Fun Facts Friday!

In Switzerland, it is illegal to own just one guinea pig. This is because guinea pigs are social animals, and they are considered victims of abuse if they are alone.

In 2015, more people were killed from injuries caused by taking a selfie than by shark attacks.

King Henry VIII slept with a gigantic axe beside him.

Ketchup was sold in the 1830s as medicine.

Water stains on ceiling

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.

CUT TRUSSES in Garage!

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.

“Fogged” windows

“Fogged” windows, or windows with condensation between glass panes, are commonly discovered at home inspections.  From my perspective, it’s a cosmetic issue because the condensation between panes isn’t a water intrusion issue for the home’s health itself.  Sure, you’ll lose some thermal efficiency when the window panes lose their seals, but it’s somewhat negligible in the grand scheme of things.  In my experience, Realtors are about 50% successful in negotiating replacement of “fogged” windows in real estate transactions. The Seller typically takes the stance that the “fogged” windows were obvious when the offer was made.  The Buyer, on the other hand, may take the position that (a) they didn’t notice the “fogged” windows or (b) they had no idea what it would cost to replace.  If you have a significant number of fogged windows, replacement adds up quickly. Standard “fogged” windows typically cost $300-$500 each to replace; contractors can usually pop-out the old glass pane and install a new one, without having to encumber trim and siding elements.  These pictures were taken at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.

DETERIORATED Eave Sheathing

Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections discovered completely deteriorated OSB eave sheathing at a recent home inspection in Anacortes, WA. If your soffit sheathing is discolored, particularly adjacent the gutters, you may very well have water and insect damage requiring your attention and repair. Left unchecked, deterioration will continue and become more expensive with time. Keeping gutters clean and installing a metal drip-edge flashing detail will help prevent recurrence into the future.

Deteriorated wood gutters

Wood gutters are cool, but they definitely require maintenance and are, from my perspective, a bit impractical.  Pictured here are substantially deteriorated wood gutters requiring replacement.  Many homeowners with wooden gutter systems will flash the interiors of the gutters (sometimes even with copper!) to help prevent water damage and extend serviceable life.  But the reality is that wood gutters are generally not painted/sealed (e.g., to maintain that cool wood look) so they will deteriorate over time from moisture which leads to WDO (wood destroying organism) damage.  Most gutter systems today are constructed with aluminum, metal, copper or plastic.  Gutters aren’t just to keep rain off your head as you enter your house!  They’re important to divert rain/storm water away from the building envelope.  This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island.

Moldlike Growth in Attic

At a recent home inspection on Orcas Island, I discovered plywood sheathing in the attic that was stained with a mold-like growth. This typically, almost always, indicates an insufficient ventilation or elevated moisture issue within the attic. Vents could be restricted, vent ducts may be discharging into the attic, or the interface between the main home and attic may need to be better sealed. In any event, a contractor needs to first resolve the underlying cause of elevated moisture and make necessary repairs. The mold-like growth is then typically remediated with a mildicide and then painted with mildicide paint to encapsulate historic mold growth. I recommend tinting the paint TAN because white or black mold growth will be obvious if it returns (e.g., you’ll see it on tan paint). If the attic is forever tan, you know the issue has been addressed satisfactorily. Because most home buyers want this issue addressed prior to closing, and remediation can be expensive, I recommend peeking into your attic on an annual basis and dealing with any apparent mold-like growth sooner than later if noted.

Save money by insulating your attic hatch

Did you know that insulating and weather-stripping your attic access hatch, like that pictured here, can be one of the most cost-effective strategies for significantly improving the thermal efficiency of your home?  In fact, I understand that you can lose 30-40% of heated air through hatches that are neither insulated or weather-stripped.  Think about that, 30-40%, it’s a HUGE number!  For a small investment (less than $20), you can save hundreds of dollars annually.  It’s a no brainer.  This picture was taken at a recent home inspection in Burlington, Washington.

DETERIORATION at Window and Trim

Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections recently discovered completely deteriorated trim, with the real possibility of underlying structural damage, at a recent home inspection in Mount Vernon, WA. Keeping your exterior elements properly sealed (e.g., painted and caulked) will prevent deterioration. It’s all about protecting your home from the elements! When deterioration is discovered, it should be repaired and replaced as necessary, and then painted and caulked. The longer one waits, the more expensive the issue becomes.

Textured “popcorn” ceilings and asbestos

Textured “popcorn” ceilings, like that pictured here, could contain asbestos, especially in homes constructed prior to 1978.  Because some sheetrock and painting contractors kept stores of this material into the early 1980s, it’s possible that textured “popcorn” ceilings in the 1980s could contain asbestos as well.  Provided the material is in good condition and not delaminating from the ceiling, this isn’t a health concern because it’s not considered “friable,” e.g., you can’t breathe it.  But if you intend to remodel (or scrape) “popcorn” ceilings, or it they’re in poor condition, testing is advised.  Asbestos can only be confirmed by laboratory testing.  This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.