Home inspections in Salem Oregon

Wet Crawlspaces,…Ok what now?

Being a home inspector lets me witness a condition that pops up fairly often in Salem, Oregon, area: Water in crawl spaces.  Home inspections do not allow me participate in diagnostics very often but sometimes I do get called out to diagnose where water is coming with my high-tech infrared camera.

Crawl space construction in this area is very popular for a few reasons.  The two main reasons are; one: it takes less concrete, read- Cheaper. and Two: it puts the wood members of the house up off the ground when our high water table potentially allows water to bubble up from the ground.  Ideally crawl spaces should not be wet however it is not a terribly uncommon issue in this area and  the main culprit is the gutters and downspouts and what they are up to when they go underground.

Right after the foundation is poured, the underground piping is installed.  This means that every other trade that is working on their part of the home has to step over the newly installed plastic pipes.  Once the pipes are covered up, near the end completion of the home it is sometimes out of sight and out of mind.

The most compelling evidence I had for this condition was on a listed home that had an offer and a home inspection.  The sellers called me out to try and locate the source of the water.  After some trial and error per my suggestions the handy home owner disconnected the downspouts and shoved the garden hose down the pipe and filled the pipe with water.  He went into the crawlspace and noted the water bubbling up under the foundation near his front door.


The door had a nice slab of concrete leading to the entrance so the home owner rerouted that troublesome pipe into a drywell near the perimeter of his lot and promptly dried up his wet crawlspace.


Diagnostics don’t always work like that but for years I have seen water in crawl spaces and a majority of the time I can find the gutter and downspout that is the contributor.

You can find more information on crawlspaces here:

Crawlspaces need love and attention too

Problems under the Surface

Your cat is Killing this Salem, Oregon Home Inspector and your Home’s crawlspace


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Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Bank Owned Problems

With more and more banks acting as the primary owner of homes I am starting to see more and more ridiculous decisions.  Issues that would never come up for a home owner are now manifesting due to the utter lack of common sense displayed by most banks when home ownership is their new responsibility.


Recently I got the chance to inspect a bank owned property here in Salem, Oregon.  It was cool the morning of the inspection but not unusual (the high 20’s).  The bank in their infinite wisdom turned the water to the home on, for the inspection.  But……some one forgot about the heating system…… The agent, client and I walked into the home and discovered a large pool of water on the floor of the kitchen and dining room and rain falling from the kitchen ceiling!

Although the leakage was awful, it was still manageable.  The water had not been there for very long and the wood flooring was not even warped, yet…..  I turned off the water and grabbed some towels to try to sop up the majority of the water.  We rescheduled the inspection and hoped that the bank’s reps would properly dry the home before serious damage occurred.

Three weeks later….the bank just got the heat on!!!!  During the subsequent home inspection I find typical water damage issues and ceilings, walls and flooring that is still wet!  A good general rule of thumb is: if water is uncontrolled in a home for as little as 24 hours, mold can start to rock and roll.  I did not do any mold testing in this home but I just can’t help but wonder what the second floor joist bays look like.  Hmmm…wet wood and paper for 3 weeks, I think it is probably very fuzzy with fungal growth.
As many of you may know, when dealing
with short sales and banks you have to leave
common sense at the door.  Even with this premise it is still disappointing that over
and over again it seems that banks
are so ill suited to be primary owners of homes that they spend dollars to save pennies.











Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Parts and Inspection of a Water Heater (part 3 of 4)

There are a few things to look at when inspecting this oh-so mundane of household appliances.  If you have read my earlier posts or seen the MythBusters, you would understand that the pressure and temperatures contained in this vessel are nothing to be taken lightly.

Properly Installed Seismic Straps

The next thing I look at when I am inspecting homes in Salem, Oregon and the water heaters therein:

Seismic Straps:
In other parts of the world this may not be a very important issue but  around Salem, Oregon the earth shakes from time to time.  Knowing what we know now about the bomb that is our water heater we know that we shouldn’t mess around too much and expose it to rupture or other damage.  The best way to protect the heater is to strap it to the structure and make sure it doesn’t tip or fall over.
The straps need to be installed with one in the upper third of the tank and one in the lower third of the tank.  These straps should be tied securely to structure with lag bolts.
With these two straps installed properly, minor earth quaking should not cause damage to your water heating system.

I will discuss the other importan
t items in the next posts…….

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Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Parts and Inspection of a Water Heater (part 2 of 4)

In my first post I wrote about the safety issue of having a standing flame in the garage and how the water heater should be installed to prevent unwanted fires.  Water heaters are heated water under pressure and there are a few very important safety devices that need to be just so, and anyone who watches MythBusters knows that water heaters, gone wrong, can be devastating……
The next thing I look at when I am inspecting homes in Salem, Oregon and the water heaters therein is:

The Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve (TPR)
This is probably the single most important safety device on water heaters.  This is a simple valve that allows gas/steam/liquid to leak if the pressure or temperature gets too high.
In recent years TPR’s have become very standardized, mounted on the tank, but older models still may have the valves on the hot water line.  This condition will cause a home inspector to gripe and is not as safe as the valve on the tank but if you do notice this condition it is most likely time to replace your whole water heater.
With the TPR in a standardized location it is now time to add the extension piping.  Yes, extension piping is important!  Remember that TPR valve is a release valve just waiting for the temperature or pressure to get to high.  When it releases it may do so with a significant amount of steam and super heated water.  The extension piping ensures the steam exhausts near the ground and not in anyone’s face.

The pictures are perfect examples of how NOT to pipe the TPR!

I will discuss the other important items in the next posts…….


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Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

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Parts and Inspection of a Water Heater

Sexy, stylish and fashionable your water heater is not. (unless you have one of those tankless systems, but that is another blog)  Your water heater is an important part of modern living and it really makes indoor plumbing enjoyable.
There are a few things that I look for and that are important when I am inspecting homes in Salem, Oregon and the water heaters therein, the first thing is:


Where is it?

If it is in the garage there are a few rules that need to be followed for safe operation.  If it is gas, the flame source needs to be at least 18″ off the ground.  This condition will apply to gas units th
at are more than 4 years old because we have now gone to a sealed burning unit that does not have an exposed flame.  If you can get to the pilot light so can combustible gasses.  Combustible gasses in garages tend to hug the ground so if the flame is sealed or 18″ off the ground it will help prevent those combustible gasses from igniting.

I will discuss the other important items in the next posts: Part 2, 3 and yes even 4!



Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
http://SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
503.508.4321         jallhiser@perfectioninspectioninc.com

“Always on the cutting edge”

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

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!