Chimneys Hidden Danger

The inspector was using his flashlight to peer inside the 35 year old fireplace flue in Walnut Creek, and to his amazement light was reflecting back and glistening.

From the top of the roof, he saw that the spark arrestor and raincap assembly was loose at the chimney flue and was heavily encrusted in a black shiny material – a sign of creosote buildup.

Creosote is a sticky, corrosive and extremely combustible substance that originates from the smokiest fires and the coolest chimneys, which produce the greatest amount of creosote build-up. In time, creosote buildup hardens in a chimney.  What’s the danger in this? 

If you decide to have a rip-roaring fire in the fireplace… it’s possible for creosote to catch on fire.  With a heavy build up in your chimney, a small fire can turn into a very large one in moments… and the roar is deafening.

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Cracked Chimney

The Richter Scale was developed in 1934 to measure the magnitude (strength) of earthquakes from 1 (small) to 10 (extreme)

The home inspector observed this cracked chimney and rated it an 8 (very severe) on The House Whisperer Chimney Crack scale.

This is a structural crack and building officials will condemn the chimney structure.

The homeowner’s options are to tear the chimney down to the ground and rebuild it – or to completely remove the chimney and rebuild the house wall.

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Oakland Bust

Many Oakland home inspections can be entertaining.

Founded in 1852, Oakland was recently declared as the most diverse city in terms of various ethnic populations. Around 150 languages are spoken in the Oakland metropolitan area with a population of 435,000 (2017).

While standing on top of a 1942 California bungalow surveying the condition of the roof… the home inspector noticed the bigger-than-life, male head bust sitting on the next door neighbor’s roof.

About 6 feet high and as wide, was it a bust of a famous person or a deceased family member? Who made it? How old was it? How did they get the bust on top of the flat roof?

Inspector: “It certainly looked like the back of Ronald Regan”
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Crawlspace Critter

Home inspectors love their job and the best inspections stories seem to emerge from the crawlspace… you know, that dark and creepy space under the house where all the Dr Seuss critters hang out.

Deep into a Danville crawlspace, the inspector took this photo… A gecko?

Did you know:

  • Most geckos are nocturnal and there are over 800 different kinds
  • Geckos are among the most colorful lizards in the world
  • The toes of the gecko have millions of microscopic hairs on their which allow geckos to run up walls, windows and even defy gravity by walking upside down on ceilings
  • Geckos are carnivores and eat small insects – after eating, they clean their mouth with their tongue
  • Geckos are considered to be good luck in Hawaii

PS. The crawlspace gecko in the photo never moved while the inspector was nearby; not even when touched… come to think of it, it felt like plastic.

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Watch Your Step

It was hard for the home inspector not to stop and take a photo of this side yard walkway in Fremont.

Nearly every backyard concrete patio and driveway will crack after installation, if not properly installed. What happens?

A number of factors cause concrete flatwork to develop cracks, offsets and to settle:

  • installing directly on soil – which expands when wet, shrinks when dry
  • inadequate preparation –not adding a 4” gravel base
  • not installing reinforcing steel mesh
  • poor drainage control – downspouts discharge water next to walkway

The large crack was a result of poor drainage and ground settlement.

It was classified as a walking safety concern and a liability.

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Old Gas Valve

When’s the last time you checked the air filters under the kitchen exhaust hood or under the microwave oven above the cooktop?

Kitchen air filters help remove greases, steam and unpleasant odors during cooking. Over time they become dirty and greasy.

It’s important to clean the air filters regularly to keep the exhaust hood or functioning properly and to prevent grease fires – especially if you cook with a flame.

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