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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It sure is beautiful in North Carolina this time of year. Everything is in bloom, it's not too hot out (yet), and the clouds of pollen have started to subside. Now that the trees and shrubs all have their leaves, it is easy to spot the ones that are overhanging your roof and touching your siding. This close contact is not good for your house for several reasons - vegetation touching siding and/or roofing can trap moisture, cause wear and damage, and be a conduit for insects. Trimming back all vegetation at least 12" from the home is recommended. So call your local landscaper today and have him or her give your greenery a little TLC. Your home will thank you!
Look who I found behind that screen, tucked away in an attic far from prying eyes. Can you tell by the outline of its pointy little ears? It strikes fear in the hearts (and wallets) of homeowners everywhere ... bats. Now bats in the wild are an extremely important part of our ecosystem and play a significant role controlling insect populations, which in North Carolina is no small fete. But bats in the home are another matter entirely. Having a few take up residence can and usually does lead to many, many more over the years as they build their colony. More bats = more bat poop, i.e., guano.
Bat guano is a carrier of the soil fungus histoplasma capsulatam. The spores of this fungus are microscopic and airborne and they can easily get into the living areas of your home. If inhaled, the spores of the fungus can cause a disease called histoplasmosis, which is an infection of the lungs. Another serious risk from bats, although rare, is the possibility of contracting rabies from a bite.
What do you do if your home has bats? Typically, you would need to hire a professional wildlife removal company. These folks know how to safely and humanely remove bats (if there are a small number) or how to encourage them to leave on their own. In that case, they allow an exit from the home but make it impossible for the bats to re-enter. At the same time, they don protective suits and masks and remove all of the guano. Eliminating bats from your home is not cheap, therefore getting regular home and pest inspections are strongly recommended because we go into spaces that are rarely seen by the homeowner and that can make all the difference when it comes to discovering unwanted roommates.
Rick Doherty, NC Licensed Home Inspector, on a roof checking for wood and structural damage. Roof inspections, when safe and accessible, are just one of the critical areas covered in our comprehensive home inspections. Rick moves through your home (or potential new home) foot by foot in order to provide the most thorough inspection possible.
Image courtesy of Trevor Holman Photography.
This home had a significant - but not obvious from the outside - gap in the attic. I discovered it during the home inspection and made sure to alert my client, the buyer. Gaps like this are an easy entryway for animals and insects like bats, squirrels, birds, hornets, etc. If a bat colony decides to set up residence in your attic, it is quite costly to have them safely removed ($1500 or more in most cases). In addition to unwanted house guests, gaps compromise the weathertightness of a home and make it less efficient and more prone to water damage. Findings like these are yet another reason why a good home inspector is well worth the investment.
New year, newly built home? Sounds great to us! But just because a house is new does not mean it is without fault. Often we see issues that are not readily obvious and can be missed during the final walkthrough. In this case, a second floor guest bedroom window had a significant crack in it and needed to be replaced. Other common issues include improper drainage and faulty plumbing, all of which you want performing perfectly when you move in. A great home inspection (and inspector!) is a very wise investment that is guaranteed to save you time and money, no matter how old - or new- the house is. Hover over each picture to find out more.
These roof shingles have heavy moss growth presence on the front side of the roof line. The moss growth damages the shingle asphalt base and could result in accelerated aging which usually advances at the end of the shingles' life. Good roof maintenance is KEY and getting regular home and roof inspections is an important part of that.
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.