Category Archives: home inspection report

Improper aluminum wiring ‘sparks’ interest in a hot water heater repair.

How hot is too hot?  We recently observed this hot water heater on a Leavenworth home inspection in the upper Wenatchee Valley.  Aluminum branch circuit wiring was used to supply the hot water heater’s energy.  Improper installation caused a potential dangerous situation.  The unions between the aluminum and copper wire created galvanic corrosion which can weaken the terminal at the switch, receptacle or union.  As the branch circuit is energized the aluminum and copper wires expand and contract at different rates causing the terminal termination at the switch, receptacle or union to loosen.  The loose connections can allow arcing and pitting, creating a hazard for shock or fire, and eventually causing the circuit to fail.  To learn more information about aluminum wiring read my earlier blog entry.

And the hot water heater was still being used, but not anymore!  Based on our inspection they hired a professional electrician to fix the improper installation.  Do you want to know how your home is performing?  An AMS Home Inspection can indentify potentially dangerous conditions.  Call today for more information on home inspections in Leavenworth, Chelan, Seattle, Wenatchee and surrounding areas.

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Wenatchee Home Inspector Photo: Do you see the problem?

At first glance you may think the green algae is the issue in the photo, but not really.  This photo was taken under an exterior deck and algae is typical in those areas.  The real concern is the wood laying on the ground next to the home.  This a great place for wood destroying organisms to start residing and to begin gaining access to your lovely home.  Carpenter ants love decomposing wood!

Lake Wenatchee Home Inspection

Wenatchee Home Inspector Photo

Lake Wenatchee Home Inspector Photo: Metal Carport Collapsed Under Snow Load

This picture was taken last week at a Lake Wenatchee Home Inspection.  The metal carport was no match for the heavy snow we received over the last winter.  Notice how much snow we still have there…in April!

Lake Wenatchee Home Inspector Photo

Lake Wenatchee Home Inspector Photo

Lake Wenatchee Home Inspection

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!

Seattle Home Show: Feb. 19-27th

Seattle Home Show

credit: Seattle Home Show

Spring is just around the corner and it’s beginning to look a lot like Home Show Season!  Wenatchee’s Home Show was a huge success last weekend, now we look forward to the Seattle Home Show starting on Saturday and open for 9 days.  Your online ticket purchase includes a full year subscription to “Better Homes & Gardens” and free parking.  Check out this info from their website:

The Seattle Home Show opens its doors for its 67th annual home products extravaganza on February 19, 2011 for a nine-day run through February 27.   This much-anticipated show of nearly 500 exhibits includes everything for the home and landscape, highlighted by Idea Street™ – a community of furnished and landscaped model homes. Idea Street is a showcase for home design, interior style and the latest appliances and fixtures.  Show attendees enjoy the variety and scope of the exhibition which includes green living displays, kitchens and baths, home decorating, arts and crafts, garden displays, and Meet the Expert Seminars featuring home improvement topics presented by industry professionals. America’s Biggest Open House™ – the Seattle Home Show – takes place in downtown Seattle at the Qwest Field Event Center. Details at www.SeattleHomeShow.com.

Home Show in Wenatchee: Feb. 11-13th

Home Show Wenatchee Town Toyota CenterEvery year the NCHBA or North Central Home Builders Association produces a spectacular home show in Wenatchee, Washington.  There’s a little something for everyone whether you are interested in remodeling, decorating, building, buying or selling a home…they’ve got all the experts there for your questions!  Here’s some info from their website.  Download this COUPON for $1 off admission:

This year, we have a lot of new things going on and are very excited to “get the Show on the road”! The Kid’s Zone by Lowe’s is going to be fantastic this year. Not only will the kids be able to build their own project with a professional from Lowe’s, they can go on a scavenger hunt with their parents or enjoy FREE ice skating on Friday and Saturday. So, if you have kids that are 12 and under, make sure to take them to the Kids Zone by Lowe’s, located in the Crunch-Pak Hospitality Room on the the main floor of the Town Toyota Center!  Workshops and How-to’s that you WON’T want to miss! Come and see what the Master Gardeners have to demonstrate on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the show!   Be one of the first 250 attendees on Saturday and Sunday and receive a special Home Show Entrance Bag! These bags will be filled with small gifts, specials and discount coupons from participating sponsors and vendors! These bags will also come in very handy when you need a place to stow away other information and items you gather!  There will be additional event parking available for attendees across the street at Walla Walla Point Park, both parking lots, as well as at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse. Many thanks to Lowe’s for generously allowing our Home Show attendees to use half of their parking lot for our event!

Hot Water Heaters Expansion Tanks, what do they really do?

Thermal expansion of water in a closed plumbing system can create a number of annoying and potentially dangerous problems. These include: unusually high pressure in a system, pressure surges, and the chronic or continuous dripping of a temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve. In addition, dripping faucets and leaking toilet tank ball cock fill valves are also symptomatic of thermal expansion.   More serious problems can also occur due to thermal expansion. When dangerous pressures are built up in a water heater, internal parts may fail such as the internal flues, fittings or water connections. If a flue way collapses it can lead to the potential release of toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide into living spaces.

Virtually, every modern plumbing code requires the installation of an expansion tank on hot water heater installations. The reason is simple. Water expands when heated. This extra volume of water needs to go somewhere. Before the widespread usage of backflow preventers, check valves and pressure reducing valves, this expanded water simply pushed the cold water back into the city water main. Now with these devices required in new construction and most permitted remodels we have successfully closed this system.

Where does the pressure to go?

Expansion tanks are really simple devices. They contain compressed air and a special rubber bladder. When your hot water heater turns on, the water within your piping system begins to expand. This expanding water slowly enters the expansion tank as the water is brought to temperature. Eventually, hot water is drawn from the system thru a faucet and the expansion tank releases the extra water into the piping system.

The installation of an expansion tank is a simple upgrade for any hot water systems.  There are some things you need to know before running out and purchasing your unit such as existing water pressures, capacity of the hot water tank, and ensuring the unit you purchase is for potable water systems.   I always recommend working with a licensed plumbing contractor.