Archive for February, 2008

Duct leaks

The home inspection this morning in Pensacola, Fl reminds me why the Humane Society likes older houses. The ducts in the attic are so open and damaged it is keeping the bugs and critters warm all winter and will likely cool them off this summer. Some of the holes in the ducting are large enough to fit my hand into.

.Duct leaks

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While doing a stucco moisture inspection in Gulf Shores, AL the other day they had some interesting kick out flashings. (at least they had them)  They are a home made brand that will hold any and all debris and water from completely draining. These flashings will need to be cleaned out more than the gutters will. I can see debris and salt water / air shouldn’t take long to rust through these.

Kick out detail

Plumbers helpers

This home I inspected the other day had some normal “plumbers helpers” items. I can picture this clearly, the plumber is setting the toilet in this brand new home. He realizes the floor joists are in the way. What would you do, of course, cut the floor joists. Call for your helper and tell him to get the saw.

They are not structural engineers and therefore don’t realize they need to put a support underneath or the new owners might be taking a “dump into the crawlspace” (a little play on words)

Cut joists

Stucco

There have been some good posts about moisture and stucco. Spring time we always do more stucco inspections than the rest of the year. I’m not sure why, I guess it’s the beautiful Pensacola and Gulf Coast weather and people are getting outside. I would like to show you what I put in every report.

“The equipment used is to help locate potential problem areas. It should be understood that the test equipment is not an exact science but rather good tools used as indicators of potential problem areas. Because of hidden construction within the wall cavity, the meters sometimes get false readings. Some meters pick up on flashing, metals, wiring or unique wall finishes. Positive readings do not always mean there is a problem, nor do negative readings always mean there is no problem. We use the equipment only to obtain relative readings between suspected and non suspected problem areas. We then use the information to help determine potential problem areas which may warrant more investigation. ”

From left to right, the equipment picture shows a probe with a moisture meter attached which is used for EIFS invasive inspections. The green machine scans the exterior of EIFS for potential moisture and the Tramex on the right is used for interior moisture scanning.

It adds up to having the ability to understand building construction and that water runs downhill (not straight though) and some common sense.

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Most gas-burning fixtures, whether furnaces, water heaters, or fireplaces, vent combustion exhaust to the exterior. “Unvented” fireplaces vent exhaust to the interior of the building. Fortunately, there have been very few reported problems with these

fixtures. They are at odds with the common sense of gas safety, and their safety should not be taken for granted.

If gas combustion is incomplete for any reason, soot and carbon monoxide are

produced. Carbon monoxide, commonly recognized as an odorless, lethal gas, causes no harm when vented to the exterior of the dwelling. When vented into a home, it can cause debilitating sickness or death. For this reason, unvented gas log fireplaces are specially designed to maximize gas combustion. They are also equipped with carbon monoxide sensors, an

oxygen depletion sensor, and a complex system of safety shutoff devices. As long as these safety features function perfectly, unvented gas fireplaces can operate without

posing a threat to the health and safety of occupants. These are all way beyond the inspection capabilities of a home inspector.

It is possible for well-designed backup systems to fail, no matter how carefully manufactured. Nothing in the realm of human invention is 100% safe. The risks inherent in unvented gas fireplaces may be small, but are not nonexistent.

Those who have unvented gas fireplaces in their homes should exercise caution in the following ways:

Install carbon monoxide detectors as directed by the manufacturer.

Never leave the gas logs burning while you sleep.

Keep the fireplace doors open when the fixture is in use.

Keep a window slightly open when the gas logs are burning.

Follow all the manufacturer’s installation instructions and safety precautions.

Problem such as these do not commonly occur, but again, it should not be assumed that unvented gas log systems are unconditionally safe.

It is common practice here in the south to pour a cup of bleach down the a/c condensate drain line which can help in preventing an ugly water mess inside the home.

Check it out.

My inspection this morning had some handy man work done. Just as an example someone ran the cables from 2 Dish satellites through the top of a plumbing drain waste vent, made a hole in the pipe into the attic and had it exit to the bedrooms for TV! Certainly no short term problems here, but, possible water leaks, slow plumbing drain and odors in the attic could occur

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Cables

Fireplace mantel

Please look over the video about fireplace mantels and combustibles.