Category Archives: Advice

Vinyl dryer ducting

While you can still purchase vinyl dryer ducting at most hardware stores, one of my personal “peeves” is to have it replaced with metal ducting, ideally smooth metal ducting.  Dryer lint is highly flammable and vinyl burns, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense- at least to me- to use vinyl dryer ducting.  Smooth metal is best because it doesn’t have corrugated folds that can catch lint and cause it to build up, but flexible metal is good if smooth metal isn’t practical.  I always recommend replacing vinyl dryer ducting when I see it.  This was noted at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

Damage to roofing due to pressure washing

Colored granules on your roof coverings are what protect the roof coverings themselves from the elements.  This is why it’s important to NOT pressure wash your roof as doing so can lead to granular loss and reduce the roof’s life expectancy. In fact, I’ve seen newer roofs completely destroyed by pressure washing (treatment with zinc granules is the most common way to keep moss off your roof).  Pictured here is substantial granular loss and exposed underlying fiberglass underlayment.  These roof coverings were in poor condition, clearly due for replacement.  This was discovered at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.

Anobiid beetle damage

If you look closely at this picture, you’ll see little holes in the wood. These are anobiid beetle exit holes. Elevated moisture conditions in wood leads to WDO (wood destroying organism) activity and damage.  Insect damaged structural elements like these are typically replaced, depending on the severity of damage.  When replacing exterior deck structural elements, I highly recommend using pressure-treated wood products to prevent WDO activity and extend serviceable life.  Untreated exterior elements will deteriorate over time and are at risk of WDO damage. This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

Inset siding nails

Are your siding nails inset within the siding boards themselves, like those pictured here?  If so, it’s either because (a) the nails were overdriven or more likely (b) the siding is swelling and expanding with moisture.  Inset nails need to be sealed to prevent moisture intrusion which can lead to deterioration.  For siding discovered at this home inspection in Freeland on Whidbey Island, substantially swelled/deteriorated siding needed to be replaced.

“Updated” wiring?

At an older home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, the home was advertised with “updated wiring.”  Unfortunately, when I got into the crawl space and attic areas, I noted numerous unprofessional wire splices like that pictured here which are signs of handyman wiring practices and a definite safety issue.  I recommend further evaluation and repair by a qualified electrician.

Lack of safe electrical wiring protection

Electrical wiring needs to be protected where it enters junction boxes for appliances and fixtures.  Pictured here is wiring vulnerable to mechanical damage, a safety issue.  A simple bushing can be installed in this application to protect wiring and keep the house safe.  Wiring practices like these suggest the fixture wasn’t professionally installed and should be further evaluated and repaired by a qualified electrician. This photograph was taken at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.

Detecting water damage with moisture meters

With modern technology- moisture meters and infrared thermography- home inspectors can find water issues that aren’t visible with the naked eye.  This photograph shows underlying saturation adjacent a toilet that needs to be reset with a new wax ring.  Hopefully there isn’t underlying damage; they’ll find out when the toilet is pulled.  I use moisture meters to probe around toilets, showers, sinks, dishwashers, and any suspicious areas to confirm elevated moisture conditions.  It’s a valuable tool for sure.  This photograph was taken at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.

Gutter downspout extensions

Gutter downspouts should be extended to discharge water away from the home’s building envelope.  In this picture, while it’s great that there’s a downspout extension, it discharges directly adjacent the home which is, frankly, pointless.  Direct water away from your home.  Failure to do so can lead to crawl space water intrusion, wood destroying insect activity and structural issues, so it’s an important simple step you can take to protect your home.  This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island.

Cement fiber siding

Cement fiber siding products are an excellent, high quality and low maintenance material.  In fact, I’m a big fan of these products; if I build a home again myself, I intend to install cement-fiber siding.  Broken, cracked or otherwise mechanically damaged cement-fiber siding boards should be replaced by a qualified contractor.  If you have a lot of broken siding boards, replacement can be expensive.  If you don’t have the budget to replace broken boards in the near future, I recommend at least caulking cracks and securing broken pieces to prevent water damage while you budget for replacement.  This photograph was taken at a recent home inspection in La Conner.