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.
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.