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                                                        NEWS & HOT TIPS

                                 IMPORTANT NEWS for home owners with central air conditioners built BEFORE 2010.

Your air conditioner refrigerant is probably HCFC-22 also known as R-22. This product is in short supply and will not be produced or imported into the United States after the end of 2019 since it is an ozone depleting substance. 

You can determine if your air conditioner uses R-22 by reading the label on the outdoor unit of our central air conditioner. If it says R-22 or HCFC-22 we recommend you have the equipment serviced THIS SUMMER. R-22 is expensive now, but will be more expensive next year. If your air conditioner malfunctions, it may not be worth repairing. 

For more information see a list of frequently asked questions from the US EPA

                                                  Financial aid for home owners with lead painted windows. 
Old wood windows in homes built before 1978 often have deteriorated lead paint. Lead paint dust from old windows can be a serious developmental problem for small children.   We recommend correction testing and mitigation by a Lead Safe qualified contractors.  

New trust fund offers compensation for home owners with Zonolite Vermiculite attic insulation READ CAREFULLY and follow directions to qualify. 

Don't let your insulation be trampled. Keep people out of the attic

Ice Dams indicate significant heat loss - wasted energy
Dryers venting to the roof are a frequent cause of ice dams in townhouses. 
Question the satellite TV dish or cable TV installer who wants to enter your attic.
ASHI Certified Inspectors are the only home inspectors who have completed a recognized certification process

Rain + Clogged Gutters/Spout extension off = Wet basements
Tamper Resistant Receptacles Required in New Homes
Roger Hankey enters 44th year of inspections
 A new company formed to remove ice dams.

Don't warm up a car in an attached garage. 
Flexible dryer vents increase the potential for clogging and overheating
Low Cost Safety Device Provided with most new kitchen stoves:
Eleven Gallon Blood Donor
Hankey & Brown now doing
InfraRed Thermal scans:
Prepare ahead for Winter Weather and ice dams:
Our favorite treats for holidays and birthdays.
Remodeled 1948 Minnetonka rambler wins LEED platinum award.
Radon Removal Systems help maintain a dry basement.

New trust fund for homeowners with vermiculite attic insulation

The Zonolite Attic insulation trust is offering compensation to home owners who have Zonolite vermiculite insulation in their homes.  Compensation is 55% of up to $7,500 cost for mitigating the insulation.  Details of the program are available at



We have found many modern homes where the original attic insulation, often 17 to 19 inches of blown fiberglass, has been compressed, displaced, or disturbed by human foot traffic in the attic.  Whether an electrician, cable tv installer, or other trades person, these individuals often leave trails of damaged insulation or areas that are barely insulated.

Trampled attic insulation (C) 2012 Certified ASHI Inspector Roger Hankey, in Winter Park, CO 80482

Loose insulation is not effective when it is compressed and/or less than its designed depth.  We recommend that owners of modern homes with well insulated attics prohibit or restrict access to the attic. We have created warning signs to be posted above the attic hatch to notify trades persons that they must not enter the attic without agreeing to pay to have the insulation restored by a qualified insulation firm. We have also created an agreement that homeowners can use to hold contractors responsible for restoring the insulation to its original condition.  Both the signs and agreement are available by sending an email to

                                                      Vacant, Foreclosed, & Short sale home buying tip

Prior to scheduling a home inspection it is wise for you or your real estate agent to verify the status of the utilities at vacant, short sale, or foreclosed houses.  It is  easy to see whether the electric power is on and if water is on at fixtures, but sometimes when the water is off, and no heat is required, it is not obvious if the gas supply is on.  The best way to check is to look at the gas meter.  The meter is typically outdoors at a front corner. 

                              Locked gas meter (C) 2011 Certified ASHI Inspector Roger Hankey, in Winter Park, CO 80482 
If the gas is off, the gas utility will have turned the valve to the off position and placed a clamp or pin type lock on the valve.  In this case, your home inspector will not be able to check the operation of any gas equipment including the furnace or boiler, water heater, gas stove or other gas fired appliances.  We recommend you and your agent arrange to have the gas supply turned on prior to the scheduled appointment.  Home inspectors can not tamper with or remove the lock.     

Upgrade your bathroom vent fan. Its a quick, easy, low cost project

Most bath vent fans, particularly those in baths without a tub or shower are a low cost 50 CFM (cubic feet per minute) model that tends to be rather noisy. If you're tired of that under powered noisy fan,  Nutone - Broan now offers an upgrade kit for most of these fans.  The key benefit of the upgrade is reduced noise.  Your existing fan probably has a sound rating of 4.0 sones.  The fan in the upgrade kit is 3.0 sones.  The fan in the upgrade kit also increases the fan capacity to 60 CFM.   The kit also includes a new grill to cover the fan. Time to install the upgrade is about 10 minutes and requires no wiring.  Cost for the kit is about $30.  Click here for more information.   Another lowcost enhancement to this project would be to change the bath fan switch to a timer switch.  These typically cost about $20 and do require an easy wiring job. (Turn off the power at fuse or breaker, remove old switch, replace with new switch.) Now you can turn on the fan and let it run the desired time without having to remember to turn it off.  Both the fan upgrade kit and timer switches are available at most home centers and hardware stores.

                                        Bathroom fan upgrade kit from Broan - Nutone - Nautilus  #690

Update:  Broan and Nutone also have a new upgrade kit for older fans with 7.5" x 7.25" chassis.  This kit is called the QKN 60 and retails for about $40.   Another new product is the Leviton humidity sensor for bath fans. Model # R02-IPHS5-0LW. This control lists for about $25. Both the fan and switch are carried by Home Depot.  

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Do NOT warm up your car in the garage!

When the weather is cold you may be tempted to open the garage door and warm up your car for a few minutes in the garage.  DON'T DO IT.  When the engine is cold, it produces a large amount of carbon monoxide until it has been run at roadway speeds.  Even with the overhead door open, most of the carbon monoxide from the car exhaust remains IN THE GARAGE.  When you leave and close the the garage door the carbon monoxide gradually seeps into the house.  Within a few hours, the air in the house will be contaminated with carbon monoxide.  The passage of carbon monoxide from an attached garage to the house has been documented by several studies.  The remedy, if you want to warm up the car, back it out completely and let it idle on the driveway. is ten years old on 4 July 2015

This website has developed into a large and frequently updated resource for home owners. What started out as a small site with basic information about our services and qualifications has grown to scores of pages with a wide variety of topics on home maintenance and the conditions found during home inspections.  The site features numerous photos of adverse conditions as well as illustrations of remedies or maintenance procedures for a wide variety of conditions. We welcome your comments and plan to continue to expand the content available at this site.  Our newest content is at PoorChoices and shows photos of several conditions where a home owner or installer did not make a good decision.  We also update our Troubled Houses - A Home Owners Resourcesm page occasionally with new photos and stories.

Rosemount deck collapse injures three people 

The Minneapolis StarTribune reports that 3 people suffered minor injuries during the collapse of a deck built without a building permit in the suburban community of Rosemount.  The deck was attached to the siding, without benefit of a bolted ledger board.  The house was built in 1988, without a deck.  The owner stated that the deck was on the house when they bought it ten years ago and they had not noticed any prior problems.  This incident points out the importance of having a qualified inspector examine the home prior to purchase and periodically during your occupancy, particularly if the house was not inspected prior to purchase. See our deck inspection page for more information about decks.

Spring tips for home owners and home buyers

The seaons are changing.  The "Parade of Home" new homes tour is on, and the snow is melting.  Now is the time to think about Spring home maintenance and important factors to consider when shopping for a new home.


Look carefully at your gutters and downspouts.  The spouts and their extensions need to be ON.   The ground near is very vulnerable to water flow as heat from the foundation often keeps the soil warm enough to prevent frost.  Melting snow from downspouts is a leading cause of wet basement in the Spring.  

   Downspout extension too short. Drawing from "illustrated Home" by Carson Dunlop
Also, check your sump pump.  Look at the water level in the sump.  If the water level is near or above the bottom of the open ends of the drain tiles, then the pump is not working or not adjusted properly.  Activate the pump by adding water to the sump.  If the pump does not activate, contact a plumber for correction ASAP.   Also during or shortly after the next heavy or steady rainfall, check to see that water is entering the sump.  Water should flow from the open ends of the tile into the sump. 
(C) 2012 Iron ochre sludge in foundation drain tile and sump.   Certified ASHI Inspectors in Winter Park, CO

Check the ends of the tile (often plastic tubing) for silt or slime. (Orange material is iron ochre.)  If debris of this type is entering the sump, your pump or the tile can become clogged.  Contact a drain cleaning firm for assistance ASAP.  


Houses are easier to improve than neighborhoods.  Work with your real estate agent to search in the highest value neighborhood you can afford.  Buying and improving a home in a low value neighborhood creates a potential for "overimprovement" where it will be difficult to recover your investment.

Simple roof designs are much less likely to have ice dams than complex roofs.  This is true in all ages of homes, but is a common problem in newer houses with very complex roofs, and in multiple family buildings (townhouses and condos) where the building can have many valleys, each with an ice dam.

Dryers venting to the roof cause of ice dams in some townhouses

Many townhouses built in the past 15 years or so have clothes dryers vented to the roof.  This can have disasterous results in snowy winters, when the dryer vent melts the snow and causes ice dams on the eaves.  We have seen numerous examples of these conditions over the past few years, and recommend that the dryer vents be rerouted out the wall whenever possible.   If the dryer can not be vented to a location OTHER than the roof, we recommend an alternative vent terminal known as DryerJack.  The model 496 DryerJack discharges 5 inches above the roof should help reduce snow melt.

 Dryer vent termination at roof causing snow melt and ice dam. (C) 2011  ASHI Certified Inspectors, Winter Park, CO publishes article on Moisture in electrical panels.

Our article on Moisture in Electrical panels features four case studies on how moisture can enter or form in electrical panels.  The article is intended to help both home owners and home inspectors understand the most common methods of moisture entry, and to be aware of remedies and preventive measures to help prevent corrosion within the fuse or circuit breaker panels.  Click here to read the article. is one of the most popular and complete references on home maintenance and home inspection on the internet.

 Condensation and corrosion in an electric service panel. (C) 2010 ASHI Certified Inspectors, Winter Park, CO

Its time to check your heating system. 

Over the past two decades, many home owners have installed high efficiency condensing type gas forced air furnaces.  These Category IV furnaces are so efficient (over 90% Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) that they vent the products of combustion out via plastic a plastic pipe instead of a metal vent.   The combustion of natural gas produces a large volume water vapor, but these furnaces capture so much heat from the combustion,  that the water vapor is cooled to about 200ºF.  Liquid water condenses in the furnace and must be piped out of the furnace to a suitable drain.

          Hi efficiency furnace - Leak check locations.  Tips from Roger Hankey ASHI Certified Inspector in Winter Park, CO

Normally this water flow out of the furnace via a small plastic tube to either a condensate pump, or a nearby floor drain.  Occasionally hoses, fittings and other furnace components that collect or drain away the condensate will leak.  This condensate is slightly acidic and can corrode metalling components of the furnace.  If you see water inside the furnace cabinet or leaking out on the floor, call a qualified heating contractor to correct the leak.  The leak may also indicate that there is a defect, or corrosion in the condenser.  This is a more serious leak and may require a furnace replacement.   Usually, the leak is not the condenser, and typically can be repaired quickly with replacement hoses, or fittings.

          Hi efficiency furnace - Leaking through cabinet onto floor.  (C) 2011 ASHI Certified Inspectors in Winter Park, CO

Your furnace may also have a diagnostic light emitting diode LED behind a small plastic window.  These LED's are typically on the blower door of the furnace.  If your furnace is malfunctioning, check the LED and write down any blinking signal.  The code for the LED lights is typically found on a large lable affixed to the inside of the furnace cover or blower door cover.   When calling for service, you may be able to expedite the repair by reporting the information from the LED to the service dispatcher.   

(C) 2011 Gas forced air furnace with LED diagnostic light.   Tips from Roger Hankey ASHI Certified Inspector in Winter Park, CO

Finally, remember to check the air filter and change or clean it to provide for proper air flow through the furnace.  This is the single most important maintenance for this essential system. 

WINTER UPDATE:   Be sure to check the AIR INTAKE of your high efficiency furnace. 

If your furnace has two plastic pipes that serve as the air intake and vent, and these pipes terminate at an outside wall near the ground, deep snow drifts can block the air intake.  If the intake is blocked, the furnace typically has a pressure switch that will sence the lake of air and prevent to the furnace from operating.  Similarly, if the vent is blocked a separate pressure switch will prevent furnace operation.  Usually the discharge of warm combustion products from the vent will melt the snow away from the vent and air intake.  Furnaces without these controls or with malfunctioning switches might operate without adequate air and create carbon monoxide. 

Therefore, to keep your furnace running, and to maintain a proper air supply, CHECK FOR SNOW DRIFTS blocking the vent and air intake.

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Ice Dams indicate significant heat loss - wasted energy

This winter and last winter have produced more snow than normal, resulting in an above average number of homes suffering from ice dams, including many with leakage as a result of the ice dams.  What many people do not recognize is that ice dams are a clear indication of wasted heat.  Heat loss to the attic causes ice dams.  The heat loss occurrs EVERY winter, while the ice dam appears only in winters with heavy snowfalls.  Now is the time to hire a qualified home inspector to determine the sources of the heat loss and provide recommendations to reduce the heat loss and reduce the potential for ice dams.  Hankey & Brown Inspections are experts on ice dams and conduct visual and infrared thermographic inspections of attic to locate the areas of heat loss.

Question the satellite TV dish or cable TV installer who wants to enter your attic.

Unfortunately many cable and satellite TV installers are not trained to respect your attic insulation.  While most installers are probably trained to know enough to walk only on the framing (so they don't collapse the ceiling), many do not consider they if they traverse the attic they will disturb and/or compress the attic insulation.  If the insulation is disturbed or compressed, it will not maintain the original thermal insulation value (R-value).  Depending on the extent of the compression and the type of insulation, you may need to have the insulation fluffed up and redistributed, OR addition insulation installed to restore the original R-value.  

Another system we have seen compromised by cable and sat. dish installers is the vent pipes for radon systems.  Homes built since 2009 are required to have these pipes.  The pipes are typically 3 or 4" plastic pipes and may have a label indicating their purpose.  We have seen these pipes used as a cable conduit.  While this may not be prohibited, radon mitigation firms do not recommend the radon vent pipe be penetrated for any purpose. 

Discuss the installers procedures regarding insulation and radon vent pipes BEFORE permitting the installers into the attic. Return to top of page

Link to EPA Lead-Safe Firm finder

Click the logo to link to the EPA search tool for Lead-Safe Contractors. 

Contractors who disturb six square feet of wall must be certified for Lead-Safe Practices.

New "Lead Safe" Renovation rules from the US EPA

The US EPA has issued new rules which require renovation and repair firms to use strict new "lead safe" work practices when working on homes built before 1978.  These rules go into effect on April 22, 2010 and include interior work where the surface area of lead is 6 sq. ft or greater, and exterior work where the surface area of lead is 20 sq. ft or greater.  For more information see the EPA brochure on renovation 

   Do you own an Air to Air Heat exchanger? (Heat recovery ventilator)          Do you maintain it?  
                                            If you don't maintain it, it won't work!


Air to Air Heat Exchangers, otherwise known as Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV's) are wonderful energy savers and provide a daily dose of fresh air into otherwise tightly constructed modern homes.  Unfortunately, 80-90% of the HRV's we examine are NOT working due to lack of maintenance.  The most commonly overlooked maintenance task is cleaning the air intake screen. 
  Screen in left hood is the air intake for a heat recovery ventilator. It is clogged with dust and cottonwood tree fuzz.  (C) 2010 ASHI Certified Inspectors, Winter Park, CO

The screen is typically found in a metal hood at the main floor level of an exterior wall.  Cottonwood fuzz, dust, dirt, and other airborne debris readily clogs the intake screen due to the high volume of air sucked in through this hood.  A good tool for cleaning the screen in this hood is a car windshield snow brush.  One way to reduce the amount of air flowing into the screen is to turn OFF the HRV around May first each year since the HRV does not operate successfully during the cooling season.  Turning off the HRV will stop air flow in through the intake screen.   

The other primary maintenance task in an HRV is to clean the filters inside the unit.  Typically there are tow filters and the one filtering outdoor air will be the dirtiest one.  Full maintenance instructions are found on the white core (at right).

  Filter at left is the air intake filter for a heat recovery ventilator. It is clogged with dust and cottonwood fuzz.  (C) 2010 ASHI Certified Inspectors, Winter Park, CO
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Rain + Clogged Gutters/Spout extension off = Wet basements    Return to top of page

Now is the time to check your gutters, downspouts, and spout extensions.  Clean any clogged gutters, put the extensions back on and look for leaks at gutter corners or seams.  Taking a few minutes in now will reduce the potential for wet basements when heavy rains come.  We have already seen a few wet basements, so there is no time to waste.  If your basement is carpeted, and the carpet gets wet, you will need to get the carpet up and dry within 24 hours to reduce the potential for mold growth in the carpet.

Tamper Resistant Receptacles Required in New Homes

Tamper resistant electrical receptacles (outlets) have been required in residential  construction for about a year in Minnesota.  These new devices include a sliding plate that prevents small children from inserting any foreign object into the receptacle.  These outlets are more reliable than plastic caps or plugs, which toddlers can remove, and more convenient than retrofit tamper resistant cover plates.  These devices can be installed as replacement receptacles in homes of any age.  We recommend parents of small children contact a qualified electrical contractor for installation of these devices.

Tamper Resistant Electrical outlet

Tamper Proof Receptacles have an internal sliding plate that prevents insertion of anything other than a properly designed plug.  Notice you can't see the metal contact blades inside the receptacle.  Some manufacturers also place a TR mark on the face of the receptacle.

                         Roger Hankey enters 44th year of inspections

On Dec. 1, 2018, Hankey & Brown Inspections celebrated Roger Hankey's 43rd anniversary as a home inspector.  Our inspection techniques have changed considerably since the days before computers and digital cameras.  Fortunately we no longer work with pencils and clipboards, but attention to detail and listening to customers needs continues to be the primary focus of our work.  We look forward to more years of service to our customers.  Thanks to all our customers for your trust and support.

Roger Hankey, ASHI Certified Inspector, of Winter Park, CO, at a home inspection circa 1983. Minneapolis StarTribune photo

Roger Hankey inspecting circa 1983. (Minneapolis StarTribune photo)

George Kerr, a pioneer in smoke and carbon monoxide alarm manufacturing passed away in his home during the early morning of July 4, 2017. George is remembered for his passion to save lives and protect the health of people through low level carbon monoxide detection and alarming. His company name CO Experts described George as he described it.  He began his career in fire safety in 1953. “We’ll never know how many lives we’re saving, but I know we are saving a few.” George E. Kerr 

Thanks to Bob Dwyer, of the Carbon Monoxide Safety Association, for sharing the news about our late friend George Kerr.