What I'm Seeing Now

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After The "Repair"

When water is getting into houses, it can cause damage to many things - drywall, structure, flooring, carpeting, etc.  There is also residual damage - mold.  Mold is not the problem - it is the indicator that there is a problem.  Mold is a symptom.  Mold cannot be cleaned up until the source of any water migration is removed.

THE BEST WAY TO DETECT HIDDEN OR RESIDUAL MOISTURE IS WITH AN INFRARED CAMERA.  THE BEST WAY TO SEE HOW MUCH MOISTURE IS TO COUPLE THAT IR EXAMINATION WITH A MOISTURE METER.

In this house, mold was showing up in the corner of a basement ceiling.

Well, since we know the physics of water we know that it comes from somewhere above.

Outside this house I found a problem in the roof, which was diverting water down inside the siding, through the bedroom, into the living room and finally stopping at the basement ceiling.

Fix the roof, fix the problem.

This infrared image shows the spot in the living room just above the basement mold.  Blues and purples indicate cooler temperatures, and when examined with a moisture meter it was easy to prove that this spot was wet, very wet.

Fine.  So the sellers agreed to fix the roof problem I found.

I snuck back to look at the roof after the "repair."

Frankly I saw no difference and told the seller and then my client.

I contacted my client and offered a plan.  Our plan was to wait a couple of rain storms and go back to look at the same spot with the IR camera.  Would it cost him more?  Yes.  Would results be definitive?  Yes.  And the seller was agreeable.  Yes!

After two rains, I returned at the same time of day.  The temperature outside was the same as for the original examination.  Fair is fair - it is best to try to mimic conditions.

After the "repair," not only was there moisture, there was MORE moisture!

I have to tell you, not only was my client grateful, but the seller was too!  They had paid good money to a "roofer" only to find out that he did not do much at all.  There was no point in "re-mediating" any mold if the moisture source is not mitigated!

My recommendation:  if there is an experienced thermographer in your area, take advantage of the technology!  Sure, it costs money.  But wow, it can sure save money in the long run! 

Big sigh - happy ending.

 

 

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 19 commentsJay Markanich • October 23 2010 07:08AM

Comments

The more I read about thermography, the more I see it as a necessary tool in this business. Looks as if I will need to bite the bullet one of these days...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 8 years ago

I highly recommend it Michael.  But some advice - get training, understand the camera's capabilities completely (remember, it is art and science) and practice, practice, practice.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Good approach.  Glad that both parties were happy and good for putting the roofer in his place.  Sad that contractors do this.  makes you wonder if they are lazy or just don't know what they are doing - either scenario is disappointing.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 8 years ago

Jay,

There are a LOT of "roofers" and "Unhandymen" out there who do not "know how water works," and they can severely damage a home.

Imagine the consequences if that "repair" was not linked to a home inspection, or no reinspection was performed!

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) almost 8 years ago

Wow...and both parties are agreeable...that is outstanding....that camera is surely your best buddy....and the most able assistant to your clients as well !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 8 years ago

You really did save them money with that finding.  Water seems to be the thing that kills most houses.  I have a buyer with a contract on a gorgeous home right now.  Everything is beautiful about the crawl. Under the floor...$5000 in damage due to water encroachment.  He never even knew and the house is only seven years old.  He could have used you when he bought the place!

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) almost 8 years ago

I'll bet roofers are beginning to hate those cameras. We have a guy here with one of those cameras (Steve Ramos, house detective, HGTV) but clients hesitate to spend that kind of money for the service.

Posted by Cynthia Larsen, Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA (Safe Haven Realty) almost 8 years ago

If only ALL sellers were that cooperative. Sounds like you had a conscientious seller who wanted to get the job done right! Happy ending indeed. :D

Posted by Valerie Duncan Stewart, Real Estate Agent-Broker, OKC, OK ((Metro First Realty)) almost 8 years ago

Jay,

A good post that strikes close to home as we had a major sewer back up in our neighborhood. To make a long story short we spent most of our summer and about $30,000 just to clean up and replace lost items.

Bob

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Bob Timm, Broker Associate, Alliance Real Estate (Alliance Real Estate - Minot) almost 8 years ago

Jay, I am hoping my brother (he is a home inspector) will eventually get a thermal imaging camera....he is just trying to justify the price right now.  He was the first in our area to purchase a camera for sewer lines and he has been successful with that so far.

Posted by Damon Gettier, Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE (Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert) almost 8 years ago

Debbie - it might be that both scenarios are appropriate here!  Who knows?  My last client today drove home last night from Westchester County, visiting his wife's parents, who live there.  I said, "I know someone who lives there too!"  Maybe you are neighbors...  The drive took them 6 hours!  Yikes!  Sounds like my average day...

Mike - there are probably houses like that all over the place, without inspections and without having found the problems.  It's a shame.  Water can be so invisible and so damaging.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

S&D - I had to tell the seller.  Couldn't let that roofer get away with this.  He was most agreeable and grateful. 

That camera is my best buddy.  The sharpest arrow in my quiver.  You want to meet my leetle friend?

Kathryn - inside and out water is THE killer of houses.  IR does "see" things that can go otherwise unnoticed.

Cynthia - I know Steve through our home inspector association.  It doesn't make sense not to spend such a small amount of money when it can save so much money later!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Valerie - he was pretty upset when I told him what I suspected.  He was very agreeable!

Bob - wow, not sure what an IR camera could have done out in the sewer, but hope this came out great in your favor!

Damon - WHAT?  My camera is half the price now than it was when I bought it and it paid for itself in a few months way back then!  The sewer camera should teach that lesson real well!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

WOW that is a situation that everyone won!! Great camera

Posted by Jennifer Dulmaine, Seth Campbell Realty Group (Keller Williams Realty) almost 8 years ago

Donna and Jennifer - yes they did.  And my reputation got further solidified!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Good advice to Michael. I would add it is equally if not more important to understand the object at which the camera is pointed.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Hola Jaime...  For sure.  We can't make him a Level I in a few comments here and there!  You mean the image of a concrete wall is different than one of a lamp shade?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

That's not only a good post about the importance of thermal imaging - as well as understanding how sellers can often do things with the intent of solving a problem, only to be taken advantage of by a contractor.  It's important not only to negotiate the repairs, but also to have a follow up plan in place.  Excellent.

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) almost 8 years ago

Thank you Susan!  Thermal imaging is a great way to see if things have been done properly.  We waited a few weeks for the right time to do an examination.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

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