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Septic Systems

Your Seattle, Washington home inspection company, The Home Detective, is pleased to share with you septic system maintenance.

Septic Systems
Septic systems treat and disperse relatively small volumes of waste water from individual and small numbers of homes and commercial buildings. Septic system regulation is usually a state and local responsibility. The EPA provides information to homeowners and assistance to state and local governments to improve the management of septic systems to prevent failures that could harm human health and water quality.
Information For Homeowners 
If your septic tank failed, or you know someone whose did, you are not alone. As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining your septic system. Proper septic system maintenance will help keep your system from failing and will help maintain your investment in your home. Failing septic systems can contaminate the ground water that you and your neighbors drink and can pollute nearby rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
Ten Simple Steps You Can Take To Keep Your Septic System Working Properly:

Locate your septic tank and drainfield. Keep a drawing of these locations in your records.
Have your septic system inspected at least every three years. Hire an inspector trained in septic inspections.
Pump your septic tank as needed (generally, every three to five years).
Don’t dispose of household hazardous waste in sinks or toilets.
Keep other household items, such as dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, and cat litter out of your system.
Use water efficiently.
Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the system. Also, do not apply manure or fertilizers over the drainfield.
Keep vehicles and livestock off your septic system. The weight can damage the pipes and tank, and your system may not drain properly under compacted soil.
Keep gutters and basement sump pumps from draining into or near your septic system.
Check with your local health department before using additives. Commercial septic tank additives do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and can be harmful to your system.

How Does It Work?
A typical septic system has four main components: a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a drainfield, and the soil. Microbes in the soil digest and remove most contaminants from wastewater before it eventually reaches groundwater. The septic tank is a buried, watertight container typically made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. It holds the wastewater long enough to allow solids to settle out (forming sludge), and oil and grease to float to the surface (as scum). It also allows partial decomposition of the solid materials. Compartments and a T-shaped outlet in the septic tank prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drainfield area. Screens are also recommended to keep solids from entering the drainfield. The wastewater exits the septic tank and is discharged into the drainfield for further treatment by the soil. Micro-organisms in the soil provide final treatment by removing harmful bacteria, viruses and nutrients.
Your Septic System Is Your Responsibility!
Did you know that, as a homeowner, you’re responsible for maintaining your septic system? Did you know that maintaining your septic system protects your investment in your home? Did you know that you should periodically inspect your system and pump out your septic tank? If properly designed, constructed and maintained, your septic system can provide long-term, effective treatment of household wastewater. If your septic system isn’t maintained, you might need to replace it, costing you thousands of dollars. A malfunctioning system can contaminate groundwater that might be a source of drinking water. And if you sell your home, your septic system must be in good working order.
Pump Frequently…
You should have your septic system inspected at least every three years by a professional, and have your tank pumped as necessary (generally every three to five years).
Use Water Efficiently…
Average indoor water use in the typical single-family home is almost 70 gallons per person per day. Dripping faucets can waste about 2,000 gallons of water each year. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons each day. The more water a household conserves, the less water enters the septic system.
Flush Responsibly…
Dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, cat litter, paper towels, and other kitchen and bathroom waste can clog and potentially damage septic system components. Flushing household chemicals, gasoline, oil, pesticides, anti-freeze and paint can stress or destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system, as well as contaminate surface waters and groundwater.
How Do I Maintain My Septic System?
Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the drainfield.
Don’t drive or park vehicles on any part of your septic system. Doing so can compact the soil in your drainfield or damage the pipes, the tank or other septic system components.
Keep roof drains, basement sump pump drains, and other rainwater and surface water drainage systems away from the drainfield. Flooding the drainfield with excessive water slows down or stops treatment processes and can cause plumbing fixtures to back up.
Why Should I Maintain My Septic System?
A key reason to maintain your septic system is to save money! Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is often the culprit. Having your septic system inspected (at least every three years) is a bargain when you consider the cost of replacing the entire system. Your system will need pumping every three to five years, depending on how many people live in the house and the size of the system. An unusable septic system or one in disrepair will lower your property’s value and could pose a legal liability. Other good reasons for safe treatment of sewage include preventing the spread of infection and disease, and protecting water resources. Typical pollutants in household wastewater are nitrogen phosphorus, and disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Nitrogen and phosphorus are aquatic plant nutrients that can cause unsightly algae blooms. Excessive nitrate-nitrogen in drinking water can cause pregnancy complications, as well as methemoglobinemia (also known as “blue baby syndrome”) in infancy. Pathogens can cause communicable diseases through direct or indirect body contact, or ingestion of contaminated water or shellfish. If a septic system is working properly, it will effectively remove most of these pollutants.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

You can view last weeks post here.

White-Rodgers Recalls Home Heating and Cooling Thermostats Due to Fire Hazard

Check your thermostat, after reading this information, to see if you have the recalled White-Rogers Home Heating and Cooling Thermostat…
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.
Name of Product: Programmable thermostats
Units: About 180,000 in the United States and 8,300 in Canada
Manufacturer: White-Rodgers of St. Louis, Mo.
Hazard: The programmable thermostats constantly charge the backup AA batteries used to power the thermostat’s clock. This can cause the batteries to leak, resulting in a fire hazard.
Incidents/Injuries: The firm is aware of three incidents involving minor property damage. No injuries have been reported.
Description: This recall involves all White-Rodgers programmable thermostats with model numbers 1F88-XXX and 1F85RF-275 and date codes beginning with 05, 06, 07, 08, 09 and 1001 through 1039. The model number is printed on the thermostat’s front pull-down panel door. The date code is located inside the removable front cover. White-Rodgers and/or the utility company’s name and logo are printed on the front of the thermostat. These thermostats were able to be controlled by power companies in homes that took part in energy demand reduction programs.
Distributed by: More than 40 utility companies to consumers nationwide who took part in energy conservation programs and by various HVAC wholesalers for about $150.
Manufactured in: China
Remedy: Consumers should immediately remove the two AA batteries from the thermostat and contact White-Rodgers for a free repair kit. If battery removal causes changes in furnace operation, contact White-Rodgers.
Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact White-Rodgers toll-free at (888) 624-1901 between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at www.regcen.com/Thermostat
Note: Health Canada’s press release is available at http://cpsr-rspc.hc-sc.gc.ca/PR-RP/recall-retrait-eng.jsp?re_id=1217
Read all of the article Here:

The Best-Kept Secret

For Your Home’s Exterior
Unique versatility, unrivaled durability, breathtaking beauty – all are qualities that have made cypress a longtime favorite building material in the coastal regions of the South. But the secret about cypress is out, and homeowners across the country are acknowledging its virtues for upgrading their homes’ curb appeal and outdoor living spaces.
“We are seeing more cypress being used in a wide range of exterior applications, from siding and decking to ceilings and even built-in furniture,” says Shepard Haggerty, president of the Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association, www.CypressInfo.org. “Clearly, homeowners continue to favor the look and feel of wood, and not only does cypress provide long-lasting performance, it has the versatility to be stained or painted to match the style of any home.”
Architects side with cypress.
As part of the renovation of his own home architect Kevin Owen Winston-Salem, N.C., chose to replace the existing siding that was in need of repair and a fresh coat of paint.
“My wife and I spent years updating our home’s interior, but we saw this as an opportunity to give the outside a different look,” he says. “We knew we wanted to use wood siding and ultimately chose cypress. It’s locally available, competitively priced, and we especially liked its durability and resistance to insects and decay, which are serious concerns for homes in our area.”
As Owen learned, cypress comes by its durability naturally, thanks to a preservative oil produced in cypress heartwood. “It doesn’t require pressure treating like some other species,” he says. “The cypress gave a warm and organic look to our home. We are very happy with the result.”
Architect Ann McKenzie Aiken used cypress siding for a custom home in Chattanooga, Tenn. that she designed several years ago. “This was my first experience working with cypress,” she says, “and the homeowners and I were thrilled with the finished project. I have to admit, I’ve been recommending cypress ever since because other materials just don’t seem like they are of the same quality.”
Cypress decking floors homeowners and builders.
Compared to alternatives, wood decking is cooler underfoot, can be sanded if scratched, and refinished if dulled by the sun. Those qualities are what attracted homeowners, Dan and Rose Jaeger to cypress when they added two decks to their house near Akron, Ohio, 12 years ago.
“We like the feel of wood and loved the look of cypress,” Dan says. “It also was competitive in price to treated woods, but without the concern over chemicals. We’ve refinished our decks every three years, and today, through weather, parties, and family fun, they’re still performing and looking great.”
Custom deck builder John Paulin, owner of Tailor Decks in Statham, Ga., agrees. “That’s why I like cypress decking,” he says. “It offers magazine-quality looks, provides durability that lasts, and is affordable.”
Cypress has outdoor living covered, too.
Paulin says he also recommends cypress for often-overlooked exterior ceilings. “A lot of people with porches put up some plywood, paint it, and forget about it,” he explains. “But ceilings add a visual impact to an open-air space. We build a lot of covered porches here in the Atlanta area and I’ve produced some of my best-looking work, thanks to cypress.”
What sets cypress apart, according to Paulin, is the versatility it brings to selecting a finish. “Because cypress is a naturally light-colored wood, it offers a range of options. It’ll take a light or dark stain better than most woods, it can be painted or whitewashed, or it can be left in its natural state.”
Yes, the secret about cypress is out. Add its versatility, durability and beauty to your next home improvement project. It’s what the experts choose.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

10 Tips For Making A Small Bathroom Feel Larger

Is your tiny bathroom cramping your functionality and style, leaving you longing for the enormous bathrooms gracing the pages of design magazines? Even if your bathroom is a fraction of the size, all it takes is some design savvy to make the most of the space you have. Consider these 10 smart tips that will help your bathroom look, feel and function like those larger contenders.
1. Get creative with corners
Space is at a premium in small bathrooms, so it’s important to maximize every inch. Corners, for example, provide extra space for shelving, storage units and even hooks. Get creative and install unique design solutions that are not only functional, but also eye-catching.
2. Rethink your toilet
Every bathroom needs a toilet, but is your current throne hogging space? A sleek, wall-mounted model, like Kohler’s Veil wall-hung toilet, reclaims up to 12 precious inches of floor space. Concealed mounting hardware provides a seamless look that is comfortable and makes the toilet easy to clean.
3. Let solid colors shine
Busy patterns have a shrinking effect and make small bathrooms seem even smaller. Conversely, light natural hues make a space feel more open. If you’re itching to get creative with design, experiment with textures but keep overpowering patterns to a minimum.
4. Maximize your bathtub
A bathtub takes up a significant portion of the room, but modern, compact options with curved basins, can make the tub feel larger when in use, all while conserving space.
5. Select a smaller faucet
A faucet is jewelry for the bathroom. And just as accessories can overpower an outfit, a big bulky faucet isn’t flattering in a small bath. Single-handle designs conserve counter space, while a wall-mount installation frees it up all together and can create quite the wow-factor, if the budget can accommodate the required changes to plumbing behind the wall.
6. Make vanity storage simple
If you’re in a storage war with your small bathroom, you’re not alone in the battle. Toiletries and personal supplies without a place to call home only add clutter and chaos. Store smart with a space-saving vanity, like the Robern Compact Vanity. Equipped with glass drawer organizers and customizable components such as in-drawer electric plug-ins, staying organized and cutting clutter is simple.
7. Show off the shower
Shower curtains may be pretty, but they interrupt the visual flow of a bathing space and make it feel significantly smaller. In bathrooms with small footprints, opt for a clear glass sliding shower door that doesn’t require the clearance of one with a hinged design. If you’re embarking on a big remodel, create the illusion of more space by using same tile in the shower that’s used throughout; instead of seeing them as two separate zones, the eye will read them as one.
8. Discover the treasure of hidden storage
Work with a contractor, and you just might find some serious storage potential hidden behind your walls. Whether it’s utilizing space between the studs for shallow shelving or a creating a small linen closet by annexing space from an adjacent room, even small additions can make a big difference.
9. Use angles to your advantage
Tile is a beautiful, durable addition to any bathroom. For dainty spaces, consider installing tile at a diagonal to accentuate the longest wall.
10. Choose the right lights
Strategically install light to reflect and brighten a small bathroom to make it appear larger. Recessed lighting is an affordable solution for tiny rooms, offering ample light while taking up little space. Wall sconces alongside a mirror also reflect off the walls and make a room feel bright and airy.
 

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

A Homeowner’s Guide To A Year-Round Deck

During the warm summer months, having an outdoor deck for barbecues and gatherings with family and friends is a great addition to any backyard. The approach of cool weather may signal the end of barbecue season, but homeowners can still use their deck after the warm temperatures have passed.
“Although decks are generally a summer attraction, there are ways to make them accessible during the winter as well,” says Stephen McNally, TAMKO Building Products Inc.’s vice president of sales and marketing.-
There are many ways to make your deck functional and enjoyable during the winter, no matter where your home is located. –
Step 1 – Warm up your deck
The addition of a fireplace can transform your deck into an outdoor gathering spot and a scene-stealing area for those cool nights. The type of fireplace you decide on for your deck can add beauty and charm as well as complement your existing color scheme and deck furniture and decorations. Outdoor fireplaces can be made from stone, brick, tile or even granite, so the color options are endless.
“Outdoor fireplaces can be big, beautiful and elaborate, but there are other options for homeowners who prefer to keep their outdoor living space simple,” McNally says.
If a large outdoor fireplace is not for you, but you want to enjoy your deck on cool winter nights, consider the addition of a fire pit, fire bowl or even a chiminea.
Structural safety and potential fire hazards are serious considerations when deciding on a fireplace, so having your deck inspected before you begin installing an outdoor fireplace is suggested. If you install an outdoor fireplace of any kind, make sure that it is done to the manufacturer’s standards.
For more information on TAMKO EverGrain products and ideas for year round deck aesthetic appeal and maintenance, visit www.tamko.com.
Step 2 – Reducing summer dirt and grime
As the summer months come to an end, your deck is due for a well-deserved, thorough cleaning. Fall is a great time for this necessary chore because other outdoor tasks, like gardening and mowing, usually begin to decrease.
“Semi-annual cleaning of your deck is part of the required maintenance that reduces dirt, dust, grime and other residue build-up that the summer months have left behind,” McNally says.-
Use a garden house to rinse your deck. A fan-tip nozzle works best, but make sure the pressure from the hose does not exceed the manufacturers regulations. Ensure that you have removed all food and trash particles from the summer so that they do not contribute to build-up over the winter. For TAMKO’s EverGrain decking products, use a nozzle with pressure that does not exceed 1,000 psi.
While rinsing your deck can reduce dirt and grime buildup, water alone will not remove the stains that have appeared on your deck. Cooking oil, suntan oil and other greasy substances can stain your deck over the course summer use. But before applying cleaner to your deck, make sure to test it in an inconspicuous spot to ensure that it will not change the coloring of your deck boards.
Step 3 – Spice up plant life
When it comes to enjoying outdoor living, beauty is everything. A well-installed deck can offer a certain aesthetic appeal by itself, but plant life can make a big difference, even in the winter time.
When the cool temperatures of late fall start to move in, you can help your plants extend their life. Move them closer to your house, ideally under a roof, to delay when they are hit by frost. If you have time before a frost sets in, help protect your plants by covering them with lightweight blankets or plastic sheets overnight and uncover them in the morning.
If you want to decorate with plants during the cool months, there are a variety of colorful, cool vegetables that make handsome pot-fillers. Consider plants with purple and dark-green leaves like beets, Chinese cabbage, kale, mustard, spinach or even herbs. Mixing several types of plants together in the same pot can have a nice effect and the addition of garden art statues can add a pop of color.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!