To The Laboratory

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

Dr. Frankenstein at workTis the season for ghouls, goblins and ghosts. Yards are adorned with grotesque, freakish creatures from beyond the grave. Or at very least the back of someone's attic. Large spiders and pointy fanged bats seem to be ready to pounce from every tree branch. Witches and animated skeletons lurk behind every corner.

It's a graveyard out there!

What mysteries lie beneath the trap door?So when I entered a garage the other day and saw a trap door in the floor, I couldn't help but conjure up images of Igor and Dr. Frankenstein in a creepy laboratory working over a huge, lifeless body. Beakers bubbling, electricity snapping, the air filled with enough current to make your hair stand on end.

So it was with more than a little trepidation that I reached down and pulled open the door to see what might lay beneath. It gave easily with out a sound. A conveniently placed hook allowed for the door to be safely secured in place.

Peering down the stairway, not a cob web, spider or bug was evident. Really not so creepy.

It doesn't look that creepyThis house and its garage were built some 70 years ago, which explains the door in the floor to the basement. In modern construction this feature would never be allowed because it creates a potential hazard. No not from driving the car on the door. The problem is fumes, specifically from gasoline.

Gas fumes being heavy could wend their way down into the basement and collect there undetected for some time. When the furnace or water heater eventually fires, the result could be something on par with Dr Frankenstein's attempt to reanimate the corpse in his laboratory.

Now that's frightening.


Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.


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Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi James,

What! How come there are no shots of the interior of the basement or Bunker? That's not fair. Just teasing us this morning? HMMM...

I have not seen a door located like that ever, Wow.

Have a great Day inspecting in Connecticut.

Best, Clint McKie

Oct 15, 2012 10:03 PM #1
Raymond E. Camp
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Ontario, NY
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester

Good morning James,

Thank you for this information; as I have sold two homes like this recently I will pass it along to the happy home owners.

Make yourself a great day.

Oct 15, 2012 10:04 PM #2
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Interesting. I would have never thought of the gas fumes being a hazard.  I guess they are heavier than air!

Oct 15, 2012 10:06 PM #3
Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector
SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno - Bourbonnais, IL
The Home Inspector With a Heart!

The worse ones are the outside entry to the crawl from the back yard. Always a poorly secured door, inviting all sorts of varmints and arachnids to come in for a warm cozy little home. That's why we get paid the big bucks. 

Oct 15, 2012 10:29 PM #4
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Many a boat has been 'lit up' in exactly the same way, though in the case of boats its usually propane.


Oct 15, 2012 10:48 PM #5
Mark Loewenberg
KW of the Palm Beaches - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
KW 561-214-0370

cool!  by the way what are basements?  we have water under the house here in south florida!

Oct 15, 2012 11:34 PM #6
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Wow, how cool is that!  I have never seen such a basement entrance, but can understand why they would put it there where it gets so cold.  That way you don't have to go outside to get into the house.

Oct 16, 2012 01:52 AM #7
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

That is so interesting.  I live in the coastal area of NC and we just can not have basements at all.


Oct 16, 2012 08:31 AM #8
Carl Winters
Canyon Lake, TX

Never know what you will find when doing a home inspection. Glad there were no ghost and goblins.

Oct 16, 2012 09:44 AM #9
Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl
Samsel & Associates - Clark, NJ
The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

Wow, James, what a cool story. Love a little Halloween scary to balance out my day :)

Oct 16, 2012 09:48 AM #10
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

I have never seen a basement door like that James.  Of course we have very few homes with basements here in Ca. 

Oct 16, 2012 11:15 AM #11
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Looks like it needs a bollard too :)

Oct 16, 2012 11:32 AM #12
Jon Quist
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

A trap door? Better you than me, buddy. I actually once viewed an older home with a similar door arrangement just to one side of the kitchen. A tad strange.

Oct 16, 2012 05:14 PM #13
Vince Chinell
VICO Home Inspection - Branson, MO

James,  That truly is one of the strangest places I have ever seen for a basement door.  Maybe 70 years ago that room wasn't used as a garage the way we use them now?  Have a great day!

Oct 16, 2012 10:37 PM #14
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Clint, I have actually seen this a few times over the years. 

Raymond, Two! Wow, this very rare to see. At least in my area.

Gary, Yes gas fumes tend to settled at the floor.

Scott, Crawl space??? Kidding, there are very, very few here in CT. 

Robert, Propane? Most boats use gasoline or diesel, but you are right, the fumes collect in the bilge. 

Mark, Sounds like you live on boats :)

Jay, I guess that would be a reason for it being inside.

Ginger, Basement do seem to be a regional thing. 

Carl, Me too :)

Wayne & Jean, Glad you got your scare for the day :)

Jim, a door in the floor is definitely not usual. 

Charlie, Or two :)

Jon, Strange things are what make this job so interesting. 

Vince, Hard to say, but I agree, it is strange. 

Oct 18, 2012 10:26 PM #15
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James Quarello

Connecticut Home Inspector
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