Reading- Contractors need it too!

Home Inspector with Perfection Inspection, Inc.

Funny thing about labels, they can tell you some useful things but there is a trick… need to actually read them.

There are labels for almost anything, to tell you when you should purchase something, or throw it away or even how it should be installed…..

I was in a Salem, Oregon attic the other day and I noticed some labels.  These labels were on building components and the labels had instructions or indications for how the product should be installed.  The first label I noticed was on the fiberglass batt insulation:

Clearly, right on the surface of the paper face were some instructions, “Apply this side toward living space.”   I was in the attic space and it was definitely not set up for “living.”  The reason for this label has to do with the movement of moisture vapor as it leaves the living space and enters an unheated space.  With the vapor barrier/paper face installed improperly, water vapor that is traveling up through the ceiling and through the insulation hits the big temperature difference at the paper face and condenses into liquid.  Here the liquid water is trapped and will cause bad things to happen to the home (mold, rot, deterioration, ect).  When the paper face is installed properly the vapor will not hit the dew point till it is past the vapor barrier/paper face and if the vapor condenses into liquid in the fiberglass batting, it can breath and escape and most importantly, is not trapped!

A few feet away I saw another label.  The manufactures for the gas flue for the water heater wanted to help the installers and make sure to remind them of proper installation:

Looks like this was another instance of lack of proper literacy.   The purpose for the 1″ gap requirement is fire safety.  The type B vent is designed to stay cooler than a straight walled pipe however it does heat up.  Over the years the combustible materials that are too close to the pipe will heat up over and over again.  Each time this heating occurs there are slight changes in the molecular structure and the material’s flash point, temperature that it catches fire, drops.  Eventually this may become a fire hazard.

Labels are important.  Read, read, read and if you don’t know why you should do something, call someone, like a wonderful home inspector, who does!

Comments (12)

David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

I feel sorry for the homeowner for getting such a poor quality job, maybe he just took the cheapest price and didn't think about how much experience. Good thing for building inspectors.

Feb 25, 2011 02:48 AM
Dale Ganfield
Leland, NC

Hi Jim, another example of how the home inspector protects the buyer.  Good observations.

Feb 25, 2011 02:54 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, as inspectors we see lots of evidence that people can't read :)

Feb 25, 2011 04:59 AM
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

How often do we find instructions trampled under foot or still stuck to the side of something. Apparently no read those instructions.

Feb 25, 2011 10:51 AM
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

Some of the best advice I've ever heard when it comes to installing anything on a house:

  1. Obtain the installation instructions
  2. Read the installation instructions
  3. Follow the installation instructions
Nobody can complain about #1 in your examples.  It couldn't possibly get any easier.

Feb 26, 2011 11:25 PM
Jim Allhiser
Perfection Inspection, Inc. - Salem, OR
Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

David: or the contractors literacy...

Dale:  Thank you.

Charles:  Time for a "learn to read" program for our local builders association it think....

James: I do enjoy taking a picture of the instructions right next to or on the improperly installed component.

Reuben:  Those sound very good to me!

Feb 27, 2011 02:49 AM
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC


Great post, but there are a lot of guys out there, and asking for direction, or by gosh reading direction may be a foreign idea.  But I find this stuff funny (till it hurts someone).

Mar 01, 2011 10:42 AM
Rosi Green
AmeriTitle - Silverton, OR

That is horrifying!  Ug.  I'm scared to even look around the secret places you go Jim. 

Mar 04, 2011 06:28 AM
Brandon Clark
UTAH INFRARED Home and Building Inspections - Ogden, UT

Great post and great examples as usual Jim!

We're living in a fast paced world where reading directions is only becoming less popular. Heck I'm guilty myself at times. I'll spend time trying to figure something out THEN get irritated and THEN look for the directions, haha.. Luckily folks not reading directions is what keeps us inspectors in-demand..

Mar 14, 2011 08:48 PM
Joe Keresztury
JWK Inspections, JWK Consulting - San Antonio, TX

Good post Jim, it's surprising how often I find vent pipes on inspections too close to, or up against the roof decking or framing material. The trades that install the vent pipes, be it a plumber or HVAC technician, quite frankly should already know without having to read about it that the vent pipe should not be in contact w/ conbustible materials ! !

Jul 10, 2011 12:15 PM
Catherine Ulrey
Keller Williams Capital City - Salem, OR
Equestrian and Acreage Property Specialist

silly instructions!

Jul 25, 2011 06:32 PM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Happy Wednesday!

Aug 03, 2011 07:45 AM