“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

Why is this bag of water hanging in the attic and should you have one?

Why is this bag of water hanging in the attic and should you have one?

Short answer: No. The attic space is outside the heated area of the home and such water will freeze, eventually break the plastic and soak the building materials and leak into the home interior. So why is it here?

Here’s the bigger picture;… it’s a real effort to do it the wrong way.

full view

The blue arrows (1 & 2) are the start and direction of the exhausts from two bathrooms. Instead of going straight up and out through the roof, the ducts are bent downward to exit (arrows 3 & 4) at the soffits. That is the basic error.

Amateurs often are uninformed about correct methods to open and flash an exit through the roofing, so like here, they get quite inventive and do a lot of work to ‘solve’ their problem without cutting the roof. ‘Duct tape’ is not a building product any more than it is a car repair product so it’s presence is a dead give away.

This ‘thinker’ must have heard about condensation but does not understand the use of vapour barrier. Only incomming ducts are insulated. Exhaust ducts are not and vapour barrier on the cold side of insulation is wrong and in this case is what gave us the ‘bag ‘ of water.

Note the water colour. Not the pristine clear colour of condensed water is it. This is an indicator of another condition as is the photo below; … stains and ‘lint’ on the ceiling grills are problem indicators. Yes we’re talking mold in the ducts.

mold indication water sign

Duct runs going latterally or horizontally just allow condenation to collect and along with all the house dust (skin cells etc.). Once the weather warms up you’ll have an explosion of mold growth because you’ve provided water, food and now heat.

The imperfections in the ceiling of the last photo is water damage. So if our ‘bag is holding water, is there a roof leak?

water route mold stain at soffit.

No, not a roof leak, just your old bath water back to haunt you.

Look at the circled areas in the last photo, and also in the second photo (an oval). This is mold stain on the roof sheathing from humidity that actually made it all the way outdoors but was then pulled back into the attic to do damage. Why does that happen?

Because the warm moist air is being released right into the intake grills of the roof venting (cooling) system, aka ‘the soffits’. Not much point in trying to get rid of it if you are only going to pull it back in again.

So all bathroom exhaust ducts that enter the attic must exit directly vertically and through the roof to the exterior. No latteral or horizontal runs. Insulation or vapour barrier has no place on attic ducts. You just want to blast the humidity out above the roof where it can do no harm. Exiting at the soffits is worse than useless.

So a bag of water in the attic is the sword of Damocles hanging overhead.

No thanks.



Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

“Ch Ch Ch Changes”….Don’t Always Improve IT (Your Roof, Your House) .

”  Ch Ch Ch Changes”….Don’t Always Improve IT (Your Roof, Your House) .


The Roof Viewflat roof and parapet

Here’s a view of a ‘flat’ roof that has been shown on some of my other blogs.

Flat roofs are not actually flat. They either slope to a central drain or drain to one edge.

This angle is gradual so the drop from the high part of the roof to the drain is not much. Here it is about 6″.

Thats fine when it’s just raining and there is no blockage of the drain(s).

Blockage from debris is only a concern if you have large trees nearby and even when you don’t, you equip it with a wire bulb strainer and check it several times a year.

gooseneck? in wall


Parapet Wall Detail

This is not a typical roof vent . It is small and built into the parapet wall and the opening is close to the roof surface.

This is not a concern in light rains, but when there is a real downpour any debris blockage at the drain will cause water to pond and back up on the roof surface.

In winter with snow and ice built up on the roof any drain freezing or blockage will result in back ups that will be up to those vent openings in no time.


Typical Gooseneck Roof vent

This is a typical gooseneck roof vent. It is shaped that way to shed rain but allow air to move in and out of the roof space. This is actually 3 times higher in space above the roof surface than the vent shown in the parapet of the photo above.

So What is the significant change here?

For that look at the first photo. We see a chimney that has been abandoned and capped with that big mounded piece of concrete. That’s fine but what it tells us is the the heating system of the building has been changed and the chimney is no longer needed.

That part is ok, but what does that change mean to the roof. Well it means there is no longer an almost constantly warmed masonry mass in the centre of this roof keeping the components from freezing, most significantly the drainage piping of the roof drain.

Now that drain is liable to freezing and blockage for much of the winter season. Just a result of the heating system change and the chimney being capped.

Now what happens when the drain is blocked?  The water stays on the roof and freezes into thicker and thicker lenses of ice plus snow as the winter drags on (Winter always drags on doesn’t it?).

But when we start to warm up towards spring, the drain remains frozen under ice, while snow melt water and rain accumulate on the roof. On big roofs that can cause structural damage.

But here our concern is the water that gets backed up and drips into those low parapet wall vents. That water soaks into the brick wall layer and does the damage we saw on a previous blog.

Also with about the same amount of flooding the water is bypassing the edge of the membrane at the front wall (where there is no parapet wall).  The water runs through the soffit overhang and into the front wall of this building. We saw this shown here with theses two clues.

When the chimney was operating it and the area around it was constantly warmed and kept the nearby drain open and functioning to clear the roof of any water accumulation, therefor there was less ice. Water getting up to the vent edges or the front limit of the roof membrane would have been a rare occurrence. That was part of this buildings systems.

Every time you make changes the other components and systems are affected.

So changes may make sense but there can be aspects that are not considered, and those can cause damage as we see here.


If you are in the Montreal area and want a professional consult before making changes to your property please contact me for a quotation. I can also direct you to associates in other areas as well.






Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post