Rotted handrail, bad handrail, no handrail.

Rotted handrail, bad handrail, no handrail.

Handrail Safety

What do the 3 photos above have in common?

Stairs? Handrails? Bad handrails? No Handrails?

A little of each… there’s no handrail on this long run of stairs to a basement.

There are the front steps with the ladder-type of handrail with a 2×4 on top. And then there’s another short run with an old, worn 2×4 up top.

Safety is the main concern with all of them. There’s no doubt that all of these stairs need handrails and they have to be graspable handrails! The 2×4 doesn’t qualify as a “graspable” handrail.

  • Railing grip size and shape: (must be able to be grasped)
  • Round rails: between 1.25″ and 2″ in diameter
  • Metal ogee shaped: <= 2.25″ across widest dimension
  • Wood oblate shaped: <= 2.25″ across widest dimension
  • Rectangular shaped: perimeter must be between 4″ and 6.25″ and have a recessed finger area

2x handrail profiles - CA CBC - DF 2x handrail profiles - CA CBC - DF Handrail profile non circular

Please don’t mess around it comes to handrail safety,  because someone could get hurt! You should want to provide guests who travel throughout your home a safe means to do so, especially when it comes to elderly or small children. It’s important that they have something to grab onto when going up and down those stairs, whether that’s up to the front door or out the back deck for a barbeque!

Avoid Injuries

Take the proper precautions because if someone gets injured on your pr0perty that could be a liability. We all know how sue-happy society has gotten these days, so take a few extra minutes to survey your property and if a safety device, such as a handrail, is missing or inadequate, either put something in place yourself or hire someone to do it for you! If you’re unsure about something, a google search could help or why not call a professional and ask the question?  To reach a professional home inspector, call 757-797-4240 or send me a message: or on Facebook.

Insulation deteriorated

Deteriorated insulation doesn’t help your home and may have detrimental effects.

During my home inspections, I often come across insulation in the crawlspace. Usually, clients are trying to increase energy efficiency in their home, which is understandable.  Sometimes this insulation causes more harm than good. It does help with energy when in good condition, but doesn’t stop or block the airflow.

Incorrectly installed insulation that has deteriorated over time could be trapping moisture against the subfloor(bottom of your floor). Mold can form there and you would never know it without removing the insulation to check!


Crawlspace vents should be opened during the spring, summer and into the fall and closed during the winter. In Virginia, we have high levels of humidity, so instead of providing a dry air ventilating that space, the humid air is introduced and trapped in the crawlspace. Overall, this negatively affects the crawlspace.

Annual Checks

Be sure the insulation is in good condition and installed properly.

insulation wrong direction

insulation must be installed correctly, paper backing should face conditioned space

Ensure air isn’t leaking from the crawlspace into the home for better results.

Maintain a proper vapor barrier on the floor of the crawlspace to help prevent moisture from wicking up into the wood structure.

Remove all construction materials, especially wood products that draw termites or other wood-destroying insects(WDI).
If you don’t/can’t get in there yourself, have your crawlspace inspected annually by a professional.


While insulating different areas of your home can be great for energy efficiency, it must be installed properly for safety and effectiveness!
The insulation pictured above is in a crawlspace and is installed improperly. The paper backing should be facing the conditioned space. In this case, it’s on the floor above the crawlspace and facing the wrong direction.
The backing can easily catch and spread fire rapidly!
The same holds true in your attic when you see insulation above the ceiling, the paper backing should be against the drywall and not be seen. Of course, there is insulation that does not have the paperback and then it wouldn’t matter.

I hope you found the information helpful! To schedule your inspection with us, call 757.797.4240 or visit


electrical safety tips for home

Facts and Statistics

Thank you for taking the time to read about electrical safety tips for homes!  According to the latest statistics from ESFI(Electrical Safety Foundation International) , there are about 51,000 home electrical fires each year. They cause nearly 500 deaths, over 1400 injuries and 1.3 billion in property damages.  Electrical distribution systems are the 3rd leading cause of home fires, whereas arc faults are responsible for 28,000 fires killing and injuring hundreds of people, causing over $700 million in property damages. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) reports that electrical receptacles cause 5,400 fires every year, leading to 40 deaths and over 100 injuries. 60% of home fire deaths are the result of non working smoke detectors!!

Safety Tips

  1. Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, inside sleeping areas, and outside of sleeping areas
  2. Test smoke detectors, AFCI and GFCI monthly to ensure they are working properly
  3. Establish an emergency evacuation plan to get your family out of the home in an emergency
  4. use light bulbs that match the recommendation of the fixture
  5. install tamper resistant outlets, especially if you have young children, to prevent shocks and burns
  6. watch for signs of electrical problems, such as dim and/or flickering lights, unusual sizzling or buzzing noises from electrical system/components and circuit breakers that trip frequently
  7. use extension cords for temporary items and never with air conditioners or space heaters
  8. avoid overloading outlets, consider having more outlets installed if you find overloading common
  9. know where your electrical panel is and how to operate the breakers. In the event of electrical fire, secure the power before using  your ABC extinguisher

More Safety Tips

Work Safely

Turn the power (at the circuit breaker) off if you plan to work on anything that has electricity going to it. This is the best way to make sure there is no power going to that equipment.

Check your outlets

Warm outlets are not a good sign. If an outlet feels warm, or frequently trips the breaker, you should call an electrician to evaluate the situation. Warm outlets could be a sign of loose connection, defective equipment and can lead to fire, shocks or burns.

Check for GFCI in rooms with water service, such as the kitchen, basement and bathroom. The garage and exterior should also have GFCI’s present, because they shut off the power to that outlet or circuit when it detects a shock hazard.  If your home is older, it may not have these and I recommend getting them installed by a qualified electrician.

Only one large appliance per outlet, so the circuit doesn’t become overloaded. If you are going to be absent for a length of time, unplug the appliance to save energy and make sure there is not a chance of arcing/sparking. Keep the cords away from sinks and bathtubs. Keep pets and children away from the cords to prevent injury.


Make sure your light bulbs are tight in their sockets, loose bulbs can cause sparks. Unplug a light or turn off the power to that fixture prior to changing the bulbs.

Check the cords for damage, make sure they are not frayed or kinked, and if they are get rid of them. Don’t nail or staple the cord in place, tape is the best solution for this. Plug ends should not be loose, either on the cord or in the outlet. If either is the case, you should replace it.

Outdoors, make sure you prune trees back from power lines, they should not touch. Keep ladders away from power lines when working around the exterior of the home and assume all(especially fallen) power lines are live and dangerous. CALL the power company and block off the area to keep people away!

Checking and paying attention to these items of your home may help keep your family and your home safer from electrical hazards.