CALL 907 694 PLUS(7587)
17640 Lacey Drive • Eagle River, Alaska 99577
Servicing Anchorage, Eagle River and the Mat Su Valley

Appliance Safety

According to the January 2013 issue of Consumer Reports, “Appliance problems, including fires, topped the list of incidents filed in 2012 with the federal data base that gives consumers a way to report complaints…”

Consumer Reports goes on to say “in our March 2012 issue we found that more than 15 million appliance units have been recalled in the previous five years for defects that could cause a fire.”

We think that rate of problems is alarming. It is a terrible experience having your home burn, and it happens far too frequently. My first home was badly damaged during the construction process, fortunately for me it happened at night and the home was not occupied. The loss was in materials and tools and did not deal with loss of life, my personal valuables or injuries.

With every full home inspection we provide a check of the appliances in the home. This free to our clients service, that documents the make, model and serial numbers into a data base to see if the appliances have had a recall notice. After the initial inspection our client can add or replace appliances and will be kept informed of any recall notices that are issued, now and in the future.

For more information visit our page at


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90 Day Warranty

We have added a 90 day limited structural & mechanical warranty to our full home inspections

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Smoke Detectors

In an emergency; a smoke detector can be one of the most valuable devices in your home. They can alert you to a silent killer as you sleep, or warn you that the cookies are done, OK, over done. But in either case they can save your life and property from damage. Over the years prior to the advent of smoke detectors many people have been injured or perished in house fires.

The first automatic fire alarm was invented in 1890 and a heat detector patented in 1902. In the 1930’s a detector intended to test for poison gas was invented, but it did not function well for that purpose but did react to smoke particles. These were expensive and only really used in commercial buildings. Since then of course many changes have occurred in the technology that is used for detection, in nuclear chemistry and solid state circuitry.

As that technology and our ability to mass produce items increased; it made them not only more affordable but common place in our homes after the 1960’s. The requirement for detectors became a standard part of the building codes in residential construction as well as commercial buildings. Originally in a home; detectors were required to be installed in hallways on each level of the home and be powered by the structure.

Residentially; smoke detectors are currently required to be installed in bedrooms and the adjoining hallway with a minimum of one per floor. In most of the new homes the hallways are combination smoke / CO detectors which will enunciate in the event of either a fire or high CO readings. Be sure to change the batteries annually and test them monthly. Detectors are currently required to be installed on every level of a home, in bedrooms and the adjoining hallways. The smoke detectors in newer homes are interconnected, so if one activates they all are placed in alarm. In older homes without existing “hardwired” power in place, battery only detectors can be installed and meet the “intent” of the building standards. There is not a requirement to alter the home to bring it up to the current level of protection. However if major renovations are performed where building powered detectors can be installed then it is a requirement to install them and bring the home to the current standards.

We recently had a friend lose their home to a chimney fire. As it would happen they were home at the time and heard the crackling of the fire before the detector went off. Their fire was in the rafters and attic space above the living area, which rendered the detectors useless. Having a detector installed in the attic space would have given an advance warning and may have helped limit the extensive damage that resulted. The installation of fire sprinklers in this case would not have helped either as the fire was in the rafters and attic spaces rather than in the habitable space.

Test your detectors regularly; change the batteries at least annually and replace the units every 10 years as the manufacturers suggest.

No one should sleep through a fire.

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New permits required for upgrades

Do it yourself,….. Or not.

A new letter was provided for the Energy Rebate program this month, and was forwarded to us by our friendly competition and local chapter president of ASHI, The American Society of Home Inspectors.

It has come to light that there is a greater requirement for permitting when performing work and maintenance to your home (within the municipality) than has been commonly known. The need for a permit has always been there, when building new or performing structural repairs or renovations, but the scope of additional work may not have been. The Anchorage Municipal code requirement ( for permitting can be accessed through this link:

This requirement pertains to all work performed by a home owner or contractor working on the homeowners behalf.

A home owner is entitled to perform much of the work, but is also required to act as the contractor and make sure any and all permits that may be required are obtained from the Municipality should you employ others to perform the work. That policy (AG.07) is accessible at the following link:

This clearly details what is required of the homeowner for the various ways to manage your construction or renovation project, and where any permitting is required. This applies to not only the Municipality of Anchorage, but State of Alaska and possibly federal requirements as well.

The requirements go so far as when a fuel fired appliance (water heater, boiler, furnace or fireplace) is installed or replaced, as well as any bath or kitchen ducting that is replaced or upgraded. If windows are replaced and the opening is enlarged, a permit is required, any electrical changes or the replacement of the roof.

The part that really caught my eye was in the clarifications and liability portions of policy AG.07, in that as the homeowner we are liable for any inaction in not obtaining permits as well as any faulty workmanship resulting in loss. This also appears to be an open-ended liability, if it can be proven, with any subsequent owner of the property.

Many portions of the Municipality of Anchorage are not served by the Building safety department. Areas such as Eagle River, Chugiak, Eklutna, Girdwood, Bear Valley and Stuckagain Heights, are all within the Municipality but fall outside of their inspection preview. Those areas are generally served by independent code compliance inspectors such as yours truly.

All the best and we will keep looking out for you.

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Bye-bye incandescents!!

Energy costs are forever rising so the need for conservation is growing. One of the best ways to save on electrical energy is to change our old incandescent light bulbs for newer more efficient fluorescent and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs and fixtures. And thanks to my friends at State Farm Insurance I can share these tips with you.

At the national average power cost of $0.10 per kilowatt hour (kw/h) and based on an 8 hour daily usage this is how the lights compare over a one year period. We of course; in the Anchorage area pay closer to $0.15 per kw/h, half again the national average. And if you consider what is paid for electricity in the bush; we are getting a bargain.

A traditional 100 watt light bulb are cheap to produce and market, at $0.89, and will use 100 watts per hour to provide 1750 lumens of light (brightness) over its average 1,000 hours of service, before it burns out. The annual cost to operate that bulb is approximately $28.80 and over a 5 year period the bulb will need to be replaced about 44 times. The bulbs are inexpensive but the energy consumed and need for replacement far outweighs the value of a cheap bulb.

A more efficient halogen bulb which costs $5.89 burns 72 watts per hour and provides 1490 lumens over its average life of 1,000 hours. The annual cost to operate is approximately $20.72 and over the same 5 year period and will need replacement the same 44 times. The bulbs are far more expensive and do use less power but the replacement rate is the same.

A compact fluorescent bulb is cheaper than the halogen at $3.49, burns only 27 watts per power and provides 1750 lumens over its average life of 10,000 hours. The annual cost to operate is approximately $7.36 and over the same 5 year period will only need to be replaced 4 times. These bulbs are very affordable and last a very long time and are available everywhere.

The newer LED lights are very expensive at $47.99, burns only 9 watts per hour and provides 650 lumens over its average life of 50,000 hours. The annual cost to operate is only $2.60 and over the same 5 year period will need replacement only 1 time. Although very expensive they are very affordable to operate and have the longest life but are not as easy to locate.

The federal government is in the process of eliminating the standard incandescent bulb, which will make them obsolete in the near future. The halogen lights create a tremendous amount of heat as they operate, so they can be hazard if not properly installed with proper clearances. Compact fluorescents typically have a small amount of mercury inside to make them operate which creates a disposal and contamination problem. Newer CFL’s will be labeled whether or not they contain mercury. The LED’s are currently somewhat difficult to find for all the light fixtures in use, certainly are more expensive, but with a greater demand should become more available.

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Snow Loading

With the winter weather we have had this year and the accumulated snow, its hard to find a place to put it all. The snow dumps are filling up locally and we have all heard of the collapse of buildings in Cordova and the heavy accumulations in Valdez. When the National Guard is called out you know it has to be serious!! Last Friday the roof collapsed on a local community church in Anchorage.

In the Anchorage area we have a little over double what our normal snowfall would be for a year, and are just 6” away from breaking the record for the most snowfall and we still have most of this month to go. I for one remember a Saint Patrick ’s Day blizzard and almost 21” of snow one year. I won’t believe the winter is over until I see the first swarm of big mosquitoes out in our yard. Lone ones don’t count, as I have seen them already, tough little buggers, too. Until they unceremoniously met me. Bye bye bug.

This snow accumulation can have disastrous effects on our homes too. Our roofs are generally designed for a 40# per square foot “Live” (snow) load as well as a 10# “Dead” load (the weight of the structure), but in other parts of the country they design for much greater as well as much lesser loading. Not much in Orlando, or Birmingham but a WHOLE lot more in Telluride Colorado. Of course in Orlando and Birmingham they do have those pesky hurricanes and tornadoes to worry about.

If you are concerned about your roof loads you should consult a roofing professional and possibly have them remove the snow for you. Depending on your health and age as well as the height above the ground you may elect to remove the snow yourself. Using good judgment here is vital as any fall could be fatal. If you can remove the snow from the ground with a “snow-rake” with an extended handle then that’s the best solution. You cannot fall off something you are not “on”. Do not be concerned with removing every bit of snow, but do be sure to evenly remove the snow from the roof as an imbalanced roof can have disastrous consequences as well.

If you see sagging in the roof, or notice any staining or active leakage at the eave or along the interior wall lines above the eave, then it is time to take action. Icicles and ice damming can also contribute considerable loads on our roofs and overhangs. If your interior or exterior doors do not operate properly they may be suffering from the increased loading.

The use of chemicals, or for the “tool-guys” amongst us; a snow blower is not a really bright idea. The chemicals will be in your yard and lawn in the spring, but you and the snow blower would likely be there much sooner. The effects of either may haunt you for months.

Use your head, there’s a reason why you have one, and it’s what separates us from the other primates.

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