Month: September 2008

Ever been torpedoed by a Real estate Agent?

 

Earlier this week I got a message that said, “Hi I got your name from a friend of mine and he says that you are the best. I am going to schedule my inspection on your website. Give me a call if I did something wrong or you need more information.”

Fantastic! I love referrals like that. And in a little bit an email shows up on my phone that says the client has scheduled himself and we are all set.

Again fantastic! I love my website and online scheduling.

A little while later I get a call from his ‘wonderful’ agent, “I need to know if you are going to do a P & D. If not, I am going to find another inspector.”

No big deal. I have never worked with this agent and was actually looking forward to meeting her and showing her how detailed and helpful I could be for her and her client.

I call her as soon as I squeeze out of the crawlspace and she says, “… can you hold?” ………….5 minutes later……….I say, “I would be happy to do a Wood Destroying Organism Inspection for our clients.”

“How much do you charge…….Hmmm. That’s more than my clients are willing to pay. Let me call and talk to them. I will call you back.”

I started to have a bad feeling. I was pretty sure the client knew exactly how much the price was since he set the inspection up and he had to click on the price to finalize the appointment.

I called our client. He told me that his agent had everything set up with her inspector and she was going to do it her way because her inspector was cheaper and he would get paid out of closing and it just worked better for her.

I said, “She told you what to do about your inspection?…………Ok. I am sure her inspector will do a wonderful job. Thank you.”

Three hours later
his agent calls, “yeah he doesn’t need your services. Bye.”

Bummer. I don’t have any issues with an agent having a comfort zone of professionals she works with but come on. Not that I would have been willing to get paid out of closing but I may have matched the other inspector’s price. I guess I just would have preferred the agent telling me about the deals her inspector gives and giving me a chance to compete like a capitalist.

Oh well. I am absolutely happy with the current agents who feel comfortable enough to refer me on a regular basis and finding those agents has taken work.

How about you?

Have you ever been torpedoed?

 

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My solute to Lazy Workmen

This is my tribute to all of those hard working plumbers, heating and air contractors, electricians and less than knowledgeable homeowners who just don’t care about their job and how it affects the structure of the building they are working on. Without you guys, us home inspectors would have a lot less to report on.

The pictures to the left show industrious contractors that although they understood the requirements of the systems they were installing they didn’t care how it effected the rest of the home’s structure.

 

Here are a few guidelines on how and when floor joists should be cut

According to the 2003 IRC:

R802.7.1 Sawn lumber. Notches in solid lumber joists, rafters and beams shall not exceed one-sixth of the depth of the member, shall not be longer than one-third of the depth of the member and shall not be located in the middle one-third of the span. Notches at the ends of the member shall not exceed one-fourth the depth of the member. The tension side of members 4 inches (102 mm) or greater in nominal thickness shall not be notched except at the ends of the members. The diameter of the holes bored or cut into members shall not exceed one-third the depth of the member. Holes shall not be closer than 2 inches (51mm)to the top or bottom of the member, or to any other hole located in the member. Where the member is also notched, the hole shall not be closer than 2 inches (51 mm) to the notch.

And when the roof truss gets in the way of the satelite dish installation……. R802.10.4 Alterations to trusses. Truss members shall not be cut, notched, drilled, spliced or otherwise altered in any
way without the approval of a registered design professional. Alterations resulting in the addition of load (e.g., HVAC
equipment, water heater) that exceeds the design load for the truss shall not be permitted without verification that the truss
is capable of supporting such additional loading.

Hi, My Name Is Jim, I am a Home Inspector in Salem Oregon and I am an Addict

I think I may have an addiction. I hear admitting it is the first step to recovery.

I first realized I had an issue when I recently posted a blog about Home Inspections in Salem, Oregon and saw my standing in my town go from 10th to 9th. A few more blogs and a lot more time spent learning from others and commenting on their fantastic thoughts and ideas and I have moved up to 6th.

I am constantly thinking about SEO and how I can improve Perfection Inspection Inc’s web presence. I spend time at night brainstorming blog subjects that might be interesting for other people.

I am now starting to think about the copyrighting my blogs and other things I never thought would be concern me.

Yes I have a problem, but I feel that this network just might be the support group that will help me.

Mold is Everywhere

Mold is everywhere.

Mold/ has microscopic spores that are airborne and are able to easily blow around the world. Due to the spore’s ability to be in the air there is no place on earth that does not have fungal spores present. (except maybe special industrial clean rooms and operating rooms) With this knowledge of mold/fungus we can draw the conclusion that there is no such thing as a, “mold free,” house. All homes have spores present the spores are waiting for a conducive environment to grow. “Conducive environment,” means: temperature, food and water at the right levels.

Molds/fungi grow best between 50 and 80 degrees F.(the temperatures most of us find comfortable)

They can eat any organic material. (read: your home’s framing, sheathing, flooring, carpeting, paper faces on insulation and drywall, and most everything else in our homes)

Water is really the one thing we can and should control to stifle mold/fungus growth.

Leaks, plumbing or rain water, and poor ventilation are the two main offenders who often work together to help mold grow and reproduce.

Even though mold is everywhere we can control its growth. By vigilantly maintaining our homes, ensuring proper ventilation and repairing leaks promptly we can ensure that our homes do not become mold food.

Have you Inspected your Salem, Oregon home’s GFCI’s lately?

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters: They are a wonderful safety item that has been required around water since the ’70s and according to the CPSC could prevent over two-thirds of the approximately 300 electrocutions still occurring each year in and around the home. Installation of the device could also prevent thousands of burn and electric shock injuries each year.

GFCI’s continually monitor what goes out, through the hot side and what comes back through the neutral side. Power always flows in a loop so these devices can tell when there is leakage, ie. ground fault.

Ground Fault: Is where the loop of electricity, instead of properly running out the hot side (into the thing that’s plugged in) and back in to the wall on the neutral side, gets shorted.  In other words the power jumps out of the loop / you might get shocked.

That jump/shock is very likely to happen when you are handling your mixer, weed trimmer, curling iron, etc…. that has an electrical problem (internal loose wire maybe) and you reach for something that can allow a direct flow of electrons to go right in to the ground (faucet, water pipe).

"Test Monthly"

So how and how often should you test my GFCI’s? If you look closely on the GFCI it will say, “Test Monthly.” To properly test you should plug something in that you can see is on, like a lamp. Then press the test button. The buttons should ‘pop’ and the lamp should go off. Then reset the button and the lamp should come back on.

If the test doesn’t happen like that, it may be time to replace your hard working GFCIs.

If that is still to much work I would be happy to come and inspect the function of the GFCI’s in your home.

A swell in the window sill

I was inspecting a home the other day and when I met with the client, and asked her, as I always do, “Is there anything you may have noticed, that you have questions about.”

This is not only to address their specific fears and concerns but also so I am given a heads up on a potential defect. My client and their agent directed me over to a the window sills. Right along the edge that is closest to the window a small swell could be noted along the entire length. The sills were Medium Density Fiber (MDF) board and MDF is a wonderful historic indicator of past leakage. The swelling definitely appeared like moisture absorption however no other indicators were present. If the windows were allowing storm water to enter the home there should be staining at the top of the window and there was none. There should have been more evidence of leakage on the south windows, since that is where most all of our wind driven rain comes from and all of the windows on every side of the home seamed to show evidence of this swelling.

That night while I was writing the report and thinking about what might have been going on with the sills, I realized the only thing different about these windows is that there was not a bead of caulk between the widow and the window frame. The carpenter had done such a great job all of the reveals where beautiful and perfect. The painter thought maybe he didn’t have to caulk.

As the previous owner cleaned the sills with a damp cloth that small gap would suck up moisture. The MDF where it had been painted was relatively resistant to moisture damage so no issues on the painted surface however the gap that had been perfect enough to not caulk exposed the vulnerable MDF that was not even primed. (sponge)

The moral of the story is: Caulk. (as a verb and noun) Gaps, even perfect ones, will trap water and cause cosmetic issues that will be challenging to repair.

Crawlspaces: Need Love and Attention too

Plugged Crawlspace vent

plugged vent on a crawlspace in Salem, Oregon

Crawlspaces are a very popular way to build a home in the Salem, Oregon area. With a crawlspace the home is up off the ground, so most importantly to the builder, there is less concrete and that equals less money. Being up off the ground also allows the homes to stay away from the water that is frequently bubbling up from the ground when the rains come down. Over all this area is ideal for crawlspaces however there are some things that most homeowners don’t realize:

  • We live in a maritime climate. That means it does not freeze very hard (or at all) most winters. Those silly Styrofoam crawlspace vent plugs should be strictly reserved for the 3 days of below freezing weather we get every 2 years. At all other times the crawlspace vents should be left open! The times your crawlspace will need to be vented are in the winter when the water tables rise. If the vents are all plugged the standing water will create a very conducive environment for wood eating/destroying organisms. Molds, beetles, termites and carpenter ants all benefit from the moist stagnant environment those little plugs foster. Moisture content of 18% wood becomes a good food source for things that eat wood. If the moisture content of the wood can be kept below 18% (through effective ventilation) the wood will not be food.
  • You Must Monitor your Crawlspace. This does not mean that you actually must go in to your crawlspace (but you probably should). But you should at least open the hatch, peek and smell. The smell is the important. If you smell musty sticky rotting wood…. that means more investigation is needed! The sniff test is great to do year around but especially in winter. I have seen crawlspaces that passed the sniff test and had inches of standing water. If the vents are open, even if there is a little water under there, the moisture doesn’t effectively raise the moisture content of the wood structure.
  • Mechanical and Plumbing need attention too. Crawlspaces are also wonderfully suited to maintenance. Although crawlspaces are not the best places to hang out, if you need access to plumbing wiring, ductwork, it is all there. In order to monitor these components you will need to enter your crawlspace, or hire a professional inspector. Leaky shower/tub drains, disconnected ducts, and leaking supply lines are all very common repair items that I see often. If the leaks are left unchecked they will give the wood eating creatures all the moisture they need to call your house home.

At minimum, every 3 months you should pop that crawlspace door open and squeeze into to the tight, dark, dirty, creepy hole that is your crawlspace. You will save yourself money and get to know your home on a level you never thought possible!

 

Air conditioning your Home when it’s cool outside (how to ruin your AC unit)

 

I came across an outdoor AC compressor the other day that was running at full speed. This was not immediately unusual, because it is August. Then I realized that at this early hour of the morning the outdoor temperature was only 50 degrees Fahrenheit! Upon closer inspection I noticed one whole side of the compressor was covered with about a 2 inch layer of ice!!

After I ran into the home and quickly turned the air conditioning off, I took a side bar with my clients and explained how an Air conditioner works: Through the powerful processes of evaporation and condensation the AC unit is able to absorb heat from the inside air and exhaust it outside. Right before the coolant enters the home it has been cooled and evaporated so it is a low pressure gas. After the warm house air is passed over the cool coil the coolant that has absorbed that heat travels outside is compressed and is a high pressure/high temperature liquid. Now the outdoor air which is cool compared to the compressed high temp liquid (100 degrees F is much cooler than 180 degrees F) is passed over the coils and heat is exchanged. Then the liquid is evaporated and it is cool again and cycled back in to the home.

The fatal flaw that can be noted on a cool day, is the inside air is not warm enough to absorb an adequate amount of heat from the gas. This causes ice to form. The ice covers the small metal fins that the air is blown through to exchange heat. If the heat cannot be exchanged the low pressure/low temperature gas cannot continue to drop in temp. Eventually the compressor, which should only compress gas, will try to compress liquid. When the unit tries to compress liquid the AC unit is toast.

The outside temperature being above 65 F is critical to testing AC units. For around 6 months of the year home inspectors in Salem, Oregon cannot test the AC system because the outdoor temperatures are too low. On most units there will be a fuse or switch near the outdoor unit. After September it may be a good idea to turn the unit off to prevent accidental cycles.