Category Archives: Interior

WANT TO KNOW SOMETHING IN A HOME I WON’T INSPECT?

As a home inspector, I’m rightly expected to know a lot about a lot of different things in a home. However, for a variety of reasons, I can’t address every issue I come across.

Certain home features are just beyond the scope of the home inspection, and this includes electric generator systems.

Recently, during an Anacortes home inspection, I came across one of these generators. In my report, I recommended that the prospective buyer ask the seller as to when the generator system was last serviced. Additionally, I suggested that they verify with the seller as to their routine maintenance protocol for the system. Finally, I recommended further evaluation, service and repair (as necessary) by a qualified contractor.

Do you have questions or comments about home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

THINGS THAT SHOULDN’T DANGLE: PARTICIPLES AND THERMOSTATS

I was on a job recently in Coupeville when I came across a basement pellet stove thermostat that was not professionally installed. In fact, it was merely dangling on an adjacent window.

Correctly installing thermostats and related electrical infrastructure can require a lot of time, skill and patience. If you decide to take on such a project, make sure you really know what you are doing. While there are lots of great tips on do-it-yourself electrical wiring, it can be dangerous if you are not prepared and experienced. 

For those who want to learn more about thermostat installation, in particular, take a look at the video below. Hope it helps!

Do you have questions or comments about home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

WHEN IT MIGHT BE OKAY TO PUT YOUR FIST THROUGH A WALL

Occasionally, I come across homes with laundry chutes. While these chutes—like the one pictured during an inspection in Ferndale—may provide homeowners with the ability to toss soiled garments straight into the laundry area, they also pose as a potential safety hazard for children. 

One example: In 2012, a two-year-old New Hampshire boy ended up falling 20’ down a chute. His quick-thinking dad actually had to punch a hole in the wall to rescue him before the fire department showed up. Check out the video below. 

https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/child-falls-20-feet-laundry-chute-17803463

Do you have questions or comments about home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

UH OH: YOUR ELECTRICAL PANEL IS NAKED!

I think this goes without saying, but you really need to make sure your electrical panels have fully installed cover fronts. When I say fully installed, I mean that all the appropriate fasteners are in place and the front is secure. 

And when I say appropriate fasteners, I mean screws that are not sharp—which can potentially pierce underlying wiring. 

And when I say potentially…I’m just kidding. No more italics

So, what if you don’t have a panel cover front in the first place? This is a scenario I recently came across recently during an inspection in Mount Vernon. 

Obviously, if the circuits, circuit breakers, conductors, and other fun stuff are exposed to the world, you are inviting trouble to the party. 

And trouble is a terrible guest. 

The takeaway? Get your panel a cover, pronto!

Do you have questions or comments about electrical issues or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

ENCAPSULATION CONSTERNATION: INSULATION CONCEALS CRAWL SPACE PIPE CORROSION

So, you’ve done the right thing in your crawl space and insulated water supply pipes. All is good, right?

Not so fast. 

During a recent visit to a home on Lopez Island, I came across this unfortunate issue: copper water pipes showing substantial corrosion—such as calcification deposits—despite the fact they were tucked into insulation. 

However, insulation is useless and even harmful when it displays signs of moisture intrusion. In this case, that’s the precise scenario I encountered.

The prognosis wasn’t good because the majority of the water supply piping was concealed behind pipe insulation. Therefore, much to my dismay, I had to recommend that all the water supply piping underneath the home be further evaluated by a qualified plumbing contractor to make repairs as deemed necessary. The only way to do that is to remove the insulation and take a look.

To learn more about protecting your pipes, Home Depot recently created a “how-to” video on the topic. Hope it helps you!

Questions or comments about plumbing or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

DUCK YOUR HEAD: OLD HOUSE BASEMENT STAIRS

Low ceiling heights can be challenging for some folks, as this stairway in a Bellingham home recently showed. Older homes often featured lower ceilings, which can literally (but most often figuratively) cause homeowners headaches. 

via GIPHY

One thing is for sure: This is definitely not a low-ceiling issue.

To help address this issue, I suggested the homeowner demark the low-ceiling height, which is typically the most advisable course of action—unless you are in the National Basketball Association and can afford to rip out the whole thing and build it again

Thanks for watching, and here’s to happy, stress-free stepping.

Do you have questions or comments about low ceilings or booby-trapped houses in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

HISTORIC HOMES PRESENT UNIQUE SET OF CHALLENGES (AND FUN!) DURING HOME INSPECTION PROCESS

In terms of historic properties, the West Coast is a “young pup” when compared to regions east of the Mississippi. However, that certainly doesn’t mean the area is devoid of homes of yesteryear: Northwest Washington has a healthy inventory of beautiful historic homes.

For this post, I’d like to share some worthwhile articles that address what to consider when inspecting historic properties. I hope they help you gain additional insight for wherever you are in the home inspection process.

Thanks for reading!

Author: International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)

Title: “Inspecting Historic Homes

Recommended Because: The article presents  a helpful overview of things to consider in the main different structural elements (e.g.., foundation, wall coverings, roof, windows, etc.)

Author: American Home Inspectors Training

Title: “Historic home inspections require experience

Recommended Because: The article addresses some of the characteristics you should consider in a home inspector when it comes to historic properties. 

Author: National Trust for Historic Preservation

Title: “10 Tips for Inspecting Historic Houses Before You Buy

Recommended Because: If you are in the market for a home or selling a home, check out the National Trust for Historic Preservation for lots of great tips related to historic properties. This is an excellent article particularly for those considering the purchase of a home.

To see what it’s like to inspect a historic home, check out the video below.

And for history buffs who merely want to see some impressive historic properties in Whatcom, Skagit, Island, and San Juan Counties, check out the links below. Road trip anyone?

National Register of Historic Places Listings: Whatcom County

National Register of Historic Places Listings: Skagit County

National Register of Historic Places Listings: Island County

National Register of Historic Places Listings: San Juan County

Do you have questions or comments about historic homes and historic properties or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

HERE’S A TIP FOR YOU: USE THESE BRACKETS ON YOUR RANGE-OVEN APPLIANCES

Anti-tip brackets help prevent range-oven appliances from tipping over, causing potentially serious injury. A falling range can scald, burn or crush anyone caught beneath. 

Good news, though: Anti-tip brackets are easily installed. Furthermore, installation is required, and such injuries are entirely unnecessary. A small bracket is simply screwed into the floor or wall, securing the rear leg of the range-oven appliance and keeping it from tipping over if leverage is applied to the opened oven door. 

You can confirm the presence of an anti-tip bracket by gripping and pulling forward on the upper-rear section of the range-oven, seeing if it tips forward more than a couple of inches. If it does, the appliance needs an anti-tip bracket installed. Contact the contractor who installed the appliance and request the anti-tip bracket be installed; they should do it for liability reasons, and you should insist the appliance is installed correctly.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) created standards in 1991 requiring all ranges manufactured after that year to be stable while supporting 250 pounds of weight on their open doors. Manufacturers’ instructions require that anti-tip brackets be installed as well. To do it yourself, anti-tip brackets are readily available at hardware stores, with easy-to-follow instructions included. Some manufacturers will send you an anti-tip bracket for no charge. So, check your range and install an anti-tip bracket if one isn’t present! 

Do you have questions or comments about anti-tip brackets, range-oven appliances or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

BREAKING UP WITH YOUR ZINSCO ELECTRICAL PANEL: IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU

Zinsco, Sylvania-Zinsco electrical panels are known in the home inspection industry to be problematic.  In fact, Zinsco is one of two brands of electrical panels that home inspectors are warned about in home inspection training courses to be aware of and inform clients about.

To identify these panels, look for the words “Zinsco,” “Magnetrip” or the characteristic red, green, and blue toggles on circuit breakers.  Issues include failure of the circuit breaker to trip on overcurrent, arcing and burn-ups at the breaker-to-panel bus bar connection and circuit breaker burn-ups.  

The majority of modern electricians aren’t familiar with these panels, which were installed in the 1940s through 1980s, so it’s important to have these panels further evaluated by an electrician familiar with Zinsco panels and their history.  While the wiring inside an older panel may appear perfectly fine, I believe these panels should be replaced (better safe than sorry). 

In fact, were I buying a home with a Zinsco panel, it would be the first thing I’d have replaced.  In 2012, the city of Napa, Calif., actually required replacement of Zinsco main service panels.  Here’s a link with more information about Zinsco electrical panels you might find interesting, https://inspectapedia.com/electric/Zinsco_Electrical_Panels.php.

Do you have questions or comments about Zinsco panels, electrical panels or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

‘UNCONVENTIONAL’ + HOME INSPECTION = TROUBLE

I use the word “unconventional” in my home inspection reports quite often when it comes to an assortment of issues. While “unconventional” may be a positive attribute in certain circumstances and specific industries (such as successful marketing or sales campaigns), it’s virtually always considered a negative adjective for home inspectors. In my field, uniformity is king!

This week, our “unconventional” examples originated during a recent inspection I conducted in Bellingham. I noticed an unconventional vent pipe protruding through a master bathroom toilet tank, and—admittedly—I had no idea as to its function. Funnily enough, I saw an identical issue in a separate bathroom toilet. 

In my report, I recommended the clients (potential buyers) inquire with the seller or a qualified plumbing contractor as to the function of the protrusion.

Do you have questions or comments about unconventional installations or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).