I’m writing this article because Whirlpool thoroughly ticked me off with my oven/microwave combo! Since owning this oven I used the self clean for the first and last time and will never purchase one of these again.
Now for those of you reading this to find the fix for this ridiculous issue keep reading it’s at the bottom of the article. Let’s first discuss the problem so we are all on the same page. After running Whirlpools Gold Accubake Micro/Oven Combo in self cleaning mode for the first time I was excited to see how well it cleaned (a hole in the tinfoil caused a meal to leak fat all over the bottom of the oven). So I scrubbed and scraped until only the residue was left and thus entered the nightmare of self cleaning mode.
During that mode the door locks and you cannot use your oven for several hours. After completion the lock releases and you should be able to wipe out the oven and be done. This was not the case for myself, and based on the online research many, many others!
The door lock wouldn't release, and after several hours of reading posts and struggling through Whirlpools (waste of time) troubleshooting guide, the only thing I managed to learn was that I had multiple faults from E0-F1 through E7-F5. What this told me was that Whirlpool had figured out ‘Every’ way to ‘F*&%’ me 5 times.
I then read that on some models the code that I was pulling meant the wiring harness was loose in the back and the cover needed to be removed. I doubted this was the case since it happened during the self cleaning, but at this point in time what the hell! Next I learned that you cannot remove the panel without opening the oven door to remove two screws, which I obviously couldn't do since it was the door lock that was not working… am I in the Twilight Zone?
So to no avail I was on my last result, of calling Whirlpool; if you've ever dealt with customer service you understand my hesitation here. I wasn't in the mood to spend an hour on hold being redirected to different departments to finally get tech support that would then ask me to turn off the oven and turn in back on (FYI this is what Dish Network does, can’t wait to be out of my contract there… but I digress). Afterwords I would get scheduled for a technician to come out and billed $300, only to tell me I need a new oven… but they will apply the $300 for a 2.5% discount at purchase.
Now on to the fix!
As a home inspector in Birmingham I’m reasonably familiar with appliances and thought maybe I had enough knowledge to fix the guts of the oven. (as a disclaimer I should tell you under no circumstances should you attempt this. You could void the warranty, damage the oven, or subject yourself to injury or death from electrocution).
As I looked in between the oven and microwave I realized the vent lead to some of the internals. Inside there is a small piston that activates the door lock. Since the oven doesn't use the lock for anything except cleaning, this was a relatively useless feature. With a metal coat hanger (piece of plastic would be better with the electronics, but be sure you disable the power before you attempt anything,) I was able to easily depress the piston and release the lock.
Since the lock is not used the code immediately reset, with the power being off, and did not come back on. As you have it I have a working oven again for the low price of one coat hanger. I haven't tried the self cleaning feature since and don't intend to use it again, but the oven works fine now and saved me a service fee or a new oven. Moral of the story here is don't buy Whirlpool Gold appliances, normally I would chalk this up to a lemon until I found that so many people had the same issue and Whirlpool did nothing to help. Disappointing too because Whirlpool was a brand I was always fond of prior to this experience.
Alright so you've just purchased your first home… the excitement is overwhelming and you are still in shock at the simplicities that come with it. You no longer have to ask a landlords permission to paint or make cosmetic changes, the money spent on them is now going back in your pocket, and every time you walk in to the house the realization hits you that you own it.
There is almost no greater feeling in the world then purchasing your own home and more specifically your first home. However, with that purchase come some pitfalls and shortcomings that can be scary and intimidating.
Don't Remodel Yet!
When you bought the home it may have been outdated and ugly or maybe just not your style. You went through it with your spouse (or those of us that are single with your dog) and dreamed about all the changes you “needed” to make to it.
Realize first that those changes are “wants” and not “needs” overspending right now can you lead you right back on the path to being an apartment dweller by defaulting on your loan. Remember the Les Brown quote; “the quickest way to get back on your feet is skip two car payments!”
Believe me I get it the shag carpet is horrible, the velvet Elvis is permanently mounted to the wall, and the grey flowered wall paper absolutely has to go. Keep in mind you just made a huge downpayment, paid for a home inspection (if you were smart), and have all these maintenance items to care for first.
Bottom line her is take care of your maintenance items and savings account first, then you can begin your upgrades.
Leading us to the second point… Maintenance!
I cant tell you how many homes i’ve inspected that simply have drastic deferred maintenance with them. I’ll write a brief maintenance article over the next few weeks but in short don't forget that your HVAC filters need to be changed monthly, HVAC needs serviced annually, shingles need patched, siding needs cleaned and painted, windows need caulk, the list literally goes on.
These things begin to add up and can cost you a significant amount over the course of the year. In general I budget $100 a month for maintenance, this is excessive for most months but on the occasion where you need a new AC, furnace or hot water heater the money is already there for it. Don't be foolish save the money now and take care of these issues before they become bigger problems.
One thing that no one ever wants to admit they need is an annual maintenance inspection. Most home owners, especially the do-it-yourselfer believes they have the knowledge to identify issues. In part they can, which is why annual maintenance inspection can run significantly cheaper then a standard inspection. In realty, it takes a trained inspector to identify issues you aren't yet having or the ones you cant see… like water leaks behind a wall.
Pay for Quality
When it comes to home maintenance, repairs, and remodels nothing seems scarier or more outside the realm of possible then getting a quote from a qualified contractor. 1st contractors can be hit or miss and they are not created equal (much like home inspectors).
It’s difficult to find good contractors even more so to find good ones with decent prices. As it appears the ones that are good usually know it and charge a premium for their services. I recently had a client that purchased services from a contractor, in short the work was screwed up miserably and the client is facing a lengthy court battle; to win a case that she will likely never see a return on her money because the failure bankrupt the general contractor.
What’s the point here? Shop quality services for your home not price. The same holds true with inspections. People call me all the time price shopping and asking if I will match another inspectors price. I tell them simply ‘no’ because my inspections will be much more thorough and in depth. As an example, I did a home inspection last week that was an average size home with no special features besides a pool to add to the price. That inspection took me 5 hours plus an additional hour to complete the report; had I completed it to the minimum required standard I could have easily been finished in 2 to 2.5 hours. That is simply not the way I do business, I provide a high quality service and charge accordingly.
Track your information.
Keep track of everything in a binder or online (clients of Timberline Inspections receive a lifetime subscription to Home Binder). Save receipts! Save everything! When you come back in 5 years and need to match the paint to fix dings, it will save you the trouble of repainting, try to match a broken tile without it and you'll feel my pain.
On that same note buy and save extra on everything it’s good to have leftover originals to do repairs in 5 or 10 years. Store them in your attic out of the way and leave it if you ever sell the house. Remember products get discontinued and suppliers go out of business, so don't wait until it’s too late to match it. Even if you knew that wouldn't happen it’s still imperative because different batches can produce different coloring and a new one 10 years late likely wont match.
Don't skimp on insurance
Being an inspector I deal a lot with property inspection for insurance claims, some companies are better then others and the only two I would ever use are Nationwide and USAA. Are they the cheapest? Certainly not but guess what! When there’s a claim they just pay it…
I’ve dealt with both companies and both seem to be great, as a Veteran I’m slightly biased to use USAA but having gone through the claims process with them on several occasions they just pay up. Neither of those companies try to sneak by with technicalities and get themselves out of paying you.
Pick a deductible you can afford, if you only have $1000 in your emergency fund then your deductible should be no more then half that. Imagine if you picked it at $5000 and then had a major fire or storm damage... How will you cover the added expense? and even so doing you will then be out of money completely. There’s time to save on the premiums later just get one you can afford now and pay for a disaster.
One question I get asked regularly is, do I need a home inspection with a new construction home? At first glance the answer would seem like a ‘no.’ You're likely thinking you had code inspectors come out and you have a reputable contractor. In reality your assumption could not be further from the truth.
A new construction home actually needs more then 1 home inspection! The first issue here being there’s a significant difference between a home inspection and a code inspection; the second issue is contractors are not inspectors and also have a biased opinion (reasonably so); third it will be beneficial in law suits and home warranty claims.
Code inspections monitor the building process for governing codes, home inspectors monitor buildings for building standards of practice. The difference meaning codes are the minimum requirements while standards of practice are based on best building practices.
Additionally home inspections monitor system functionality. If you imagine building a car the quality control inspector ensures that everything is put together properly and is similar to a code inspection; the home inspection is more in line with a test drive, we drive the car checking brakes, turn signals, transmission function etc. There is some overlap here because best practices aline with codes and home inspectors are reasonably familiar with codes and base inspection on those as well.
I have personally never inspected a home that passed the code inspections but passed the home inspection. The most recent home inspection I did on a new construction home cost the home buyer $385, for their money I found $7,000 worth of defects from a reputable contractor. The contractor now had to fix those issues and saved the client thousands on future repairs and issues when listing the house.
Contractors do inspect their work, but even good crews get anxious at 5 o'clock on Friday. Ordering inspections in process at key stages may cost you an extra few hundred dollars but ensures your home is built properly and issues cannot be hidden. We can also save the contractor money by conducting those inspections so they are not fixing them after it is built.
Small things that the code doesn't require, the inspector can recommend that the contractor fix providing you the ability to get the work done at no cost to you. Codes don't necessarily require counter flashing but the home inspector will require these to be put in. Now you no longer have to rebuild the wall when you go to sell the house because the contractor had to fix it. If he refuses and you have issues in the future you now have a report backing the claim recommending them.
If you order an inspection at 11 months after the house is built you then have a report backing all warranty claims (even things you don't have an issue with yet). For the price of an inspection you saved thousands because you are no longer the one responsible for fixing the issues.
The last issue is some clients ask the professionals they've hired to tell them whether they need an inspection. The professional doesn't get paid until you buy the house so of course they will tell you ‘no’ so they can push the deal through. A decent professional with their clients best interest truly in mind will advise you to get it done; whether that’s the lawyer, insurance agent, realtor, or builder they should recommend you have it performed.
The recommendation for a new construction home is to have several (usually 2) in process inspections, one full inspection on completion, and another full inspection with mold test at 1 year. This can obviously add up but the return in savings is well worth it, remember this is the largest asset you will ever own have the foresight to get it inspected correctly.
There’s a lot of instances where people don't understand the need for a home inspection. Most of the general public believes the only time they need a home inspection is during the purchase or sale of property. Nothing could be further from the truth! Inspections are needed during repairs, maintenance, storm damage, high energy bills, the list goes on. But one of the areas that is often left out is during a divorce.
Divorce is a hard thing and tensions can be high (I’ve been there myself so I sympathize), having an appropriate value of property and personal assets helps smooth over the process. If one spouse gets the house and the majority of the worldly possessions distaste and anger can ensue. One of the best ways to avoid this is to have an accurate representation of property value.
The home inspection for a divorce is in all reality an inspection similar to those conducted during a real estate transaction. A list will be generated for the repairs needed and recommendations made to complete all repairs. The steps in appraising your house are fairly straight forward but don't forget the overlap between appraisers and home inspectors.
Appraisers will devalue a home based on certain defects and a lot of that is subject to their expert opinion. As a home inspector nothing is more frustrating to me then when I perform an inspection and then the appraiser dings the sale with trivial defects that do no affect the function of the home.
First, you need to order the appraisal, once complete make sure you get a copy of the report with all his findings annotated, don't forget to get their contact information you will need this later. Present the report to the inspector so he can review the findings from the appraiser, then let the inspector get to work on the house.
Treat the inspectors report like a checklist for things to get done and start speaking with service contractors. Some inspectors can even manage the project for you for a small fee. Once all the repairs are complete call the inspector for a re-inspection and another report. This fee is usually relatively small and varies by the amount of time the inspector has to put in to the inspection. Typical charges range around $150 depending on the service, at Timberline Inspections we charge a flat rate of $125 and waive the fee if it’s a small re-inspection (anything less then an hour usually).
I’ve seen some inspectors that charge minimal fees to cover their expenses and some do it for free. Be wary of these inspections as they are usually not very thorough. Then speak to your appraiser to get him to redo the appraisal and provide you a new value.
Lets plug some numbers in! The appraised value of the home is initially $200,000, with repairs whether selling or keeping the home your value drops to $180,000. The appraiser charges you $300, the inspector charged $375 and $100 for the re-inspection, the appraiser charged $300 for the second appraisal, and the contractor charged $10,000 for all the repairs. During the second appraisal the value came back at $210,000. You invested $11,075 in the home and each walked away with $99,460 assuming a 50/50 split on value and splitting the price of inspections and repairs.
Had you taken the original value you each walked away with only $90,000! However, if you failed to get the home inspection one party walked away with $100,000 while the other party walked away with $80,000. In making things fair one person took a $15,000 loss while the other person only gained $5,000.
Obviously this is a hypothetical example and some houses will be better while some are worse. In the amount of houses I’ve inspected I have never seen a house that would not benefit from at least getting the inspection, including new construction homes.
Business owners tend to be some of the most intelligent minds in America but it never ceases to amaze me how few of them get inspections on their property. One thing I’ve learned managing my own inspection firm is that you should always ALWAYS contract out the work you are not an expert in. It wastes more time and money when you try to do it yourself and it is always a benefit to have a professional do it for you.
As a business owner you would never do your own taxes or legal work and generally we try to hire out our marketing, when we can see a direct benefit. I have enough mechanical knowledge to take my truck apart and put it back together again, but when it comes time to do repairs I pay a professional because my time is better used elsewhere. The care of your largest asset should be no different, and it is even more important to inspect it right using a licensed organization.
Two things we can discuss in todays post, 1st is whether you need an inspection (you do) and what will be included in that inspection, 2nd is whether you should be on a maintenance program.
If you're buying a commercial warehouse, a commercial kitchen, income properties or virtually any property that can (or should) be purchased under the veil of a corporation you need to have an inspection done. It removes liability from you in the event that an employee or visitor is injured due to a fault in the property. Imagine the lawsuit you open yourself up to (and even just the loss in wages and workmans comp claim if no suit entrails) in the event that someone is injured walking on a broken mezzanine. Why didn't you have it inspected Mr. Business owner? Said the judge.
Second, do you know how to check, water lines? what about pressure checking gas lines? or evaluating a 440 volt 3 phase electrical panel? Or measuring output of an HVAC system? A lot of DIYers (which a large percentage of business owners seem to be) have walked around with an inspector and thought they could do the same job when purchasing a residential home, the reason they have this misconception is because what they see and what actually is going on are separate things.
When the inspector turns on the bedroom light he's not just testing the light switch and the fixture, he's mapped out the circuitry in his head so he has a better idea what to look at in the panel, he's checking the ceiling for water stains and evidence of asbestos, lead and Chinese drywall, when he tests your outlet he's load testing the entire circuit, when he opens the windows he's checking for caulking and broken seals in the window. Much more is actually going in to each step then you are seeing and the same (with much more severe consequences) holds true with your commercial property.
When you look at your commercial property you might be spending $200,000 or $1,000,000 everyones budget is different but the percentage of effect is similar it is the single largest asset your company will likely ever purchase. Knowing the issues before hand can assist you in lowering your price for negotiation, have repairs done before establishing, and even make the sellers pay them. It can also tell you if this is a property you need to walk away from. Imagine a commercial HVAC system, they can literally cost $100,000 or more and repairs can be astronomical, doesn't it make sense to throw a couple hundred bucks towards a specialist to check it out?
We all know it’s stupid to perform your own legal work and this can be potentially more costly. I used to work for a roofing company that specializes in commercial roofing, do you have any idea how much a commercial roof costs?! Labor alone is out of this world because they have to compete with Davis Bacon wages on the government buildings. Imagine purchasing a building and immediately having to shell out $30,000 because you didn't want to fork over the money initially to have it inspected.
Ok so how much does it cost? That’s the question that the budget savvy business owner wants to know. How is this going to affect their bottom line? Well some companies charge by the square footage and that seems to be a pretty common method. At Timberline Inspections I do things slightly different and I actually tailor the plan to fit your budget. I’ll make my recommendations but in the end if you (the business owner) tells me you want to spend $500 or $10,000 on the inspection I’ll make a plan that fits. Keep in mind that when you cut price, things get cut out of the inspection; if you tell me to take $600 of the first bid that means you lose the specialist to inspect the HVAC unit. I would advise that this is a mistake, and you can take my word on it, as unbiased because I don't make anymore from the inspection whether you use my HVAC contracts or not.
Keep in mind for those of you reading this at a distance outside of Alabama, if you have a building in a different state it may be worth hiring an out of state inspection firm (Timberline Inspections) to perform the inspection because paying the travel fees is often cheaper then paying for the cost of living.
For example, the average price of a home inspection in Birmingham is around $400 depending on who you use, in New York you can pay between $1500 and $2000 for the same inspection. That means you could literally find the best inspector in Alabama pay the premium fee of $450 then $500 for the plane ticket and a $400 bonus for traveling and it would be cheaper then you could get the worst home inspector around for. Now it obviously is not that simple and there’s other fees to consider but you get the point, plus licensing and insurance come into play; it would be worth while for commercial properties buyers to look outside your local market.
Ok so you’ve agreed to get your inspection and we’ve come up with a plan to get your building inspected properly. Now we can look into an annual maintenance program. Maintenance programs make sense for all properties, whether you're a home owner, investor, developer, or property management firm getting your annual maintenance inspection will save you 10’s of thousands over the course of owning the property
The best clients I get with this service and the ones that receive the most benefit from the inspection, are the ones that come to me and say “Mackay I’ve got 10 properties, I want you to make me a list of whats wrong with them.” These clients truly want to know what’s wrong with their house, and they will get it fixed and more times then not they will ask me to manage the projects for them.
Here’s how I work this aspect, I recommend for the first year the properties have a residential home inspection complete with a mold test (usually including 3 samples). At this point they will sign an annual maintenance plan (basically this is just a lasting inspection agreement it does not lock you in to an agreement to force you to have them inspected annually so don't panic!). The annual maintenance plan will give me and them some options, we can setup when you want them to occur and I will schedule them at my convenience provided it works for you, in return you receive a discount. This allows me to fill up my slow season with work and you get to capitalize on my cutting you a discount for being an off season. We will perform a mold test every five years and after any water damage is reported in the home. All properties where the land lord pays the utilities on will receive an energy audit with the first inspection. So what kind of price are you looking at?
This varies a lot on the size, age and features of the home; for example a 2000sqf house built in 2000, with a slab floor will run you roughly $350 - $400 in Birmingham, lets say $350 for sake of argument; 3 mold tests will run you an average of $350 for a total of $700 minus your %20 discount for setting up an annual inspection plan. Your total is $660 the first year and $280 each year after that; don't forget too that you get more discount if you have multiple properties. That changes based off the specifics of the property but as an example I recently made a deal with an investor to inspect all 10 of his properties for $2500 ($250 each).
Now back to the inspection agreement for annual maintenance. It can be written two ways, we can write it as a running agreement (basically the standard liability agreement) or a lock in for an annual plan. Why would you lock it in you ask? Because then you get to lock in the price at todays rate of inflation! You might agree to pay it for 5 years but you also agree to the price for five years. It also gives you negotiating room for the price, if you just verbally agree to have them inspected I’ll do it for $300 per house, but if you put it in writing I might do it for $275. If you have a commercial building and you know you will be running that factory for the next 10 years, why wouldn't you lock in the price at todays rate?!
To determine the best course of action you need to look at your specific needs. The plant manager of a factory once told me his monthly electric bill was $8,000! Now a large portion of this was the machinery which there really isn't much we can do to help that, but if we put them on an annual maintenance plan and perform an energy audit the first year we can cut that drastically. This property had 3 HVAC systems that were each the size of a semi trailer, how much juice do you think that was drawing each month? If we tighten the buildings envelope through an energy inspection we can reduce that drastically. Lets say the energy audit costs $10,000 (likely much cheaper unless it’s a huge property), then another $10,000 in upgrades, but I can save you $2,000 a month on electricity alone you would literally pay for the inspection before this years budget is complete and then you have a surplus next year to spend on productivity and quality! I’m hearing promotions in your future.
The bottom line here is that it always makes sense to get an inspection and a maintenance program built, and it usually makes sense to get an energy audit. Do yourself a favor and call an inspection firm that can get you setup right and ensure your property is ready to meet the needs of your business.
Before we talk about some home owner remediation techniques lets address very briefly some preventative maintenance. Realize that water is the greatest enemy your home will ever face, and too often moisture issues go unnoticed or simply unbothered. Either the home owner doesn't see it or they seam to have some disillusioned idea that it will go away naturally. To start, if the water damage has occurred and you're willing to tackle the task dry everything quickly.
Carpet absorbs moisture and mold spores, providing a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi (which is why carpet should never be used in a bathroom). If it’s a lot of water, as in it needs to be measured in gallons, use a shop vac to pull the moisture out. I once had a pipe burst (my dumb fault not the weather) during a remodel project; in the time it took me to get the rusted water main turned off (it’s about 200 Meters from my front door) my house had 25 gallons of water rushing underneath all the hardwood floors. At this point in time it was too late for preventative maintenance I simply had to get the water cleaned up. The first step was the shop vac and sitting there for several hours syphoning the water up. Once it’s underneath the hardwood it was a matter of creating enough suction so I could pull the water from the living room through the opening in the bathroom.
Ok so now we have the majority of water cleaned up. Mind you if this had happened on carpet the pad and rug would have retained a larger percentage of the water, so you would not have been able to vacuum as much water out.
Next step was to get as much of the remaining moisture out as possible within the first 48 hours. Much like the crime show on television after 48 hours you're looking at a significant mold problem because in the time it took you to vacuum everything up… You've already got mold!
Forget the electric bill with the AC or heat you're going to have to sacrifice there. Depending on the size of your spill open up the windows surrounding the area and turn on any exhaust fans immediately available. My particular incident involved the half bath and the living room with the connecting hallway, so all windows in the living room and the exhaust fan in the bathroom were opened (for good measure I opened a few more, better to error on the side of caution).
The bottom line here is we have now increased the relative humidity (RH) in the air and it will continue to stay high and transport water unless we can get it out of the house. Keep in mind that water will travel in the air through walls and then you have a condensation and MOLD issue behind your walls, so don't be stingy open the windows. If you're really lucky you've got a wood stove going and its winter so not only do you have exceptionally dry air but a heat source to crank up and aid in drying. Mine was unfortunately in the middle of the summer in Alabama.
Next stop you need to hit the local hardware store and get some fans and ideally a dehumidifier (If it’s a bad spill you will need to hire a professional with a large industrial sized dehumidifier). Once you are set up to get the air circulating and the moisture removed from the structure you've done about all you can. If it’s hardwood go ahead and remove the trim work so you have plenty of room for expansion and cupping of your boards. They will typically settle back eventually but it may take several months! and until then you need to leave room so boards wont push up and damage the moulding.
Any water damage on drywall can typically dry in place provided there is no swelling and the seams aren't pealing. However, if either of the above are true go ahead and remove the drywall and get a fan on the opening to let it dry. You can come back and fix it the next weekend after it has thoroughly dried. Keep in mind that it may be worth your peace of mind to pay an inspector to come out with his moisture meter and measure the moisture content (MC) in the wood before you put drywall back on; for that matter it’s definitely worth getting a mold test done before you start any repairs.
If you're house has shiplap siding or lauan board from the 70’s go ahead and put your pry bar behind it and peal it back a touch to let the air reach behind. If it’s lauan or another type of wood paneling that is not shiplap I recommend complete removal for aesthetic sakes!
Insulation is usually best if it is just tossed and replaced; it retains a lot of water, it’s hard to dry, and rarely performs as well after having been wet. If it’s just little damp you can try to get away with a fan on it but I would make sure it’s completely dry before putting up new drywall.
Keep in mind that the remediation techniques I’m talking about are for potable water only. If you have a grey or black water spill you need to call a remediation company to handle it for health, safety, and legal reasons.
Now for the question you asked to begin with… what about mold? before you can treat the mold you have to identify the kind and amount. Basically we are relatively certain you have mold, you may have even seen a bit but you should know the extent and the mold test will tell you the types of spores in the air and the amount present. Basically this can tell you if it’s something you can handle as the do-it-yourself warrior or if you need to hire a professional industrial hygienist.
Mold jobs are broken down into three different sizes: small - less then 10 sqf, medium - less then 100 sqf, or large - more then 100 sqf. Anything in the large category needs a mold remediation professional pretty much regardless of what the test results show. This is where it is somewhat redundant to get a mold test if you see it and it’s this large, but again it can make a difference to the hygienist for the treatment options. The only exception is to know the type so it can be treated appropriately.
If you elect to work on it yourself it’s important to take into consideration your personal protective equipment. Now you’re not attempting to be a professional remediation service and I’m not attempting to guide you in to that realm, but here are a few tips to keep in mind with your PPE. I’ll make mention that it is always best and safest to hire a professional company this is only for those cheap skates out there that wont listen to that advice.
Tyvek suits cost about $8 and provide some degree of protection from spores and contaminants. Not typically the same as what the pros use bit it will do for your home remediation project. Gloves are every bit as important and you can purchase mold and bacterial specific gloves however a set of rubber dish gloves can go a long ways for the DIYer.
In truth, you could probably get away with the N95 mask from the hardware section but I would recommend you just purchase the respirator. Ensure you get one that has a good seal around your face and has the appropriate filter. 10 years ago I could have listed out the types of filters but now there’s so many, just read the back of the box at the store and it will tell you. Go ahead and purchase one that has a 99% particulate rating. You can reuse the respirator next time you paint or sand something so don't feel like it’s a waste of money. Over-booties can help but if you have trouble finding them just duct tape the ankle of your pants around the boot.
Now we move on to containment. You have to be able to keep the mold spores from spreading throughout your house. containment can vary depending on the size and shape of the room but the general concept is to create a negative pressure room that keeps spores out of the house. Grab yourself a roll of painters plastic, duct tape, and a fan. You might need some PVC pipe and fittings too but we will come back to that in just a minute.
If the room is a stand alone room like a bedroom turn off the HVAC (you don't want it to circulate the spores throughout the house). Get all your tools inside the room so you don't have to leave and a few contractor bags and a handful of zip ties. Close the door and cut a piece of plastic to fit all the way around then duct tape the seams. You can leave the floor portion un-taped to circulate new air in to the room. Next Seal of any vents or openings entirely and brace the fan (blowing out) in the window. Then seal it the same way leaving only the back of the fan exposed.
If everything is done correctly when you turn on the fan the door seal should pull inwards like it’s trying to collapse, and you should have a decent draft of air coming underneath the door. Do not let that get lose though you shouldn't have much gap at the bottom; you need to ensure that no spores can make their way back in to the house.
Now if the room is a large open great room then you may need to build a box to work in, out of PVC pipe and cover the entire thing in plastic. If you're in a bathroom without a window you can use the exhaust fan but it may not be powerful enough to provide good suction, and if the pipe is long it will get mold spores in it, so be sure and vacuum it when you are finished.
Now start cutting out all the bad components wood, drywall, etc. don't try to pour bleach on porous material and hope its treated, it wont work. If a piece of wood has sentimental value it’s better to have a professional take care of it. Once you've gotten everything removed now bag it in the contractor bags and zip tie the end, then double bag it and zip tie the next one.
If possible remove the bags through the open window to avoid dragging spores through the house. Make sure they are disposed of in a manner legal and appropriate with your jurisdiction. A pro will likely leave an air scrubber working in the room for several days or at least during the remediation but without that option make sure everything is vacuumed viciously.
Once everything is dry and all the dust has been vacuumed you can begin rebuilding. Do not rush this step or you'll be starting over! leave any openings exposed for a week or two to let everything air out, keep the containment up and the fan running during this time to transport the remaining spores to the exterior. When you're ready move the plastic and fan through the window, if that’s not an option bag them in contractor bags and dispose of them as you did the construction debris.
One final note before beginning the rebuilding process, it is worth it’s weight in gold to hire an inspector to perform another mold test to ensure you have removed all the contaminants. This may be expensive depending on what needs to be done. Ideally, you will take an exterior sample as a control and an indoor air sample in the room affected. However, if you want to take true diligence and ensure it is gone the inspector can take a sample behind the wall and a surface sample on any areas affected. I have a biased opinion but don't skimp here or you will be starting over in a few months of allergies.
Maybe you're listing the house and want a pre-inspection, maybe the buyer has scheduled there’s, or maybe you’re just trying to use one of the many ancillary services we offer; whatever the case take the time to prepare your house for the inspection. There’s many things that can get in the way of an inspection addressing these issues can save a lot of heartache on both ends for the buyer and seller.
Put the animals up. This should be fairly obvious but it’s amazing how many people put the dog in the back yard and don't realize the inspector needs to go back there. No area of your house is going to be off limits for the inspection and it’s important that the inspector be able to access everything because they will (or at least they should).
Granted the lizards and fish aren't usually an issue unless a large tank is blocking a specific area that the inspector needs access to, and for the most part cats aren't too bad but some can still bite and claw. But dogs are the main worry here and even ones that have never bit anyone should be put up because at the least they will be curious to the intruder and slow the inspection. More then that as a dog lover I have to try and be understanding that not everyone that comes to my house thinks my shepherd is as adorable as I do.
Multi inspection firms can have a company policy that their inspectors cannot access areas that have animals. This is for several reasons, 1st it opens the home owner up to a law suit from the individual which is bad for business. (believe me a good business owner doesn't want to be involved in a suit even if they are in the right because it is simply bad for business). 2nd If the employee gets injured it becomes a workmans comp claim and that employee could potentially sue the company which is obviously not desirable. Remember too that even not being aggressive dogs can scratch and nip when they get excited which can lead to infections. Save the inspector a headache and save yourself any liability from a vicious dog.
Clean your house. A dirty house hides issues, or makes the appearance to the buyer that you are hiding issues, it also can make things impossible to inspect because you have a mound of debris in the way. In which case that inspector will snap a picture and record it, that buyer may then ask the inspector to come back out and charge the sellers the re-inspection fee.
You’re moving anyways so your realtor should tell you to make the house presentable. Inspections are tedious and adding in additional obstacles only slows it down. If things are really bad they will get reported on the inspection report and can cause you to pay in the end. Animals inside with urine and feces on the carpet can and will be reported on the inspection as unhealthy living conditions and could force you to purchase new carpet. However, if you had paid a professional cleaning service to take care of it then you would have saved a significant amount of money.
Make sure your appliances are viewable. Insulating blankets on hot water heaters need to be removed. Sometimes they cannot be taken off without the inspector cutting them off, which is not allowed because you do not have the sellers permission to do it. I’ve been asked numerous times by buyers if I can cut it off and unfortunately I have to tell them “No” because it is not yet their house.
On that same note, ensure that if it’s in a closet or behind a piece of drywall the cover needs to be removed so nothing is damaged upon removal. For that reason the inspector may or may not do it (typically not supposed to though I’ve made the exception if I think I can do it without damaging anything).
Please clean the clothes around the laundry room. I get it everyone lets the laundry area take the hit for the mess in the house, but unfortunately that is one room that really can't be inaccessible during the inspection. The inspector will check the vent, plumbing fixtures, etc. and cannot have a bunch of dirty clothes blocking the area.
Turn it ON. Power, water and all appliances should be turned on! I cannot stress this enough, I’ve come across so many houses that did not have the water turned on and it is a huge liability for the inspector to turn it on. If there is a leak in the line and water damage occurs the inspection firm is liable and most licensing organizations prohibit the act regardless. Funny enough the same holds true with the shut off valves below toilets and sinks so make sure those are on too.
Power may not seem like as large of an issue but when power is off turning it on could create a fire hazard and the inspector may not feel comfortable powering it up. Bottom line it’s his or her safety and reputation on the line so it’s not your call as the buyer and that can be very frustrating.
Make sure the appliances are all turned on and running. Some houses have kill switches for certain appliances which can cause them to not respond and the inspector may not see the switch in which case the inspector will note it as not functioning. Inspectors are trained in building science not locating hidden switches, each house is different and only the home owner will know those details.
In a nutshell that’s it. There’s other little things we run across that aren't so common but in reality this covers the basics and the common issues. Bottom line up front is prepare your house as if you are having a dinner party. Keep it clean and tidy and ensure everything is function and the pets are put away.
This article is provided by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors
Preventing And Stopping Mold Damage
Dry items before mold grows, if possible. Mold can grow instantly if there is adequate temperature, moisture and nutrients provided.
Dry carpet and backing within 48 hours, remove water with a wet vacuum, pull the carpet and pad off the floor, and dry them using a fan to blow air over them. A dehumidifier can be used to reduce the humidity in the room where the carpet and backing are drying, while fans can be used to accelerate the drying process.
Water can be removed from concrete or cinder block surfaces with a water-extraction vacuum. Dehumidifiers, fans and heaters can also be used to accelerate the drying process. Hard surface flooring (such as linoleum, vinyl and ceramic tile) should be vacuumed or damp-wiped with a mild detergent, and allowed to air-dry. They should be scrubbed clean, if necessary. If the under-flooring is wet, it should be dried using a vacuum or by exposing it to the air.
Non-porous, hard surfaces, such as plastics and metals, should be vacuumed or damp-wiped with water and a mild detergent, and then allowed to air-dry. Scrubbing may be necessary to thoroughly clean the surfaces. Water should be removed from upholstered furniture with a water-extraction vacuum. Fans, dehumidifiers and heaters may be used to accelerate the drying process. Completely drying upholstered furniture within 48 hours may be difficult, so if the piece is valuable, consider consulting a restoration or water-damage professional who specializes in furniture.
Drywall, also known as gypsum board or gypsum wallboard, may be dried in place if there is no obvious swelling and the seams are intact. Otherwise, removal is necessary. The wall cavity is the most difficult area to dry, and it should be ventilated if the drywall is left to dry in place.
(Drywall is not made out of boards of wood; traditionally, drywall is made of the mineral gypsum with a layer of heavy paper on the outside and inside. Commercial gypsum boards and drywall are also available with a variety of outside layers and coatings. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a typical new home contains more than 7 metric tons of gypsum.)
To clean water-damaged window drapes, follow the manufacturer's laundering or cleaning instructions.
To clean wooden surfaces, remove moisture immediately and use dehumidifiers, fans and gentle heat to dry them. (Be very careful when applying heat to hardwood floors.) Treated or finished wood surfaces can be cleaned with mild detergent and clean water, then allowed to air-dry. Wet paneling should be pried from the wall for drying.
Some water-damaged items, including ceiling tiles, cellulose and fiberglass insulation, drywall and gypsum board, and books and papers, may have to be discarded. If valuable or important books, documents or other items are moldy or water-damaged, consult a restoration, water-damage or remediation expert.
These guidelines are for addressing damage caused by clean water. If you know or suspect that the water is contaminated with sewage or with chemical or biological pollutants, then OSHA requires PPE and containment. An experienced professional should be consulted if the remediators do not have expertise in remediation of contaminated-water situations. Do not use fans until it is determined that the water is clean or sanitary.
Assessing a Mold Problem
Before planning a remediation effort, the size and extent of the mold problem, and any ongoing moisture problems, should be assessed. Remediation generally can be divided into small (less than 10 square feet of mold), medium (10 to 100 square feet of mold), and large jobs (more than 100 square feet of mold). A remediation manager should be selected for medium or large jobs. An experienced health and safety professional in remediation projects should be consulted, particularly on large or complex jobs.
Questions to consider before starting remediation:
• Are there existing moisture problems in the building?
• Have building materials been wet longer than 48 hours?
• Are there hidden sources of water, or is the humidity high enough to cause
• Are the building's occupants reporting musty or moldy odors?
• Are the building's occupants reporting health problems?
• Are building's materials or furnishings visibly damaged?
• Has maintenance been delayed or has the maintenance plan been altered?
• Has the building been remodeled recently, or has its use changed?
• Are consultations with health professionals indicated?
The highest priority in a remediation is to protect the health and safety of the building's occupants and the remediation workers. Remediation plans vary according to the size and complexity of the job. The plans may require updating if circumstances change or if more extensive contamination is discovered.
The remediation plan should include:
Mold Remediation Procedures
A variety of methods is available to remediate damage to buildings and furnishings caused by moisture-control problems and mold. The procedures selected depend on the size of the moldy area and the type of contaminated materials. Budget may also be a concern. The methods presented in this section outline one approach; some professionals may prefer to use other methods. If possible, remediation activities should be scheduled during off-hours when building occupants are less likely to be affected.
Cleanup methods may include:
Wet vacuums ("wet-vacs") and water-extraction vacuums are designed to collect water. They can be used to remove water that has accumulated on floors, carpets and hard surfaces. Wet vacuums should be used only when materials are still wet; otherwise, they may spread mold spores. Wet vacuums alone will not dry carpets. Wet carpets must be pulled up and dried, and then reinstalled. The carpet padding must also be dried. The tanks, hoses and attachments of wet vacuums should be thoroughly cleaned and dried after use because mold and mold spores may stick to their surfaces.
Mold can generally be removed from hard surfaces by wiping or scrubbing with water and detergent. Always follow the cleaning instructions on product labels. Surfaces cleaned by damp wiping should be dried quickly and thoroughly to discourage further mold growth. Porous materials that are wet and have mold growing on them may have to be discarded. Because mold will infiltrate porous substances and grow on or fill in empty spaces and crevices, completely removing mold can be difficult, if not impossible. Mold can also cause staining and other cosmetic damage.
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums are recommended for the final clean-up of remediation areas after materials have been thoroughly dried, and contaminated materials have been removed. HEPA vacuums are also recommended for cleaning up dust that has settled outside the remediation area. When changing the vacuum filter, workers should wear PPE to prevent exposure to mold that has been captured in the vacuum. (See Section 6 of this course.) The filter and contents of the HEPA vacuum must be disposed of into well-sealed plastic bags. Care must be taken to ensure that the new filter is properly seated on the vacuum so that there are no leaks.
Throw Away Damaged Materials
Mold-contaminated building materials that cannot be salvaged should be double-bagged in 6-mil or thicker polyethylene bags. The bagged materials usually can be discarded as ordinary construction waste. Packaging mold-contaminated materials in sealed bags before removing them from the containment area is important to minimize the spread of mold spores throughout the building. Large items that have heavy mold growth should be covered with polyethylene sheeting and sealed with duct tape before being removed from the containment area.
Biocides are substances that can destroy living organisms. The use of a biocide or a chemical that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup. There may be instances, however, when professional judgment indicates their use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain, but these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved. If disinfectants or biocides are used, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never mix chlorine bleach with other cleaning solutions or with detergents that contain ammonia because toxic vapors could be produced.
Note that dead mold is allergenic and may cause allergic reactions and other health effects in some individuals, so it is not enough to simply kill the mold. It must also be removed.
Buildings that have been heavily damaged by floodwaters should be assessed for structural integrity and then remediated by experienced professionals. Please note that the information covered in this course was developed for inspecting water damage and moisture/mold conditions caused by clean water, and not flood water, sewage or other contaminated water. Visit the the EPA’s website, which has an EPA Fact Sheet: "Flood Cleanup -- Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems."
During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home or office may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and to reduce moisture and humidity can present serious long-term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for micro-organisms, such as viruses, bacteria and mold. They can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions, and continue to damage materials long after the flood.
Mold Prevention Tips
• Moisture control is the key.
• Keep the building clean and dry. Dry any wet or damp areas within 48 hours.
• Fix leaky plumbing and any leaks in the building's envelope as soon as possible.
• Watch for condensation and wet spots. Fix the sources of moisture problems as soon as
• Prevent moisture due to condensation by increasing surface temperature or reducing the
moisture level in the air (humidity). To increase surface temperature, insulate or increase air
circulation. To reduce the moisture level in the air, repair leaks and increase ventilation (if
outside air is cold and dry), or dehumidify (if outdoor air is warm and humid).
• Keep heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) drip pans clean, flowing properly, and
• Vent moisture-generating appliances, such as dryers, to the outside, where possible.
• Maintain low indoor humidity, below 60% relative humidity (RH), and, ideally, between
30% and 50%, if possible.
• Perform regular building and HVAC inspections and scheduled maintenance.
• Don't let foundations stay wet. Provide drainage, and slope the ground away from the
• If you are not experienced with home and building repairs, you may want to consult a
professional when making necessary repairs, or for assistance related to mold-prevention
changes to your home or building.
First, if you see mold then there is simply no point in testing. Mold has to get removed regardless of what kind it is because ALL mold is a danger both to your health and structurally. True not all mold releases mycotoxins (the dangerous substance released by the overly scary black mold!), but all mold is an allergen simply because it is a foreign substance in your body. Some people are more susceptible to it then others but all of it is potentially harmful. Additionally, mold causes damage to the surface it’s on and can be as minor as surface staining or as major as structural damage.
The above paragraph is the official answer to mold testing. However, I’m going to let you in on a little secret that will make every mold remediation company cringe. If you see minor mold, meaning a few spots here and there, in an area that has had minor water intrusion it is worth getting a mold test complete to see if it is something you can fix. My personal (not professional) rule of thumb here is if there’s a minor amount then get a mold test and see if it’s toxic mold and needs chemical remediation by a professional removal company. If it tests as non toxic mold that is simply an allergen then a solution of bleach and removing the moisture can do wonders to save your budget. In this particular instance a $375 mold test can you save $2000 on remediation for something you can do yourself.
A mold test should be performed after the remediation process to ensure it is removed. Be wary of contractors that don't disclose this in the initial estimate because they will tack it on at the end as a hidden fee. When this happens two tests should be done, so don't get screwed paying for a bunch of services you don't need.
The two tests that must be done are an indoor air sample of the area with the remediation. So if you had mold in the bathroom get an air sample at or near that area not in the garage. The second sample that should be taken is an outdoor air sample as a control. This sample is taken to determine if the mold in the air is higher then that of the natural environment. Without this test you have nothing to compare it to so you will never know if it is high or low.
Some testing companies (yours truly) can be overly cautious and recommend 3 or 4 tests when you could get away with 2 or 3. I had a client just the other day that needed a mold test in the crawl space, but because the duct work was poorly installed I recommended one in the house as well. The client asked if she could do just the crawlspace. The simple answer here is yes you can but should you? the risk is really yours and my legal/professional recommendation is get 3.
Next on the list, walk in to your basement and see if it smells damp or musty. If it does there is a HIGH probability you have mold. Get it tested now before you have to pay thousands of dollars in the future to fix structural damage. If you have mold you can pay a relatively inexpensive price for a built in dehumidifier with a discharge pump and be done worrying about it.
On this same note if you smell mold (which has a very distinct oder) you need to have it tested. Your next question is why would I need to test it if I smell it? Doesn't that mean I have it? Absolutely you have it but in this case it still needs testing. You need to determine the degree of mold spores in the air. This will give a person trained in reviewing lab results an idea of the best remediation process. Basically if you smell mold you could have very minor mold that can be cured with the dehumidifier, or major mold and structural damage hidden and the ratio of mold in the air can give the tester an idea as to which. The other reason behind the test here is to know if it’s toxic so the remediation process can prioritize the steps to fix it. Bottom line here if it’s non toxic surface mold dry it out and cleaning it could be the $1000 fix for the problem; if it’s toxic mold it may need to be dried and chemically treated for $3000.
What about water damage? If you have a roof leak, a plumbing leak, HVAC condensation on the ducts, etc. Then you need a mold test provided 1 condition is met. Though mold can start growing immediately after water is introduced it isn't realistic to think that you would test high for mold because a water leak hit and was dried immediately.
A good rule of thumb here is if the water has been present more then 48 hours, or if you do not know the amount of time it has been going on then it is worth testing. Especially if you have a smell of mold in the air! First step address the leak and let it dry, 2nd step get an air sample taken to determine if you have mold present!
After mold remediation work has been complete an air sample should always be taken to determine if the counts have returned to normal. If the mold remediation was done properly this should be able to be complete within 24 hours. Unless you personally know and trust the contractor doing the work then hire a 3rd party inspector to check the house. As a quick tip the inspector should inspect the work completed before taking his mold sample, and that should be included in the price. Mold tests are expensive don't let a lazy inspector spend 5 minutes taking a sample only to walk away with your hard earned cash. A good inspector will check the work and verify visually that no mold is present, if it is he will schedule a re-inspection with you. Still an added fee since you have to pay him/her a $100 re-inspection fee but better then paying for a mold test to be done again. If it requires another inspection due to poor or unfinished work make the contractor pay the difference.
Sick, elderly or adolescence at home create strain on the family and their weakened immune system is not hardy enough to handle mold as a simple allergen in the air. If they are displaying symptoms of allergies then see a physician, though no mold expert should ever overrule the doctors advice, but it’s worth having the mold in your house tested so you can show the doctor the results and see if that better helps them determine a cause.
When you purchase a new home especially one with a basement or evidence of water damage it will justify the price in the long run. Most houses I inspect turn up negative, but the ones that test positive are always thankful they paid the money to do the test because the seller then pays for the mold remediation. A standard mold test is about $375 give or take depending on the number of samples to be taken, which is a bargain when looking at $10,000 worth of damage and repairs.
What about for renters? Before I was an inspector and a home owner I lived in a shanty 1 bedroom apartment. The ceiling had so much mold on it the tiles would cave in as I was lounging around my hovel. Had I known better at the time I would have had a mold test performed so that I would have documentation to prove that the apartment did not uphold their end of the lease (or the law since most states have language written to protect the tenant from health issues). This would have got me out of my lease without paying the $2000 early termination (extortion) fee, when it was time to leave. On that same note, and this is something relatively no one does but is a good idea if you can afford it, but getting a home inspection when you move in to a rental, can secure your deposit when it comes time to move out. If you’re planning on buying after your lease is up you could even get a discount by signing an agreement that the same inspector will do your house when you purchase.
People are always afraid to ask for things like that but as soon as you get over that fear you can start saving yourself money. Any inspector would jump on that since it guarantees them business in the future. I know I would even if it meant I did this inspection for a price to only cover my costs.
Bottom line here is landlords can screw you and bad ones will every time. Get the documentation in hand before it comes time.
Water damage can do some funny things; efflorescence, dirt, grime, algae, and even blown in insulation can all look like mold. That’s part of the reason why in certain circumstance it does make sense to test when it is visible. 9 times out of 10 the inspector will be able to tell the difference but sometimes when substances mix, for example when efflorescence and wet dirt get stuck to a wall, it can make it nearly impossible to tell visually.
The bottom line here is that you should not waste money on a mold test when it’s not needed. I don't recommend a mold test on every house I inspect and if an inspector is telling you that you need one, make sure it falls in one of these categories or get a second opinion. I often get new clients because someone called wanting a second opinion, some inspectors charge for a consult others don’t it really just depends. I never do as long as the person is in a geographic area that I service, or the consult is not overly time consuming. However, when a mold test is needed you should do it as quickly as you possibly can, before you cause more issues both structurally and to the residents. As a veteran I use a lot of military analogies so let me leave you with one; mold is devastating if left unchecked and I used to tell my Soldiers “when it’s time to strike, hit as fast as you can, as hard as you can, and be the first one to lay the hammer.”
Top 10 Tools for New Home Owners
I meet with a lot of home buyers (obviously for my profession), and a large majority do not have even a basic set of tools. However, new home owners especially first time buyers tend to have one common problem; they just bought a house and have no money. I could have drawn up a list of 100 or even 1000 tools everyone needs! I don't usually have a problem justifying the need for more tools, and most guys that grew up similar to me don’t.
Before we get in to the mix of tools to start with let me make one point clear. Nothing drives me crazier then to have people use my tools because they don't want to mess there’s up. Tools were meant to get used, beat up, and banged around. Care for them, but use them! Don’t shy away from using them for their intended purpose, and always remember you use the 1 right tool not 3 wrong tools.
I tried to put these in some type of order to buy the ones you need first but don't stress about that. Get the ones YOU need immediately first but preferably all 10 at one shopping spree.
1. Every home owner will be hanging pictures, tapping rusted and worn hinges, and in general beating stubborn objects. My number one pick is a quality hammer; I use it more then just about any tool in my shop and they cannot be substituted without sacrificing precision, finesse, and fingers!
grab another hammer over my framing hammer. Choking up on the grip gives you good support for driving finishing nails and all the way back will remove a rusted wheel rotor (be careful here because you will damage the hammer head, better to grab the right type of hammer).
Grips change preference by many people, though most prefer a curved wood handle. Wood is easy to replace and lasts a long time, fiberglass handles cant always be replaced. They also seem to balance and generally feel better in your hand. Plus there’s just something that makes you feel like a man holding something your ancestors could have been using to pound their way through history! $24.95
2. Ok so technically 2 tools but since they really go as a pair screwdrivers will be considered 1 tool. For basic jobs you need a flat head and a phillips and they will likely cure anything that ails you. However, an 8 piece Craftsman set is $14.99 and well worth the cost. This set will cover most anything you need it for and will take apart almost anything in your home.
3. Needle nose pliers, can grab about anything you have in the house and can even assist you in reaching those hard to get areas. Believe me the list is endless as to what you will use these for! Wires will need to be re-routed, clasps pinched, and rusted knobs turned. This list truly needs to have more then 1 number 1, because tools like this are invaluable and impossible to substitute.
A lower end but still quality set of channel locks can run you about $15 until you can afford something a little higher end. However I would urge you not to purchase Husky pliers, they seem to break when you attempt to pick up a pudding pack. Stanley may not be the best brand anymore but their channel locks will rip the legs off a bear, that you happened to strangle with your bare hands.
5. Adjustable crescent wrenches are not necessarily fun but a 20 inch one does complete your art of manliness starter package. But lets dial it down for just a bit and look at a 12 inch adjustable crescent. They can fit in to almost any space your home provides (admittedly they can get a little tight in an engine compartment) and are up to the task of most home maintenance projects.
If you're really in a jam you can always grab your channel locks and framing hammer and they will rip the door out of its frame and you can just hang a blanket. Again it’s another item that falls in to that $15 range.
7. Next you need a torpedo! Every guy reading this is salivating right now running to their spouse with their well thought out excuse to buy an underwater projectile that explodes on impact. Unfortunately We are talking about a level that you can use to plumb pictures.
These levels can be substituted for longer ones by strapping a straight edge to it. Though guys do not tend to care if the Wolverine mount in their man cave is level, or if it looks like you bolted it to the wall while you were drunk with a rabid ferret clawing at your genitals, your spouse will thank me for this one and your marriage will likely last at least another 6 months. It’s all about sacrifice boys!
Look for a level with a magnetic strip on one of the sides because when you actually start using it to do minor repairs and remodels the strip is invaluable. Plumbing a metal fence post will never be easier then with two of these with a magnet.
Now you may be tempted to buy the electronic calibrated level for $735 (I’m not joking this really exists) you can pick up a normal duty use level for $15 - $30 depending on the brand. Again though this is another great item to go with Stanley, I’ve had mine for over 10 years and I use it constantly.
The reasons for the flashlight should be fairly obvious; bottom line here is that you cannot do anything if you can’t see. Not to mention often when you are doing home repairs you have to shut off the electricity so you have no light from the inherent light source of the room. So when you pull out your straight razor in the morning and go to trim the neck line of your 2 and a half foot beard and the power goes out, you can immediately wash the razor and realize that shaving is second priority to to swinging a hammer for 8 hours in the dark!
10. Lastly, A ladder though not fun or mannly they keep you from breaking both your legs instead of balancing a bucket on a chair on the hood of your wife’s Honda while your best friend moves it forward as you clean the debris out of the gutters.
This is the most expensive item on this list and brings up the price for the list as a whole. An articulating ladder is best if you're only going to own one and can accomplish almost any home owner task unless have an extremely high roof. 17’ or 19’ articulating ladder is ideal for the home owner and allows you to the highest peaks of 90% of homes. If you do have an exceptionally high roof you can get a 25’ extension ladder and get your man card back from your neighbor who uses an articulating ladder.
The Little Giant is the gold standard for these types of ladders but they are overpriced and knock off brands can be had for less then half the price with the same material quality. You just have to lower your standard of aesthetically pleasing. Northern Tool often has them on sale for $125 delivered to your door, or a little cheaper in stores.
I am a United States Army Veteran with over 10 years construction experience prior to my service. After my time in the military I enrolled in InterNACHI's rigorous course work to become a certified member and prepare for the National Home Inspectors Exam. I continue to push inspection courses and education, attaining and exceeding the required continuing education courses