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Electric meters are not water heaters! - 07/31/09 08:32 AM
Electrical components that are designed to be outdoors have to meet specific guidelines to receive a UL listing for use where they can get wet----to be “rain tight.” They don’t have to necessarily be “water-proof,” although there are some installations where this might be the case----like in swimming pool lighting that is actually underwater. Seattle home inspectors find these kinds of electrical issues. Take the electrical meter that is on the exterior of your home. These boxes need to be “rain-tight.” In other words, they should shed any amount of rain water that hits them----including wind driven rain----and (28 comments)
Got Mold? Got Myth? HOT DAMP! have I got some great news for you!!! - 07/30/09 03:27 PM
Finally, some serious relief from the glut of disinformation, wrong information, and just plain hype about mold----however well intentioned it might have been. In 2004 the Institute of Medicine's mold study group concluded that there was "insufficient" evidence to find a causal association between the presence of mold and ANY of the claimed adverse health effects. Now---hot off the presses----comes the July 2009 position paper of the World Heath Organization on indoor molds and indoor air quality. What comes out of this position paper is that the association between "damp" living spaces and "some" slight increase in adverse (36 comments)
Seattle Home Inspector finds Fungus in an Old Rhyme! - 07/29/09 08:35 AM
The Fungi go marching one by one, ah-choo! ah-choo! The Fungi go marching one by one, ah-choo! ah-choo! The Fungi go marching one by one, The little one runs to avoid the sun, And they all go marching up, from the ground To get into the wood, SQUISH! SLIME! SQUISH! The Fungi go marching two by two, ah-choo! ah-choo! The Fungi go marching two by two, ah-choo! ah-choo! The Fungi go marching two by two, The little one has a spore to spew And they all go marching up, from the ground To get into the wood, SQUISH! SLIME! SQUISH! The (43 comments)
If you love to dust----I have got the answer for you! - 07/28/09 02:11 PM
It is not too unusual to find missing or out of place furnace filters----or even non-functional Electronic Air Cleaners. All furnace filtering systems need to be maintained and even more important they need to be there! If they are not there at all, the same old air keeps circulating through the heating and cooling ducts. When not present the supply ducts will get very dirty and the dust will circulate back into the home. If you have air conditioning and/or heat pump components installed, the coils will become very clogged with this dust----making the unit inefficient or not functional (16 comments)
The light at the end of the Tunnel! - 07/27/09 07:48 AM
When inspecting attics it is sometimes a good idea to turn the flashlight off and see what happens. Admittedly it is not a good place to be afraid of the dark, but if you stay very still, chances are the boogie man won’t get you and you won’t end up in the living room below. Home inspectors in Seattle are required to traverse attics when it is safe to do so.
Sometimes this is a good way to get an idea if there are any “obvious” ways for critters to get into the attic.
The Baked Home Inspector Bakes Custard! - 07/24/09 09:16 AM
Because I love to cook----it surprised me a while back when my daughter asked me for my infamous Rice Pudding recipe and I realized that I have never really done a recipe post here in the Rain. So here goes, it is not the infamous Rice Pudding recipe, but all it is really missing is the rice and the raisins! Super Easy, Non-Dairy, Baked Custard -----with Cinnamon and Nutmeg
Ingredients: 3 cups “plain” rice milk (Pacific Foods brand preferred---although other brands and soy milk would likely be fine) 6 eggs ¼ teaspoon (22 comments)
Bollocks----I don’t need no stinking bollards! - 07/23/09 09:16 AM
We have a lot of those 60’s and 70’s ranch style homes in the NW that just never did have enough space to meet the needs of the modern world----or at least many homeowners seem to think so. Many of the attached garages of these spaces have been finished off in order to create spaces for family rooms, bathrooms, home offices and extra bedrooms. While finishing these spaces off creates its own list of problems on the “inside,” I am more interested in this post in how it affects things “outside” the home. Seattle Home Inspectors should be checking these (16 comments)
For some reason she landed on my kitchen range hood and asked me to take her picture----aren’t girls just like that? (Not landing on my range hood-----just liking to have their picture taken.) Moths and butterflies go to great lengths to make themselves BEAUTIFUL for what seems like such a short life span----a week or two. In the cosmic scheme of things, human frills last no longer do they? Charles Buell (27 comments)
Just another duct tape story. - 07/21/09 09:09 AM
I always note the presence of ordinary cloth type duct tape when it is being used to hold ducts together. I include a general CYA about the potential demise of the material. My feeling is that even if it is in place at the time of inspection it won’t be forever. This picture shows what happens----sooner or later-----to duct connections that rely on duct tape.
One can see that the duct has fallen away from the vent fan above. Now all that moist bathroom air will vent directly into the attic. This flexible, plastic, insulated ductwork has (21 comments)
Living in the Question! - 07/20/09 07:35 AM
Sometimes I will have an idea that leads to a question. It seems like I am so much better at coming up with good questions than I am at coming up with good answers. For example, “Does Seattle weigh more at night or during the day?” Now, there is a question to twist your brain around for a while. Regardless it would seem that we truly have to learn to live in the questions because it doesn’t seem that answers are always forthcoming in a time frame that would be acceptable----or at least in a time frame that would keep (25 comments)
Seeing oneself as an Inspector (or agent)! - 07/19/09 10:00 AM
I frequently get comments on my blog from people who say they could not do what inspectors are asked to do. Whether it is climbing on roofs, crawling through crawl spaces, traversing attics or dealing with dead rats, spiders, snakes and raw sewage----most say they couldn’t do it. While there are some aspects of the job I could live without, most of the things that really bother me don’t even make this list----although some only come about because of things on this list. For example the absolute worse thing for me about crawl spaces and attics is not how (22 comments)
If you have areas of washed gravel areas around your home, like in the picture below, your property may be home to the endangered and rarely seen Roof Turtle (so named for there propensity for building their nests under roof overhangs. This is especially problematic for homeowners, as the turtle's protected status prevents homeowners from removing or destroying their nests and thus the value of the property could be negatively impacted.
These turtles have a strong homing instinct and tend to return season after season to the (43 comments)
Guaranteed cure for the flue! - 07/17/09 08:09 AM
A while back I did a post about furnace venting and how sometimes the HVAC installer will install a new furnace and not even think about the chimney or vent that he is attaching the furnace to----other than to attach it to it! On an inspection just the other day, I had another good example of this issue. This time the installation was a new oil furnace----well----four years old. To me, that is still pretty new and there really shouldn’t be any functional issues with a four year old furnace---especially oil fired. The chimney flue (16 comments)
I actually saw Batman today! - 07/16/09 09:41 PM
I sure do run into my share of Super Heroes on my job! A while back I did a post about doing battle with Darth Vader in an attic---- today I ran into Batman. I have always wanted to see the Bat Mobile up close, but once faced with opportunity I almost didn’t dare lift the sacred shroud that covered it. All this time, I thought Batman had a secret underground cave to hide in, but it seems that he has taken to hiding in plain sight in an ordinary residential neighborhood right here in Shoreline, WA. (19 comments)
Actually they are talking to you for a reason----in the only language they know.
Don’t you speak “Hinge?”
There are dozens of these devices in every home, on doors, on windows, on appliances, on cabinets etc, and they all require some amount of maintenance to keep them operating properly and keeping them from squeaking and wearing out. When hinges squeak what is really happening? Metal is grinding on metal. When metal grinds on metal little pieces (25 comments)
Things we take for granted! - 07/15/09 08:41 AM
Today I would like to start with a simple question. A----“What Am I” ----kind of question.
What is the most common single component in most people’s homes? (It is implied that the “component” is permanently attached to the home) I did a quick count in my house and there are at least 180 of them.
The question refers to things like windows (and components of windows), sinks, faucets, towel bars, etc. (And no----I don’t have 180 toilets.)
For the purpose of this exercise, I do not want to hear answers like: individual (31 comments)
In an attempt to obliterate the stressful memories inflicted on my readers with my recent post of me as the Naked Inspector, I thought I would replace it with images of Naked Rats.
At a recent inspection I was reminded of the fact that Rats are barely human. We all know what rats human beings can be, but actual rats are rarely to be outdone by human rat wannabe’s. Rats bite! Rats bite everything and anything-----they are required to----otherwise their teeth would grow around into their skulls leading to a nasty death----no matter (45 comments)
Handrails and drunken squirrels! - 07/12/09 07:59 PM
After all my years of building homes and inspecting homes, I sometimes lull myself into thinking that at some point I will have seen it all. The reality is that----with 6,770,700,212 people on the planet (as I write this post)----there may very well be “at least” 6,770,700,212 ways to do everything just a little bit different----or totally different----from everyone else. As most of you that are already regular readers of Steve Smith’s blog and my own blog know, Steve is extraordinary----as in EXTRA-ordinary! He never ceases to amaze me. Whether it is with his hopeless and futile attempts to (36 comments)
Inspectors GONE WILD!!!! - 07/11/09 11:14 PM
The sight of most of the inspectors I know----myself included----running naked through a home doing inspections would NOT be a pretty sight. After September 1st in the State of Washington some inspectors will in fact choose to “go naked.” Not in the “bare-ass-naked” sense of the word, but they will be choosing to carry no insurance----theoretically “exposing themselves.” On September 1st, 2009, all home inspectors in the State of Washington will be required to be licensed (with a grace period allowed for some). As of that date they will no longer be required to be licensed Structural Pest (84 comments)
Unique “Free” Auxiliary Heating System! - 07/10/09 04:22 PM
Since 1991, there has been a requirement provide a mechanical means of changing the air in homes. This came about as we started making houses too tight for them to do it on their own----the way they would when they were just naturally leaky as a sieve. There are probably at least 10 ways to meet this requirement----and I don’t’ want to use up all of these blog post possibilities in one post, so today I only want to discuss the method I saw at a recent inspection. It is very common to utilize the bathroom or (11 comments)
The House of ActiveRain---NOT your average Disaster House! - 07/09/09 09:02 AM
The other day I got a call from The Do It Yourself network and the TV show “Disaster House.” One of the producers of the show had done a Google search for “bad stairs” and had landed at my blog on ActiveRain. We chatted for awhile----with the end result that I gave the guy permission to use a few of my pictures on one of their shows they have in the works. It is one thing to see your own info come up when you do a Google search about yourself, but when someone else does it and (31 comments)
Your Home Inspector WILL miss things! - 07/09/09 07:59 AM
We only see what we see. This seems obvious enough, but I think there is the perception that inspectors see everything. While I like to think that issues of “significance” won’t be missed on an inspection, there is a whole host of “less significant” issues that WILL be missed in the context of a home inspection. This is a “promise” I feel that I can keep. If the home is heavily staged or packed to the gills with storage and belongings the odds of missing things goes way up. It is important for the buyer to realize that (15 comments)
Is “missing” duct tape an Oxymoron? - 07/08/09 10:01 AM
First I would like to set the visual stage of this next post. In homes that are occupied, it is not uncommon for the cabinet under the kitchen sink to look like the following picture. More often than not when one opens the cabinet door something falls out. Just as often it is next to impossible to really see what is going on under there. Most inspectors----me included----will have some sort of basic CYA for such occasions.
I will come back to the storage in a minute, but right now I want to discuss the disposal----which I (46 comments)
Deal killer coffee! - 07/05/09 09:09 AM
Everyone knows that Seattle and Starbucks both begin with “S” and are “S”ynonymous with coffee. The other day I was inspecting a house and someone had made a heating system duct grille out of a coffee can. It was probably not very functional as it could neither be completely closed or completely opened as it depended on just a few permanent holes to allow heat out of the plenum.
It was only providing a little bit of heat to a storage area of the basement and may have been effective enough. I like to think that (27 comments)
They have no redeeming social value! - 07/04/09 04:31 AM
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 but this is the best I can do today. Back in the “good ole days”---(you remember: before penicillin & Novocain, when women rode side saddle, and it took a year to get across the country)----chrome traps were made out of brass that was thicker than a termites wing (19 comments)
A chimney’s crowning moment. - 07/03/09 08:01 AM
Perhaps the most important component of a chimney is the Crown (mortar cap) around the flue at the top of the chimney----and a proper hat on the flue itself. This post is not about the kinds of damage that can be done to chimneys from the inside by the appliances that are connected to them. Today’s post is about the kind of damage that happens to chimneys from external forces----namely WATER! Water can be just as hard on masonry as it can be on wood, and like wood, must be properly constructed to protect it the best that it can (17 comments)
I live under a log----now GO AWAY! - 07/02/09 08:34 AM
Home Inspector Licensing has happened to Washington State. I for one am excited about it. I see it as a starting point for turning what, up until now, would best be described as a, “rag-tag band of alpha-wolves roaming the local real estate” into an ACTUAL profession. Some of these wolves were (and are) very good inspectors and do their best to provide the best of service to the consumer. There have even been home inspector associations that attempted to raise the bar by creating their own Standards of Practice and minimum requirements for membership. The problem is (22 comments)
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