Sunday, November 24, 2013

Frost-Free Hose Bibs

The purpose behind frost-free hose bibs (or faucets) is to prevent water from freezing in the more susceptible piping located near the exterior wall. This is done by design. Properly installed the hose bib itself causes the water supply pipe to be tilted slightly as to reduce the amount of water remaining in the pipe while the water is turned off. Often times the hose bib is incorrectly installed or damaged and therefore cannot perform as designed resulting in leaky joints, or cracked pipes. If you notice that the faucet is leaking or suspect that excess moisture in the area near the faucet is due to a leak, call a plumber immediately. In the picture below you can easily see that the hose bib is turned sideways. However this happened, it has caused a leak that is visible from the outside and in the crawlspace. Sometimes these leaks are not caused by mechanical damage, meaning that they weren't caused by hitting it with
something. It is most often caused from the pipe
itself becoming damaged from the water inside freezing and expanding to the point where the pipe itself cracks. In some cases the damage may not be found until after the ice thaws. One way to prevent this from happening of course is to use a foam or other material type of insulating cover. These can be purchased at most hardware stores and will usually keep the temperature around the hose bib above freezing by trapping warmer air radiating out from the home inside the cover. They are much cheaper than hiring a plumber to come out and fix a leak.

Monday, November 18, 2013


   During the "macro" portion of this inspection (looking at the home as a whole) I initially thought that the roof on this home had simply been neglected, hence the egregious amount of moss and lichen that was growing on it. Upon closer inspection it became apparent that the shingle roof had been installed over the top of older asphalt shingles.
    When properly installed, wood shingle roofing is applied over skip-sheathing, or a modern equivalent. This allows the wood to "breathe", reducing the amount of time that moisture is in contact with the wood. Without the skip-sheathing the moisture remains in the wood creating a perfect environment for rot.
   In the second picture you can see the asphalt shingles directly below the wood shingles. Why this was done this way is simple; it cost less, was easier and took less time. Whether this was a DIY job or the shoddy work of a lazy contractor I will never know.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Click below to see an example home inspection report. Also viewable in PDF.

Anobiid Beetles

Saw this at a local farm recently. I wont disclose the name for obvious reasons, but left unchecked, these little guys could very well compromise the structural integrity of the entire building. Anobiid Beetles prefer softwood like pine but will inhabit certain hardwoods. They also like the moisture level of the wood to be between 13% and 20%.

Flux Corrosion + Galvanic action = Leaks

All of the copper pipes under this home were corroded to the point where a couple leaks had already formed. The main reason for this was that the "plumber" who installed the piping did not remove the excess flux from the solder joints. Flux is extremely acidic and will deteriorate the pipes if left. Compounding the issue were the dissimilar metal hangers used to suspend the pipes from the floor. Using dissimilar metals together will cause galvanic action to occur resulting in more corrosion.

Roof Moss

Why is it important to keep moss off of your roof? Moss grows tendrils that reach up underneath shingles and other roofing materials which exposes them to excess moisture such as driving rain. With the shingles uplifted it is harder for the roof to shed water which can result in leaks. Finally, the moss itself acts as a sponge which can cause conducive conditions for rot in the wood structure underneath. A simple application of a zinc or iron based fungicide in the fall is a proven method of keeping this stuff at bay.

Chain of Events

Upon arriving at this home I immediately noticed the deteriorated brick in front of the garage. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on. Turns out that the contractor built the brick on top of the poured concrete driveway. The substrate beneath the slab has settled or been washed away which in turn caused the slab to crack and settle bringing the brick with it. This could have been prevented had the brick been installed correctly prior to the poured concrete slab. I recommended further evaluation by a qualified contractor due to masonry not being a profession that requires any special licensing.