What I'm Seeing Now

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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

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 14 commentsJay Markanich • March 29 2009 07:05PM

Comments

Jay, good call.

At least they realized you did something.

And who says we don't do anything.

Posted by Andrew Haslett, Heartland of Kentuckynulls, Best Home Inspector (Van Warren Home Inspections, NAHI CRI) over 9 years ago

Jay, wow, they are so lucky that you insisted they call immediately. You saved their lives!

I am flagging this post for a feature.

A lesson for all that can never be repeated enough. Thank you!

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 9 years ago

Who thought a little gas could get you a kiss, thats a pretty good deal any way you look at it.  Good job being so vigilant and noticing the problem.

Posted by Robert May, Real estate consulting (Robert W May - Lethbridge Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Whenever I smell gas I let an owner know as you can never be to safe with a gas leak.  Congratulations on getting your point across to call now.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Andrew - thanks!  Apparently we can do quite a bit!

Andrea - the old saying, "Do it now!"  With the suffix saying, "Especially when it comes to gas."

Robert - it's not often gas and kissing mix!  Good point...

Cindy - this had gone on for a while.  And what do you suppose he would not have gotten to calling the gas company "this week..."?  Common sense sometimes escapes people.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, wow... they didn't sound too worried about fire + gas??? crazy!  Nice job with the IR tests.  Lazy landlords will probably still try and pin it on someone else.

Posted by League City, TX - Worrell Team, REALTORS, GRI, CNE (RE/MAX 1st Class) over 9 years ago

Jay, I could obviously say something ridiculously funny about gas at this point but I won't because gas leaks are just plain not funny-----and should be attended to right away.  Most people have no idea of what can happen because movies make it look like the whole house would be just a gazillion tooth picks----all on fire!  Actually the movies have this one correct.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Brian - IR exams are very interesting and very revealing.  Common sense is usually revealed as well, or the lack thereof...

Charlie - someone earlier put gas and kisses in the same sentence, so I think I know where you were going.  I always tell people about gas leaks.  And if the house is vacant, I tell my buyer clients to call the gas company right away and to call me when they do.  I do that to encourage a sense of ownership.  If I don't hear from them, I call.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, this is a timely reminder that the time is NOW to call for inspection of gas leaks! You did save their lives, hats off to you!!

Posted by Caren Wallace, Portland Caren Real Estate (Premier Property Group LLC) over 9 years ago

Caren - thank you, but the employment of common sense should not be seen as something great!  They had been smoking beside this leak for a long time...!!!  Yikes...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Wow this is crazy. I am very careful to not even turn on a light switch in a home where I  smell gas. And these two are smoking where they smell gas. Glad you where there!!!

Posted by Sharon Harris, Realtor (Keller Williams Keystone Realty) over 9 years ago

Sharon - It's amazing isn't it?  And had I not insisted, he may not have called them during this week!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I remember an inspection on a vacant house I did way back. As soon as the agent opened the door the smell of gas knocked you over. I said we aren't doing the inspection until the gas company gets out here ASAP and finds and fixes the problem. Do you believe the guy had to think about it for a minute.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

James - (as I raise my hands) I believe!  I believe!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

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