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6 Reasons to Clean Your Furnace & DuctsPosted by admin on March 23rd, 2015

I recently had the ducts and furnace cleaned at my house. Why, you ask? Here are 6 reasons to clean your furnace & ducts:

1. The life of your furnace. Dirt slows down air movement and creates more resistance so that your furnace has to work harder, reducing the life of the equipment and ultimately costing you more money. This dirt gets stuck inside your ducts, furnace and a good portion gets stuck to your filter. (That means it is VERY important to change or clean your filter so that your furnace doesn’t have to work so hard to push the air through a filthy filter!)

2. Allergies and cleaner air. Even if you don’t have allergies, whatever is blowing around in the air can tickle your nose and get into your lungs. AaaaaahCHOO!

3. Breathe your own air. Especially if you’re moving into a new home, you don’t want to be breathing in someone else’s dust or dead skin, allergens/pollens, dirt and pet hair from 12 years ago. When years of build-up is camped out in your furnace and ducting, a lot of it can just be re-circulated into the air you breathe. Ewwwww!

4. Mold! Air has moisture. Moisture likes to stay in cozy areas. Cozy areas provide a nice home for mold. Where is pretty cozy in your house? Your heating ducts!

5. The secret is the filter. Have you done a remodeling project lately? Has there recently been road construction nearby your house? Any thing that increases particles in the air of your home means that at the very least, your filter probably needs to be changed. Those particles can fill up a filter faster than you think. Depending on how often you use your heating/cooling system,  the depth of your filter, your family’s daily life (smoking, allergies) and if you have pets, it should be changed every 1-3 months. When in doubt, change it out. It is MUCH cheaper to clean or change your filter regularly than to pay for a new furnace.

6. Less dust. If you’re like me, you have little time or energy left after a busy week to clean. Let your filter do the work- you can sit back and relax.

The following are photos of my furnace blower and return air duct the before and after it was cleaned. If I inspect a house and I see a dirty blower or ducts, I recommend cleaning. If I don’t see maintenance records for the furnace, I recommend a complete service.

Furnace blower after cleaning

Furnace blower after cleaning

Furnace blower before cleaning

Furnace blower before cleaning

clean return air duct

clean return air duct

Return duct before cleaning

Return duct before cleaning

Merry Everyone!Posted by admin on December 23rd, 2014

Wishing you all a merry holiday season and an even better 2015! Thanks to each one of you who have referred business to me, gave me the gift of kind words or encouragement, listening to me vent, made cake pops, sat on a golf course with me on a summer day, offered advice, edited copy, photographed someone who’s clearly not a model, written an unsolicited testimonial or positive “thank you” email, given me feedback (positive and negative) on my reports, answered my questions or even just smiled at me on the street. I cannot express my gratitude enough. Cheers to another amazing year!gnome santa inspection hat

Fun Radon Facts (at least in my opinion)Posted by admin on November 11th, 2014

I attended the radon presentation at the Architectural Heritage Center this past weekend- what a great event! AHC always puts on great educational programs and this one provided some fun radon facts. If you don’t already know about radon, it’s an odorless, colorless, tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in our soil and water. Buildings trap escaping radon, forcing us to breathe it unknowingly. Radon is the #2 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Levels of radon are different for every home. If you don’t know what the radon levels are in your home, get a home testing kit or call me and I will test for you!

I learned so much about radon that I thought you might want to nerd out with me… here we go:

  • radon decay chain wikipediaThe chemical element radon comes from uranium & thorium, which decays into radium and then into radon. Uranium and thorium are the two most common radioactive elements here on earth.
  • 20% of U.S. deaths are due to radon-related lung cancer. Your risk is 5x greater if you are a smoker.
  • Radon was a food additive in the early 1900s! There were also radon caverns where you could go to breathe in radon… yikes!
  • Newer homes are more tightly sealed (for energy conservation) and are potentially keeping more radon in homes.
  • Granite countertops emit very low levels of radon.
  • Lower levels of radon are best, obviously… though it’s quite impossible to completely get rid of radon. Outdoor air is approximately .4 pCi/l  (that’s picocuries per liter in case you were wondering). The average U.S. home is about 1.3 pCi/l, but this varies from house to house! Your neighbor might have very high levels and yours may be low or vice versa.  The Surgeon General recommends radon reduction for homes that measure 4 pCi/l or more and you should consider radon reduction for levels between 2 and 4 pCi/l.
  • 1 in 8 homes nationally tests high in radon.
  • 1 in 15 homes in Oregon tests high in radon.
  • 1 in 4 Portland homes tests high in radon.
  • Areas that have highly permeable soils and/or have had landslides generally have higher radon levels. Alameda ridge, north Portland, east Portland, Sherwood/Newberg, Lakeview and Clark Co. (Washington) have a higher risk for high levels of radon due to the geology of those areas.
    Radon by zip code, Oregon

    Radon by zip code, Oregon

  • An example of the seasonal effects of radon can be higher levels when it rains- the water seeping into the ground pushes radon up out of the soil.
  • HEPA air filters are NOT effective in reducing radon levels in your home.
  • Radon testing can be long-term (3-12+ months) or short-term (2-4 days). If you have a long-term radon monitor plugged in in your home, remember- the equipment needs to be re-calibrated annually!
  • There are several ways (both passive and active) to reduce the radon levels in your home. Talk to a professional about the most effective system for your situation. If you are constructing a new home, install a passive system!
  • It is best to test for radon in the winter months while windows and doors remain mostly closed.

Still want to know more? Check out the EPA website or the Portland, Oregon radon website. And watch this Oregon Field Guid Radon video.

Home Inspection Testimonial Email from R.M.Posted by admin on November 6th, 2014

Probably the most difficult part of my job is the news that clients’ hearts are broken about a house they fell in love with… But I know that this is much more heartbreaking for those clients. I received the following email from a couple that I’d recently done a home inspection for. It makes me so proud of my business but it totally breaks my heart too:

“I wanted to write you a quick note to say thank you for your thorough inspection…. The roof ended up needing to be totally replaced, which the sellers were unwilling to do. Although we are bummed that this did not end up being the right house for us, we are so thankful to you for your thorough inspection and we will definitely use you when we find another great house that will hopefully be ours. Thank you again!” -R.M., Portland, Oregon

…But imagine if they had bought a house with a bad roof that they had to pay to replace themselves.

I wish I could warn home buyers before their house search begins that the home buying process can be emotional and will probably hurt. Sometimes you don’t get the house you fall in love with (and it hurts more and more the further you get into the process of buying- I’ve been through it myself), whether it’s because of something from the inspection, something with funding or any number of scenarios. Whatever it is, it’s usually out of your control and causes heartbreak for everyone involved- including me!

The good news: it’s ok. The house that was meant for you is out there and that one wasn’t it. There is a better, more perfect home waiting for you around the corner. Literally. Sometimes patience is painful. But the wait is worth it. I promise.

Fix-It Fairs in PortlandPosted by admin on October 28th, 2014

I love events like this… you show up, get free information, classes, repairs and prizes and leave knowing that you are a better homeowner. What could be better than that? The Fix-It Fair is a FREE City of Portland event where you can learn simple ways to save money and connect with resources. Join your neighbors and talk to the experts about how to spend less and stay healthy. Fix-It Fairs in Portland are coming up:

November 22, 2014photo
Parkrose High School
12003 NE Shaver St, Portland, OR 97220

January 24, 2015
Rosa Parks Elementary School
8960 N Woolsey Ave, Portland, OR 97203

February 21, 2015
David Douglas High School
1001 SE 135th Ave, Portland, OR 97233

What will you find and learn at a Fix-It Fair? Ongoing exhibits and hourly workshops on such topics as:

  • Water and energy savings
  • Safe and healthy home
  • Food and nutrition
  • Neighborhood and community resources
  • Recycling
  • Weatherizing your home
  • Gardening and growing your own food
  • Yard care and composting
  • Transportation

Plus:

  • Free lead blood testing
  • Free giveaways
  • Hourly door prizes
  • Free professional childcare
  • Free lunch
  • Free minor bike tune-ups and flat tire repair for students and families

For more information or to receive email notification for future Fairs call 503-823-4309 or email fixitfair@portlandoregon.gov

Visit Fix-It Fair on Facebook to get more information from them and the community.

Visite nuestra página web en español.

Golf Tournament Success! Thank you, Ladies.Posted by admin on August 13th, 2014

Golf tournament success! This was a great fundraising event put on by the Portland Chapter of Women’s Council of Realtors! The weather was perfect and I met so many awesome people. I feel so lucky to be surrounded and supported by all these amazing (men and) women in the real estate industry. I can’t wait until next year’s golf event!

An an extra round of applause to the WCR ladies who organized the event- I’ve done fundraising events like this and I know how much time, energy and effort goes into it and you all did a splendid job. Nice work.

And a million thanks to all my gnomies who made this event possible for me: Jenn W., Kristy, Christine, Chris and Heidi. You guys are the BEST.

See all the photos here.IMG_2755IMG_2759 IMG_2757

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Start saving money on energyPosted by admin on August 12th, 2014

Affordable Ways to Make Your House Healthier and Green

“It’s so expensive to do all the “green” things I want to do with my house!” While most of the greening things that get publicity are quite expensive such as solar panels, extra insulation or new windows, there are several things you can do that are affordable and easy. Here are just a few:

1. Paint with Low or Zero VOC paint. Cost: 20-50% more than conventional paint. “VOC” stands for Volatile Organic Compounds…which doesn’t sound like something I want in my house! Low- and No-VOC paint takes longer to dry (be especially careful about painting window sills and touching them with decor or window coverings), but doesn’t off gas. That means you’re not breathing in toxic chemicals when you walk into the room! VOCs are in many other products (several types of flooring/adhesives, upholstery fabrics, air fresheners, etc.), so the more you limit them from you house, the healthier you’ll be.

2. Change the filter(s) in your heating/cooling system. Cost: $4-$45+. Changing your filter regularly will help you in three ways. First, it will help your heating/cooling equipment to run more efficiently which prolongs the life of the system. It also saves energy (which saves you money) by not having to work so hard to push air through the system. Lastly, a clean filter does a better job of filtering out nasty stuff in the air you breathe. You don’t want  to be breathing in allergens and dust from months ago, do you? It’s best to follow manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to the frequency at which you should change your filter, but it also depends on if you have pets, how much you use the system, etc. For an average household, I suggest changing filters once every two months. (More frequently if you have pets, allergies or if you use your system constantly.)

lightbulb color temperatures

Lightbulb color temperatures- cooler to warmer

3. Use Compact Fluorescent or LED lightbulbs. Cost: CFL $7+; LED $25+.  Incandescents are dead! Using more efficient bulbs simply saves energy which saves you money! Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have a longer life (up to 10x), but are more expensive. Do you want to use energy efficient bulbs but hate that it makes your room look blue like WalMart? Your bulbs are too cool! Look for warmer bulbs- 2500K color temperature or lower. The higher the color temperature number, the more blue and stark the light is. A lower “K” number is better here.

4. Get a free Water Conservation Kit from Portland Water Bureau. Did I mention this is free? You can customize your kit to fit your needs or just order the whole shebang if you’re in the Portland area: call 503-823-4527 or email conserve@portlandoregon.gov

5. Install a programmable thermostat. Cost: $35+.  It doesn’t have to be fancy. as long as you can set the temperature to be different at different times of day and for different days of the week, you’ll save money and time by not babysitting the temperature. Don’t worry- you can always override the programmed temperature. A new thermostat may seem complicated, but it’s really quite simple- there are rarely more than 4 buttons to deal with and once you set it, you can forget it. Cheers to a healthier house!

Join me for a Charity Golf Tournament!Posted by admin on August 4th, 2014

Do you golf? Do you like to have fun? Get a foursome together and golf with a bunch of amazing women for charity! Prizes, drinks, dinner and fun are all on the agenda… and it’s all for a couple of great causes: The Oregon Food Bank and NE PDX Backpack Lunch Program. This tournament is for members and non-members of The Greater Portland Chapter of Women’s Council of Realtors on Wednesday, August 13, 2014. Shotgun start at 1 pm.

This is a DRIVING COURSE, so carts will be provided. After 18 holes, dinner will be provided. Prizes will be awarded for some unusual happenings on the course. Non golfers are welcome to join the group for Dinner at $20.00 per person.

Drinks will be offered on the course and I plan on having some awesome promotional items! Please bring cans of food for the Oregon Food Bank. More info and register here.

See you there!Nicole teeing off recently...

Radon Testing in Portland Oregon!Posted by admin on May 19th, 2014

Home Gnome Inspections now offers radon testing!

What is radon? Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that may cause cancer. It can be in the water, soil and air you breathe. It gets trapped inside buildings, increasing your risk for exposure.

Get it tested!

If you are concerned about radon in your home:

  • Make a appointment by email or call 503-913-1281! Radon testing is easy, affordable, and it can save your life.
  • Testing is most accurate when the doors/windows/exhaust fans & vents are closed for a minimum of 12 hours prior to the start of the test and when the home remains closed (except for regular entry and exit) for the duration of the test (at least 48 hours).
  • Radon in your home can be reduced up to 99%! Find qualified mitigators here.
  • Radon is estimated to cause 21,000 deaths from lung cancer each year. Is the air you breathe safe?
  • Click here to see if  your area is at high-risk.

Home Inspection DiscountPosted by admin on May 8th, 2014

Have you received a postcard or heard about our May home inspection discount? Get $20 off your next Portland home inspection with coupon code: SPRING 14. Just mention it at any time before payment.

Please pass this code along to anyone who’s looking for a thorough, reliable and trustworthy inspector!