Designing, building and maintaining homes that manage moisture effectively comprise a process of good decision-making. While builders and designers provide most of the up-front decisions, such as designing the roof system and specifying the foundation drainage details, over the long term, the homeowner must understand basic moisture issues and make good decisions at the right times. Water is the number #1 cause of destruction to your home. From the rain falling down on your home, excessive moisture in walls and attic, water leaks from pipes in the wall, and drainage lines in wall and under cabinets.

Therefore, it is important for an inspector to call out or recommend further evaluations and/or repairs by qualified professionals when any moisture intrusion is discovered.

The exterior surfaces of your house, from the roof to the foundation, make up its envelope or “skin.” The skin is designed to shed or repel excess water. If it doesn’t, expect trouble. When roof flashing’s, windows, foundation walls, and other building components are not properly maintained, rainwater will find its way into vulnerable parts of your house.

Your House Absorbs and Releases Excess Moisture

All houses must absorb and release moisture constantly in order to maintain a healthy balance. If your house has “breathing” problems, many types of moisture problems can develop. Trapped moisture — dampness that cannot be released, for one reason or another — is one of the primary causes of fungus and mold growth in a house. Fungi can literally eat wood, causing decay, rot, and ultimately structural damage. Trapped moisture in the walls can destroy the value of your insulation and, consequently, raise heating and cooling costs. Wood that stays moist attracts carpenter ants and other insects that can accelerate structural problems.

Some areas to always make sure they are properly ventilated in your home. Your house needs proper ventilation of the attic through roof turbines or other roof mounted ventilating devices. The roof ventilating devices will not function properly if the soffit does not have enough vents, or they are blocked by insulation from the inside of attic area, or even just painted over. Never cover up those turbines or other devices in winter. Adding more insulation to your attic is what you probably need if you want to hold the heat in during winter. You also will possibly forget to remove the cover for summer and that will be just as bad. Weep holes in your brick need to be always left open, don’t block thinking you will keep insects out. Call an exterminator instead.

Gutter and Downspout Problems

Clogged gutters can force rainwater to travel up onto the roof and under shingles. It can overflow and travel down the inside of the wall. It can overflow and collect at the home’s foundation. First-floor gutters can overflow if second-floor gutters have been mistakenly directed to drain into them. An insufficient number of downspouts and undersized downspouts can cause gutters to overflow. Downspouts that don’t empty far enough away from foundation walls can lead to foundation wall damage.

Foundation soaker hose system

Even though this is not an issue that causes water damage to your home it is something needed using water in the proper way to preserve your foundation. In all my cases where I do find a foundation soaker hoses around the house it is always installed incorrectly. I find in every case they put the hose right up against the foundation. This is a big mistake. Foundation soaker hoses should always be installed 12 – 18 inches from the foundation. During the hot dry part of the summer you will find the soil can pull away from the slab leaving a gap sometimes big enough to push your fingers between the dirt and the foundation. This is when it becomes possible that foundation issues can arise. There is no support for the slab, and if you put the soaker hose against the slab the water just goes down and under the slab (not a good situation). The idea of the soaker is to saturate the soil around and near the slab causing expansion and reduce that gap. This can only be done if the soaker hose is placed 12 – 18 inches away then run enough water to keep the soil moist, but not muddy.

Soffits and Fascia Can Become Damaged

Damaged soffits (horizontal surfaces under the eaves) can allow snow and rain to be blown into the attic, damaging the insulation, ceilings and walls. Fascia boards (vertical roof-trim sections) can become damaged, allowing the moisture from rain and snow into the attic and atop interior walls.

Heating and Air-Conditioning Systems Need Maintenance

Lapses in regular maintenance can lead to moisture and comfort problems, ranging from clogged drain pans to iced-up cooling coils and mold within the system. Failure to clean and service air conditioners regularly can lead to diminishing performance, higher operating costs, and potential moisture problems. Have you ever seen that pipe sticking down from the soffit almost always in front of a window? This is called the secondary drain line. If you see water dripping from it you have a problem in that your primary drain line in the A/C has become clogged. Get a licensed HVAC technician out immediately to repair. If the secondary drain clogs (it is a shallow pan hanging under the HVAC unit in attic) then the next place is water over flowing into your attic. Don’t need to explain what that will do.

Your House Transports Piped Water

Directly beneath the skin of your house is a complex maze of pipes carrying fresh water into your house, and drain lines to dispose of water after its use. There are dozens of pipe joints and specialized fittings throughout your house, any one of which can develop a leak and cause moisture damage.

Under the Kitchen sink is a common source of leaks

Many times under kitchen sinks a leak will develop, always pay attention for what may be a developing leak, or what does not look normal.

Behind the washing machine lurks a disaster waiting to happen

How often have you pulled your washing machine out to inspect the hose feeding water to your washing machine? Well that’s what I thought, probably never. Think about it that hose is just a step above the hose you use in your yard to water your outside plants. The difference is you turn it on and never touch it again with constant water pressure on that rubber hose. Remember Murphy’s Law what can happen will at the most inopportune time. While you are out of town is when it decides to bust running water all through your house. At 70 lbs. PSI (water pressure) a busted hose will discharge 600 gallons of water per hour.

I will tell you a few good rules to follow and comparison of a few type of hoses.

Rule 1: Regardless of which set of washing machine hoses you choose, you should replace them about every three to five years .

Rule 2: It’s also a good idea to check the hoses for damage or leaks about once a year as part of your regular plumbing maintenance.

Rule 3: Turn water off at washing machine (hot & cold) when going out of town just as a backup precaution.

Reinforced Rubber

Basic hose used by most homeowners mostly because it is a few dollars cheaper!! Wow you saved a few dollars, but think of what it will cost you if it busts and water goes everywhere.

COST: Approximately $18.96 for 2 hoses depending on where you go.

Steel Braided

Upgraded hose that is much stronger than the basic hose and will hold up to the constant pressure far better. Even with this said there is a study that says the connector can also possibly fail first. Don’t go cheap.

COST: Approximately $24.98 for 2 hoses depending on where you go and quality of hose.

In my research I have found a few other options that are either better than above and/or a good addition.

There is a hose put out by a company called FloodChek http://www.floodchek.com/ that offers a 20 year warranty. That is a good amount of time and there cost is $39.95, not bad. If your space behind washer is tight consider what is called a goose-neck or 45 degree adapter. That set is $52.95.

This is far less than the cost of a flooded house.

There is one last product I have found and seen on a few homes I have inspected.

It is called Floodstop https://www.getfloodstop.com/. Now this costs a bit more, but this works by when detecting or sensing water on the ground it shuts the water supply off completely. Easily installed by homeowner in a few minutes. Search for this online and you will find many people that carry this such as Amazon. On Floodstop’ s site they list the COST: $202.00.

This company offers their device to also work on your Ice Maker, Dish Washer, and better yet the Water Heater.

Water heaters that are installed in the attic if they start leaking could cost you thousands of dollars. This would have to be installed by a licensed plumber or someone good at taking that water line off to put this device inline.

Their site has a price list of all their types of auto shutoff’s:

Water heater ———    $153.00

Washing machine —     $202.00

Ice Maker ————–  $135.00

Dish washer ———–   $139.00

Again Amazon and other online sources also carry their products. Do your own research in this area it is well worth your time.

I in no way endorse any of these products listed above, but find them to have possible value over the traditional methods currently being used today by homeowners. I have spent countless hours over many years building, making additions, repairs, and general maintenance to a home. I enjoy helping others and teaching what I have learned and experienced through my many failures and successes. Take your own judgement and risks. This is again one area of your home that is a disaster waiting to happen.

Conclusion

I have only touched on some of the areas water can damage or sometimes help your home. There are many other parts to your home that can be detrimental to the health of the home including the installed appliances you use. Your home is the single biggest expense you will ever spend in your life. You need to take care of it or if buying a new home make sure you are not walking into a money pit. I know with the fast pace of the housing market today you sometimes think it is OK to waive the Home Inspection. That could not be farther from the truth. The few hundred dollars a home inspection costs could save you thousands.

I hope this has been helpful and maybe made you think a little about things you sometimes ignore around your home. It’s a major expense so do what it takes to keep that maintenance cost down.

Give me a call if you or a friend are in the market for a home inspection. Pass this information on. My services list is.

Buyer’s Inspection:

Most common and used by someone to make sure there are no big issues with their pending purchase

 

Seller’s Inspection:

Not as common, but if you don’t want to hold up a sale because of issues needing to be repaired before the close. Get problems fixed before you put your house on the market.

 11th Month Warranty Inspection:

Most new homes have a 1 year warranty. Get it inspected by a professional to locate and report on problems. Builders are more apt to take heed of an inspector over the home owner. A neutral party kind of thing.

 Annual Maintenance Inspection:

If you are afraid to look, or not experienced to see a problem coming then get an Annual Maintenance inspection to locate an issue before it becomes a SURPRISE…

 Thermal Imaging:

Thermal imaging is a great tool to detect issues in your insulation or lack there of that may be causing you to loose valuable energy dollars out the door. This is free with inspection when requested, or small fee by itself. Certain times of the year thermal imaging isn’t as effective.

Tim Davis

TREC # 21781
817-992-0246
tim@rrinspections.com
www.rrinspections.com

Road Runner Home Inspections