Home Owner Information Guides

HouseMaster's experienced technical staff has authored dozens of informational articles on virtually every part of a home - from roofs to basements - as well as common home problems and remedies. Take a minute to browse our library now.


Private Sewage Systems

Private sewage systems include septic tanks with absorption fields, seepage beds, seepage pits, clivus multrum systems, aerobic systems and cess-pools (banned in many communities). This home guide discusses the most common private sewage disposal system - the septic system.
Private Sewage Systems


Asphalt Roofing

Asphalt shingles are the most commonly used type of roof covering for pitched roofs. The overlapping design of their installation directs water downward from one shingle to the next to the edge of the roof where usually the system discharges the water to the downspouts.
Asphalt Roofing


Warm Air Heating

Warm air furnaces using gas, oil or electricity are the most common types of heating systems found in homes today. Rather than relying on gravity to distribute the heated air throughout the house, most systems installed since the fifties are power driven by blower fans.
Warm Air Heating


Central Air Conditioning

Most central air conditioning systems are of the electric compressor type. This is the system addressed in this Home Owner Information Guide.
Central Air Conditioning


Water Penetration

Most wet damp basement, garage, crawl space and lower level conditions could be alleviated with minimum effort and expense. This is due to the fact that most water penetration occurs because its major causes (rain water from the roof and surface water) are not attended to and water accumulates around the perimeter of the house and eventually seeps in.
Water Penetration


Slate, Wood and Tile Roofs

While asphalt shingle roofing is the most common type of sloped roofing, there are many other types of roofing that are widely used and which provide excellent wear and appearance characteristics - although most all require more homeowner attention.
Slate, Wood and Tile Roofs


Asbestos in the Home

In the interest of providing home buyers with the latest consumer advice regarding asbestos and its handling, the HouseMaster Technical Staff has obtained the following information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Asbestos in the Home


Heat Pumps

One of the latest developments in the heating and cooling of homes is the heat pump. This electric powered dual system extracts BTUs (heat) from the outside air (or water) and transfers it to the inside of the home in cool weather.
Heat Pumps


Aluminum Wiring

During the period from approximately 1964 to the mid 1970s, many homebuilders and electricians used aluminum wiring in place of more expensive copper. Initially, it was believed that aluminum was an acceptable alternative for copper, but several years after it was introduced in the residential market it was implicated as the cause in a number of house fires.
Aluminum Wiring


Ice Dams

Many times homeowners experiencing water leakage and damage around exterior walls and ceilings during winter months think they have a faulty roof when actually the culprit is an ice dam. Ice dams are caused by melting snow. Attic heat rises to the highest point along the ridge line of the roof causing the snow cover to begin melting.
Ice Dams


Windows and Doors

All windows and doors deserve more attention than they are generally afforded. This is particularly true of those in older houses. If not maintained over the years, major repair or replacement expense and difficulty can be incurred - especially in the case of old windows.
Windows and Doors


Wood Burning

Wood has been used as fuel for cooking and heating for thousands of years. Presently, one-third of the world's population uses wood as a major fuel source. While wood was widely used for fuel in the last century, its popularity has grown dramatically in recent years due to the fossil fuel shortage and expense.
Wood Burning


Private Water Systems

While a private water system may be a well, spring or cistern, the most common type of private water system is a well and, therefore, this guide will focus on that type. The fresh water which is the water surface of most wells is "ground water”.
Private Water Systems


Your Preventive Maintenance Check List

Complete checklist for all your preventive maintenance needs.
Your Preventive Maintenance Check List


Steam and Hot Water Heating

Water based heating systems have proven to be a reliable source of quiet, even heating for many years. There are two basic type systems to consider, steam and hot water.
Steam and Hot Water Heating


Foundation Settlement

Settlement is the movement of a building (or its components) to a point below its original position.
Foundation Settlement


Radon

Radon is an odorless, colorless radioactive gas which is formed by the natural breakdown of uranium. Radon can be found in high concentrations in soils and rocks containing granite, shale, phosphate and uranium, or occasionally industrial waste, in almost any area.
Radon


Insulation

Insulation is used primarily to reduce the rate of heat transfer from areas of high temperature to those at a lower temperature. The ability of a material to slow this movement of heat is referred to as its thermal resistance or R-value.
Insulation


Ventilation

Pre-1940's houses were generally constructed with minimal consideration given to providing an airtight house. This changed in the period extending thru the 1960's as insulation and weatherstripping material improvements were made and greater emphasis was placed on the benefits of reducing air infiltration for comfort and fuel economy.
Ventilation


Wood Destroying Insects

All areas of North America are subject to infestation and damage from wood destroying insects and organisms in varying degrees. With few exceptions, the common denominator for insect or organism activity is excessive wood moisture levels.
Wood Destroying Insects


Flat Roofs

There are numerous type roofing materials specifically designed for use on flat or low slope roofs. Due to their design, flat roofs are more prone to leakage than steeper roofs and proper installation is essential. Leaks, when they do occur, are also more difficult to locate and correct.
Flat Roofs


Common Electrical Concerns

This material was developed to assist home buyers in understanding the many components and concerns found in the inspection of residential electrical systems.
Common Electrical Concerns


Fireplaces

Fireplaces are attractive additions to any home; however, their ultimate benefit is determined by the design, construction methods and maintenance provided. For safe operation, external as well as internal components of the fireplace should be checked periodically.
Fireplaces


Swimming Pools

In-ground swimming pools are either concrete, vinyl-lined or fiberglass. Concrete pools employ rebars in the walls and floor for added stability. Concrete may be cast-inplace or sprayed (gunite).
Swimming Pools


Dealing with Lead and Lead-Based Paint

Government statistics indicate that over 65 million pre-1978 U.S. and Canadian houses contain lead-based paint. Until the late 40's, lead was used as a pigment in many paints, especially the lighter colors. Some paints contained as much as 50 percent lead by weight.
Dealing with Lead and Lead-Based Paint


Electromagnetic Fields

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are natural phenomena consisting of two invisible forces - electric fields and magnetic fields - that surround any wire conducting electricity. Electric fields are created by the presence of an electrical charge in a conductor.
Electromagnetic Fields


Underground Storage Tanks

It has been estimated that as many as 25% of the residential underground storage tanks are currently leaking. Sometimes homeowners are alerted to a leak by what seems like excessive fuel oil consumption. This will only happen, of course, if the tank is badly corroded or otherwise damaged and the leak is quite significant.
Underground Storage Tanks


FRT Plywood Roof Sheathing

This HouseMaster guide was produced to provide information regarding early deterioration of fire retardant treated (FRT) plywood roof sheathing and to provide a general understanding of the problems and causes.
FRP Plywood Roof Sheathing


Whirlpool Baths

A whirlpool bath, as discussed here, refers to a bathtub with a water recirculating system that is used for regular bathing. The bathtub is directly filled from the house's regular water supply and drained after each use.
Whirlpool Baths


Remodeling and Lead-Based Paint

This material is presented for the benefit of anyone involved in a house remodeling or renovation project. It will alert you to the hazards involved in handling lead-based painted surfaces and will provide useful methods you can use to minimize or eliminate exposure to lead.
Remodeling and Lead-Based Paint


Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems

Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS) is a multilayered exterior wall cladding system that has been commonly available since the early 1980s. The substrate for the ElFS is a foam insulation board that is glued or mechanically attached to the wall sheathing.
Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems


Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and tasteless poisonous gas. When inhaled it readily enters the bloodstream and ultimately deprives the heart and brain of oxygen. Initial signs of CO poisoning include flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion and irritability.
Carbon Monoxide


Your New Home

Congratulations on your new home. After all the time and effort taken in choosing your house location, design, colors and the various amenities, it must be very rewarding to finally have a completed home of your own making to live in. But unfortunately, your work isn't done.
Your New Home


Communal Property (Condos and Co-Ops)

Purchasing a condominium or other communal property is more than just an investment in a dwelling unit, it is also the purchase of an interest in community property.
Communal Property (Condos and Co-Ops)


Common Plumbing Concerns

Plumbing systems have gradually evolved over the years to the point that most people take them for granted. As long as the water is supplied to the faucet, drains from the fixture, and doesn't leak, everything is okay. And that may be the case.
Common Plumbing Concerns


Mold, Mildew and Bacteria

Mold, mildew and bacteria are all biological pollutants. Some of these elements are in every home. It is impossible to rid your home of all of them.
Mold, Mildew and Bacteria


Skylights

Skylights are designed with one primary purpose: to bring warm, natural light into the home. Skylights not only add natural light but also a sense of spaciousness and value to any home. They can flood a room with up to five times more light than a traditional wall window of the same size.
Skylights


Manufactured Housing

Manufactured housing represents a significant portion of the dwelling units in some areas. These units offer all the amenities and many of the design options found in conventionally framed homes; however, there are some special issues to be aware of.
Manufactured Housing


Chinese Drywall

Drywall imported from China during the height of the housing boom and hurricane reconstruction period several years ago has been reported to be the cause of unpleasant odors and the corrosion of metal building products and household items. The focal point for these problems has been Florida; however, homeowners in some other regions have reportedly experienced similar concerns.
Chinese Drywall


FAQs on Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Refrigerants

Several types of appliances commonly found in homes rely on the use of a liquid referred to as a refrigerant for proper operation. One type refrigerant, hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC-22), is commonly referred to as R-22 (or by the brand name Freon®). R-22 has been the refrigerant of choice for residential air-conditioning and heat pump systems for many years. Unfortunately for the environment, releases of R-22 into the atmosphere from leaks or improper handling have been found to contribute to ozone depletion and greenhouse warming.
FAQs on Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Refrigerants


Vermiculite Insulation

Vermiculite is a mica-like mineral mined around the world and used in a variety of commercial and consumer products because it is fire-resistant and has good insulation qualities. Studies have shown certain vermiculite insulation products may contain asbestos, which can cause health risks if individuals are exposed to it in the mining, manufacturing, or construction process as well as when asbestos-containing products are improperly handled or disturbed during maintenance, renovation or demolition work.
Vermiculite Insulation

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