Do you know what this water heater in the garage is missing? A safety post (bollard). The bollard protects the water heater from vehicular damage (should a car lurch toward it) and prevents the water tank from rupturing. Can you imagine what would happen if 40+ gallons of very hot water suddenly came rushing out all over your garage, dry wall, vehicle, personal belongings, and possibly even you? Not to mention the electric or gas powered heating element inside the water heater that needs to stay submerged or it can become a very dangerous fire hazard. The best way to prevent this is to make sure that a safety bollard is installed - and of course, routing maintenance of the water heater is also key because older units can also rupture on their own if not property maintained.
Think you can spot moisture intrusion with the naked eye? Not always. The picture on the left is a seemingly dry crawl space wall and floor. However, when viewed through the thermal imaging camera, you can see all the areas of blue which may indicate moisture intrusion. A wood moisture reading is taken in that area which confirms high levels (anything above 14% is considered high moisture content). These three tools (visual inspection, thermal imaging, and moisture reader) provide excellent information about moisture in your crawl space and other areas. Remember, water is the #1 enemy to your home. Call us at 919-914-0606 or schedule online for a thorough inspection using modern equipment and reporting software with videos. www.dohertyhomeinspections.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
.Can you spot the problem here?
We'll give you a hint... it rhymes with 'hissing clownsprout'.
This gutter is missing a downspout (right side). That means that all of the water from rain, melting snow, etc. drains directly into the area next to and into the foundation. As water penetrates into the foundation month after month, year after year, the foundation starts to deteriorate and the area beneath the home (crawl space) is subjected to repeated exposure to moisture (hello mold). It is recommended that a gutter system with extended downspouts at least 3-6 feet away from the home be installed to protect the wall cladding and foundation areas of the home. This is a common concern/defect that the home inspector finds during his inspections and a very easy fix!
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.
HVAC TIP: Check to make sure there are no gaps! Gaps in the metal exterior duct that leads from the HVAC to the home lets heat escape and lets water in. It can also contaminate the air supply with undesirable fungal growth (think mold). The metal box should be flush and sealed to the home to prevent these serious issues from occurring.
This water stain on the ceiling might seem pretty obvious - but would you, the buyer OR the home owner, notice this in the guest bedroom closet? That is where I found this stain and it led me to the attic to investigate further, where I found evidence of a past active leak. Leaks like this lead to damaged drywall and/or sheathing and possibly mold and should be addressed immediately. Home inspections are crucial to the upkeep and proper maintenance of your home, not just during the buying and selling process.
This week I performed two inspections in a row that had leaking dishwashers. When I begin an inspection, I always run the dishwashers on a normal cycle. Since my inspections last a minimum of three hours, I always have a chance to check on the dishwasher during and at the end of an inspection. In both cases, these dishwashers started leaking within 10 minutes, with one of them pouring a significant amount of water on the floor (pictured) in a very short period of time. These issues highlight how important a thorough home inspection is and how much time, money, and aggravation you will save yourself by getting an inspection before you buy. It is my job to find things like this and to provide you with a comprehensive overview of your potential new home and I take this responsibility very seriously. Plus, it is a great feeling knowing we helped our clients and likely saved them money as well.
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!
After all the rain from Hurricane Florence, we thought it would be a good time to remind everyone about a very simple fix that can save you thousands of dollars in water/foundation damage.
ALL of the downspouts and pipes around your home should extend at least 6 feet away from your foundation. You can do this yourself by adding flexible pipe (found at Lowes or Home Depot) to the end of the downspout, or if you want something more aesthetically pleasing, you can have piping like a French drain added below ground, leading away from the foundation.
If you don't address drainage issues (like the one pictured), water - especially heavy rainfall - will continually seep into the foundation, crawl space, etc., and will gradually weaken the foundation and make your home unstable. Cracks in the foundation will eventually form under these conditions and could lead to major (and costly) damage over time.
Did you know that our home inspector checks for things like leaky faucets and if there is hot water (he even tests the temperature)? These issues are easy to overlook when a buyer is touring a home because there are so many things on your mind. However, things like leaky faucets are not only a nuisance to discover once you've moved in but can become a real problem down the road. Where does the leak start? Is water seeping into the walls or flooring? Should a plumber investigate further? Catching items like this before you buy can save you time, money, and headaches. Call us at 919-921-8400 or book your inspection right on our website and we'll make sure your faucets are shipshape!
Did you know that now - when temperatures stay in the mid 80s during the day and don't drop below 60 at night - is the perfect time to seal your driveways and walkways? They should be sealed every three years or so, otherwise cracks like in this picture will widen in the winter. The cracks fill with water and continually freeze and thaw, freeze and thaw, until more than just sealing will be needed to make repairs. And those repairs can get VERY costly. So stay ahead of the game and get your driveway sealed before the fall!
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.