Integrity Home Inspection

Peoria, IL

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A Blog About Home Inspections...  

                                       Riveting, I know.

By Integrity Home Inspection, Oct 27 2015 12:00PM

As I stepped into the attic, I couldn't quite figure out what type of insulation I was looking at. Gray, hard particles, curly... Wait, what? It took a few seconds for me to realize what I had just picked up was a big handful of pigeon excrement. A lot of it. Basically there was bird poo covering the entire surface of the attic about an inch thick. As I moved through the attic I also begin to find pigeon bodies.

At this point, it's probably good for me to stop and mention a common characteristic of most home inspectors. While the recipients of our reports and home owners may not be thrilled with our findings, home inspectors are often downright giddy when we come across strange or even unpleasant items.

Don't get me wrong, myself and most inspectors I know don't enjoy finding issues which will break the heart of a buyer already in love with their potential new home. Few people like to be the bearer of bad news, but the fact is most houses are downright boring. After 100 houses with some ungrounded outlets and a loose toilet or two, we are itching for something to add to our scrapbook. What can I say? We like a good train wreck.

So naturally when I started finding dead pigeons it seemed perfectly reasonable to take the time to count them... all. 78. There were 78 total dead birds, which pretty well explains the 1 inch thick layer of pigeon feces. There were even several unhatched eggs peppered throughout the space. It was obvious this attic had been open to the exterior for years–if not decades–and had become sort of an unintentional aviary/bird cemetary. It's a good reminder to check your attic vent screens for holes or any evidence of pest activity, especially as it gets cold and animals start looking for a warm spot for winter. I'm happy to help you with that if needed. 309-712-1556

I admit, I enjoyed every gross minute of it. I'm not certain what the disease potential is for that much bird dung after all that time, but I'm guessing it's still a health hazard. And YES, to my lovely wife, I did wash my hands afterwards.

By Integrity Home Inspection, Feb 27 2015 06:13PM

I recently posted a photo on facebook of a frost covered attic, encouraging readers to take a look in their attic that day for similar wintery conditions. The day was one of many where temperatures hovered around 10°F and air leaks into attics would produce the dramatic appearance of frost. What I did not have the space to mention was the common cause of these attic moisture problems: bath fans.

Your bathroom exhaust fan, used during just two showers, can pump nearly 3 gallons of water into the attic air. Just saying those numbers doesn't really do it justice through. Imagine taking a 2 gallon garden sprayer into your attic and spraying down the wood framing every day. Of course that is absurd, no one would do that, but the equivalent happens in attics all the time. Add a gallon for every person and then imagine the attic of a family with three teenage boys. Assuming they shower everyday... (Yeah, right) Okay maybe imagine three teenage daughters. You get the point, it's a lot of moisture.

Pumping a bath fan directly into the attic eventually became the wrong thing to do some time in the 80's, so contractors began piping it out to the eaves of the home. This didn't solve the problem because most attic ventilation occurs when air moves in at the eaves, up through the attic and then out at the ridge. As you can see in the photo, the bathroom moisture simply comes right back into the attic causing mold growth along the way.

The best way to vent a bathroom fan in climates with cold temperatures like Central Illinois is directly to the exterior and away from attic ventilation. The best material to use is solid pipes, preferably insulated. This will ensure warm, moist bathroom air can't turn your attic into a fungal greenhouse. If you didn't peek into your attic at my last urging, do it today. Knowing the condition of your house is the best way to preserve it. Drop me a line anytime if your attic is too much of a mystery for you to tackle alone.

Cameron Anderson, CMI


By Integrity Home Inspection, Feb 18 2015 02:00PM

If you have a kitchen and are reading this, it's a safe bet you have one of these issues. If by some miracle you have the one kitchen which bucks the trends, you can still impress someone with your obscure kitchen knowledge when you find these problems in their house. Welcome to the life of a home inspector. I am constantly seeing and pointing out problems in the homes of my family and friends. There is no cure. So read on and get ready to join me in bringing dinner party conversations to a whole new level.

Disposal Not Attached

Look beneath your sink at the top of your disposal and you will see three small metal tabs which slide up three ramps on a metal collar. That simple design is what secures your disposal to the underneath side of the sink and prevents it from leaking. When those metal tabs reach the top of those ramps, they have to slide over small bumps to lock it in place. Most disposals are only partially secured in place.

Those little bumps prevent your disposal from vibrating loose and dropping to the bottom of your sink cabinet in a splash of glory. What usually happens is much less exciting than this. As the connection vibrates loose over time, leakage begins to occur.

Missing Anti-Tip Bracket

Next up, your freestanding stove. Since 1991 there have been standards in place which require stoves to be protected from tipping over. The solution to this is what we call an anti-tip bracket. Every stove installation kit comes with a bracket which mounts near the floor behind the unit and secures one of the feet or a portion of the stove frame. The unit is unable to tip forward when pressure is applied on the open door and children are protected from an accidental injury.

The problem is, no one installs these brackets. About a year ago I performed an inspection on a new home where the buyer specifically hired an appliance company to install all his kitchen appliances. His anti-tip bracket was in a drawer next to the stove. I suggested he call them back.

Exposed Wiring Beneath the Sink

Non-metallic wiring, often referred to as Romex, is not designed for exposure in areas where mechanical damage due to contact could occur. Since a large amount of storage and traffic occur in the kitchen sink cabinet, it fits this description perfectly. Dishwashers, hot water heating units and most often the garbage disposal are all components which can have Romex wiring exposed beneath the kitchen sink.

It doesn't happen often, but damage can occur to the sheathing on the Romex, due to any number of reasons, leaving live wiring present. This of course is a major safety hazard. The fix is to either provide protection for the wiring or replace it with a proper appliance cord. Both are inexpensive and require a relatively small amount of labor.

I can say with considerable certainty that nearly 100% of the homes I have inspected have had one or more of these three issues. If you find them in your own home and need some help with your next steps, feel free to give me a call. 309-712-1556 There are several fixes I can direct you to which are inexpensive and easy to apply. Unfortunately, I probably can't help you with your dinner party small talk.

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This page is dedicated to providing helpful info to home owners about real estate inspections whether they are purchasing a home or learning to maintain their current residence. Check in periodically for new posts.