bellingham home inspector: Drop Me Off In New Orleans - 10/26/15 12:17 AM
For the second time, in two years, my wife and I visited New Orleans in October. We had not planned to go this year, at least originally we had not, but then some friends asked us to meet them there. It was a good plan, except due to medical issues they were unable to make it. But we had a great time anyway.
Having gone last year, I had a better idea of how the city works and where to find the entertainment. The most popular entertainer in the city these days, a staple on the seriesw "Treme" is Kermit Ruffins and … (2 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Furnace Safety: The Fact It Runs Is Not Enough! - 10/08/15 04:22 AM
Sometimes, the fact a component or system in the house runs at the time of a home inspection is not enough. For example, the inside of this Carrier furnace is afflicted with rust. The manufacturer's label, just barely shows up in the photo at the right, was illegible but, based on resources available to me, it is months shy of 30 years old. Estimated design life of a gas furnace is only 15 to 20 years.

This is a situation where, even if the system blows some heat, it is going to be a problem for the client in the future -- … (2 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Handrail and Guardrail Safety - 11/09/14 10:30 PM
Often, at a deck or landing, the home inspector will find that handrails and guardrails are not in accordance with safety guidelines. Another area where deficiencies often stick out like a sore thumb, include when the inspector is hired to inspect an outbuilding. The photo below, stairway to a barn loft, is an excellent example of the problem at hand.The shape and dimensions of the handrail are not readily graspable and there is no rail return at the bottom end. Furthermore, lack of spindles and the gaps at the side of the rail would not stop a child from climbing through the … (12 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Skylight Inspections (Concealed components, visual limitations) - 08/23/14 09:56 AM
        It is not good news, but to be truthful, it is iffy as to whether or not a home inspector will be able to reliably detect subtle seepage around skylights. Many factors and variables are involved and sometimes you can, sometimes you cannot.
        Flashings and seals around the glazing at corners of skylights are vulnerable to leaks. The watertightness of any given skylight is dependent on the quality of the skylight itself (manufacturers’ responsibility) and proper installation of flashings-seals and the placement of underlayments at the top side (responsibility of in-the-field installers).            … (6 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Moisture Ant Infestation (Video) Up Close and Personal - 08/01/14 06:15 AM
In Washington state, a wood destroying insect species that is often seen is the moisture ant. The only wood that is attractive to moisture ants is lumber that is very damp in the first place. And if it is rotted, well they like that pretty well too. The most common place to find them is under plumbing fixtures that have been seeping for years. Other locations moisture ants hanker for would be in crawl space corners or behind deficient deck flashings that have been leaking.
The video below is quite revealing and it provides the non-home inspector with a view of … (7 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Federal Pacific Electric Panel (King of the House) Bellingham WA Home Inspector - 07/27/14 12:42 AM
The most frequently seen older electric panel of questionable merit, here in Bellingham WA and Whatcom County, would be Zinsco-Sylvania brand. More often than not, when I recommend replacing an electric panel, it will be Zinsco brand.
However, maybe once every two or three years, I run into a  "Federal Pacific Electric" service panel with "Stab-Lok" circuit breakers. These old panels are controversial: The manufacturer and the Consumer Product Safety Commission wrestled safety issues with this panel for 30 years. The manufacturer aggressively argued that the panels were safe. Then, only a few years back, the Consumer Product Safety Commission threw up … (6 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Bee-Ware Everyday - 07/09/14 03:12 PM
I was out and about in Bellingham just the other day. A home inspector can run into unexpected surprises at unusual places. As a home inspector, diligent and all, I try to inform a prospective purchaser of the presence of a multiple layer roof. We see all kinds of arrangements including two or three layers of composition over wood shingles. That is not a pretty sight.
One of the easiest ways to check to see if a roof is multi-layer is to simply gently look under the edge of the roofing at the eave. Here is an example of my identifying a … (6 comments)

bellingham home inspector: L-P Siding Failure (Bellingham Home Inspector) King of the House - 06/09/14 01:24 AM
In the 1980's and up to 1995, and even after that,  Louisiana Pacific (L-P) innerseal siding was popular with builders. That was, especially so, true in my corner of the Pacific Northwest.
L-P siding is still available and, whether or not the new variation of the product is much of an improvement over vintage innerseal is up in the air. I see plenty of delamination and decay at newer oriented strand board or OSB sidings such as L-P.
We do know that some problems with the siding involve installation errors but, also, the L-P innerseal product, due to durability issues, was … (3 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Building Houses to Last -- NOT! - 04/27/14 06:16 AM
There are building techniques that will survive for only a few years, then there are methods that will result in materials lasting for many, many years. A classic example of non-durable, short term, construction is the way many contractors pay no heed to the consequences of moisture wicking up into wood.

The photo above is a wood column that supports an overhang roof. The overhang protects part of this concrete patio from rain but not the edge. And, where the post rests on damp concrete, rot-decay was developing. Even pressure-treated lumber lasts longer if it is not damp all of the … (39 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Zinsco Panels (King of the House) Bellingham Home Inspector - 03/02/14 12:27 AM
For some reason, lately, I have been seeing a number of recalled and outdated electric panels. The timing of this is rather strange, it is not like these old Zinsco-Sylvania panels are a fad, since they are all about 40 years of age. I guess it is just the luck of the draw as to the houses I have been inspecting lately.

When the inspector sees those distinctive multi-colored breakers and that blue and black label, he or she knows that the panel is Zinsco. My comments to the client are below and they describe the dangers associated with these panels.

bellingham home inspector: Home Inspection: Where the Uncommon is Common - 02/22/14 12:19 AM
Anyone who says that a home inspector sees the same old things over and over again, is either not familiar with the territory of home inspection or he or she is ill informed. Sure, most of what we see is repetitive with varying degrees of good or bad going on.
But there are so many different systems and devices, and many harebrained repairs, that sometimes the unusual becomes apparent. I think I have seen maybe two systems like the one I am writing about here -- Apollo Hydro Heat. At first glace, the unit looks like a furnace. But, in fact, it utilizes hot … (4 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Unseen Problems Lurking in the Dark (Crawl Space Woes) - 02/17/14 12:13 AM
At an inspection in Bellingham a few days back at a house with a "basement" I found a concealed crawl space area. This one really was concealed, no outside vents or anything to provide a clue as to its presence. However, when I found a hatch cut in the rotted-out deck, I pried it up and sure enough, there was the crawl space that nobody knew about, thought about or cared about.

As is, the condition of this crawl space alone was enough to stymie the deal on a house that had roof, electric, plumbing and structural issues. There were multiple problems … (4 comments)

bellingham home inspector: New Furnace, Service It! - 02/15/14 11:40 PM
When inspecting a new home, the professional home inspector might have to call for service at a new furnace -- even if the furnace is only a few months old. The problem has to do with wet weather. At least in the wet climate of Bellingham and Whatcom County, builders cut wood and drywall in the garage during the fall and winter. They do so, logically so, to get out of the cold and wet. But guess what is located in the garage at many houses. Yep, the furnace.
And all of that sawdust, shavings and drywall dust ends up inside the … (14 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Plumbing Trap Air Gap (Bellingham Home Inspection) King of the House - 02/15/14 09:15 AM
I remember riding the subway in London many years ago. Over and over on the PA system you would hear the words -- "mind the gap." This warning referenced safety when getting on or off the train.
There is another kind of gap that enhances safety. At a potable water system, you do not want the sewer system, or gray water for that matter, contaminating the fresh water supply. It is necessary to avoid cross-connections.
The cross connection that I see most frequently in my area involves water heater temperature-pressure relief valve drain lines that are routed down below the flood … (7 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Motorized Vehicle Door Hazards - 12/01/13 12:04 PM
Motorized vehicle doors present serious safety risks for consumers who are unaware of the dangers associated with defective doors. The door, in the video below, is an example of what you do not want to see happen when an overhead door strikes an object that was set flat on the garage floor.

Anybody or anything under that door would be seriously injured. This is a real world problem, I have met people who have had pets maimed or killed by unsafe garage vehicle doors. A motorized door, when it is operating correctly, will reverse at the floor level if it … (3 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Not In Washington State They Won't -- Health Insurance - 11/14/13 09:28 AM
As we all know, the roll out of the Affordable Care Act has been, shall we say, off to a bumpy start. Millions of people having their policies canceled, when they thought they were going to be able to keep them, has been dominating the news for a week. That even bumped all of the federal website issues out of the news for awhile. In fact, the glitch was creating so many problems, politically and otherwise, that the President and lawmakers are trying to figure out "tweaks" to resolve the distress. 
So, as probably everyone knows, the President today said that he … (1 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Home Inspection: Take Nothing for Granted - 11/13/13 01:16 PM
Most people believe that a home inspector should, and can, make a number of general assumptions. You know, the basics like if a professional builder did the work, and the code authorities signed-off on the job, then it was done right.
If only that were true, it would make the home inspector's work much simpler and less stressful. Fact is, we have to stay on our toes at all times because there is very little about a home that one can take for granted.
That reality was brought to the forefront at a recent inspection. At a home, less than five years … (3 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Takin' Care of Business Home Inspector Style - 10/06/13 01:21 PM
Over the past two years, I have performed many commercial building inspections. It seems like once you get known for doing these larger jobs, the more calls you receive. When it comes to inspecting large 5000 to 12,000 square foot buildings, I choose to not do the work all by myself. On the majority of these big buildings or larger high-end homes, I enlist the services of my good friend, and an excellent inspector, Curtis Brown of CurtisC Home Inspection services who is also located in Bellingham. Between the two of us, we get the jobs done in a reasonable amount … (3 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Government Trusts in Thee (to do the right thing) - 08/25/13 08:06 AM
In the course of a home inspection in Whatcom County, I ran into an unusual situation. The home was about 30 years of age, so trying to decipher the series of events that took place, from that many years ago, is pretty much impossible to do. But, based on the state inspector's notes inside the remote distribution or sub-panel, I have a hunch as to what took place.
I think the state code inspector approved the electrical panel and wiring subject to corrections: (1) properly wiring the sub-panel (2) installing GFCI receptacles.

As you might anticipate, this was not … (5 comments)

bellingham home inspector: Frost-free Yard Hydrants - 07/07/13 03:02 PM
Most "modern" faucets, that I see attached to the exterior of the home in Bellingham and Whatcom County, will be frost-free hose bibbs with backflow prevention devices -- to keep gray water out of the potable water system.
However, frequently even at new homes, out at the garden or at perimeter locations, I will see a simple faucet mounted on a piece of pipe (anything from PVC plastic pipe to copper or galvanized steel) sticking out of the ground. Most of the time these faucets are not frost-free and, even if they were, the associated pipe would not be. Unsupported plastic … (18 comments)

Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) Rainmaker large

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Bellingham, WA

More about me…

King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.

Address: 1609 East Maplewood Ave, Bellingham, WA, 98225

Office: (360) 319-0038

Mobile: (360) 319-0038

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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, ASHI certified inspector #252760 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.




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