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.
I could see from the ground that part of the stone ledge above the garage was loose. When I got on the ladder to check it out, I merely touched it and it completely came off in my hand. From that height, this could have seriously injured someone (especially a child) if it had fallen on their head. Whether you’re buying, selling, or a homeowner who hasn’t had an inspection since you bought your home, this is the kind of stuff that I find. It is SO WORTH the small investment.
Thinking about buying a home? Join us this Saturday, March 9 in Chapel Hill! It’s free and packed full of excellent information and opportunities to ask questions. Our very own home inspector, Rick Doherty, will be on hand to explain the home inspection process and share tips on what to look for when searching for your perfect home. See you there!
This is definitely NOT what you want to see when entering a crawl space. Nearly all of the beams and joists in this home were being supported by very unstable "piers" that have been cobbled together using bricks and other materials (including a doorstop!). These are temporary fixes at best and very dangerous, as small crawl spaces like this are rarely entered/monitored. If the pier(s) were to collapse, it could be months or longer before the homeowner realized that large portions of the home were not stable (not to mention all the termite damage!). This is another example of why inspecting crawl spaces is so important.
Testing water temperatures from all hot water faucets and shower heads is an important part of our comprehensive inspections. This process helps alert the inspector to potential problems with the hot water heater or the plumbing delivery system. Personal preference plays a large role in determining what temperature setting is right for your family, however, safety is a key issue here. It is recommended to set your water heater no higher than 120 degrees F. By the time that water reaches your faucets, it typically cools to about 105-108 degrees. Anything hotter than that can start to feel uncomfortable for adults and can be dangerous for young children.
Photograph taken onsite courtesy of Trevor Holman Photography
Did you know that you should clean your dryer exhaust vent at least once a year (and even more often in larger households)? Nearly 15,000 fires a year are caused by dryer-related fires so this safety maintenance is VERY important. You can hire a professional or you can purchase a kit at a hardware store and do it yourself. In this video, the lint is being blown from inside out as well as using the lint brush connected to a power drill. A clean vent is not only far safer but will also save you time and money as your clothes will dry faster. Win win!
Does this look odd to you, too? This is a picture of two exhaust fan pipes from two separate second floor bathrooms vented into - but not out of - the attic. Excessive moisture from these fans is constantly vented directly into the attic, which causes condensation on the wood sheathing of the roof, on insulation, and anything else that is kept in the attic. This excessive moisture has led to what appears to be mold growth on the wood sheathing. This growth will continue to spread and the wood will eventually deteriorate. This means a leaking roof in addition to the undesirable effects of mold and/or other organic growth that you most definitely do NOT want in your home. In a nutshell, ALWAYS VENT OUTSIDE. You will save yourself money and headaches (and undesirable living conditions) if you do!
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.