Author Archives: Sara Radka

Fun Fact Friday!

Sharks evolved about 450 million years ago about 3 times ago longer than dinosaurs.

Every person has a unique tongue print.

Pandas have lived on Earth for two to three million years.

In ten years, the average man shaves off a pound of whiskers.

The technical term for a cat’s hairball is a “bezoar.”

VIDEO: Install Chimney Cap / Rusted Flashings!

At a recent home inspection on San Juan Island, I discovered rusting/corroding flashing details at the chimney that should be further evaluated and repaired to help prevent potential leaks to the interior. Also, the installation of chimney caps is advised over open flues to prevent water intrusion which can reduce the life expectancy of masonry fireplaces. Finally, treating and removing organic growth from masonry is advised, together with applying a masonry sealant to properly maintain your exterior masonry elements.

Could occupancy sensors save you money?

Indoor lighting occupancy sensors detect activity within an area. They turn lights on automatically when someone enters a room. They reduce lighting energy use by turning lights off soon after the last occupant has left the room. The sensors must be located where they will detect occupants or activity in all parts of the room.

There are two types of occupancy sensors: Ultrasonic sensors detect sound, while infrared sensors detect heat and motion. In addition to controlling ambient lighting in a room, they are useful for task lighting applications, such as over kitchen counters. In such applications, task lights are turned on by the motion of a person washing dishes, for instance, and automatically turn off a few minutes after the person stops.

Both are readily available online and at retail stores.

VIDEO: Deteriorated Composite Siding Discovered!

Completely deteriorated composite exterior siding was discovered adjacent the window at the upper level of a home at a recent home inspection on San Juan Island (Friday Harbor). Keeping exterior elements properly sealed (painted and caulked) is critical to helping prevent siding/trim damage and water intrusion. In this case, repair and replacement of deteriorated siding was warranted, recognizing the possibility of underlying damage not visible without invasive inspection.

Is your chimney leaking?

One thing that brick chimneys, stone chimneys and fireplaces have in common is that eventually most will require some type of maintenance to keep a water tight seal. Leaks into a chimney can cause unsafe heating equipment as well as costly damage to the chimney, the appliances connected to it, and to the building itself. Is your chimney leaking? Are you experiencing water marks on the ceiling or walls near your chimney? Is there water appearing in the firebox? Similarly, are you experiencing cracks on the exterior of the chimney which seem to keep getting bigger or are bricks actually flaking off from your chimney? Water is the common thread between all of these problems (for the most part) and following this checklist should help you to be able to arrest water infiltration or prevent further damage.

Safety: Secure loose exterior light fixtures!

It’s important to secure loose exterior light and electrical fixtures to prevent water intrusion and mechanical damage to underlying wiring. This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island where there were three (3) loose exterior light fixtures and four (4) very loose, dangling, exterior outlets which needed securing. Some of the underlying wiring was beginning to corrode from water intrusion.

VIDEO: Saturation under and around toilet

At a recent home inspection on Orcas Island, I discovered water stains around a toilet that the Seller informed us were “historic.” Probing with a moisture meter, it was clear that the subfloor was clearly saturated with the possibility of underlying damage not visible without pulling the toilet and invasively inspecting. Moisture meters and infrared thermography help home inspectors determine elevated moisture conditions not visible to the naked eye.

Fun Fact Friday!

It would take a sloth one month to travel one mile.

You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television.

Coca-Cola would be green if coloring wasn’t added to it.

A single cloud can weigh more than 1 million pounds.

VIDEO: Broken toilet valve

Testing a toilet at a recent home inspection on San Juan Island, I couldn’t get it to flush. So, I removed the tank lid and attempted to open the valve to verify it actually flushed. In this video, you see the valve/stopper basically come off in my hands, but it flushed! If your toilet valve is tight or non functional, it’s a pretty easy repair. Universal toilet valve repair kits are available at most hardware stores; if you have a specialty toilet, you can check with your plumbing contractor and/or search online for replacement parts. I like Amazon.com because I can get parts quickly shipped to my door.

January fireplace safety

Keep your family safe with these fireplace safety tips. Build the right size fire, and baby proof the fireplace. Heed safety concerns when cleaning a fireplace and chimney. Learn about fireplace inspection and proper disposal of fireplace ashes. Not sure if you need a chimney sweep to come out to your house? Or, concerned about getting your home dirty? And, what is the difference between having your chimney inspected and having it swept? Chimney Safety Institute of America offers two short online tutorials that walk you through the basics on chimney sweeping and inspections