Plumbing!! Zurn QPEX Fittings


It seems like mankind has never devised a “perfect” way to carry water into houses.  We had many fewer issues before we attempted “indoor plumbing.”
Recently, I worked with a buyer in Wake Forest, NC.  Heritage community, and they bought a very nice house.
In the course of home inspections, Scott Makseyn, the inspector, came out from under the house and said, “Mike, you know you have Zurn QPEX fittings?”
Nope.  I didn’t know and didn’t know why it mattered.
Apparently, there is a higher incidence of waterline failure due to corrosion of the fittings.
zurn QPEX fittingZurn QPEX Fitting














We were fortunate to have an agreeable seller who offered adequate funds to replace the plumbing in the house.
Cary Plumbing did the turnkey replumbing job and I have a happy client.  The plumbers were helpful enough that they saved a box of fittings from the house for “Show and Tell.”
For years, I have crawled under houses for my buyers, trying to learn if they were getting Polybutylene piping.  Now, I have an additional concern, and find myself getting under even more houses.
So it goes…..


Why Do HVAC Equipment Makers NOT Date ALL Their Products?

Anyone looking at a resale house wants to know how old the heating equipment is.
And it seems to be a state secret.
I looked at a water heater today, and after going all over the data plate, all I know is that it apparently meets ANSI standards from 1994.
It is in a home built in 2002. That “1994” is not much help, as I assume they didn’t put an eight year old water heater in a new home.

Of course, the manufacture date is embedded in the serial number. And you can Google the serial number and manufacturer and generally deduce a production date.
But why so coy, fellows?

I like how Trane usually does it:

HVAC Label Photo

There’s your Date of Manufacture, at the top right of the data plate.
MFR DATE 2/2011
No mystery. No secret.
That unit was turned out in February, 2011.

Now, when was it installed? I dunno. Maybe in March, 2011? Or, June or July? But at least we know we can be assured it isn’t a 20 year old AC unit. And, it may have replaced one.
See, that home was built in 1969.

Light and Bright? It starts with great window placement and planning!

Most home buyers I meet prefer a light, bright home. To the point that “Light and Bright” has become a common marketing cliche in listings and ads.
It is difficult to have a “Light, Bright Home” without smart window placement. Too many windows means too much glare and summer heat gain and winter heat loss.
So windows need to be placed well to maximize light without accentuating negatives.

I love rooms with windows on two sides. They always seem airier and lighter.
120 Skipwyth
Notice how pleasant the room is. The door glazing floods that left hand wall with light and makes the room lighter without excessive glare. And that door is on the south side of the house.

The other two windows are split to either side of the bed location. Smart move. Double windows in the middle of the wall would have made bed placement more difficult, and again, being nearer the edges of the room, they add light with less glare.
Here is another example:

120 Skipwyth

Again, windows split and flooding the walls with light. Look at the walls and the reflected light that is cutting down the glare and contrast.
It is a good choice of paint color for the room. I like lighter paint around windows. Bright sunlight entering through windows on dark colored walls creates glare like a sledge hammer. Windows can be difficult to photograph without the photographer dealing with the glare. And your eye finds the stark sharp contrast uncomfortable also.
Additionally, that room faces nearly due north. The coveted North Light. Always light and never a painful glare or heat.
I looked recently at an office space, and wanted it if only for the wall of floor to ceiling windows on the north side.

Here is a breakfast room in a very pretty house.
6105 Larboard Drive Cary, NC
And it works well, particularly if you like to work with light and shadow. And if a dark room is to your taste. And all that depends on the angle of the sun at any given time, and the time of year, as that window faces due south. It can be very bright, and the wall very dark.

Trees and shrubs can help diminish glare with filtered light to heavy shade. We have a winged elm outside our triple window at our breakfast table. It is on the south side, and spreads far enough that it filters the light nicely. The light green we will have when the elm begins to leaf out is lovely in the morning. We didn’t plan it or plant the tree, or realize it when we bought. We got lucky. If we decide to ever move, it is an effect we will attempt to duplicate.

Wallpaper is B-A-C-K! Who would EVER have guessed THAT?

I saw it in yesterday’s Raleigh News and Observer, a reprint of an article from the Washington Times.
Wallpaper is staging a comeback!!!
Read all about it here!

I had heard wallpaper rumblings and rumors. A year or so ago, HGTV Househunters featured a fellow who wanted a condo where he could unleash his burgeoning wallpapering talents.
And, it seems that anytime something falls as far from grace as wallpaper assuredly has, it rebounds into the spotlight again just to keep us on our toes.

I worked hard many years ago to develop wallpaper hanging skills. To cut and match and plumb and level well enough to let people see my work.
About the time I got good at it (Or so I thought), wallpaper fell completely out of favor.
And now, my skill is redeemed! Wallpaper is back!

So, you have a home to sell in Cary? And now your wallpaper is back in favor, right? Not so fast. It can be expensive to be a trendsetter out on the bleeding edge of the cutting edge.
I have yet to hear Buyers mention “Wallpaper” without wrinkling up their noses at the concept.
And a new media fad doesn’t mean that your floral 1990’s have suddenly become chic, in, old school hot, desirable, retro. Not at all. And that foil paper? Buh-bye!
Decor is a personal and volatile subject. Your delight may well be a well-qualified Buyer’s stupor. And we all know there is no excess of well-qualified Buyers.

The advice to strip and paint is going to be with us for a while, I am afraid.

2 Car Garage? 3 Car Garage? Who Knows? 60 Seconds in Real Estate Cary NC

Check out garage dimensions to make sure you can park 2 cars in a 2 car garage in Cary.

Garages in Cary NC

How many cars can you fit into a 2 car garage?

What makes a garage a 2 car garage?  Or a 3 car garage?
How can you tell?

The big door in front won't tell you.  You can get a pretty big door on a pretty small garage.

We see Cary listing agents marketing 2 car garages, or 3 car garages, for their seller.  But, some garages are so tight, it is difficult to imagine parking two cars and being able to open their doors.

Or, as often done in Cary, the water heater is placed in the garage, in the parking space.  Or the builder adds a flight of stairs from the garage to the living area, and that flight of stairs encroaches into a parking space.

Et cetera…

So, when working as a buyers agent, I take a very close look at the garage layout, the dimensions, and other factors that can impact the utility of the space.  And sometimes I will tell my home buyers, "Well, heck.  That's a 4 car garage.  If you own 4 Smart cars."  In other words, you will work hard to park 2 cars in that garage.

Zoysia sod makes a great lawn in Cary NC

Zoysia sod installation July 12 and 13 Cary NC

Zoysia Sod Installation

We are seeing more and more real estate listings touting “drought-tolerant Zoysia grass” in the Cary area. I think there is merit to that promotion by listing agents and home sellers. I had Empire Zoysia sod installed last week at home.  In near 100 degree heat.  It is supposed to be a "warm season" turf, and I surely hope so.

Green Level Environmental Landscaping did a great installation, and I was impressed how the crew pressed through the heat to finish.

Why Zoysia?  It will turn brown in winter, and some folks don't care for that.  But, it also will deal with the stresses of hot weather, will spread to repair itself, and will tolerate more abuse than fescue will.  Zoysia grows thick like carpet and offers a luxurious lawn grass.




I also shot some Before, During, and After photos of the project:





Polybutylene Water Supply Lines

Thousands of homes in the Cary area have polybutylene piping.

Polybutylene Water Lines in Cary NC

Thousands of homes in Cary NC neighborhoods, built from the mid-1980's through the mid-1990's were plumbed with polybutylene water supply lines.


Polybutylene Pipe


Polybutylene water line systems have a history of higher than expected failure, to the point that the manufacturers settled a class-action law suit with an agreement.
That said, I don't consider Polybutylene Pipe  to be a deal-breaker if found in an otherwise desirable home.  Location, Lot, and Layout are still most important.  And, if the system is working without issues known to the homeowner, the existence of Polybutylene piping in a Cary NC home is not even a material fact that is required to be disclosed to a potential buyer.  A buyer may be able to negotiate for credit for replumbing, or an agreeable price that considers the cost of replumbing.  Again, thought, the existence of polybutylene piping is not a violation of any building code, and is not a material defect.


As a real estate agent working for buyer clients, I tell them that, to the best of my ability, they will not write an offer on a home from the 1980's or 1990's until we determine whether it was plumbed with polybutylene water lines.
I try to help them avoid paying a home inspector a few hundred dollars to tell them that they have PB pipe, particularly if they consider it a deal breaker.
A photo of PEX water lines (the white pipes) connecting a replacement water heater to an existing polybutylene piping system:


Polybutylene Pipe


Identifying Polybutylene water supply piping can be accomplished in a few different ways. 

Often it can be seen coming through a wall at the water heater.  Sometimes it is exposed at laundry room connections, or under sinks or vanities.

My preferred method is to look in a crawl space or basement to see what water line material was used.

For further information on polybutylene piping uses and issues, here is a great article by Kenny Hart, former plumber, real estate agent, and home inspector.

Termite Time in Cary, North Carolina?

Termites need to be dealt with in the Cary area, but there is not need for fear and panic.

Welcome to Spring, in Cary, North Carolina.
Soon we will be into the spring termite activity season. Termites will swarm in attempts to settle new colonies. And they can be pretty dramatic when they swarm in and around a home.
This is also the time of year when termite control sales kick into high gear. Homeowners become unnerved by swarmers and have homes inspected. Evidence of termites unnerves them more and many will contract for a termite treatment. It is a busy time for the termite treatment technicians.
Don’t take termites too lightly. But, don’t panic over them, either. Despite what the TV ads show you, termites will not devour your home in a weekend, or in a week, or a month, or even a year.

Yes, they can get well-established, and over time, they are capable of significant damage. But, it is not necessary to hire the first termite control company that offers a quote. You have time to take a week or so and interview a few service providers, and make a choice without being in a terrible rush.
So, if it is time to have termite treatment performed, do it logically, methodically, and dispense with the fear and doubt that the television commercials are trying to provoke.