While most homeowners look for ways to cut expenses and lower the monthly bills, since we haven’t had any significant rain for over a month and many MUDs are asking us to limit our water usage. Here are some simple tips to help you save water at home.

Turn Off the Tap to Save Water at Home

When brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your hands, turn off the tap until it’s needed. Use the water to dampen your skin or toothbrush, but then turn it off to brush your teeth or lather your hands. When it’s time to rinse, turn the water on again. If each person in your family practices turning off the tap, you can save over 20 gallons of water every day.  Additionally, dishwashers actually are very water conscious and use less water than if you washed the dishes by hand, so don’t be afraid to use it.

Ensure the Sprinkler System is not Wasting Water

Sprinkler systems are excellent tools to keep your lawn looking green and ensuring it get enough water but only when it’s operating correctly.  That’s one reason we include a free visual inspection of the system when we do our home inspections.  If it’s not working correctly, it can waste a large amount of water.  While you may get a littler wet, testing the system if extremely easy to do.  Most control panels have a “test system” option that allows you to run the zone for a few minutes while you inspect each sprinkler head or rotator. Don’t forget to watch the ground where the pipes most likely run, to see if you can pick up any underground leaks. A good indicator is a lack of pressure in some or all of the heads. If you think you have an issue, don’t worry about diagnosing the cause, just call a sprinkler repair person.  They have the tools and the knowledge to make it an easy fix.

Use a Rain Barrel

A rain barrel is a great way to repurpose the water that travels through your home’s guttering system. Install the rain barrel at the end of the downspout and use what’s collected to water your lawn and gardens. Rain barrels are inexpensive, easy to install, and will provide plenty of water for your landscape.  The hard part is distributing that water to your lawn.  The easy fix I have found is that you can use it on your flowerbeds and not to worry about the lawn. Let the sprinkler system do that but now it will use less water as it can skip the flowerbeds.

Repurpose Water in Your Home

To reduce your monthly bill, reuse water around the house. If you make pasta for dinner, save the water and use it for your indoor plants. You can also reserve water used for washing vegetables for the same purpose. While you’re waiting for your bath water to warm up, collect the cool water in a bucket. This water is useful for cleaning and for watering plants.

Take Shorter Showers

The average American showers for eight minutes every day. Use a stopwatch and pay attention to how much time you spend showering, then work to reduce this by a minute or two. For each minute you shower, you use approximately two gallons of water. Reducing your shower time by just two minutes can save over 20 gallons of water every week.

Save Water at Home: Repair Leaks

A dripping faucet wastes five gallons of water every day. In a month, this is 150 gallons of water that you’re paying for but not really using. A leaking toilet can use 200 gallons every day. This adds over $70 to your water bill each month.

If you’re uncertain whether the toilet is leaking, test it by dropping food coloring into the tank and waiting about 20 minutes. If the color appears in the toilet bowl, you have a leak. Repair plumbing problems to save water and lower utility bills.

Solidium Inspections provides home inspections to customers in Houston, TX, and the surrounding areas. Contact us to request our services.

Hurricane Season

Here in the Houston area, we know that it’s not a matter of if, but when, we will be hit with another significant hurricane or flooding event.  I have been lucky to have had no damage during any of the hurricanes, but my home did have water come over the slab during the tax day floods. There are some things you cannot prepare for but there are many things you can do to help minimize, if not prevent, any unnecessary damage to your home.

Here is a list of things you should handle prior to hurricane season.

Review your Insurance Policy

While not directly home related, this should be your first step. It is a good idea to review your insurance coverage to ensure it’s adequate. Many insurance policies are hard to understand, so don’t be afraid to call your provider and have a discussion. Make sure you’re protected from wind and water damage and you understand what those out-of-pocket costs could be. Many times, it can be pretty significant. Also, normal policies do NOT cover flooding events.  That is a different type of policy.  On a personal note, for the tax day flood that damaged our home, we had flood insurance when many of our neighbors did not. I saw them struggling to repair their homes while I (well, actually my wife) was deciding on what our newly remodeled home should look like.

Seal and Protect your Roof

High winds are the defining characteristic of hurricanes and your roof will be subject to extremely high winds along with the driving rain. Your roof is the first line of defense against the elements and it should be in the best possible shape before severe weather.  Inspect your roof for loose or damaged shingles or tiles. Ensure any flashings or flues are properly secured and well sealed.  Once water gets into an attic, it can cause significant damage. Prevention is the best protection.

Ensure your gutters are not clogged. Clogged gutters will not allow the water to be directed into the downspout and away from your home. The water will still drain somewhere.  It will most likely simply pool over the lip of the gutter and fall next to your home but it could flow behind the gutter and into your soffit and fascia board.

Additionally, don’t forget to look at the trees surrounding your home. Dead trees and branches should be removed.  Any tree limbs hanging over the roof or within 10’ of it should be trimmed back.

Seal and Protect your Exterior Walls, Windows and Doors

Those of you reading this who have worked with me know that I am a stickler when it comes to sealing up unwanted holes and seams in the exterior walls. While it may seem petty at the time (and usually ignored at the time of the inspection), those driving winds will push the rain into the wall, windows, doors and possibly your home. Once inside, it can cause serious damage that you may not notice for weeks.

Additionally, look around your yard for any object that could become a projectile. Patio furniture, grills, potted plants should be brought inside or secured.

Be prepared for a loss of Services

During severe weather, you may loss electricity, water or even gas service. Generators are an ideal solution for a loss of power, but adhere to any and all safety guidelines. Portable generators should be kept at least 10’ from any possible air intake into the home. That includes dryer vents. In my area, we hardly ever lose power, but I still have a potable battery backup system that we can use inside to keep some lights and the refrigerator going.

The biggest recommendation I can make is to think, plan and prepare ahead of time. For many of us, this is not the first hurricane season we have weathered (pun intended) but we should take these steps every year. There are many other things that you can do to prepare and additional information can be found your local county office of emergency management such as ReadyHarris.org.


If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything further please leave a comment or contact us directly.

Pre-Listing Inspections help both the Sellers and Buyers

Most home inspections are purchased by buyers, but sellers can benefit from a pre-listing inspection as well.  A pre-listing inspection provides sellers with honest and unbiased information about their property, allowing more control and timing over repairs and potentially strengthens their negotiating position. Additionally, this helps the seller and their agent to price the home more accurately by accounting for any uncorrected issues.

What is the difference between a pre-listing and a pre-purchase inspection?

The only differences are who the customer is and when the inspection is conducted.  As the home is intended to be part of a real estate transaction, all the same TREC rules and SOPs apply.  By conducting the inspection prior to putting the home on the market, now the seller is aware of the condition of the home and there are no surprises during the option period.

What is the fee for a pre-listing inspection?

The fee is the same as a pre-purchase inspection and varies with the size and age of the home.

What is the value to the seller to have a pre-listing inspection?

The pre-listing inspection allows the seller, and their agent, the opportunity to resolve the issues or have them accounted for in the listing price. The seller can then decide which issues should be corrected prior to listing and which should be accounted for in the pricing.  Additionally, more upfront information will minimize the stress of listing and negotiating any potential issues.  Homes that have had a pre-listing inspection completed will generally sell quicker and have fewer inspection-related issues to negotiate.

What is the value to the buyer to have a pre-listing inspection?

The purpose of an inspection is not to allow further price negotiations. It is to ensure the buyers know what they are buying in greater detail than provided during a 10 minute showing.  By being provided the information in a pre-listing inspection, buyers are provided more facts to work with, and therefore their decision to purchase is made in a more deliberate manner.  Additionally, the buyers can always have their own inspection completed if they want further clarity on some items or to verify the items were appropriately corrected.  Remember, inspections are a snapshot in time and many things can happen to a home during the months the home is on the market or waiting to close.

What should be disclosed from the pre-listing inspection?

While this is more a question for the agents representing the seller, in our opinion the entire report should be shared.  Our reports contain a vast amount of information about the home that would not be termed deficient and hence, not in need of repair. Buyers would greatly appreciate information such as the life expectancy of the roofing shingles, the location, age and capacities of the major appliances as well as where shut-offs or disconnects are located.

Indoor air quality affects the well-being of everyone in your household. Here are 5 ways to improve indoor air quality in your home.

Change Air Filters to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Replacing the HVAC air filter on time is important not only to help the health of your system but to keep your indoor air clean. Once a filter becomes dirty and clogged, it sends dust and particles out of the vents and into your HVAC system and back into your home. It also slows down the air and causes your system to work harder.  While you should refer to the HVAC manufacturer’s manual to determine how often to change the filter, commonly the disposable filters you find in the ceilings or walls should be replaced every 30-90 days. Higher quality media filters can last up to 6 months.  This simple task only takes a few minutes but makes a world of difference for your indoor air quality.

Manage Humidity

As we all know, here in the Houston area, humidity is an issue. High humidity poses a threat to indoor air by encouraging mold to grow. Mold cannot grow unless there is moisture and that can include excessively high humidity. The ideal humidity inside a home is 30-50%. Here in the Houston area we are pretty lucky to maintain the indoor humidity at around 50%.  Use a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels and take action if they exceed 50%. The best ways to lower indoor humidity are through the use of a dehumidifier, ventilation fans, and the air conditioning system.

Many people don’t realize that the air conditioning system is called “air conditioning” and not “air cooling” because it actually “conditions” the air. It is designed to remove contaminants through the filtration as well as remove humidity through the cooling process. An efficiently operating HVAC system is crucial to managing humidity. Additionally, newer systems are designed much better than older ones in regards to airflow.  In my own house, I have a few rooms that simply don’t have enough airflow so I have installed portable dehumidifiers to help.

Houseplants Can Harm or Improve Indoor Air Quality

Certain species of plants have been proven to be air filters through scientific studies. Keeping some houseplants in your home can be beneficial for air quality if they are properly taken care of. Houseplants are detrimental to air quality when they are overwatered, causing mold to grow in the soil. If you choose to add houseplants to improve indoor air quality, learn about their care requirements and let the soil dry out between waterings. Excessive watering of houseplants can increase the home’s humidity as well so be careful.

Eliminate Dust Through Cleaning

While dust on the surfaces inside your home may not seem to affect the air, it actually does. If you see a dust layer on your furniture, it’s also in the air that you breathe. Dust and vacuum regularly to eliminate dust that pollutes indoor air.

Go Above and Beyond With Air Purifiers

The above tips for improving indoor air quality are relatively easy and affordable. If you are still having issues after trying these methods or want to go above and beyond, invest in HEPA air purifiers. These devices are especially useful for homes with pets or allergy sufferers. Read reviews before choosing your air purifiers, because they are a sizeable investment. While they are not too expensive to purchase, the cost adds up with the replacement filters. That is where the manufacturer makes its profit.

Here at Solidium Inspections, we are also licensed in mold assessment as well as indoor air quality. We provide home inspections to Houston, TX, and the surrounding areas. Contact us to request our services.

High humidity is uncomfortable indoors and outside. Humidity increases perspiration, worsens asthma symptoms, and creates an environment conducive to mold growth. Learn how to reduce humidity in the home to maintain safer and healthier living spaces.

Reasons to Reduce Humidity in the Home

Ideal indoor humidity levels are between 30-60%. Very high humidity causes your body temperature to rise. The body reacts by breathing faster and pumping less blood to your internal organs and brain. You might faint, suffer from heat exhaustion, or even experience heatstroke.
Failure to reduce humidity inside your home contributes to mold and mildew growth. Mold is dangerous as it triggers respiratory illnesses and allergy-like symptoms. Moisture in the air can also cause structural damage to your property including rotting wood, peeling paint, and damaged bricks, all of which may require costly repairs.

Ways to Reduce Humidity at Home

Indoor Plants

Although some houseplants add moisture to the air, especially when they’re overwatered, you can find indoor plants known for their dehumidifying properties. Peace lily tops the list of plants that help reduce humidity, plus it rids the air of some pollutants. Other natural dehumidifiers include Boston ferns, palms, orchids, spider plants, cactus, and English Ivy.

Proper Ventilation

Inadequate ventilation is the main cause of high humidity levels. Use ventilation fans properly, especially in areas that have excess moisture like the bathroom and kitchen, and you’ll reduce humidity in your home. When showering or cooking, open a window or use exhaust fans. In other areas of the house, a window fan can be used to increase air circulation.

Take Shorter or Cold Showers

If your home has high humidity levels, hot showers will make it worse. Take cooler showers or reduce the amount of time you spend bathing. If you choose to take a hot shower, open the bathroom window and turn on the fan to release the steam.

Proper Insulation Helps Reduce Humidity in the Home

If you have the budget for more expensive changes, invest in proper insulation to reduce humidity indoors. Although it can be costly, a properly insulated home will also lower your power bill by reducing the amount of power needed to heat and cool the home.

Keep Your Gutters Clean

Clogged gutters prevent water from being directed away from the foundation. As a result, water can leak into the basement or seep underneath the roofing shingles, causing algae and mold growth. Clean the guttering at least twice a year so that water is directed properly away from your home.

Solidium Inspections provides home inspections to customers in Houston, TX, and the surrounding areas. Contact us to request our services.