Check out some frequently asked questions or feel free to ask the inspector your own question.

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Should I buy or rent my hot water tank?

Is it cheaper to rent or own your hot water tank? With a quick look at the costs involved we can find out. An average sized gas hot water tank costs approx. $700 to purchase including installation. The rental fee for a water tank is approx. $20 per month. Therefore, if you are renting you have paid for the water tank in less than 3 years. That is not a long time, so in the long run it is cheaper to own than to rent. If you cannot afford the purchase price you can start by renting and buy out the new tank in a few years.

The average tank life is 15 years, with longer life spans in low mineralized water areas and shorter life spans in highly mineralized water areas. If you have rural well water it is no doubt hard, mineralized water and you will have a shorter life. Maintaining your tank by draining it once a year to remove sediment will prolong its life as well.

Recent changes to the Ontario Building Code require that water delivered to fixtures have a controlled maximum temperature of 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees F). This applies to new water tank installations as well as new construction. Turning down the tank temperature is not an accepted solution. Typically water-mixing valves are installed at the tank source or each fixture to meet code requirements. Always have a qualified licensed contractor install your water tank.

I have heard of problems with 6 litre toilets, what is the best one to buy?

A joint Canadian and American Project of May 2004 by Koeller and Veritec Consulting put them all to the test beyond current minimum standards until they plugged. To view results go to or to view results. The most expensive does not always mean it works better.

How much attic insulation should I have?

The current standards for new homes attic insulation is R32 but the standards have changed throughout the years. Some century old homes have very little. A home inspection will tell you how much is present. Adding insulation to an attic is relatively inexpensive and easy to do. The more insulation in the attic the less heat loss and more money saved during heating and air conditioning. So, in the long term it makes sense to upgrade your attic insulation to current standards.

In new homes most insulation companies use blown in insulation in attics. All blown insulation settles some over time but installers must install enough insulation to compensate for settlement. This is noted as a requirement for cellulose insulation installation by the NRC at

My room above the garage is colder than the rest, why?

Most garages are not insulated and not heated so they are cold zones and rooms above garages loose heat to the garage. To remedy ensure the garage ceiling is insulated properly and I recommend spray foam installed by licensed insulation contractor. It fills all spaces and is a great insulator and vapor barrier.

We are buying our first home what should we know about home systems?

Home insurance is difficult to obtain for re-sale homes with knob and tube electrical wiring, 60 Amp electrical service, galvanized water piping and/or aluminum wiring. It costs thousands of dollars to repair these problems. Home insurance is also difficult to obtain if the home has an oil furnace with an oil tank more than 10 years old or an underground oil tank is located on the property. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more to remove buried oil tanks. Some insurance companies have problems with cast iron sewer pipe and wood burning appliances as well. Check with your insurance company when considering a home with one of these items. The professional Home Inspection will help you identify these items.

I have a sump pump in my basement, why do I have one and my friends do not?

Drainage sumps are installed in many newer homes. Sumps collect ground water by gravity through a perforated footing drainpipe that wraps around your house below the basement level. City or municipalities require them in certain areas due to area soil conditions, general subdivision drainage, location of water table, etc. The location of the sump can be adjusted to suit the basement layout during construction so always review it with the builder.

What is the most common structural problem you run in to?

One common problem is floor joists that have been notched or cut. The bottom of floor joists should never be notched because it severely reduces the support strength of the joist and the floor will sag over time. There is a maximum hole diameter allowed for pipes and electrical through floor joists and wall studs as well.

Should I install a mid-efficiency or high-efficiency furnace?

I recently investigated replacing my 12 year old mid-efficiency furnace with a high-efficiency model after finding out a costly repair was needed and the furnace is getting close to the end of it’s life. Mid efficiency furnaces are about 80% efficient while the high efficiency furnaces range from 92-97% efficient. After obtaining estimates I found that a (92%) high efficiency furnace costs about $1400 more than a (80%) mid efficiency furnace.

If I install the high efficiency furnace and pay the extra $1400 how long will it take my savings in heating cost to make up the $1400 difference?

If I assume the minimum of 12% increase in efficiency and therefore a 12% savings in heating cost per year then it is easy to calculate. In 2003 I spent about $1000 on heating so I would save about $120 per year and it would take you 11 years to make up the difference. So, if you are considering moving in the next 5 years you will not see the savings but if you are planning to stay for 10 years you will probably see the higher cost for a high efficiency furnace pay for itself especially with rising gas prices.

When converting from mid to high you need to consider all extra costs as well like possibly installing a smaller chimney if only the water tank exhausts in the chimney now, additional furnace fresh air intake vents, etc. Always have licensed heating contractors do all heating system repairs and installation and always get 3 estimates before hiring any contractor.

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