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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was unable to test a bathroom outlet at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island because it was placed directly against the vanity cabinet, rendering plugging any appliances into it very difficult. I certainly couldn’t insert my plug tester. This is a reportable issue because, (1) I couldn’t test the outlet or verify it was GFCI protected and (2) future homeowners need to know they likely need to make repairs to have a functional MBA outlet.
AFCI breakers, or Arc-Fault-Circuit-Interrupter breakers, are commonly installed in newer homes. This video, taken at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, explains how to test these breakers for proper operation. The 2005 NEC stated that AFCIs must be placed on bedroom power and lighting circuits; new codes require AFCI breakers be installed for all rooms within the home supplying outlets. As with all property protection and life saving devices, the ultimate use, beyond the Code, rests with the homeowner. Smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and escape ladders are all examples of emergency equipment used in homes to take action when a fire occurs. An AFCI is a product that is designed to detect a wide range of arcing electrical faults to help reduce the electrical system from being an ignition source of a fire. Conventional overcurrent protective devices do not detect low level hazardous arcing currents that have the potential to initiate electrical fires. It is well known that electrical fires do exist and take many lives and damage or destroy significant amounts of property. Electrical fires can be a silent killer occurring in areas of the home that are hidden from view and early detection. The objective is to protect the circuit in a manner that will reduce its chances of being a source of an electrical fire. Below is a great link to some additional information about AFCI breakers.
Deteriorated and corroding post-to-base metal hardware brackets at deck systems should be replaced for safety reasons as they no longer serve their intended purpose. This was discovered at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. When metal brackets begin to rust and corrode, painting with an exterior metal paint will help prolong serviceable life. Once they’re deteriorated, however, they’re clearly compromised and require replacement.
Dangling, loose exterior outlets were discovered at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. When new siding is installed on a home, sometimes over existing (original) siding, it’s important to properly re-secure exterior outlets and fixtures to the (thicker) new siding and perimeter envelope. Securing loose electrical fixtures and appliances is important for safety reasons because (1) it’s important to keep rain out of electrical connections and (2) as wires move back and forth with use, because they’re not secured, they can become mechanically damaged and wiring connections can be compromised.
Concrete driveways definitely crack, which is a common occurrence with concrete driveways that lack control joints. When the cracks are pronounced or displaced (e.g., settlement occurs), they can become a tripping hazard for unwary passersby. Grinding unevenness produced by settling concrete slabs and/or mud-jacking are two ways to deal with this issue. If the cracks and settlement are pronounced, driveways are typically formed and re-poured.