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So far jltdesign has created 19 blog entries.
1 12, 2021

Structural Inspection – Dec. 2021

2022-06-30T11:45:18-07:00December 1st, 2021|Snaps from the Field|

I’m Melting! Melting!

Well, no, this building isn’t coming to the same fate as the Wicked Witch of the West, but its split-face block wall does have serious issues with water penetration. Split-face block walls absorb a lot of water and it lifts the paint as it tries to escape. The source of the water penetration may be from improper flashing details or even from small fissures in the face of the porous block itself and, on this wall, we see no mid-wall flashings, weep holes, or any other ways for water to be directed out of the wall assembly. Re-coating, sealing, and painting large areas of a wall like this can be very expensive, and will not “fix”. Repairing the wall surface would also not address any possible hidden damage to wood and metal framing inside this wall, especially where floor framing ties into the walls. This wall needs to have additional invasive inspection work to fully understand and eliminate the water penetration and to find and repair any hidden structural damage.

1 11, 2021

Plumbing Installation – Nov. 2021

2022-06-30T11:46:59-07:00November 1st, 2021|Snaps from the Field|

AMI - home inspection sample - plumbing trap

Rule #64 of home inspections: If anyone *can* do their own plumbing work, anyone *will* do their own plumbing work.

As we’ve mentioned before, every plumbing fixture is supposed to have one trap to hold a small plug of water and prevent sewer gas from rising up out of the drain. This homeowner must have been one of those people who believe that “more is better.” The water from this sink passes through not one, not two, but three traps: the white trap in the foreground, the middle trap, and the trap at the lower left. It’s like that big rainbow-colored slide at the carnival. I can hear you asking, “But how do you know that a homeowner did this plumbing?” That’s easy. Plumbers don’t use fittings with price stickers on them.

1 10, 2021

Electrical Wiring – Oct. 2021

2022-06-30T11:48:17-07:00October 1st, 2021|Snaps from the Field|

AMI - home inspection sample - electrical wiring

Rule #63 of home inspections: If anyone *can* do their own electrical wiring, anyone *will* do their own electrical wiring. Especially with Home Depot and Lowes there to encourage them.

This light fixture is intended to be installed over a flush-mount electrical box. (That’s a box that fits inside the wall and is flush with the surface of the wall – or better, yet, of a mounting block.) In this picture, someone installed the fixture over a surface-mount box. The joint between the two isn’t water-tight and can’t be made water-tight.

1 08, 2021

Rodents and Insulation – Aug. 2021

2021-09-01T09:57:28-07:00August 1st, 2021|Snaps from the Field|

Rodents and Insulation

Insulation and Wiring – Rule #62 of home inspection: If a rodent *can* gnaw on a thing, it *will* gnaw on that thing.

All rodents, including mice and rats, have four front teeth that never stop growing and must be worn down to keep them at a manageable size. If necessary, they’ll simply grind their teeth together to keep them at a manageable length, but they much prefer to gnaw on other things like wood, plastic, and the sheathing and insulation on electrical wiring. In some cases, when desperate, they actually eat the insulation. That wasn’t the case here, as the chewed-up insulation remains in a pile below the cable.

1 07, 2021

Electrical Service Drop – July 2021

2021-09-01T09:57:50-07:00July 1st, 2021|Snaps from the Field|

Electrical Service Drops – Avoid a “Hot” Summer

This electrical service drop contains a variety of defects:

  • Both the utility splices are exposed at the “hot” legs of the service drop. The exposed conductors could shock or kill a person or animal. A strong wind could blow the splices into each other, causing an electrical arc that would damage them and pose a fire hazard to the house.
  • Concealed contact between aluminum and copper wires might have caused the white corrosion.
  • To the right of the utility splices, the big black lumps are split bolt connectors that an electrician installed when the temporary connection was made; they weren’t meant to be permanent.
  • The short sections of cable between the split-bolt connectors and the utility splices are smaller than the other service cables, and could overheat.


1 06, 2021

Plumbing Installation – June 2021

2021-09-01T09:44:49-07:00June 1st, 2021|Snaps from the Field|

AMI - home inspection sample - Plumbing Drain or Miniature Golf?

Plumbing Drain or Miniature Golf?

The home inspector’s nemesis: a homeowner who’s willing to undertake any repair, regardless of ability. Every plumbing fixture with a drain requires a trap to hold a small plug of water and prevent sewer gas from entering the home. Even though this installation has two traps, neither will do any good because they’re both installed on their sides. Instead of holding plugs of water, these will just slow the flow of water. I’m not sure why they put blue toothpaste on every joint – these are slip joints that require no sealant.


1 05, 2021

Attic Pulldown Ladder – May 2021

2022-06-30T11:50:32-07:00May 1st, 2021|Snaps from the Field|

AMI - home inspection sample - Drive nail through hole in bracket.

Attic Pulldown Ladder – Drive nail through hole in bracket.

Seven words that are difficult to misunderstand. So why do people misunderstand them so often? As any home inspector in the Portland area will tell you, attic pulldown ladders are rarely installed properly. They require, at minimum, four nails (or sometimes lag screws) through each of the four mounting brackets. Most people use drywall screws, which are a particular problem because they have no listed strength and because they can snap so easily, and they always seem to drive them through the wood frame, which can split.

1 04, 2021

Dangerous Gas Line – April 2021

2021-09-01T09:46:46-07:00April 1st, 2021|Snaps from the Field|

Dangerous Gas Line – Here’s a serious mistake that could be very dangerous.

This is a picture of a gas furnace with an air conditioning evaporator coil above it. The gas pipe is made from black steel pipe and begins at the left. After running through a red-handled valve that is, thankfully, turned off, the gas pipe runs into the condensate drain opening for the air conditioner coil. If you were to turn on that valve, gas would flow into the duct that contains the AC coil. Given enough time, the gas would travel through the ducts, flooding the house with gas and creating a potential for a house-destroying explosion.

In a proper installation, the black pipe would have run into the gray control valve near the bottom of the picture.

Aside from the obvious error in connecting the gas line to the wrong opening, it’s clear that whoever did the work was not an experienced installer. No professional would have smeared so much blue pipe sealant all over the place.

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