Month: June 2009

Those darn drafty attics.

On a home inspection the other day I popped my head into the attic space of a vintage 1950 home. At first glance the attic felt unusually warm and moist. From the outside the gable vents appeared to be large enough and should have kept this attic effectively ventilated however the current renter had some other ideas. He told me that he had been in construction for years and was currently unemployed.

This vintage home had a minimum amount of insulation and the gable vents were covered with plastic!! All of the warm moist air coming up out of the home was being trapped in this unheated, unvented, ideal mold growing limbo. The roof sheathing was covered with a soft and fuzzy patina, very artistic but not very pleasing for home maintenance and air quality.

The moral of the story is those openings in your attic and there for a reason and very important. They are not there to make you suffer when it is time to pay the heating bill. Insulation should be used on HEATED surfaces. Your attic is not a heated space. The floor of the attic is next to a heated space and this is the only surface that should be insulated. The rest of the attic should have enough vents to keep the attic as close to the exterior temperature as possible. This will vent excess moisture, cool the roof system and provide a good environment for maintenance of the structure of the roof.

Home inspections in Salem, Oregon. Mold, Inspector, Keizer

Multi-wired circuits

A material and man-hour (read MONEY) conservation technique I have noticed more and more recently is called multi-circuit wiring. The purpose of this technique is to save money on wires and man-hours by pulling only one wire for two circuits.

Seems like a good idea and there are definitely a fair amount of contractors that agree. During normal operation of most circuits no significant problems will be noted. However if too many watts are added, the circuits could be prone to overheating.

The issues come from the neutral wire. With a single circuit wire there is a black wire for the hot, and a white wire for the neutral. For simplicity sake let’s look at these as the supply=hot(black) and the return=neutral(white) for the current respectively.

A 15amp circuit should use a 14 gauge wire for supply and return. That means that if the maximum amount of power (allowed by the breaker) is called for, the wire on the supply and on the return are both thick enough to hold all of 15 amps or 1800watts at 120 volts. [(15amps)x(120volts)=1800watts]

Now let’s save some time and materials during installation by running a multi-circuit wire. This wire has two supplies and only one return. Remember each one of the 14 gauge wires are designed to hold 15 amps but now you have two wires that could be called on to hold all of 15 amps and only one 14 gauge return/neutral wire for 30amps! (15+15=30amps) Normal alternating current modulation will prevent the neutral from having to carry both loads at the same time but if something goes wrong and the neutral does experience over current in this manner the breaker will not trip, because breakers only protect the hot/supply wires.

The deal is the authorities that say this is ok are betting that there will never be a situation that causes both wires to call for the entire load at the same time. As a home inspector here in Salem, Oregon I am paid to be a “worst case scenario,” guy. It is my job to alert my clients to not only issues but also potential issues and educate them as best I can.

Mold our Constant Microscopic Companion

This is mold that you can see

This is mold that you can see

Mold is one of the scariest problems in today’s issues with Indoor Air Quality. The problem is you can’t see it.

 

Don’t get me wrong, if it looks and smells like a duck it usually is, however I have been surprised on inspections here in Salem, Oregon, by laboratory results often enough to know that speculation of microscopic content is not a good idea.

There are definitely conditions that you can detect with unaided human senses that will lead to mold growth. Earlier posts of mine labeled mold as a symptom of the problem. The problem (water) can be detected….usually.

If you have water, organic material and ventilation issues you have perfect conditions for mold growth. Do not let moisture loose on your home. But even with uncontrolled moisture I have seen very low spore counts in the air.

The moral of the story is: if you think you have mold growing, get it tested, and do it right by hiring a trained, professional mold sampling technician.

Salem Oregon Home Inspector’s New Blog!

Anoucing my new Blog! 

 Thank you Melina Tomson w/ Tomson Burham LLC for the tips and tricks for getting my web presence noticed.

Expect my blog to continue to discuss issues with home inspections in and around Salem, Oregon.  Also I will be putting together a comprehensive (and hopefully organized) section for home owner maintenance and knowledge.

I hope you enjoy yourself and come back often.

The Oregon Gardens and Home inspections

I had the chance to visit the beautiful Oregon Gardens this weekend with my family. This is one of those special places that really needs to be visited many times throughout the year to enjoy the different plant displays.

 

The Gardens are located in Silverton,Oregon and if you like to grow things this is the place to be. I stay very busy inspecting homes in and around Silverton, OR and if you need to check on the condition of your new home contact me.

 

 

 

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