Rodent Hotel

With cold weather comes rats, raccoons, possums, mice, squirrels, birds and bats seek shelter and can find their way into attics and crawlspaces.

During a Blackhawk inspection, the home inspector discovered that wall insulation had been pulled down and shredded by visiting rodents.

Insulation makes great nesting material, which usually becomes contaminated with rodent droppings and urine – a health safety concern.

Rodents will chew through wood, plastic, PVC pipes, roof underlayment, rubber, electrical wiring, fiberglass insulation, and paper with great ease.

The threat to electrical wires is a serious fire-hazard. Many unexplained house fires are attributed to rodents in the attic or crawlspace.

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This is a water heater temperature, pressure safety valve.

When something goes wrong within the water heater, the safety valve is designed to open and release high temperature water and excessive pressure through a discharge pipe to the exterior of the house.

Here, there is no discharge pipe and the safety valve was plugged, probably by a home owner who saw water dripping from the valve.

This is a recipe for disaster.

If the gas flame that heats the water in a gas-fired water heater fails to turn off at a set water temperature – the water temperature and tank pressure will increase – and at some point there will be an explosion of the tank.

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Water Heater Lava

During a recent Pleasant Hill home inspection, the inspector discovered what you’d expect to see coming out of a volcano – lava.

This is the top of a water heater tank that’s heavily corroded and what happens when copper pipe is connected incorrectly to steel pipe.

Technical talk: this is called galvanic corrosion and refers to corrosion that occurs when two different metals are in electrical contact with an electrolyte.

Inspector talk: copper and steel are dissimilar metals and if not insulated from each other, corrosion can take place.

With a corroded pipe and water seepage – the photo made for a lava flow of sorts on top of the water heater.

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Charred Crawlspace

The home inspector was crawling under a San Jose home and while shining his flashlight, illuminated blackened subflooring and floor joists – he couldn’t believe his eyes.

Nearly all of the subflooring and crawlspace support structure was completely charred – think charcoal used for BBQs.

The home owner had no idea about the charred crawlspace and how lucky they were that the house didn’t burn down.

It was determined by investigators that electrical wiring in the crawlspace had been gnawed by rodents causing a fire to start.

Because of the large wood surface areas (flat subfloor, floor joists, cripple wall studs), the fire smoldered (burnt, but no flames) and crept along without full combustion – essentially producing charcoal.

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AC Unit Attacked

During a Los Gatos home inspection, the inspector spotted a gaping hole in the outside air conditioning (AC) unit.

Upon closer inspection, the inspector knew that there had been several pit stops by a male dog.

Scent marking is a natural behavior that dogs use to mark territory and communicate with other dogs.

It turns out that dog urine acts as a strong alkali (corrosive substance) on the AC aluminum cooling fins and literally dissolves the metal.

The performance of the air conditioning system was compromised and cost a few thousand dollars to replace the unit.

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