Do you have gray plastic shut off valves and supply hoses under you sinks and toilets? If your house was built in the 1970s to the mid 1990s you could find this type of valve and hose under a kitchen or bathroom sink or possibly under the toilet.
The gray plastic fittings in these pictures are made of polybutylene. This was a standard plumbing fixture valve and hose material from the 70s to to the mid 90s. During this period, there were issues with polybutylene supply tubing in walls and crawlspaces developing leaks and the use of this material was discontinued around 1995.
I still run across these type of valves and supply hoses under sinks and toilets. Given the past long term issues and problems with polybutylene piping I always recommend replacing these valves and hoses with modern plumbing parts.
Interesting find at a recent inspection. The armored conduit for the electric water heater was just a bit short during installation. Rather than obtaining a longer piece, the installer decided to substitute duct tape to cover the gap. Though it is the same color as the conduit, duct tape does not provide the same benefits as an appropriate length of armored conduit. This is a potential safety hazard for shock and needs to be repaired. Standard building practices call for the power supply wires to be protected with BX armored conduit all the way to the top of the tank to prevent damage. Duct tape is not listed in the building code as an option.
Brick and mortar chimneys are a common site on rooftops of a certain age in Washington State. A common point of deferred maintenance and long term damage is at the chimney cap. This is the mortar cap at the top of the chimney that protects the top of the chimney and bricks below.
Water tends to pool and collect on the top of the chimney cap. This can lead to moss growth and erosion of the mortar which over the long term leads to cracks and cap failure. Eventually the cap will split and be in danger of falling off the chimney on to the roof or to the ground below.
If a chimney cap is at the point of damage like in these pictures, it needs to be repaired or replaced. Preventative maintenance is the regular cleaning of moss and the installation of a rain cap over the flue that extends over the edges of the chimney.
Do you have areas of failing paint on exterior wooden structures? Does your support post feel mushy and your finger sink under the surface when pressed? You may have a problem if you are experiencing these issues.
This is a pretty common problem on exterior wooden structures and highlights the need for annual maintenance. All outside wood structures need to be looked at for failing caulking and paint every year. Caulking should be removed and renewed if found cracked and failing. Areas of failing paint should be repaired and repainted to avoid problems like these.
With the long term neglect of this structure the only real option is to replace the rotted wood and start over again. Putting paint over the top of the rotting wood will hide the damage for a bit but it doesn't change the fact that the underlying wood is structurally unsound.
Flat roofs are not ideal - they have a lot of issues with standing water from easily clogged gutters. Ponding water that remains on the roof will eventually find a way in to the substructure. This can easily lead to extensive water damage. Flat roofs require regular maintenance and need to be kept clear of debris as much as possible.
One of the most common sources of drafts and cold air in a home is a leaking attic entry hatch. They are often out of sight and out of mind but can lead to a lot of chilly nights and increased heating costs.
As with any drafty situation, the first thing to look for is a source of air leakage. When air can move from one area to another it takes heat with it. This is a good thing for hot air blowing out of a heating duct register but not ideal when that same heated air is moving in to the attic or outdoors.
From the thermal images and with visual inspection of this attic hatch it appears that the weatherstripping is inadequate. There is pretty good insulation over the center of the hatch but there is obvious air movement around the perimeter. Warm air from the house is leaking in to the attic which increases heating costs and decreases comfort in the home.
Something is going on with this ceiling. The homeowner noticed a growing stain on the ceiling that seemed to get worse every time it rained. This corner of the ceiling is under a low area of the roof and located directly under a roof valley (junction of two sloping areas of a roof). This stain is a good indication that the roof is leaking.
There was a previous leak in this same area, you can see the square area where a previous repair has been completed. Obviously the leak wasn't repaired adequately or a new leak has formed in the same area.
Common areas of roof leaks are roof valleys, junctions where a vertical surface abuts the roof or penetrations from pipes through the roof. The homeowners had a roofing company inspect the roof and they found an improperly installed valley flashing. The roofers repaired the flashing and made the roof water tight again.
Once the leak has been repaired, it's time to open up the ceiling and assess the damage. The drywall needs to be cut from this section of the ceiling and any wet insulation needs to be removed. Inspect the attic area and try to find all the remaining water on the joists and wooden components. The repair area needs to be left open to dry before completing any repairs.
Brick and mortar chimneys exposed to water over time will deteriorate. Though bricks are more or less indestructible the mortar holding them together is prone to damage and eventual failure. Once the mortar between the bricks cracks and begins to fall out the bricks and structural integrity of the chimney are sure to follow.
These pictures show some typical long term water damage to the mortar between bricks on a above roof chimney. Someone noticed this problem before and attempted to fix the failing mortar with silicone caulking. This is not the correct repair technique - caulking is not going to do anything to stabilize the brick.
This chimney needs repair - the bricks need to be "re-pointed". Re-pointing is the process of removing the old mortar joints and replacing with fresh mortar. This is within the realm of ability of most homeowners but it is a tedious job and depending on location could pose some safety concerns. If this project doesn't appeal to you or you are not comfortable being on your roof, look for a masonry repair specialist to do the job.
The following is a link to a nice overview of repointing-brick on the This Old House website.
It's starting to rain in the Pacific Northwest and time to perform some simple maintenance on your gutters and downspouts. Downspouts are often connected to gutters with an elbow fitting. Because of the bends in the elbow, these are prone to clogs from pine needles, leaves and other debris. It is important to make sure your gutters and downspouts can actually drain the roof before the rainy season starts. Follow the steps below to make sure your downspouts are ready for the next few months of work.
•Gloves (sharp edges on the downspout sheet metal)
•Screwdriver - typically slotted or a nut driver - usually 1/4 inch or 5/16 inch
•Clog Removal Device - I'm using a stick I found on the ground
•Colorful Language (optional, but satisfying)
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.