Tag Archives: mount vernon


Most of us keep all the highly flammable stuff we own in a specific area of the house. Typically, this is the garage. Or on the third shelf of the refrigerator (have you ever tried ghost pepper hot sauce? Yee-ow!) 

For this post, we’ll focus on the garage and not your condiment collections. So, what if your garage were to catch on fire? Good news: if it was well-made and is up-to-code, garage ceilings and walls are considered fire separation barriers. In other words, these walls and ceilings would (hopefully) burn first, and buy a little time before the fire department arrives and the rest of your home catches on fire.

During a recent home inspection in Mount Vernon, I came across a garage with holes in the sheet rock ceiling that needed to be taped, mudded and sealed. Again, that’s because the ceiling and walls of a garage are considered a fire separation barrier in a home. 

Is a fire separation barrier the same as a firewall? Nope. The Uniform Building Code defines a firewall as the following: 

FIREWALL: A fire-resistance-rated wall having protected openings, which restricts the spread of fire and extends continuously from the foundation to or through the roof, with sufficient structural stability under fire conditions to allow collapse of construction on either side without collapse of the wall.

“The closest thing you’ll find (to an actual firewall) in residential construction is a one-hour fire-resistance-rated wall,” wrote Minnesota-based home inspector Reuben Saltzman in a recent article. “This is needed between townhomes and two-family dwellings, with a lot of fine print and special requirements.”

While it probably doesn’t have a firewall, your garage should always be considered and maintained as a fire separation barrier and an extra level of safety for your home and those who live in it.

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


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).


Almost there isn’t quite good enough for this ladder.

I recently discovered this unique version of an attic access hatch during a recent home inspection in Mount Vernon. The pull-down ladder in the garage was undersized and did not fully extend to the concrete slab below; furthermore, the pull-down ladder hatch did not close fully, which was a safety issue as the garage ceiling is considered a fire separation barrier between the garage and the home. 

In the home inspection, we have a very technical term for this: double trouble!

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

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.

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.

Water hammer issues?

Plumbing Equipment On House PlansWater hammer is a specific plumbing noise, not a generic name for pipe clatter. It occurs when you shut off fast-moving water suddenly, bringing it to a quick halt and creating a sort of shock wave and a hammering noise. Fix “water hammer” by draining the plumbing system. Open the uppermost faucet (or the one furthest from the water meter) and the lowest (or closest to the meter) and allow the water to flow to a lower-level sink or floor drain. Draining the system restores air to air chambers. Close the lowest faucet and refill the system. For more detailed information see this article.