What I'm Seeing Now

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Bird Condo

As houses sit for months, and in the case of this house over a year, conditions can develop that buyers might not consider.  This one photo is reason enough to get a home inspection!  This buyer told me he had been to (and since there was a combo box on the door INSIDE) the house many times.  He had not noticed a lot of what I had on my extensive report, but certainly had not noticed this.

Unfortunately it was a very cloudy and dark day, so this picture may not do this circumstance justice.

This is the gas water heater vent. 

IT HAS BECOME A BIRD CONDO!

At the lower center hole a little one is actually looking out, but not too visible!

This is what I was reminded of when I saw it.

It's a virtual apartment building for birds!

There was grass or a little head peaking out of all eight holes the water heater vent had to offer.

These birds are very clever little fellows.  They know that nobody is living in the home.

Finding this convenient place to locate their nests, probably last spring, they moved in and have raised their families there ever since!

BUT WHILE THIS LOOKS CUTE, IT IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS THING FOR A NEW HOMEOWNER!!

I mentioned that the buyer had not noticed this.  What if he had decided NOT to have a home inspection?  He would have moved in.  That water heater is located in an attic space, right beside the upstairs bedroom in this cape cod home!  They would have lit the pilot light and began heating the tank. 

This flue goes down vertically about 2' below the roof, where it turns at a 45 degree angle for about 3' and then to a slight incline for another 4' or so.

Birds would have been killed by the CO produced by the heater.  As they died, they may have fallen into this vent, partially or totally clogging it!

As that poisonous exhaust was discharged it would have been blocked, forcing CO into the home, and that bedroom.

NEED I ASK YOU THE RESULT?

The simple removal of bird nests will prevent all of this, and it was discovered during a home inspection.

My recommendation:  Get a home inspection before you buy!  It may save a life, or two, or more.  Maybe even yours!

 

 

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 44 commentsJay Markanich • December 30 2010 05:57AM

Comments

Wow, this is a new one & great advice on another pitfall of vacant homes Jay...thanks
Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 7 years ago

I would never let a buyer purchase a home without a home inspection. Condos are another story because the Association is responsible for the roof etc. Inspections provide peace of mind.

Posted by Kathy Denworth, Realtor in the Florida Keys, Islamorada, Key Largo (Century 21 Schwartz Realty) over 7 years ago

That is an amazing story.  Home inspections are so important.  Sellers do not always notice what is going on with there home, they are too close to it.  Especially if it is vacant, seller will not know something like this had happened.  Thanks for a great post.

Posted by Cindy Edwards, CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677 (RE/MAX Checkmate) over 7 years ago

Jay, it is so important to get a home inspection by a GOOD inspector. The buyers are lucky they used you.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 7 years ago

It's amazing how animals, and pests are attracted to buildings that happen to be our homes.  That could have been a dreadful incident for the new homeowners.  I agree, a home inspection is so important when buying a home, but more so if it has been vacant for any length of time.

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 7 years ago

Jay,

Excellent reminder. I sold a condo last year with all new paint and carpet. When the inspector opened the fireplace flue, several dead birds fell out. The listing agent then knew why he couldn't completely get rid of the smell that was in the house. Critters get everywhere.

Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 7 years ago

When I saw it Ginny, I got a little chill.  I was thinking children at the time and wow, it can be frightening.  Most people don't think about CO detectors, and I put the recommendation on EVERY report.

Kathy - I had a condo the other day where there was a hole in the furnace flue.  Sure, it was inside a closet outside the condo, but there is an opening to return the air to the furnace, so CO could have gotten back into the unit.

Cindy - vacant houses can lead to many problems, a lot of which most people do not consider.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Well, thanks Andrea, but this wasn't too hard to see!  One needs to think to look however.

Pamela - there is a lot going on in every home, but more so in the vacant ones.

Richard - that happened to me once, except it was a squirrel!  It scared me so bad I probably lost a couple months on my life span!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

I LOVE all electric homes.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Jay - very interesting.  We all know vacant homes don't fare as well as occupied properties. Here in Jacksonville Beach, FL, we don't have as much natural gas or propane appliances, so this is a new one for me. Thanks for sharing another good reason to do home inspections.

Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) over 7 years ago

You've said Lenn!  And yours is probably pretty efficient!  Not much CO to worry about either...  This condition here is exceptionally dangerous.

Carol - in hurricane zones I expect there is not too much gas, except perhaps commercially.  But CO is a big problem in many areas of the country.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Good call Jay. With all the foreclosures these days birds and other critters have all sorts of places to move into. Nothing beats a good inspection.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) over 7 years ago

Birds were in the dryer vent too, Randy, but it was only 12" long and eye level!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay, I have seen birds in all kinds of tight spots on/in a home but never thought about the danger. Are there other dangerous locations we may look for nesting?

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Bob Timm, Broker Associate, Alliance Real Estate (Alliance Real Estate - Minot) over 7 years ago

Jay, Just one of the many reasons we always recommend to our buyers to get a home inspection.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 7 years ago

The dryer vent Bob.  Clogged dryers cause 40,000 fires in homes each year that require the fire department.

Bliz - and what a good idea that is!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay:  The house must have been vacant a long time - build the nest and have babies does not happen overnight.  Good spotting. 

Posted by Valerie Zinger, Home Organizer (House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada) over 7 years ago

I understand at least a year Valerie.  And certainly last spring!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

A vacant home is never really vacant. Someone or THING is always ready to move in. And they don't need keys. lol

Always have an inspection by a professional.

Enjoy the day

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA (Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY) over 7 years ago

Jay, so many things can happen when a house is vacant. Critters can move in, opportunistic thieves take a walk through, just so many things

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 7 years ago

Jay - Your posts should serve as a reminder as to why homebuyers need an inspection.  It's unrealistic to think an "untrained eye" will spot all the potential problems.  (Like recent foreclosure victims, the birds will have to be evicted)

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 7 years ago

Beats the dead squirrel I had in one of my listings. What a smell!  But the smell triggered the call to the chimney sweep so we did not have any further problems.  Happy New Year!

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 7 years ago

Jay,

I have seen a few that also turned into raccoon condos...now that is nasty.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Hi Jay, Very dangerous indeed! I've seen a similar issue with rats making homes in electrical boxes. jay

Posted by Jay Lloyd, Allpro Home Inspection (Cape Coral Florida) over 7 years ago

Jay ~  Terrific information and just one more reason to have a Home Inspection.  I have one coming up on a contract which is being negotiated -- just wondering what the cost would be.  I mean, we can work around your schedule -- besides, it's a nice little drive???  LOL  Happy New Year to you and your family!  Bet that wee one is growing like a weed!  Best.

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) over 7 years ago

Jay, I had bees completely plug my b-vent before---I had a river of condensate dumping into the basement :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta nest, we gotta evict. :)

Btw them nuts are GOOD!

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

I found a similar situation at my sister's house when she bought it - we couldn't figure out why the water heater was backdrafting, so we took the vent connector apart and found a dead bird blocking it.  This stuff really happens.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Don - lots of things inhabit houses that we often don't imagine, and some things in huge numbers!

Ed - I have gotten to "empty" houses only to find people living in them!

John - some people might even see that grass hanging out of the flue and not understand that it is a problem!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Kathryn - dead squirrels are not uncommon.  I have had a couple of those in my face!

Steve - I have seen them in chimneys, but never in such a flue.

Jay - I don't know if I was able to impress upon these people just how dangerous this situation was!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Tish - you'd need me for a day a night and a half another day!  That might get pricey...

I am going to see the Wee One second weekend in January.

Charlie - and wasp nests which completely prevent the bath vent flap from opening!  Or is that what you meant?

"If the flue don't fit, you must acquit!"  Is that what you mean Jim? 

Is that cash yew eatin'?

Reubs - say it ain't so!  Actually I bet it happens a lot!  I wonder about the newer PVC high efficiency flues which are not screened in any way.  What stops birds from getting in there and dying?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay - You paint a very EFFECTIVE and colorful illustration for my getting my chimney inspected this coming week.  I haven't built a fire yet this winter.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) over 7 years ago

This is a flue Myrl, but chimneys can be just as dangerous and just as important to keep clean.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Good question about the PVC tubes.  I've actually never heard of that happening.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Well, Reubs, they aren't supposed to be screened because of the possibility of ice build up.  But what a bird invitation!

You could put one of those big plastic owls on top!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

SO MANY reasons why having a home inspection is vital! Another great post Jay! Happy New Year!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 7 years ago

There really are Barbara-Jo, and many unpredictable.  Thanks for the reblog!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay, that could have been one huge disgusting mess for the birds, and a disaster for the humans!  Glad they hired you.  I'm sure they are, too!  Happy New Year!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Thanks Pat, and happy, happy to you too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Glad you caught this one. You do have an interesting job to say the least.

Posted by Anne Hensel, Realtor - Broker - St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island (South Beaches Real Estate Professionals) over 7 years ago

Thanks Anne.  And we inspectors will never be able to say we've seen it all!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Wow Jay, something I'm sure not many of us would have noticed this. Very dangerous situation could have developed.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 7 years ago

Jay, good post.  Scary.

My dryer was not working well for awhile - we decided to get a new one.  When we pulled it out to see if we needed a new connection or hose in the back, we found that it was disconnected.  No wonder my laundry room was so moist and steamy.

Anyway - the dryer vents to a wall outside the garage, high up, with 2" slats, like little mini blinds.  I went out and looked at it - yep!  You guessed it - with no air coming from the dryer, it was a perfect place for birds.  We took off the cover and there was the start of a nest in there, and bird poop on the sidewalk below.  After we finished cleaning it up, I wished I had taken a picture of our little guest house in the works.

Posted by Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR, Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS (ERA - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale) over 7 years ago

Lyn - some people may have noticed it without thinking it could be an issue.  What's inside the flue now may already be one!  This water heater is not operating, so perhaps something is blocking it and we don't know.

Virginia - dryer vents are a huge problem, either from lint build up or bird nests.  Something like 40,000 fires every year from blockages!  Pay attention and you will be okay.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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