Category Archives: Industry News

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.

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.

Checking soffit vent screens

It’s important to periodically (annually is good) check your soffit vent screens around the perimeter of your home to make sure the metal screening is in good condition.  Oftentimes, birds will damage screening, attempting to gain access to the (warm, protected) attic area.  Replacement of damaged screening should be undertaken as soon as practical.  Don’t just cover and block the vents as this can compromise attic ventilation which can lead to mold growth in the attic, a costly problem.  This was discovered at a recent home inspection on Samish Island.

Proper wiring for hot tubs

So, you’ve decided it’s time to finally get a hot tub!  It’s important to install wiring serving the hot tub properly for obvious safety reasons.  Pictured here is wiring simply run in the grass to the hot tub appliance. Hopefully it doesn’t get hit by a lawn mower or someone doesn’t trip over it!  Wiring should be sleeved in conduit, run underground to the hot tub and have a GFCI-protected subpanel installed within sight of the hot tub and readily accessible.  Also, any and all wiring modifications or additions at a home require a permit and inspection through the Department of Labor & Industries.  This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Mount Vernon.

Dealing with rusting metal flashing

Rusting metal flashing details can often be painted with a high quality, exterior-rated metal paint to extend serviceable life and prevent further deterioration.  If you see rusting flashing details atop your roof or around your chimney, I highly recommend painting to prevent further damage; replacement of deteriorated flashing details- especially around masonry fireplaces- can be costly.  These pictures show rust presenting at one flashing detail, corrosion- and due for replacement- at another.  This was discovered at a recent home inspection on Camano Island.

“Updated” wiring?

At an older home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, the home was advertised with “updated wiring.”  Unfortunately, when I got into the crawl space and attic areas, I noted numerous unprofessional wire splices like that pictured here which are signs of handyman wiring practices and a definite safety issue.  I recommend further evaluation and repair by a qualified electrician.

Lack of safe electrical wiring protection

Electrical wiring needs to be protected where it enters junction boxes for appliances and fixtures.  Pictured here is wiring vulnerable to mechanical damage, a safety issue.  A simple bushing can be installed in this application to protect wiring and keep the house safe.  Wiring practices like these suggest the fixture wasn’t professionally installed and should be further evaluated and repaired by a qualified electrician. This photograph was taken at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.

Detecting water damage with moisture meters

With modern technology- moisture meters and infrared thermography- home inspectors can find water issues that aren’t visible with the naked eye.  This photograph shows underlying saturation adjacent a toilet that needs to be reset with a new wax ring.  Hopefully there isn’t underlying damage; they’ll find out when the toilet is pulled.  I use moisture meters to probe around toilets, showers, sinks, dishwashers, and any suspicious areas to confirm elevated moisture conditions.  It’s a valuable tool for sure.  This photograph was taken at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.