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Holy Water or A Tale Of Two Holes

A little history.  Two months ago, on a pre-drywall inspection, one thing I noticed outside was a kitchen vent placed right where a stairwell guardrail would need to abut the house.  Faux stone siding, the vent and the guardrail were all installed so that the result was clearly visible:  a 12" gap between the end of the rail and the house.  That hole was large enough for a small child to easily fit through and fall eight feet into the stairwell.  This is an incorrect installation, even if a buyer does not have small children.  My clients were very worried because their children are small.  And I pointed it out.  The builder agreed to move the vent.  And then, for the last two months, a large hole was left in the wall where the tubing used to be.  Also, the faux stones around the new vent location were removed and another large gap was left exposed behind it.

On the final walk through I was suspicious.  There were actually three locations in the finished basement I was suspicious about.  And under the still-existing vent holes my thermal infrared camera saw this:

The left image is at the ceiling just under those holes.

The right image is at the floor level.  The floor molding is visible and that dark spot is moisture around an outlet.  It registered over 30%.

Is this much moisture a shock?  Holes introduce holy water.

The builder agreed to remove the wet drywall and insulation and replace it all.  Actually this was the plan in all three wet locations!  But he said the plan included leaving the holes in the stone siding until spring!  I think my clients were not satisfied with that plan (I was adamant that things be sealed now) and this is the vent location a couple of days later.

 

The rail extends all the way to the wall, as it should.

But my concern is the new vent location.  The cover was not removed to add new stone.  The hole behind it was filled with mortar and silicone caulk was used to seal around the edges.

Silicone does not stick long term to mortar and brick.

And who knows what gaps still exist behind that vent.

This may be a problem put off for another day.

My recommendation:  Demand that certain repairs be done immediately.  Even if something is only repaired temporarily when it is too cold to be done permanently is sometimes better than doing nothing at all.

 

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 13 commentsJay Markanich • February 25 2010 06:52AM

Comments

I have seen a problem like this end up being a major one. Good advice.

Posted by Diane Williams over 9 years ago

Very interesting situation.  It is good that you persisted with the repairs, and the infrared camera is a amazing tool.  I do not know of a lot of inspectors in my area using that. 

Posted by Michael Delaware, REALTOR®, CRS, GRI (North Sky Realty LLC) over 9 years ago

Yes, Diane, these are often long-term and serious problems.  I found three basement leaks!

Michael - actually not many are using it nationwide!  I think they are worth their weight in gold...

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

Thanks for the information. This is something that would be a major problem later...

Posted by Pat O'Reilly (RE/MAX..214-289-6176 Irving and all of Dallas Fort Worth) over 9 years ago

Correct Pat!  Thanks for stopping by.

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

Jay, 

Water is the most troublesome problem.  I love the new thermal scanning for inspections.  Good for you for holding your ground with the wholes!

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) over 9 years ago

Thanks Michelle.  Water is THE killer of houses, inside and out.

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

Water is the most dangerous thing a home can encoounter...pitch landscaping is the popular song that inpectors sing here.....and for those of us tooo busy or lazy....call the landscaper...or MAYBE it is a scout project !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 9 years ago

Scouts love any kind of project S&D!

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

I am jealous of all the pretty photos that you and James post.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Steve - that camera is the sharpest and most important arrow in my quiver.  Buy one, but get trained, and then get trained and then get trained before you begin using it to do inspections.  It is fabulous technology.

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

Jay, as a former carpenter and construction worker, I enjoyed reading this post. I know you mentioned that they used silicone to seal around the mortar and ha it is not effective. Is there a caulk that does work with mortar/cement?

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Yes Russell.  Elastomeric caulks work great.  Before them the best brick and mortar caulks were siliconized acrylic or siliconized latex.

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

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