Snaps from the Field

1 10, 2022

Basement floor drains – October, 2022

2022-09-30T16:10:21-07:00October 1st, 2022|Snaps from the Field|

Basement floor drains are supposed to *remove* basement water, not bring it in. blog post

Basement floor drains are supposed to *remove* basement water, not bring it in.

One of the reasons that home inspectors run so much water during an inspection is to reveal problems like this one. The basement floor drain is connected to the main sewer line, which doesn’t drain fast enough. As a result, some water backs up into the basement. While this might be a sign of a simple obstruction in the sewer line, it might also be a sign that the whole sewer line needs to be replaced.

1 09, 2022

TPR valves – September, 2022

2022-09-01T09:19:19-07:00September 1st, 2022|Snaps from the Field|

Temperature and Pressure Relief (TPR) valves are critically important safety devices

Temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valves are critically important safety devices.

When one fails or is improperly installed in a way that prevents it from doing its job, a traditional tank-style water heater can behave like a bomb (or a rocket). Here, a flush kit for a tankless water heater is installed upside down, placing a shut off valve between the hot water output and the pressure relief valve. While the small amount of water in a tankless water heater would cause a less “exciting” failure, accidentally closing the valve could still create a dangerous and/or expensive result.

1 08, 2022

Gutters – August, 2022

2022-07-30T09:15:42-07:00August 1st, 2022|Snaps from the Field|

New type of gutter?

A New Type of Leaf Screen?

This gutter may be very effective at separating leaves from the water off the roof, but only at the expense of water running down the side of the house and causing damage. This pattern of deterioration is certainly unusual – I would suspect that it may be corrosion from some type of de-icer chemical/pellets or possibly seeds that collected in the gutters and decomposed.  Or perhaps the holes were made by a person for some misguided purpose.  Regardless of the cause, this gutter is beyond repair and should be fully replaced.

1 07, 2022

Plumbing – July, 2022

2022-07-30T08:58:32-07:00July 1st, 2022|Snaps from the Field|

Drainpipes under a sink should be simple

A trombone comes to mind. . . Or maybe miniature golf.

Drainpipes under a sink should be simple: a small U-shaped bend called a “trap” holds a plug of water to prevent sewer gas from rising out of the drain. This plug of water should never be more than 4” deep and the remaining drainpipes should be as short and direct as possible. The drain plumbing under this sink contains three traps (one’s upside down), and holds far more than 4” of water. It’ll tend to have problems draining and will clog easily.

6 06, 2022

Vents – June, 2022

2022-06-30T11:43:55-07:00June 6th, 2022|Snaps from the Field|

vent well should be removed, the soil dug down another 4-6", and a larger vent well installed

Your Dryer – It’s Full of Hot Air

Your dryer tumbles your clothes with lots of hot air, which is then vented out through a duct to a vent outside the home. When the vent does not have good clearance, airflow is restricted which can have several results:

  • your dryer may take longer to dry your clothes resulting in higher energy usage and additional wear and tear on your clothing.
  • lint is more likely to collect in the dryer duct which can be a fire hazard.
  • reduced airflow can trip temperature sensors in the dryer causing it to shut-off (and you may need a service call to reset it).
  • the pressure of the reduced flow can cause the duct to come apart and vent into unwanted locations, like the crawlspace.

This vent well should be removed, the soil dug down another 4-6″, and a larger vent well installed.

1 05, 2022

Plumbing – May, 2022

2022-04-26T11:50:28-07:00May 1st, 2022|Snaps from the Field|

AMI - home inspection sample - toilet fill valve

Toilet Fill Valve

A toilet fill valve performs the thankless task of refilling a toilet’s tank after each flush. They come in a variety of configurations, based on the size, shape, and design of the toilet. A malfunctioning one can make the toilet run continuously or fail to refill the tank with the right amount of water. When they’re installed too low in the tank, they can cause a cross-connection, where water that’s not safe to drink contaminates the drinking water. The one pictured here is too high for this tank. It might work fine, but no one can re-install the tank lid. Most people would find that unacceptable. Time to call a real plumber.

1 04, 2022

Piping – Apr, 2022

2022-04-26T11:51:26-07:00April 1st, 2022|Snaps from the Field|

AMI - home inspection sample - Use Proper Piping

PVC Pipe is a No-no

This water heater has a 1/2″ PVC extension tube on its temperature-pressure relief valve. PVC stands for Polyvinyl chloride, but a more suitable name might be “Pipe Very Cracky”. The piping is brittle and not rated for use inside a home generally, and especially not as an extension tube on a water heater temperature-pressure relief valve. In addition to this improper material the extension tube is undersized – it should be 3/4″ pipe. If the valve were to open, the high temperature and pressure of the water could easily splinter the piping. A temperature-pressure relief valve should have a suitable extension tube installed – allowable materials include 3/4″ copper, galvanized steel, CPVC, or PEX piping.

2 03, 2022

Chimneys – Mar. 2022

2022-04-26T11:52:45-07:00March 2nd, 2022|Snaps from the Field|

AMI - home inspection sample - Chimney needs a cricket

Jiminy Cricket!

This wide chimney is missing a cricket. No, not the small, noisy insect. A cricket is a small, peaked roof at the up-slope side of your chimney to deflect water and debris around your chimney. Without a cricket snow and debris can easily build up and lead to water penetration around the chimney. Chimneys that are 30” wide or more should have a cricket installed.

1 02, 2022

Plumbing – Feb. 2022

2022-04-26T11:55:07-07:00February 1st, 2022|Snaps from the Field|

Duct Tape and Bailing Wire

Anyone who grew up on a farm knows that much can be done with duct tape and bailing wire, at least to get a job done in the short-term. But repairs made in the short-term are often forgotten and become long-term, permanent, repairs. Here we see duct tape used to repair a gaping hole in a sink tailpiece. This is well past due for a plumber to come in and make the proper long-term repair: replace the tailpiece, and while they are at it, go ahead and replace the old, rusted drain assembly that connects to the sink.

1 01, 2022

Framing – Jan. 2022

2022-04-26T11:57:25-07:00January 1st, 2022|Snaps from the Field|

AMI - home inspection sample - Framing

Rule #65 of home inspections: If anyone *can* do their own framing work, anyone *will* do their own framing work.

We’ve all heard about the “good bones” of a house, and well, the framing members are quite literally the bones of the house. Here a homeowner has installed a new window in a wall but failed to install a header across the opening to support the floor joists above. Over time the weight of the joists may cause the doubled-up 2x4s installed flat to sag. This can create problems with the window and can result in visible deflections in the floor or walls above. A proper installation would have a properly sized header – probably a 4×6 or 4×8 in this case.

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