Was it snowing on 10th Street today?

Was it snowing on 10th Street today?

snow prep

Tool kit – check, Car brush – check, Ladder – check, Snowshoes – check

10th Street    Do it!

           This was todays job, at a lull in the wind,       and this is how I dealt with it.

So, yes it was snowing. It was what a New Englander would call a sou’wester: gusting, drifting blowing snow, in your face, weather.

I’m prepared for it. It’s not like it was going to be a suprise. It’s winter. It’s just going to be there.

I even have a second pair for my clients who want to follow the inspection. Something I encourage all my clients to do when they can.

prep for inspection

If you are a professional you are prepared for all conditions.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

Change your panel, Change your life.

Look at the last photo in this blog. You don’t have to know a thing about electricity to know that it’s perfect and state of the art, SAFE.

If you’ve been told you’ve got panel issuses you should read this article.

Change your panel, Change your life. Wenatchee and Chelan Home Inspection Services.

We rarely think about it. It serves us every day.  It is the largest safety device in your home but most do not appreciate what is does.

It is your electrical service panel. It is the heart of the home electrical system and is in essence the heart of our modern lifestyle.

If you went to your main service panel and shut off the main breaker what would your life be in your home? No lights, no heat, no cooking, no TV so on… and so on.

As a home inspector I had a curious thought. Why is it when I recommend a panel be replaced it becomes more of an issue than other components of the home?

As home inspectors we often cite that a roof need replacement or if an air conditioner or heat pump is old it is ready for replacement or your water heater needs replacement. Most people understand and are used to the thought that these types of components reach the end of a useful lifespan and should be replaced.

                                      Zinsco Panel with smoke damage Wenatchee home inspection

But the main service panel, now that is a different story. This seems to get homeowners and some realtors a little jumpy. They start to question my recommendation and ask more questions.

This brings me to my main point. Service panels and their associated components were built for the time they were installed.  As such they were not designed in many ways for our modern lifestyles and demands. Americans use more electrical power per person than do people of any other country in the world, but that does not mean that we have a better understanding of electricity.

Safety features and design requirements have been developed, improved and implemented in newer installations.

                                         overcrowding and poor bend radius Chelan Home Inspection

Through time many of these older panels become overcrowded and their initial design was poor at best. Time is not a friend of electrical systems and they should be replaced.

So here is a thought, roof replacement cost is about 6-7 k and up. An air conditioner/heat pump can be 2-3k and up. The cost to replace a service panel is usually in the $1200 to $1500 range.

I know this is not cheap but this is the one component that may save your life. A roof leak is bad but it most likely will not kill you. If your service panel catches fire or does not properly function it may have a devastating consequence.

Now I acknowledge that the events that have to happen to create a life threatening situation is a low probability but this is a safety device. It is like the airbag in your car, you sure hope to never need it but you will be glad it is there in the event of an accident.

                                   New installation Wenatchee Real Estate Inspection

The NFPA reported in 2009, an estimated 44,800 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments involved some type of electrical failure or malfunction as a factor contributing to ignition.  These fires resulted in 472 civilian deaths, 1,500 civilian injuries, and $1.6 billion in direct property damage.NFPA electrical fires report.

A study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the 1980s indicated that the frequency of fires in residential electrical systems was disproportionately high in homes more than 40 years old. The thought is that the aging of older electrical systems, combined with the fact that older homes were not built to the more rigid building codes of recent times, were deemed the most likely contributing factors.Residential Electrical Aging Research Project.

If you have a panel manufactured by Zinsco, Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) or even Bryant, these panels have a reputation for being problematic and a potential safety hazard and should be replaced sooner versus later but any electrical system 40 years or older needs a thorough evaluation.

As home inspectors we are hired to provide information. There is no pass or fail of a home. We all assume some risk but understanding that risk will help you make a better decision.


“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

Red Adair

NCW Home Inspections, LLC  is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                               509-670-9572


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

The Elephant In The Room – Stringer Strangeness / Stringer Stress


The Elephant In The Room – Stringer Strangeness / Stringer Stress: Whats WRONG Here?

stair / floor framing

This is under the basement stairs of a nice looking home less than 2 years old.   There are a few things wrong in this photo.

Can you spot all five structural defects?

Here are a few hints;

1 – The riser of the last tread and one joist do not a double trimmer make.

2 – Toe nailed joists do not carry weight, Forever or for long.

3 – Nails are pins to hold framing in place. Weight bearing framing has to be under the load.

4 – Zippered nailing or stitched nailing will not be secure over time. A power nailing defect.

5 – And, yes..the elephant in the room; the stringers are too short on one end. Guess which end.




missing double header framing

illustration framing

It’s obvious: one does not look like the other.

There is neither doubled header or trimmer joists present.

What you see in the photo is only a single joist and the face or ‘riser’ of the top tread is nailed to it.

But that is a finishing piece and has no structural strength or function.

So there is no doubled header floor joist at all and even it there were it would be in the wrong position.

In fact there is no correspondence between the text illustration and the actual construction here at all.

Corrective supports and framing are required to make this safe and secure.

I wouldn’t bother to get a price from this builder. No point.




error no joist hanger

You’ve seen movies where mountaineers climb rock faces with minuscule toe and finger holds. That may be  fine from the comfort of your chair.

But it’s not what you want to see in your floor framing.

Toe nailing is a carpenters technique using small nails at an angle at the ends of studs and other framing to position, aline, and hold parts in place until other cladding or finish materials are applied. There is no strength in these joints and they can easily be adjusted in various directions.

Here this sideways nailing was used but with bigger nasils. They will hold for a time, but not for all time.

Joist hangers are required here, or else you have to go old school. Old school is double notched joists meeting ledgered beams. It works well, just takes a lot more wood and space. Or you could use joist hangers.



face nailed to stud

It’s partially obscured by the pipe but we can see enough to know that the trimmer joist is only been face nailed to the stud.

It’s the stud that carries the load so it should shoulder it. Meaning that it should be under the joist, at least by the thickness of the joist, or the joist should be notched into the stud.

There is no other framing around to carry the weight for this part of the floor and the stairs. Doesn’t matter if there may be a big engineered truss or wood joist on the other side of that wall. There is nothing right here.

Nails, no matter how big are just pins used to hold wood in place. The wood has to carry the compression load. Nails don’t cut it over time. Wood drying shrinkage, rust and vibration will weaken them. (Screws are worse – no shear strength.)

If the wood parts are big enough then bolts can be used but here thats not the case. Cripple studs must be added to the face of those studs to tranfer the load to the slab shoe plate.



too many nails    I call this nailing defect ‘zippering’ because when large bore nails are peppered close together they can cause the wood to be weakened at that place or line.

This effect is just like the perforations on the tear line of a cardboard box or other packaging. The nailing has punched out material there of crushed fibers so now it can easily be broken at that spot.

Here we can see the space from the tread notch to the bottom edge of the stringer (as it follows the stud) has been nailed repeatedly in a tight line.

The nails are holding for now and the problem is not obvious but as the wood ages and dries it won’t ‘grip’ the nails as tightly and the vibration from the stair usage will start to loosen them. Failure will begin with a bounce and squeak developing in the stairs. These nails are all that’s holding up this stringer.



major error

Here we have the big goof. The elephant in the room.

The photo just shows one stringer but they are both are too short. They don’t meet and transfer load to the floor frame as they should. Have a look at the stringers in Figure S1 (above) to see the correct assembly.

I’ve seen similar errors outside on deck construction, which often gets done non-professionally. When I think back to the last time I saw that error I quickly realize that it was only about an hour ago, outside at the rear deck of this house. Hymn….

The frameing at the main stair to the second floor is completely unaccessable as it is behind finished walls and ceilings. Hymm….

So far this guy is batting O and 2. Will he strike out?


This array of errors is also just one more example of why it is just as important to have a new home fully inspected.

Just because it’s new,  doesn’t mean it’s right.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post