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The Baltimore factory hired to help make Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine was dirty, didn’t follow proper manufacturing procedures and had poorly trained staff, resulting in contamination of material going into a batch of shots, U.S. regulators said Wednesday.

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This usually costs about $100. Ideally, you’ll have done this already. But if not, it’s not too late to call an HVAC company to give it a change-of-seasons inspection, even if your heater’s already been running this season. Your technician will perform a complete inspection and tune-up of your system that will help keep it operating smoothly. Plus, if you catch developing problems early enough, you can often solve them at a much lower cost than if they trigger a major breakdown.

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In October, we answered a question from a reader about buying a house that was updated without the necessary permits. (In some areas of the country, it’s difficult and time consuming to pull a permit, and so homeowners may not do so even though it is required by local ordinance.) We recommended buyers use a qualified professional home inspector to help determine whether the home is safe to buy.

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At our most recent chimney inspection we were embarrassed to hear the chimney sweep tell us how dirty our flue was. We took it as a stern reminder that a clean chimney is a safety routine we shouldn’t ignore.

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Q: I’ve always been told that when buying a house, I should ask to see any building permits to make sure major changes made to the house were built to code. However, I am constantly being told by home sellers that they did work to the home themselves over time, so they didn’t need permits, even if I know this not to be true.

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Q: We found out a couple of months ago that the leach field of our septic system has failed. The field is on our neighbor’s property. It was our neighbor who turned us in to the local code enforcer. A little history: We bought the house from a contractor who was selling the house. He denied knowing anything about the septic system. We found out that both properties were owned by the same ...

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