Round ‘n Round with Round Meters:

Many homes have flickering or dimming lights and other frequent power issues due to lack of amperage capacity and old wiring. Upgrading the meter base and electrical service will eliminate these problems and provide additional circuits that accommodate increase energy use.

How to tell what kind of meter you have:   

60 vs. 100 Amps

In order to know how powerful your meter is and/or if it meets the new code standards, you must look at its base. The meter base is the enclosure that houses an electric meter and keeps all the electrical connections and wires inside dry and protected from the elements. Some round meter bases are older and typically supply only 60 amps of power. The vast majority of modern meter bases are square or rectangular and deliver 100-200 amps of power, which is what a modern home require. If your home has a round meter, it may need to be upgraded prior to a sale or purchase to meet new insurance standards,lending requirements, and consumer power usage.

Did you know?

1. Most insurance companies and lenders will not cover homes with a round meter socket with a 60 amp service.

2. Some round meters are marked as 100 amps but are often only 60 amps. Only a licensed electrician can determine if the meter and system has the proper amperage.

3. Power companies are only responsible for supplying the meter to your home and the power to it. The home owner is responsible for all the equipment from the point of attachment onward.

Leading the Charge on Lead-Based Paint

Lead paintProtecting your family from lead hazards is critical if your home was built before 1978.  Chips and dust from lead paint can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly.

If lead-based paint is in good condition, it is usually not an issue. However, when it is peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking, it needs immediate attention.  Settled lead dust can reenter the air when vacuumed, swept, or otherwise disturbed — even particles that have settle between windows can blow inside.

Lead outside your home can be a problem too. Your loved ones can come into contact with it when playing on bare soil and carry it into your house on their shoes.  You must also be extra careful when painting the outside of your home.  Any paint chips or scrapings with lead paint are not allowed to be in the yard. Not properly covering your yard and disposing of the hazardous material can be an expensive clean-up.

For more information contact:

Milwaukee Lead & Asbestos

How to Check for Lead-Based Paint

Qualified licensed professionals use a range of methods when checking a home, including visual inspection of paint condition and location, lab tests of paint samples, surface dust tests, and a portable x-ray fluorescence machine. 

  • Get a paint inspection – this will report the lead content of every painted surface in a home.
  • Read the risk assessment -this explains if there are any sources of serious lead exposure (i.e. peeling paint or lead dust).  It also explains what actions to take to address these hazards.


If you are buying, selling, renovating or renting a home federal law requires that all houses build prior to 1978, disclose the presence of any lead paint.  Sellers must do this before selling a house.

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission. For more information on lead hazards call the National Lead Information Center at 


We Could All Use an Energy Boost Home Energy Assessments

Energy costs continue to rise despite advances in technology. Whether you’re already settled into a home or are buying one, understanding its enenergy auditergy performance is more critical than ever. Getting an Energy Audit will improve your home’s use of energy, reduce costs, and increase your comfort and enjoyment of your home as well.


If you are in the market to sell a home, an Energy Audit will create a market advantage.

Why should I get an Energy Audit?

An energy audit can pinpoint where a home is losing energy, determine the efficiency of a home’s heating and cooling systems, and illustrate cost-effective improvements that will conserve electricity and improve performance.  Moreover, Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program also provides rebates and tax incentives when you make certain improvements.


Your auditor should be  HERS (Home Energy Rating System)certified and preferably registered with RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network.)

What to have for the auditor visit:

  • Make a list of any existing problems such as condensation, uncomfortable or drafty rooms, or ice damning etc.
  • Have copies or a summary of the home’s yearly energy bills.
  • Have a list of any repairs you’ve made to your home and contractor receipts showing the materials utilized.

What happens in an Energy Audit

The auditor will first examine the outside of the home to determine its size and its features (i.e., wall area, number and size of windows.)

Then they’ll ask questions which are meant to analyze usage based on your residential behavior. For example:

  • Is anyone home during working hours?
  • What is the average thermostat setting for summer and winter?
  • How many people live here?
  • Is every room in use?

These answers may uncover simple ways to reduce your household’s energy consumption.  Don’t be afraid to walk through the home with the auditors as they work, and ask questions.

Areas they examine the most are:

  • Lighting (types of lights and bulb)
  • HVAC (Heating, Cooling and Ventilation)
  • Insulation or Air Seating
  • Electronics (e.g. computers, gaming systems, cable boxes, and TV)
  • Appliances (i.e. refrigerator, freezer, washer, dryer, over/stove, microwave, dishwasher,
  • Plumbing  (e.g. water heaters)
  • Structural Improvements

Start Saving NOW! — There is no better time than now to get an Energy Audit.

It’s Good to Vent… The Attic

Your home should be a respite of comfort, even during the most humid months in Wisconsin. However, that can be challenging when one of the most common problems homeowners face is inadequate attic ventilation. Poor attic ventilation can make your home unbearably warm and cause damage to the roof (e.g. fatigue the sheathing) when moisture gets trapped. This will also increase your energy costs as your air conditioning is run more to dissipate the heat.NOTE:Attic insulation stores up the day’s heat and can increase the temperature of your interior ceilings to as much as 110 degrees.

winter attic ventingNot Just a Summer Issue

It’s still important to vent the attic even in the Winter.  Moisture from indoor activities will migrate from the living spaces to the attic. This can delaminate plywood, rot roof sheathing and framing or cause mold/mildew to grow.

What to Look For

Rusted nails and stained roof sheathing (boards) are the first signs of a ventilation problem.  Here’s what to look for seasonally:

  • Winter – Moisture or frost on exposed nails at the underside of the roof sheathing.  Frost can loosen and push nails out.
  • Summer – On warm and windless days, there should be a maximum 10-15 degree difference between the air in the attic and a shady spot outside.


  1. Clear any blocked soffit vents. This can often cure most ventilation problems.
  2. If you don’t have vents, install ridge and soffit vents to allow for natural airflow.  Cool air enters the soffits under the exterior roof overhangs and circulates the hot air via natural convection to a roof or gable-mounted low speed fan.
    : During Summer operation, the thermostat will automatically operate the fans as needed to force air circulation.In the Winter, the fan should be operated by a humidistat and attic should be kept cool to avoid ice dam issues.
  3. Have a Home Energy Audit performed. This will often illustrate hidden problems while providing you with a plan of what areas to address first.

Having adequate attic ventilation year round is important to the long-term health of your home, optimum interior comfort, and reduced heating and cooling costs.

Stop Leaking Profits (Part 2)

The big ticket items are where the equity disappears.  One of the biggest is the roof.  Once a potential home owner sees water damage on the walls or ceilings; notices the old shingles or is alerted by their home inspector that there is a roofing problem that equity quickly vanishes.

A pre-listing inspection can not only let a seller know what they are facing ( repair or replacement) and in the case of repairs can give them some less expensive ideas for fixes.  Just like basements, it is best to look at this head on and not to just paint over water damage. Just because the leak seems to have stopped it does not mean that it will not come back. Do not paint the basement!

Rain or water from thaw comes at the house from different angles.  Light rains might not recreate the problem leading the home owner to think that the issue was a onetime deal.  But a later hard driving rain with winds from the right direction might renew the problem.

Replace?  Most roofs last about 20 years.  So if the roof is older assume that it will need to be replaced.  Other things to look for are moss or other green algae from constant moisture; wear around the chimney or other protrusions; shingles with damage or that are missing.  And of course the interior signs brown water spots on ceilings or walls; areas of puffy dry wall or outright drips.

 A full roof replacement is the costliest option but it will increase the value in the buyer’s eyes.

 In some cases a second roof patch can be added.  It looks and works like a new roof but will not last as long as the full replacement.


Leakage or damage around protrusions: The chimney and pipes have all had the shingles and roofing materials worked around them. This creates potential for the water to work it’s way in via small openings or cracks that eventually grow.  Likewise the gutters may pull away, twisted or not have been attached well, allowing water to stream along the exterior wall and down into the foundation.  Check the attic on a sunny day and turn the lights off. Check the underside of the chimney and the stack vent. Look for little pinhole spots of light indicating that the roof needs repair or replacement.

spring roofA temporary fix: There are options that can create a barrier. In the past, tar or epoxies might have been swabbed around these areas. Often this is now replaced with new materials such as self adhering, water proof sheathing underlayment like Grace Ice & Water Shield.  Additionally, flashing can add air and water proofing.  After your fix, return to the attack and recheck for those pinholes.

Repair cracked shingles: If there are only a few cracked or torn shingles then repairs can be simple. The home owner may opt to do it themselves.

 A temporary fix:   With roofing sealant and a putty knife the crack can be filled. First a bead of sealant under the cracked shingle covering exposed areas.  Then press the shingle down. Repeat placing sealant on top and use the putty knife to spread it ensuring that all areas are filled.

Torn or missing shingles:  Only use the above method if the shingle is cracked. Otherwise replace it.  Match the shingle to the existing ones as closely as possible.

Curled corners: Older shingles may have begun to curl but are not yet broken or cracked.

A temporary fix:  With a bead of sealant under the curling edge press the shingle down. Hold for a few minutes until it stays.

Warm, dry afternoons are the best time to try a repair.  The shingles will be suppler from the sun making them less likely to crack.

NEVER climb onto a roof that’s wet, icy or covered with morning dew, be extra cautious if there is moss as well – these are all slipping hazards.

Be alert to the signs of water damage. Often if caught in an early stage there is an easy fix.  Whether done by the home owner or a professional taking the time to search out issues before listing a house will help decide rates, anticipate final expenses and keep the profits from leaking away before the close.

Stop Leaking Profits (part 1)

It’s spring and the rain is here! Don’t allow the final home inspection to turn up problems in the basement.  Be aware of tell tale signs of basement leaks and be able to offer the home owner a few quick, inexpensive fixes

Leaks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

  • Hidden leaks under the soil line can create the stains or wetness during heavy rain or thaw.
  • Cracks, these are often written off as “just the house settling”; but they be a serious leak issue.
  • Dampness, mildew throughout the home.  Moisture is coming in from somewhere.  If not the basement than possibly the roof (part 2)

Basement leakagePotential home owners worry at even the slightest sign of water damage.  If the problems wait until the last inspection repairs may be expensive and hurried. Don’t let leaks steal your profits. Instead offer the home owner a few simple fixes.

Gutters – the number one cause of basement leakage.  Overflow cascades water over the sides and down right near the foundation.

In the same way water streaming through the gutter must come out – just not near the house! Either of these issues can cause leakage.

The fix: Check that the gutters have at least one downspout for every 600 – 800 square feet of roof surface.  Keep gutters clean of leaves and other debris.  Every downspouts needs to extended least 4 – 6 feet out from the foundation.  (Add ons can extend the gutter as far as the home owner wishes.  Just don’t bury the plastic kind they will easily squash.) Also, make sure gutter cleaning is part of your regular home maintenance each season. If you have a single story house, you may choose to do it yourself. Or for a larger home you may consider a gutter cleaning Indianapolis company to assist.

Soil Grade – Especially older home have a lowered soil line by the foundation. This allows water to run down against the basement walls and eventually find its way through, either in seepage or by creating cracks.  Water drainage from walks, driveways and patios sloping to the foundation can also find it’s way in.

The fix: Soil should slope downward away from the foundation. Build it up at least 6 inches high. This should extend about 4 feet from the foundation wall. From here the homeowner can choose to slant the soil grade downward as desired.  Use Brown or Mixed Soil, consisting of 20-30%, non organic clay and top-soil, does not blow away, and has plastic qualities to deflect the surface water away from the foundation but allows any plants to grow.

Landscaping – Check any structure that is up against the house. Planters, small sheds or other structural additions might allow water to seep in between, then into the basement.  Also look for bushes and trees   may be allowing water to get near the foundation or be breaking through with roots.

The fix: cut down the old and replace with new growth or sod.

In older homes from 1920’s to mid-1950’s, If the Palmer Valve is not working then the drain tile has nowhere to drain, like a burned out sump-pump. The water sits in the drain tile and under the floor. Having water leaking in the basement is not the first sign of a drain tile issues, any more than when there is a roof leak, as it may have taken years of no maintenance to come to this condition. All the basement wants to do is fill with water, try not to assist this process is prudent.

For wet basements, consider a drain tile test following the WAFRP Standards of Practice with 3-4 test locations.Contractors will perform the test for between $250 to $1100.00,

There is Mr. Chuck Weber Basement Independent Consultant who performs the test in the middle of that fee range, Chuck Weber 414-536-1300. Also for independent basement evaluations try, Mike Shadid  414-379-1265 30 years in basements, does not test the drain tile, but can determine if  a test is warranted.

Any good appraiser will question a wet or stained basement, and may hold up the loan process. A good recommendation is to Never freshly paint the basement walls or floor, as it “Covers” a history of events the inspector is looking to glean information from.

Spring Window Care

As you open up your windows for spring; it’s important to look around for leaks, cracks, breaks, wear and every other conceivable problem that can develop over the winter.  As a Home Inspector I have found these are frequently overlooked places, but they can become big issues during the sales process.

Make a repair list to keep up on maintenance and your house looking good.

The list should include these seven things:window

1. Trim

Make sure all of the trim around the windows is painted. If need-be, scrape off any loose paint and touch up the bare spots. Take a chip of the old paint to a paint dealer so they can match the color.

2. Opening and closing

Check that the windows open and close freely. If the window is stuck closed try running a utility knife around all four edges. If the window still doesn’t open, use a flat pry bar. Carefully work the bar under the sill. Applying gentle pressure push up on the window frame. When that part of the window loosens, move the bar to another part and repeat the process. Don’t push so hard, though, that the glass cracks. If the window still sticks, this could the time for replacements.

Repairing the mechanisms that allow the window to open and close is a job best left to professionals.

3. Caulk

Looking for cracks in the caulk around where the window meets the house frame and patch any holes. Hardware stores sell the needed materials. Make sure you buy caulk that can be painted. Generally, clear silicon caulk will not take paint.

4. Weather stripping

This is the material located between the window and the frame. It seals out drafts. If it is cracked or missing, replace it. It comes in rolls and can be cut to the proper size.

window repair5. Screens

Check all screens for holes. A simple patch kit can purchased that will cover smaller openings. For large holes, it is best to have the screen replaced by a professional.

6. Window putty

If the putty – the material that holds the glass in the frame – is dry, chipped or missing, it needs to be replaced. Carefully remove the old putty with putty knife. Hardware stores will sell you an easy to use tube of new putty to complete the repair.

7. Wash the windows

Finally, clean your windows. If you can, use a squeegee on the outside. It reduces the chances of streaks.