1.) What is a reverse polarity outlet? Reverse polarity is when the smaller slot of the outlet is wired with the neutral and the wide slot is wired hot. The small slot should always be wired with a black or hot wire. Although common in houses; it can be dangerous and an electrician should make repairs.
2.) What is needed to update two prong outlets to three prong? The wires going to the outlets will have to be able to be grounded. If they are not, then three prong outlets should not be installed. An electrician can elaborate on this subject, and should evaluate to determine if three prong grounded outlets can be installed.
3.) What is GFCI outlet? This is a ground fault circuit interrupt outlet. The GFCI circuitry within the outlet check constantly for a difference between the black and white wires. If there is a difference, the GFCI shuts down the outlet, and any receptacles downstream.
4.) Where should my house have GFCI outlets installed? Generally, around areas of moisture; exterior, kitchen, bathrooms, basements, and garages are common areas that should have GFCI outlets installed. An electrician could elaborate in more detail the specific locations, as all outlets in the kitchen should not be GFCI protected.
5.) What does grading around a house mean? It means the area of dirt around the foundation of your house. In most soils, minimum recommended slope away from the house is one inch per foot for around five feet.
6.) Can I use mulch around the house to build the grading up? No, it has to be dirt or topsoil. Water will run through mulch or gravel, defeating the purpose. You could put mulch over the dirt once the grading is built up, although I would talk to your pest inspector first. (Mulch may attract carpenter ants or termites.)
7.) What are some things that I could do to help control water from entering my basement? The two things that I would do before anything else is: 1.) Build the grading up around the house as discussed above.(A landscape contractor can elaborate on this further.) And, 2.) Keep the gutters and downspouts on the house clean, secure, and draining properly.
8.) How often should I change my furnace filter? I would check it, and if it needs it, change it monthly. The amount of dirt that your filter accumulates will depend on a lot of things. Some of them being; the amount of people living in your house, if you have pets and how many, and how well the house is kept. remember if you have AC, you will be using the same filter system as if you were running the furnace. One of the biggest reasons that a furnace heat exchanger cracks is from a dirty filter. Airflow through that filter is extremely important and must be kept clear.
9.) How often should I get my furnace and AC checked? You should get them checked yearly be a qualified heating tech, and have them document it. Some manufactures will not honor the warranty if they have not been checked yearly by a qualified heating tech.
10.) Is there anything that I should do to my house prior to going on vacation? I would turn the main water supply off in the basement, or at least the washing machine. This will help prevent water damage in case of a leak. The water heater could be turned down to the vacation setting, to save on your gas bills. The heat or AC could be turned to a level that is adequate for an empty house. All windows and doors locked, and the local Police Dept. could be notified that you will be away and to watch your house.
11.) If my deck is waterproofed okay now, how long until I have to do it again? It really depends on the individual deck, and the condition of the it now. It would not be out of the question to re-seal it every few years or so, some people even do it yearly. The horizontal areas are going to need resealed sooner than the vertical, since the snow, rain, and sun will not affect the vertical areas as much. Be sure that the areas that you are re-sealing are clean first, or you will not get the look or protection that you want,
12.) In your opinion, what is the biggest enemy of any house? First, would be the home handyman that is not qualified to do the work, but does his or her own wiring, plumbing, or roofing, anyways. All work should be done by a qualified trades person. And second, without a doubt is water. I’ve seen water do more damage to a house then any other one thing. It could be from the roof, plumbing, or most often, the basement. If you control the water, than you are way ahead of the game. If you do the little things that were told to you during the inspection, you will make the maintenance of your home a lot easier.