Category Archives: Exterior

UNEVEN STEPS!

Did some mishap during the installation of your deck’s stair system cause one (1) or more of your steps to be uneven in step height?  This can definitely be a tripping hazard and should be addressed for safety reasons.   

For this reason, I recommend further evaluation and repair by a qualified contractor.  

WAKING UP TO THE SOUND OF BIRDS!

Do you like waking up to the sound of birds in the morning?  Though this may be your preferred version of an alarm clock, I recommend screening openings in soffits on the exterior of your home to safeguard against bird and animal activity/intrusion.  If you see bird droppings running out of soffit vents, there’s a chance birds are getting into your attic and the soffit vent likely needs to be re-screened.  Don’t just cover it, as this can lead to elevated moisture in the attic.  

SCREEN PASS: SOFFIT VENTS NEED PROTECTION

Like a fine wine from the Columbia Valley, your home needs to breathe. 

For example, soffit vents around the perimeter of a home can help with attic ventilation issues. However, too much ventilation is not a good thing.

I recently inspected a home in Anacortes that was missing soffit vent screens around the perimeter of the building. When vents are not screened, birds and other animals may decide to put down stakes in your home. 

Not exactly something to say “cheers” about. 

If you have questions or comments about ventilation issues or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

PRETTY IN PINK?!

Although pink is arguably one of the best colors, it’s not the best to have exposed pink foam board insulation in your attic or crawlspace areas for safety reasons.  I recommend that you cover exposed pink foam board in your attic/crawlspace with a noncombustible material, or remove it if that’s impractical. 

Exposed pink foam board insulation is combustible and could catch fire and creep up on unwary dwellers.  Either take that stuff out, or get it covered!

Having pink foam board insulation in your attic or crawlspace does not mean that your home will undoubtably at some point catch fire.  But because the possibility remains, I recommend you remove or cover pink foam board insulation.  

CARPORT NEEDS REPAIR, ‘POST’HASTE

I don’t know about you, but if I’m walking on a deck, I’d prefer it remain standing. Or if I’m under a roof, I’d much rather it not collapse on me. 

Therefore, when I see issues related to reduced structural integrity, I point them out in my reports. 

While on an inspection in Sedro-Woolley, I recommended further evaluation of the posts and beams of the home’s exterior carport because a post appeared to be missing underneath a beam. 

If you have questions or comments about structural issues or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

FLASHING: AN IMPORTANT COMPONENT OF YOUR ROOFING SYSTEM

Roof flashing details are more than “details”: they are critical components of your home’s construction. Without proper flashing, you might as well open the front door to your home and invite moisture to make itself at home.

In our part of the country, where rain is prevalent, I often see rust and corrosion showing at roof flashing details and at other protective metal elements (such as chimney caps)—as was the case during a recent inspection in Ferndale. 

For flashing that is rusting but not too deteriorated, I recommend clients paint rusted areas to extend serviceable life while budgeting for its replacement in the future. 

If you have questions or comments about roofing or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

3 QUESTIONS: INSULATION WITH PACIFIC RIM INSULATION

Every month, we seek to bring our readers insight from the worlds of home construction, home repair, and home maintenance straight from local Northwest Washington contractors in a segment we call “3 Questions.” Yep, you guessed it: we ask three questions, and the contractors answer them.

This month, we learn about insulation issues with Brea Mason at Pacific Rim Insulation Inc. in Friday Harbor. 

Q1: Attic insulation is priority No. 1 for homes (hot air rises after all!).  There are lots of options for insulating attics (e.g., spray foam, blown-in fiberglass/cellulose, batten insulation, etc.).  Can you please let us know some pros and cons in material choices and overall advice for insulating attics?

There are many different choices for insulating your attic spaces. If you have an existing house, with a nice clean attic and are looking to increase your insulation,  I really like to use blown-in fiberglass insulation. It fills in all the gaps and cracks you may have and sets down a nice blanket to cover it all up.  I think getting an attic to an R50/R60  provides great resistance from the outside elements in our area. On new homes you have many options, but we have been installing closed cell foam with batt insulation combo in quite a few homes. It makes your roof a non-vented system, so no worries that you don’t have enough air-flow behind your insulation. 

Q2: What’s your favorite type of insulation and why?

My favorite type of insulation would be rockwool, or closed cell foam. Rockwool is so versatile, good for sound, gives you an R23 on exterior walls, is fire protectant, and is an overall very dense product—which means better resistance (or R-value). Closed cell foam is my other favorite because of the sealing power it has as well as its high R-value per inch (R6.9 per inch). On  older houses with 2×4 exterior walls you get an R21 and 11 percent sheer power, so that is a win-win.

Q3: An amazing statistic is that up to 30% of heated air can be lost through a ceiling attic access hatch that isn’t insulated and weather-stripped.  Do you have any high-impact recommendations homeowners can employ to improve thermal efficiency and save money?

I think a lot of people don’t know if their access hatch has any insulation on it at all. We always build a dam of insulation around the hatch and then install insulation to the back side of the access cover. You can hold the insulation with twine or you can cut a piece of rigid insulation and glue it to the back of the hatch. Weather stripping is so important! Around light can covers, electrical outlets and attic access hatches. We are always trying to stop the air from infiltrating.

CRAWL SPACE SUPRISES: STRUCTURAL ISSUES NEED EVALUATION

One of the more interesting (and challenging) aspects of my job is crawling around underneath homes. While it’s not necessarily my favorite part of the job, I do, on occasion, see some curious things.

During a recent crawl space excursion in Whatcom County, I noted that many of the CMU masonry block support columns underneath this particular manufactured home were installed upside down (e.g., the holes in blocks should face upwards). 

Additionally, I noticed that some of the CMU masonry block support columns had settled, and some are not fully bearing underneath the floor structure. In my report, I suggested further evaluation of the support columns by a qualified contractor. 

If you have questions or comments about asbestos issues or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

I BROKE MY MOM’S BACK…(**MOM SCREAMS IN AGONY**)

It may be an old wives’ tale that stepping on a crack in a concrete walkway will without a doubt break your mother’s back.  Though the consequence of this action is likely far less grave, you could break your own back (it’s possible!). 

Settlement cracks in concrete walkways surrounding homes can be a tripping hazard for unwary passersby.  In 2021, we are taking lots of walks yet are more glued to our phones than ever.  I guess you could say we’re easily distracted…this isn’t all bad!  When it comes to walkways, though, this could present a safety issue.  Look at your phone at the wrong time…and of course the one time you look at it, you step in a crack!  You look over at your mom to make sure she’s okay, but to your amazement you are on the ground!  Taking phones out of the equation isn’t an option (**dismay**), so filling and repairing settlement cracks in your concrete driveway is the best option to protect carefree passersby.  Do your part to keep your neighbors safe and keep them coming around!

VEGETATIVE GROWTH BELONGS IN THE GARDEN, NOT YOUR SIDING

Vegetative growth is not a friend to your home’s exterior systems. Well, at least most of the time.

Unfortunately, here in the Pacific Northwest, this growth is continuously trying to be best buds with roofs, siding, and trim elements. While most of the time this forced friendship appears as moss or fungal growth, occasionally, it looks a little more permanent. 

During an inspection in Anacortes, I found such an arrangement when I noted vegetative growth coming through exterior walls. In my report, I stated there was a possibility of underlying damage not visible without invasive inspection.

If you have questions or comments about siding issues or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).