Gutter Guards/Leaf Filters ... do they work? What is your experience with them?
Despite the August heat, fall will be upon us soon and with that comes what seems like 10 million falling leaves. Many homes now have gutter guards on them, ideally to prevent leaves and debris from accumulating inside the gutters. But do they actually work? We have spoken with several installation experts and although they could certainly be biased, we did get surprisingly candid responses. The short answer is - it depends. If you have just a few trees with big leaves (like oaks or redbuds) near your house, gutter guards will likely do a fine job. If your house is surrounded by pines, then these guards may not be right for your home and may actually cause more issues since the pine needles tend to get trapped in the guards and clog them, which means water just runs in sheets off your roof (eliminating the whole purpose of having gutters in the first place). Whether or not you have guards, you still need to clear your gutters/guards a few times a year for optimal maintenance and to help keep your home's #1 enemy - water - away from the siding and foundation.
The woes of a wet crawl space... A high moisture reading of 32% was noted on the flooring structure in this crawl space. Typical industry standards state that wood flooring structures should be between 9% to 14%. High levels of wood moisture can cause warping, cracking, buckling, diminished wood strength, and fungal growth. Since crawl spaces are not usually entered very often, it is very important to periodically check the moisture levels which is something we do during every home inspection. Call us at 919-914-0606 or schedule online for your complete home evaluation.
This image can strike fear in the hearts of buyers, sellers, and agents alike. The issue here is called "stair stepping cracks" and they can occur in any foundations with joints and mortar (brick, cement). The good news is that stepping cracks are not an automatic deal-breaker. They CAN be repaired in most cases. The key is to having a foundation professional (typically a structural engineer) evaluate the structural integrity of the foundation and of course, the home above it. All homes settle and shift, so it's not uncommon to see these kinds of cracks in older homes, especially near the corners. If an engineer deems the structure to be sound, that clears the way for repairs and a smooth buying and selling experience. Call us at 919-914-0606 or schedule online to help ensure you have this type of important information before you buy OR sell!
May is National Deck Safety Month - and there is a reason deck safety gets a whole month. Nearly 5 in 10 decks are past their useful life and need to be repaired or replaced. Frankly, from a home inspection standpoint, decks in North Carolina almost always seems to have issues and some of them are severe. Common defects include rotting/soft wood (very common in the humid south), separating or split board planks, and overall structural weakness or instability. It is very important to have your deck, steps, and railings inspected on a regular basis to make sure everything is in good shape. Natural wood decks also need to be regularly maintained with cleanings and stain or sealant. Without regular maintenance and inspections, your deck could become dangerous and fail, causing property damage - and much worse - possibly harming you and your family. Deck inspections are included in our home inspections so call us at 919-914-0606 or schedule online and start enjoying your deck this summer knowing it's safe for everyone.
Your home has a relentless enemy - do you know what it is? Water, water, water.
Did the recent heavy rains turn the leaves in your gutters into mush? It's very important to make sure your gutters are clear and that the water that accumulates has a way to exit down and away from your home. Maintenance home inspections not only check your gutters, but also your downspouts, soffits and fascia, siding, crawl space, foundation and grading, all to make sure your home is adequately moving water AWAY from it. We cannot stress enough how much water is the worst enemy of your home. Call us at 919-914-0606 or book your inspection online - we are OPEN for business and exercising all recommended safety precautions. Be well!
Can you tell what is going on in this crawl space? Notice the dark spots on the foundation wall and the white wave-like deposits directly under the dark spots? Those white deposits are salt/mineral stains and are a phenomenon called "efflorescence". Efflorescence is found when conditions inside the foundation are repeatedly wet and dry from water infiltration. Water is the number one enemy of your home and you definitely do not want any inside your crawl space. Direct water penetration into the crawl space (from cracks in the foundation, leaks from plumbing pipes, missing/inadequate vapor barriers, etc.) can damage the foundation and wood structure, and create an undesirable environment in the living areas that encourages insect and fungal growth such as mold/mildew. It's a good idea to have annual inspections of your crawl space performed - especially after the kind of rain we have received lately. This kind of home maintenance can save you thousands of dollars down the road and help keep your home (and the air in it) safe.
It's subtle, but can you tell what's wrong in this picture?
There is mild efflorescence (white salt stains) on the chimney. This means that there are either issues with the chimney's masonry, sealants, or the chimney cap (or a combination). In this case, there are cracks in the masonry toward the top that are allowing moisture (rain, etc.) to seep into the brick. Concerns related to this include the chimney could prematurely deteriorate; it could begin leaning or could completely collapse; moisture could enter the chimney and cause the flue lining to deteriorate, necessitating the purchase of a new lining; and/or moisture could enter the home and ruin ceilings, walls, carpets, and more.
If you see efflorescence on your chimney, addressing it now could save you thousands of dollars later. Call us at 919-914-0606 to schedule your home inspection now to give you peace of mind and help alert you to issues like this.
Our inspector, Rick Doherty, is diligently following all guidelines set by the state inspector association to ensure your safety (and his). Those guidelines include wearing disposable latex gloves and wiping down anything he touches with sanitizer wipes. It is also recommended at this time that real estate agents and buyers do not attend home inspections. If you do attend, we ask that you meet with the inspector outside of the home at a safe distance to go over his findings. We are committed to following best practices while still providing outstanding client service and meticulous inspections. Please call us at 919-914-0606 with any questions you may have or visit us online at www.dohertyhomeinspections.com. Thank you to our wonderful agents and clients who have been so supportive - we love this amazing community!
What an attentive audience! I had fun presenting to the residents of Fearrington Village who are considering selling their homes. They asked great questions about what a home inspector does, what to expect on reports, and how to make quick and easy fixes to your home before listing. For example, making sure your light bulbs work (inside AND outside), clearing your gutters and extending your downspouts 3-6 feet away from your home, trimming back all tree branches and shrubs so that nothing touches your home, and having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level are smart and simple ways to prepare! For additional tips and to schedule a pre-listing or home maintenance inspection, give us a call!
At a recent home inspection, I discovered that the drain pipe in the crawl space under the kitchen was leaking. Since we use modern, web-based reporting software, I was able to take a video of the leak (far more informative than just a photo) and include it right in the report. Just another reason why home buyers and realtors love us and our modern 2020 way of doing things. Having clear color photos AND videos really does make an impact.
What serious concerns do you see in these pictures and what is the main cause of these concerns? Pictures 1 and 2 are suspected MOLD. Picture 3 is rotted a rotted wood beam. What do they all have in common? Moisture. It's the number one enemy of your crawl space and your home and all kinds of bad things happen when it is present. Sometimes it is an easy fix that involves making sure your downspouts drain away from the home and there is a proper vapor barrier on the floor of the crawl space. Sometimes the fix is more involved and costly. But one thing that is always true is that the sooner you catch it, the better off you'll be and since most people don't enter their crawl spaces very often (if ever), a pre-listing, pre-purchase, or maintenance home inspection is so extremely important and cost effective.
Did you hear about the actress Anna Faris and her 12 family members who nearly died over Thanksgiving because of carbon monoxide poisoning? The vacation home they were renting had NO detectors. The furnace was leaking carbon monoxide into the home at over five times the recommended level. The safety feature of having working carbon monoxide detectors is absolutely one of things that gets called out in our reports and it is also one of the cheapest and easiest fixes. PLEASE check your home to make sure there is a working carbon monoxide AND smoke detector on each floor. We want you and your family to be safe and healthy to experience the joy of another holiday season and ring in the New Year!
What are your thoughts on gutter leaf guards? Did you know that even with leaf guards, your gutters still need to be monitored and cleared at least three times a year? It is especially important to check on your gutters in the fall - an October, early December, and April cleaning will help keep water flowing down and away from your home. Water is one of the most damaging things to your home so it pays to be vigilant! While leaf guards do help prevent gutters from getting clogged, you can't solely rely on them despite what the salesperson might tell you. Call us at 919-914-0606 and we will perform a full home inspection to make sure the water drainage system and all other components in and around your home are working properly.
This thermostat is in a brand new construction home and was working when I tested it at the beginning of the interior portion of the isnpection. At some point, however, I heard the HVAC switch off and when I checked the thermostat, it had gone completely blank and did not respond to any touch commands. I headed to the attic to investgate. The furnace switch was tested and the air handler fan started, however, the heating elements did not light. Since the thermostat had stopped sending signals to the furnace, it was no longer heating the home. This is another example of why home inspections even on brand new homes are so important because this may not have been discovered until the buyer moved in - and having to deal with a headache like this on moving day is not fun!
REALTOR Spotlight: Kelly Alexander, Go Realty - Better Homes and Gardens. We have had the privilege of working with Kelly and her clients on many occasions and we have seen first-hand her dedication to the people she represents and her knowledge about the buying and selling process in the Triangle area. She is very responsive to calls and texts, coordinates the MANY moving parts in a real estate transaction, and helps educate her clients along the way. She attends inspections and joins me in the crawl space just so that she can see herself what I've found. On one occasion I arrived at an inspection to find her helping a client move a refrigerator out of the home. Her level of attention to her clients is top notch and we highly recommend her to buyers AND sellers! You can reach her at 919-414-9307 or at email@example.com. Thanks for all you do, Kelly!
Any guesses? If you were to say "FIRE HAZARD" you would be correct! This is a dryer vent that exits outside of the home and it obviously has not been cleaned in a while. Old lint, dirt, leaves, and other debris have built up over time, slowly blocking the vent and preventing moisture, heat, and lint from escaping when the dryer is operated. Wonder why your clothes take forever to dry? A clogged vent can dramatically impact the efficiency of your dryer. And of course, when lint builds up and you add the heat of the dryer, the risk of a fire sharply increases as well. We've highlighted this issue before because it is so simple to fix yet so damaging if not addressed - so go check your dryer vent! And then call us at 919-914-0606 for a whole home maintenance or pre-listing inspection and we'll make sure you don't have any other safety issues like this!
Our home inspections cover A LOT. Typically, we inspect every single room and component inside and outside of your home or prospective home (when accessible). Imagine buying a home and moving in and then realizing the oven doesn't work, the exterior wood trim is decayed and letting water in, the crawl space lights don't function, several outlets have open grounds or reverse polarity (which is a safety issue), the spare bedroom window is broken, and there is a mysterious stain on the ceiling in the master bedroom closet. Issues like this will get discovered in your home inspection and included in the web-based report (with pictures AND VIDEO). Even new houses and houses at the 11-month warranty deadline will have issues - but houses that are 5+ years old and older DEFINITELY need to be inspected and more than pay for themselves in every inspection I have done over the years.
In a perfect world, brand new homes and homes less than a year old would be flawless. Every nook and cranny carefully created and perfectly assembled. And mostly this is true - builders do really want you to have your perfect home. But important things DO get missed ALL THE TIME. I have never done a New Home/End of Warranty inspection and not discovered issues, which is why these types of inspections are so important. The builder will fix these things if notified in time.
Did you buy a newly constructed home last fall? Did you know that you should absolutely get an End of Warranty home inspection and that many builders require that if you plan to get one, you must get it before the end of the 11th month in your new home? Builders typically want at least four weeks' notice to correct any concerns/deficiencies and if you wait too long and don't give them that four weeks, your warranty will expire without them addressing your concerns.
Even with new homes, I have never conducted a home inspection WITHOUT finding an issue (and often, far more than one). The key is to catch these problems early before they can lead to serious situations down the road. So don't forget to schedule your End of Warranty inspection at least 4 weeks from the anniversary of your closing. I'll make sure you know exactly what information to provide to your builder in the form of a modern, web-based report that highlights all concerns.
What's wrong with this picture?
If you said the chimney is missing a chimney cap, you're right! Such a simple, inexpensive fix. However, if this is left like this, you could be facing one or more of the following issues:
1. Chimney caps keep out birds, BATS, squirrels, and other small rodents. If something crawls into your chimney but gets stuck and can't get out (which happens a lot), not only is that awful for the animal, but you will also be dealing with a dead critter, bad smells, and even bugs (maggots, etc.). Yuck.
2. SAFETY ISSUE - wood burning fireplaces sometimes emit large burning embers that float up the chimney and without a cap, can land on your roof or something equally flammable.
3. Chimney caps help reduce water/moisture that can damage your chimney liner and other components and can also lead to mold.
4. A correctly placed cap can help block downdrafts and excessive wind (especially during hurricanes and other serious weather events) from channeling down your chimney and blowing smoke and/or soot into your living space. Caps also prevent debris like leaves and small branches/twigs from getting inside your chimney.
So what does all of this mean? If you're buying a house, make sure it has a chimney cap! If you own a house with a chimney, go take a look and make sure you have one and that it is securely placed. If you can't tell, then it's time for a roof inspection.
IF YOUR HOME WAS BUILT IN THE 1960s-80s, CHECK TO SEE IF YOUR HOME HAS THIS ELECTRICAL PANEL: Federal Pacific(FPE)/STAB-Lok electrical panels are panels that have been the subject of UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and consumer concerns related to inadequate safety protection. Consistent evidence has been presented that STAB-LOK breakers have a tendency to become loose and experience failure of unit circuit protection. The breakers often do not trip in the event of an emergency leaving the circuit unprotected - this is a SIGNIFICANT FIRE HAZARD. In addition, this particular home that I recently inspected had frayed rag insulation (see red circle), adding another safety hazard to this situation. Click this link for further information about these panels and the dangers they pose: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/despite-previous-safety-concerns-this-circuit-breaker-is-still-in-homes/2018/05/08/8927af86-4ef9-11e8-b725-92c89fe3ca4c_story.html?utm_term=.5e452ed7097f
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and sometimes, a video is worth a thousand pictures. In this case, we see a brick support pier that looks a little askew at first glance. But as the video shows, it has completely separated from the wall which can jeopardize the stability of the structure. We use short videos like this when necessary to highlight concerns in a very direct and easy-to-see way. These videos go directly into our web-based home inspection reporting software so that when you receive your report, you are not only getting pictures and detailed language, but also videos when pertinent.
You likely wouldn't know it by looking at it, but the first two photos are of a ROOF. A Mansard-style roof, to be exact. And yes, those are leaves and plants growing ON the roof. A Mansard roof is characterized by having very steep slopes/pitch on each side of the house and a flat or nearly flat roof surface which can lend to very spacious attic areas and more living space within the home. However, this style of architecture must be cleaned and cleared of debris on a regular basis especially when surrounded by trees. This particular roof was covered in extensive tree debris, moss, plant growth, and even puddles from a recent rain. This has caused and will continue to cause improper drainage to the gutter, slope blocking, and it adds weight to the surface of the roof. Water/moisture is the NUMBER ONE cause of damage and deterioration for all homes. All water should shed away from the roof surface and foundations. The ponding water on this roof compromises the integrity of the roof structure and during colder months will freeze and thaw, further damaging the roof. These photos were taken during one of my home inspections on a house that was for sale. As you can imagine, this is not an ideal way to showcase a home and it of course led me to problems in the attic as well. This is a perfect example of how home inspections shed light on concerns around the home - whether you are a buyer, seller, or looking for maintenance issues.
We were privileged to perform a recent home inspection for the buyer of this beautiful home, who came to us as a referral. The majority of our work comes from referrals and repeat clients because we combine experience and knowledge with good old fashioned customer service. We answer the phone, we explain all phases of the inspection, we answer questions and provide helpful tips, and we always make your satisfaction a top priority. Anything we can do to make this process easier and more enlightening is our goal. We provide convenient online scheduling and clearly outline our fees. We provide a web-based interactive inspection report (which also includes the traditional PDF) and the ability to create customized repair requests which is very helpful for your realtor. Call us at 919-914-0606 or visit https://www.dohertyhomeinspections.com/fees-schedule-997549.html to schedule your inspection. We looks forward to working with you!
From Rick & Lori:
Yes, we've joined the 21st Century and started a (mini) blog! Check here for great updates and tips about your current or prospective home.