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POTOMAC 301.299.2755

MOBILE 301.768.0404

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Snowy Day December 2013

We always tend to harp on cleaning your gutters.                                                                   On this day in particular, we hope you did.                                                                               There is nothing worse than leaf clogged, snow covered, frozen gutters!

Buying Windows

People often call us and want to know what brand window to buy. The wide variation
in price and style can be perplexing and the fact is windows are expensive, especially
good ones. There are so many things to consider. In order of importance you need
to consider:
1. Architectural correctness: remember windows are a primary feature of your architecture
and there is nothing worse looking than poorly chosen and executed window replacements.
You can completely debase your architecture with the wrong window and you can enhance
it with the right window. Style, meaning window type, design, and size should be
true to the architecture. Don’t shrink down the openings to fit some standard size.
Don’t remove muntins (grills) if your house requires them. Don’t install Tudor patterns
on modern houses and don’t install colonial patterns on Tudors. You get it.
2. Material: windows come with frames made of many materials including aluminum,
vinyl, fiberglass, wood (which may be clad in aluminum or vinyl), and a variety
of manmade composites. In general wood and manmade composites are going to be sturdier,
more efficient windows and usually look better, but your house may be appropriate
for vinyl or aluminum (see 1 above). The length of warranty is a good indicator
of the manufacturer’s faith in their product. Glass warranty should be at least
10 years.
3. Energy efficiency: Don’t expect major gains in energy efficiency if you are replacing
modern windows (less than 20 years old) but if you are replacing old single pane
windows you can expect a substantial saving. You also get clean easy to operate
frames which is just as nice an upgrade. The reality is that for glass most good
modern windows all do a good job of insulating and the real difference is the installation.
If the new window leaks air or water around the frame it doesn’t matter how good
the window is. If you have any doubt about the installation have a prototype done
before you approve the whole job. As far as energy efficiency is concerned The National
Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) has developed methods for comparing windows that
most manufacturers subscribe to. I have copied information from their website here
for you. I encourage you to visit their site for more info. http://www.nfrc.org/WindowRatings/The-NFRC-Label.html.
4. Installer: No matter which window you choose its only as good as the installer.
Do your homework and trust your instincts on the people you’re dealing with. Whether
they are replacement windows or windows on new work, get the installation instructions,
understand them, and make sure they are installed that way …that’s a building
code requirement for good reasons!
5. Price: Good windows will give you sticker shock. But remember when you are buying
windows you’re buying something that is supposed to last generations. Don’t go cheap!
On the other hand once you are within a general category of window type and style
the difference in quality isn’t as the price might indicate.
– Joseph (Skip) Walker

Spring Has Arrived!

We are celebrating spring and the busy real estate market! We are also celebrating an influx of home inspection requests!

We are ready to hire a new apprentice to assist our inspectors and to help speed up our process! If you know of anyone in the industry, please let us know! We can be reached at cwainspects@aol.com.

Also, be sure to Read Our New Brochure!

An Ironic Lesson in Energy Efficiency

I live in a very old house, a nice breezy old wood frame Craftsman down here on
the Severn River. I’ve lived here for 26 years and wouldn’t live anywhere
else, east of the Mississippi. It’s a uniquely special place. So I’ve put up
with the restraints and disadvantages of my old house for the benefits that far
outweigh them. Over the years I have done a lot of work to this house to
improve energy efficiency such as windows, insulation, good appliances, high
efficiency heating and cooling, and air sealing, and I now have improved its
energy efficiency from its original 1920’s standard (meaning, “don’t worry about
it”) to something that might have been considered very good in 1972. My gut
says that’s not good enough. So now I have launched remodeling project #88.
One of the curses of knowing how to do this stuff is I can’t resist doing it.
If there is not a room torn up somewhere I feel lazy and guilty. I’m adding
more insulation, spray foam this time. I’m getting rid of the last of the old
windows and doors. I’ll mourn as I place them into their final resting place at
the landfill. Don’t tell me you can replicate the old look, you can’t
manufacture soul. I’m putting in the latest and greatest heat pumps in my two
zone house at a cost that will be recovered by the time I’m dead I suppose.

Now here’s the final irony. I will have made the house so energy efficient with
the new foam insulation and windows that I actually should be installing smaller
heating and cooling equipment. You see the new energy regulations require the
HVAC contractors to perform energy calculations when they change out systems
now. It’s no longer acceptable to just replace in kind because so many of the
old systems are sized wrong, typically too big. If you install oversized
heating or cooling equipment you get short run times with a blast of warm or
cool air and then the machine turns off.  Heat isn’t distributed efficiently and
the A/C doesn’t run long enough to dehumidify your house so you get cold, clammy
air; miserable!  “Great” I’m thinking, “smaller machines and a real savings”!
My work is paying off finally.  But of course not, guess what, the duct work is
designed for the larger machines and won’t be compatible for the smaller
machines. You see your furnace fan blows air at a speed and volume specifically
designed for the amount of heat or cooling you need. So my ducts are too big
for the new smaller equipment. If I hook up this new equipment to those ducts
the rooms at the end of the duct run won’t get any air because the new fan isn’t
strong enough to push it that far. So, either add new ducts (you can imagine
the tear out involved for that) or add more square footage to the house so that
I can’t use smaller equipment. And that’s how remodeling project #89 was born.

J.C. Walker

Inspector’s Experience You Ask?

The inspectors experience is the key qualification. The Home Inspector is a unique individual in that he or she must sort out and re-combine the relevant knowledge of all the construction trades, engineers, architects, code authorities, and contractors. The inspector must be able to re-construct the thinking of those specialists back through past generations in some cases and throughout wide geographic environments. Where can such training be obtained? Claxton Walker & Associates inspectors have vast experience and are continually trained.
The inspector has to be part sleuth and often relies on instinct. A systematic approach to the inspection effects certain results, but without experience the inspector is no more effective than a Midshipman on a marine landing.

Happy New Year!

Another great year is behind us and it is time to start working to do it all over again, but even better this year!
We would like you to know that we appreciate your business and our hope is that our working relationship will only get better over the years.
Many thanks.

Founder, Claxton Walker and namesake of , along with a small group of entrepreneurs, were the original developers of this industry, which we now call Home Inspections. is the oldest continually owned and operated Home Inspection Company in the Mid-Atlantic area.

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