Category Archives: Advice

Winter holiday safety tips

Winter holidays are a time for families and friends to get together. But that also means a greater risk for fire. Following a few simple tips will ensure a happy and fire-safe holiday season.

Holiday decoration fires are most likely to happen in the living room, family room or den. Almost half of all home decoration fires are started by candles. Half of holiday decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source. Blow out lit candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed. See more of the National Fire Protections Association’s suggestions for winter holiday decorating and entertaining safety.

Unsecure deck joists

It’s all too common to find metal deck joist hardware that isn’t fully fastened or nailed.  How much extra effort does it take to pound in a few more nails and allow the hardware to serve its intended purpose?  This is a simple, but necessary, fix.  This was discovered at a home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

Video: Handyman Furnace Filter Cover

Typically, furnace filters have a sheet metal cover with latches for ease-of-removal and replacement. In this case, tape was used which, while effective, isn’t really a professionally installed filter compartment cover. This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.

Signs of water intrusion

So, you see a black spot on your sheetrock ceiling, what to do?  Well, you may very well have a water intrusion issue.  Pictured here is apparent mold growth on a sheetrock ceiling which, when probed with my moisture meter, revealed underlying saturation within the ceiling cavity above.  The likely contributing factor was a roof leak for which I recommended further evaluation, remediation and repair by a qualified contractor.  There is the possibility of underlying damage and mold growth not visible until the sheetrock is removed.  This was discovered at an Orcas Island home inspection in the San Juan Islands.

Video: Handyman Support Posts in Crawl Space

Handyman support columns and bases were discovered under a masonry fireplace in the crawl space at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. Upside down CMU masonry blocks (holes should face upwards!) and aggressive shimming, together with the lack of a positive connection between the post base and above floor structure, warranted further evaluation and repair by a qualified contractor.

Roof membrane failure

Why isn’t there snow on the deck in that spot?  Looking closer, you see that the deck membrane has failed, together with the underlying structure.  If you note any seams or openings in your flat roof membrane, it’s important to seal them right away.  Water is unforgiving and leads to structural and insect damage if left unchecked.  This was discovered at a home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island.

Video: Completely Disconnected Ducting in Crawl Space

I discovered completely disconnected ducting in the crawl space at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. In this particular instance, this ducting was for mechanically ventilating the crawl space area, and had no bearing on the heating system for the home. That said, because it was disconnected, clearly the ventilation system wasn’t functioning as intended or designed and required repair. I frequently discover completely disconnected ducting in crawl space areas for furnaces which significantly compromises the heating efficiency within homes and nicely heats the crawl space areas. Most often, homeowners have no idea because they rarely traverse their crawl space areas.

Water intrusion in attics

One of the reasons it’s important to inspect attics is to look for signs of water intrusion.  Here you can clearly see water intrusion from a roof leak in the attic.  Nothing was (yet) presenting at the interior finishes within the home, but it’s a matter of time before the roof leak worsens and leads to roof structural damage and leaks to the interior.  I always advise my inspection clients to have someone take a peek into their attic and crawl space on an annual basis looking for signs of water intrusion; if you find it sooner than later, the repairs are much less expensive.  Water is the enemy to homes in the Pacific Northwest!  This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

LP InnerSeal composite siding

If you have composite siding, installed in 1996 or prior, that has the signature “LP” knot pictured here, you likely have LP InnerSeal composite siding, a product that was subject to class-action lawsuit for premature failure and elevated maintenance requirements.  Well and annually maintained (e.g., painted and caulked according to LP’s requirements), this product will deliver years of serviceable life, but it does require elevated maintenance for sure.  I’ve inspected many homes with this product in excellent condition.  I’ve inspected many in poor condition.  Deterioration typically happens first at the bottom lap edge of lap siding boards and panels.  Water wicks into the exposed bottom lap edge causing the composite siding to swell, edge-check (crack), obviously deteriorate, and sometimes it presents fungal growth.  Also pictured here is clearly deteriorated LP InnerSeal composite siding.  With deterioration, there’s always the possibility of underlying damage not visible without invasive inspection.  Therefore, for this recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, I recommend further evaluation by a qualified contractor, one familiar with LP InnerSeal siding products.  Other areas that commonly deteriorate are at siding/siding and siding/trim abutments and where caulking has failed (e.g., around exterior penetrations like windows and doors).