I'm not really sure why guys like to pressure wash everything! Maybe it is that feeling of power having 10X's the force of a hurricane in your hands, I just don't understand it. Anyway, I say all of this to issue a warning to any and all homeowners that own a power washer or are thinking of having their home power washed! DON'T DO IT!
Just think about the force of the water that is shooting out of that nozzle. Even at it's lowest settings it will take the skin off your foot or any other body part you stick in front of it. So just imagine shooting that water at your home and then imagine all of little nooks and crannies that water is going to find. You are shooting water into areas you don't want it to go!
Some claddings (siding material on the exterior walls of your home) can take the force of a pressure washer a little better than others. Brick holds up fairly well, but it can still be etched and damaged. Vinyl siding can be stripped off the side of a home and if you have Hardy Plank or any other cementious siding , it can be split and delaminated. Forget wood, unless you want to strip the paint right off the planks! As for Stucco or EIFS (artificial stucco), don't even think about power spraying a wall clad in stucco or EIFS. You will strip off the finish coat in seconds!
The following photos are of an EIFS home that I inspected. The lamina or finish coat was all but removed from this home. The underlying mesh was visible on every single wall and window banding. The good news was that all moisture levels were low at all windows and penetrations. The $10,000 worth of restoration work that they previous owner did five years ago was working. The bad news was that the $200 pressure wash job removed the lamina coat and now the current owner will need to have it reapplied to the tune of around $15,000 to $20,000
If you want to clean your home, you can purchase several different house washing products. Most come in a plastic bottle that you attach to your garden hose. It sprays a chemical (similar to household bleach) with other surfactants in it to help remove the dirt and grime. You let them sit for a few minutes and then spray it down with clean water from that garden hose. NO POWER WASHERS!!
So what is one to do with that fancy power washer you now have? How about cleaning the driveway! But, be careful if you have exposed aggregate! Again too strong of a stream and you will strip those little stones right off… Another option would be to sell that spraying beast on Craig's list or have a garage sale!
Scott Patterson specializes in Stucco, EIFS and AMSV (Faux stone) inspections through out Tennessee and the South. Call 615-302-1113 if you have a question or need to setup an appointment.
Every year I get several request for photos of strange items I find while doing inspections. ASHI has a great source for the strange and unusual inspection finds by inspectors from all across the country. Postcards from the Field has been sharing the strange and unusual for many years. Take a look at Postcards from the Field and enjoy. Every issue of the ASHI Reporter will have several Postcards from the Field in it. Just check each issue for some great photos in addition to some very informative articles.
Postcards from the Field
If you have ever seen what looks like missing mortar between the bricks about every two or three feet on a brick veneer wall you are most likely looking at what are called weep holes or weeps.
They are an important part of the brick or masonry veneer system. In building construction, weeps are typically found in a masonry veneer or cavity wall, just above the flashing. The cavity serves as a way to drain this water back out through the weep holes. The weep holes allow wind to create an air stream through the cavity. The stream removes evaporated water from the cavity to the outside. Weep holes are also placed above windows to prevent dry/moisture rot of a wooden window frame.
Now the other day while doing an inspection on a 5400 square foot six year old home, I found something that I see a few times a year. A homeowner thought that the weep holes were a defect or mistake made by the mason when the brick was placed on the home. So Mr. Home Owner decided that he needed to seal each and every single weep hole with silicone.. I stopped counting at the 26th sealed weep! This really could be a major problem if the silicone can't be fully removed from the weep holes. It would defeat the reason for the weeps and could cause major damage to the wall of the home.
So never seal those open holes in the brick walls on your home!
A good deck can improve the value of your home and make for an enjoyable space to relax with family and friends, but improperly built decks are also one of the number one problematic items we find during a home inspection. So many folks do not follow the prescribed and published deck building guidelines for the proper construction of a deck and very seldom are permits taken out to build a deck, so no permit means no inspection or oversight of its construction.
Even the professional deck builders make mistakes! While doing an inspection I came across this deck. It was a large deck that measured 20' in length and at it's widest point 18'. They built the deck with composite deck boards, which are not inexpensive. They used composite railings, guards and handrail on the stairs. this is a very expensive deck.. The listing agent said it was valued at $16,000!
When I walked up the stairs, I noticed that I had to bend to the side to hold the handrail. The handrail was only 23" high at it's highest point along the deck stairs. It should be at a minumn 34" along the stairs.. So we have a problem! The deck builder had only one job to do and that was to build the deck properly and they didn't do that! Handrails are so important and need to be built to current safety guidelines.
So, if you are having a deck built be sure you check and follow up with the work that is being done. Take that permit out so that it will be inspected and better yet, call a qualified inspector like Trace Inspections to double check that contractors work!
If you are building a home you should consider having a pre-drywall inspection performed. This type of inspection is done once all of the framing, electrical and plumbing rough-in's are complete and right before the insulation is installed. With this type of inspection many defects that would normally be covered with insulation and drywall can be discovered. The most common issues that are discovered are framing and plumbing problems. Both can cause costly problems in just a few years or normally right after the builder 1 year warranty is up!
Many many items are viewed during a pre-drywall inspection. The following are just a few that I found during one.
The Red pipe is a PEX waterline, it is a form of plastic. The silver fixture is a recessed light. PEX should not be closer than 12" to a lighting fixture!
This is an electrical cable that has been nicked by a nail from when the siding was installed!
Well what we have here is a PEX line going through the top cord of a TJI joist. The plumber has damaged this joist to the point that it will most likely need to be replaced.
The above three items were found during a pre-drywall inspection. They were not discovered by the builder, the builders quality control inspection or when the city did their inspection. Any single one of the above items could cause serious problems to the home if not corrected.
So you have a nice covered patio or porch but the air gets a little still and just wish you had more of a breeze, so what can you do? Install a ceiling fan! Brilliant! Now those fan paddle blades can push that air and create an arctic blast during those hot summer months… Well, that's not such a good solution when that covered porch or patio ceiling is only around 7' to 8' in height! That ceiling fan really needs to be no lower than 7' otherwise it stands a good chance of whopping someone upside their head!
The blades on this fan were right at my head when I walked under it. Just a little too low for comfort.
Do you know how to properly display the American flag on Memorial Day?
With Memorial Day not far away, it is never too early to start preparing of it.
The following procedure is for a standing flagpole:
In the morning when the flag is posted it should be raised properly to half-mast (staff). Proper raising of the flag is to take the flag to the top of the pole and then slowly and with honor, lower the flag to half-mast.
Then at the Noon hour the flag should be slowly lowered and then briskly with pride and honor, raised to the top of the flagpole. It should remain at this position for the rest of the day.
Why half mast and then full mast?
The first part of the day while the flag is at half-mast is in remembrance for those that have given their life for our country. The rest of the day when the flag is at full mast is in remembrance and in honor for those that are serving or have served our country.
I hope all will fly the American Flag with pride on Memorial Day!
On a side note:
If your flag is in faded, torn or tattered do not fly it! Go and purchase a new flag and then call a local Boy Scouts of America district office or contact a local BSA Troop and ask them if you can bring your flag to them so that it can be honorably retired and disposed of. If you have never seen a USA flag properly retired it is a very moving experience that all should witness.
That is an old phrase that means we are running out of the good stuff! The apples are always fresher at the top of the barrel and tend to become a stinky pile of mush at the bottom. The same holds true with our housing stock, as the stock depletes(like we are seeing now) the homes left on the market are for the most, the bottom of the barrel.
Several of my fellow home inspectors were talking about this just a few weeks ago over lunch and we all agreed that the homes we are seeing now are some of the worst we have see in years. It seems that the changeover started a couple of months ago and it has done nothing but progress with no end in sight. The sad part is that the ones who are really getting hurt are those that do not get an inspection and those that pay for two, three or more inspections trying to find a descent home.
So what can be done?
It needs to start with the real estate agents taking control of their sellers that have their homes listed with them. Agents just need to flat tell their sellers that they need to repair the obvious items like rotting wood, dripping faucets, water stains on ceilings, leaking roofs, windows that do not open, etc, etc, etc…….. It's almost like everyone is looking at the world through rose colored glasses with blinders!
Faux Stone, Man-made Stone, Cultured Stone and my favorite “Lick-n-Stick Stone” are all names for manufactured stone veneer or AMSV (applied manufactured stone veneer).
Manufactured Stone Veneer is a product that has the appearance of natural stone, but is manufactured with concrete. Today the veneer is increasing in popularity and being used to give commercial, residential and landscape applications a rich, upscale look.
The advantages of manufactured stone veneer over natural stone are:
• Cost (cost of material, cost of application)
• Weight (ease of application)
• Variety of designs and colors
• Good look for home, office, Hotel etc.
Manufactured veneer is cheaper than natural stone, approximately 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of natural stone. Its lightweight eliminates the need for wall ties or footings and makes it easier and cheaper to build. The variety of designs and colors makes available options, which would not be available with natural stone, since natural stone is used in the general area around the locality, which it is extracted.
There are also disadvantages for stone veneer compared to natural stone: It is not as strong as natural stone; if a piece breaks, or if a piece is removed from the wall, then unless it is replaced, it shows significantly; it is not reusable as natural stones are. Furthermore, manufactured stone veneer has a larger waste factor than natural stone. Natural stone can be chipped, cut, and shaped to any size needed. The cut off pieces can be reused.
While manufactured stone veneer cannot be cut to fit because it exposes the undesirable inner concrete from which the manufactured stone is made of. I often find cut and broken pieces on new homes. Those cut or broken pieces really stick out like a red flag once you know what to look for.
Manufactured stone contains lime nuggets, which can leech out, and stain the surface over time when exposed to water. Manufactured stone is not a naturally occurring product and, due to its cast origin and painted exterior, it is subject to color changes caused by exposure to the UV in sunlight and moisture. It is also a very labor intensive product to install, not unlike stucco. In fact I call it “Bumpy Stucco” as it is basically installed in a similar fashion.
Manufactured stone is a porous product. It absorbs much more water than real stone and it will transfer the moisture through to the wall of the structure causing many of the same issues seen with improperly installed stucco. Being a porous product manufactured stone is subjected to ice wedging and freeze thaw problems. As water seeps into the manufactured stone and then freezes, chunks of the face will pop off leaving a rugged edge, which looks similar to the edge of a broken sidewalk. Repair can be expensive as the entire piece of stone must be cut out and replaced. The repair also doesn’t stop the issue from re-occurring.
I and many other experts feel that AMSV is the next EIFS or Artificial Stucco fiasco! We seeing more and more signs with this product. If you think you have a moisture problem with your AMSV do not wait any longer. If you need a referral to an inspector in your area, I might be able to direct you to a knowledgeable person. Give me a call or email I will be glad to help if I can.
Starting in 2008, the National Electrical Code®(NEC®) required new and renovated dwellings to have tamper-resistant (TR) receptacles. These receptacles have spring-loaded shutters that close off the contact openings, or slots, of the receptacles. Although the NEC has required TR receptacles since 2008 this does not always mean that all homes built after that year will have them. It all depends on the local adoption of the code by your city, township or municipality. As a home inspector I see new homes with out TR receptacles because many areas have chosen to not adopt this section or have modified the code. This type of receptacles does cost more and builders have been upset about being required to put them in their homes and this could be the reason that some areas are not requiring them.
When a plug is inserted into the receptacle, both springs are compressed and the shutters then open, allowing for the metal prongs to make contact to create an electrical circuit. Because both springs must be compressed at the same time, the shutters do not open when a child attempts to insert an object into only one contact opening, and there is no contact with electricity. Many feel that tamper- resistant receptacles are an important next step to making the home a safer place for children.
If you do have TR receptacles you will notice that it can be difficult to insert the blades of a plug into the receptacle at first. As that receptacle is used more it will become easier to insert plugs as the TR device loosens with use.
I recall my mother telling the story about when I was around 5 years old and I stuck a car key into an outlet. She said I only did it once! Oh, and my baby crib was painted with lead based paint too!
Scott Patterson has been a professional home inspector since 1995. Scott works out of the Greater Nashville TN area. Contact his team at Trace Inspections for all of your inspection needs.