INGENUITY AT WORK

Resources for Special Tips, Tools, and Articles to Conquer Precision.

The harsher weather is coming with the change of seasons, and with it comes the possibility of things breaking down or not working properly. Every year I worry about potential issues hidden behind walls, under floors, in gutters, in the ceiling or in the heating system.

To help avoid financial and emotional surprises in the dead of winter, I run an inspection throughout my home every fall. I also do it for my parents who are getting on in years. They're "snowbirds" traveling down to warmer weather in the winter months. That means we must batten down the hatches and get their house in Maine prepared.

Over the years I've dreaded the yearly inspections, as it took hours, got my clothes dirty, and made for a long day with a hot, achy shower at the end of it. Until last year I did a lot of crawling around, ladder climbing and peering into cramped spaces followed by doubt as to whether I'd missed something. This year I equipped myself for the project and did both my house and my elderly parents' house in no time flat, and I feel confident everything was checked and prepared. In the rest of this post, I'll go through what I did and highlight the new tools I used to make the job easier and quicker.

Doors and Windows

Look for wear and tear in the weather stripping around exterior doors and windows. Check for cracks in window glass and glazing. Look for peeling paint and sticking points in the action of the windows. An infared thermometer makes identifying hot or cold spots in your home quick and easy. These areas are signs that energy is being wasted especially around older windows and doors and could clue you in that it might be time to upgrade, weather strip, or insulate. It beats walking around with a cigarette or incense looking to see which way the smoke blows. You can also check for areas around the house that may have insulation sagging, wasn't properly secured or missed altogether.

 

Exterior

Check around the house to make sure there aren't any hanging wires or any branches that could knock down wires and cables, break a window, or damage the roof.

Move away from the house and have a look at the roof, checking for missing shingles, cracks, crumbling pieces. Look for moss and other debris up there.

Check the eaves, soffits and attic vents for insect or bird nests.

Check the gutters and downspouts to make sure they have the proper pitch and are free of any clogs. Rather than eyeballing the angle try using a level. To avoid having to get up on a ladder, I use an inspection camera. I use the Wifi Flashlight Inspection Camera, and rig it to a pole. I can run it along the gutters and check out the results on my smartphone while I'm moving it and even have a video of my inspection to download and watch later.

If you want to spend a few extra bucks, you can get the WIFI Connected Video Inspection Camera with flexible and rigid 3.3-foot probe.

Both of these are WiFi enabled and communicate with a free app that works on both Apple and Android. I've found literally hundreds of uses for both tools, including spying on my kids. Unfortunately, there's not a microphone.

If you get a lot of rain, flooding, and dampness, you'll want to check the foundation and under the siding for moisture. Along with causing wood to rot, water can do a lot of damage if it freezes up during the colder months. This is where the BlueTooth Connected Digital Moisture Meter comes in handy. I was also able to check my folk's house when we found some suspicious water stains around the house. We were able to determine that the area had dried and avoided ripping the wall apart and rebuilding.

 

Electrical

Open your electrical panel and look for any signs of scorch marks around fuses and breakers. You'll also want to check for scorch marks around electrical outlets, which could be a sign of loose or sparking wires. Check all of the outlets by plugging in a lamp, or better yet a GFCI Receptacle Tester. This one will test for six different fault types, eliminating the guess work and having to lug around a lamp from room to room.

Crawl Spaces and Attics

I check these areas twice a year. Before winter and in the spring. I usually check for water and leaks in the winter and in the spring, and to make sure that some critter hasn't made its home in there.

Checking tight spaces such as crawl spaces, attics, basements, porches, and eaves can be a real pain. Even more of a pain is duct work, chimneys, gutters and other tight, hard to get to areas. The Flashlight Inspection Camera and Video Inspection Camera I mentioned earlier are the perfect tools for this. I run mine down ducts, drain pipes, and into vents. I've even lowered the Flashlight Inspection Camera down the chimney to look for any blockage, debris, or dead birds.

I use both the Wifi Flashlight Inspection Camera and the Digital Moisture Meter in the attic. Rather than feeling the insulation for moisture or dampness and getting fiberglass stuck in my hands, I just run the meter over the insulation looking for any dampness caused by leaks.

So get going and inspect your house; it will spare you future headaches and the tools I've mentioned have saved more hours than I can count.

Tools I used for this project

ToolSmart Infrared Thermometer ~ $40

9 Inch Magnetic Torpedo Level ~ $20

ToolSmart Wifi Flashlight Inspection Camera ~ $70

ToolSmart Wifi Connected Video Inspection Camera ~ $129

ToolSmart BlueTooth Connected Digital Moisture Meter ~ $40

3-Wire GFCI Receptacle Tester ~ $10

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