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home inspection bellingham: Unexpected Drop-in Guest -- Mouse in the House - 07/15/10 12:00 AM
I was doing a home inspection today. I looked behind the laundry appliances and thought, at first, that a sock or fuzz-kitty had fallen behind. Then it moved. It was a wee little mouse. As I snapped his photo, he split. Yet, an hour later when the prospective buyer arrived, the mouse was then sitting in the middle of the entryway floor. The client opened the door and, literally, kicked the mouse in the butt and he fled. Probably back inside by now, ya think?
People tend to take decks for granted. Sellers, buyers, realtors, and inspectors too, will go right up on the deck - usually - without thinking twice about it. That is especially true of lower decks. They are simple and common structures- right? True, but often decks, even the low ones, can be treacherous. The low deck in the photo below was only about 3' off the ground but the decking was completely rotten. When I got up on it, I could tell by the springiness that there was a problem. The realtor had not realized this and became more cautious (0 comments)
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)
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)
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)
home inspection bellingham: 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)
home inspection bellingham: Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House): Conducive Conditions and Crawl Spaces - 08/25/07 12:21 PM
A common problem in crawl spaces is the plastic vapor barrier being out of place or missing altogether or at least missing in some areas. The photo below is a crawl space that is very damp, as you can see. As a result of that the insulation fell down and that soggy old insulation is the pink you see in the photo. This home required quite a bit of work to get the crawl space into a condition that would allow the wood to endure. As it was, the area was one big state mandated "conducive condition." You can see a (3 comments)
I am not sure that even many of the home inspectors know it yet, but in the past couple of months the Washington State Department of Agriculture has added another ant to the list of wood destroying organismsbusking their wares in this state. The state has also changed the WDO test to make it, they estimate, about 30% harder to get licensed. I took a "pilot" version of the updated test with some other selected WDO inspectors, a few months back, and it was certainly harder than the original. Since I teach this course for Bellingham Technical College, I have (4 comments)
home inspection bellingham: Bellingham Wa. Washington Home Inspection (King of the House): TPR Drains - 07/21/07 06:44 PM
Actually, I do not need to be vindicated by the photo, as my concern in this post is based on standard plumbing practices. But this posting of the two photos makes a great point! I can tell you that, time and time again, an inspector will go under a home and find that the temperature pressure relief valve drain line goes straight down into the crawl space. Now, granted, this is better than no pressure relief valve or drain, but sure not good in the category of fending off wood destroying organisms. Even though most plumbing codes specify the TPR drain (3 comments)
home inspection bellingham: Crawl space ventilation and Washington Law - 07/20/07 01:28 AM
There have been a number of blogs, among us home inspector types, discussing crawl space ventilation and lack of same. Some inspectors in other parts of the country are recommending that crawl space vents be closed. As I have pointed out, in this state the rules on this go beyond mere building codes. State law says an inspector who sees blocked vents must write them up as a problem in the report. Caveat: This does not include conditioned crawl spaces which, around here, have to meet rigorous standards to be approved at all. Obviously if the home owner ignores the inspector's advice, (2 comments)
home inspection bellingham: Bellingham WA Home Inspections: Raindrops Keep Fallin' In My Flue - 07/17/07 09:14 AM
Bellingham, Whatcom county and the great Pacific Northwet have enough rain that the title of this post is among the more called out items at home inspections -- especially at older homes. Often we see the brick chimney or a clay flue liner and there is no chimney cap over it. In other words, it is like an open tube down inside the home. Hence the title of this post. When one suggests such a cap, the first reaction from the homeowner or the buyer might be: "What, no Christmas presents, how is Santa gonna get me my Christmas istuff if (9 comments)
This blog was written for Bellingham, Wa. and Whatcom County, but it applies about anywhere. People, including realtors, often ask what a consumer should look for in a home inspector. Those of us who work in the inspection field as professionals, and also teach home inspection for Bellingham Technical College, are often put in the position to view other inspector's reports -- sometimes as interpretors or advisors if there are disputes. I have gone in crawl spaces after another inspector's inspection, more than a few times, as part of this process. Put simply: We see lots of reports and the variation between them is amazing. Some are excellent (4 comments)
home inspection bellingham: Birch Bay State Park, Blaine WA - 07/05/07 12:58 PM
Earlier in the week I had an inspection right by Birch Bay State Park. So I decided to drive into it, something I have not done since about 1975 -- yes about 1975! I was last there on a company picnic 30 plus years ago. Birch Bay State Park has quite the history, going back to my high school days back when U.S. Grant was President. Just joking! It was a place where US and Canadian teens would come down and meet and, you know it, party and drink. Also, some of the bikers used to like to hang out there. (2 comments)
home inspection bellingham: Point Roberts bomb story - 07/04/07 10:52 AM
Those of you who read my blogs know that I spend a fair bit of my time inspecting homes in Point Roberts. Getting there is a chore. It is a US city, landlocked,and to get there from the USA one has to first cross into Canada and then back into the USA at Point Roberts. It is a sleepy little community right on the water. While not an island, it is on "island time". Easy going, slow lifestyle. With that in mind, a story from the local newspaper was an eye catcher -- they thought that a bomb had been found in Point Roberts. (2 comments)
I thought I would show you the photo below. It is quite illustrative of just how damaging to wood a water leak can be. That is the case, at least, if said leak is not noticed right away and goes on for a long time. I have no idea how long this leak had been going on, but it was not even that big a leak when I found it. It was under the shower drain and, when I went in the crawl, it was just a few drops of water. But it had done some longterm damage. There is plain old (6 comments)
home inspection bellingham: Thank you berry much - 07/01/07 11:47 PM
Well, the sunshine was out today and I had a day off and some time out in the garden. It has been several days, but I took a look at the berries. I tend to grow some of the fruit, the wife does the flowers and vegetables. The first photo is the blackberries. They look robust this year, but they are not going to be ripe for a month or so. This plant is really neat, thornless -- no stickers at all. Below that is the raspberries. They are ripe now. If you do not know it, Whatcom County is one (9 comments)
Yesterday, when I posted part one of my blog "Crawl space horrors" I saw that there were lots of comments among non home inspectors about what we see down there. It seems there is an uneasy fascination with crawl spaces, like with horror movies -- fun to speculate and watch but do not send me down there. Realtors made comments about inspectors telling them of skeletal remains. I have seen cats, rats, raccoons, mice and a skunk in that state. Obviously the more skeletal, the better. It can be startling but you get jaded to it and I wear a respirator, so that (8 comments)
home inspection bellingham: 8 Miles High and not ducting worth a darn - 06/30/07 05:22 PM
Pardon the title but I always liked the tune 8 Miles High. I saw this duct the other day and it was the longest and worst bathroom exhaust fan duct work I have seen -- shy of those that vent directly into the attic. At least the homeowner made an effort to get the warm and damp air from the bathroom outside. There were a number of problems though. For example, the white flex duct is really not good for much of anything. And the ABS pipe was 2"/undersized and add to that the duct, from where it hooked to the (3 comments)
home inspection bellingham: Furnace safety - 06/30/07 10:38 AM
I will be the first to say that I am not an HVAC professional. Fortunately, to be a home inspector I do not need to know how to repair every problem that comes up with buildings, including their appliances. The job of the inspector is not to be a repair professional, but to recognize problems so they can be resolved by professionals in the given field: Electrical, Plumbing, Carpentry, HVAC, etc. We look for warning signs. And one great big warning sign, if it is found inside the housing of a furnace, is white condensate that looks kind of like salt. (4 comments)
home inspection bellingham: Is the home inspector just being a petty jerk? - 06/30/07 10:36 AM
I have met people who feel that a home inspector, who points out some smaller issues such as gutters full of debris, is a petty jerk. They say: "That is not a real problem! Too minor to mention." Obviously a gutter can drain with some debris in it, but it depends on how much. I saw this gutter the other day at an inspection. It is a great example of a gutter and an ssociated downspout that is not draining. As a result, it overflows and dumps everything that it comes in contact with onto the roof below. That roof never dries (8 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.