It can be frustrating when trying to find quality products that actually work. We are happy to share some great products with our clients that our own home inspectors personally use on their own projects.
(Caution: You should always follow the manufacturer’s specifications on how to use these products, and wear all recommended personal safety equipment)
Emergency Gas Shutoff Tool
A great emergency gas shutoff tool (“wrench”) made to fit the shutoff valve at your gas meter. Fit the rectangle slot over the valve head, and turn 1/4 turn until the wrench is sticking straight out towards you. We recommend you tie the shutoff wrench to your gas meter with twine or rope that is long enough that you can use the tool right away in cases of emergency and you need to shutoff the gas supply. Get it online for home delivery here.
Aesthetic Concrete Repair
Ardex TWP is a trowelable Portland cement-based finishing compound used to fill and smooth interior and exterior vertical concrete surfaces such as tilt-up walls, pre-cast or poured in place concrete panels, and other concrete or masonry surfaces prior to sealing or painting. Can take a feathered edging for a smooth look. Good for uses like filling chips, small cracks, or small voids left by incomplete concrete work. Hint: using a moist plastic bag squeegee’d over the surface can smooth out the surface. Hold one end of the bag in one hand, and the other end of the bag tightly in the other hand as the bag is used as a sort of squeegee over the uncured Ardex TWP. Get it online for home delivery here.
Clogged Drains & Pipe Cleaning
Definitely wear safety eye goggles with this one, because we have seen it gurgle and spit its corrosive concoction up into the air while it works. And it really will blind you. Called Hair & Grease Drain Opener it has a special pH balanced (non-acid) formula that is safe for all pipes and septic systems. Personally, we treat our home plumbing systems once a month just to keep them clear of grease and hair. We use a monthly shot glass full down each drain, and then cover the drain with a washcloth while the chemical does its thing. Get it online for home delivery here.
Wood Preservation & Killing Dry Rot
Did your home inspector tell you there was wood deterioration, or did your pest inspector tell you there was dry rot? This copper-based penetrant smells terrible and you must wear gloves and eye protection, and wash your clothes several times after using it. Called Copper Green, our home inspectors personally put it on every cut edge where the wood might come in contact with any moisture at any time. There are brown and green varieties, depending upon your needs. Remember to let it dry, and then a few days later prime the wood and then paint it. Get it online for home delivery here.
How to treat rust
We have tried the enamel paints that claim to also treat or prevent rust. They are disappointing.
Instead, this great rust treatment has phosphoric acid in it that reacts with the iron oxide (“rust” (Fe2O3) to create a paintable black primer of iron phosphate (FePO4). Called RustMort, you will need to first use a wire brush or sand paper to remove any loose or flaky rust before treating, and avoid using this in direct sunlight if you can help it. Get it at online for home delivery here.
How to Kill Moss on Roof
Our home inspections often find “organisms” to be present on roofs and siding. These organisms may include moss, lichen, mildew, and even algae. What is the best way to kill moss on a roof? We have tried many products, and are happy with the performance of Wet & Forget. But the instructions for how to use Wet & Forget could be more clear.
Instructions: connect the blue spray adapter to the nozzle, connect a water hose to the black connector (make sure it is turned to “OFF”), turn on the water, point the sprayer at the moss or other organism, turn the black dial to “ON”, and wait until you see foaming sudsy white bubbles being sprayed onto the moss on the roof. Once the moss is all covered with suds, turn off the sprayer, turn off the water, and disconnect the hose, and put away the product for a future use. Get it online for home delivery here.
Degreaser / Cleaner
One of the best general purpose cleaners we have come across. It is industrial strength! It is concentrated, so only use the full concentration on the toughest of jobs or else dilute it with water. It may soften and weaken some plastics and synthetics, so read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Called Blue Bear 700DG, our home inspectors have used it to clean up masonry after a fire and clean engines, among other uses. It will strip away every bit of moisture and oil from your skin, so in addition to wearing safety goggles also wear gloves at all times. Get it online for home delivery here.
(Note: also works for cleaning a BBQ, and garage or driveway oil stains.)
Wood Filler / Repair
Most wood fillers fall apart. Pre-mixed wood fillers shrink, crack, and flake.
We found this handy solution and have used it for years. Made by MinWax, this High Performance Wood Filler has a strong petroleum smell, so definitely mix and use it in a well ventilated outside area while trying not to breathe any of the fumes. Don’t bother with the look-alike knock-offs. We have tried them, and they don’t work as well.
This wood filler comes with a white paste “hardener” that gets used sparingly, as a little bit goes a long way. The more hardener you mix, the faster the mixture will harden. We use about a pencil eraser quantity for several tablespoons worth of the sludge-like tan putty. Be sure to mix it all well with a putty knife. This hardener is suitable for outside applications, can be drilled and threaded, is great for covering over screw or nail holes, and can be painted. We old clothes, because this stuff will never come out of clothing. Get it at online for home delivery here.
Really kill mildew and other molds (better than bleach)
Bleach oxidizes, but it doesn’t always kill all of the mold (including mildew) on wall or ceiling surfaces. Think of mildew like a leafy bush with a bushy top and spread out roots under the soil. Basically, the bleach just ‘shaves’ off the top of the mildew structure, leaving the roots in place, and then the mildew just grows back stronger and faster than before because it has its root network still in tact.
Museums use a trick to treat old tapestries, book covers, furniture and so on that are affected by living organisms like mildew or other molds. Since bleach will not work for those fragile applications, some other oxidizer is needed that both treats the ‘top growth’ of the organism we can see, and also the roots which have taken hold.
Curators makes the following mixture and sprays or wipes it on (depending upon the application), using protecting eyewear and breathing filter (3M “respirator” for vapors from hardware store) for personal safety.
To make a 1 gallon solution for your sprayer:
1) 48 oz. of 91% isopropyl alcohol
2) 32 oz. of 70% ethyl alcohol
3) 8 oz. of 3% hydrogen peroxide
4) 20 oz. of distilled water.
(The final concentration of hydrogen peroxide by volume is about 0.2% for our science geek friends)
Our home inspectors have personally used the oxidizing concoction on their own rental properties when tenants refuse to use the vents and hot showers cause mildew to grow on the walls. We use a weed sprayer to apply the solution, and have been very happy with the results. From what we can tell it completely killed what was growing in the bathrooms.
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