Salem Oregon

What do I do If there may be an Underground Oil Tank for my home in Salem Oregon

Jim Allhiser President
503-508-4321
Web: www.SalemOregonHomeInspections.com
Email: Jallhiser@PerfectionInspectionInc.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PerfectionInspectionInc
Blog: https://salemoregonhomeinspector.com/
OCHI# 916 CCB# 179533

Oil tanks were very common between the 1920s and 1960s for the relatively cheap heating oil for the oil furnace and for a while it was thought that sticking those tanks in the ground would be a great idea. If the home has exchanged hands a few times a hidden underground tank may be easily forgotten. The presence of a hidden underground oil tank is an issue that can rear its ugly head during a real estate transaction/home inspectionevery now and then. There are some things that you should know to help protect your client and yourself. A licensed professional tank locating service is the best way to ensure that no problem tanks exist under the surface however there are a few things that buyers, agents and home inspectors can look for that can be flags that indicate the need for further evaluation. Fill, or Vent Pipes or the tank itself: The tank is pretty self explanatory but the fill and vent pipes are usually a little more concealed and you must know what to look for. The fill lines will usually be a 2 or 3 inch pipe sticking up from the soil or out the side of the home. The vent lines will be smaller 1 inch pipeswith special vent caps like these photos.  These tubes are not terribly reliable because they are easy to cut off andcover up.Supply lines: Short of a metal detector and probes (professional tank finder tools) the supply lines are the best indicators of underground tanks. Supply pipes will be small(1/4″) copper lines. These lines, or the reminents of the lines will be located in the basement/garage, near the furance (or where the furnace once waslocated) or in the crawlspace. In general two lines indicate underground tanks. One is for the supply and the other is for the unburnt oil to return to the tank that is lower than the furnace. If only one line is present it may be an indication for an above ground tank. Unfortunantly these are general rules and underground tanks could have still used one line. The two lines to the left could be noted in the crawlspace. The crawlspace is the place where things are least likley to be “covered up.” The clipped lines to the left were noted in a home that had an oil tank that had been properly remidiated. Unfortunantly these lines were going to a completely different tank in on the oposite side of the home! If any of the above conditions can be noted it is time to do some more investigation. The internet and the DEQ is the first place tocheck.

  1. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) here in Oregon, has a program to help keep track of those oil tanks that have leaked. The site is:http://www.deq.state.or.us/lq/tanks/lust/LustPublicLookup.aspThere is a trick to using the search engine: You must just enter the address number only!!If you enter the street name it will not work.If excavation or redevelopment is planned you can find information on known and suspected Leaking Heating Oil Tanks (HOT) and if the site has received a closure letter for the decommissioning, assessment or certification of the HOT.If a HOT is present there may be contamination of the surrounding area and a cleanup may be required. Decommissioning, assessment, and cleanup must be performed by a DEQ licensed HOT Service Provider. For you agents, check out this publication: What agents should know about underground oil tanks.   http://www.deq.state.or.us/lq/pubs/factsheets/tanks/hot/BuyingSellingHomeHOT.pdf I posted this information a few months back and last week I found two little copper lines in the crawlspace under a home in Silverton. These lines are a great indicator of underground storage tanks so I raised a bright orange flag and alerted my client. The home had been owned by 4 different people in the last 20 years and the current owner had the home for the last 6 months. There was very little chance the current owner had a clue about oil tanks and whether proper decommissioning had occurred. I tried the search myself and by entering the address numbers but not the street name found documentation that the tank had leaked and had been removed and cleaned up in 2003! That is info that can now be linked to the home no matter who owns it.

If documentation of the tank cannot be located online the next step is to call the DEQ. The database is for only tanks that have leaked and if the tank was above ground or removed with no evidence of leakage it will not be in that database. The DEQ has records of tanks that have been decommissioned but it is not online. I have made a contact with:

Ingrid Gaffney  Gaffney.Ingrid@deq.state.or.us

with DEQ HOT

503-229-6170   and found her to be very helpful!

If the above steps are taken and proper documentation cannot be located it is time to call a professional oil tank location/removal/remediation company.     I recommend two in the Salem area:

  1. Enviro-Probe

    (503) 304-9653   Karl VanZandt

  1. Xavier Environmental

                                                     (503) 236-3796 office    http://www.xavierenvironmental.com/

These are the proper steps to take if an underground tank is suspected. The responsibility of proper remediation fall on the current owner and the cleanup of leaking underground tanks can easily exceed $10,000. Pay attention and don’t be surprised with that expense. I welcome calls or emails if additional information is desired.

Jim Allhiser President

503-508-4321

Web: www.SalemOregonHomeInspections.com

Email: Jallhiser@PerfectionInspectionInc.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PerfectionInspectionInc

Blog: https://salemoregonhomeinspector.com/ OCHI# 916 CCB# 179533

Mold, Lead, Arsenic, Radon, Wet Crawlspaces and other things that

Toxic Talk was the title of the Salem Association of Realtor’s Educational Event yesterday.


I wanted to give everyone a quick review of the information that I learned:


Radon: It will kill you.  Any home might have an issue.  It comes out of the ground and even with a well ventilated crawlspace your home can concentrate this poisonous, radioactive gas.
Moral: Get your home tested


Arsenic in Water: It will kill you. Wells will be required to be tested for it during a real estate transaction.  If you have it and install a filter CHANGE YOUR FILTER carefully and regularly.
Moral: Get your water tested


Disaster Clean-up:  It will kill you. (see a pattern developing?)  Rodent urine and feces is a toxic bio hazard
Moral:  Hopefully you won’t have to call these guys EVER!



Lead: It will kill you. (yup, believe it or not)  Soon Oregon is going to have some changes that require certifications of ANYONE dealing with repairs of older homes and mandatory lead testing of all of these homes!
Moral:  Whether you like it or not your home will be tested…..


Mold: (everyone now!) It will kill you.   Mold is EVERYWHERE and it is not necessarily the issue but an indicator of moisture conditions that are a problem
Moral: Get your home tested.


Crawlspace/basement leakage: This will probably kill you too but I think the moisture just causes stuff that will kill you….    Crawlspaces and basements are swimming pools and although there are ways to minimize the water intrusion, they are not required by code.
Moral:  Pay a good Home Inspector to check out your crawlspace BEFORE you sell!





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

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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.”

IMG_3067

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.

What to Expect when you’re Inspecting, Disclaimers

What to expect when you’re inspecting

You have gotten an offer accepted and scheduled with the best and brightest inspector in town.  Now it is time to check out his legal disclaimers.
Home inspectors as a rule do not accept liability.  It sounds funny, but in truth it is a defense against what we couldn’t see.  That means that home inspections are a visual snap shot.  We inspectors do our best to not miss anything but depending on the environment (read: boxes piled to the ceiling), the time of the year (hard to look at a roof under snow) or even a lazy or forgetful seller (they cover up stuff due to lack of proper knowledge) some things can be very hard if not impossible to see.
I frequently read about the poor couple that bought the turn-of-the-century home and had an inspection, only to find out later that the walls were full of rot and termites.  The media has a neat little way of tilting the story.  It is never mentioned that the finishes and accessible areas of the home showed no signs of damage in the walls under the windows.  It is never brought up that the window sills had been collecting water for close to a century before being repaired and they forget that the poor home owners learned about the damage only after they actually started destroying the home’s walls to do remodeling.
I frequently explain to my clients that I am an inspector that they are paying to spend 2 1/2 to 3 hours with them and I will do my darnedest to not miss anything significant but I will not buy them a new home if I do turn out to be a human being.  There is always the possibility for things to be going on under the surface but most of the time there will be indications of those things.
When I bought my first home, I was amazed at the home inspection.  The dude spent 45 minutes in my 1950’s fixer.  He did a very poor job and missed some major things.  In my previous post I suggested getting out their and shopping inspectors, something that I did not.  I let my agent schedule the inspection for me and I came away with a very bad taste in my mouth for the home inspection industry as a whole.  A little less than a year after that I heard about thermal imaging and home inspectors that were using it to help with a more in-depth education for their clients.  I knew that it would not be hard if my last inspector was the guy that was my competition!
That first home inspection experience ensures that I do my best inspecting every day for every client.  Even though my disclaimer says that, “…its not my fault and you agree..”  I try to make it a personal goal to not miss significant issues.
Of course every thing is negotiable.  I had clients recently ask me to adjust my disclaimer.  That is just fine but realize what you are getting for around $400.  If you expect a home inspector to suffer liability the price of the inspection must change.  If you increase liability you increase risk you increase price.  I am thinking around $5000 might justify my liability but on second thought I want to be a home inspector not a defendant, please go find yourself another inspector…


Salem Oregon Home Inspections

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

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.

Going green.

 

One very important aspect of shrinking our “carbon foot print,” is re-using things to reduce our consumption of new things.

 

 

Being a home inspector here in Salem, Oregon I have the unique opportunity to go into other people’s homes and poke around in their crawlspaces, on their roofs and under their sinks. All of this snooping around turns up some very creative solutions to everyday problems.

 

I am not sure if this is a new filter option or a very old one. This high-tech wool yarn filter may not be very effective at filtering out tiny particles but it appears to fit right in to the filter canister.