Category Archives: Washington Home Inspection

Leavenworth Home Inspection Photo: Stick a cork in it!

I never know what I’m going to come across.  Check out this photo from a recent Leavenworth home inspection.  It’s an interesting way to fill a hole.  Now you know what to do with all those corks you get from wine tasting in Leavenworth!

Lake Chelan Home Inspection Photo

Here is an opportunity to learn from someone else’s mistake.  Check out the photo below taken at a recent Chelan home inspection.  You should never cut a main support beam so that plumbing pipes have an easier route.  Pipes have curved elbows and connections for a reason!  Don’t compromise the overall integrity of your structure.  Use proper plumbing installation practices.

chelan home inspection

2011 Tour of Homes : Wenatchee, Chelan, Malaga & Peshastin

The North Central Home Builders Association’s annual Tour Of Homes is coming up on Sept. 22-25th.  Most homes are in the Wenatchee area but you’ll find one in Lake Chelan, Malaga and Peshastin.  For complete details about the tour, directions, coupons and more visit their website.  As members of NCHBA we are proud to be a part of this great event!  In Leavenworth pick up coupons at Marson & Marson Lumber or Dan’s Food Market.

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

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.

Do you have aluminum wiring in your home? Is it safe?

At a recent Leavenworth home inspection we noticed aluminum wiring to the water heater and oven.  The home owner had some questions so we answered them.

Aluminum wiring became a popular alternative for use in residential construction during the 1960’s when the price for copper sky rocketed.  Underwriter Laboratories had previously approved aluminum wiring for interior branch circuitry as early as 1945.  Contractors searched for relief from the high copper prices and found aluminum to be an acceptable substitute.  The key to this conversion from copper to aluminum was in the installation.

 At the time very little stress was put on the aluminum wiring creep rating (rate of expansion and contraction) and not much information was provided on the proper installation of aluminum wiring.  Some things to consider when working with aluminum wiring is that it is much softer than copper and can’t withstand as much stress when pulled.  Therefore, aluminum wiring can become damaged if nicked or bent at extreme angles.  It also has at least one wire gauge larger than its copper counterpart for each current rating.  All terminations such as switches and receptacles must be properly rated Al or Cu/Al for the use of aluminum branch circuitry wiring.

 Due to limited code enforcement and the lack of information provided to home builders several homes built within the mid 1960-70’s were not outfitted with the proper type of receptacles, switches and other required devices.  Oxide inhibitors are successful in sealing out moisture and air while preventing oxidation but, unfortunately, were not widely used at this time.

 The misunderstanding of aluminum wiring installation methods enabled the theory of aluminum being an unsafe material.  What happened?  When dissimilar metals come in contact it causes galvanic corrosion and oxidation occurs at the screw head terminals.  The process weakens the terminal at the switch or receptacle.  As the branch circuit is energized the aluminum and copper wires expand and contract at different rates causing the terminal at the switch or receptacle to loosen.  The loose connections can allow arcing and pitting, creating a hazard for shock or fire, and eventually causing the circuit to fail.

 Is aluminum wiring safe?  The surprising answer is yes!  We inspect several older homes every year that still contain aluminum branch circuitry wiring and it is in serviceable condition.  Aluminum wiring has never been the problem.  The installation can dictate the longevity or security of any material.  The science behind the reaction and expansion rates of different materials has allowed us to understand mistakes made with aluminum branch circuitry wiring.  Aluminum wiring is still commonly used in new construction, particularly on larger circuits that do not require multiple terminations to various devices.

 Is your home is outfitted with aluminum branch circuitry wiring?  Identify your concerns with an AMS Home Inspection.  A thorough evaluation of each of the branch circuitry wiring must be performed to ensure your home and family’s safety.

2011 Wenatchee Real Estate Outlook (5 of 5)

Guest writer, Rebecca Darley

As the manager of a Wenatchee home inspection company I attend many local real estate events to stay informed of the latest real estate news and developments.  On May 19, 2011, the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted a discussion panel called “2011 Real Estate Outlook.” This blog entry along with the other 4 entries will summarize the panel discussions of each speaker including a loan officer, appraiser, commercial real estate agent, builder and residential real estate broker.

 Previous Entries:

Alan BiedlerCommercial Real Estate Broker at Sage Real Estate Services

Alan Biedler is a Commercial Real Estate Broker, Certified Property Manager and Certified Commercial Investment Member.  He has specialized in commercial sales and leasing for the last 26  years and has been active in the Wenatchee Valley housing and commercial real estate market for more than 41 years. 

Due to the lack of sales in 2008-2010 Alan feels that appraisers are having a hard time finding comps and are either using non-local or old comps.  This isn’t helping to identify true values.  The commercial leasing market is the most interesting he’s seen 26 years.  Businesses are downsizing and landlords are offering better concessions.  Tenants are asking for free rent and fixed leases for several years.  For example, a recent transaction occurred where the potential tenant started negotiations by asking for 10 months of free rent, a moving allowance and space planning allowance on a 5 year lease agreement.

Alan predicts that there will be a huge problem in refinancing commercial loans.  Businesses that have not performed well over the last couple of years or who have experienced decreased sales will have a tougher time qualifying.  The low commercial rates of 4.5% and the affordable value of raw land make it the perfect time to invest.