The Home Inspector

Reuben Saltzman is a second-generation home inspector with a passion for his work. Naturally, this blog is all about home inspections and home-related topics in the Twin Cities metro area. In addition to working at Structure Tech, he is also a licensed Truth-In-Sale of Housing Evaluator in Minneapolis, Saint Paul and several other cities.


Inspecting a water heater vent connector

Inspecting a natural draft water heater vent happens quickly and easily once you know what to look for. Today, I'll show you what to look for when looking at a water heater vent connector. I recently blogged about inspecting water heaters and testing for proper draft at water heaters, and I just couldn't squeeze the part about inspecting water heater vents into those posts. This is really a topic all on its own, so here goes.


Water heater backdrafting: how to test for proper draft

When a water heater backdrafts, it's a safety hazard. Homeowners usually don't know they have a problem because a backdrafting water heater will almost never set off a carbon monoxide alarm. A water heater backdrafts when the exhaust gases from an atmospherically vented water heater spill out into the room, rather than safely leaving the house through the vent. Exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide and high levels of moisture, so this is always a condition that should be corrected.


How to inspect a gas water heater

Gas water heaters are a lot like decks, in the sense that most handy homeowners feel qualified to install one. Thanks to these handy folks, we find more installation defects on decks and water heaters than just about any other component in the home, and today I'm going to share how we inspect water heaters.


Inspecting poor water flow

If you're buying an old house, beware of old water supply pipes; specifically, galvanized steel or lead. These pipes can lead to poor water flow in homes, to the point where you can't even run water in two places at once.


Age-related home problems

Buying a used house in Minnesota? Here's a rough timeline of potential problems to look out for. It's impossible to make a perfect chart like this because so many of these things are generalities, but I think this chart is a great starting point to knowing what types of issues to look out for.


Tired of refilling your hand soap dispenser? Do this.

One of my least favorite chores in the kitchen has always been re-filling the built-in hand soap dispenser at my kitchen sink. Through years of extensive research into this matter, I've discovered that I'm not alone. Approximately 57.3% of soap dispensers in the Twin Cities metro area remain unfilled. Sitting next to the empty soap dispensers, I often find unsightly store-bought bottles of hand soap. Oh, the humanity.


Does your air conditioner use R-22? Here's why you should care.

Most air conditioners use one of two types of refrigerant: R-22 or R-410A. Here at Structure Tech, we started paying close attention to this detail during our home inspections about three years ago, because units that use R-22 have become ridiculously expensive to service. The price of this refrigerant began to skyrocket many years ago, and it hasn't slowed down.


George Floyd, commentary from Dr. Stephen Crawford

To help demonstrate solidarity this week, I'm not sharing any new photos, blog posts, videos, or podcasts. Instead, I'm sharing a special podcast episode that I recorded on Friday with my business coach, Dr. Stephen Crawford.


Fuel Oil Tanks

If you're buying a house in the Twin Cities with pipes sticking up out of the ground in the yard, heads up. You probably have a fuel oil tank somewhere at the property.


How to handle home inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic

Governor Walz allowed Minnesota's stay-at-home order to expire yesterday, replacing it with a new order called "Stay safe Minnesota". This new order allows for gatherings to not exceed 10 people. As soon as that order came, our office was flooded with calls from clients who wanted to attend their home inspections.


Sizing an air conditioner circuit breaker

For air conditioners and heat pumps, we size the wires and circuit breakers in accordance with the information printed on the label, not the simplified sizing charts that we typically rely on.


Hot water faster

Do you get annoyed with how long it takes to get hot water at your kitchen sink faucet? There's a fix for that.


Expansion tanks

As I mentioned in last week's blog post, expansion tanks are required when water in a home can't expand back into the water main. This might be caused by a check valve, a backflow preventer, or a pressure regular.


A leaking relief valve at the water heater: why it's leaking and what to do about it

Water heaters come equipped with a temperature and pressure relief valve, also known as a TPRV. This valve allows water or steam to escape from the water heater if the temperature or pressure gets too high.


Home inspector training: how to find water problems at walls (video)

This is a moisture intrusion training class for new home inspectors at Structure Tech that I've decided to make public.


COVID-19 and Home Inspections 4/7/20

I started listening to The Obstacle is the Way for the second time last week. That book was written for times like these, and I recommend this book to anyone who has had their business negatively impacted by COVID-19.


COVID-19 and Home Inspections 03-31-20

I'm sorry for turning my home inspection blog into a newsreel update or online journal on the status of home inspections in Minnesota, but that seems to be what people care about right now.


COVID-19 and Home Inspections

Things are crazy and unprecedented in the home inspection world. Last week brought some major changes to our everyday lives, and I expect to see more changes this week. To answer the #1 question that our client care coordinators are being asked, the answer is YES. We're still open for business, we're still inspecting houses.


Bedrooms don't need closets

Everyone knows that you need a closet in a bedroom to call it a bedroom, right? While this is a universally accepted de facto standard, good luck finding any type of authority that will back this up.


Expensive chimney repairs on old homes

Stucco-covered chimneys make me nervous. This all started about five years ago when one of our past clients asked us to buy him a new $20k chimney, claiming we had missed a major issue with the chimney