Home Inspection

Your home fails the Home Inspection

By:  Jim Allhiser  President

The term “home inspector” brings to mind report cards where a home “passes” or “fails.”
To some other inspectors this may be their reality. Through confusion and posturing other inspectors get to pretend like they get to make decisions. This is a small and disappointing group of my profession, as most good home inspectors want to make it very clear that home inspectors don’t pass or fail anything!

As a good inspector all I am there to do is to consult.  I should take a good look at the home and compare it to a perfect home (which is fantasy, by the way). There is no way that I could predict what my client will find important so I tell them about everything!   Besides that, I am not loaning my client money and I am not going to be living with them.   I really don’t care if the gutters get cleaned or if the window trim gets caulked properly. I am simply an observer and suggester.

This utter lack of authority can be very confusing to some people involved in the transaction.   I frequently hear agents, who should know better,  talk about how homes “passed.”  Or clients ask me if I “require” this or that. I just have to smile and tell my poor buyers that the only people that can pass or fail things are the people that are buying the home.  This can be frustrating for some that wish to hide behind an inspector, but I am about empowering people.  With proper education, my empowered buyer can ask the seller to have the deterioration in the flooring repaired and feel that this is reasonable.

Buyers often ask me, “..Would you buy this home?”  This is an impossible question for me to answer and that is not a cop-out!  The fact is that I have not been looking for a home.  I have not been mentally preparing for the change in lifestyle, finances, and the move.  I do not know what the school is like.  I have no idea what the other similar homes are like.  My buyers are frequently much more savvy about the competing homes than I am.  They have been doing serious real estate research!  I have not.  Homes can be a very emotional decision.  How could I guess the emotional state my clients are in after spending 3 hours poking around a house?

Trust a good inspector to do a great job at observing most all of the things that buyers will find important relating to the CONDITION OF THE HOME. Ask as many questions as you would like but don’t be surprised if we never tell you if the home passes or fails!


A River of Thermal images

This is a short video I took while on a home inspection of the water in the North Santiam river.

My handy little thermal camera can show all sorts of nifty temperature differences.  Including electrical hotspots, structure, insulation, leakage, critters and apparently the water temperature in the river.

Looks a bit cold for swimming but I am sure the salmon and steelhead that are headed upriver find those temperatures just right!

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Parts and Inspection of a Water Heater (part 4 of 4)

Water heaters in general are reliable for around 10 years.  They can last much longer or they can start to fail after 5 or 6. (the oldest I have seen was a 68 year old electric water heater that was still cranking away!)  Among other issues with water heaters, the age is a good indicator of when the unit may start to fail or when you may need to replace the unit.

The thing I look at, when I am inspecting homes in Salem, Oregon and the water heater is the name plate:

The name plate will give most all of the information we need to determine the size and age of the unit.  Some times the age is very obvious and there will actually be a label that states when the unit was manufactured.  Most of the time you have to look in to the Serial Number. With most brands the year will be the second 2 numbers in the serial number.

Bradford White apparently insists on being difficult because they use a secrete spy code on their tanks and you need to bring your box-top decoder ring.

In this first picture you can see the location of the serial number:

This next picture shows the two letters that are significant for determining the date of manufacture of this particular water heater:

At this point we get out our secrete spy decoder ring (or try a Google internet search):
and we can see that this tank was produced in October of 2005.  Meaning it is a 4 1/2 year old tank.

At this point I am tired of talking about have concluded some brief ideas on what to look for when looking at these super stylish modern appliances.  You can check out my earlier posts here:  More water heater information

Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Pest and dry rot? Salem, Oregon home inspector defines “dry rot.”

Earlier I wrote two posts (Part 1 ad Part 2) on the terms: “pest and dry rot.” I detailed what the inspection was about and what the term “pest” might mean. Now I will try to describe the term “dry rot.”


Wood destroying Fungus on a Salem Oregon Home Inspection

In the real estate world any rot or deterioration refers to dry rot. The term is a bit confusing because all fungal deterioration requires moisture. The term dry rot actually refers a very specialized fungus that actually consumes wood that is dry or does not have a available water source.  The fungus actually grows hyphie (root like structures) up to 8 feet long! These root structures reach out from the dry piece of wood into the ground and collect and shuttle water to the dry piece of wood.

This type of fungus is very unusual around Salem, Oregon and I have only seen it twice in 5 years of inspecting homes!
Most all of the deterioration that I see is caused by a white rot or a brown rot. Both are fungi and both require direct and chronic exposure to moisture to allow them to consume the cellulose or lignin in the wood.

I know, I know this is earth shattering news.  But you can see why I prefer to call damaged wood: “deterioration” rather than “Dry Rot.”

Break-away crotch

I do love disposable coveralls.  The crawlspaces that I frequent in Salem, Oregon seem to be places where critters relieve themselves and where they decide to die.  All of that feces, urine and dead carcasses add up to some pretty disgusting crawling and it can be challenging to bring my coveralls in the house after crawling through a litter box.

Overall the disposables are totally sufficient, especially after I belly crawl through one of those litter boxes that people call their crawlspace. All of the disposables however, have one fatal flaw:

The crotch.

I don’t know if they mean to build them with a “break away crotch” but being a home Inspector, that is not one of my requirements.

Kickout Flashing

Kick-out flashing is an important and misunderstood type of flashing for today’s tight building systems.  The guys at InterNACHI wrote a great article on the finer points of Kick-out flashing and its importance:

By Nick Gromicko, Rob London and Kenton Shepard http://www.nachi.org/kick-out-flashing.htm

Kickout flashing, also known as diverter flashing, is a special type of flashing that diverts rainwater away from the cladding and into the gutter. When installed properly, they provide excellent protection against the penetration of water into the building envelope. Several factors can lead to rainwater intrusion, but a missing kickout flashing, in particular, often results in concentrated areas of water accumulation and potentially severe damage to exterior wakick-out-flashinglls.

Inspectors should make sure that kickouts are present where they are needed and that they are installed correctly. Water penetration into the cladding can occasionally be observed on the exterior wall in the form of vertical water stains, although inspectors should not rely on visual identification. There may be severe damage with little or no visible evidence.

Inspectors may observe the following problems associated with kickout flashing:

The kickout was never installed.

•The need for kickout flashing developed fairly recently and the builder may not have been aware that one was required. The increased amount of insulation and building wrap that is used in modern construction makes buildings less breathable and more likely to sustain water damage. Kickout flashing prevents rainwater from being absorbed into the wall and is more essential than ever.

The following are locations where kickout flashing is critical:

•anywhere a roof and exterior wall intersect, where the wall continues past the lower roof-edge and gutter. If a kickout flashing is absent in this location, large amounts of water may miss the gutter, penetrate the siding, and become trapped inside the wall; and

•where gutters terminate at the side of a chimney. The kickout was improperly installed.

•The bottom seam of the flashing must be watertight. If it is not, water will leak through the seam and may penetrate the cladding. missing-kick-out-flashing

•The angle of the diverter should never be less than 110 degrees. The kick-out was modified by the homeowner.

•Homeowners who do not understand the importance of kickouts may choose to alter them because they are unsightly. A common way this is done is to shorten their height to less than the standard six inches (although some manufacturers permit four inches), which will greatly reduce their effectiveness. Kickout flashings should be the same height as the side wall flashings.

•Homeowners may also make kickout flashings less conspicuous by cutting them flush with the wall. In summary, kickout flashing should be present and properly installed in order to direct rainwater away from the cladding.

All content copyright © 2006-2009 the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, Inc.

All content is Copywritten and is the property of Perfection Inspection Inc.  Any usage that is not expressly permitted by Perfection Inspection Inc. is considered infringement and is punishable by law.

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

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.

Termites like boxed lunches

Come and get it!Crawl space maintenance is like going to the dentist. With a few simple and relatively easy maintenance steps you can keep the underside of your home from needing a root canal.

One very poplar issue I find is wood debris. When a home is built some of the wood framing or sheathing members will need some adjustment. Holes are bored, notches are cut and ends are scrapped to allow wires, pipes and pieces to fit. All of this adjustment adds up to a lot of wood scraps. If a contractor, make that human, can pass the clean-up buck they will. Eventually the wood that should-have-been cleaned up will get covered up, never to be seen again…..

Enter wood destroying organisms. (Termites, beetles, carpenter ants and fungal rot) These critters are opportunists. Most of the time wood destroying organisms will need relatively moist wood. If they can’t find an easy meal they go elsewhere.

All of those wood scraps that are in contact or close to the moist ground are a perfect snack. Once all of that wood is consumed the hungry critters will start to look for their next meal. Mm mm wood.

I know the termites will be disappointed that I suggested the removal of their boxed lunch. The contractor was very kind to think of the wood eating critter’s busy schedule. The box of cellulose is the perfect thing for the modern WDO’s hectic lifestyle.

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.