Turn Your Old Cooler Into A Portable Air Conditioner

A few years ago I was fixing up an older Jeep Cherokee XJ and when she was finally up and running a problem was realized.  It was June in South Louisiana and the Jeep’s a/c system was leaking Freon.  With no room in the budget for a/c repair or replacement I took to the internet to see what could be done for me to drive my baby without sweating bullets.

My first stab at staying cool was by purchasing the RoadPro 12V Tornado Fan.  Though it was pretty loud, the fan was quite strong and very impressive.  The conditions inside the Jeep were definitely improved, but I knew that I could do better.

Back to the internet I went, more specifically to YouTube, and this is where I found my second, and final temporary solution to my Jeep a/c issue.  I discovered that you can make a portable air conditioner using only a fan, a cooler, ice, and some PVC pipe.  I happened to have all three laying around so I was good to go.  Below are the tools I used to make my portable a/c and the steps involved in the build.

TOOLS

Jigsaw or Oscillating Multitool

Hole Saw

Electric Drill

Silicone Adhesive

THE BUILD

At the end of this article I have posted a link to the video that inspired my portable a/c build.  I put my own spin on the project by using different components than the one seen in the video due to the fact that it was what I already had on hand.

DSCF6648
Trace the outline of your fan onto the top of the cooler.
DSCF6637
Using a jigsaw or multi-tool cut out the hole for the fan.
DSCF6647
Using a hole saw or multi-tool cut out a place for your PVC pipe.

This is where the cool air will exit the cooler.  If this particular cooler had enough area on the lid to put a PVC 90 degree elbow on top I would have place it there, but I put the pipe on the side due to the smaller size of this cooler’s lid.  If you put your exhaust pipe on the side of your cooler do not put it too low, as the water from the melted ice could leak out through the exhaust pipe if it is too low.

DSCF6645
I used a rubber gasket and silicone to seal the exhaust pipe then added two screws for good measure.
DSCF6646
The silicone is really all that is needed to seal and hold the pipe in place.

Your new portable a/c is practically done.  Just place some ice in the cooler and the fan in its hole, plug it in, and enjoy the constant cool breeze.

DSCF6642
Your portable air conditioner is complete!

I will be the first to admit that this is not the sexiest contraption in the world,(it was not always this dirty) but it is literally a very cool project that is a lot of fun to complete.  I was skeptical at first but this thing rode in my passenger seat and worked great.  Believe it or not I actually had temperature readings in Fahrenheit ranging from the upper 40s to the lower 60s exiting the pipe.  The large variance in temperature was due to the amount of ice and type of ice used (packs vs. cubes).

Chances are you have everything you need to make your own portable a/c already laying around your house as I did, but if you do not but would still like to undertake this fun little project I have linked to some affordable components below.

48 Qt. Ice Chest

110V Fan

12V Vehicle Fan

Oscillating Multi-tool

Or you could just splurge for a store bought portable a/c unit like the Black and Decker 8000 BTU Portable A/C.

Here is the link to the YouTube video that inspired my own portable cooler a/c build.  Portable A/C Video

Thank you for reading.  Be sure to like, comment, follow tool-school.com and share this post on social media!  Have a great week!

Jake with tool-school.com

DIY Two-Ingredient Wood Stain

DSCF6634

As I was sitting down to write this post my wife made it home from work just in time to burst my bubble, the explanation follows.  I have written several articles like this one discussing spoon carving and make quite a few wooden kitchen utensils.  Though I enjoy the natural look of the wood when finished I have seen spoons that have color added to them that look great and wanted to figure out a food-safe method of adding color to some of mine.  After researching and experimenting with homemade vinegar-coffee stains, I decided to get creative and make my own type of stain by subtracting the coffee and using a vinegar-food coloring mix to stain wood.  After testing my creation I felt brilliant.

DSCF6593
Piece of Pecan with all four colors applied to it.

Being the humble creative genius that I am I allowed my wife to dwell inside of our home upon returning from work about two and a half seconds before bragging about my ingenious concoction and you know what she politely said?  “Oh cool, that is how you make Easter egg dye.”  Womp-Womp.  Even though I am not that bright, or aware of how the most popular food coloring agent in the history of the world is made, I spent too much time and made too much of a mess to not share this process with you regardless.

Below are some pictures of pine that I stained.  The left is unstained, the right is stained.  Each stained piece is just a mixture of a liberal amount of food coloring and white vinegar.

DSCF6629
Blue
DSCF6627
Green
DSCF6625
Yellow
DSCF6624
Red

DSCF6597

DSCF6599
I tried the homemade stain on different types of wood just to make sure that it would show up well on more than just pine, and it did. Pictured from top to bottom is Elm, Oak, and Pecan.
DSCF6630
Unbeknownst to me at the time, this is probably my only semi-original stain idea. This is a mixture of paprika and water that turned the wood a pretty orange color.

Whether you use food coloring and vinegar or paprika and vinegar to stain wood it can definitely add a nice colorful flare to your woodworking projects, especially those projects designed for child or kitchen use.  From spoons and cutting boards to kids blocks and wooden toys, it is nice to be able to add color to projects without sacrificing safety.

If you do not want to reinvent the wheel as I did, you can just opt for some Easter egg dye and call it a day.  I honestly did not know that vinegar and food coloring, when combined, enhanced woodworking projects as well as the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.  I learn something knew everyday.

Below are a few more nontoxic options for staining and finishing wood.

Food Safe Wood Stain

Butcher Block Oil & Finish

Easter Egg Dye

White vinegar

Food Coloring Variety Kit – 12 Pack

Thanks for reading!  Be sure to like, comment, follow, and share on social media.  To learn how to make your own wooden spoons check out my tutorial How to Carve Spoons With Basic Hand Tools.

Coolest Homemade Hybrid Ladder

Have you ever thought about what makes a tool great?  Chances are descriptions like reliable, consistent, easy to use, and convenient come to mind, but the ability to serve multiple functions across a wide variety of builds and projects is the one thing that can make almost any tool seem great.  Multi-functional tools are great, but tools that have multiple uses that you dream up and create yourself, now those are the best.

I have a large shop across the street from my house that was included in the purchase of our home.  I have always dreamed of having a large shop and truth be told, we more than likely would not have purchased our home and property had the shop not been there.  Eager as I was to begin my numerous projects in my new shop upon moving I had to complete some much needed set-up and maintenance first.  All of the light ballasts that were attached to the 14ft high ceiling were bad and I needed to install a storage platform to get all of my junk out of our new dining room.  So to kill two birds with one stone, I combined the projects and built this…….

DSCF6342

What is this you ask?  Simple, it is a ladder/scaffold/storage platform/lookout tower/elevated stage hybrid……..On casters.  Before I built this bad boy I knew that I would have to figure out a safe way to change the light ballasts so I quickly began to research rolling ladders and quickly realized that I was not able to spend the money for one at the time.  My next bit of research was done on scaffolding and I quickly found out that I would not be getting a scaffold either.  Lastly, I logged on to check out the price of 14 ft A frame ladders and started to sweat as I was running out of options and could not work in the dark.

After finding out I would blow my storage platform budget on an A frame ladder to change the ballasts a light bulb went off (my shop remained dark though).  I ran to my computer and googled giant wooden rolling platforms (not my exact search term) and to my surprise, nothing.  A few wooden scaffold builds were found on various sites and YouTube, but I could find no evidence of anyone being dumb enough to try and make an 8x8x10ft tall wooden platform roll.  So with no instruction or guidance from the world wide web of information I headed to the home improvement store to get the materials needed to make my dumb idea a dumb reality.

DSCF6343
A look at the platform structure underneath.

The platform build was a piece of cake, it is just an 8×8 platform framed with 2x6s with joists 16″ on center.  The legs are 4x6x8s and were physically tough to attach to the platform with no help and not being cemented or bolted for stability, but other than having to get creative when bolting the platform to them, it was not exactly brain-busting.

The mental strain came with trying to figure out how I would attach the heavy duty casters to the bottom of each 4×6.  I could not lag screw the casters to the bottom because the bolt pattern on the caster’s steel plate was larger than the bottom area of the 4x6s, not to mention I am certain that all the weight on the lag screws would only strip them out and split the wood quickly.  I needed a way to bolt the casters to something that could support the bottom of the 4×6 and then be bolted through the 4×6 posts.  Below was my solution.

DSCF6338

I went to my scrap metal pile and grabbed some 2×4 rectangle tubing and some 7 inch channel iron and went to work.  I cut the channel iron and welded two pieces of it together so that it fit snuggly around the bottom of each 4×6 then I drilled three bolt holes through each.  I then traced the caster bolt plate pattern onto the 2×4 rectangle tubing and drilled the bolt holes in the tubing.  I welded the channel to the top of the rectangular tubing, bolted the casters to the bottom, and installed my brackets onto each one of the 4x6s.

DSCF6339
I ran out of correct length bolts for the last bracket, that explains the eye bolt haha.

It has been a few years since I completed this build and I have plenty of junk piled up on my ladder/scaffold/platform, but it is holding up great.  I do not roll it around very often but every time I do it works great.  Changing the ballasts and bulbs at 14ft is a piece of cake when you have the comfort of a 64 square foot area to work on.

I am not suggesting that you attempt to recreate this build, but if you do or know someone that does here is some info and advice, I am not responsible or liable for any accidents, brace the crap out of it,  and please send me pictures when the build is complete.

I do suggest however, that if you are building a rolling  work bench, table, or  platform that is much closer to the ground, you check out these casters that I used for this project.  Each caster has its own brake and each individual caster is load rated for 1000lbs.  They have held up great and I consider them to be a steal at under $60 for all four.

For more product information, reviews, pricing, and specs on these casters click here. 

My ladder/scaffold/storage platform has served me very well and saved me money on having to both buy a ladder and build a storage platform in my shop.  I know that it is not beautiful, but it is super multi-functional, and that was the goal I was looking to achieve.  below are a few more pictures of the beast.  Thanks for reading.

Please be sure to like, comment, share on social media, and follow tool-school.com.

DSCF6337DSCF6340

DSCF6341.JPG

Thanks again for checking out my site!

Jake with tool-school.com

Derelict Dagger: Make a Knife from Trash

DSCF6570

Before the knife pictured above became the knife pictured above it was an old lawn mower blade, some scrap aluminum rod, and old wood flooring.  Admittedly the knife is not perfect, but the whole is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Talking to my buddy that owns a lawn service one day he mentioned that he goes through a lot of lawn mower blades each year and instead of throwing the old blades in the trash he had begun to save them to use in various welding projects.  I was impressed to learn that he had some me in him by saving something hoping to later find a use for it and asked him if I could have a spare blade to make a knife with.  He brought me one about a day later.

DSCF6572

Lawn mower blades are hardened steel but are often frowned upon by knife-makers due to a lack of knowledge of the exact metal composition.  I am not a professional blade smith so I was just eager to have some metal to practice my skills with.  It made a clean, very sharp blade.

Since mower blades are already hard I did not heat treat the metal after shaping the knife, I just made sure to keep from overheating the metal when grinding, filing, and sanding the metal so I did not compromise the integrity of the metal.

DSCF6575.JPG

The handle is made from a one foot piece of old oak flooring that I pulled up during a flooring project a while back.  I should have thrown it away or burned it, but I knew a use for it would come to me some day.

DSCF6573.JPG

The process I used to make the knife was as follows:

  • draw knife shape on mower blade
  • use angle grinder to cut out rough shape
  • bench grind sides of knife smooth to get knife shape, constantly dipping knife in water to keep cool
  • File in edge profile
  • belt grind edge bevel
  • cut flooring to handle size/shape
  • drill holes into handle scales and knife tang (metal handle of knife)
  • apply epoxy to tang and wood scales
  • insert pins through handle scales and tang
  • peen pins to mechanically secure wood scales to knife tang
  • clamp and let dry

You can check out the tools used to make the knife using the links below.  In reality I just needed the angle grinder, files, and one belt sander to make it, but the other ones were convenient.

DeWalt Angle Grinder

Wen 1″ Belt Sander

Wen Bench Grinder

Chicago Electric 1″ Belt Grinder

Skil Drill Press

Round File

Flat File

I know that this knife would not win any beauty contests but it is very satisfying to know that I was able to turn things that should have been sent to the landfill long ago into something that looks good and has a practical use in this world.  It was not the first or last knife that I have made, but it was one of the most enjoyable.  With just a little time and patience you never know what you can do with an old pile of scrap.

Thanks for reading.  If you found this article to be educational, informative, or entertaining please be sure to like, comment, share, and follow tool-school.com.  Have a great day!

Jake with tool-school.com

 

 

 

6 Tools To Make Pressure Washing Easy

Residential grade gas pressure washers like the one pictured above have become very popular tools for homeowners in the last twenty years or so.  Typically pumping between 2 and 3 gallons of water per minute, and producing between 2000-4000 psi, a quality gas powered washer can be purchased anywhere from $250-$500 at most home improvement stores.  The uses for these machines are numerous ranging from house washing to paint stripping.  Though new washers typically come with all accessories required to go to work, below are six inexpensive accessories that will make your pressure washing projects easier, quicker, and more efficient.

  1. Spray Wand Quick Connect

The aluminum male nipple with the black plastic sleeve screws on to the threaded piece that your spray wand hose typically screws to.  The brass female quick connect threads onto the bottom part of the spray wand hose and connects to the aluminum male nipple that is threaded on the pump.  The purpose of these accessories is to not only make disconnecting the wand hose quicker, but also eliminates the need to screw and unscrew parts to remove the spray wand from the machine, greatly reducing the risk of stripping the threads on the wand hose and pump.

2.   5-in-1 Hose Nozzle

This 5-in-1 hose nozzle has worked great for me.  I built my own pressure washer a few years ago and only had a few tips for it that I ended up losing due to having nowhere to store them.  I figured I would give this 5-in-1 a try but I did not expect much from it.  I have been pleasantly surprised by how well it works.  It adjusts from 0, 15, and 40 degree spray angles and also has a soap and flush mode.  Adjustments are made by simply depressing the button on top and rotating the head to the desired spray mode.  It has all the functions that I need for my pressure washing jobs and has held up very well.

3.  Garden Hose Quick Connect

The brass part with the male nipple on the left in the picture simply threads into the threaded part of any garden hose while the part on the right threads onto the part of the pressure washer pump that the garden hose typically threads onto.  The piece that threads onto the pump does not need to be removed from the pump once installed, greatly reducing the chance of ruining any component of the costly washer pump.  To make this quick connect even more effective you can buy a hose to dedicate to your pressure washer that way you will never have to screw or unscrew a hose when pressure washing again.

4. Quick Connect Wand Extension

This quick connect wand extension gives you an extra 33 inches of reach for cleaning eaves, gutters, and high windows.  It is a great compliment to the fifth tool mentioned below.

5.  Gutter Cleaning Attachment

This attachment has a nice bend with two heads that shoot water to either side for blasting leaves, dirt, and debris from gutters.  Coupled with the wand extension above, this setup will allow you to clean gutters safely from the ground opposed to dangling off of a ladder.

6. Pivoting Coupler with Nozzle Tips

The pivoting coupler with quick connect and spray nozzle tips allows you to adjust the spray angle to wash those hard to reach areas.  Though I discussed my love for the 5-in-1 nozzle earlier, it can be helpful to have the smaller individual tips for times when you need to access areas in tight spaces.

For additional product reviews, pictures, and specifications as well as pricing simply click on the product link or picture in this post.

For a ton of great information and comparisons of pressure washer models and brands check out this article from bestdrillreviews.com.

Thank you very much for reading.  Please be sure to like, comment, share, and follow tool-school.com.  Have a great day!

Jake with tool-school.com

PVC YOU LATER: Cheap/Easy DIY Kids Time Capsule Project

I recently stumbled upon an ad for a time capsule being sold as a product for kids by the Smithsonian.  Though pricey, I liked the idea because it reminded me of the time capsule project that my dad spearheaded with me when I was a kid.  Our time capsule did not look as futuristic as the one sold by the Smithsonian, but I am certain that it offered the same amount of excitement and entertainment.  Though I liked it, I did not order the Smithsonian’s time capsule kit, what I did was run to the hardware store and buy the components needed for me and my little ones to make our own.

The PVC time capsule project will typically cost around $20 depending on the components that you already have that are not uncommon to have around the house.  The materials needed for this project are as follows:

1- 2ft x 4″ piece of PVC pipe (2″ or 3″ could be used) (about $9)

1- 4″ PVC drain cap (about $2)

1- 4″ PVC cleanout plug (about $4)

1- 4″ PVC hub x female adapter (about $6)

PVC cement and primer or all in one (price varies)

If you decide to use a smaller diameter pipe, the price of the build will decrease.  All named components are pictured below.

Assembly

I do not actually glue/cement the pipe together in my pictures and video but the glue/cement process is critical to the finished water-tight product.  For instructions on how to glue/cement PVC pipe together click here.

The material list says to get a 2ft long piece of 4 inch pipe but the length of your capsule is totally your preference.  I would suggest cutting the pipe down to 14 or 16 inches, but that is just my preference.

DSCF6489_LI
Black arrow-Drain (end) cap Red arrow- Threaded Hub x Female Adapter Green arrow- Cleanout plug

Step 1

DSCF6491
Apply primer to the inside of the end cap and one end of your pipe, then apply glue to both in the same manner and press and hold the end cap onto the pipe firmly for about 5 seconds.

Step 2

DSCF6494
Using the same primer and cement application process as step one, apply both to the non-threaded female adapter end and the opposite end of the pipe from the end cap. Insert pipe into female adapter end and hold firmly for about 5 seconds.

Step 3

DSCF6497
Lastly, thread the cleanout plug into the threaded hub and voila! You are now the proud owner of a homemade time capsule. It is not a bad idea to wrap the clean out plug threads in Teflon tape for added protection against water intrusion.

Finished Product

DSCF6506

I really like this project for a variety of reasons.  It is cheap, fun, and customizable.  Your kids will not only enjoy the build and burying of the time capsule, but they can also have fun painting and drawing on it as well.

Another reason I like this build is that the time capsule can serve as a water-tight vessel for other applications as well.  In the past I have used this same design to serve as dry storage for my welding rods and it works great.

My absolute favorite use for this water-tight container in the past outside of a time capsule is easily its function as dry storage when boating, fishing, or canoeing.  The 14″ long by 4″ diameter tube is great for storing wallets, money, cell phones, and keys while on the water.  Even better is should it be accidentally knocked out of a boat or fall out of an overturned canoe it will float, so the recovery of valuables or personal belongings is only a matter of paddling to it and hoisting it back in your vessel.

Regardless of how you and your family use this little contraption I am certain that you will have a great time completing this project together as my dad and I did, and as my daughters and I will do.  With that being said, I have linked to a few time capsules and dry storage products below that do not require as much effort for those not as motivated to DIY.

Smithsonian Time Capsule

$12 Time Capsule

Welding Rod Dry Container

Dry Box for Boating/Water Activities

Thank you very much for reading.  If you found this post to be informative, useful, or entertaining please be sure to like, comment, share, and follow tool-school.com.  Good luck with your projects!

Jake

How to Glue/Cement PVC Pipe

I apologize for my posts being somewhat PVC-centric lately, the stuff is just so cheap and versatile so it is hard to stay away from sometimes.  I am not attempting to insult anyone’s intelligence, but I wanted to post a quick video of how to properly join PVC pipe and fittings together using PVC primer and cement.

Step 1 – Check the fit of the components to be joined.

DSCF6510

Step 2 – Prime/Prep/Clean areas to be joined.

DSCF6511

DSCF6513

Step 3 – Apply cement to the inside of both components being joined.

DSCF6514

DSCF6515

Step 4 – Insert pipe into fitting and hold in place for about 5 seconds so that the cement/glue does not force pipe out of fitting.

DSCF6521

Step 5 – Allow 15 minutes cure time for handling and about 2 hours before putting the pipe into service.

Here is a video of the same process pictured above.

PVC cement/primer combo packs can be purchased on amazon for under $10 as shown in the following link.  Oatey PVC cement and primer pack.

Thank you for reading.  Please be sure to like, comment, share, and follow tool-school.com!  Have a great day.

Jake

It Pays to be Trashy…..

If you do not believe it pays to be trashy I urge you to check the Kardashian family bank account and get back to me.  Do not let that discourage you though, you do not need a nationally televised reality show to make money being trashy too.  Actually, not only can you make money, you can make money while helping the environment in a multitude of ways.  So how does one make money while simultaneously becoming an environmental hero by being trashy?  The answer is simple, recycling.

trash pile

Over the past 6 years I have made between $3,000 and $4,000 in my spare time by selling metals to various scrap yards in my area.  I kind of got into the practice of selling “junk” for money by chance when an in-law of mine asked me to remove a bunch of old metal from his yard and take it to sell at a local scrap yard.  I agreed and was sort of astounded when I left the recycling center with over $200 cash in my pocket.  I was hooked.

For probably the next two years I did not pass a piece of metal on the side of the road or at the edge of someone’s yard without stopping and loading it up in the back of my truck.  I also checked the “free” section of Craigslist daily for people offering free scrap metal for its removal.  I can not count how many washers, dryers, microwaves, and refrigerators I have loaded into the back of my truck and taken to the scrap yard, but I have counted plenty of extra money from doing so.  I have even been able to buy a brand new utility trailer using money earned strictly from selling scrap.

As mentioned earlier selling scrap metal for extra money is not the only perk to the practice, it is also a big help to the environment.  Recycled metal requires far less processing in order to get it into a useable state than new ores of the same metal require.  This streamlined processing results in far less energy being used to achieve the same result.  According to the American Geosciences Institute, recycled iron and steel requires about 72% less energy to refine than that of the mining and processing of raw iron ore, and there is an 80% reduction in energy use with recycled lead versus newly mined and processed lead.  The AGI also states that in 2017 the amount of aluminum recycled in the United States saved enough energy to power over 7.5 million homes compared to the amount of energy that would have been used to mine and process the metal from raw aluminum ore.

DSCF6319

Pictured above are a few metals commonly sold at metal recycling centers.  These metals are aluminum, brass, iron, copper, and batteries that contain lead.  Nonferrous metals (metals that do not contain iron such as copper, brass, aluminum, and lead) are usually the bigger money makers per pound, while ferrous metals (metals containing iron) are typically paid for by the ton.  To differentiate between ferrous and nonferrous metals simply place a magnet on the metal, if the magnet sticks to it, it is ferrous, if the magnet does not stick to it, it is nonferrous.  Magnets are attracted to iron and as stated above, nonferrous metals do not contain iron.  Recycling prices of different metals can fluctuate often and vary from state to state, country to country, and continent to continent, the environmental benefits from recycling metals however is consistent world wide.

For recycling locations near you click the link to access Earth911’s recycling center database, it is a very useful resource Earth911

If you are interested in helping the environment and making some extra cash check out this tool for help in differentiating between ferrous and nonferrous metals.

 

Thank you for checking out my site, if you found this article to be informative, helpful, or entertaining please be sure to like, comment, follow, and share.  Thanks again!

Jake

Ten Things to Look for when Buying a House.

 

Let me begin by stating that I am not a home inspector, licensed contractor, or engineer, but I have completed the educational requirements needed to become a licensed home inspector, an avid home improvement project undertaker, and a buyer or several homes.  With that being said, below are ten things that need to be thoroughly inspected before purchasing a home in order to avoid unwanted surprises and unforeseen home improvement expenses after purchasing your new home.

  1. Brick/Siding/Exterior Protection

DSCF6366

A home’s exterior can often alert you to bigger problems involving other structural features of a home.  The stair-step cracking and pulling away of the brick pictured above is indicative of foundation issues below the home.  Whether brick, vinyl, or wood, inspect the exterior of a home extensively to ensure that it is providing adequate protection from the elements, not rotten, not termite infested, and structurally and aesthetically sound.

2. Roof

DSCF6354

New roofs are expensive.  I recently paid about $7000 for a 33 square re-roof job completed using architectural shingles.  Information on the age of a roof is often included in the information packets offered by real estate companies when selling a home.  Regardless, be sure to perform at minimum a visual inspection of the roof from the ground, but if at all possible safely access the roof for a walk around inspection.  Typically an asphalt shingle roof has a life expectancy of 15 years, an architectural shingle roof 20-25 years, and a metal roof 25-40 years.

3. Floor Joists

jakes subfloorless hall

Hopefully you are not looking to buy a home in which the floor joists can be inspected from inside like pictured above.  If you are looking at a pier-and-beam house do not, I repeat DO NOT agree to purchase it if it can not be inspected from below.  Take it from me and my experience, you can miss so many structural, electrical, plumbing, and foundation issues if the crawlspace of a home is left uninspected.  Do not think that hiring a home inspector will take care of this either, by law home inspectors are not required to go underneath a home to complete an inspection if a crawlspace access door or hole is not a certain height and width and many older homes do not have access ways that meet these criteria, leaving the area “okay” to go uninspected.

4. Subfloor

rotten subfloor

Unfortunately subfloor issues are not always as obvious as the one above.  Subflooring is supported by the floor joists from below and will almost always have some type of finished flooring covering it above.  Sagging or soggy areas in flooring are indicative of subfloor issues but again, inspecting the house from the crawlspace below is often the best method for spotting subfloor issues and further supports my claim for it being absolutely necessary before agreeing to purchase a home.

5. Attic/Rafters

attic

Be sure to access the attic of your potential home in order to get information on  number of the homes systems and components.  Inspect the rafters and flooring for water and pest damage, the roof for past, present, and potential future leak indication, proper ventilation,  and be sure that the attic is adequately insulated for the area in which you live.  It is common for wiring and hvac ductwork to be run in the attic so you will want to be sure to inspect both for function and safety issues.  Purchasing a house without a thorough inspection of its attic would be like buying a car without starting its engine.

6. Electrical

DSCF6363

It is not a good idea to go ripping covers off of electrical panels if you are not a professional, but there are a few things that anyone can look for safely to know if the basic red flags should be raised or not.  For instance you will want to look at the biggest breaker which is often at the top of the electrical panel when you open its door.  Make sure that the house has a 200 amp power supply if you want to use many of today’s modern appliances.  Older homes were often equipped with 60 amp power and later 100 amp power.  These breakers would not suffice in supplying power simultaneously to multiple appliances that are commonplace in homes today.  Another thing to look for is the type of electrical panel used.  Many homes that were built or wired from the 1950s-1980s were outfitted with electrical panels made by the Federal Pacific Electric Company.  These breakers are known to operate without issue for years, but become very serious fire hazards once they experience their first overcurrent or short.  It is best, and safest to steer clear of living in a home with a Federal Pacific electric panel.

7. Plumbing

DSCF6361

If your potential new home is off of the ground you can actually perform a very thorough inspection of the pipes and plumbing of the home before purchasing.  If the home is on a slab the plumbing inspection is pretty much relegated to piping that may be in the attic, connections, and the little bit of pipe that may be exposed at those connections.  Some things to look for are insulation on pipes, correct type of pipe for each application, and of course leaks and disconnects.  It is also a good idea to test every faucet, outdoor hose, sink, and bathtub to make sure that they are functioning properly in order to avoid surprise replacement costs.

8. HVAC System

As with the age of the roof, the age and type of a home’s hvac system is often listed in the information provided by real estate companies when selling a home.  Unless you are a professional hvac technician it can be hard to get a feel for the quality or remaining life of a system by just looking at it and running it for a few minutes.  with that being said, look at it, and run it for a few minutes.  By doing this you can at least determine if it is in working order or not.  Typically hvac systems have a life expectancy of 15-20 years, so if you are buying a home in 2018 and the hvac system was installed in 2000, you can be fairly confident that the system is at the end of its useful life regardless if it blows desert hot and blizzard cold.  Be sure to inspect all hvac duct work as well.  Ductwork is typically run in the attic or crawlspace of a home.  Check for leaks, damage, and proper insulation when performing the inspection.

9. Foundation

concrete foundation

Whether on a concrete slab, or a pier-and-beam style house, you will want to inspect the foundation for cracking, deformation, collapse, and level.  This can be a lot trickier with a home that is on a concrete slab opposed to on concrete piers.  Foundation issues from both types often show up in the form of wall cracks, unleveled or sagging areas in the house, and even by exterior issues such as the one shown in the first picture with the stair-step cracking and separating of the exterior brick veneer.

10. Appliances

DSCF6369

Be certain to look in, on, above, around, and behind all appliances, especially those with water connections and hard wiring to them such as washers, refrigerators, stoves, vent hoods, and ovens.  Inspect the water connections to the appliances as well as the area around them to ensure that there are no symptoms of past, present, or future water leaks.  Also be sure that hard-wired appliances are wired adequately and pose no risk of electrocution when reaching around them or fire due to exposed wire.  If the seller agrees to leave appliances with the home you want to be certain that they work and that you are not just being stuck with their unwanted trip to the dump.

It is impossible to list everything that needs inspecting when buying a home without writing a novel but if you keep these ten priorities in mind you will definitely be ahead of the game.  Do not hire a home inspector thinking that every issue will be addressed, some things you need to see and inspect yourself.  After all, there are lazy people in all fields, including home inspection, and the inspector is not the person that will potentially make the biggest purchase of their life and have to live in it.  As mentioned with the size of a crawlspace opening requirement, inspectors do have legal “outs” for some parts of inspections and if they take these paths you could wind up paying for it big time in the future.

Do not get me wrong, ALWAYS HIRE A LICENSED HOME INSPECTOR BEFORE AGREEING TO BUY A HOUSE, but also put some inspection work in yourself to ensure that you are not jumping into a money pit.  For those of you on the house market I have provided links to two books below that I would not buy a house without.  They are actually the two sources used as  textbooks for the home inspection course that I completed a few years ago.

Home Reference Book

Real Estate Home Inspection

 

Thank you for reading!  If you found this post informative, helpful, or entertaining please like, comment, follow, and share.  I appreciate the support!

Jake

 

 

Living the Dream

“I’ve been officially working with wood since 2013 when my partner, Kyle, and I launched our company Woodward Throwbacks. My dad is a general contractor back in New York and when I was younger I used to go on some of the sites with him. I believe that is when I truly became fascinated with […]

via Bo Shepherd of Woodward Throwbacks — Crafted in Carhartt