"We've Never Used The Whirlpool Tub, So You Don't Need To Check It."
That's what the note said. These sellers had left a note for the buyers with information about this and that. Buried in the list was the mention about the whirlpool tub.
Do you think I:
1. Believed the note and didn't check the tub at all
2. Ran straight upstairs to check the tub first
3. Checked the tub during the normal course of the inspection
4. Laid my hands on it and divined that it had no problems
As much as I enjoy #4, I really am partial to checking whirlpool tubs, so I filled it and tested it during the normal course of the inspection.
For certain I am not going to fall for a seller's suggestion that something does not need to be checked. I would be surprised if any home inspector would either. But I am not one to suspect people to be devious.
And to think a seller would try to fool the inspector, or think he would just go along with the note, is embarrassing. It would embarrass me to leave such a note, so I usually think the best of people when they say such things. But what did I find?
First of all, in the bathroom with the tub, both cabinets had been replaced. There was no access panel to the inside cavity to examine the motor and whirlpool parts.
I suspect that the original cabinets had a panel inside one of them allowing such access.
Access is important for many reasons, but it is not the subject of this post.
After running the whirlpool for a while, and draining the water, what do you think we found?
The camera located a spot on the ceiling, directly under the whirlpool tub.
I had filled the tub with hot and cold water, to test both service lines, but the final temperature was very cool. I did that with reason.
For the purpose of the thermal image evaluation, I use a palette that has cooler colors demonstrated by lavender, blue and purple and warmer colors demonstrated by orange and yellow.
That purple spot is cooler than the surrounding ceiling by 7 degrees Fahrenheit. That would indicate moisture.
Also, the moisture meter registered 100% moisture at that spot, but less than 10% all around that spot.
Looking carefully at the location, AND PREVIOUSLY NOT SEEN BEFORE, was a slight, downward bulge in the drywall.
Examining that small area under a directional light revealed a slight shininess. That means it had been painted before with KILZ or another stain-blocking primer. An inexperienced painter, like a homeowner, does not know that primers are shiny and need to be painted at least twice because they will "bleed" through a single coat of paint.
Looking then at the entire ceiling, I found a small area near the corner where a recent coat of paint had not previously covered a previous one.
MY CONCLUSION? THIS LEAKING WAS KNOWN, AND HAD BEEN SEALED AND PAINTED BY SOMEBODY.
Was it the homeowner? These were the original owners of the house, and had proudly said so to the buyers. I like that because often I suggest to the buyers that they ask "history" questions for things we might want to know. Original owners will know the answers to such questions.
This was a history question that probably really shocked this seller!
My recommendation: sometimes sellers try to divert attention toward or away from something. While I inherently trust people to be honest, I believe in the doctrine of "trust, but verify." And I try to do exactly that. So should you!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560