What’s Wrong

Occasionally, home inspectors discover several things requiring attention from a single photo.

Here’s what was in the inspector’s report:

A floor joist under the Danville subfloor was over-notched to accommodate a drain pipe causing the floor above to sag.

The black plastic drain/waste line didn’t have support straps as required and was supported with a wood post and shim.

The plastic pipe was manufactured by Spartan Plastics between 1984-1990, which had a history of cracking and failure; and was involved in a class action lawsuit.

The parallel copper water pipe isn’t properly supported which can cause water leakage at a connection.

The electrical cable lying on the ground is subject to mechanical damage should be secured to floor joists.

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EZ Wall

Are you looking to build a retaining wall in the front yard without too much effort?

Here’s how to build a retaining wall that’s inexpensive and requires little masonry skill – although you do need to be able to lift 60lbs sacks of dry concrete.

It turns out that stacking bags of dry concrete is a quick and cheap way to construct a wall.

After soaking the stacked bags of concrete with water, the concrete hardens in the bag.

It may not be the best looking wall, but it’s strong and cheap.

Lowes sells a 60 pound bag of Quikrete concrete for $2.97

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Throughout most of the 20th century, asbestos products were hailed as a ‘wonder fiber’ that insulates up to intense temperature.

Due to its outstanding resistance to heat, its fibrous structure and low cost – asbestos was manufactured into thousands of products from toasters to heating ducts for 60 years.

In 1977, asbestos was found to cause cancer in workers who breathed its microscopic fibers in mines, shipyards and asbestos plants decades after their exposure. When the EPA discovered this, they restricted the use of asbestos.

It’s the breathing of fibers when this material is disturbed, not its presence, which is considered a health risk.

When the home inspection report comments that the heating ducts have been wrapped in an asbestos material and that some ductwork sections have separated – there’s no need for panic.

People have time to become informed about asbestos, obtain estimates, and select an appropriate course of action.

A licensed contractor will recommend a course of action ranging from encapsulation to removal and replacement of the heating ducts.

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Oh Deer

When the home inspector rounded the corner into a Pittsburg family room… He did a double-take, as a full size deer was staring at him.

The inspector stared back.

Definition of stare: To look directly, fixedly, or vacantly, often with a wide-eyed gaze.

Definition of a stare-down: To stare at a person or animal until that person or animal blinks or turns away.

The deer never blinked.

Okay, the inspector may have lost the stare-down contest, but he didn’t say: “Oh deer, I missed something at that inspection today”

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Mushroom Tale

The home inspector was meandering through a vacant Oakland craftsman house built in the 1930s.

The inspection was discovering the typically items – double-hung windows that were painted shut – large cracks in the plaster walls – rodent activity in the crawlspace… until he walked into the bathroom.

It’s not every day that you see a mushroom growing up between the vinyl floor tiles.

Mushrooms are fungi that require oxygen, a food source, suitable temperature and a source of water to grow.

In this case, the subfloor under the vinyl tiles is the food source and there must have been a water problem associated with the bathtub plumbing for a source of moisture under the floor tiles.

Mother Nature wins again.

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Little White Block

Many people are injured by trips and falls in their own home.

Most homeowners don’t give interior stairs a second thought, but our certified home inspectors do.

When the inspector thought he’d seen it all – a little white block was spotted at the top of the stairs during a San Ramon home inspection.

An older wood stair baluster had been removed, leaving a ‘stump’ – a stair safety tripping concern and a home owners’ liability.

Count on The House Whisperer to identify health and safety conditions during their inspections.

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Crawlspace Clothes Lint

As the home inspector made his way under a Concord house – he spotted a large accumulation of clothes dryer lint in the crawlspace.

Clothes dryer lint is microscopic clothes fibers and is highly flammable. This is considered a fire concern and doesn’t meet building requirements.

Lint ducts are required to terminate at the exterior of a house.

Did you know that clothes lint is used by campers needing tender to start a fire?

It turns out that lint and a spark or match produces a flame almost instantly.

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Clothes Lint Red Flags

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are 15,000+ fires associated with clogged clothes dryer lint ducts.

The danger lies with the clothes dryer lint that builds up inside the lint duct between the clothes dryer and the outside termination.

Do you have any of these Red Flags?

  • Clothes take a long time to dry
  • Clothes come out hotter than usual
  • Excess lint accumulation behind the dryer

Our experienced home inspectors inspect clothes dryer lint ducts for these Red Flags – a fire safety concern.

  • Flexible through wall/floor
  • Missing, Deteriorated
  • Too many elbows
  • Wrong material
  • Accumulation
  • Disconnected
  • Damaged
  • Too long
  • Crushed
  • Vertical
  • Plastic

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Not a Bright Idea

The home inspector during a Berkeley home inspection spotted this electrical safety concern.

Illumination is a requirement in a bathroom bathtub and/or shower area, so you can see what you are doing – a good idea.

Installing an unprotected light bulb fixture above the showerhead – not a bright idea.

The surface temperature of a 60-watt incandescent light bulb can approach 260F degrees. Water splashing on a hot light bulb can cause the bulb to explode… littering the shower pan or bathtub with glass shrapnel and possibly injuring someone or worse.

In the inspection report: We highly recommend review by a licensed electrician prior to the close of the contingency period.

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Jaws of Destruction

One of the biggest threats of having rodents in your attic – is that they gnaw on electrical wires. 

Squirrels, rats and mice are all rodents. Their teeth grow non-stop like your fingernails. Just like a cat that scratches its claws to keep them in check and we trim our nails; rodents gnaw to keep their teeth short and sharp.

If an electrical wire outer jacket is chewed through and exposes the copper wires, the rodent is usually electrocuted and a fire can start.

The next thing you know the kitchen lights aren’t working or the fire department has been called.

Schedule an inspection – mention “I’d like a peace of mind inspection” – Save $25