Failed Duct Tape

Under a San Ramon house, the home inspector discovered a partially disconnected heating duct in a very wet crawlspace.

The amateur installation was evidenced by the excessive use of grey duct tape and the absence of duct support straps.

Grey duct tape is not for heating ducts click here (interesting article)

What are the concerns open duct laying on the ground?

– Disconnected ducts waste a lot of energy

– Rodents love open ducts… If they invade, it’s a health safety concern

– Open ducts lying on a wet ground with air moving through a duct can be a breeding ground for bacteria and spore growth (mold)

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What’s Inside Your Ducts

Winter time and not a plant in your area can be found poofing pollen particles into the air.

So why are you still sniffling, sneezing and wheezing? It could be your furnace heating ducts.

If your house has a crawlspace, take a look under some of the room floor register grates, where the heating/cooling ducts terminate.

Do you see, what we see? … paper clips, pet hair, gold coins, dust, dirt, gum, pencils, pens, beads, paper, combs, dried food, diamond rings, crumbs, rodent droppings, insulation, bio-growths, etc… you get the idea.

What to do? Grab a shop vacuum.

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One Photo Tells All

Many home inspectors take many photos on an inspection site and archive them in the event there’s a future complaint.

My mentor told me, that when an inspection photo is taken… be sure to ‘study it’, as there may other conditions in need of repair.

In this poor quality photo…

1) The wood support for the drain pipe is very creative… but doesn’t meet plumbing requirements for pipe support and the wood is in contact with the ground.

2) Peering through the dense cobwebs to the left, is a disconnected flexible lint duct… plus flexible lint ducts are not permitted in a crawlspace.

3) To the right of the wood pipe support is a corroded and leaking cast iron waste pipe… a health concern.

4) In the upper left corner is a copper pipe in contact with a galvanized steel pipe (at white wire loop). Copper and steel are dissimilar metals and corrosion is taking place.

5) You can’t see, but behind the cast iron pipe, there’s a loose support floor.

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Small Crater Lake

The home inspector couldn’t believe his eyes – water from a corroded cast iron drain/waste line was leaking and had formed a small lake.

From the looks of things, the dripping water had been going for years every time someone took a shower or flushed a toilet.

The entire crawlspace was in a very muddy condition.

No other adverse conditions were noted. No wonder plumbers charge big bucks.

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Waiting for Great Flood

Ask any home inspector and they’ll tell you that poor drainage around a house is one of the biggest contributing factors to foundation settlement, crack in foundations, house siding deterioration, dry rot and mold problems.

Did you know that one inch of rainfall onto a 2000sqft roof ‘accumulates’ nearly 1250 gallons of water that runs into the gutters and downspouts?

That’s a lot of water that should be diverted away from a house.

Today’s house construction includes a drainage collection system; where downspouts terminate into a drain line and surface drainage grates are installed at grade around the building to carry water away from a building.

Note that the surface drainage grate in the photo is several inches above grade… We can only surmise that the installer needed a laugh or went home early Friday afternoon.

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Do Not Open

An interesting aspect of being a home inspector is that you never know what you’ll discover at the next property inspection.

It’s not too often a sign is posted on a bedroom door “Do Not open or Touch this door… very, very important that you follow this request Do Not Touch!! Thank You!!”

Many things come to mind… Does it mean there’s something in the room that will come after you?… Someone sleeping… A giant snake… Booby trapped door… a madman sleeping inside?

Sometimes, it’s better not to open a door… Why? Watch the video: Do Not Open by Roger Carr and see for yourself.

Yes, The House Whispereropened the door… and lived to write this blog (vacant house).

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Video link for “Do Not Open” –

Duct Tape Story

Ask any home inspector and you’ll hear that disconnected crawlspace and attic heating and cooling ducts are a common observation.

Why? Because standard gray duct tape was used.

it says Duct Tape on the label – it must be the right tape for heating ducts – Right?

Wrong! During World War II, before it was called duct tape, the U.S. military bought a cloth-backed, rubber-adhesive tape for making emergency repairs on the battlefield.

Sometime after WWII, heating and cooling contractors begin to use the tape to seal the joints in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts.

This tape was manufactured in the same way, though to match the metal ducts, it was colored grey rather than the green color of the Army version. Because of this use, it became known informally as ‘duct tape’.

The problem is that standard grey duct tape does not adequately seal duct joints and has a short lifespan. Hot air flowing through heating ducts and hot attics can soften the tape adhesive. Eventually, the tape slowly unravels itself… causing heating and cooling duct connections to separate or leak.

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Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

The U-shape pipe under a sink is called a P-trap.

The purpose of a P-trap is to create a water seal that prevents sewer gas from coming into the house and to collect wedding rings, gold coins that might go down the drain before they are swept away.

A properly installed P-trap has a water seal between 2-4 inches (between the two horizontal red lines) and uses smooth wall pipe, not flexible pipe.

The plumbing configuration in the photo will result in poor sink drainage and in time become plugged with hair, soap scum, dirt, and other debris.

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Deck From Hell

When the home inspector walked into the Concord backyard, he couldn’t believe his eyes – the steps leading up to the backyard composite deck were totally disintegrated.

Early composite decking made its debut in the 1990s. The original composite decking was made from a combination of recycled plastic milk jugs and old shipping pallets.

It was an environmental solution to using wood in deck construction, but the sun’s UV rays proved to be a formidable opponent.

A decade later, manufacturers figured out the ‘recipe’ for new composite products that looked like fresh cut Cedar or Brazilian Walnut, but never turned grey… and that’s when composite decking sales took off.

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Silent Killer

You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it… but it can kill you… a gas known as the “silent killer”… carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced by common household appliances such as gas water heaters, gas clothes dryers, gas cooking ranges, ovens or cook tops, wood burning stoves, charcoal grills, propane heaters, gas wall heaters.

Early symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue and are often mistaken for the flu because the deadly gas goes undetected in a home.

Advanced symptoms include confusion, depression, impaired judgment, hallucinations, agitation, vomiting, drowsiness, fainting, memory problems and visual changes.

California’s Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 (SB183) requires that all residential property be equipped with a CO detector outside sleeping areas and all levels of a house including basements.

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