Nashville Home Inspections – What’s Wrong with this Picture? 12-1-12

Nashville Home Inspections – What’s Wrong With This Picture? 12.1.12

Look at the picture below.  You are in a crawl space looking at the moisture barrier that covers the floor of the crawl space.  What’s wrong?

HINT:  Duct tape really has very little use in home construction.

Duct taped moisture barrier

ANSWER:  Moisture does a real number on duct tape.  Moisture is common in a crawl space.  So using duct tape in the crawl space to hold the moisture barrier to the foundation block wall probably will not last very long.  In fact it probably will take just a few days and it will look like the photo below.

Failed duct tape installation of moisture barrier

Thank you,

Richard Acree

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http://habitecinspections.com

HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Clarksville, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill and more! In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis. Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753.

Nashville Inspector’s Top 10 Discrepancies on Home Inspections

2012 Top 10 Most Common Home Inspection Discrepancies in Nashville

10.  Vegetation encroaching on the house.  Vegetation that encroaches on the home can damage the home, trap moisture against the home, and allow a path for insects, rodents and reptiles to enter the home.  Keep vegetation at least 18” away from the home or components.

9. Window or door trim caulk.  Cracks or gaps in the caulk around door and window trim can allow water to penetrate behind the trim.  This water can deteriorate the trim and the framing near the doors and windows.  Any crack or gap in the trim or caulk should be repaired with new caulk and paint.

8.  Brick veneer stress cracks.  These cracks are most likely located near the corners of doors and windows, or at the down-slope corner of the home.  Brick veneer cracks are frequently an indication of water management failure.  Repair any crack in the brick veneer that exceeds 1/8 inch in width.

7.  Roof penetration boot cracks.  The rubber-like neoprene component of roof penetrations (roof boots) for plumbing vents can crack after about 7 years and cause roof leaks.  Use of caulk is only a temporary repair.  These cracked components need to be replaced.

6.  Condensate drains.  HVAC condensate drains that terminate at the foundation wall can allow significant moisture to accumulate at the foundation wall and possibly enter the crawl space.  Condensate drains should terminate at the exterior of the home, at least 18” from the home, and to terrain that slopes away from the home.

5.  Grading and lot drainage.  The grade of the soil adjacent to the home can allow moisture to flow toward the home and weaken the foundation or enter the crawl space or basement and create an environment conducive to mold.  HABITEC recommends at least a 6” drop in grade over the first 10’ of horizontal space from the home.

4.  Failing roof drainage systems including gutters, downspouts and extensions.  Gutters that are full of debris, rusted or poorly sloped can allow water to overflow and drop to the foundation wall or backflow into the attic or house.  Downspouts that are disconnected from the underground drainage components can allow water to drop at the foundation wall.  Make sure these components are clean and function properly.

3.  Inadequate crawl space moisture barrier.  Some moisture will inevitably make its way to the crawl space.  Having a crawl space moisture barrier of 6 mil plastic covering 100% of graded crawl space soil that slopes to a positive drain will help control moisture that does make its way to the crawl space.

2.  Water in the crawl space. Water in the crawl space can cause either structural failure if allowed to pool at the foundation walls or around the piers, or mold to start growing on the wood components.

1.  Crawl space mold.  Moisture allowed to accumulate inside the crawl space can lead to mold in the crawl space.  Forty percent of the air that enters the home comes from the crawl space.  Mold can be hazardous to your health.  Make every effort to prevent moisture accumulation in the crawl space.

Richard Acree

http://habitecinspections.com

Nashville Home Inspector- What’s Wrong with this picture? 11-28-12

Home : Blogs : : HABITEC’s Blog

Look at the picture below.  You are standing in a garage of a residential home looking up at the ceiling of the garage.  What’s wrong?

HINT:  High humidity and cool ductwork can make for a sweaty situation.

DSCI0379 (2)

ANSWER:  Sweaty indeed.  In this case the ductwork in the garage was installed right over where the cars parked.  So guess what happened during the hot steamy months of summer.  Condensation.  Lots of it.  Enough that the home owner took matters into their own hands.  Rather than improve the insulation on the ductwork, they just bagged it.  What you are looking at is plastic hung under the ductwork to catch the condensation as it drips off.  Not sure where it went from there, maybe they just let it build up and later evaporate.  Whatever, this installation qualifies for a “non-conventional” grade and a visit from the local HVAC technician.  Surely there is a better way to fix this problem.  Another picture of a similar fix in the same garage is shown below.

DSCI0381 (2)

Thank you,

Richard Acree

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http://habitecinspections.com

Home Inspector in Nashville find Gutters that have Gone Mad

Nashville Home Inspections – What’s Wrong With This Picture?  11-4-12

Look at the picture below.  The picture was taken from the top of the roof of a new home, looking down into a valley of sorts.  What’s wrong?  Is that a piece of debris left over from the roofers?  Or is some new type of “gutter guard”?

HINT:  Gutters should be used at the end of the roof, not the middle.

ANSWER:  No, it is not a piece of debris.  It is a piece of gutter installed intentionally toward the end of the valley.  Apparently in an attempt to direct runoff into the gutter/downspout system.  But this is highly irregular, don’t you think?  A closer view is shown below.

So it might work, sort of.  But what if a little more debris collects there?  And how much water can it handle?  And how did it pass the municipal inspection?  Remember, it’s a new roof!  And how is it held in place there?

Thank you,

Richard Acree

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http://habitecinspections.com

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, and contributing members of the Active Rain Real Estate network, and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings. HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill and more! In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis. Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753.

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Nashville Home Inspector – What’s Wrong with this Picture 10-29-12?

Please look at the photo below.  I found this on a roof at a plumbing vent penetration.  What’s wrong?

HINT:  Do-It-Yourselfers love duct tape.

ANSWER:  The neoprene composite boot for residential plumbing vent penetrations is good for only 7-8 years before they start to crack due to the effects of sun and rain.  There is a cheap fix available at most home supply stores that is a boot sleeve that simply slips down on top of the damaged boot.  You cannot see the damaged boot in the photo above because a do-it-yourselfer solved the problem with some duct tape.  At least they used black duct tape so it looks like the composite boot.  But soon this amateur repair will fail also because tape does poorly in sun and rain as well.  And speaking of failing, when we see this installation, we make a note to check below this area in the attic to see if there is evidence of water intrusion.  After all, most folks would not make this effort with the tape unless there was an event that drew their attention, right?  Look at the photo below to see what we found in the attic below this taped repair.

That is a bucket strategically placed below these vent pipes.  Unfortunately there was nothing on the disclosure statement about previous water leaks.

To comment or ask questions send email to richard@habitecinspections.com.

Thank you,

Richard Acree

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http://habitecinspections.com

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, and contributing members of the Active Rain Real Estate network, and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings. HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill and more! In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis. Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753.

Home About HABITEC Home Inspections Commercial Building Inspections Environmental Services Public-Guest Speaker Meet Your Inspectors Residential REALTORS Education Material Service Providers Sample Reports References Contact Us Articles FacebookLinked ActiveRain Blog Blogger WordPress FAQ Payment and Fees Thank You Facebook  LinkedIn  ActiveRain Blog  Blogger  WordPress Thank You

FIRE!! Do you have an Emergency Action Plan for a Fire in Your Home

FIRE!!  Do you have an Emergency Action Plan for a Fire in Your Home?

Look at the pictures below.  Recently I inspected a townhome that was inhabited by a family of 5.  The three children were about 5, 3 and 1.5 years old.  All bedrooms are upstairs in the two story townhouse.  Across the street was a terrifying scene shown in the pictures below.  A row of 5 townhouses exactly like the one I was inspecting.  Obviously a horrific fire had devastated four of the units in the row of townhomes.  Reports indicate a propane gas grill may have started the fire.  As I looked at the family who lived in the home I was inspecting I wondered if they had a plan in case of a similar situation in their home.  This first picture is the front of the complex.

The photo below is of the rear of the complex.

The next picture is a closeup of one of the units.  This one appeared to be where the fire started.

All families should have an emergency action plan in case of a disaster like this.  Especially those with children in the home.

Thank you,

Richard Acree

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http://habitecinspections.com

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, and contributing members of the Active Rain Real Estate network, and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings. HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill and more! In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis. Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753.

Richard Acree is the author of the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections ActiveRain Blog and founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors. All are welcome to join and see more blogs like this one. You can also join HABITEC on Facebook or Linked .

Home About HABITEC Home Inspections Commercial Building Inspections Environmental Services Public-Guest Speaker Meet Your Inspectors Residential REALTORS Education Material Service Providers Sample Reports References Contact Us Articles FacebookLinked ActiveRain Blog Blogger WordPress FAQ Payment and Fees Thank You

A Nashville TN Cat-Like Home Inspector

Cat-Like Home Inspector in Nashville Tennessee

Do you need to hire a Home Inspector in Nashville Tennessee with cat-like abilities?  Check out the photos below.  This may be the guy for you!

“I think I can, I think I can!”

“I know I can, I know I can!”

And then he was gone!  Luckily I was up on the roof to grab him and send him back down to earth.  The REALTOR on the ground took these photos.  This all went down, or up, on a recent home inspection near Franklin Tennessee.

Thank you,

Richard Acree

http://habitecinspections.com

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, and contributing members of the Active Rain Real Estate network, and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings. HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill and more! In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis. Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753.

Richard Acree is the author of the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections ActiveRain Blog and founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors. All are welcome to join and see more blogs like this one. You can also join HABITEC on Facebook or Linked .

Nashville Home Inspectors – Service Conductors – What’s Wrong With This Picture

Nashville Home Inspector – Service Conductor Intrusion – What’s Wrong With this Picture? 3-22-11

HINT:  Electrical power and vegetation should not share the same space.

Powerful Trees

ANSWER:  It is seldom a good idea that vegetation and power lines share the same space.  This vine grew up from below and seriously encroached on the electrical power mask.  Movement of the vine can damage the insulation on the wires and make electrocution and serious power malfunctions a possibility.  See the insulation that has worn away below.

Damaged Insulation

This should never have been allowed to happen, and getting the vine out of the wires is no easy, or amateur, job.  This is a classic example of deferred maintenance.  Below is a view of how this got started.

vine growth

HABITEC recommends a minimum of 18″ of space between vegetation and any component of a home or building.

Please contact Richard at richard@habitecinspections.com should you have any questions.

Thank you,

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Nashville Home Inspector – Vegetation Proximity to Home and Buildings

Proximity of Vegetation To A Building

When HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, conducts Home or Building Inspection in Nashville or Middle Tennessee, inspection of the vegetation at the exterior or the building is one of the components of the inspection.  Vegetation in close proximity to a home or building can have a negative impact on the structure.  The negative impact can include mechanical damage, limited access, mold, structural damage, and infestation from insects, rodents and/or reptiles.  Sometimes the effect of the vegetation is not so subtle, as in the picture below.

 Tree on House

Other times vegetation in close proximity can seem more insignificant, as in the picture below.

  

Often times homeowners can actually prefer vegetation close to or touching the building because they think it gives a quaint setting or special look.  HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, understands the urge to pursue cosmetic appeal but disagrees with the concept of allowing vegetation to be in touch with the building.  In fact, HABITEC recommends at least 18″ spacing between any vegetation and the exterior of the building, and that trees not be allowed to overhang the building.  I’ll explain why as we go. 

The 18″ rule is a HABITEC rule, not one offered by State Rules or a building code.  Other Inspectors may use a different number, or set of measurements.  The point is that vegetation should not be allowed in contact with the structure, and that using a guide of 18″ will provide a pad so that when the wind blows the vegetation does not reach over and hit the building anyway, at least not most of the time.  In the picture below it is easy to imagine a gentle wind blowing these tree limbs back and forth and the limbs just continuing to beat the heck our of the house.  Remember, a house is not designed or built to withstand that kind of impact.

roof vegetation encroachment 

The damage that could occur in the pic above is called mechanical damage.  Mechanical damage is when the vegetation actually damages the building because it touches the building.  The action of the wind moving the limbs back and forth can cause the damage.  The larger the branches the larger the potential damage.  See the photo below.

Branch Encroachment

Trees that overhang a roof can have a significant impact on the building.  This impact can include depositing leaves into gutters until the gutter is clogged and defective and depositing debris on the roof that creates a condition conducive for mold growth.  The photo below is of a tree overhanging an apartment building.

Vegetation Overhanging the Roof

Trees near or overhanging the roof can deposit enough leaves to render the roof drainage system defective.  See the picture below.

Leaf filled gutters

The picture below is of a gutter system that is full of leaf debris and water.  Obviously this water has no place to go and will just overflow when the next rain comes.

Filled gutter - Standing Water

Filled gutters can be quickly overrun as in the picture below taken during a rain storm.

overwhelmed gutter

Water management systems such as the gutter/downspout/extension system that are filled with debris may not work well or at all.  Failure of water management systems is the most common discrepancy found on home and commercial building inspections.  Water that overflows a gutter can drop to the foundation wall at the base of the building and weaken the foundation, or the water can penetrate the crawl space or basement and create an environment conducive for mold growth.  Overflowing gutters can also cause structural damage to the fascia and soffits that make up the eaves, as in the photo below.

Significant Damage to soffit and Fascia

Overflowing gutters can also back-flow into the attic area and damage the wood that makes up the roof including the roof truss and decking.  See the photo below.  In this photo you are looking at the back side of fascia from inside the attic.  The fascia has been damaged by water from overflowing gutters.

Water Damage Decking

Vegetation in contact with a structure can cause structural damage in different ways.  From the discussion above we now know one form of structural damage is caused by mechanical damage and another form can be caused by overflowing gutters in a failed water management system.  But structural damage can also be caused by moisture in the vegetation that is held against the building.  Now lets talk about that. 

Although the exterior of buildings is expected to get wet when it rains, it is also expected to dry out in a reasonable time when the rain stops.  In the picture below mechanical damage may occur from these shrubs touching the building but a more significant threat is the effect of moisture held against the building.  Shrubs are not as powerful as trees when it comes to mechanical damage but shrubs can hold more water in the leaves and branches for a longer period of time because shrubs are usually thicker than trees.

Shrubs in Contact 3 

Moisture held against the building by shrubs keeps the building wet.  A wet building is more likely to allow water inside the building which can damage structural components and/or create an environment conducive for mold growth. 

Another issue with shrubs and trees touching the building is that insects, rodents, reptiles and small animals, like raccoons, can use this vegetation as a path into the building via the attic.  See the picture below of a black widow spider in an attic.

Black Widow

Another problem with vegetation in touch with or overhanging the building is the potential for mold.  Mold can form from debris deposited on the roof by a tree overhanging the house.  See the photo below.  This fungal growth was caused by deposits on the roof from an overhanging evergreen tree. 

Roof Shingle fungal Growth 

Sometimes attic mold can start at the exterior on the roof as shown above.  Deposits of tree debris on the roof can create fungal growth that can actually work its way inside the roof to the attic and create a mold growth there.  See the photo below.

Attic Decking Mold 1

In the photo above the decking supporting the roof has mold growth present.  This mold growth may have started because of the mold on the exterior of the roof that was shown in the previous picture. 

Another issue with vegetation proximity to buildings involves limited access.  Vegetation that is allowed to grow where normally people need to walk can inhibit normal access.  Such is the case when ivy is allowed to grown on the railing of a deck staircase.  Few people are willing to stick their hand inside the ivy as they walk up or down the stairs, thereby impeding this safety feature of the steps. 

Another issue with vegetation is the proximity to utilities.  The issue in the picture below is usually limiting access for utility workers and technicians so they can read or service the gas meter.

Gas Meter Behind shrubs

Likewise vegetation in front of the electrical panel inhibits the accessibility of the service technician and meter reader in the pictures below.

Electrical Panel Encroachment 2

In fact the vegetation can be so close as to interfere with opening the panel as in the photo below.

Electrical Panel Encroachment 3

However, it is possible for vegetation to interfere with the operation of utilities, especially HVAC components.  If the vegetation impacts the cooling vents the unit has a difficult time with the cooling function.

Vege Crowded HVAC

So bottom line, keep vegetation at least 18″ away from the structure and do not allow the trees to overhang the house.

Thank you,

Richard Acree

 

http://habitecinspections.com

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Nashville Home Inspectors – Condensate Drain Terminations Done Wrong

 
Condensate Drains Done Wrong
 
by
 
 
During a Nashville Home Inspection, HABITEC Home Inspectors include condensate drain terminations as part of the inspection of the HVAC systems.
 
Every home that has an air conditioning unit has a condensate drain.  A normal part of the home cooling process is to dehumidify the air in a home.  Dryer air causes perspiration to evaporate from our skin which gives us a feeling of cooling.  But, when air is dehumidified the moisture that is pulled out of the air has to go somewhere.  Hence the need for a condensate drain.
 
But condensate drains can be installed incorrectly.  And depending on the type of drain system, different mistakes can be made.  One way an air conditioning unit condensation is removed from the unit is with a condensate pump.  See the picture below.
 
 
Condensation is removed from the A/C unit and deposited at the pump via the white PVC drain line shown vertically in the photo above.  The pump then pumps the fluid to a suitable location using a small diameter composite (plastic) tube shown on the left above.  HABITEC recommends that this fluid be removed to the outside of the building and to a location at least 18″ from the foundation wall and to terrain that slopes away from the building.  Some times DIYers can find interesting places to terminate their drain lines. 
 
Look at the picture below of a condensate pump drain line termination.  What’s wrong with this picture?  The little tube is the condensate drain line.  The big pipe is the waste line of the home plumbing drain waste and vent system.  Why is the little tube connected to the big tube?  Should it be?

A closeup below gives a better look.  The condensate drain line is simply plugged into the side of the waste pipe and glued into place.  And it appears the connection has leaked.  But even if it had not leaked, what is inside the waster line that is a threat?  Answer, sewer gas.  And sewer gas can be harmful, even fatal to people.  So by making this connection the potential for toxic sewer gas to enter the home via the condensate drain line is increased.  In fact, this connection is a violation of the plumbing code and should be removed.

Please contact Richard at richard@habitecinspections.com should you have any questions.

Thank you,

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Nashville Home Inspector – Problems with Vinyl Window Locks

Problems With Vinyl Window Locks 

by

Richard Acree

http://habitecinspections.com

Everbody loves vinyl windows, right?  Look good, won’t rot, energy efficient.  You might think they are perfect, right?  Not quite.  Look at the picture below.  What’s wrong?

HINT:  A window lock usually involves two components, one on the lower sash and one on the upper sash.  A locking device needs to engage the two components together.

ANSWER:  The curved locking arm you see extending out to the upper sash has missed its mark.  Normally this component swings into a slot or under another component to engage the upper sash and lock both windows in the closed position.  Not this time.  In this case, the locking arm has missed the bottom of the upper sash.  This miss will now allow the lower sash to raise unimpeded despite the locking control lever being in the “locked” position.

How can this be you say?  In this house, some of the vinyl windows on the south, east and west sides of the house were in direct line with the sun.  Over time, the sun caused the vinyl windows to warp, allowing the upper sash to move, or bend, to a position that allowed the locking arm to miss the lower edge of the upper sash that it would normally engage.  It should look like the picture below, taken from a window not in line with direct sun.

If you have questions about this article please contact Richard at richard@habitecinspections.com.

Thank you, 

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Nashville Home Inspector – Toilet Leaks, How Bad Can It Be?

 

Leaking Toilets – How Bad Can It Be?

by

Richard Acree

http://habitecinspections.com

WARNING – IF YOU ARE SQUEEMISH, DO NOT LOOK AT THESE PICTURES!

What happens when a toilet leaks below the toilet?  Sure, that can be bad, but how bad can it be?  Brace for the following pics, because it can be real bad.

In the pics below the wood has rotted and mold-like material has developed, the metal support structure has rusted significantly, and stalactites of waste material have grown on the framing.  This is a situation out of control and in need of immediate repair.

Below is a closeup of the rotted wood and stalactite of bacteria.

The following picture is from the other side of the last pic, showing the rusted framing, rotted wood and unfortunately, the stalactite of bacteria.

And the last picture is of the mold-like material growing on the dropped ceiling tile.

Obviously, this toilet leak has created a problem that has gotten out of hand.  This is why, at HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, offering home and commercial building inspections in Nashville and Middle Tennessee, we have virtually zero tolerance for loose toilets.  Immediate attention is required in this case.

Thank you,

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Nashville Home Inspection – “Ready for Inspection”, What Does that Mean?

One of the phrases we use as Home Inspectors is “Ready for Inspection“.  A home that is scheduled for a Home Inspection needs to be ready for inspection.  What does that mean?

In a nut shell, ready for inspection means all utilities are ON and the owner/occupant has granted permission for the Inspection to take place.  If the home is occupied the business of “ready for inspection” is usually not an issue.  If the home is not occupied, this can be an issue.

HUD homes, or any banked owned home, presents a special challenge for the Home Inspector.  HABITEC has inspected HUD homes, or bank owned homes, on many occasions in the Nashville area and throughout Middle Tennessee.  These homes present a special challenge usually because the home has been abandoned and/or winterized for a period of time.  The main issue is utilities.  Keeping in mind the definition of ready for inspection I offered earlier, in order for a home to be ready for inspection the home needs to be de-winterized, or re-energized, so that those components that depend on the utilities can be evaluated.

This includes plumbing appliances that depend on a source of water, HVAC appliances that depend on gas or electricity, and any other device that depends on electricity.  When it comes to utilities, ready for inspection means the gas needs to be turned ON at the meter, the water needs to be turned ON at the street side shutoff valve, and the electricity needs to be turned ON at the main panel and all circuit breakers need to be CLOSED.  Home Inspectors are not authorized to turn these utilities ON.  In fact, if they do, often times their insurance companies will not provide coverage, hence damage protection, should their be a malfunction when the utility is turned ON.  That includes closing circuit breakers. 

So listing agent REALTORS and HUD officials, please make sure the home you are responsible for selling is ready for inspection.  And please do not send word via the buyer that “You’re Home Inspector can do that [turn the utilities ON].”  I have seen significant disasters when utilities are turned ON for the first time in a long time.  Especially when the water is turned ON.  You need a plumber to do that. 

Thank you,

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Nashville Home Inspector – Painted Floor Joists, Who Does That?

Nashville Home Inspector: Painted floor joists, who does that?  Few people would spend the time or money to have their floor joists painted. 

Look at the picture below.  Those floor joists are visible from the underside and they have been painted white.  But notice the subfloor has not been painted.  What’s going on here?

Fire Damaged Joist - Distant

The picture above is from a short distance.  Let’s zoom in for a closer look below.

Fire Damaged Wood - Closeup

In the picture above you can see the “cracks” in the wood nearest you.  This is wood that has been charred by a previous fire.  A fire leaves damage like that and an odor. 

One way to “repair” fire damaged wood is to paint it with a special paint designed to not only cover the visible discoloration but also mitigate the odor left over from the fire.  This works for these reasons, but the Client/Buyer still needs to know this home had a fire and realize that the structural integrity of these joists is at least slightly compromised.  Compromised, or damaged floor joists, can be repaired by installing an adjacent joist that is fastened to the damaged joist and surrounding structural members.  This is sometimes called scabbing.  Scabbing a damaged joist is acceptable and you can see the bottom of the scabbed joist running next to the damaged joist.  The original subfloor was probably replaced and the owner just stopped painting beyond the fire damaged joists.

Thank you, 

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Nashville Home Inspector – Asbestos Duct Insulation

 
ASBESTOS DUCT INSULATION
Asbestos Duct Tape and Insulation was used commonly many years ago in many homes and buildings.  Unfortunately asbestos proved to be a carcinogen and was banned from many uses.  It is still being manufactured and used in more controlled situations today, but the older asbestos that remains in place in some older homes can be an issue on a Home Inspection.  Look at the picture below.  What Wrong With this Picture?

HINT:  What’s that white stuff on the old ductwork?  And, the house is over 70 years old.

 

ANSWER:  Probably asbestos.  And it is loose and frayed.  I say probably because there have been some instances where material was misidentified as asbestos just because of how it looks.  If in doubt, have it removed.  This material in the picture above should be removed or covered in such a way that it cannot disperse into the air.  Asbestos that is not loose or frayed is not considered an environmental threat.  But, few people will accept any asbestos in their homes today.  Best have it removed.

Thank you, 

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

HABITEC Completes Another Continuing Education Course for REALTORS in TN!

HABITEC Completes Another Continuing Education course presentation for REALTORS licensed in Tennessee!!

On January 19, 2011, HABITEC presented the TENNESSEE HOME INSPECTION course at the Middle Tennessee Association of REALTORS (MTAR) facility at 311 Butler Drive, Murfreesboro, TN, 37127, from 08:30 AM – 4:00 PM.  The Point of Contact at MTAR for this class was Roshawnda Perry-Barlow, MTAR Education Manager roshawnda@mtar.org 615-893-2242, 877-893-2242.

HABITEC offers the 6 hour TREC-approved class in Home Inspection topics pertinent to REALTORS.  Topics include Exterior Components, Interior Spaces and Components, Foundations, Roof and Attic, HVAC, Electrical, and Plumbing.  These classes are available in a classroom setting with Richard Acree as the Instructor.  The classes are offered as a power point presentation with hundreds of fascinating pictures and interesting perspective offered by Richard.  These classes also give REALTORS a chance to interact with a certified and licensed Home Inspector, ask questions and discuss in general and in detail the issues that come up during a Home Inspection.  

The purpose of this course is to explain the rules of the State of Tennessee, Department of Commerce and Insurance, for Home Inspection procedures, methods and requirements.  The classes will help Realtors understand what the Home Inspector should be looking at and what the Home Inspector should be looking for.  Terminology, methods of inspection, tools and limitations of the Home Inspection processes will be included. 

The end result of this course will be to help REALTORS understand the State of Tennessee rules and requirements for Home Inspections and better prepare the REALTOR to discuss the Home Inspection Report with their Client.  The Client will then be able to understand the report and make a better decision regarding the real estate transaction.

REFERENCES:   The following REALTORS attended the Class and have graciously offered to use their name as references for the course.

Chery Damron, 931-308-5593, cdamron@realtracs.com 

Fernard Hennings, 615-556-8431, fhennings@realtracs.com 

Steve Gibson, 615-796-8663, sgibson@realtracs.com 

Lynne Davis, 615-394-5299, lynnedavisrealtor@gmail.com 

Hayden Bryson, 615-812-8871, hbryson@realtracs.com 

Sandra Watson, 615-545-2914, sandrawatson@realtracs.com 

Vanessa Coe, 615-415-4954, vand95@comcast.net 

Sharon Swafford, 931-224-4663, Sharon@SharonSwafford.com 

Haven Arnold, 615-417-2299, myagenthaven@aol.com 

Ed Stinson, 615-828-8821, edstinson@realtracs.com 

Margie Maurer, 615-481-9496, mmaurer@realtracs.com 

Wayne Yancey, 615-887-0212, wayne@mid-tn-realestate.com 

Richard Atkinson, 615-574-0001, ratkinson@realtracs.com 

Gary Middleton, 615-310-6475, gmiddleton@greenvalehomes.net 

The next class is scheduled for:  February 16, 2011 at the Eastern Middle Tennessee Association of REALTORS, 2588 North Mt. Juliet Road, Mt, Juliet, TN, 37122, from 08:30 AM – 4:00 PM. The EMTAR Point of Contact is Cher Dugan, Senior Administrative Assistant, DuganC@realtracs.com, 615-758-9851.    

Thank you, 

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Nashville Home Inspector – Silly Ductwork Installations

 
Silly HVAC Ductwork Installations
 
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Sometimes the Do-It-Yourselfers create great comic relief for Nashville Home Inspectors.  HVAC ductwork installation is one common source.  Look at the pictures below.  What’s wrong?

HINT:  Just do it?  Works on the track, not in a house.

ANSWER:  I don’t really have an answer for this, except maybe “Just don’t do it?!”  But for those who cannot see it clearly, yes, that is a NIKE shoe box used to complete a line of HVAC ductwork.  The box and a tube of caulk!

So let’s look at another silly picture of DIY ductwork installation.  Look at the picture below.  What’s wrong here? 

HINT:  Sometimes having a little material left over is not a bad thing.

ANSWER:  In general, only the length of HVAC ductwork as is necessary is recommended.  And there are limits to how long a certain run of ductwork can be.  In the picture above the excess ductwork should have been eliminated. 

Thank you,

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Nashville Home Inspector – Active Radon Mitigation System Monitor

 

Active Radon Mitigation System Monitor

by

Richard Acree

http://habitecinspections.com

January is National Radon Action Month.  Radon mitigation systems can be either passive or active.  Both systems provide a path of least resistance outside of the home or building.  The difference is that passive systems provide a passive path only and active systems include a blower that works continuously to pull air (and radon) from under the building and exhaust it at the roof line.  Active systems also should have a monitor to verify proper operation.  Look at the picture below.  What’s wrong?

HINT:  Pulling air from beneath the building will create a pressure differential that can be monitored. 

Radon Mitigation Monitor at Zero

ANSWER:  As it shoud be (monitored).  If the monitor shows zero differential, as this monitor above does, then there is no flow through the mitigation pipe.  Without adequate flow through the mitigation pipe, radon gas may vent inside the building.  As stated earlier, radon gas follows a path of least resistance out of the ground and either into the atmosphere or inside a building.  An active system will create a flow of air from beneath the building and carry that flow outside of the building and deposit the air flow usually at the roof line.  This air flow is a path of least resistance that the radon gas will also follow. 

If the blower fails, or the circuit breaker for the system trips, or a plug is kicked out of the socket, the inline blower will be turned OFF and the system monitor will show zero differential, as it does in the picture above.  Zero differential means the blower is OFF and air is not being drawn from below the building and the air and radon from below the building may then follow the path of least resistance into the building.  That’s bad.  The EPA signs off approximately 20,000 deaths per year to lung cancer caused by excessive radon gas concentration inside buildings.  If you have an active radon mitigation system in your home or building, the inline monitor should look like the one below.  If it looks like the monitor in the picture above, with both columns at zero, follow the directions in bold print and call the installer for service. 

Active Radon Monitor

Thank you,

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Nashville Home Inspector – Roofers Gone Wild!

 
ROOFERS GONE WILD! – HOW TO MESS UP A PERFECTLY GOOD ROOF
 
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At HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, we sometimes see situations during a Home Inspection and we wonder just what were they thinking.  It seems like they did things wrong just to say they could.  Look at the picture of the roof shingles below.  What’s wrong?

HINT: Water flows downhill, and this picture was taken from a roof top.

ANSWER:  Actually this is wrong from whatever angle you look at it.  In any condition, whether in a valley as shown or on a slope of the roof, composite roof shingles should always be installed so that the shingles overlap from the top down.  In other words, the upper shingle overlaps the lower shingle.  In this photo, the shingles from one side of the valley were simply carried over on top of the other side, in the forefront.  That puts the downslope shingles above the upslope shingles.  It won’t take much for water from upslope shingles to slip under the downslope shingles and onto the decking below.  This is a poor roof valley shingle installation.  The picture below is how it should look.  And the picture below is from the same roof, different valley.  What were they thinking?

On the same house the shingles have been used as siding for the second floor dormers.  This is not the usual but it is allowed.  Look at the “siding” below.  Does that look OK?  HINT:  NO!

ANSWER:  The hint already gave it away.  The correct way to install these “siding shingles” is shown below.  Neat and orderly with the top shingle overlapping the lower shingle.

Last but not least, strange things come to homes in foreclosure.  For an example see the picture below.  What’s missing from this new roof?  HINT:  New roof shingles should look similar to each other.

ANSWER:  The good news is that the shingles needed to finish this ridge are laying over there on the right in this picture.  Some of them anyway.  This home went into foreclosure while the builder/roofer were installing the new roof.  Knowing they probably would not get paid, they at least covered the ridge opening with whatever they had handy.  Then just left the rest laying up on the roof.  In this case we do know what they were thinking.

To comment on this article email to richard@habitecinspections.com

Thank you,

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Confined Spaces – When Is Tight Too Tight?

 
Confined Spaces – When is Tight Too Tight?
 
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Recently I had a REALTOR ask if there were circumstances when an Inspector would not crawl through the entire crawl space.  I explained that sometimes we don’t go everywhere in the crawl space because it simply is not possible or safe.  I went on to explain that access to some areas of the crawl space may be blocked by debris, HVAC ductwork and/or tight spacing.  That did not seem to be the answer she was looking for.  But it got me to thinking, when is tight too tight?  Take a look at the picture below.

What you are looking at, in addition to the wet crawl space, is ductwork running through a crawl space.  There is a corner on the left and, yes, you can see around the corner when you get up to it, but there is also an area behind the ductwork to the right that you cannot see.  Is that area accessible?  Not from this angle.  So if there is not another way back there, what next?  Force your way under the ductwork?  Absolutely not!  There is not enough room plus that stuff is heavy.  Even if you could squirm under somewhere, what happens if an HVAC strap lets go because of your effort and the whole thing comes down on top of the Inspector?  How is the Inspector to get out from underneath all that weight?  And quickly before suffocation?

You cannot go over the ductwork for two reasons.  First, there is no room.  And second, even if there was room, what if you lost your balance and dropped onto the ductwork, damaging it?  Who is going to pay to fix it?  The Client?  The REALTOR?  Probably not.  Will the home owner just let it go?  Doubt it.  No, I think that one is on the Inspector.  Can he fix it himself?  No.  He probably does not have the tools, training, material or license to do the work.  So he is stuck with the bill.  All because he tried to go somewhere he couldn’t.

So in this case, without another path behind the ductwork, that area is inaccessible.  Too tight!

Oh by the way, here is what it looked like after I turned that corner.  Still not much luck.

Some general safety rules of crawl space entry are as follows.  These rules can be applied to Inspectors and home owners alike.

1.  Take two flashlights and a cell phone.  If the first light loses power, you’ll have the second to find your way out.  The cell phone comes in very handy if you get trapped or hurt.  It’s also another source of light, albeit a poor one.

2.  Make sure someone knows you will be in a crawl space and approximately when you should be out of the crawl space.  That way if you become incapacitated hopefully someone will realize you are missing before it is too late.

3.  Do not crawl over ductwork, standing water or electrical lines.  If you have to crawl over ductwork, move components or take in a breath to enter a space, it is too close to be entered. 

4.  Be alert to Confined Spaces that should not be entered.  Do not force your way into areas that are too close.  NACHI has an excellent Continuing Education course about Home Inspector safety that deals with this issue.  According to NACHI and the OSHA website, a “confined space,” as defined in OSHA’s General Industry Standard (29.CFR.1910), is a space that:

 a.  is large enough and is so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work;

 b.  has limited or restricted means for entry or exit (for example:  tanks, vessels, silos, bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, etc.); and

 c.  is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.

NOTE:  OSHA defines a crawl space as a non-permit required confined space.  Therefore, a Home Inspector can enter a crawl space without a permit but according to item 4.a above, if the space is not large enough to enter and perform assigned work or the employee [Home Inspector] cannot perform assigned work [because the space is too tight], this space should not be entered.  In Tennessee, the TN Home Inspection Rules as established by the TN Department of Commerce, Rules for Home Inspectors, Chapter 0780-5-12.10, Standards of Practice, item 6.b.3, states that “Home Inspectors are not required to enter any area or perform any procedure that may damage the property or its components or be dangerous to or adversely affect the health or safety of the home inspector or other persons.” 

5.  Be alert to strange odors that can be a hint of problems.  Obviously, if you smell gas, leave immediately.  Crawl space odors like watermelon indicate the presence of snakes.  If you observe snakes or evidence of snakes, or any other animal or pest that may be a threat to your health, leave the crawl space immediately.  Make a note on the report.

6.  Use a fanny pack to carry small items in the crawl space, like your cell phone and equipment testers you may need.

7.  Wear gloves and breathing protection.  The gloves protect your hand somewhat when you are searching around in the dark and the breathing protection protects you from all the dust and insulation you can breathe in.

So hey, let’s be careful out there. If you would like to comment on this article please email to richard@habitecinspections.com

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!