Category Archives: Maintenance & Cleaning

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.

Bathroom sink draining slow?

We ask a lot of our bathroom sink drains. We pour toothpaste, soap, shaving cream, makeup and stray hair into them and expect them to work. Unfortunately, sometimes they don’t. A serious clog usually requires a chemical drain cleaner or a plumber’s snake. For a slow-moving drain, you might first try a plunger to dislodge the clog. It’s easy to use; be sure to use it carefully and avoid splashes. Before you begin, put a few inches of water in the sink to provide a good seal around the plunger. Next, stuff a wet rag into the overflow opening of the sink and seal it well. This air block greatly increases the effectiveness of the plunger. Then plunge away! You may have to refill the basin with water a few times to free a very stubborn clog.

Sealing “Checks”/Cracks in Logs and Maintaining Exterior Wood Timber Elements

It is imperative to keep characteristic normal “checking,” or cracking, of exterior exposed wood timbers well sealed in the Pacific Northwest. Elevated moisture conditions in wood can lead to WDO (wood destroying organism) activity and damage. Open cracks, or ”checks,” which are normal and typically of no structural concern, allow water to penetrate the inside of log timbers and, in so doing, create wet conducive conditions for WDO activity. WDOs, such as beetles, carpenter ants, rot fungus and termites are literally attracted to elevated moisture; keep it dry and they have no interest in your home. Oftentimes, visible damage in exterior log timber elements doesn’t become readily apparent until the timber is substantially deteriorated. I can give countless examples of this from my experience inspecting thousands of homes.

Of course, home inspectors can’t see the interior of timber logs nor can we invasively inspect. A wise home inspector would- even if “checking”/cracking were noted to a minor extent- recommend further invasive inspection of the affected timbers by a qualified contractor to make sure there isn’t substantial damage within. This is why, when inspecting log homes for instance, I always recommend further evaluation by a qualified log home contractor whenever I see cracks/”checks” in logs or visible evidence of ANY water intrusion, water staining or damage whatsoever. Timber log elements are expensive to replace and are very important to maintain!

If you own a log home, or a home with exposed exterior wood timber elements, here are some tips to help you maintain their beauty and function for a prolonged period of time. It’s all about maintenance!

  1. Keep exterior wood elements well sealed. Untreated wood that gets wet attracts WDOs.
  2. Monitor log timbers for normal “checking”/cracking and properly seal when noted. Use the highest quality elastomeric sealant you can afford for reduced maintenance. A borate treatment should also be considered as a preventative measure.
  3. Monitor exterior caulking and “chinking” details, repair when failed or cracked.
  4. Eliminate Earth-wood contact; keep dirt and debris away from timber elements.
  5. Eliminate vegetative contact with timber elements; keep landscaping elements pruned back from the building exterior so
    the building can remain dry.
  6. Consider top- and edge-flashing exposed vertical and horizontal timber elements. Metal flashing details on the tops and edges of exposed timber elements look great and significantly reduce maintenance.
  7. Keep timber cut ends well sealed; cut timber ends tend to “wick” water quickly, are particularly vulnerable and deteriorate first. Flashing cut ends, as above, virtually eliminates the need to maintain and can create a nice aesthetic finishing detail. Use a high quality “end grain sealer” for cut log ends.

In the end, it’s all about moisture! Keep everything sealed and your home’s beautiful timber elements will last a lifetime. Failure to maintain exposed wood timber elements will inevitably lead to costly repairs. Log home contractors and vendors are a great resource on best maintenance and repair practices.

Here’s a link to a blog about log maintenance that might prove helpful and instructive.

How to deal with mice

Eek! There’s a mouse in the house!

Mice have been cohabiting with humans as long as humans have been cohabiting. They figured out millennia ago that our homes are a good place for them to live. Warm, dry, plenty of food – all a mouse (and hence mice) could want. Popular Mechanics says, “There are plenty more ways beyond the traditional mousetrap to get the rodents infesting your house.” Here is their survey of the best ways homeowners and exterminators can solve a mouse problem.

Hope you find this interesting and timely informative! If you’re looking for a top notch Home Inspection and Home Inspector in Friday Harbor, Washington or the San Juan Islands (including Orcas Island, Friday Harbor, Lopez Island, and Shaw Island) to keep you from buying “The Money Pit,” then you need Board Certified Master Home Inspector Tim Hance of All Islands Home Inspections working for you! Over the past 8 years, we’ve protected over 3,200 home buyers, just like you, from unexpected post-closing expenses. Call (360) 298-1163 to schedule your Friday Harbor, WA or San Juan Islands Home Inspection today! I look forward to working with you soon and exceeding your expectations!

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.

January home tips

January is a good time to inspect furniture, cabinets and vanities for loose knobs, pulls and hinges. Tighten or repair as necessary.

Tighten screws on drawers, doors, and furniture.

Lubricate squeaky door hinges with lightweight machine oil.

Free sticky doors by trimming edges or shimming hinges with thin pieces of cardboard.

Check the house and make a list of minor household repairs needed.

Make a list of broken electrical face plates, missing pulls or knobs, locks that need lubrication, and spots that need caulking around sinks and tubs. Go to the home improvement store and buy everything you need to make all of your repairs at once.

Post holidays floor care

After all the holiday traffic your hardwood floors and carpets may be looking a little worse for the wear. Maintaining good hardwood floor care is not an easy task, but with these tips, you will be able to remove stains, polish, and keep your hardwood floor looking new. The site also has a good carpet cleaning article to help you clean, remove stains and extend the life of your carpets.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that forms from incomplete combustion of fuels, such as natural or liquefied petroleum gas, oil, wood or coal.

Facts and Figures

  • 480 U.S. residents died between 2001 and 2003 from non-fire-related carbon-monoxide poisoning.
  • Most CO exposures occur during the winter months, especially in December (including 56 deaths, and 2,157 non-fatal exposures), and in January (including 69 deaths and 2,511 non-fatal exposures). The peak time of day for CO exposure is between 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Many experts believe that CO poisoning statistics understate the problem. Because the symptoms of CO poisoning mimic a range of common health ailments, it is likely that a large number of mild to mid-level exposures are never identified, diagnosed, or accounted for in any way in carbon monoxide statistics.
  • Out of all reported non-fire carbon-monoxide incidents, 89% or almost nine out of 10 of them take place in a home.

(read full article here)

VIDEO: When to Service your Gas Fireplace!

At a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island, I discovered a gas fireplace clearly due for servicing and cleaning. When you begin to see a white, brown or black film beginning to present on the glass front of the fireplace, that’s your first sign that the appliance is due for servicing. As the video explains, it is highly recommended that you hire a professional to do so because if it’s not done properly, you risk carbon monoxide entering the home and soot byproducts outlining the ceiling and wall studs in the home. Manufacturers typically advise servicing annually.

Some Hints for June Home Maintenance

  • Check central air-conditioning units according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Replace filters in forced-air systems. Clean debris from outside condensers or heat pump units.
  • Reset thermostats and automatic sprinkler systems.
  • Wash windows, inside and out (try a solution of three tablespoons non-sudsy ammonia to a gallon of water). To prevent streaking, don’t work in direct sunlight.
  • Clean and inspect gutters. Ensure clips, straps and spikes are tight. Flush debris from downspouts with hose. Make sure downspouts and splash blocks direct water at least three feet away from the foundation.
  • Clean mineral deposits from faucet aerators and shower heads by soaking parts in white vinegar and scrubbing with an old toothbrush.
  • Dust ceiling fan blades.
  • Coat outdoor metal patio furniture with auto polish.
  • If appropriate, have swimming pools cleaned. Inspect and service pool liners and filters.