rot: Extent of Damage Unknown: Real Estate Purchase Uncertainty - 08/04/14 12:20 PM
The role of a home inspector is to identify problems. Obviously, in the course of any given inspection, the inspector will not be able to locate every problem. But the intent and the hope is that the inspector will locate, at a minimum, the bigger issues. Unfortunately, the home inspection process includes instances of uncertainty.
Below is a photo of wood destroying organism damage -- structural lumber was exposed at the exterior. The scenario is not hard to understand: Heavy moisture exposure and rot. There were, also, signs of tunneling by wood destroying insects. Probable culprits are carpenter ants but, on the other … (6 comments)

rot: 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)

rot: 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)

rot: Double Whammy -- Carpeting on Outdoor Wood - 01/01/13 12:43 AM
Working as a home inspector in Bellingham, WA, the heart of the Pacific NorthWET, I see many circumstances that are conducive to decay and deterioration of the building materials.
This example, below, is commonly seen. A homeowner has tacked indoor-outdoor carpet over the wood deck. Some of the surface, of lesser concern, is covered with an overhang above. But there is a significant expanse that is not covered.  These carpets absorb moisture and retain it against, and in, the surface of the lumber below.

A combination of wet wood and carpet over the wood is a double whammy. With the … (17 comments)

rot: Conditions Conducive to Rot or Infestation - 08/20/11 01:40 PM
Some years back, in Washington state, the Washington State Department of Agriculture began using the term "conducive condition." It is not a term that, right out of the box, makes sense to people.  However, it makes perfect sense once you get the point. A conducive condition is any concern or issue that is likely to lead to rot or infestation by wood destroying insects.
Over the years, clients and homeowners, have asked me for a list of things they can do to make it less likely that their homes will rot or be inhabited by carpenter ants, anobiid beetles, termites and … (18 comments)

rot: Bellingham Home Inspection (King of the House) Deck Flashings - 07/15/11 04:16 AM
 Recently I came across another good example of the problem that comes with neglecting to install a proper flashing at the junction of a deck and an exterior wall.
There are a couple factors involved in installing a flashing. First, you want the metal flashing in place to direct water away from the wall and to prevent seepage. Second, by installing the flashing, you are able to trim the cladding so it is not in direct contact with the flat surface deck below. Even when people get the first step right, they often miss the second step and that can allow … (1 comments)

rot: Wood Destroying Organism Infestations -- The Common Denominator - 03/11/11 10:48 AM
There is one factor that is involved in almost all issues involving wood destroying organisms.  When we talk about wood destroying organisms we are referencing a fungal issue -- wood decay fungi or rot. And we are also talking about any of the wood destroying insects. In my state, that includes two types of termites, three kinds of ants and a couple types of wood-boring beetles. That is quite a smorgasbord of bugs.
What I refer to as the common denominator, in the vast majority of these infestations, is shown below.

The culprit is moisture. It need not be standing … (9 comments)

rot: Moisture Ant Infestation -- The Video - 02/27/11 09:05 AM
Moisture ants are wood destroying insects that many people have never heard of. Actually, if you havea wood destroying insect on premises, moisture ants are better to have than many of them -- such as anobiid beetles or subterranean termites.
Moisture ants are not, specifically, a single species of ant. They are comprised of different species (not unlike carpenter ants) that have similar characteristics. The attribute that makes moisture ants less of an ongoing problem than some other wood destroying organisms, such as anobiid beetles or subterranean termites, is that they only invade a home if there is extremely wet or rotten … (5 comments)

rot: What is a Conducive Condition - 02/04/11 06:02 AM
In this state, and my community, the WSDA which regulates structural pest inspections, has a term that is called "conducive condition." People often ask for a list of conducive conditions. A list of common conditions could be drafted, but never could one supply a list of all conducive conditions. Because, the fact is, something an inspector never thought of before could be a conducive condition if that circumstance makes wood more prone to rot.
Common conducive conditions are uncontrolled water runoff, improper perimeter grading, poor ventilation, wood to soil contact and debris or organic matter or moss in locations where those substances should not be. … (11 comments)

rot: Realtor Alert: Don't Assume That All Decks Are Safe - 09/19/10 03:26 AM
Decks, especially those that are high off the ground, can be extremely unsafe. They are likely to be homebrew affairs with missing or inadequate guardrails, steps or handrails. Those are the more obvious issues. But often the problems with decks are more subtle -- poor attachment to the home, no ledger board flashing and rot at connectors, poor connections at joists, posts and all structural members. If you put all of this together, you have a deck that is slowly moving toward the eve of destruction.
Sometimes, in the news, you read of decks collapsing and sometimes people are hurt or killed … (38 comments)

rot: Wood to Earth Contact - 03/27/08 07:55 AM

The photo above is a commonly seen issue for the home inspector. At least I know that is true in the Pacific Northwest. What you see there is the post at a deck. It is buried in the soil. The problem is our old nemesis known as wood to earth contact. Fact: Wood to earth contact will eventually lead to rot or decay of the wood.
In this picture the problem was not quite as clear cut as it sometimes is. Why? Because the post itself, to the left side, was pressure-treated lumber. While pressure-treated lumber is designed for contact … (0 comments)

rot: Pacific Northwest Home Inspections (King of the House) -- Wood Decay - 03/18/08 01:17 PM

Okay, I admit it, there is wood here. But what a mess it is. Take a look at those joists that are being beaten by our weather here in the Pacific Northwet. When you see these you realize why an inspector likes to see a deck with a sub-structure built of pressure-treated lumber. When an inspector sees a deck like this -- heavy  fungal growth, and obvious saturation by water, there is little choice but to probe the wood in a few places. That way, when you find the rot and tell them to have the wood replaced, you have evidence supporting your … (5 comments)

rot: Bellingham WA Home Inspection (King of the House): Wood to Earth and Rot - 12/10/07 06:56 AM
This photo is a classic example of what happens when soil is piled against wood. Wood to soil contact, or water running over wood, often lead to rot or wood decay fungi. This is the side of a garage. The garage, especially an unattached garage, is a common place to find this problem as the structure is often ignored compared to the house. There was a concrete foundation here, be it a shallow one, but soil had been piled against it, over it and up onto the siding. As a result of that, the wood has rotted. If the conducive condition of … (0 comments)

rot: Bellingham Home Inspection (King of the House): Conducive Conditions and Rot - 11/13/07 08:44 AM
People tend to take gutters for granted, that is for sure. Even at new homes, just being sold to someone for the first time, the builder will not clean gutters that have large quantities of accumulated debris -- from pieces of shingle and nails to organic matter that collected in the course of construction. Then there are a few people who just really like their old wood gutters. They like the antique aspect of them instead of thinking of the practical fact that most of these are ancient, rotten and are leaking. The photo below is a garage with a wood … (4 comments)

rot: Whatcom County Home Inspection (King of the House): Follow The Water - 11/13/07 08:14 AM
In investigative reporting, or trying to track racketeers, they always say: "follow the money." In Washington state, to be a competent structural pest inspector, one needs a similar philosophy and catch phrase. That catch phrase is "follow the water." Wood decay fungi or rot is common on wood with a moisture content of 20% or greater. It usually takes more like 30% moisture to get going, but once the rot is started, look out! I could not resist including the photo below because it is very illustrative of the way water flows, and how rot follows. Plus, to make it better, … (0 comments)

rot: Bellingham Washington Home Inspector (King of the House): Unsafe Decks - 10/05/07 07:00 AM

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)

rot: Let Me Take You Down: Crawl Space Horrors Pt 3 - 07/01/07 05:59 PM
 Yesterday, when I posted part two of Crawl Space Horrors, a realtor mentioned that she could not understand how people could be so oblivious to what is happening under their home. With a few exceptions, I find that people have no clue. Now, if the toilet drain was never hooked up they might figure that out -- then again don't count on it. I have the photos to prove that point but will not be sharing them.  This inspection below is from more than a year ago. I saw clues that something was going on, but I do not think the people knew what … (10 comments)

rot: Bellingham Wa. home inspections (King of the House): Crawl space horrors - 06/29/07 02:46 PM
 A Bellingham WA home inspector sees an awful lot of issues with wood destroying organisms. In Washington State, those of us who do structural pest inspections must be tested and licensed by the state. We are regulated by the WSDA. One rule that sometimes upsets sellers, or their agents, is the state stipulates that an inspector must call out as inaccessible -- and say that it should be made accessible by whatever means is possible--any area of the crawl space that cannot be accessed with a reasonable amount of effort. General guidelines are a joist should be 18" from grade and a … (7 comments)

rot: The truth about dry rot - 05/21/07 01:46 PM
More often than not, when you hear the words "dry rot", the term is being misused. It is often incorrectly used by the general public, builders, realtors, remodelers and (ugh) even home inspectors. Often what is called dry rot is merely rot (wood decay fungi). The common example of wrong usage would be wood that is under a bathtub. People bathe, the tub leaks and a beam or joist below rots and a rot probe might go clear through the lumber. Even if the wood is dry, this IS NOT dry rot. I teach wood destroying organisms for the state college system, … (2 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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