A common area to find water damaged flooring, underlayment and subfloor is next to a sliding glass door. This is an easy area for water to enter, especially with frequent opening and closing of the door for pets during wet weather. Vinyl floor coverings can peel up and caulking is often missing at the junction with the door allowing water to penetrate to the underlayment and subfloor. This water penetration can occur over a long period of time and lead to rot in the subfloor that is hidden from plain view.
These pictures are from an inspection where the current owner had removed the floor covering and underlayment in preparation for new flooring. The close up pictures show the hidden rot area of the subfloor next to the sliding door. The last picture shows a view of the same area from the crawlspace. The damaged area of subfloor needs to be replaced prior to any new flooring being installed in this room.
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.
I ran across an old Cadet model FX-102 in wall heater during a recent inspection. This is an older model of the Cadet brand heaters and is no longer produced due to safety issues. There was a now expired safety recall campaign by Cadet a few years ago where the majority of the units were replaced.
If you have a Cadet brand in wall heater it is a good idea to check the model number against the recalled unit list that is still on the Cadet website. The recall is over for getting a new unit from Cadet but you still need to replace any of the affected models if they happen to be in your house.
Kidde has a new recall on some models of their dual sensor smoke alarms. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a press release with the details.
Alarm Models Affected: PI2010 and PI9010
Dates of Manufacture: 10 SEP 2016 to 13 OCT 2017
Kidde has a website dedicate to the recall with directions on how to check your smoke alarm.
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.
Plan ahead for 2018 - get a great deal on furnace filters from Global Filters. If you follow my advice of changing your furnace filters every three months, January is a great time to start. I really like the quality of the filters from Global Filter Source and the prices on their site are much cheaper than buying filters from Home Depot or Lowes.
Take a look at the website - the best deal is on the MERV 11 filters. All you need is your filter size and you can get enough filters to cover all your needs for the year. You can use the coupon below for an additional 10% off your order.
One of the cool tools that I use during inspections is a FLIR Thermal Imaging camera. This allows me to take measurements of temperature differentials of various surfaces and objects during an inspection. Useful for finding areas of air leakage and hidden insulation problems.
I took a picture of my sleeping dog Magoo this morning to show what the camera is capable of doing. The image on the left is the regular digital camera image while the picture on the left is a blended thermal image. Relative cool areas are darker, warmer areas are brighter. Magoo is working hard at sleeping and is significantly warmer than the floor he is laying on.
Thermal imaging works best when there is a large temperature differential between the inside and outside of the house. The images above show a front door from the inside on a cold morning. You can see a big temperature drop at the bottom of the sidelight window on the left and the bottom of the door. Looks like there is some air leakage on the bottom of the door - the weather stripping likely needs to be replaced.
Harbor Freight ads are very tempting. Cheap prices for tools that don't look too bad on the glossy paper of the circular. Get up close and reality is often a bit different than the marketing.
When I first started collecting tools for projects, Harbor Freight was a cheap and easy option. For the price of one decent screwdriver I could get a whole blister pack of various size screwdrivers. Unfortunately, this is definitely a case of you get what you pay for. There is a reason that a set of 12 screwdrivers or pliers can be bought that cheaply. Poor fit and finish, poorly ground tool ends and cheap plastic are the hallmark. None of these tools ever performed like they were supposed to and ended up causing more frustration than results.
While Harbor Freight can be a great source for a special purpose tool that you only need for one step of a project and don't need to last, it is not a good source for tools that you are going to use every day.
I still use Harbor Freight to find some tools that I need to use only once or twice. These picture are from a trip I took to get a 22 mm socket (only $3.99) that I need for a specific fill plug on my truck's transfer case. I am not expecting much out of the socket, just need to use it a few times in the life of my vehicle so I'm OK with the tradeoff of quality for price. For other tools that I will use regularly I have learned my lesson from previous purchases. It's much cheaper in the long run to buy quality once rather than cheaper tools multiple times.
Looking for a gift idea for that someone who takes care of your home improvement needs? One of the best tool sets that I have ever used for general home improvement tasks is the Bosch 12 Volt Drill and Impact Driver set. These are small and compact tools that are powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. Though they are only 12 Volt batteries these tools are more than adequate for most home improvement projects.
The combo set includes both a 3/8 inch drill (Bosch PS 31) and an impact driver (Bosch 41), two batteries and a charger. Highly recommended.
Amazon Link: Bosch PS 31 and PS 41 Combo Kit.
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.