Top 10 of 2016

2016 was a busy year! I like to post pictures from my inspections on Facebook. Some are educational and others show some of the interesting (I think) things I come across in homes. Here are some of the top photos from last year:

Overheated:

You can see the insulation is melted on the wire in the photo. My infrared camera shows the temperature is 317 degrees — that’s hot!

Spent Water Heater:

exploded-water-heater

I’m glad I wasn’t around when this happened!

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?:

5523aldrichaves-106

The red thing you see is a drum trap under a bathtub and those are electrical wires. Not the ideal installation.

Cracked Heat Exchanger:

cracked-heat-exchanger

That’s a pretty big crack. Once the heat exchanger is cracked, it’s time for a new furnace.

Nope:

water-heater-disclosurecorrosion-at-the-top-of-the-water-heater

The seller’s disclosure stated there’s mineral build-up on top of the water heater that needs to be cleaned monthly. Nope. There shouldn’t be a mineral build-up on top of a water heater. That’s an indication of a larger problem. Call a professional.

It’s Called A Dead Front Cover:

modified-deadfront-cover

If the breakers don’t fit, don’t modify the panel. It’s electricity.

Poor Vent Configuration:

poor-vent-setup

When the furnace and water heater vent connectors are across from each other, there’s a higher potential for exhaust gases backdrafting into the home.

More Overheating:

overheated

This was inside a Bulldog Pushmatic electrical panel, which are considered obsolete and should be replaced.

Watch Your Step:

watch-your-step

This is in a bedroom. You’ll have to be careful when you’re opening the window!

Nice Try:

not-18-circuits

It’s not too hard to turn a “7” into an “8.”

Multiple Taps:

triple-taps

I see double-taps (multiple wires terminated where there should only be one) all the time. Three is really pushing it. These particular breakers can handle two wires, but it should be one on either side of the screw.

Bad Vent Configuration:

poor-venting-configuration

The larger pipe is the exhaust pipe from the furnace. The smaller one is the exhaust pipe from the water heater. You can see where some of the furnace exhaust will head.

Thanks!:

water-heater-corrosion

Nothing like an arrow to point out the obvious corrosion.

Thanks for tuning in! I’ll keep posting pictures this year.

 

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Should I Test for Radon?

Did you know that the EPA has designated January as National Radon Action Month?

Testing for radon in the Twin Cities metro has become a lot more popular. Just a few years ago I barely had one request a month for a radon test. Last year, I conducted radon tests on nearly have of my inspections. And it’s trending upwards from there already this year.

Of all the homes I tested for radon last year, 42% came back with higher than recommended levels. The EPA recommends when the radon levels in your home are over 4.0, a mitigation system should be installed. Typically in the metro area this will run you roughly $1200-$1500 to have a system installed.

So what’s the big deal? Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that you likely have some levels of in your home. Long term exposure to unsafe levels of radon can potentially lead to lung cancer (they say it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer). The only way to know what the levels are in your home are to test for it. There are home testing kits you can find are your local hardware store (just follow the instructions) or you can contact a home inspector or radon professional for testing options.

The EPA has put together a wonderful guide for homeowners with lots more information about radon. Check it out:

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Top 16 of 2015

Around this time of year I like to put together a top 10 photos from the previous year. I had a hard time narrowing it down this year, so you get a top 16 of the year. Without further ado…

The leopard attic. I’ve never seen this in an attic before. The only guess was someone decided to spray paint all the roofing nails to keep them from rusting:leopard attic

The leaning chimney: Leaning chimney

Water in the crawlspace that gets covered with plastic (it’s probably best if you take care of the water first):water in the crawlspace

Disconnected water heater vent pipe in the attic space:disconnected water heater vent

Multiple double taps (don’t do this at home):double taps

This house had been vacant for a while and I’m guessing the heat and humidity caused the ceiling fan blades to droop (wanna see it in motion? droopy fan video):Droopy fan

We were wondering what that smell was coming from the fireplace:squirrel in smoke chamber

This is not how the electrical service wires are supposed to come into your house:electrical service connection

The strap must have kept the freezer door open just a little:frosty freezer

Saddle valves are notorious for leaking:leaking saddle valve

You’re missing something:missing roof shingles

Mouse house:mouse nest in electrical panel

That’s some old insulation:old headline

Common remodeling mistake:remodel

Flat roof pond:roof pond

Time to replace the water heater:water heater burn out

There you go! Have a great 2016!

 

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Top 10 of 2013

I figure you’re swamped with Top 10 lists at the end of the year, so why not post mine at the beginning of the year when you’re looking for something to read. It was another busy year and I saw lots of interesting/weird stuff. I try to get photos of everything and share them up on the facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/erricksonhomeinspections).

I went through the photos from last year and here are your top 10 from 2013:

10. How do you get in??

Image

9. Furnaces are not maintenance free (this filter’s three years old!):

Image

8. 50-year-old galvanized pipes look pretty nasty inside:

Image

7. Duct tape is not a plumbing fix:

Image

6. If you lose the blunt-tip screw that secures your electrical panel cover, don’t drill a new hole to use a pointy screw:

Image

5. A sure sign your deck has heaved:

Image

4. Just an awful retaining wall:

Image

3. That’s my screwdriver through the deck ledger board (rest of the deck was rotted too):

Image

2. Party on the balcony!!:

Image

1. You really think that’s going to work??:

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Thanks again for all your support. Here’s to a busy 2014!

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Time for Spring Cleaning!

Despite the 4-5 inches of snow we got last night, spring is right around the corner (in fact, it should already be here). With no snow in the immediate forecast, we might actually be able to get out and do some spring cleaning. Here’s a list to get you started:

 

At the Exterior:

  • Clean the gutters and make sure all the downspouts are connected
  • Inspect your roof. Look for loose or damaged shingles. Clean off branches and debris
  • Clean the combustion air or makeup air intake vents. Make sure to clean all vents at the exterior – dirt and debris can really build up on the screens protecting the vents
  • Clean the clothes dryer duct. Check the damper at the exterior – it should move freely and close properly
  • Check the condition of the siding. Look for loose boards or peeling paint. Check for cracks in stucco exteriors. 
  • Check the weather-stripping around windows and doors. Repair/replace as necessary.

Fireplace/Chimney

  • Have the flues professionally cleaned on any wood burning fireplaces.
  • Make sure spark arrestors and rain hats are installed on all flues.
  • Check under the bottoms of gas fireplace inserts and clean out any dust.

In the Mechanical Room

  • Check and replace the furnace filter. This should be done every 30-45 days.
  • Check and clean the filters of the air exchange system (if present).
  • Clean up dust and debris from around the base of the water heater and furnace.
  • Test your water heater’s Temperature Pressure Release Valve (it sticks out the side or top of the water heater). 

Smoke / CO Alarms

  • Replace the batteries in all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and check the test buttons.
  • Smoke alarms should be located inside every bedroom and one in a common area on every level.
  • CO detectors should be located within 10 feet of every sleeping room (and not in furnace rooms, kitchens, or garages).
  • Check the age of your smoke and CO alarms; smoke alarms are good for up to ten years, CO alarms are good for up to five years. If they’re any older, replace them.

 

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“You Must Have the Perfect House”

I get this quite a bit – my client will say to me during the inspection that I must have a perfect house or if I were to do an inspection report on my house I’d find nothing wrong.

 

In actuality, it’s quite the opposite.  Every house has problems – even new constructions homes. Just to back up a little – my main concerns in the inspection of a house are safety and functionality. I test all the major systems of the home and put it all together in a report. I include pictures and ratings based on severity.

 

Many times there are major safety issues or non-functioning systems in the home that need to be addressed. And they rage from an easy, inexpensive repair to extensive, very costly repairs.

 

There are commonly also maintenance, or deferred maintenance, items that need to be addressed. Some of these may need to be fixed in the near future or just something that gets added to your household maintenance checklist.

 

I see my job as testing all the systems in the home and giving an evaluation of these systems. Unless it’s a brand new home, systems in a home are always in different stages of service life – some may be new, some in the middle of their life and others at the end or passed the end of their typical service life. I make recommendations based on these assessments – i.e. keep up the typical maintenance, time to budget and plan for replacement or that should have been replaced a year ago.

 

Back to my house – there are no major safety issues, but I’ve got lots of maintenance issues. There’s always an ongoing checklist of items to monitor.  And I’ve got to balance those with the ‘to-do list’ my wife has for me too.

 

Our water heater’s getting old, so it’s time to keep an eye on that and think about replacing it.  I replaced the dishwasher last year, so we shouldn’t have to worry about that for a while. But our washer and dryer are getting older.

 

I like to think I’m pretty good with keeping up with the home maintenance. I check and change the furnace filter monthly. I test the water heater’s TPR valve at least once a year. We’ve got some nice, big mature trees in our yard, so I inspect and clean the gutters a few times a year.  I even clean our sinks drains occasionally. The list goes on.

 

Is there more stuff I could be doing? Sure, but it’s hard to find spare time with two kids. Really it’s about taking care of the major issues, keeping up the maintenance and making the other repairs when you can.

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Top 10 of 2012

It’s been another busy year at Errickson Home Inspections. Thanks for your continued support! You get to see some interesting stuff as a home inspector — some amazing things people have added to their homes and some things that just leave you scratching your head in amazement.

Without further ado, here’s the third annual top photos of the year:

10. Just a little off the top

Ceiling fan, top bunk

Ceiling fan, top bunk

I would avoid sleeping on the top bunk!

9.  What are the chances this will leak? (Answer: 100%)

Vent located in a poor spot on the roof.

Vent located in a poor spot on the roof.

8. A very poor (and dangerous) repair to the main electrical service entrance:

Call an electrician

Call an electrician

The service mast was broken, so now the main electrical wires were routed along the roof and metal gutter and attached under the meter. Time to call a professional.

7. Melted temperature dial on a water heater:

Water heater not combusting properly

Water heater not combusting properly

This water heater was pretty old and having some problems to say the least.

6.  Bad chimney:

Crumbling chimney

Crumbling chimney

Do not use!

5. Damaged chimney:

When you improperly vent your furnace and water heater into an unlined chimney, this is the damage it causes.

Deteriorated chimney

When you improperly vent your furnace and water heater into an unlined chimney, this is the damage it causes.

4. This furnace burner chamber was so filled with rust it didn’t fire up!

Dangerous furnace

Dangerous furnace

It got red-tagged and shutdown by a HVAC technician. Luckily no one got hurt.

3. Collapsed dryer vent:

Collapsed dryer vent, now venting into the attic space.

Collapsed dryer vent, now venting into the attic space.

There was so much lint (a fire hazard) in this attic. The vinyl vent is a bad choice too.

2.  Avoid deck parties:

This undersized deck post is also supporting the balcony above. That's quite the bow!

Undersized deck post

This undersized deck post is also supporting the balcony above. That’s quite the bow!

1. Rusted furnace flue pipe

Rusted furnace flue pipe

There were some dangerous holes in this furnace flue pipe (think exhaust gases in the house).

Honorable Mention:

bags of empty beer cans

Bags of empty beer cans in the attic space

There were nine bags of empty beer cans in this attic space – I wonder when the party was??

Barbie

A whole room dedicated to Barbies

Improper gas install on this water heater.

Improper gas install on this water heater.

Looks like just the right length! But not a proper installation.

Damage from a litter box

Damage from a litter box

I’m amazed at the damage a cat can do to sheetrock.

Zap!

Zap!

 

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