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.
It's the middle of the heating season - how well is your furnace "breathing" through the filter? Have you been changing the filter regularly? If not, January is a great month to start a regular maintenance cycle. Furnace filters should be changed every 3 months for optimal performance of the furnace. A clean filter allows better air flow and a furnace that doesn't have to work as hard to meet the heating demands of your house.
Check out these other posts from Jovag Home Inspection for further information on furnace systems and maintenance.
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)
Sliding screen door not sliding well? Does it take more than one hand to open and shut? Follow these easy process to adjust and lubricate your sliding screen door. Most doors only require a screwdriver, a quality spray lubricant and about 10 minutes of your time.
Caulking and paint need yearly maintenance to ensure that it is still protecting your house. A common spot to find hidden damage is at exposed wood trim, especially at areas that have a latex caulk sealing a gap. Caulking with a coat of paint is pretty good protection for wood, but once it fails water has an easy path to wood and can cause hidden damage.
Just a little bit of probing at a bubbling area reveals hidden damage. I used fairly light pressure here and the knife slid right in to the wood. You can see the hidden rot underneath. This has been going on for a while. It's likely that the previous homeowner painted over a failing area of paint without fixing the underlying damage.
Outside view of the shop wall with the leak - it's about halfway down this wall on the inside. You need to look at the two likely causes to determine where the water is coming from.
• Ground sloping towards the wall instead of away.
• Water from gutter/roof system.
The ground is fairly flat here behind the wall. Slight slope from the neighbors yard but overall the grassy area behind the shop wall is fairly dry. No evidence of ground water moving towards the wall.
Always look up at the roof and gutters - even a small drip can lead to problems over time. Right above the location of the leak inside we can find evidence that the gutters have been overflowing and dripping. Note the pine needles and gunk residue from the overflow of this gutter system. The ground under this leak is soggy and muddy. We found the source of the leak.
How to fix (need to be comfortable with getting on a ladder - if you are not, hire someone to do it for you):
1. Look at the gutter system for clogs. Common spot to find it is in the downspout connection or inside the downspout itself.
2. Remove any clogs and debris from the downspouts and gutters. Ensure that water from the roof has a controlled path to the ground.
3. Look at where the water is coming out of the downspouts. Is there a splash block? Is there a connection to a drainage system? Water from the roof needs to be directed away from the foundation and allowed to go downslope away from the structure.
This is an easy problem to fix with just a little effort and time.
Easiest fix for this problem?
1. Remove the old damage fence boards. Easiest to do a whole section at once.
2. Remove excess dirt and earth from the fence line. Earth movement caused by water can be a challenge. You will often need to remove dirt and re-slope the yard to provide a relief gap under the fence.
3. Measure and cut replacement boards. Plan for about an inch gap under the fence. By leaving the gap you will help prevent future water damage to the wood. This will help avoid premature rot of the replacement boards.
Ever hear the advice to keep dirt away from the bottom of your fence boards? There is definitely a reason to keep a clear space for any piece of wood that is close to the ground. Dirt and earth in contact with the bottoms of fence boards are a perfect place for water and moisture to be in prolonged contact.
Any kind of wood in prolonged contact with moisture will eventually rot. The fence boards in these pictures had their ends buried in the dirt for the past few years. The moisture retained in the dirt has been slowly rotting away the ends.
This fence section is fairly damaged and the affected boards need to be replaced. To prevent future damage, the homeowner should keep a clear space between the bottom of the boards and the earth. The easiest solution is to raise the replacement boards up by an inch or so on the rails. Alternatively the dirt could be removed and sloped away from the fence line. By keeping a clear space under the boards, water contact is kept to a minimum and the fence will last a lot longer.
Changing the furnace filter is an easy task that is often overlooked. Change your furnace filters every three months to prolong the life of your furnace and provide peak airflow (and heated air) to your house.
Most furnaces have an easily accessible access panel on the front of the plenum (air chamber). Slide open the panel and you should see the filters sitting inside the furnace. Carefully remove the filters and note the orientation of the airflow. It is important to place the new filters with the arrow pointing in the direction of the airflow for proper operation.
The filter on the left has been in the furnace for about three months. Lots of dirt, dust and debris on the filter medium. It has been doing it's job, but is starting to get clogged. You can see a clean and dirty filter side by side in the middle picture. The filter on the right is brand new and ready to be put in the furnace.
Buy the correct filter or filters and put them back in place. There will be an arrow on the filter indicating the direction the air needs to flow through the filter for it to work. Orient the filter in the correct direction and then close the access panel.
Make it easy for yourself the next time - put some reminders on the front of the furnace or plenum. I use a piece of blue tape to note the date that I changed the filter. Every time I change them, a new piece of tape goes up with the most current info. I also wrote the specs for the filters right on the front of the plenum, much easier to have that to reference when I'm ordering new filters.
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.