Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections recently discovered deterioration and fungal growth at OSB roof sheathing immediately behind gutters at a recent Oak Harbor, WA home inspection. It is important to keep gutters clear and free of debris to help prevent spillage that can lead to sheathing deterioration. Also, although not per se required, I always recommend installing a metal drip-edge flashing detail at all eaves (e.g., behind gutters) that is run underneath the roof coverings and over the fascia trim to further prevent water damage in the event that gutters overflow or water is introduced.
If your roof isn’t too steeply pitched and has material that won’t be damaged by walking on it, AND you are mentally and physically fit to do so, carefully inspect it in good weather. Look for broken or missing shingles, missing or damaged flashing and seals around vent pipes and chimneys and damage to boards along the eaves. Shingle damage up-slope will often cause water damage far downhill. Check the chimney cap and screen and look down the flues for obstructions or animal nests. If you can’t or don’t want to get on the roof, you might want to use a ladder around the perimeter. Pay close attention to valleys and flashings; these are the primary leak-generators. Some simple, easy fixes now can prevent thousands of dollars of water damage later.
Tim Hance discovered deteriorated OSB eave (soffit) sheathing at a recent inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. In this case, the lack of a metal drip-edge flashing detail at the edge of OSB sheathing (under the gutter) appears to be the contributing factor. Amazingly, installing such a drip-edge flashing detail isn’t required. If you intend to re-roof your home, I recommend having the roofing contractor install drip edge flashing everywhere, e.g., at all edges of the roof. This will help prevent potential water damage. Here, this owner will need to replace a fairly significant amount of sheathing, together with some roof work, which might prove expensive.
Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections discovers improperly installed roof coverings at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island. Without sufficient eave overlap, the underlying fascia trim, sheathing, and rafters are vulnerable to water and insect damage. Water and insect damage were presenting in many areas of this particular home. A qualified roofing contractor will likely advise the installation of a metal drip-edge flashing detail, installed under the roof coverings and overlapping the wood fascia board to help prevent water and insect damage; a roofing contractor may also want to improve the roof covering overlap/overhang as well.
Here are some tactics that you can start using today:
• Use recycled paper for your inspection reports and marketing materials, and make sure you use a logo that tells your customers so. “Printed on 90% post-consumer waste” (or whatever applies) can provide your prospective clients with a positive heads-up that you’re environmentally conscious. Recycled paper and cardstock are also generally cheaper, which can lower your costs for office supplies. Also, if you must print out something and it’s for internal use only, use the reverse side of paper that you would otherwise throw away.
• Recycle your printer cartridges. Most printer service and retail outlets will accept these and reward you with a discount on your next purchase.
• Get organized. Maximize your time by minimizing your driving trips around town. Shop online, when possible. You’ll save wear and tear on your vehicle, and you’ll spare the air of your emissions.
• Pay your bills online. This decreases what you spend on postage, and cuts down on the mail you receive, much of which winds up in the trash anyway, such as promotional inserts and window envelopes.
• If it’s cold in your office, add a layer of clothing, rather than turn up the heat. Likewise, if it’s warm, open a window instead of turning on the A/C. If ventilation to the outdoors is not practical, consider running the A/C intermittently rather than continuously throughout the day. Be sure to use fans to assist with air movement, as well as shades to block the sunlight through windows.
• If you don’t already have a low-flow toilet at your office, place a brick in the tank of your toilet to save on water used for flushes.
• Find ways to let natural light into your workspace to cut down on the use of electric lights. Where practical, change your incandescent bulbs to energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and T8 fluorescent bulbs, which can reduce your lighting energy costs by up to 75%.
• Use cups, plates and silverware in your office kitchen, rather than paper products. If you buy disposable products, consider purchasing the newer biodegradable plastics made of corn. Also, purchase paper supplies in bulk, which will reduce your shopping trips, as well as your expenses.
• When upgrading tools and equipment, donate what you no longer use, if selling is impractical. Many thrift stores, including outlets run by Habitat for Humanity, will gladly accept a worn tape measure, flashlight, and even work boots. Just make sure that items such as ladders are safe before passing them along.
• Many office supply stores that sell tech, such as Staples, OfficeMax and Kinko’s, will accept your outmoded cell phones, computers and printers to dispose of at bulk savings to them, or they will refurbish them for resale or donation. Tech hardware disposed of in landfills is among the most toxic sources of soil and groundwater contamination today because of the chemicals contained in their components, and the results of the biochemical breakdown of their materials. If you don’t want to pay a fee to dispose of these items responsibly, take them to a recycling center or retail outlet that will gladly take them off your hands.
• Before hauling something out to the Dumpster, consider re-purposing it. An old door can be converted into a work table, and cork and foamboard can be used as a message board. Old t-shirts make handy rags for the office and work truck.
• Make sure your computers, printers and copiers are set to energy-saving or sleep mode when not in use for extended periods. Also, consider routinely unplugging electrical items at the end of the day, since coffee makers, lamps and power strips that are turned off but remain plugged in continue to draw current.
• Before making a purchase, look online at websites such as Craigslist and Freecycle to see if you can find what you need for less than new, or even free. Several different categories on such sites offer building supplies and materials, tools, and office equipment and products at second-hand prices for sometimes brand new items, which can save you money that you can put toward more meaningful purchases.
• If you must buy new office furniture, consider buying chairs, desks, tables and bookcases made from wood that has been reclaimed or that originates from sustainably harvested forests. Look for certifications on wood products from the Forestry Stewardship Council and the Rainforest Alliance. In addition to sparing living trees, reclaimed and sustainably harvested wood has the advantage of being free of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which is better for your health, as well as the planet’s.
Plumbing vent caps are installed during construction to pressure test the drain-waste-vent plumbing system before it’s filled with water and used regularly. Once the test is passed (e.g., the pipes hold pressure and don’t leak), these caps are supposed to be removed to ensure proper drainage within the home. This vent cap was discovered at a 1999 home on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. Surprisingly, I call this out all the time. If the vent has been abandoned, the cap is appropriate; but this usually isn’t the case. Usually, the plumbing contractor forgets to get back on the roof to remove caps. So, if you see caps, I’d remove them if the pipes aren’t abandoned.
Tim Hance of All Islands Home Inspections discovered two (2) or more vapor barriers in a crawl space filled with water at a recent Anacortes, WA home inspection. The reason that two (2) or more vapor barriers is frowned upon is because water, if it enters the crawl space, can become entrapped between vapor barriers, prolonging evaporation time and leading to stagnant water conditions. Here in the Pacific NW, water intrusion into a crawl space or basement should be dealt with promptly as it can lead to structural damage/settling and insect activity (e.g., carpenter ants, anobiid beetles and Pacific Dampwood termites are attracted to moist areas). In this particular case, the installation of a perimeter curtain drain was recommended to the clients by a licensed contractor.
Inspecting a home in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island today, I happened upon this “friendly” raccoon! So friendly, in fact, that I had some difficulty getting around the exterior inspection without having to whisk the creature away from time to time. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to animals, so never a dull moment inspecting that’s for sure!
Water stains were noted at a wood ceiling, immediately adjacent a skylight, at a recent home inspection in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. Probed with a moisture meter, the underlying ceiling cavity was dry at the time of inspection, but there obviously was water intrusion at some point in time. The skylight flashing detail appeared to be in excellent condition, suggesting the water intrusion could have been from wind-driven rain, or that it predated the skylight installation when the roof was replaced a decade ago. In any event, I recommended the client monitor for recurrence into the future and repair if noted. It’s important to monitor all roof penetrations (e.g., skylights, stove flues, vent pipes, solar tubes, etc.) for water intrusion and repair immediately when/if noted.
Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections recently discovered unconventionally constructed trusses in a garage that have been cut at a home inspection on Orcas Island. Cutting trusses is expressly NOT ALLOWED as it can, and likely will, lead to structural settling and failure over time. In this case, the roof plane showed clear evidence of settling/sagging when viewed from the exterior; when I went inside, it was clear why the roof was settling. With an appropriate snow load, or with time, some of these trusses will likely crack and fail. In this particular situation, repair was difficult because the trusses were cut to accommodate large garage doors; the recommended interim solution was to install intermediate posts and beams, in the middle of the garage, to properly support the roof and allow for vehicle access and egress.