The Library

As a top professional home inspector you will be reading up on the latest news and brushing up you on your skills
Here are just a few suggested articles you can read to keep your skills sharp!

Are you interested in becoming a home inspector?  Here is a little quiz to test your knowledge.


CaptureWashington State Home Inspection Candidate Handbook – 
This handbook provides information that you will need to register for the Home Inspector Examination for Washington. Be sure to keep this handbook after you have registered for the examination; you may wish to refer to it later.

IRC-book2009 International Residential Code® for One- and Two-family Dwellings  Internationally, code officials recognize the need for a modern, up-to-date residential code addressing the design and construction of one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses. The International Residential Code, in this 2009 edition, is designed to meet these needs through model code regulations that safeguard the public health and safety in all communities, large and small. This comprehensive, stand-alone residential code establishes minimum regulations for one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses using prescriptive provisions. It is founded on broad-based principles that make possible the use of new materials and new building designs.

Download the brochure on water problems under homes

Water Under Homes
Many homes have water problems and the solutions can range significantly in cost to remedy. You always should start with the simple and cheapest answers.  The most common source of water under homes is ineffective downspouts and missing splash blocks or drains. Inspect them regularly for failing mounts, crushed downspouts, and proper drainage. You should walk around your home in the worst weather, at least a few times a year and look to see how the gutters and downspouts are working. Overflowing gutters can cause damage to roofs, fascia and soffits as well as flooding areas below grade.

LP-Trifold

LP siding
A home with LP that has had proper painting and caulking can perform well for years, but this maintenance is often overlooked. Since it is made of pressed and glued wood chips, there are lots of end grains that will readily absorb water if it is not properly sealed.  It is one of the most common problematic products we see.  Louisiana-Pacific siding has this knot embossed on the surface.

LP Siding Maintenance lp smart side logo
“Inspection is an essential part of maintenance. Perform the following checks once or twice a year…”

Untitled-2Federal Pacific Stab-Lok Panels
The Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok panel is known among Electricians and Home Inspectors as a serious safety hazard. We wanted you to know that this reputation is well founded and documented by industry professionals & government agencies.

“A significant number of the breakers tested are defective and do not provide the required level of protection…” “..the breakers themselves may develop hazardous behavior in the form of severe overheating or self-incapacitation in the on condition. The high failure rate of these breakers indicates serious deficiencies in the FPE quality control procedures, their product testing, and the UL follow-up testing program.”

zinscotrifold

Zinsco electrical equipment is known to be hazardous for several reasons. They have been manufactured with aluminum bus bars and poor connection clips at the breakers. It is the bus bar and breaker contact points arcing and overheating that have caused many of the problems with this design. All breakers have very carefully calibrated springs and other components. Arcing where these breakers contact the bus bar is a common problem with this design.
cadetCadet Maintenance – As needed, or every six months, minimum. It’s important to properly maintain cadet type heaters to prevent spark from dust and debris.
WARNING! Before removing grill, turn the electrical power off at the electrical panel board (circuit breaker or fuse box). Lock or tag the panel board door to prevent someone from accidentally turning the power on while you are working on the heater. Failure to do so could result in serious electrical shock, burns, or possible death.
Cadet Recall
Check the brochure to see if your heaters were on the recall list


ssIs a sewer scope an a new home a good idea?

In Seattle nearly all new construction is on a lot where there was once an old home. All too often, the sewer line from the old house is tied into without completely replacing the line. As a former contractor, I can see the cost benefit of saving as much of an old sewer as possible.

 Excerpts from the “Fundamentals of Home Inspection” course.
Fundamentals-hi-coverEIFS 
– Exterior Insulating and Finishing Systems.  Synthetic stucco with a much higher rate of failure
Service Entrance – Excerpt from the “Fundamentals of Home Inspection” Electrical section
Handrails –  Excerpt from the “Fundamentals of Home Inspection” Structures section
Dishwasher Drains Air gaps (aka vacuum breakers) and high loops to prevent cross contamination.
Polybutylene identification Polybutylene plumbing tip sheet.
Outlet Inspection Procedure  A brief explanation of common issues and why they are on an inspection report.
TPR Valves and Extension Tubes There are a lot of rules covering pressure relief valves, here  are a few of them.
Cadet / Encore Heater Recalls Listing of the recalled models

Aluminum Wiringaluminum-branch-wiring-overheating
While inspecting a nice early 1970’s home’s electrical panel, we found this neutral bar with several aluminum branch circuit wired connected to it.  So called “old style” aluminum wire can be particularly dangerous and must be identified by the inspector,  according to state law.

Safety Glass By Douglass Hansen
douglas-hansen“Glass manufacturers found themselves the subject of numerous lawsuits, and they recognized the need for uniform standards for the industry. The National Safety Council formed a task group with the National Glazing Association, and their studies found an average of 320,000 injuries per year from people impacting glass in doors and windows”

burn baby
Hot Water Mixing Valves
“Every year, thousands of people in the U.S.A. suffer serious thermal shock or scalding injuries in their bathtubs, sinks and showers.”

circpumpHot Water Circulation Pumps
“Waiting for Hot Water. It’s a common problem: turn on the faucet or shower for hot water, then wait for it to arrive.”

garage_door_safetyGarage Door Safety
“An improperly adjusted garage door or automatic opener can exert deadly force when the door closes. This could lead to serious injury or death”

Simpson Strong-Tie Catalog
WOOD CONSTRUCTION CONNECTORS 2013-2014
Catalog of Simpson Strong-Tie products.  Great reference – Warning this is a very large file about 59MB

 

small-meterElectrical Service Capacity Calculations
“Most people don’t know the electrical service size for their house. Nor do they know how to figure it out. As a result, electrical service size is often listed incorrectly.”

Wiring Homes for Electric Light from 1916
This is a great from back in the day when electricity was a new thing in homes.
“A supply of electric current in the house for lighting, cooking, and for the operation of the laborsaving household appliances is no longer looked on as a luxury.  Electricity in the house is a necessity.”

cheatsheet

Electrical inspection Cheat Sheet
“Electrical codes are in place to protect you, the homeowner. These general guidelines apply to new installations and will give you the basics of what electrical inspectors are looking for. Be sure to check with your local electrical inspector because local codes may vary from the list provided.”

PSE Service Handbook for single family projects PSE-book
This handbook is your guide to Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) requirements for new, altered/modified, or temporary electric service for permanent single-family residential structures. Inside you will find answers to questions such as:
“What are the installation requirements for permanent and temporary underground and overhead service?
How do I choose the right service size?
What are the trenching requirements?
How do I locate existing underground utilities before I dig?”

EPA Tipsheet: Vermiculite Attic Insulation
“Q) Where can I get information on testing or removal of the insulation? A) The EPA strongly recommends using a trained and certified professional to conduct removal work. Removing the insulation yourself could potentially spread asbestos fibers throughout your home, putting you and your family at risk of inhaling these fibers.”

Ghost thumbBlack Stains in Houses: Soot, Dust, or Ghosts?
“Builders are never more surprised than when they walk into one of their newly built model homes and find black stains at wall-to-floor joints and on previously pristine carpeting underneath doorways. What causes these stains and how can builders and homeowners prevent them?”

Manufactured home thumbnailINTRODUCTION-  to the Inspection of Mobile Homes for Defects
Manufactured homes have many unique issues associated with them. There are special rules about financing them and are often made with inferior materials. “We found so many unsafe and un-healthy conditions in the trailers and mobile homes occupied by migrant farm workers that there was almost no safe habitable housing at the facility.” 

grasp

Handrail rules
We continually see stairs that are not properly constructed. Here are some of the rules the assure your stairs and railings are safe.

Log Home thumbnailLog Home Inspection Checklist
Log homes have their own set of structural issues, such as chinking, shrinkage, and settlement as well as the logs themselves. “Most problems are water related whether it be from shrinkage or exposure to moisture.”

Built Wrong from the StartHammer thumbnail
The top 10 blunders that rot your house,waste your money, and make you sick. “Houses are more complex than they used to be. They have more insulation, they have elaborate heating and cooling systems, and they are built to be nearly airtight. These components can make comfortable, energy-efficient houses that serve their owners well. But if they’re put together wrong, a house and its occupants can be in for some serious problems.”

Reuben Saltzman thumbnail
The Advantage of Hydronic Heating:   Boilers vs Furnaces – By Reuben Saltzman
“Boilers have definite advantages over furnaces, with comfort and silence being the two biggest.  Boilers provide more comfortable heat than furnaces because the heat is even – especially if it’s installed in the floor. Floor heat allows everything in the room to be warm, including your toes.”

Spantex logo thumbnail
 Spantex – Waterproof Sealer & Treatment for Exterior Horizontal Surfaces
Spantex® is a synthetic rubber, elastomeric coating made from Dupont’s Hypalon. It is used where a tough, waterproof, skid resistant coating is needed. Spantex® is self-vulcanizing, which means that you can patch it or roll on a new coat at any time and it will become an integral part of the original coating.

Permanent Wood Foundation (PWF) PWF-permanant-wood-foundation-stamp” Load-bearing lumber- framed foundation wall sheathed with plywood. All lumber and plywood components in the wood foundation are pressure treated with preservatives to withstand decay from moisture and insect damage.”

 

 cross connection control, backflow preventer
Residential Backflow Prevention
“Chlordane was siphoned through a hose at a residence in Roanoke, Virginia, contaminating the water supply of an entire neighborhood. The cost to the water purveyor to replace water mains, valves, meters, service lines, water heaters, ice makers, and other plumbing was about $200,000. In addition, lawsuits totalling several million dollars were filed.”

 

alum repair

Repairing Aluminum Wiring – U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission –
The fire hazard investigated by CPSC occurs at connections with aluminum wire, including receptacles or switches and junction boxes; or the hazards occur with major appliances.In 1974, a tragic house fire took the lives of two persons. It was caused by a faulty aluminum wire connection at an outlet. The CPSC has conducted research that shows that homes wired before 1972 are 55 times more likely to have one or more connections reach “Fire Hazard Conditions” than a home wired with copper. Signs of trouble in aluminum wire systems include warm to the touch face plates on outlets or switches, flickering lights, circuits that don’t work or the smell of burning plastic at outlets or switches.

 

Ground Fault circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
 A “GFCI” is a ground fault circuit interrupter. A ground fault circuit interrupter is an inexpensive electrical device that, if installed in household branch circuits, could prevent over two-thirds of the approximately 300 electrocutions still occurring each year in and around the home. Installation of the device could also prevent thousands of burn and electric shock injuries each year.

co detector

Carbon Monoxide – In 2002, there were an estimated 188 unintentional non-fire carbon monoxide poisoning deaths associated with consumer products. The deaths were associated with heating, engine powered tools, charcoal or charcoal grills, gas ranges and ovens, camp stoves and lanterns and other appliances.

 

Wood framed structures for permanence– When properly designed, wood frame structures will resist damage by moisture and living organisms. Recommendations are for control of moisture and protection against decay and insect infestation.

woodframeddropshadowWood Frame Construction – Wood frame construction is the predominant method of building homes. History has demonstrated the inherent strength and durability of wood frame buildings. Wood framed buildings are economical to build, heat and cool, and provide maximum comfort to occupants. Wood construction is readily adaptable to traditional, contemporary and all building styles. The possibilities are endless.

Ductwductworkork Standards The routing of flexible duct, the number of bends, the degrees in each bend, and the amount of sag or direction changes (snaking) allowed between support joints will have serious effects on system performance due to increased resistance.

Radon radon Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas released in rock, soil and water that can build up to dangerous levels  inside any home; this means new and old homes, well sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without a basement. Radon gas is odorless and invisible and the only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test for it.

Heavy Timber Construction – Heavy timber construction is one of the oldest types of buildings used int he development of this country. Its superior performance has been demonstrated in thousands of buildings during the past hundred and fifty years, many of which are still in satisfactory use.

 

Plank and Beam Framing – The plank and beam method for framing floors and roofs has been used in heavy timber buildings for many years. Whereas conventional framing utilizes joists, rafters and studs space 12 to 34 inches on center, the plant and beam method requires fewer and larger sized pieces spaced farther apart.

residentialelectricalResidential Electrical Service – This handbook is your guide to Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) requirements for new, altered/modified, or temporary electric service for permanent single-family residential structures. We have also included additional requirements for electric service to outbuildings (barns, shops, pump houses, garages, etc.)

tongueandgroovedeckingTongue and Groove Roof Decking – Timber tongue and groove decking is a specialty lumber product, constituting an important part of modern timber construction, that can be used for many applications to provide an all wood appearance. 

weatherizeWeatherize  Warm or air conditioned air mixes with outside air through gaps in your home’s thermal envelope, exterior walls, windows, doors, the roof and floors. Such air leakage is a waste of large amounts of energy. Most experts agree that caulking and weather-stripping any gaps will pay for itself within one year in energy savings. 

 

Cool roofs by Department of Energy – These roofs can benefit the environment, and policymakers may issue cool roof regulations to provide these benefits to society. They can reduce local air temperatures, which improves air quality and slows smog formation, reduce peak electric power demand; which can help prevent power outages; reduce power plant emissions, including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and mercury, by reducing cooling energy use in buildings; and reduce heat trapped in the atmosphere by reflecting more sunlight back into space, which can slow climate change.

Eight Tips for Maintaining Your Well  – You probably don’t have an owner’s manual that goes with your well. That seems okay  until you need help. It’s at times like those that you’ll wish you knew some basics about water well system maintenance.



Kitec Plumbing issues –  
The main issue has been the specific brass fittings used as connectors with this pipe, and their impact on the whole hydronic system. Kitec pipe and fittings fail due to a chemical reaction known as dezincification, which results in reduced water flow and leaks

WashingtonStateSealSTRUCTURAL PEST INSPECTOR EXAMINATION PROCESS 
Applicants are required to pass two exams in order to qualify for the Structural Pest Inspector
(SPI) license. There is a 100-question general knowledge exam and a 50-question practical
exam.