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Don't Fall For This Trap! - 02/29/12 04:01 AM
It was a dark and stormy night, um, it was a very nice morning and a terrific couple buying a house. The husband had called me a couple of days prior to the inspection with some very circumspect questions. This was a house with a lot of "remodeling," but he was told that the "$100K or so" put into it was only "cosmetic." OK... Well, you know me - that sent all of my radar dishes pointing in the same direction. We had a nice conversation and he heard all my typical spiels. The biggest issue, as always, is getting a (61 comments)
Jay's Tuesday Free Enterprise Quote - 28 February 2012 - 02/28/12 04:25 AM
"The guiding purpose of the government regulator is to prevent rather than to create something." Alan Greenspan Gubment doesn't create anything - not jobs, not economic activity, not wealth. But it can go a long way toward PREVENTING all those things from being created by a free market economy. How? The easiest way is crushing gubment regulation. When oil companies cannot drill (or drill where there is oil), banks have to lend or have to lend in certain ways contrary to long-held banking practices, the general populace has to hire accountants to do their taxes so they don't get into trouble (18 comments)
Bug Zapper, Human Zapper - 02/28/12 02:52 AM
Consistency counts. If you want to zap something, zap everything! Looking up into a back yard I noticed a bug zapper on a tree. I don't see those very often, but they are fun! They are electric so they have to be plugged in. What they plug in to is important though. And not dangerous! Oh well. Another day, another fun installation! This outlet came from an unknown source. It has a missing cover and a broken lower receptacle. And it is dead. Well, no wonder! It's broken! That cord is from the bug zapper just above. It was not (27 comments)
Follow The Clues - 02/27/12 02:40 AM
Older house, two-story ranch, where on one half the roof was raised, a third floor, with a perpendicular two-story addition, built off of one end. The house is now L shaped. The new section has no basement. Outside there are two AC compressors. That usually means one system is in the attic, but not always. System two is speaking to me. Follow the clues. Clue #1 - A tube is sticking out from the fascia under the soffit holding the roof. The end is very rusty. It's winter, so the AC system probably has not been used since last fall. Under (19 comments)
Bouncy, Bouncy Wall Support - 02/26/12 03:58 AM
It probably isn't a good sign to go into a master bedroom and experience bouncy, bouncy wall support. Entering the bedroom, from the windows, I noticed that the bathroom door was not squarely in its surround! Interestingly, the door itself was level, the wall was not! And under the door was a bit of a sag. Well, a lot of a sag! Well, somebody had been living with this because they moved the strike plate on the door down to accommodate the new position of the door against the wall! Putty and all! And, to top it off, when I walked (54 comments)
Missing Furnace Vent Cap - NOTE TO SELF - 02/25/12 02:50 AM
Missing Furnace Vent Cap - NOTE TO SELF. That's what I thought walking around this house. It had been inspected by a relo company, another home inspector pre-listing and then by me. From way in the back yard I noticed an odd furnace vent. It looked like the cap was missing. Looking at it with my binoculars it was clear - the cap was missing!
To me it seemed that two things were obvious: 1. It had been like this for a while as it was very rusty, even on the shingles.2. Given that time without a cap, there would (34 comments)
Wood Pellet Stove Chimney - Up Periscope! - 02/24/12 03:22 AM
Creativity never ends! But you never want to hear: Wood pellet stove chimney - up periscope! Of all the things to play fast and loose with, wood stove and pellet stove chimneys would not be one of them! The pellet stove is in a bedroom! No protection against the wall, no hearth on the floor, kind of jammed into a hallway between the bedroom and house. It is right in front of a window. There is nothing, and that is NOTHING, safe about its installation. Or professional. The exhaust "chimney" exits out back. It goes straight through the wall, just behind (83 comments)
GFCI Receptacle Phantom Tripping - 02/23/12 03:10 AM
One problem many people may be familiar with but not know why it is happening is called GFCI receptacle phantom tripping. GFCI receptacles are placed near water sources to interrupt a ground fault. Ground fault is a fancy way of saying "shock!" If that could be interrupted, it would be a good thing. You have seen them. In kitchens and bathrooms they are most visible. But they are required pretty much near any water source these days. They are a true safety innovation. And important! This is new construction. Terrific house. Big, all the bells and whistles. And a kitchen larger (31 comments)
"When the government is involved in business, it’s hard for private companies to compete. The Chinese government is smothering the private sector. The usurping of private enterprise has become so evident that the Chinese have given it a nickname: 'guojin mintui.' That roughly translates as 'while the state advances, the privates retreat.' If the government doesn’t interfere, these entrepreneurs would be productive. There are a variety of reasons the Chinese government is seeking an enlarged role in the economy — including fears that wealthy entrepreneurs could begin to challenge the Communist Party. There is also an ingrained belief among (13 comments)
Masonry Foundation Repair - Steel Posts - 02/21/12 02:26 AM
This photo is the masonry foundation repair of the front wall of a 45 year old house. It is one of many techniques that can be used for such a repair. The masonry foundation had been suffering from horizontal cracking. Around here a big factor contributing to this problem are expansive clay soils. Certainly soil/water pressure is the culprit, but clay soils can shrink when very dry and then, when wetted, can expand with greater force than normal. Such force works on these walls, over time and even quickly! When it happens, and if there has been enough movement, a structural (40 comments)
REO Market - Gone, Gone and Gone! - 02/20/12 01:41 AM
This is something I am finding often in the REO market - gone, gone, and gone! This is a lonely scene. I am seeing it more and more. To the left is the discharge tube to the former dishwasher. The (very dirty) tube remains, but the dishwasher does not. IT IS GONE. To the right is the cable to the former disposal. The (wire nutted) cable remains, but the disposal does not. IT IS GONE. In the center is the valve to the former refrigerator ice maker. The (very stuck and rusty) valve remains, but the fridge does not. IT IS (77 comments)
The Disapppearing Disposal - Twice In One Week! - 02/19/12 04:00 AM
On recent home inspections, I had the disappearing disposal - twice in one week! I pay attention when notes are left for me at home inspections. They are usually very helpful. Sometimes they are downright devious. The most recent was yesterday. The photos would have been very similar to these posted here. In each house there was a note that said something like, "Since there is a septic system, you will notice there is no disposal." How nice. This is a note left by a "savvy" real estate agent, or a "savvy" seller convincing a not-so-savvy real estate agent that (35 comments)
My Clients Are Listening To Me! - 02/18/12 03:14 AM
My clients are listening to me! This is good news, because I tell every client at every inspection that if they have any question at all, at any time, they may call me. And I mean it. Just this week, here are a couple of the MANY calls from clients: 1. "Jay, you said to listen to my house and take care of things myself for a while so I know what they sound like. So I did. You said we should change or clean our furnace filter every month, if the furnace is used every day. This week the furnace (43 comments)
Good Thing This Dryer Vents Into The Attic, Cause It Sure Can't Vent Outdoors! - 02/16/12 05:42 AM
Good thing this dryer vents into the attic, cause it sure can't vent outdoors! Combine a makeshift laundry room, with a holey (not holy) dryer vent, and the most interesting, but clogged, discharge outdoors I have ever seen and what do you have? Well, for one thing, you have a lot of mold! Interestingly, most of the mold was not near the dryer vent! Most of the exhaust was blowing so much toward one end of the house, the end where the homeowner covered up that pesky vent hole on the side of the house, that the mold really developed there! (73 comments)
How NOT To Flash A Chimney, Or A Roof - 02/15/12 06:52 AM
So often, more than seeing something flashed correctly, I see how not to flash a chimney, or a roof. Roof tar does not flashing make! Period. It's great UNDER "stuff," like shingles, or vent covers, and when under it is long lasting. But it is not intended to be installed (my word is "gooped") over "stuff!" But it does inspire song! Please, feel free to sing along. It's best to bob your head too...
I SEE A RED CHIMNEY AND I WANT IT PAINTED BLACK,
NOT ONLY IN THE FRONT, BUT UNDER AND (88 comments)
Jay's Tuesday Free Enterprise Quote - 14 February 2012 - 02/14/12 06:43 AM
"The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell." Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) What does that mean? Carnegie is the quintessential rags to riches story. Moving to Pennsylvania in 1848, he found work as a bobbin boy changing spools of thread in a cotton mill. He worked 6 days a week, for 12 hours a day and was paid $1.20 per week. Finding a job that paid $2.50 per week (!) as a messenger boy in the Pittsburgh office of the Ohio Telegraph Company, he jumped right in. Here is where the quote comes in. As a 16 year (26 comments)
Hurricane Straps - 02/13/12 03:45 AM
One very important thing to look for on new construction, pre-drywall inspections are hurricane straps. Also called "hurricane ties" or "twist straps," let's keep it simple for the post and call them hurricane straps. A simple piece of engineering, a hurricane strap is a single piece of metal with a half twist. There are pre-drilled holes for nails to anchor the straps to roof rafter ends. In modern construction, every roof truss rafter that rests on an exterior wall is to be strapped. The only exception is the truss rafter at the very edge of a townhouse, which is itself anchored (13 comments)
Billy Jays - A Testimonial - 02/12/12 06:50 AM
Hi folks! Billy Jays here! This will bring a tear to your eye! It does to mine! I have brought you many products in the past. As you know, our wonderful wares are sold nationwide, even internationally. And why not! We have wonderful wares! And when we hear back about the success of our products, well, can it get any better than that! We want to share those success stories with you, our loyal followers and customers! Recently we received information about how hearty and lush one of our most popular products is - Get Yer Gutter Garden! Yes, Get Yer (22 comments)
Where oh where could the dryer vent be? Sometimes you know a change has been made, but you don't know where. This dryer vent has blown directly onto the AC compressor since the house was built. That would be 1979. A dryer vent should not be within 12' or so of a compressor. Too close, as in this case here, and the compressor will draw in air while the dryer is venting its lint-laden exhaust. That can load up the fins with lint, clogging them, and robbing the compressor and AC system of efficiency. I have seen compressors look (88 comments)
Be A Preposition On A Home Inspection - 02/10/12 07:01 AM
What is a preposition? My 8th grade English teacher, Miss Braun, taught me that a preposition was anything you can do to a house. What? I mean, you can go inside, or be outside, over or under, beside or behind or in between, before or after, up and down. All those kinds of words are prepositions. They describe relation to a noun and govern it. So, things you can do to describe your relation to a house would be a preposition. How prescient since that is what I do today! So, when I pull up to a house and see a (23 comments)
It's a wonderful day in my neighborhood! A wonderful day for a neighbor, I need you to be, I'd like you to be, I'd LOVE you to be my new neeeeiiiighbor!
Hi boys and girls! Mr. Jay here! Welcome to Mr. Jay's Neighborhood! It's a beautiful day in my neighborhood and I am so glad we can be together today! In today's we are going to talk about how to electrify an outdoor shed! It's important for a shed to have power! Can you spell electrify? E-L-E-C-T-R-I-F-Y Sure you can! Remember boys and girls, safety is always first. (18 comments)
Jay's Tuesday Free Enterprise Quote - 7 February 2012 - 02/08/12 04:52 AM
Patrick Henry lived his entire life in what was to become the Commonwealth of Virginia. His life spanned 1736-1799. He served as Virginia's first and sixth governor. Elected to the House of Burgesses from rural Louisa County in Virginia, he is most famous for a speech given 23 March 1775 at the Virginia Convention held at the St. John's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. Still there, as the oldest church in Virginia, the church is located at 2401 East Broad Street. The church was selected as the site to house the Virginia Convention to determine if Virginia would send troops to (22 comments)
Screwing Up The Gutter - Repair Or Replace? - 02/07/12 06:13 AM
As regards screwing up the gutter - repair or replace? Homeowners must ask themselves this all the time! First of all, this is not the first time the gutter on this vacant house has been "repaired." How can you tell? The soffit and fascia material has been caulked and painted, although not recently. And the gutter has some kind of material, what I don't know, oozing out the seams. But obviously it had come apart again. So, this time they decided to screw it up! Literally! There are 12 sheet metal screws visible in this photo. There are more on the (60 comments)
A Double Moisture Whammy - 02/06/12 08:27 AM
What does a client do when there is a double moisture whammy in a vacant house? It's a foreclosure. No appliances left - they were taken. But there is clear evidence that two things have combined in the past to cause a current condition. It wasn't easy to get to to see. My tip off was a spongy, bouncy floor around a powder room toilet. That toilet, and that bath's sink, were against a wall where the washing machine's spigots and drain were inside the abutting wall. In the laundry room, there was no washing machine or drip pan. There was (16 comments)
Jay's Saturday Morning Haiku - 16 - 02/04/12 06:45 AM
Jay's Saturday morning haiku - 16 The English form of the traditional Japanese Haiku includes any or all of the following: The use of 17 syllables, in the form of three lines, with 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively. Some haiku may employ 10 - 14 syllables, but 17 is traditional. The use of a season in the poem. The use of a "cut word" or punctuation to set off and compare two images.
A Strap here and there -
Keeps me from shaking badly!
I'm a secure house.
Shower Gone Wild! - 02/03/12 06:00 AM
Don't you love to see a new shower installation. And upgrades! Well, it just doesn't get better than upgrading that shower. Take an old shower, with old tile, and boom! Make it new! Such was the case here. The house had been vacant for some time, so the shower had not been used. But it works! Nothing better than an adjustable shower height! Professionally done, professional looking, well, professional all around. Well, until you look behind. And underneath wasn't any better! It was the underneath that got me upstairs to investigate the installation! It was a mess, had been a mess (29 comments)
Demonstrating A Continuous Path For Earthquake Protection - And A Best Practice! - 02/02/12 06:04 AM
It's good to be demonstrating a continuous path for earthquake protection - and a best practice! Not long ago I took a class offered by Simpson Strong Tie, the company that makes structural straps and anchors. You have all seen their products, particularly under decks. In that class I learned about something engineers are calling a CONTINUOUS PATH. In Japan there is a huge and special warehouse in which scientists, engineers and Simpson Strong Tie, build houses. One is just a house. The other utilizes various forms of straps and ties and structural support. Then the warehouse shakes both houses! From (28 comments)
Slip Joints Below Grade Are Leakers! - 02/01/12 05:50 AM
I wrote a post some months ago, I Know You Conduit!, in which I suggested that water can get into conduits when they open up. What that conduit lacked was a slip joint. Well, slip joints below grade are leakers too! The two gray tubes on the right are for something else, and for the house next door. The gray tube on the left is the conduit supplying electricity to the house I am inspecting, and the electric meter just above. Builders have gotten the idea that a slip joint is needed to prevent settling soil from yanking the conduit off (25 comments)
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