My inspection the other day produced a very unusual circumstance. Lighting.
There's nothing wrong with lighting, mind you. I like it! This was unusual in the extreme however.
The house was full of lights! And I mean full! Somebody had gone hog wild on the small, canister, halogen lights. They were everywhere!
Every single room. And not a couple. Sixteen in the kitchen. Six in the sun room off the kitchen. Four in the dining room. Two in the powder room! Many, many more in the basement. I mean every single room! And in addition to the lights already there! And on every level!
When we went upstairs it was very hot. The upper level had its own HVAC unit, so the temperature should have been very controllable.
I looked at the thermostat - it said 83F. BUT IT WAS SET AT 62F! The temperature outdoors that day was near 100F.
That's a big problem. It means that the AC will run and run and run and this system was not able to bring down the temperature.
To me that spells Cha-Ching! It will also wear the system down and kill it.
I got the inevitable question: "Why is the upper level so hot?" A reasonable question to be sure.
My answer: "I bet it's swiss cheese insulation. And it has to do with the lights."
I was right! Halogen lights get real hot. I measured one for my client -- it came in at 247F! That's hot! You must provide a way for the heat generated to escape. If you don't you risk a fire hazard. And with so many lights, well...
THIS IS THE VIEW ABOVE ONE OF THE BEDROOMS! You see what I mean about the lighting in general? And look at the Swiss Cheese insulation there! Do you think that will influence an HVAC system's ability to control the temperature? It does! Every room looked like this! And the insulation has been disrupted such that its R-value (which should be 30 in this house, based on its age) is erratic at best.
I gave the insulation a grade of POOR!
But this is not all! Problem #2 is how it all was wired! I knew from the insulation pattern that whoever installed these lights was not a professional. This is a DIYer! Or the infamous Uncle Bob, whom I meet so often!
Look at the wiring! That is improper by any measure. The cut out is wide open, so sparks can escape. The insulation is cut too short, so the cables are vulnerable.
AND MANY LIGHTS IN THE ATTIC LOOKED LIKE THIS ONE!
Think carefully - If the wiring is like this on a majority of many of the lights that I can see, what do you think is happening on the sixty or so lights in the rest of the house that I cannot see?
Not only that! I bet the kitchen lighting was taken off of the kitchen lights; the dining room off of the dining room chandelier; the office the same. And on and on.
How much do you want to be that those junction boxes are extremely overloaded and/or not covered properly?
What does that mean?
IT MEANS THAT ALL OF THE LIGHTING IN THE HOUSE NEEDS TO BE REMOVED AND EXAMINED INDIVIDUALLY. BY A PROFESSIONAL. WHO CAN FIX WHAT HE FINDS TO BE IMPROPER. PERIOD.
I assure you the seller won't be happy about that! These lights are perfect!
Wow, the electric bills in this house must be enormous.
My recommendation: when you see a lot of anything, especially when it approaches too much, it almost always indicates amateur work. And that can very often be a problem. And if you want to find out if it is a problem, or just how much of a problem, hire a home inspector!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560