a month. This guide will discuss the importance of maintaining your HVAC filter and how to clean it thoroughly. 

The Importance of HVAC Filter Maintenance

Maintaining your HVAC filter is incredibly important for several reasons. For one, it helps maintain indoor air quality. A clean filter also helps keep your family safe by reducing allergens and dust that circulate through the air. 

Cleaning your filter also allows you to save on energy costs. When filters are clogged with dirt, they have to work harder to maintain the same temperature, which will increase your energy bill each month. 

Lastly, regularly maintaining your filter allows you to maximize the system's life. A clogged filter, as we now know, causes the system to work overtime, which may cause it to overheat, resulting in leaks and electrical issues.

Now that we can see why maintaining your HVAC filter is important, the question is, how do we do this? 

Types of HVAC Filters

Before we discuss how to clean your filters, it is important to know that there are two types of HVAC filters:

1.) Disposable: These filters should be thrown away once they become clogged or dirty. They consist of a cardboard frame that is not designed to withstand spraying from a hose or continuous use. Disposable filters should be replaced at least every three months

2.) Permanent: Instead of cheap cardboard frames, most standard HVAC filters have fiberglass frames. They may cost more upfront, but in the long run, can save you money as these can be cleaned and then reused.

How to Clean Reusable HVAC Filters

To clean your permanent filter, first turn off the heating or air conditioner and then locate your HVAC unit's service panel. Once you have found this, open it to remove the filter. Clean the filter with running water, either from your sink or a garden hose. It is important to wait until your filter is completely dry before reinserting it back into your system.

Quick Tips for Maintaining Your HVAC Filter

  • Follow manufacturer instructions for cleaning and maintaining your HVAC filter. 
  • Use a special cleaner designed for your filter to prolong its life.
  • Set a reminder on your phone for every month to clean your HVAC filter when the system is in use. Make it part of your spring cleaning and summer maintenance routine.
  • Inspect filters for damage after each cleaning and replace filters when they become torn or have holes present.

By following these easy steps, you will be able to not only protect the health of your family, but also save on energy costs and lengthen the life of your HVAC system!


Winterizing Your Water Heater

Like so many appliances, your hot water heater only gets thought of when it breaks and when it gets brought up on a home inspection report. While your water heater is designed to withstand frost by nature, if you are leaving your home or not using your hot water heater for an extended period of time, the pipes surrounding it might freeze. 

One way to prevent this from happening is to winterize your hot water heater in the same way you would winterize your pipes on a very cold day. This simple 3-step guide will demonstrate how to winterize your hot water heater for an extended period of downtime. 

The Importance of Protecting Your Hot Water Heater

Like gutters and pipes, winterizing your hot water heater is essential to maintaining your home through extreme cold weather. If your hot water heater is not in use and freezes, all the water inside the pipes will expand, destroying the system.

Worse yet, it could lead to leaks and pipe bursts that result in mold and foundation cracks

Precautionary Steps

Before you begin winterizing your hot water heater, you must make sure to turn off the water and gas supply or unplug the heater if yours happens to be electric. Once this is done, you need to make sure the pilot light is turned off along with the knob on the heater control box. This will prevent accidental electrocution or injury during this process. 

Step 1: Drain the Tank

The next step is to drain the tank. To do this, you must first locate the drain near the bottom of your water heater and attach your garden hose to it. Then, you will be able to drain the water into a bucket until it is empty. While doing this make sure your air vent is open at the top of the water heater.

Step 2: Let Water Drain Through Your Faucets

Now that your tank is empty, you should turn on all the faucets in your home and leave them open. When you do, some water may come out, but it should stop in just a few minutes. Be sure to keep lower-level faucets open in your basement as well to allow all the hot water to drain out entirely. 

Step 3: Insulate Your Tanka and Pipes

We highly recommend purchasing a water heater blanket to protect the equipment while it is not being used, keeping it warm and preventing ice from forming. Not only should the water heater be protected from the cold, but the pipes leading up to it as well. To protect your pipes, you should purchase some insulation and wrap it around them using duct tape to secure it in place.

By following these simple and easy steps you can enjoy your time away from the cold and relax knowing your water heater has been taken care of and will work properly upon your return!