Groups are smaller communities within the larger ActiveRain. Join groups created by others. or start your own and
get others to join
This is the place to view the past and present contests put on by ActiveRain and its members. Everyone can join the
group and help encourage each other. Current contest will be highlighted posts so it's easy for you all to see. Let it
Curious as to what others in your profession think about a certain product or tool?
AR's community takes the time to leave honest and transparent reviews of their experiences
so you can be a bit wiser about your purchase.
Broken down by categories and subcategories for easy finds
Get an unfiltered look at what real users are saying
Leave a review yourself for others to benefit from
Add new products as you use them and gain points for doing so
ActiveRain University (ARU) provides free on-line training. We coach, consult and support real estate professionals about real estate trends, technology and social media.
ARU Calendar provides class types and registration links
Watch short tutorials on updating your photo, inserting a hyperlink and much more
Sign up for the Daily Drop so you don't miss out on AR's daily happenings
Find answers to most FAQ's
Whatever it is you're into and wherever you are, AR surely has a group for you to join.
Brand, off the wall, specific subject matters…whatever it is you're looking for.
Each time you write a post you can syndicate your post to 5 groups.
And if by chance you don't find what you're looking for, start a new group today!
Get your content in front of more eyes
Search by location or type
Feel free to start your own group
Find some that are close to home and close to heart
Each month AR runs numerous contests as a way for our members to engage in activities
that will boost their business and increase their visibility in the community and beyond.
Earn points by partaking in these contest and climb the leaderboard
Do what's good for you and your business by participating
If you have an idea for a contest, just let us know
Stay motivated and on track with new contests popping up each month
Ask a Real Estate Question
Here's another avenue for you to build relationships with others. Share your expertise with someone searching for answers.
Play the teacher role and help someone out today
Your Homepage will alert you of new questions in your state
A wonderful way to open a door to a possible new client
Ask a question yourself to get help
These state pages or hyper-local pages provide content directly related to a specific geographical location.
State, County, City and Neighborhood pages make it easy for consumers to find what they're looking for.
Post your listings, school information, local events, market reports and more
Consumers peruse these pages for information
Farm your niche market and cover all the happenings in your neighborhood
This is the electric cover removed from the main panel in a mobile home park. The burn or arc marks are from high voltage - 240V. At some point, the two legs of the 240 volt conductor came in contact with the metal cover. This was an old, and unsafe, main panel so that was not too surprising. Water had been inside of it for some time. In looking up inside the panel, the 220V wires were bare and in such a position that someone removing, or replacing, the panel cover could have, and obviously did, short the live 240V (3 comments)
It does not seem to matter if it is a shower curtain or a shower door, often the most significant water damage in a home is around the tub, especially when the tub has a shower. The problem is that people do not adequately caulk floor areas or they fail to caulk, properly install doors or monitor water that is getting out of the tub during showers and entering the wall. Sometimes that can be fairly subtle as the water gets around a shower door. Other times it is pretty hard to imagine that someone did not see what was (0 comments)
As a home inspector, I see lots of odd crawl space structures and repairs that were not part of the original construction. These range from structures with an obvious purpose, such as stiffening the underneath of a tile floor, to the very weird. For example, this is among the poorer bits of workmanship I have seen. The floor, at the back porch, was unstable and, when you walked on it, the floor sagged. Someone decided to shore it up by tacking this in place. It consists of two 2x4's resting on a 2x6 that is flat and a couple bricks (0 comments)
Over and over again, as a home inspector, I see easily accessed outlets and light switches that have no covers. If a home is older, it seems that is very often the case. In fact, there should be covers on ALL of the switches, junction boxes or outlets in a home. The worst offenders are connections in basement areas and garages. The rest of the house might be okay, but look out for those lesser-traveled spots. The biggest risk is plain old shock hazard. Especially young kids are likely to stick their fingers in these boxes and a shock is the (3 comments)
One thing a home inspector should look at, at least in a wet climate like the Pacific Northwest, is the slope of the property. Is the slope of the land going to lead to water running back against the structure of the home? If the answer is yes, and soil is involved, it is hard to predict exactly what might happen. But if the soil is heavy clay, and drainage is pour, it could lead to moisture issues -- such as in the crawl space. On the other hand, if the soil has great drainage, then it may not be any (0 comments)
You will probably have trouble figuring out the photo below. It is not a loose plumbing supply pipe. This is something a home inspector sees over and over again. The drain from the temperature pressure relief valve from the hot water heater is routed to drain under the house into the crawl space. There are a couple problems here (1) it is contrary to plumbing guidelines which state that the TPR drain should be visible, just in case the TPR valve develops a leak because you want to know there is a problem (2) should the TPR valve develop a leak, (0 comments)
A key to reducing the chances of attracting wood destroying organisms includes having a vapor barrier down on the soil in the crawl space. Without such a barrier, the moisture in the soil evaporates up into the crawl space and even up into the interior of the home. That leads to the wood being moist and damp all the time. In my readings and many homes, this one in Burlington area, I find that the relative humidity reading are much higher in homes that do not have vapor barriers. High relative humidity is a conducive condition and a contributor to mold (2 comments)
Trees can cause a myriad of problems when they are too near, or hanging over, roofs. Sometimes the damage is pretty apparent: Like when the big branch blows in the wind and rips or breaks shingles off. Perhaps more devastating long-term, because homeowners do not pick up on it, is the roof that is shaded by trees all the time and, as a result of that, moss and fungus take over. Typically, when that is the case, the tree also sheds needles or leaves down on the roof leaving organic debris. When that occurs, the best thing to do is to (2 comments)
Shake, and wood roofs, in general, can be very pretty roofs. But, if they start going south, they can deteriorate real fast. Because they are wood, if rot begins and moisture levels stay at twenty percent or higher, that rot will continue. Shakes are popular in my Pacific Northwest Region, but our damp climate leads to moss, rot, algae and deterioration. In the fall, winter and early spring it is impossible to keep the moisture below 20 percent at almost any location outside the home. Our periodic high winds contribute to shakes that are soft or rotten being blown off. If (2 comments)
While not a serious problem, and one that everyone seems to be able to deal with without anyone freaking out, the leaking faucet can be irritating and wasteful of water. The condition can be at any faucet in the home, you choose: Laundry sink, bathtub, shower, jacuzzi, kitchen sink, bath sink. Many of these fixtures were installed by consumers who bought them on the cheap at home stores. These faucets are seldom designed for exceptional life spans - at least they will not achieve longevity without periodic maintenance and replacement of internal parts. The problem is often visible as dripping from (0 comments)
Many insurance companies will no longer insure knob and tube wiring. Those that do tend to charge much higher premiums. In my view, often the biggest problem with knob and tube has less to do with the original wiring than the way people have butchered it over the years. For example, in the photo below, someone has cut into it in an attic. They have then spliced into the circuit yet another wire. This wire, and this is important, is lighter gauge (smaller) than the knob and tube circuit. So the potential problems are many: Old knob and tube to begin (0 comments)
For some reason, homeowners insist on putting in obstacles that make access to their electric panels unsafe. That in itself is a defect to be called out on an inspection report. To be considered accessible, a panel must have an open area at least 30" x 3' deep at the front; about 5 1/2' of space from the floor to the center of the panel -- eye level; at least 6'3" of headroom in front; walls, below the panel, must be unencumbered clear down to the floor. If, like inspectors, homeowners ever opened their own panels, they would understand the problems (0 comments)
A masonry chimney on the roof almost always has, or should have at least, a metal flashing around it. This is usually described in four sections. At the top, behind the chimney, is the head flashing. At the front, low side, is the apron flashing. Probably the most critical flashings are the step flashing and the counter flashing. These are at the sides and the step flashing is tucked under the shingles and runs up beside the chimney. The counter flashing is embedded into the mortar - or so we hope - and it routes water down over the step flashing. (0 comments)
The purpose of a junction box is to safely contain splices inside the box. This keeps people from coming in contact with live voltages. And, should the splices build up resistance and overheat, the box confines the wires and reduces the chances of a fire. If you think about it, it all makes sense. But it seems that most home brew electricians just do not get the concept that the junction boxes should be also covered. Obviously, a covered junction box is less likely to have probing or inquisitive little fingers inside of it. And any sparking is better contained when (3 comments)
Fire Safety: Dryer Lint - 09/18/07 02:08 PM
Keeping the duct from the dryer clean seems like a no brainer. On the other hand, this is one of the most often cited defects at the typical home inspection. What we inspectors see ranges from the duct having come loose behind the dryer (and lint is everywhere) to lint hanging from the exhaust hood outside. The implications of this problem are obvious: Possible fire and all around filth, when the duct is loose inside the home. There is also the issue of the dryer expelling moist air into the home and, if the dryer is a gas dryer and the (2 comments)
Bellingham WA Home Inspection (King of the House): Keeping the Water Out - 09/18/07 02:07 PM
A much misunderstood aspect of home maintenance involves caulking. What to caulk and what not to caulk, and where does it work? Basically, caulking is not a substitute for good workmanship. I have seen houses where the siding was cut short, with an inch between the butt end of the siding and the corner board on the house. That was all dabbed at with caulking. That is not a proper use of caulking. Nor is caulking effective filling a 2" hole. A guideline, despite what it might say on the tube, is that it can be suitable to fill up to (0 comments)
Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House) Overheated Circuits - 09/18/07 02:06 PM
When looking at electrical safety, probably the two biggest concerns are shocks/ electrocution and fire hazards. With old wiring, as connections and insulation deteriorate, it can lead to wires and connections attaining higher temperatures. Physics is involved: You have voltage, amperage and resistance. As the resistance goes up, which happens at a poor connection, heat increases substantially. I have seen situations where that heat has melted electrical tape on the wires or even melted the insulation itself. This is one of the bigger concerns with solid strand aluminum wiring. Often the connections are marginal and there is a build-up of heat. (0 comments)
Bellingham WA Home Inspection: Fireplaces and Flues - 09/12/07 05:55 PM
A home inspector never knows what to expect when inspecting wood stoves, fireplaces and chimneys. In my part of the country you can usually expect to find a dirty flue, full of dark, oozing creosote. It seems that lots of people think that having a chimney regularly cleaned applies to someone else. It does not matter if it is a metal chimney or a masonry chimney, people let them get out of hand. Other than the proverbial problem of mortar falling out of masonry chimneys, and no chimney caps, other common problems include cracks in the stove or fireplace bricks. Short hearths are another problem. (4 comments)
Anacortes WA Home Inspection (King of the House Inc): A Crawl Space Is Not A Repository For Debris - 09/12/07 05:52 PM
Out of sight, out of mind. That seems to be the attitude of many people when it comes to the condition of the crawl space. Often homeowners do not even know that the crawl space has problems because workers leave the mess and do not post signs saying they did a sloppy job. In crawl spaces, commonly, I find beer and pop cans, candy wrappers, snack food boxes and scraps of wood, paper and cardboard. These cellulose based items are the biggest worry, as they are conducive debris to attracting wood destroying organisms. Under Washington State law, that must be called (2 comments)
Bellingham WA Property Inspection (King of the House): Shade On Me - 09/10/07 10:45 PM
While the two photos below are not from the same home, they are presented to make a point. The top photo gives a great example of the way people let trees smother a roof. This kind of vegetation, pretty much no matter what you do, will create additional stress on the roof. Needles and leaves end up in any roof valleys, in gutters, in and around roof and ridge vents -- just about anywhere they might land and stick. The other issue is the shade that the trees create. In the climate here in western Washington, that shade leads to fungal growth (4 comments)
A Faucet Called "Old Faithful" - 09/10/07 10:41 PM
I have seen many outside faucets that have had leaks, but this one was an award winner. I am glad I was not standing off to the right of it when I did the water pressure reading. By the way, those of you who are tuned into that kind of thing can see that the water pressure was too low according to the gauge. If the faucet was actually supplying the water to the gauge, that might not have been a problem. Instead a significant amount of the water was being spewed elsewhere. Actually, this issue of an outside hosebibb leaking, (0 comments)
Furnace interlocks - 09/10/07 10:36 PM
When a home inspector looks at a furnace, he or she is trying to determine the general condition of it, age etc. One thing I see, frequently, is the door or front panel interlock taped on. When an inspector sees that, there is little choice but to suggest that the appliance be looked at by an HVAC professional. The door interlock is a safety device, designed for the purpose of keeping someone from accidentally being injured by fiddling around inside the unit when it is running. This could range from a burn to being caught on a spinning electric motor. I (2 comments)
Bellingham Home Inspection (King of the House): Neglected Maintenance - 09/09/07 06:54 PM
At home inspections, sometimes at otherwise good houses, I am often surprised at the simple things that are easily corrected but were not dealt with by the seller. For example, the dirt will be piled on the siding near the gardens. The one maintenance issue that I see over and over again is heavy debris in the gutters. I have even seen debris in the gutters when the seller has told me that he cleaned them a few days before. Granted, some locales have more needles and organic material than others, but it is still apparent that the gutters were not (3 comments)
Bellingham Home Inspection (King of the House Inc): A Common Appliance Problem - 09/09/07 05:55 PM
While it is not necessarily in the standards of practice, most inspectors do a limited inspection of appliances. From my experience, I find that one appliance problem seems to be the one that I see more often than the others. Some of the more common things I see are leaking food disposals and dishwashers, electric burners that do not operate, microwaves that had fires in them at one time, but the torn gasket on the refrigerator probably takes the cake. I talked to an appliance professional. He said that the cause of this is easy to figure. People store juice in (1 comments)
Seeking Experienced Realtors: Zero Lot Lines - 09/09/07 04:03 PM
I would be interested to hear from some of you out there. In this area of the country where, historically we had lots of room, we did not have many, or any, zero lot line homes. Over the past few years a number of them have sprung up. I look upon them, at least usually, as a duplex cut right down the center. Here is my area of interest: In those I have inspected, the realtors involved, who have usually not sold many of these, have indicated to me that -- unlike condos -- the areas of responsibility are usually not well-defined. That (7 comments)
Shifting Sands and Murky Waters: Condo Inspections - 09/09/07 03:43 PM
In my part of the country, we are seeing more and more condos. Often like the condo in the photos below, these condos afford residents spectacular water front views. A private homeowner frequently cannot afford a lot in such an area, but common ownership by all the unrelated parties makes it possible. Condos do present some complications for the home inspector. Those complications mainly have to do with areas of responsibility for repairs and what must be inspected. That might vary from state to state by the way. In this state, if there is a crawl space under the condo, a licensed inspector should (0 comments)
Oh My Leaking Roof: Chimney Flashings - 09/09/07 12:58 AM
While I would not say it is unusual, it is also not all that common to be able to capture the photos below which go together so nicely and illustrate a point. Home inspectors see a multitude of problems with old metal chimney flashings. Often roofers do not help matters when putting on a new roof. They pry back the other flashings and install a new step flashing that goes under the shingles and up the sides of the chimney. They leave everything else the same and often try to push the old counter flashing, embedded in the chimney mortar, down (2 comments)
Bellingham Home Inspection (King of the House Inc): Downspout Drainage - 09/09/07 12:33 AM
While it is a common practice, a home inspector does not like to see the downspouts of the home up tight to the siding and draining down the roofing materials. When that is the case, and the rain is really coming down in our climate here in Washington, it leads to uncontrolled runoff and the water leaves a lasting effect on the roofing. It is probably more apparent here than it would usually be because of the wood shingles and their tendency towards algae and fungus. In this case, it would be good if the one piece of siding near the (1 comments)
Connecting those dots! - 09/08/07 05:57 PM
I was doing an inspection at a nice condo. Checked the dryer vent outside, or what I thought was the dryer vent, just to see if it had lint inside of it. Prior to looking, I had turned on the dryer. I was surprised to find that no warm, or cold, air was coming out the vent. I have seen this before, so looked down behind the dryer. Expected to find it was disconnected. It looked to be okay so I made a note to look carefully in the crawl space. Sure enough, I get in the crawl space and see (0 comments)
Just To Prove I'm Not A Model A! - 09/08/07 03:23 PM
I recently wrote a blog explaining why I think there is limited validity to attempting to train serious home inspectors merely by supplying them with videos and Online courses. Now, I did not say that I do not think there is a place for modern technology in the training of inspectors. Much of our class at Bellingham Technical College relies on custom power point presentations. Also, for fun, I put together some time back a few simple Online tests that students take in class the first few days, or when they are considering taking the class, just to see what they know. If (0 comments)
Virtual Home Inspection Training -- To Be Or Not To Be - 09/08/07 02:07 PM
In this high-tech age, everybody wants to learn to do anything and everything Online or by video. If it cannot be taught on the web, or on DVD, then it is too time consuming. I am coordinator of a state accredited, college level, home inspection training program in Washington State at Bellingham Technical College. We have had students from all walks of life -- individuals who sold feed, worked in the medical field and those who were from the trades such as plumbers, electricians, remodelers or builders. The experience levels vary. In the view of some prospective students, and in reality, this intense training seems prohibitive as far (2 comments)
Realtor Clock-Hours In Washington - 09/08/07 10:47 AM
As we come into the fall season, again Bellingham Technical College will be offering a professional, state-accredited clock-hours class for realtors who are working in the Pacific Northwest. This three hour class is affordable and taught by the home inspection faculty from Bellingham Technical College. Realtors who take the informative course will learn about wood destroying organisms, foundations, framing, siding, plumbing, electrical issues, furnaces and other components and systems in the home. The course is not intended to turn realtors into home inspectors, but to give realtors additional insight into interpreting home inspection reports. Any real estate professional interested in the course will (2 comments)
Bellingham WA Home Inspection (King of the House): Little Round Holes In The Logs - 09/06/07 11:11 PM
The photo below is something you prefer not to see at a log home. A log home, by its very nature, is more prone to possible problems with wood destroying insects and wood destroying organisms than most types of homes. The other problem is that it can be hard to impossible, based on the size of the logs, to know what is under the surface. The exit holes in the log, 1/8" in size and round are obviously from the anobiid beetle. This pest reinfests and, over time, can turn any home to a pile of gritty powder. A problem with (4 comments)
Bellingham Home Inspection (King of the House Inc): Conducive Conditions - 09/05/07 06:55 PM
In this state we talk a lot about conducive conditions. Conducive conditions are even written into the Washington State law -- part of the structural pest inspector law. I took this photo at an inspection yesterday and thought it does a good job of illustrating a point. In an earlier blog, I spoke about vegetation against siding and how that can lead to moisture issues: fungal growth, siding not drying, potential for rot or insect pests. The photo below is vinyl siding. Look at just how green it is where the bushes are crowding the home. It is continually damp. If (1 comments)
Bellingham WA Home Inspection (King of the House): Strange Things People Do - 09/05/07 05:35 PM
The crawl space photos below show, at least, a couple obvious concerns as far as the longterm well being of this home. The first issue, and I will cite it first as it is mandated as a concern by Washington State law, is that the so-called piers under the posts are wood. The one at the left looks like firewood, round side down. The posts at the right photo are on an assortment of wood pieces, the idea being to get them to fit, sort of. State law says wood to earth has to be called because the pier wood will rot, (4 comments)
Bellingham Home Inspection (King of the House): Assessing Anobiid Beetle Activity - 09/03/07 01:25 AM
I have posted before about anobiid beetles and the damage they can do here in the Pacific Northwest in a damp, unventilated crawl space. The home buyer's question is always the same: Are they still active? Sometimes the damage they have done is so extensive that that concern becomes a moot point -- all the wood needs to be replaced already. However, the inspector cannot always tell which wood requires replacement and which does not. As the WSDA says: it is the job of the inspector to identify anobiid activity and to refer to a contractor and/or a pest control operator. Anobiid damage (7 comments)
I thought I should share this. I have made a number of posts lately regarding unsafe wiring. This is NOT home owner wiring. I was digging through some photos and, again, this is a photo I took near Cancun, Mexico. This is wiring in a public park. Seriously, this is a panel in a municipal park. And, to make it sillier, I did not have to open the cover to get the shot -- it has no cover. Is it dead? Is it vacated? I think not, as a few wires came out the top and seemed to be routed to (3 comments)
Bellingham Home Inspection (King of the House Inc): Off With Their Pointy Little Tips - 09/01/07 02:54 PM
Okay, you are probably wondering what type of politically incorrect statement I am about to make here. In fact, I was wondering if I ought to post this or not. So, I decided that to backup my opinion, and to clarify the matter, I would supply a photograph of their little pointy tips and, from that, give a full explanation of my opinion and disgust. Below, are the offending members. I removed these from a circuit breaker main panel at a home in Point Roberts. You might think that three of the four look like regular sheet metal screws. Well, that is the (7 comments)
If you think you have a termite problem, well look at the kind of problem you might have. I took this photo in Mexico at a small island off Cancun. When I went into the city park I could not believe my eyes. This makes a caterpillar infestation look like the fun of attending the Ringling Brother Circus. There was tree after tree after tree that looked just like this. These particular termites, and I have the name somewhere, are a type of subterranean termite. That means they live in the ground. However, in this case they obviously kind of like (1 comments)
Bellingham WA Property Inspector (King of the House): Electric Panel Safety - 09/01/07 02:08 AM
This is the photo of the inside of an electric panel. Granted, the big bent nail off to the side is not so impressive, but at least it is staying in one place. The thing that you need to see is in the lower left hand corner. That is oh so simple, but a problem. There should be no non-essential things floating around in the electric panel. And, when that non-essential is metal, double the warning. An inspector, or an electrician, does not want to see low voltage transformers, speaker wires, or screws inside the panel. Think about it. If something (7 comments)
Steven L. Smith, King of the House Home Inspection, provides information for real estate buyers, sellers and real estate industry professionals.
Blog posts emphasize issues commonly found in Bellingham, WA and Whatcom County. Smith is Washington State Licensed Home inspector #207, a state licensed structural pest inspector and one of the most experienced inspectors in the northwest corner of the Pacific Northwest.
Steven L. Smith is lead instructor of home inspection at Bellingham Technical College and teaches classes for Washington State University and the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Steve was a two-term member of the state licensing board.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.