“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

Have You Got The ‘New House plumbing Blues’?

Have You Got The ‘New House plumbing Blues’?

or What’s wrong in this picture.? A Plumbing Puzzler.

new and clean but not right

Everything is clean and new and dry, no leaks. It’s a new house, less than 2 years old, being sold by the builder owner.

He (or his plumber) would get 3 out of 4 on this issue because of the 4 sinks in the home only this one is like this. Very likely, one person did the rough-in plumbing (blue and red lines) and later, somebody else connected the sinks at a finishing stage.

The plumbing IS all clean and new. There are no leaks and all the parts are there, so what’s wrong.

Look at the copper parts at the ends of the ‘t’ offshoots. As they are installed they are filled with water and that defeats their purpose and function.

correct sink connections

This shows another sink in the same house done correctly.

Here you see the intended installation position. Air is trapped in those vertical chambers.

The air is compressible (water is not) and provides a cushion to counteract shocks or pressure changes in the water supply lines resulting from valve switching or flow changes from other fixtures and equipment in the system.

Noise can be caused by these pressure changes in systems that don’t have such a dampening device. This is called ‘water hammer’ and indeed it is a hammering repetitive noise.

The noise can be quite loud and intrusive. In older more brittle plumbing systems it can be violent enough to cause leaks or breakage. Sometimes the noise can be of a high enough frequency to sound like whistling or singing, but it is commonly low bass tones that transmit well through the structure.

The “noise arrestors” won’t always be these pre-made bottle shaped parts. Plumbers commonly create them on the spot with standard plumbing supplies. All that is required is a capped vertical pipe section open only in the downward direction.

Non-professionals often see these spurs or offsets and think it is unfinished work or provision for future connections.

They can be located anywhere in the system and are often found near sinks or showers and near hot water tanks and radiators of hot water heating systems.

system illustration

This illustration shows 8 of these “air chambers” in this example of a residential water supply system.


Comparatively this is a minor mistake, easily corrected and not a major cost. But it’s significance is in the future performance of the plumbing in this new home.

This is also one example of why it is just as important to have a new home fully inspected. Just because it’s new, built with all new components, doesn’t mean it’s always done right.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post