“Every breath you take”…Is It A Red Flag?

 

“Every breath you take”…Is It A Red Flag?

 

laundry rack

No “Every breath you take” is the songs’ refrain (POLICE/Sting).

Every breath you expel does add humidity to your homes interior, but that’s normal, no red flags for that.  But…

Seeing a laundry drying rack like the one in the photo Is a big RED FLAG to any inspector.

Why?, Well the modern home is equipped with several exhaust systems located in specific rooms to remove excessive moisture at the source before it can be allowed to spread to places where it will do damage.  These would be laundry rooms, kitchens and bathrooms. Exhaust fans of the same type are sometimes found in powder rooms, but are not required for humidity unless there is a shower or bath installed too.

Laundry racks like this or basement clothes lines have no means of collecting and removing the excess humidity they cause to be introduced. So once observed the inspector is alerted for humidity damage in the cold zones and surfaces.

Typically damage occurs in window components, electrical components in exterior walls and framing wood at concrete basement walls. Humidity that is drawn into or bleeds though to attics can build up as frost and come back in as damaging ‘leaks’. But there will be damage in hidden areas that can’t be visually examined. Any weakness, imperfection or damage that exists in the vapor barrier system is at risk.

Not all houses have perfect vapour barriers. Over time there has been a wide variety in the methods and materials used for these systems. Add to that the normal variations in skills, procedures and execution of construction and you have a wide range in the quality of vapour barrier systems in homes that are otherwise similarly finished and appointed.

Knowing this it is much better to remove extra humidity right at the source when it is being produced. Remember we are not concerned about mirrors fogging up, but if you allow that humidity to disperse then it’s going to show up in other places, hidden places, as damage, rust or rot.

So we recommend (1) setting up the laundry exhaust properly, and (2) using the kitchen range exhaust when cooking and not just for odours. When you’re having a bath or a shower (3) run the fan with the door closed while you are using it and for up to an hour after you are finished.

Operation of theses systems does have an energy cost, but it is far outweighed by the cost of damage repair required if they are not used. Consider providing timer switches for fans so they can be set and left.

For rental property it is a good practice to wire bathroom fans directly with the light switch. Most renters are less aware of maintenance than property owners.

And finally if you must dry clothes on a rack or line, set it up like these people in a room that has an exhaust fan, close the door and run the fan, at least for the first few hours.

 

 

 

Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

“We Won’t Fix Anything Unless It’s A Code Violation”

The photos themselves tell the story. This article, as well as highlighting some new construction deficiencies, also illustrates the problems inherent with extended and horizontal exhaust duct systems.

This is a reprint of an article by one of my associates, Jay Markanich (VA), and should you wish to comment on his article please click through the links and do so directly on his blog.

For anyone wanting answers about this and similar problems for a home or property in the Montreal area please contact me Robert Butler at any of the numbers listed below.

More new construction fun!  And guess who it’s with … again?  And the same tricks – late afternoon phone call, the inspection needed to be done the next day, enormous amounts of insurance information – same old, same old.

The buyer called me in a panic.  We had previously corresponded many times, but she did had not been told the requirements the builder has pertaining to inspectors and inspections not realizing things were far enough along to have the inspection.  Even though I had warned her, she did not believe me (they seldom do).  I told her to call the lady in the office back (we’re buds) and to say that “Jay” was doing the inspection, she would have her information overnight and we would be there at 7am the next morning.

My office buddy offered a new wrinkle, “We won’t fix anything unless it’s a code violation.”

YEAH, RIGHT!  Why do they keep trying to pull this, um, this stuff?

May I offer two of the things they fixed the very afternoon of our inspection?  Were they against the code?  I HAVE NO IDEA!

#1 – This little beauty is a vent that starts in the powder room on the first level, passes through two floors to exit through the wall above one third-level bedroom, to travel another 25′ or so to the left of this photo to exit through the roof.

Can a powder room fan push air up and that far?  I HAVE NO IDEA!

How far is that air pushed?  I calculate 50’+.  What size fan is needed to handle that distance?  I HAVE NO IDEA!

Does the code cover the size of a fan and how far a vent tube can extend before it exits through a roof?  I HAVE NO IDEA!

Worse, just a couple of feet to the left of this photo is the little anomaly seen below.

Gee, ain’t it perty?

The insulation around that very solid vent tubing is missing just a bit.

Won’t that create condensation inside the tubing?  Why yes, yes I think it just might!

Where will that condensation collect?  I’m going to guess it will collect in that little hitch in the get along, seen above.  I pushed on the bottom of that little, teensy downward bulge and, heaven to Betsy, it was already full of water!  Why I bet the cover on the roof wasn’t there the whole time!

THAT’S WHAT MADE THAT EXCELLENT TAPE JOB TO THE RIGHT COME LOOSE AND EXPOSE THE VENT TUBE AS IT STRETCHED FROM THE WATER WEIGHT!

Hey, eventually won’t that tube fill with enough water to prevent air from passing through that improvised trap above?  Why, yes, yes I think it just might!

Does the code DEMAND that the builder fix this interesting arrangement?  I HAVE NO IDEA!  But they did…

#2 – While they were at it, they also fixed this little beauty above the master bathroom!

If you are going to do something in life, BE CONSISTENT!

And these vent guys are nothing, nothing I tell you, if they are not CONSISTENT!

Were these two vents the only thing the builder fixed following my inspection?  You already know the answer to that!

Were all the things they fixed because of the code?  I HAVE NO IDEA!

But I do know those things were schmuck work and that’s why they got fixed!

And my little bud in the office knows that if they don’t fix them, that information might just get out into the public…

My recommendation:  when the builders play their games, don’t participate!  And when they say they won’t fix things unless they are code violations, don’t buy that either!  Why?  Schmuck work is schmuck work, and they won’t want it attached to them in public.

And my office buddy is probably thinking that I am the only home inspector in the area!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia

www.jaymarinspect.com

 

Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

PLEASE DO NOT MOVE DRYER CLOSER TO REAR WALL. (Part 1)

PLEASE DO NOT MOVE DRYER CLOSER TO REAR WALL. (Part 1)

wall note

I believe that says it all.  But you must ask, why. Well. a quick glimpse behind the dryer reveals all (photo below).

There you can see the plastic flexible duct that will crush if the dryer is pushed any further.

exhaust vent ductIt looks like the home owner has used pipe strapping to hold the flex duct up off the floors so it wont be folded over itself or squished side ways like a ‘slinky’ toy could be.

This ducting is little more than a ‘slinky’ type coil that has been skinned over with plastic, so it is notorious for folding over on itself, sometimes more than once.

Obstructed: When this happens it is no longer a functioning duct and your dryer is going to take a long time to dry the clothes, basically baking them dry.

The other thing these ducts excel at is collecting lint. Sometimes the barely pass any air for years worth of lint in there. All those ribs make it easy for dust and lint to catch onto.

Now factor in the warm moist air and you have all the ingredients for mold proliferation.

Lovely!  But that’s not the most serious problem.

What? You say, could be more important than the dryer not drying the clothes or creating conditions conducive to mold?

Thats easy: fire! 

duct fire

Dryers that can’t vent, overheat and can cause mechanical failures that will produce sparks. That metal drum spins at a high speed.

Then of course thee’s always electrical arcing to set it off. Loose plugs, electrical motor bushings and short faults.

And some dryers are heated with gas. You get the picture.

It should not come as a surprise the fire codes address this problem directly.

In short, they ban the plastic flexible duct use and require that the first 3 feet from the machine be rigid metal ducting. This will be the hottest zone and will tend to collect the greatest concentration of lint.

Home owners need to install the attachment ducts in such a way so as to make the final connection after the dryer is pushed into place.

Wise dryer installers will place removable caps and ‘T’s in appropriate positions to make it possible to open and vacuum lint out of the ducts.

This is something progressive builders will plan for too.

 

So don’t bake your clothes, grow mold or burn your house down for want of a little ducting. Look for part 2 on how to do the duct well.

 

 

Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post