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Posts Tagged: new home

The hidden costs of your new home

Posted On: Filed Under: Siding, Home energy audit, Plumbing No Comments on The hidden costs of your new home

Perhaps you’re ready to sit back and enjoy the granite counter tops and open layout. Maybe you purchased a fixer upper and you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and make it the home of your dreams. In any case, purchasing a home is filled with anticipation, excitement… and unforeseen expenses.

Particularly for prior renters, the extra responsibilities and costs associated with home ownership can come as a surprise. Lawn care, appliance purchases and maintenance, property taxes, and home furnishings add up quickly. This is in addition to the tweaks that make the house uniquely yours—fresh paint, new fixtures, hardware updates, and more.

Finally, there are the costs that haven’t happened yet, such as energy inefficiencies, plumbing issues, and safety failures that can arise in any home. Washington Energy Services can help curb these potential costs before they start with a Home Energy Audit or Plumbing Inspection.

Home energy audit

The home inspection you received when you purchased your home only told part of the story. The Home Energy Audit from Washington Energy Services tells you the rest. You’ll learn where energy is being wasted, how much it’s really costing you, and what you can do to improve the performance of your home to save money. In fact, we’ve saved our customers an average of 21% in energy usage following Home Energy Audits!

Here’s an at-a-glance look at what’s included in Home Energy Audit:

  • Blower Door Test
  • Infrared Imaging
  • GoPro Camera Inspection
  • Utility Bill Analysis
  • Plumbing Inspection
  • Insulation Inspection
  • Equipment Inspection (water heater, furnace, etc.)
  • Carbon Monoxide Tests
  • Flue Pipe Exhaust Inspection
  • Ventilation Inspection
  • Duct Leakage Test
  • Indoor Air Quality Test
  • Lighting Upgrade Inspection
  • Safety Tests

After the three-hour audit, you’ll receive a comprehensive 16-page report, which we’ll review with you in-person so you fully understand the findings and get your questions answered.


Plumbing issues are messy, frustrating, and costly. A thorough plumbing inspection by a certified, licensed plumber can make all the difference. Unlike a standard home inspection, which typically includes a simple visual check of the fixtures and water heater, a plumbing inspection from Washington Energy Services provides a video inspection of the entire plumbing system to spot major issues—potentially saving thousands of dollars down the road.

Furnace filters

Keep an eye on the “little things” like furnace filters, too. A dirty filter causes your system to work harder and could cause it to fail prematurely.


Managing water is important here in the Northwest. Siding protects your home’s exterior while gutters help move all that rainwater from of your roof and away from your foundation. Old leaky and drafty windows also put a strain on your home’s systems. If you think your home is in need of new windows, one of our home specialists would be happy to evaluate your current situation. New windows now can mean energy savings in the long run and potentially preventing costly water damage should there be an existing leak.

But you don’t have to talk all of this alone! Sit back, enjoy those granite counter tops, and contact us. We’ll boost your home’s performance and energy savings so you can use that money for something awesome—like those new appliances you’ve been eyeing.

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Avoiding the home buyer’s blues

Posted On: Filed Under: Siding, Home energy audit, Plumbing No Comments on Avoiding the home buyer’s blues


The major problems tended to be in the exterior (roof, siding, paint, windows), and plumbing. Many experienced mold or insect issues, heating and cooling systems that didn’t perform, and appliances that would not run. They discovered rooms with no heat, wiring problems, basements that flooded with the first rain and bad smells. There were also complaints about poor new home construction including squeaky floors and low quality materials.

In this day and age, the majority of home buyers are obtaining home inspections prior to purchase and making the sale contingent upon the outcome. So how could these home problems have been missed?

What’s in a home purchase inspection?

Whether a professional performs it, or you do it yourself with a checklist, a home inspection typically includes:

  • Check appliances, heating and cooling system, plumbing fixtures and electrical outlets to see if they work.
  • Visual inspection of the home exterior, structure, pipes and electrical, noting the condition and type of materials and obvious signs of damage or water intrusion.

The inspector runs all the faucets and flushes the toilets. He or she tests the plugs in the bathroom to see if they are GFI plugs. They go up on the roof and down in the crawlspace. They determine if the dishwasher functions, but not how well it cleans. An inspector will identify damage and note it in a report.

This is a visual inspection so it does not usually include testing of equipment beyond establishing that it turns on. It does not include insect, mold or radon inspection, air quality measurement, alarm systems, fireplace masonry, energy cost evaluation, code compliance or identification of sewer or plumbing issues beyond visible leaks or clogged drains.

Home Inspector

Home inspector qualifications and background matter

Many people say that if you use an inspector suggested by the realtor, they will be in cahoots to promote the sale. That conflict of interest is hard to determine, but checking the background and experience of an inspector is easy, and a good idea. In Washington State, inspectors are licensed, and unless they were in business before 2009, they have to pass a licensing exam with both a written and field test. Washington is one of only a few states to require this higher level of licensing.

Other helpful inspections

If you are buying an older home and want to increase your knowledge before you buy, you might want to add some of the following additional inspections to your buying process. These are each less than $300 and could save you much more in surprise repairs.

A plumbing inspection done by a licensed plumber can augment your home inspector’s report, especially if you request toilet leak testing and a camera inspection of your sewer line. Toilets are often a source of water loss and expensive water bills for the home, and an easy test can pinpoint if they need repair. The sewer line is the most expensive part of the plumbing to fix. It may clog and backup into your house, or unseen from above, be crushed by tree roots in the yard. A camera inspection allows you and the plumber to see just what is going on, and gives you an opportunity to ask the seller to take action.

Heating and cooling systems, water heaters and gas fireplaces can be inspected by a licensed HVAC professional in a diagnostic service. If the owner has had a recent maintenance service, you can request a record of that service and see if any issues were found.

Another type of inspection to enhance your knowledge as a home buyer would be a home energy audit. A home energy audit is a comprehensive series of tests which look at the house as a whole system including heating, cooling, ventilation, indoor air quality, insulation, gas combustion safety, damage from water intrusion, and energy use. While the audit is most often used by people preparing to make energy efficient upgrades, it could be a great benefit, especially to home owners buying an older home.

Washington Energy provides plumbing inspections, HVAC diagnostic services and home energy audits with their licensed and highly skilled technicians. Contact us for more information or to find out more about the NW Energy survey.

* 2015 NW Energy Survey, conducted among 1065 Western Washington adult homeowners.

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Check these 7 things before you buy a new home

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating, Cooling, Plumbing No Comments on Check these 7 things before you buy a new home


A good home inspector is going to cover all of the basics; including making sure the faucets work, checking the electrical panel, and we hope, looking at the age and condition of your water heater. But you’d be surprised at how light most inspections are.

They don’t go deep in several major home systems like plumbing, heating and cooling because the inspectors are a) only there for a short time, b) not licensed or trained in those systems or c) because they would need specialized equipment. Unfortunately, a failed heating system or side sewer pipe can cost thousands of dollars later. So, if your inspector doesn’t cover these (and most don’t), we recommend that you do.

Check the main drains and sewer line.

Water may run easily inside the house but between you and the street may lie tree roots, collapsed or rotted pipe and potential for huge costly re-piping projects. A plumber can video inspect your sewer line to ensure you know what’s out there. The main drain may also need periodic cleaning, and if the seller hasn’t done it in a while, they can check and perform that too.

Taste and look at the water

Inspectors typically turn on taps and let them run while doing other reporting. Have a look at the first faucet or tub opened after it’s been sitting a while. If the water comes out with any rust, coloration or smell, that could indicate your pipes are bad.

Open the windows

Or more accurately see if they open or have been painted shut, are stuck or have broken parts.

Test the heating/air conditioning systems

Ask if they have had recent maintenance. Make sure they blow hot or cold in addition to just turning on. Look at how old that system is. Heating systems last about 15 years. If it’s that age, consider that you may need the funds to replace it soon.

Look under the carpet, especially in the basement

Check for mold and mildew and look at the condition of the floor below. Mold is a serious health concern and goes beyond the mere cost of replacing carpet.

Check the strength of the deck

So much inspection effort focuses on the inside of the house. If there is a deck, look for rusted nails and screws that may be weakened, and look at the wood itself for cracked boards and rot.

Inspect the chimney

Especially if you have a wood burning fireplace, a chimney inspection can save lives, not only from fires but carbon monoxide. Your general inspector may measure moisture around the chimney, which is good for finding cracks, but a professional chimney contractor can do a more thorough review of the overall condition and safety.

Don’t be shy in asking sellers to provide specialized inspections, plumbing or maintenances before closing on the sale. This is very common. And if they won’t you certainly can yourself. Sadly, some realtors may try to push you into not doing this because it can add negotiations.

When I purchased my Seattle home, I negotiated a furnace maintenance and chimney inspection into the purchase agreement as a condition of the sale. That gave me peace of mind. But even with that, my water heater tank burst within a week of moving in and the main drain backed up into the basement within 3 months. I didn’t have this list!

If you need plumbing or heating system inspection, Washington Energy Services provides these services, and we can fix or replace what you uncover, including plumbing and drain cleaning, re-piping and heating systems. Just call 800-398-4663.

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