Laminate Floor Inspection

Laminate flooring is a multi-layer, synthetic flooring product installed as a cost-effective alternative to traditional wood floors. While home inspectors are not required by InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice to specifically inspect laminate flooring, knowing something about the various types, manufacture and characteristics can help them spot defects and potential hazards.

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Laminate flooring simulates wood and, less commonly, marble, limestone and granite, using a photograph installed beneath a clear protective layer. This image makes the laminate closely resemble a natural material, but the difference becomes apparent upon close inspection. Homeowners may choose from among common woods, such as maple, oak and pine, as well as exotic species, such as Brazilian cherry, mahogany and walnut. Beneath this layer is an inner core composed of melamine resin and fiberboard materials. Pergo® is the most popular brand of laminate flooring, although it is often mistakenly used to describe all laminate floors. Laminate floor manufacturers include DuPont® and Witex®.

Laminate floors are environmentally friendly — the paper and wood are made from recycled products — and easy to maintain, as they are resistant to scratches, dents and demarcations. And, unlike hardwood floors, laminate floors can be installed without any expensive equipment or training. They are more affordable than hardwood floors and they’re often the better choice for homeowners who require an inexpensive floor that is expected to take a beating. Hardwood floors, however, can be sanded and refinished, and tend to add substantial value to the entire house.

Here is a list of defective conditions common to laminate floors:

  • gapping.  Extreme temperature changes can cause the boards to pull away from one another. Builders should acclimatize laminate flooring to the conditions of the room in which the laminate will be installed;
  • peaking.  This condition occurs when panels push up against each other at the joints, creating unlevel high points. This defect is common where the boards were not installed with sufficient expansion space. As a remedy, the boards or surrounding molding may be trimmed;
  • buckling and warping, which is caused by high humidity, excessive surface moisture (such as that leaked from ice makers and pipes), and dampness rising from the sub-floor, along with the lack of a sufficient moisture barrier. Buckling and warping can be limited if a pressure-balancing layer is installed beneath the boards. Hardwood floors, by contrast, are naturally more resistant to moisture damage, as they will swell and shrink to accommodate changes in moisture;
  • mold, which is caused by excessive moisture. Mold is a potentially serious threat to building materials and the health of sensitive individuals. Refer to InterNACHI’s articles on mold for more information;
  • off-registration, in which the patterns on adjacent boards do not match;
  • “soft floor.”  This condition often results when the inner core, made from expanding high-density fiberboard, is subjected to moisture, causing it to swell and fall apart. These boards must be replaced;
  • formaldehyde-outgassing, which originates from the melamine resin in various laminate floors. Chemically sensitive individuals may select laminate flooring that has been treated to reduce formaldehyde emissions; and
  • sound penetration.  Laminate is a “floating floor,” meaning that occupants can hear a tapping echo when someone walks on the floor. Some manufacturers have added acoustical padding to muffle the sound.

Manufacturers’ warranties may cover some of the aforementioned defects, although many restrictions apply. For instance, the floors must be installed to the manufacturer’s specifications, such as leaving vapor barriers and expansion gaps where required.  Abuse, accidents, scratches, and many types of water damage are not covered.

 

Garage Doors – Protect your entrance the right way

Garage Doors – Protect your entrance the right way

Legacy Home Inspection helps you to be prepared for home ownership. As part of this we like to educate you about the home systems you have and also how they should be maintained. When you buy a new home there may be items you don’t see although they are common issues. This week deals with garage doors. It might look OK outside but what can you find on the inside?

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Garage Door Operation 101 – a homeowner’s guide to the garage door and how it works.

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One of the most overlooked “appliances” in your home is the garage door. You press a button. It goes up. It goes down. Simple, right?

Not really. Like every other mechanical device you own – your cars, your kitchen and laundry appliances and your heating and cooling systems – your garage door and its operating system needs to be properly adjusted and regularly maintained in order to function correctly.

You can perform some simple safety and maintenance tasks yourself. Other tasks – such as spring repair/replacement, track and roller repair/replacement and door installation – are jobs best left to trained service professionals.

Just as it is common practice to have your home’s heating and cooling systems checked annually, it’s also a good idea to have your door checked annually by a qualified service technician to ensure that it continues to work properly and effectively. Use the Find a Dealer feature to locate a qualified service technician nearby.

Never take a garage door system for granted; always use extreme caution when working on it or near it. Make sure that children understand that the garage door and the garage door opener are not toys. Never let children play with the door or its operating system. For more safety information, check out theGarage Door Safety section of this site.

Common Electric Panel Problems

As a trained home inspector, I have opened and inspected hundreds of residential electric panels.  Whether they are main service panels or subpanels, there always seems to be a short list of recurring issues in these panels.  This post is designed to help you identify these potential problems and be able to contact a professional to have them corrected.

CORROSION

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DOUBLE TAPS

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BAD PANEL TYPES

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These are just a handful of the problems I normally see inside an electric panel during a home inspection.  Call us today for assistance in your home inspection and guidance on how to correct the issue.