Older Home Inspection Tips – Replace Your Knob and Tube Wiring

One area of significant concern with older home inspection is the wiring. During the period between 1930 and 1950, when household demands for electricity were much lower, most home wiring included a type of wiring called knob and tube. Today’s homes use much more current to run all of the newer appliances families require to live a comfortable lifestyle. In older homes with this type of wiring fires are much more of a risk.

A simple trip to the basement of your house can reveal if you have this type of current system. If you see white knobs attached to the joists with wires running through them, chances are this is knob and tube wiring. The knobs acted as insulators from objects while the ceramic tubing provided the support for wires as they travel through floor joists.

Older home inspection today requires catching this type of wiring system with recommendations of complete replacement in order to avoid costly or life threatening fires. This includes replacement of not only the fuses but the wires as well. Simply put, If you upgrade the panel, then replace the wiring as well.

An important side note is that a lot of insurance companies will not write or renew policies where there is existing knob and tube wiring. Nothing can be more frustrating than finding out your proud real estate purchase will not be covered prior to closing.

Rather than hoping your house passes inspection, make sure your professional older home inspection includes the wiring system and recommendations for replacement before it causes undue headache.

5 Home Inspection Tips For Open House Visits

Fortunately, prospective homebuyers do not have to be professional home inspectors to be able to identify certain problems in a home.

Regardless of whether you are the “handy” type or more of the “book” type, you will be able to spot certain problematic areas with a little bit of guidance. Thus, if you are going through the home purchasing process and you are viewing different homes, keep yours eyes open for some of the following.

NOTE: to better prepare you before heading to your next open house, go on the Internet to look up images regarding some of the problems noted below (e.g. water damaged ceiling, termite damage, flooded basement, mold, cracked foundation).

1) Discolored Walls and/or Ceilings

Discoloration on walls and/or ceilings is usually indicative of water damage or mold. Neither one is good for the home. If you see this, make a note of it.

Water damage could result from leaky pipes, broken pipes, improperly installed window flashing, or even a leaky roof. Each of these can be quite expensive to repair. Where there is excessive moisture, there is a chance that mold will grow. This is especially concerning since mold exposure is linked to certain health concerns. Mold can also cause structural damage to any property it inhabits.

2) Wood Damage

If there are hardwood floors in the house be sure to look for any signs of damage. More specifically, look for lines that resemble trails of some sort. This can be indicative of damage caused by termites or other wood-destroying insects.

In addition, if you can observe wooden beams in the basement, be sure to have a close look for any impairments. Damaged wooden beams can also be attributed to a wood-destroying insect.

3) Dampness in Basement

If the home you are viewing has a basement, look for any signs of excessive moisture while you are down there. Such dampness can mean that the basement floods or that there is water seepage during rainstorms. It can also lead to the growth of mold, which thrives in dark and moist environments.

4) Drafty Windows

While you are in the house, run your hands across some of the windows to feel for any air getting through. On a hot summer day this will be more difficult, not impossible to do, but try it anyway.

Windows can become a much bigger headache than most people think. Repairing windows can be rather expensive, depending on the type and quality you’re seeking. This does not necessarily mean you will have to repair the windows; there are some inexpensive remedies that work well. But, having this knowledge prior to making your purchase permits you to take it into consideration when deciding whether or not to place a bid.

5) Cracked Foundation

At some point before you leave the house, be sure to look around the exterior of the property for signs of damage to the outer structure or foundation. Sometimes there will literally be a large crack going across a section of the home’s foundation. Although this doesn’t always indicate a serious problem with the house, it is worth knowing about and looking into.


These are just a handful of home inspection tips that you should keep in mind when you are viewing different prospective houses. The benefit is that you can identify some problems on your own and possibly eliminate certain houses from your list that you weren’t too sure of in the first place.

Once you have found a home that you feel comfortable with, have a professional home inspector conduct a thorough inspection. This will ensure that you have all of the information you need regarding the actual condition of the home to make your final purchasing decision.

Best of luck!

5 Home Inspection Tips For Spring

Ahhhh, the birds are chirping….flowers are starting to bloom…you actually think of putting your parka away (hey, I’m from WI what do you expect?)…but what’s that outside? A missing shingle? A crack in the foundation? Now what are you to do? Here’s some great tips from Dana Wilson of Safeguard Home Inspection, to get your home ready for the warm weather & to help you assess any damage done by Old Man Winter..

1) The effects of ice damming, if you had water penetration and what to look for inside and outside now that the snow has melted. Ice damming is actually the snow compacted against your roof that is melting due to the warmth coming from the house & the cold of the outside air/snow. This melting snow can get underneath the shingles (especially if damaged/missing), the roof paper or into your gutters and then back up. You MUST make sure gutters are sloped properly, clear & clog-free, no missing/broken shingles. If you have ice damming, there will be water marks on ceiling or walls of home, a “waterfall” of ice overflowing from a gutter that is clogged or damp walls even down to the basement!

Dana also stated that you need to be VERY CAREFUL when breaking off the icicles as the weight can pull down a gutter, smash a window (one of Dana’s clients!) or injure yourself!!

2) Spring is a good time to look for water penetration from basement to roof. Water will take the path of lesat resistance and work its way down from the roof to the basement. Dana used the example of an ant farm as an illustration…Check your foundation for water tracks or damp walls. If you have this, you want to make sure your yard is sloped away from the house foundation: 1-3″ sloped AWAY from the home at least 3′. You can use dirt or bark mulch…NO STONE unless you use it OVER dirt that is properly sloped. Proper home ventilation is key here as well-your home needs to breathe! (This will be a topic for an upcoming show). If you have concrete around the foundation of your home, no landscaping, Dana suggested sealing this with caulk to prevent water seepage.

3) Time to start thinking about air conditioning. Make sure the unit is LEVEL-unit should also be on a sturdy platform, such as a concrete/stone platform and not on dirt as this can cause unit to sink. Remove any/all debris that has accumulated around it. Turn unit on & let run for 30 minutes. When running, the unit should sound like any other household electrical appliance-no scraping or “funny” noises, if so, call an expert to check it out. After running for 30 minutes, take a thermometer and check air temp coming out of vent, it should be a nice cool temp (approx 55-60 degrees). Again, if any problems, call for a tune-up. You also need to check the foam insulation around the copper tubing that runs to the outside unit-make sure it’s still intact.

4) Insects that come out in the spring. Bees, carpenter ants, termites & other assorted pests start to “swarm” in spring to find new homes to nest in. They are attracted to damp environments, hence the importance of catching ANY water damage ASAP! If you have an insect problem, deal with immediately & then check for cause (ice damming, leaky roof…)

5) Punch list of things you wish you did before last winter hit so you budget throughout this year and be better prepared for next winter. Check your roof, any tree/branch overhangs, foundation “issues”, grading…all the good stuff to be better prepared for the coming year. Dana also suggested 2 things: ALWAYS get 3 estimates to “keep ’em honest” and for any project (especially the big, expensive ones) consider hiring an inspector to oversee the work to make sure corners aren’t being cut & that work is being done properly. This added cost will help to save you thousands of dollars & time & energy spent dealing with a major problem (i.e. not cleaning out gutters can cause you to have to pull out drywall, insulation & maybe repair your roof for not hiring someone to get up on your roof to clean a gutter and/or fix some shingles…). There are even companies that just do spring & fall maintenance work & take care of this for you. It can well be worth the couple hundred dollars to save your thousands down the road!

No get out there & clean those gutters!