The return of the winter rains have occurred in Salem, Oregon. Although our wonderful indian summer was enjoyable, it prolonged my inability to find leaks effectively.
Now that a sufficient soaking rain has occurred I can once again find leaks that are not readily visible.
Check out this skylight I inspected recently:
Looks good right?
The visible surface of the drywall appeared to be just fine with no stains or bubbles or any tell tale signs of problems. Thank goodness I have a highly advanced thermal camera:
Those blue areas are current moisture
I am sad to see the sunshine go away but my effectiveness as a home inspector just went up a few notches!
Siding systems are continually evolving, changing and sometimes improving as new materials are developed and new understandings in building envelopes are improved.
We are always looking for the sidings that need less maintenance, are inexpensive and, are easy to install with very little instruction. Those three attributes fuel the evolution of sidings and over the years some have been great and some have not been so good. In the last 20 years there has been a siding that has worked well in other parts of the country but has failed so consistently in the northwest it has actually been banned in Oregon! This wonderful siding is very adept at allowing water into the wall cavity while appearing visually good.
Synthetic stucco, Exterior Insulating Finishing Systems (EIFS), or even by the brand name “Dry-vit.”
Like most siding systems the problems arise with poor installation. Lack of proper installation training appears to be at the heart of the problems with EIFS. If EIFS is installed precisely and maintained aggressively, it can shed water properly.
Perfect installation is very rare. So rare, that I have only seen one home that had a proper EIFS installation and the home had just undergone a $100,000+ insurance claim siding remodel that involved forensic siding specialists!
If you are going to buy a home that is covered in EIFS you should plan on having an inspection that will include invasive probing. The foam boards that make up the substrate can be a very clever thermal barrier…
EIFS is still allowed on commercial buildings and on a recent inspection in Salem, my clients did not negotiate for invasive probing and thankfully the pictures that the thermal camera captured made the total replacement of the siding a compelling option:
Can you tell me how to find, how to find a roof leak ……..
While most people complain about our recent downpours they have been providing me with much-needed rain to make leaks light up. One of the biggest benefits having a thermal image camera is the ability to see things you can’t see with your visual senses. A recent inspection on a home on Sesame Street and no I don’t need you to tell me how to get there, I found a leak that wasn’t showing through the finished surfaces yet….
Although advanced in age the surface of the roof did appear to be satisfactory. On initial scans from the kitchen and family room there did appear to be an interesting cool spot in the family room and upon further investigation this cool spot did in fact turn out to be a current wet spot. This was roof leak.
Although no Big bird or other Muppets could be noted during my investigation, I did provide some much-needed information for my clients. Thermal Imaging again proved its value and ensured my client’s home would be a safe and dry place to live
Thermal imaging has been an absolute game changer for the home inspection industry. About eight years ago my wife and I bought our first home in Salem, Oregon. At that time I worked in construction and I was a pretty hand dude but I knew very little about furnaces, electrical systems, plumbing and many other integral parts of a typical home.
The home inspector that we hired requested that we not show up till the end of the inspection. I didn’t really like that advice so I showed up went he began his inspection. That excuse for an inspector spent about 45 minutes in our 1950’s fixer and didn’t say more than a dozen words to me, even though I was asking him questions constantly. He didn’t even introduce himself!!
Upon moving in we realized that the furnace didn’t work, the bathtub had a leak and the shower head barely had enough spray to get you wet!
A year pasted before I learned of thermal imaging and how their were a few inspectors across the country that were using this wonderful technology to offer more and better knowledge for their clients. I took the leap and be and became home inspector.
Yup. Thats a leak in this new house
Yesterday I inspected a new home and with out my fancy little camera my clients would not of known about a plumbing leak. The leak was in the upstairs master tub and it had not caused any finish damage yet……
Equiped with the knowledge that I provided my clients were able to save the ceiling in their kitchen/dining room, the flooring in this area and all of the head aches that go along when you have to do major repairs to your home.
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.
I was doing a home inspection the other day on a very nice, and newer home here in south Salem today. The home had very few minor issues but one thing popped out when I used the thermal camera to scan the master bedroom.
The circuit did not appear to be hot enough to cause a fire however there was no significant load on this circuit and it should not have been heating-up. As it turns out there was a loose wire in the heated outlet in the picture. The heat was produced because of the looseness/resistance of the connection.
Just another issue that can be easily resolved with the help of thermal imagining/Infrared.
Jim Allhiser President/Inspector
“Always on the cutting edge”
Check out this SlideShare Presentation:
Being an inspector equipped with a highly advance thermal camera I have been called upon to find quite a few leaks.
Leaks can be very frustrating and challenging. Our modern, climate controlled, super insulated and immaculately finished homes do not respond well to storm water on interior surfaces. Window sills swell, drywall turns brown, and wood floors crack. How rude it is when Mother Nature invites herself into the world we control.
A very interesting pattern has developed after a few dozen, “….help me find where this leak is coming from,” calls. A majority of the calls that were related to storm water had three significant things I common: the leakage could be noted in a window opening, the window was on the south side of the home and the siding was a lap type.
With properly installed flashing homes should not leak. However it is nearly impossible to ensure contractors install something properly especially if it is above and beyond those minimum building standards some call ‘codes’. Caulking is always a good first line of defense but if the openings are flashed properly, caulking should not even be needed to keep the home water tight.
Before all of our modern, space aged materials it was common knowledge to crack open a leeward window in windy and wet conditions. With a modern understanding of hydro-dynamics we now understand that when wind hits a home a low pressure vortex is actually created inside the home. This means that in windy, wet conditions water is not necessarily blown-in but pulled-in. When the window on the leeward side of the home is cracked open, the pressures are able to equalize. Many intermittent leaks can be slowed, stopped or completely prevented.
If you do have a leak around a window or door, your flashing is not adequate and should be repaired. This can potentially mean thousands of dollars. In the mean time, if the wind is blowing rain at your home, try cracking a window on the other side of the home.