What I'm Seeing Now


A Loud And Fiery Death

I got an interesting email tonight.  It was from a client I visited on Saturday. 

The Saturday visit was to help him out.  He is a renter and there is water damage to the parquet flooring inside the front door.  It only happens sometimes.  His landlord accused him of leaving the door open during a long rain storm.  Well, it's a theory, but not a great one. He couldn't figure out why the water was coming in, but knew he didn't leave the door open when it rains.

Nonetheless, my client was gong to be charged for damaging the floor.  The landlord had to blame somebody after all.

My inspection was an IR (thermal infrared imaging) inspection.  He wanted to see where the water was coming from, albeit sporadically.  It wasn't too hard.  It rained the night before and into the morning of my 1pm inspection.  It wasn't hard to see, and demonstrate with definitive images, that the water comes in through

  • a rotten front door surround, seeping water all the way to the interior,
  • a stoop that is settling and angling toward the house,
  • a 28 year old front door metal threshold which long ago lost its caulking, allowing water to get inside from underneath,
  • and a rotting sub floor visible from the basement.  

The last one you really didn't need an IR camera to see, but it sure was a pretty purple on the report! 

Why did it happen sporadically?  The house faces northeast (bad feng shui).  Every time we get a nor'easter the water fairly pours in through the rotting surround, and under the threshold, soaking the sub floor and eventually wicking upward and into the parquet.  The real reason?  Poor landlord maintenance, pure and simple.  Even a towel on the inside of the door during a rain would not have stopped the water as it was soaking up from underneath.  It was certainly nothing they had done wrong.  They didn't seem the type to leave the door open during the rain anyway.  Well, who is?

Easy peasy...

But that's not the point of this post!

During my inspection I noticed that both the tenants are in the habit of smoking on the front porch.  I also noticed a serious gas odor from the meter, about 4 feet away.  I wasn't there to examine the gas meter.

BUT --

After my findings, in the kitchen, I said to them, "Have you noticed the gas odor from the meter by the front door?"  "Sure."  "And yet you smoke there?"  "Sure."  "Do you know that the leak may get worse?  In fact, it will get worse.  That puts you in increasing danger.  You should call the gas company."

Tenant - "OK.  I'll call them sometime this week."

Me again - "CALL NOW!"

I got an interesting email tonight.  It was from a client I visited on Saturday.

It said, after thanking me for the report and absolving him of floor-damage responsibility, "The gas company showed up not long after you left.  (Note:  they came quick...!)  They said they found a screw that was loose and might pop out from gas pressure at any time.  They said this had been happening for some time and asked why we were just getting around to calling them now.  I told them our home inspector told us to call them right away.  They said we should give you a big kiss because you saved us from a 'loud and fiery death!'"

Aw, shucks.  It's just another service I offer... 

My recommendation:  When you smell gas, call the gas company right away.  And give us a little kiss... okay, a big kiss.


Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 14 commentsJay Markanich • March 29 2009 07:05PM
A Loud And Fiery Death
I got an interesting email tonight. It was from a client I visited on Saturday. The Saturday visit was to help him out. He is a renter and there is water damage to the parquet flooring inside the front door. It only happens sometimes. His… more
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