Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Acceptable vs. wrong: the difference and relevance

The question: as an inspector who is looking at a new house, you encounter a roof which is installed in the following order: sheathing, tar paper, drip edge, shingles. (The correct order is sheathing, drip edge, tar paper, shingles). What do you say?

The real answer: why did the professional roofer not install ice and water barrier? And if a professional roofer wouldn't use ice and water barrier, then why would you want a professional roofer doing your roof inspections?


Dealing with deal chippers

On Monday, I was visiting with the Realtors at Century 21 Realty in Columbus, NE. Valid questions were asked. Among them (paraphrased):

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Downspout extensions done right

While out walking or riding my bike, my route often takes me past a house whose owner clearly understands drainage issues. Or perhaps its a home in which the wife repeatedly told the husband that he needs to fix the downspout extension, the husband overreacts to what he feels is nagging, and thinks to himself “I'll show her, ha ha ha...” as he installs a forty foot long extension. Ha ha ha indeed—now he has to mow around it.

In any case, after inspecting house after house where the downspouts either end right at the foundation, the downspout extensions are not connected, or (worse yet) there are no gutters, it's fun to see someone taking the issue to the less-popular extreme. The further the downspout extends from the foundation, the better!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Products to avoid: attic vent covers

I'm not a big fan of negative talk, but one product that I have seen at a few homes during inspections always gets a mention: attic vent covers. Don't use them.


The theory behind these products is that trapping even a small amount of heat in the unfinished attic space will help lower one's heating bill. That theory may prove to be correct, but the downside can be far more expensive to fix: keeping heat in the attic equal keeping moisture in the attic.

Moisture condenses on colder surfaces--such as roofing nails which penetrate the roof sheathing. The moisture freezes. Then the surface warms up, the ice thaws, and the water drips onto the surface below. Repeat this process for several years, and the consequences can range from moldy insulation to rotten attic structures. The expenses of fixing these issues will far outweigh any utility bill savings that were gained from using vent covers.

Leaving the attic vents open during the winter months helps to remove the moist air. Let them do their job.

Friday, August 19, 2011

From InterNachi: Evaluating Problems with Fasteners

By Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard 

The term "fasteners" typically refers to nails, screws, bolts, and sometimes anchors. Fasteners may directly join together two pieces of material, or the material may be held together by connectors that are, in turn, held in place by fasteners.  A good deal of the difficulty in evaluating fasteners is the fact that most home inspectors inspect existing structures, as opposed to homes under construction, so, by the time the inspector sees a fastener, there’s usually not much visible except its head. Certain problems affecting fasteners, such as corrosion, may be visible, but other problems may be apparent only to inspectors who understand their properties and those of the materials they join.  In addition to becoming aware of visible issues, inspectors should understand some of the basics about fasteners that will help them spot less obvious problems.

Proper fasteners for treated lumber

Building a deck? It's not as simple as going to the hardware store and buying a box of regular nails anymore. If you're using ACQ or AC2 treated lumber, the use of bright or uncoated fasteners can have disastrous consequences.

The copper used in the aforementioned wood treatments corrodes standard fasteners—how fast the corrosion occurs is not a given, but there is no question as to whether the treatment is corrosive.

To illustrate this, consider the following pictures. Click on each image to enlarge!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Installing a wood stove: anchoring the hearth structure

For the structure of my hearth, I chose what is becoming a more common material: metal studs. They're easy to work with, provide a non-combustible base and backbone for the hearth, and are pretty cheap.

To hold the studs to the walls, I located as many of the metal studs over the actual studs inside the walls. You can use a stud finder to find the studs on your walls if you need to. Unless you're sizing your hearth based on the studs in your walls, though, you won't be able to screw all of your metal studs directly to the studs inside your walls.

But that's okay, because 3M makes Command strips. Ha ha ha ha.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Installing a wood stove: location in the home

If you've ever subscribed to a handyman magazine only to realize after the third month of your five year subscription that every single article is going to sadistically skip over every single detail that matters to you and your situation, then this series of write ups (I'm guessing there will be four or five parts) on one specific installation of a hearth and wood stove is for you. It's already a given that you want to install hearth and wood stove, because wood stoves are awesome. Wait, did I already skip over something? Ha ha ha.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Defining highlights

Initially, I'm sure the near-universal reaction to our house on the selling date would have been “what a piece of ….” Some would likely use a stronger last word than others, but most would have been fairly accurate. The house was a piece.

But—like any house I've inspected—it wasn't without highlights.