Collateral Testing

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

Flow meterIn military speak collateral damage is a euphemism for unintended damage and causalities. In the world of home inspection collateral damage does on occasion occur to the property during a home inspection. A conscientious home inspector is always careful while performing their duties, yet accidents do happen.

Testing components and systems is part of the routine of the home inspector. Most inspectors have several tools such as moisture meters, electrical testers and infrared thermometers for checking various conditions while inspecting a house. Some tools are specialized for checking specific equipment. One specialized, yet not terribly sophisticated tool that I use is a flow meter.

A flow meter is actually two gauges used to check well equipment. One gauge measures flow in gallons per minute, the second measures pressure. Water is run through the meter from an exterior hose spigot. A hose spigot is ideal because it has a high rate of flow. The water is sent away from the meter and house by an attached flexible tube.

Three sump pump discharge pipes.When performing a flow test, setting up the meter is usually the first item on my inspection to do list. Most often the test is run for at least an hour with the meter checked several times and recording the readings.

While this tool is basically designed for checking water flow and well equipment function, I have found it has on occasion an unintended and fortuitous consequence.

During a recent home inspection after setting up the flow gauge at the front hose spigot, I began my tour of the exterior. Arriving at and rounding the first corner of the house I noted three pipes exiting the foundation wall. I was certain of their purpose, sump pump discharges. What I found quite odd looking at the three pipes was the down spout at the corner was set to pour water against the foundation. Talk about shooting ones self in the foot.

Grading and drainage appear good

The three pipes for the sump pumps however were extended away from the foundation, though not very far. The good thing here was the grading was sloped away from the house. The water from my flow meter I noticed while looking things over at this busy corner, had begun to pool here after just a few minutes. With the favorable soil grade the water was at least six feet from the foundation I noted. This was a good thing to see in light of the three sump pumps.

Finishing up the exterior portion of the inspection including the flow test, I headed inside working my way through the house finally to the basement. It was obvious from the evidence on the exterior and other clues along the way, this house has had, does have water infiltration issues. During the course of the inspection I was informed that the sump pumps were part of a drainage system that had been installed to correct the infiltration.

Finding my way to the corner where I had originally discovered the sump pump pipes, I was a little surprised to find water seeping through the block foundation wall. The water had not been there earlier when I had made a quick stop to check on the well pressure tank while doing the well flow test. Looking further along the front wall, another area of seepage was occurring. Clearly the drainage and sump pumps were not addressing the entire water issue.Water seeping through foundation wall after flow test

The water had come from the flow test completed earlier. The hose was, as I said, several feet away from the foundation. I mentioned this fact to my client, who fully understood the significance.

While the flow test was meant as a well equipment check, it had performed a second fortuitous collateral test that revealed a repair which was not at all functioning as intended.

Ā 

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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Rainer
284,418
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Jim -- since the water from your test was away from the house - and had pooled about 6 feet away from foundation, sounds like there may be some clay under the topsoil that is draining the water back toward the house.

Dec 04, 2012 03:46 AM #19
Rainmaker
612,969
Mike Young
203kOnLine.com, covering the USA - Las Vegas, NV
FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809

We had one years ago that was being discharged to the sidewalk and it was all green with moss and very slick. He had taken one problem and crated a new problem. Nice post.

Dec 04, 2012 04:08 AM #20
Rainmaker
678,889
William James Walton Sr.
WEICHERT, REALTORSĀ® - Briotti Group - Waterbury, CT
Greater Waterbury Real Estate

Jim,

That was a great find, to say the least. I am certan that there are other inspection gadgets that you use that yield similar results...

Dec 04, 2012 06:31 AM #21
Rainmaker
632,420
Tanya Van Blake-Coleman
Van Blake-Coleman Realty, St. Thomas/www.talk-to-Tanya.com - St Thomas, VI
Improving the Quality of Your Life

Good thing your client was wise enough to hire you to inspect the property. There is nothing more important to a home buyer than a good home inspection. It allows them to know exactly what they are getting into.

Dec 04, 2012 08:05 AM #22
Ambassador
1,879,570
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

James, it was kind of like one thing led to the next, with a new discovery maybe not even intended at first.

Dec 04, 2012 08:32 AM #23
Rainmaker
1,317,551
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Amazing.. I have never had an inspector do a flow test where there was no well.  It looks like they should reconsider this and do a flow test on homes without a well.

Dec 04, 2012 11:05 AM #24
Rainmaker
1,079,379
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

James, this was an unintended blessing to the buyer - better to know this and have it fixed prior to the purchase for sure.

Sharon

Dec 04, 2012 01:04 PM #25
Rainmaker
736,480
Pete Xavier
Investments to Luxury - Pacific Palisades, CA
Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide

James, thanks for the education in flow meters and proper discharge for the sump pump.

Dec 04, 2012 01:33 PM #26
Rainmaker
233,523
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

You test this for an hour?  Wow, I've never heard of that before.  I'm going to have to learn more about this test.

Dec 04, 2012 06:48 PM #27
Rainmaker
687,134
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Edward, Yes, one thing can lead to another. 

Clint, Drainage is a more appropriate fix in this case.

Gary, Yes, you're right, I hadn't thought of that. 

Debbie, Nothing wrong with a little good luck :)

Michael, Thanks.

Jay, It is a circuitous route for sure. 

Ira, Thanks.

Than, This is not a required test, simply one that I offer as an ancillary service. 

Charlie, Just like that.

Don, One can never have too many tools :)

Dec 04, 2012 09:06 PM #28
Rainmaker
687,134
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Olga, That is another way of seeing it :)

Ginger, Thanks for reading.

Anthony, Thank you.

Reba, This one won't be closing, the buyer has moved on.

Joel, Good tip to hammer on :)

Paul, Yep, you never know what can happen.

Marge, Good point. I also see many buyers that don't initially grasp that owning a home requires work.

Andrea, I've seen that too many times to count.

Steven, The house built on wetlands. I wasn't all that surprised to see signs of and the actual water in the basement. 

Dec 04, 2012 09:16 PM #29
Rainmaker
687,134
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Mike, Funny how that happens sometimes.

William, Yes there are.

Tanya, Yes, that is the end result.

Gary, Exactly. A good find from the buyers view.

Joan, There was a well. I would not have done this test if the house was on city water.

Sharon, For sure.

Pete, You bet. My pleasure.

Reuben, Yep, I let it run for about an hour depending on the equipment. 

Dec 04, 2012 09:21 PM #30
Rainmaker
1,945,937
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
MOOERS REALTY - Houlton, ME
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Be on your toes as the eyes and ears.

Dec 05, 2012 01:12 AM #31
Rainmaker
687,134
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Andrew, Yep.

Dec 05, 2012 07:54 AM #32
Rainer
171,130
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Good catch Jim. This is not a test that we do here though.

Dec 05, 2012 11:06 PM #33
Rainer
114,783
Beth McIntyre
Keller Williams Realty - Simsbury, CT

I loved learning about infrared thermal imaging last night at the meet up! Very interesting and new to me, despite the fact that I've been in business for over 30 years! There's always something new to learn about, isn't there?

Dec 06, 2012 08:33 PM #34
Rainmaker
687,134
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Robert, "We" meaning you or basically all inspectors?

Beth, Nice meeting and chatting with you too! Yes there is always something new to learn. 

Dec 06, 2012 09:19 PM #35
Rainer
171,130
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

All inspectors. We check pressure at internal taps as exterior bibs ares winterized 50% of the time. We don't use pressure gauges, just observe volume and flow. We watch a running tap and see what happens when the toilet is flushed with the shower or tub running wide open.

Dec 10, 2012 01:31 AM #36
Rainmaker
1,244,561
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

James,

I guess that is not so bad, I have had things break or get messed up in a more disturbing way. 

Dec 30, 2012 11:19 AM #37
Rainmaker
687,134
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Robert, Same here.

Steve, Not bad in any way. Showed there was a problem even when it was thought to have been repaired. 

Dec 30, 2012 09:49 PM #38
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