Author Archives: Tim Hance

IS YOUR HOME WIRED PROPERLY? AN INEXPENSIVE, EASY WAY TO FIND OUT

Testing an electrical outlet is simple with an outlet tester. This device is economical, typically costs under $20, and every homeowner should have one. I recommend you purchase the outlet tester with the GFCI button so you can also test bathroom, kitchen, garage and exterior outlets for GFCI protection. 

To test any outlet, plug the outlet tester into the outlet and note the light pattern. A legend on the outlet tester will show you what the pattern indicates (e.g., whether the outlet is wired properly or not). 

You’d be surprised how many incorrectly wired outlets I discover inspecting homes, even brand-new homes! If you discover an electrical issue, you shouldn’t use that outlet until it is repaired. 

To test for GFCI protection, plug in the outlet tester, see if the light pattern is correct and then push the top button. If it trips (e.g., if the power goes off), then the outlet is indeed GFCI protected and working properly (you’ll need to find the tripped GFCI breaker or outlet elsewhere in the home and reset it to restore power after tripping). 

I encourage you to go out, purchase an outlet tester, test your outlets and repair any noted defective.

Questions or comments about electrical issues or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and let us know at @AIHomeInspect

YOUR BRICK HOME MIGHT BE SAFE FROM THE BIG BAD WOLF—BUT HOW ABOUT THE RAIN?

Your brick (veneer) house may be able to stand up to the “Big Bad Wolf,” but can it stand up to a Western Washington weather?

If you own a home that features brick or brick veneer, water intrusion may seem unlikely, but it’s most definitely not. Both solid brick and brick veneer homes are not waterproof, and care must be taken to protect these elements.

With that in mind, I recently came across an Anacortes home with brick veneer experiencing deterioration. Unfortunately, some of its exterior walls featured spalling mortar and bricks chipping in various areas. To help combat these issues, I always recommend applying a masonry sealant to repel water and prevent future elevated moisture. Freezing conditions—common here in the Pacific Northwest—combined with moisture can lead to brick surfaces that flake and create “soft spots” in the mortar.

Questions or comments about exterior siding maintenance or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and let us know at @AIHomeInspect

Fun Fact Friday!

  • In 1992, 29,000 rubber ducks were lost at sea, and they are still being discovered in unexpected places.
  • The average bolt of lightning contains enough energy to toast 100,000 pieces of bread.
  • The eyeball is the only organism which does not grow from birth. It is fully grown when you are born.
  • The average person walks the equivalent of 5 laps around the world during their lifetime.

It’s hammer time!

Does your sink ever sing to you? I recently came across such a sink at a home in Oak Harbor. The song? A little ditty called “water hammer.” 

Water hammer is the result of waterline pressure causing water pipe movement when flow is stopped or started. The “hammer” noise—which is actually a shock wave within the pipes that can lead to pipe collapse–may happen for a host of different reasons, such as insecure pipes.

If you ever notice your sink bursting out into song, consider having it further evaluated by a qualified plumbing contractor to learn more about your options—or perhaps signing it up for “America’s Got Talent.” Thanks for watching!

Questions or comments about water hammer or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and let us know at @AIHomeInspect

TPR VALVES: HELPING YOUR HOME NOT TO EXPLODE (YAY!)

In the world of water heaters, temperature/pressure-relief valves (TPR valves) are essential. If you are a homeowner, you probably are well aware of this. 

However, for those new to TPR valves, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors provides a clear, succinct definition of what TPR valves are: “Temperature/pressure-relief or TPR valves are safety devices installed on water heating appliances, such as boilers and domestic water supply heaters. TPRs are designed to automatically release water in the event that pressure or temperature in the water tank exceeds safe levels.”

In other words, TPR valves can prevent catastrophe. What kind of potential disasters? Well, the following (fortunately humorous) video may give you an indication of the sort of damage that can occur without them.

To learn more about TPR valves, please take a look at the informational video I’ve prepared below. Thanks for watching!

Questions or comments about water heaters or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and let us know at @AIHomeInspect

INTRODUCING STANDALONE SATURDAYS: SIGHTS AND SCENES FROM NORTHWEST WASHINGTON

Tim Hance with high school sweetheart (and now wife) Liz at West Beach Resort on Orcas Island (circa 1989), posing with a lingcod caught in front of his family’s resort. 

Even though I grew up in the San Juan Islands and have lived in Northwest Washington most of my life, I’ve never tired of the region’s natural allure. 

Now, as a home inspector traveling the area on a regular basis, I can enjoy many of the elements that make this area so unique. I may be a little biased, but I believe my coverage area—which includes San Juan, Island, Skagit, and Whatcom counties—has some of the most compelling scenery you’ll ever come across.

As you can probably tell, it’s safe to say I love my job and I love where I live, which brings us to a concept I call “Standalone Saturday.”

What is this? In the newspaper world, a standalone photo tells a story without any (or a limited number) of words. 

On Saturdays throughout the year, I hope to give you a peak of what I see as a home inspector traveling in my neck of the woods through photos I snap along the way. Of course, these shots might include sunrises, ferry rides, rocky coastlines, flowing rivers, and bald eagles. But it also might mean interesting architecture or innovative home improvements.

Share your #AllIslandsLife for your chance to win cool prizes

I’m sure if you know or live in this area, you probably feel the same about how special it is here. That’s why I invite you to share your Northwest Washington imagery with the All Islands Home Inspections community. Take your picture or video showing why you appreciate the region, and tag it with #AllIslandsLife on Twitter or Facebook

Those who tag their photos or videos with #AllIslandsLife will have a chance to win some fun prizes throughout the year. We’ll let you know more about this later in the month.

In the meantime, get snapping and posting!

Do you have questions or comments about home inspections? Go “All” in and let us know at @AIHomeInspect

‘BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE’: GREAT SONG, NOT A GOOD IDEA FOR YOUR HOUSE

It’s surprising how often I come across this issue when doing home inspections: metal flue pipes serving furnaces and water heaters that come in contact with roof sheathing and underlayment in the attic. When this occurs, it’s a very obvious safety issue.

This issue is especially common when roofs are replaced. Why? Contractors may neglect to appropriately cut back roofing materials during installation. 

If you want to make sure your home doesn’t inspire David Byrne to write another song about burning structures, you’d be well-served to provide 1-inch of clearance, free and clear, around the flue pipe at all times. And again, this is especially important if you have had your roof recently replaced.


Vulnerable Roof-to-Wall Flashings

Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections discusses vulnerable roof-to-wall flashing details discovered at a recent home inspection. All Islands Home Inspections services all of Anacortes, the San Juan Islands, Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, and Snohomish counties. If you’re looking for a home inspector that’s so thorough and experienced that you won’t get stuck buying the “Money Pit,” then you need All Islands Home Inspections working for you! We’ve inspected over 8,000 homes to date and feel we are simply the best in the industry. We look forward to working with you soon, THANKS!

REMOVE Foundation Vent Covers in the Pacific Northwest!

Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections discusses the importance of NOT covering foundation vents in the Pacific Northwest which can lead to elevated moisture conditions and related issues (insect activity, mold, etc.) within crawl spaces. Provided the crawl space is well insulated, including water supply piping, vent covers should be removed.

DANGEROUS Settled Deck Support Posts Discovered!

Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections recently discovered dangerous, settled support posts, subsequently unprofessionally repaired, at a home inspection in the San Juan Islands. This issue was referred to a qualified contractor for further evaluation and repair prior to closing for obvious safety reasons. Thanks for watching!