It's finally spring and time to think about all those outdoor clean up and maintenance projects. While your are outside, take a minute to look at the dryer vent outlet cover located somewhere on the side of your house. It needs to look nice and clean with freely moveable vent louvers. You don't want it to look like the pictures below.
Dryer vent clogs like the above have two main implications. The first is that they are a fire risk and a pretty significant one at that. From the FEMA website: "2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss." The second implication is that a clogged dryer vent leads to decreased efficiency of the dryer. If it is harder to get the exhaust out, the dryer has to work harder and clothes will take longer to dry.
The fix for this is pretty simple. Remove the lint accumulation from the outside (you may need to remove the cover from the wall to do this). You can usually just brush and pull the lint from the cover but a vacuum with a brush attachment can come in handy for this task. If you notice a large amount of lint within the duct work, there is a brush on a long cable that can be used to help clean the system.
To check that everything is working correctly, put the cover back on the wall and turn the dryer on inside. The flap or louvers on the dryer vent cover should open freely and allow the dryer exhaust to blow out without restriction.
Houses heated by electricity often have a mix of electric baseboard and in wall heaters. When in wall heaters are present, there is often a blackish discoloration or "sooting" on the heater grill and surrounding wall.
Look at the heater grill cover and you will often see this condition present. This discoloration is caused by lint and debris on the grill and heating element. This build up results in excess heat being retained and will eventually cause the "sooting" condition.
It's such a small hole, why should you bother to seal it? It doesn't look like much could get through. I can ignore it, can't I?
This hole is hard to see from far away but on closer inspection of the electrical conduit an unsealed siding penetration is easy to notice. The hole is less than an inch wide but this is a lot of room if you are an insect, a drop of water or even a small rodent. From the outside it can be difficult to tell where the hole leads. In this case, with the hole next to the main electrical service meter, you really need to investigate farther.
As you can see from the picture above, the hole leads directly to the main electrical service panel for the house. When the panel was opened and the safety cover removed it was quite evident that this panel was found to be an inviting and cosy home for spiders and other insects.
This is a problem. There is a lot of organic and potentially flammable material in the electrical panel. This can trap heat and serve as a source of ignition for a fire. The panel needs to be cleaned by a qualified party and the hole in the siding needs to be repaired. A little bit of maintenance and routine repair can prevent a much bigger problem down the road.
Clogged gutters are generally out of sight and out of mind until you start to notice that slow dripping after a rainstorm.
Roofs are a water shedding system and gutters are designed to take all of the runoff and direct it away from the house. For the system to work properly, the gutters need to be capable of collecting a large volume of water and directing it to the downspout.
The gutters in the pictures above have a bit of a problem. They are filled with tree leaves, pine needles and are a prime breeding ground for moss. Water draining from the roof is supposed to enter the gutters on the eaves and have a controlled path to the ground through the downspout.
With these gutters, water can enter but it can't flow toward the downspout. Water will pool and eventually overflow the edges both next to the roof and over the far edge. This moisture will wick up into the roof sheathing and under the edge shingles causing damage over time.
As you can see in the pictures below, prolonged pooling water has damaged the eaves of the roof and are causing rotting on the sheathing and fascia. This weakens the connection of the gutters and they have started to pull away from the house. Water from the roof will not get all the way in to the gutter and will instead run drip over the fascia and wick into the eaves. If this goes on long enough, damage will start to occur on the walls of the house.
The solution to this problem? These gutters need to be thoroughly cleaned and re-attached to the house. That will help mitigate the immediate problem but to help prevent future problems, the homeowner needs to start a regular, yearly cycle of gutter cleaning and maintenance.
Check out the video below from This Old House on repairing an aluminum gutter system.
Can you see anything wrong with these pictures? This is a support post for an elevated deck with what appears to be an interesting repair in the past.
It looks like the original post was a bit short or possibly the bottom rotted away. To fix the bad post, the previous owner added a short section of newer pressure treated wood and butted the two ends together. At least he/she toenailed it together though they forgot to add more than one nail for the post support bracket.
Though the owner did make the post a bit longer they did so by making the overall structure weaker. This post is not going to do well with a large group of people moving on the deck during a BBQ.
There were actually two posts repaired this way on this particular deck. Both need to be replaced with the correct length of post (using one piece of wood) and correctly fastened to the concrete footing and beam above.
Look at this video from This Old House. They do a great job of showing the correct way to replace a damaged deck support post.
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.