Category Archives: crawl space

Winthrop Home Inspection Photo: Rattlesnakes!

Check out this recent photo from a home inspection in Methow Valley.  I came across a dead rattlesnake in the crawl space.  This deadly guy may have entered through the ventilation while chasing dinner.  Make sure your crawl spaces are adequately sealed!

Winthrop home inspection

Winthrop home inspection in Methow Valley

Seasonal Showers & Your Crawl Space Or Basement

flooded yard

Wenatchee Home Yard Flooded

April showers bring May flowers….or flooded crawl spaces and basements!  Seasonal water damage isn’t as obvious as you may think.  It doesn’t take a severe flood to do water damage to your home just increased saturation.  For most of the Wenatchee, Leavenworth and Seattle areas we’ve experienced an increase in precipitation and strong winds over the last week.  Now is the time to pay close attention to your crawl space, basements and drainage in your yard.

Right now is a good time to take a trip down to your crawl space.  Prolonged moisture in the crawl space can attribute to mold, mildew, sill rot, joist rot, soil settlement, contamination of insulation and insect attraction.  Monitor the walls in your basement for signs of moisture as well.

Follow these tips to keep the water out of your home.  Clear gutters and downspouts of debris ensuring that water will be pulled from the roof and away from your home.  Remember, a downspout doesn’t do any good if it deposits the water next to house!  If your home’s yard frequently floods like the picture then you have problems resulting from a negative grade to the property.  In other words your home should built up so that water slopes away from the home’s foundation.  Finally, clear the storm water drains on the streets by your home frequently.  This will avoid blockage and buildup of water causing dangerous street and property flooding.  Should the property become a bigger problem than you can manage call the municipality.  Of course, we are happy to perform a maintenance inspection on your home to determine any damages resulting from seasonal floods or moisture intrusion.

WA State Energy Code’s New HVAC Requirement

This week one of our staff went to a WSU Extension Energy Program training in Wenatchee with a focus on duct sealing and testing requirements for the 2009 Washington State Energy Code for HVAC: 503.10.3 Sealing. We have two Energy Star Performance Technicians on staff so this class was more of a refresher course on duct testing but we did benefit from understanding more about the changes to the new HVAC requirements. Basically, the code is in a trial period. Contractors must test the HVAC now but do not have to meet the target rate of allowable leakage during this 120-day testing period. In April 2011 a judicial committee will listen to arguments from all sides and make a decision about the 503.10.3 Sealing WA State Energy Code.

We performed a HVAC leakage test on a home in South Wenatchee. The new construction home performed well. It would have passed the new requirements. It was interesting to note the small leakages that could be easily fixed by mastic. The equipment used for testing the HVAC includes a duct blaster, manometer and blower door which could add up to $5,000. This is a new expense to contractors. There is also discussion about requiring third party testing due to conflict of interest. Should HVAC contractors be able to test their own work?

 Here are a few interesting facts we learned in class this week. Did you know that 40% of a home’s fresh air comes from the crawl space or garage? Thinking about cleaning those spaces right now…aren’t you!? This is also a good time to remind you to open your garage door any time the car is on. A family of four can emit up to 3 gallons of water into a home daily from sweating, showering, cooking, etc. Where do the 12 gallons of water go? Be sure to use your oven and bathroom exhaust fans regularly!

Winterization Tips for Your Home

Follow these steps to get your home ready for the cold weather.  For more detailed information about insulating your attic or dealing with air leaks around the home feel free to contact me at info at amsinspection dot com.

  

1. Clean gutters.
Clear debris from your home’s gutters before the winter sets in.  Clogged drains can bend gutters, promote ice dams and cause water buildup- all resulting in possible moisture infiltration through your roof and/or walls.  Make sure the downspouts are carrying water away from the home’s foundation.  Clogged downspouts won’t help you either.  After a big wind storm sometimes downspouts will fall off the drain pipes, so make sure they are firmly attached.

  

2.  Winterize underground irrigation systems.

You may want to call a professional service to winterize your underground irrigation system.  Turn your system off, then bleed the line (release pressure) and drain the water.  Confirm that the settings are adjusted or that the system is completely turned off before the first freeze.

  

3. Clean the furnace and baseboards vents.
Due to seasonal dust buildup, you’ll probably notice a weird smell when you turn them on for the first time.   Using “duster” computer keyboard cleaner works great for cleaning the vents on your furnace and baseboards but you can also use a dust broom or vacuum attachment.  Throughout the winter you should change the furnace filters regularly. A dirty filter reduces air flow and efficiency and is a potential fire hazard.

  

4. Chimney sweep.

Inspect your chimney for creosote (baked soot) buildup which is highly flammable.  Inspect the chimney for any obstructions: limbs, leaves, baseballs, etc.  Wood stoves should be swept routinely throughout the winter.  Make sure the spark arrester is properly screened to avoid debris buildup. 

  

5. Wrap pipes.
Dealing with a busted pipe is never a good thing especially in the winter.  Wrap exposed pipes in crawl spaces, basements or garages with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation. Heating tape is an added measure that is commonly used in our area.

  

6.  Store water hoses.

Turn off the water to your hose bibs.  You should find a valve turnoff inside your home.  Drain the lines and hoses.  Then store the hoses away from the elements.

 

7. Check alarms.
Fire departments have tried to educate us that when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings, it’s also a prefect time to change your smoke detector batteries.  Detectors should be replaced every 10 years. Additionally, testing them with a small bit of smoke is always a good idea. Check your carbon monoxide detector or buy one if you don’t already have one.  Refer to the installation manual regarding correct placement for the detector.

A Puddle of Problems

improper drainage seattle home inspector

improper drainage seattle home inspector

Water is a remarkable liquid.  You know that saying, “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.”  This could be said for water.  Without adequate grading (slope adjusting) and drainage a few rain drops may compound into a huge puddle of problems.  The main objective with moisture concerns is to pull the water away from the home.  This is remedied by roof, gutters, downspouts, grading and drainage.  It seems fairly straightforward, but it’s always good to check these components regularly.  Seasonal patterns can affect the integrity of your system.  Ice build-up in the winter can bend gutters.  Leaves will clog downspouts in the fall.  Excessive rains in the spring way erode slopes or wash in debris to your drainage lines.  Check your basement and crawl spaces routinely for signs of moisture.  You may need to amend the grading to channel surface water away from the home if your puddles start turning into small ponds.