At a recent Oak Harbor home inspection, I discovered deterioration, rot and water damage at the interface between the deck and exterior siding. This interface really should be flashed with a metal flashing detail to prevent water intrusion which can lead to WDO (wood destroying insect) activity and water damage. When deterioration is presenting at this interface, there’s always the possibility of underlying structural damage not visible without invasive inspection. A qualified contractor should further evaluate, invasively, to determine the extent of deterioration and make necessary repairs.
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.
Old, active knob-and-tube electrical wiring was discovered in this attic that had been unprofessionally spliced with modern electrical wiring and was in direct contact with framing elements in the attic, clear safety issues. My client was under the impression that all wiring in this home had been updated; truth be told, it simply was not. I recommended further evaluation and repair by a qualified electrician. If you have knob-and-tube wiring, consider upgrading to modern wiring. At a minimum, don’t splice into it and keep it clear and free from contacting anything as it can overheat. Do not insulate attics or crawl spaces that have knob-and-tube wiring. This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.
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.
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.
Wow, look at this handyman dryer vent ducting! I can see two sizes of vinyl, solid metal, flexible metal and- for good measure- let’s couple it with ABS drain pipe. I’m not making this stuff up, I promise! This was discovered at recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. I always recommend installing solid metal ducting for safety reasons, and annually cleaning/maintaining as lint is flammable and can accumulate in dryer ducting.
Inspecting the furnace at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, I noted corrosion, deterioration and holes in the flue pipe which is a clear safety issue. This particular furnace was 15 years old and approaching the end of its expected life. It’s important to service your furnace on an annual basis for optimal performance, longevity and safety reasons.
If you can see dirt and any wood/cellulose debris in your crawl space, you should take action to help prevent elevated moisture conditions that can lead to WDO (wood destroying organism) activity and damage in your crawl space area. Any and all exposed dirt in the crawl space should be covered with a plastic vapor barrier. And debris and wood scrap, food for insects, should be removed or properly stored at least eighteen (18) inches above the ground. These pictures were taken at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.
At a recent home inspection on Orcas Island, I discovered water stains around a toilet that the Seller informed us were “historic.” Probing with a moisture meter, it was clear that the subfloor was clearly saturated with the possibility of underlying damage not visible without pulling the toilet and invasively inspecting. Moisture meters and infrared thermography help home inspectors determine elevated moisture conditions not visible to the naked eye.
‘Tis the season for pressure washing! Below is an article from our Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands Home Inspection eNewsletter addressing some great techniques and principles for pressure washing. (With the below in mind, PLEASE don’t pressure wash your roofs!)
How to Use a Pressure Washer
eHow.com says, “Pressure washing can be a quick, easy way to clean your car, driveway, deck or siding. However, the powerful stream of water can also inflict damage if not handled properly. By learning a few techniques and principles, you’ll get the job done more quickly and won’t risk harming your home or family in the process.” However, pressure washers are not magic wands to be waved over a problem, they are power equipment, and, like all power equipment, it’s not as simple as it seems. For power washing basics see “How to Use a Pressure Washer.”