Leaks Around Skylights is not always about Water

Leaking Skylights is not always about water

Skylights represent a host of problems:  from installation issues, to energy efficiency issues.  Why someone would put something of so little resistance to heat loss at the warmest place in the room is confusing to me.  I know they meet energy codes and all that—-but should they?  It would seem that one would get a lot of “points” for avoiding skylights. Answering the “politics” of this question is not really the focus of this post however. Nor am I going to go into issues related to … [Read more...]

What is Concrete Honeycombing?

What is concrete honeycombing

While Honeycombing of concrete can look like it is being attacked from some sort of creature or chemical, that is rarely the case except in decorative concrete flatwork where the surface has been “released” to reveal the larger aggregate.  This is done deliberately by washing the surface with mild etching compounds prior to curing of the concrete surface.  It is certainly never the result of bees and the honeycombs associated with them. When concrete is poured into the foundation forms it … [Read more...]

Chrome Traps are they Worth the Money?

Chrome traps, are they worth the money?

I like to think I am a “live and let live” kind of guy—-but some things—-for lack of a better way to put it—-have no redeeming social value! I am talking about your garden variety, Big Orange Toolbox, chrome plumbing traps.  I know you were hoping for something more controversial perhaps—but this is all I have for you today. Failing chrome traps Back in the “good ole days”—(You remember: before penicillin & Novocain, when women rode side saddle, before plywood, and it took a year to … [Read more...]

Is Your Bathroom Fan Working?

Your bathroom fan is making a noise but may not be working

Your bathroom has an exhaust fan. Hopefully. While not required in every instance, in modern construction I think they are essential. For this exercise let’s assume you have one.  How do you know it works?  “Well, I can hear it running,” you might say.  OK---let me be a little more precise.  How do you know it is “functional.”  By functional I mean how do you know it is pulling air from the room.  (For now we won’t discuss where it is going after it leaves the room---that will make the … [Read more...]

Don’t You Hate it When The Toilet Explodes?

Make sure your toilet is not on the recall list

Living in a modern society, it behooves all of us to subscribe to the Consumer Products Safety Commission email of recalled products and safety announcements. Yesterday I received a notice that peaked my interest.  It seems that most of these announcements have to do with some product made in China—and perhaps parts of this one were as well. When I read the release and I could envision shrapnel of broken ceramic headed toward possibly naked body parts in 2.3 million homes across the U.S., … [Read more...]

Have You Washed Your Attic Insulation Lately?

Have you washed your attic insulation lately?

You best hop to it then if you haven’t!  If you do not keep your insulation washed you may be wasting valuable money in extra heating and cooling costs! OK wait a minute. Brain-fart. This is silly---NOBODY washes insulation---what the heck am I talking about? What I really mean is “wind-washing.” I have not seen very many incidences of wind-washed insulation since I left the Great Lakes area---you know, where it always snows horizontally? Near the Great Lakes the wind can whip … [Read more...]

Call a Real Plumber, Don’t Try And Do it Yourself

Don't do it yourself, call a plumber

A simple kitchen sink drain can sure get complicated. As you can see from this installation everything seems to fit together nicely and looks all nice and crisp and white—-so what can be the problem? The distance from the bottom of the trap has been dropped way down to allow for installation of the tail piece for the dishwasher (the vertical section of pipe with the grey hose attached to it).  If you look closely at the middle left of the drain (in the shadow) you should be able to see … [Read more...]

Breaking The Mold, How to Address it in an Inspection Report

Mold, what a home inspector can find on his rounds

I know that MOLD is a four letter word, and only a few other things found during the course of a home inspection causes more angst for all parties involved. As inspectors, not only are we the ones that have to bring its presence to the attention of the buyers, but we also have to figure out some way to talk about it in the Inspection Report. In spite of the fact that if: it “looks” like mold, is “wet” like mold, conditions are “conducive” to mold, it “smells” like mold, it … [Read more...]

What is the “actual” water temperature in my home really?

How hot is the water in your home really?

The post previous to this was about water heater Deadband.  This post is related in that it shows us another way that deadband affects use of hot water and the safety concerns posed by deadband. How difficult can it be to figure out what the water temperature in a home is? In the State of Washington, Licensed Home Inspectors are required to report when the water temperature is above 120 degrees and then advise the client that the recommended high temperature is 120 degrees … [Read more...]

Siding too close to the ground—it’s vinyl—isn’t that “final?”

Make sure you have enough clearance between finish grade and siding

Siding materials need proper clearances between finish grade and the siding—regardless the type of siding. This requirement is not just to prevent damage to the siding—–it serves a couple of other functions as well.  Maintaining proper clearances reduces access to wood structures behind the siding by wood destroying insects or damage from water that might find its way behind the siding. It allows for inspection of the area.  In other words inspectors can see what type of foundation is … [Read more...]