If I Prick Thee Do You Not Bleed, Fresh Air…It’s Common Sense, Right?

If I Prick Thee Do You Not Bleed, Fresh Air…It’s Common Sense, Right?

This was inspired by Ron Rodrigue’s blog about Radon: http://activerain.com/blogsview/2083451/check-your-home-s-health He’s discussing radon, radon testing and the new laws for testing in the state of Maine.

Radon; I never heard the migration of radon gas described as ‘stack effect’ before. But I guess if you take the geology of the earth below the house basement as the vertical height the term would make sense.

The real problem is the accumulation of this gas in the home. If someone routinely slept in the basement you could expect higher associated risks. Ron is correct in all the facts about testing, how reliable that testing is, and for the remedial measures.

For the occupants health I would also recommend providing (A) a fresh air (insulated) supply duct to the lowest point of the home, and or (B) directly into the plenum of the return air ducts of an air handling system (furnace or AC). If such an air duct system is not present in the house then an (C) air exchanger would do the job.

What either of these measures does is ensure that the air in the home is replaced with fresh air on a regular basis. The air exchanger (C) does exactly that.

The simple fresh air duct (A) or (B) above would also work. Every time a kitchen or bathroom exhaust fans would be in use, or fuel-burning appliances (furnace, water heater, fireplace or stove) are on the exhausted air would cause the replacement air to enter via the duct.

There is not a significant heat loss, as that air would be coming in around windows, or doors, or any place it could, causing drafts and condensation in unwanted places. The difference of having the intake duct terminate in the basement ensures that the whole house is included in the air refreshing that happens so no accumulation of radon or any ‘bad’ air occurs.

It’s this refreshing of the air that provides the health benefit. Any other off gassing, cleaning solvent, dust, mold spore or humidity build up is also dispersed. A secondary beneficial side effect is that those fuel-burning appliances will be burning more efficiently, with less nozzle clogging and no back-drafting.

On days when the weather is favourable open some upstairs windows. The ‘stack effect will cause air to exit the windows and be replaced via the intake duct in the basement.

My parents sleep with a bedroom window open, just a crack, rain or shine, winter or summer, 365 days a year. They are now both in their mid-eightys.


N.B. If your home tests positive for radon gas you must take the remedial measures required.  The fresh air and health measures that I recommend in the article above are not a substitution for the approved remedial measures.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

You LOVE it! It Impresses Client! We can see through walls, right?

Infrared cameras are not widely used for 2 reasons.

The first is cost. They are a big-ticket item. You have to have a need or market for it to take to plunge.

The second is litigation, supervised training and litigation, and IR photo miss-interpretation and litigation. Oh, and did I mention litigation.

Most people, your clients, the majority of realtors and at least half of the inspectors out there DO NOT UNDERSTAND the technology and ARE NOT AWARE OF how badly the photos can be miss interpreted.

Some people actually think they are seeing into the walls, etc. like X-rays. They are not seeing anything more than surface temperature variations.

They do not see water or cold air. They see surface thermal changes that could be caused by what is behind the wall, but they can also are affected by what’s going on in front of the wall.

Calibration; every time you set up a shot for the IR camera it has to be re-calibrated for multiple factors (ambient temperature, exterior temperature, and output colour frequency range, an infinitely variable range, to name but a few.

Heaters, other people, incandescent bulbs, cooking and exhaust fan usage in proximity to the photo can slew results. (add tree shade, lawn sprinklers and passing vehicles, for exterior shots.)

Of the shots that I’ve seen published many can just reflect the normal wall/ceiling temperature variations under the correct conditions.

Interpretation; It all depends on the temperature range selected in the camera. A 2-degree spread in the 70s F is not significant. A 10-degree difference in the 40 to 60 range is. But the IR photos will look the same.

This is where training and correct interpretation is paramount. This is usually more expensive than the cameras themselves.

The cameras should have the capability of including a graph of all the settings, included in the photo – usually along one edge. This is permanent and is reproduced every time the photo is printed, copied or viewed.

IR Photography used for documentation (such as inspection reports) and forensics must have this feature in use.

Verification; Even with good calibration and experienced careful interpretation the suspect condition should be verified, by any means practical (small hole and probe scope if no other access is available).

Errors in calibration and failure to verify equals litigation

User beware!




Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

Charita vs. Barbara…..(22 to 45)..or is it?

Charita vs. Barbara…..(22 to 45)..or is it?

Charita Cadenhead posted a blog this morning about Pre-listing Inspections. It was a good subject and got lots of comments.

Barbara Todaro had a different but well developed view and as often happens here comment became a blog on it’s own.

Both they and their commentators, pro and con, have presented good arguments and clearly expressed thoughtful views on the subject and surrounding issues.

Here are the links to their blogs, they are worth the read and some thought; because the subject has a big impact on the attitudes and decisions of a great many in our industry.

Charita’s blog: http://activerain.com/blogsview/2095161/let-the-buyer-find-repair-issues-when-they-have-their-own-home-inspection

Barbara’s blog: http://activerain.com/blogsview/2095918/don-t-you-just-hate-mucky-water-

I thank them both for the quality of the debate and offer my 2 cents here.

Another aspect of this discussion:

Here’s what neither of you are thinking about:

Why is a buyer having an inspection done? What is the legal imperative?

They are exercising their right to do due diligence on the home, so that should they need to seek redress in the courts at a future point they will have the right to do so. Effectively maintaining their right to sue the sellers if they ever need to.



If immediate issues are found then it is a surprise, seemingly to all, and it has to be dealt with, negotiated for or otherwise resolved.

Sometimes the sale collapses or brakes down at this point. The inspector didn’t cause the problem, but of course it isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last time, the news bearer is blamed (figuratively of course). It is stressful. Your hard work could be for nothing. It has happened. And it stings.

Charita’s position is to be proactive, check first and move forward without worry, no risk.

Bardara is saying there may be nothing, so why spend. The odds favour this, but her clients are exposed to some risk.

They are both reacting to the risk of there being immediate issues, but immediate issues are not why an inspector is hired. The due diligence legal requirement is.

Full disclosure does not come into play only after an inspection. It is always in play. Full disclosure is the law, period. You are obligated to disclose everything known or suspected and you must look. You are not allowed to turn a blind eye, ignore symptoms and pretend not to know. You are even required to report past problems that have been corrected, no matter what their nature or how effective the correction has been.

Caveat emptor (Let the buyer beware.) This is not law! Although once a common attitude, it is no longer legal in the building-housing construction industry as well as home renovation, property improvements and real estate transactions.


In fact courts treat this behavior on the part of professionals in the real estate and building industry as an offence, a kind of white-collar crime. No you won’t be in handcuffs, but you will be paying a lawyer for your defense.

You, as a property seller, are not allowed to cover a problem and sell the property to get rid of it.

 There is one exception. Make it known. Tell all, upfront, before offers are made. Full disclosure of known, suspected, or past problems and defects with a history of corrective repairs. Full disclosure gets you off the hook. So why wouldn’t you? Don’t you think it’s in the sellers interest?

 One final thing you should know; there is no time limit, forward or backward.

Forward – doesn’t matter when an issue shows up, past sellers are liable, in some cases even through estate succession transitions.

Backward – liability responsibility extends back from the immediate seller though prior sellers, even as far as the original builder. Only the dead get to duck the issue. (If there is real justice though, it might get hot for some.)


Even if both inspections are done on the same property, it is but a fraction of 1% of that properties’ value/selling price.

They protect the interests of both the seller and the buyer. Neither should be “on the hook”.


Legal fees make inspection cost look like peanuts. This is the general thrust of the judicial interpretations we are seeing. Yes there are as many variations, opinions, and exceptions as there are different courts. Probably more.

Lawyers will handle it for you, but consider the price.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post