What I'm Seeing Now

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"You Know There's An Odor, But You Don't Know Why"

I was called by a couple to evaluate what might be causing a problem with their condo.  Over the phone I heard, "You know there's an odor, but you don't know why."

Everyone notices it.  There is no mold in the house.  There are no stains.  It is persistent.  We notice it as soon as we walk inside.

I heard this over and over during the conversation.

It had rained just a bit over night. 

Getting there is the morning the first thing I did was look at the outside.

I noticed three things.

First, a lot of square footage of roof came down one downspout.  You can see this downspout on the right center of the photo.

Second, it drains onto a small metal roof (good quality) but that the gutter is inclined improperly.

Notice how the gutter angles down and away from the downspout into which it drains?

Third, the brick work is wet, stained and mossy above and to the left of their living room window.  This has been happening for a while!  Is water getting into the unit?

It was then that I rang the doorbell!

Yes, I noticed upon entering, there is an odor!  And mostly in the living room near the door.  It disappears when I went up and into the second level of the condo.

But I was pretty sure I knew why.

It was time for Mighty Mo! 

When I break out the camera, I always demonstrate its power a bit for the client.  I show them the wall, on which they see nothing in the camera view screen.  Then, with a full hand, I touch the wall for less than 1/2 second and show them a very clear hand print at where I touched! 

The thermal camera sees in tenths of a degree.  Even though my hand print is only slightly warmer than the surrounding wall, the hand print is exceptionally clear and will linger for about a minute.

Clients love to look over my shoulder.  They were VERY IMPRESSED to see what was going on with their wall.  And to see my moisture meter register nearly 30% moisture.  That is after a small rain.

When it rains a lot, imagine how much water comes down that one lonely downspout onto that small metal shed roof!  And how much of that, therefore, is encouraged into the brick wall and the condo!

I think that's what is smelling!

Looking around the neighborhood, how many similar small gutters did you think I saw!!

The condo association people are going to LOVE to get my report!

My recommendation:  odors are among the most challenging things home inspectors are called on to investigate.  There have been times where I was unable to determine the source.  But in this case, it seems pretty obvious to me.  So, call a home inspector to at least try to find out!  And remember, thermographers are all really cute.

 

 

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 108 commentsJay Markanich • March 19 2012 03:22AM

Comments

Hi Jay, What an interesting read. Such a tragedy that all the condos were built that way. Hopefully this was the worst case, as it was the only reported.

 

Posted by Rob Lang, Local Expert in Lawrence Kansas Real Estate Homes (At Home Kansas Team Powered by Keller Williams Partners Inc / www.AskRobLang.com) over 7 years ago

Rob - when I see patterns like this it says that the association is not paying attention outdoors.  Who knows if this is the only or worst case!  It's the only one I have investigated to date.

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

Thanks W&J!  We do what we can.  And the cool tools help!

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

You are like the Sherlock Holmes of real estate - I love reading your blog! 

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) over 7 years ago

Very interesting, Jay! Again, you've reinforced the the value of a good home inspector!! Enjoy the day.

Posted by Brenda Mayette, Getting results w/ knowledge & know-how! (Miranda Real Estate Group, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Jay how interesting., Yes a home inspection is key to monitoring the health of a home.  Thanks for always providing informative information.

Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) over 7 years ago

Thank you for the information. Buyers should always get a home inspection when buying a home.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 7 years ago

Thanks Brenda.  It might be that this problem did not exist when they bought the condo, and if they had a home inspector there was no reason to look for it then.

Jennifer - I agree!  And in this case, even after the home is lived in!

Gita - I don't know if they did, but it might be that when they bought the condo this problem did not exist.

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

Good morning Jay,

Oh the joy of shared walls....your clients were fortunate it was a problem specific to their wall and not a shared one - that can lead to a difficult neighbor and/or HOA and can create more headaches than anyone would want to deal with.  Townhomes can be wonderful, but they do come with their own issues that are different from detached homes.

Risky advertising that all thermgraphers are cute...you are going to be having a lot of husbands/significant others not wanting you around their spouses!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 7 years ago

Jay, I'm surprised that the contractor didn't notice that the gutters were slanted away from the downspout.  Did something cause it to move?  Or is that the way it was installed?  

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 7 years ago

This particular wall is the exterior one Lisa, which means they share it with the condo!  I think this is a condo problem/repair!  And nobody has anything to worry about around their spouses!  FYI...

Mike - this could have happened over time and the condo is not paying attention.  Frankly, I see such gutter inclination often on the multi-level condo buildings.  At this point, seven years after the building's construction, it is hard to diagnose why.  With all that water, it might just be weight.

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

Actually, Im not surprised by a contractor making this kind of mistake. When a good size project is done, it is easy to miss this kind of error. Some of the labor people that get hired to do these jobs, do not focus on details, they focus on getting the work done and getting paid.

Thank you for sharing the post with all of us.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) over 7 years ago

I lost count of the number of homes I've shown and sold that had gutters that defied simple gravity.  GEEZ!  Even a lowly real estate agent can spot this and has many time.  I enjoy telling a new home builder "That gutter isn't draining to that downspout". 

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

Jay, I was thinking inside odors. Leave it to the knowledgable Inspector Markanich!

Posted by Leslie Godbold, Motivation Speaker, Radio host "Positively Living" (WZGM AM1350 Independent Asheville Radio) over 7 years ago

Joe - I don't know if this is a mistaken installation, or from poor instllation with the spikes.  But it is all over the development!  A lot of these builders employ what I call 7-11 construction and this is usually the result of that.

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

Lenn - improper inclination or the cute dip in the center!  Either way, water, water everywhere but where you want it!   And not hard to spot!

Leslie - speak of the devil (or in this case think) and he appears!

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

Yes, Mighty Mo is a great friend and conversation piece.  Yes, the condo is going to be thrilled when they see your report.  Oy vey.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 7 years ago

Wait til this news gets out Debbie!  And all the people who say they have an odor too!

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

For everyone's information, this is the original Mighty Mo.

This was the big Hot Shoppe burger, the Marriott restaurant in DC long before the hotels became household words.

This was also long before the Big Mac or the Whopper!

I usually ate it with a chocolate shake.

Here it is pictured with an A&W root beer.

It is said A&W stands for "Alice and Willard," the original founders of the corporation.  That's probably urban legend as Mr. Marriott's first business was an A&W franchise.

Who knows!

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

Mo looks like a BIG BOY...slathered in 1000 island dressing...ahhh....

Anyway...smells are the hardest to "trap"...find...discover the source of since they seem to permeate the entire home...especially if it has been closed up for a while.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 7 years ago

S&D - I named my camera Mighty Mo because of childhood resminscency and nostalgia!

Odors are hard to diagnose, but sometimes can be figured out.

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

Jay,

You absolutely right about quality of the new construction. In many cases I saw that the 100 yo houses stands much better then a new ones.

Posted by Yuriy Goldstein (All Right Home Inspection) over 7 years ago

Yuriy - I had a post just the other day about a 100 year old house, with its original siding.

It's here.

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

Hello Jay,

Yes, I was referring to a share between the homes and not just the share with front/back...I should have been more specific - not enough caffeine yet this morning!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 7 years ago

I thought you were tweaking me Lisa, so I tweaked back!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago
Reblogged with this intro... Have you heard of a thermographer before? Bet you will remember what they are and what they do after reading this! Need to discover the source of a smell in a home that cannot be seen or determined? Here is a cute tool and clever plan!
Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com) over 7 years ago

Hi Jay.  Is that normal for a down spout to be placed there? It just looks odd there.  Its amazing when the development was constructed that the county inspectors or whom ever didn't think it was an issue.

Posted by Cheryl Thomson REALTOR Army Ret, Associate Broker in Northern Virginia ( United Real Estate (703.216.5635) cheryltee47@gmail.com) over 7 years ago

Very interesting and you're right the HOA is going to love your find - ha! Seems as though the culprit has been uncovered, and now the fix should be rather easy...and one the owners will be glad to know about.

Posted by Charlie Dresen, Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro (Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty) over 7 years ago

Great article and very helpful in educating realtors and home buyers to the items we need to see on a home inspection.  I will be sure to check the SMELL section to make sure the inpsector is using that "cool tool".  :)  

Posted by Martha Givens, Stress Free Real Estate!!! (Century 21 Brandt Wright Realty, Inc) over 7 years ago

Jay, the nose knows and Mighty Mo provides the evidence. Hot Shoppe's, I remember those from way back. Fredericksburg had one of the last ones on Route 1.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 7 years ago

Once a Seller of mine had an odor in their home that they couldn't detect. Solid weeks they searched. Turned out it was a pack of hamburger meat that had somehow slid behind the shelves in the fridge and had gone bad. I was so thankful that they found that at a time when I wasn't there to help them in the search. Gross.

 

Posted by Margie Kopp Sorrell, Lake Oconee Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Lake Oconee Realty and Lake Country) over 7 years ago

Interesting.  Sounds like this is a very useful tool that I am guessing many inspectors do not use.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Most smells are bad news. Last week I went into a house, and my nose actually started burning from the smell! If that isn't mold, I don't want to know what it is. Two days later it was under contract? What are they thinking?

Posted by Ron Barnes, "Most agents claim they're #1 - I THINK YOU'RE #1! (Associate Broker at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Georgia Properties) over 7 years ago

Jay-good work, I'm sure at first the association will hate the report, but logic should tell them if they fix these items correctly they will avoid much greater potential losses.

Posted by Adrian Willanger, Profit from my two decades of experience (206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com) over 7 years ago

Jay...

Wow, way to track down the problem. It seems that a lot of times homeowners can't fix the problem because they don't know how to find the problem!

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) over 7 years ago

Jay,

I think I want one of those thermal cameras!

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 7 years ago

You KNOW this one is getting reblogged! GREAT report and example! Condo associations need to take care of what is their responsibility.

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

Jay, That is amazing!  This has to be one of those love / hate things.  They love you because you found the area of smell, but hate you because now it's going to cost them to remedy the situation.  I'm sure there will be a positive outcome though!

Posted by Sara Homan, Realtor, Homes, Farms & 55+ (Coldwell Banker Ellison Realty 352-209-4044) over 7 years ago

Ha-ha, Jay...Tweak, tweak...we are in for severe weather here today, I may just beat you to a Rubby Ducky song!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 7 years ago

Here in southern California mold is the nemesis of many real estate transactions, along with stubborn HOA's. As to odors they are so hard at time to pin down. One home that I had an inspection on found dead carcasses behind the dry wall and these clients went running in the other directions. Odor's can be a big tip off.

Posted by Lorraine or Loretta Kratz, Certified Negotiation Consultants (Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions.) over 7 years ago

Interesting blog on moisture.  I am sure your clients were impressed by what was revealed through your investigation!

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

Jay, I was going to write something insightful, but after I saw the burger, fries and rootbeer (#19) I lost my train of thought...LOL!!!

Posted by Ron Cooks, Texas Real Estate, Ft Hood/Killeen Homes for Sale (The Real Estate Marketplace) over 7 years ago

OH, I remembered!  Another great post.  Having a good home inspector as one of your trusted vendors is worth its' weight in gold.

Posted by Ron Cooks, Texas Real Estate, Ft Hood/Killeen Homes for Sale (The Real Estate Marketplace) over 7 years ago

Anytime you have a picture of a burger and fries with a root beer...I am sold and in for whatever is going on

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 7 years ago

Thanks Cheryl R. - Don't forget to mention how cute we all are!  And as to the tool being cute, it's darn expensive I can tell you that!

Cheryl T. - it's not the placement of the downspout that is problematic, it is the fact that it discharges so much rain water into a small gutter, which is also poorly positioned.

Charlie - unless they find mold!

Martha - I love Mighty Mo, the sharpest arrow in my quiver of tools!

Michael - good to know!  Is it still there.  There was one at Montgomery Mall recently, which is really near the Marriott home building in Bethesda, but I don't know if it's still there.

 

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

Margie - that will always do it!  That's the equivalent of a carcass inside the walls!

Gary - I have been using it about 9 years now, but few inspectors nationwide are using them, percentage wise.

Ron - people think that painting and changing the carpeting will eliminate most smells.  Usually not...

I agree Adrian.  This should be a big head's up for them, and now they can be proactive.

Richard - for sure.  That's why it pays to have the cool tools and the cute thermographer.

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

Mike - and you can have one!  They have come down in price to where you can get a good one (and ONLY get a good one) for $9 or $10K.  The training ain't cheap either.

Barbara-Jo - well, thanks!  And yes, that is their job and they do get the big management bucks.

Sara - I think this one might be on the association!

Lisa - enjoy!  In a couple of months your tongue will be hanging out and you will want rain.

L&L - I bet so!  That along with shaking earth, sliding hills and rampaging wild fires!

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

Kathryn - clients are always impressed with Mighty Mo.  And they love to look over my shoulder.

Mighty Mo strikes again Mr. Ron!  They are a great memory from my childhood.  Great shakes too.  And thanks.  I wish I was worth my weight in gold.  We could all have a great vacation, my treat!

Richie - I wish they were still around.  Big Macs and Whoppers are such pretenders!

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

Jay, I cannot imagine being able to do an inspection without a sense of smell---it can tell us a great deal about a house's condition.

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

Great advice Jay! Thanks for your post

Posted by Christine Ordze, ABR, CCS, ePro (Royal LePage Benchmark) over 7 years ago

Jay - all your clients are lucky to have you as a home inspector. You have an eye, or should I say nose for finding where the source of problem lies at.

Love your history on A & W franchise.

Posted by Les & Sarah Oswald, Broker, Realtor and Investor (Realty One Group) over 7 years ago

Yes, Charlie, and that is why we sometimes get calls!  There's an odor!

You are welcome Christine.  Please stop by some more.

Sarah - I didn't know the A&W stuff as a kid, only the Hot Shoppes.  A&W started in 1919, and Marriott's first A&W stand in 1927.  He started the Hot Shoppes in the late 40s.  I think the last one closed recently, but don't know when.

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

Water issues of any kind are among the worst for home owners (and associations) to deal with.  Water causes so much damage and so many other issues.  To borrow a phrase ... it's the "trickle down affect" ...

Glad the home owners were smart enough to contact you and resolve their issue ...

Gene

Posted by Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi, 708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience (NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656) over 7 years ago

I am too Gene.  While they thought it might be water related, they had no indicators inside the house!

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

This was fantastic to read.  We deal with "mystery odors" all the time, but this was exceptional!!

Posted by MaryKay Shumway, Door County Wisconsin's Real Estate Expert (The Kellstrom Ray Agency, Inc. (Est. 1948)) over 7 years ago

Thanks MaryKay.  I have seen the bumper stickers - Odors Happen.

Or something like that.  Glad you enjoyed the blog!

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

Way to go Mighty Mo...good sleuting in finding that pesky odor.

Posted by Brin Realty Associates Team At Bean Group, Amherst NH homes and Southern NH real estate (Bean Group | Brin Realty Associates) over 7 years ago

Rene - he does a great job that Mighty Mo!  What a great tool.

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

Jay...in the world of burger wisdom...you have no equal my friend...This man knows his burgers

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 7 years ago

Hi Jay, great story on the wrong way downspout, but you need to put an alert out before we see that pic of hamburger, fries and a root beer. Something like, 'don't view on an empty stomach!'

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 7 years ago

Richie - and I knew that really young!  Those are very fun memories, with young ladies on roller skates bringing those full trays to our cars.

Sorry Sandy!  I agree not on an empty stomach.  I thought I should explain where the name came from!

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

Jay, it's lucky for them that they hired such a knowledgeable home inspector. Keep us posted on this one. I will be curious to know if the condo association makes the necessary repairs on all these units.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 7 years ago

Hi Jay,  Nifty piece of detective work.  Well done !

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 7 years ago

It's the tools Tammie, not the great knowledge!  But I do follow the clues!

Bill - thanks.  This one wasn't too hard.  Some odors are impossible to locate.

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

Hi Jay - I used to live in a really nice condo community in Orange County CA, but they had some units without any gutters, and one was right next door to us.  They had a tiny walled in yard with no drainage, and over time, rainwater soaked the ground and went through the building wall and into the wall between our garages under our units.  Both the neighbor and I were sick all the time before we discovered the problem. 

She was much much sicker than I was and had to move out while her unit was completely ripped apart inside and repaired.  She sold her house without ever moving back in.  You'd better believe that the association went around installing gutters on all of the units that lacked one, since she sued to recover her medical bills and repairs! They also drilled drainholes in the walls around yards.

Posted by Susan Neal, Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker (RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks) over 7 years ago

Good job on finding the smell. You called that one and that's what a good inspector is for. What a cool gadget you have, too! Yay, Mo!

Gretchen

Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) over 7 years ago

It is hard to get that smell out when it is between the walls. Love thermal cameras

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) over 7 years ago

Good evening Jay. Love the thermal images. I have one on my wish list this year. Amazing no one noticed the eaves slanting the wrong way. Good catch.

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

I love reading your posts - I LEARN so much. Seems strange to me how many homes I've sold that have had improper guttering installed.

Posted by Lori Cain, Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer (eXp Realty) over 7 years ago

Jay - Those cameras are amazing in what they can discover.  My inspector has one as well.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 7 years ago

Jay, and to think that builders in Florida don't even put any gutters on their houses much of the time - and our rains are heavy and intense. Great catch!

Sharon

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) over 7 years ago

Susan - that is serious stuff and condo associations should pay attention.  And when people know there is a problem they should get right on it!

Thanks Gretchen.  I like Mo too.

Harry - well, hopefully this smell will go away when the water is diverted better!

Randy - when I hear about moisture/smell problems, I always look outside first.

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

Lori - gutter installation is crucial.  Especially that it be done correctly.

Christine - he is a smart guy then, and probably very cute.  That is requisite.

F&S - with the numbers of strong thunderstorms you guys get, I would hope there is another way of keeping all that water off the house!

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

You are correct, locating mysterious odors is challenging and not always successful. I'd say my average is 50/50.

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

That's probably about right Jim.  I had one a while back that turned out to be related to something I identified on a previous home inspection of the same house, which was fixed, but not correctly.  My new search lead me in different directions altogether!

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

Thermal cameras definitely allow us to see a lot more of what's going on in a home! Great job getting to the source of that odor!

Posted by Sylvie Stuart, Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta (Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765) over 7 years ago

It's all luck Sylvie!  As you know...

;>)

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

Nicely done Jay.  I enjoy reading your posts.  Thanks

Trying to find the source of sewer gas smell in a home I work with as a non profit.  Never smells when I am there it wasn't the shower drains as I expected.

Posted by Kim Carnes, Carnes Home Inspections - Indianapolis Metro Area and beyond - (Licensed - Certified Home Inspectors (317) 753-7098) over 7 years ago

Odors can be very elusive.  And the hunt for the cause can be very frustrating!!

Posted by Woody Edwards, A Realtor® Who Answers His Phone! (First Choice Realty, Inc) over 7 years ago

Kim - perhaps some drain in the house without a trap, like between floors, or an uncapped drain line inside a wall, from a previous installation removed or moved?

And thanks!

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

You have that nail hit in with one whack Woody!

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

Cool camera! Sounds like you found the problem. I hope the condo association is sitting down when they read your report!

Posted by Amanda S. Davidson, Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale (Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group Brokered By eXp Realty) over 7 years ago

Thanks Amanda.  Don't know - my client will have to inform them!

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

Jay,

This is another great post.  I try to catalog all of your who-dunits for later.  

Posted by Warren Moore, CRS, GRI (Warren Moore Real Estate) over 7 years ago

The home inspectors who use the thermal imagining are always the most interesting to our buyers and sellers. What a great tool to use along with the training to know what it shows.

Posted by Steve Davis, Carlsbad CA (Davis Coastal Properties) over 7 years ago

AWESOME JOB!  I had a client with a vexing 'odor' problem in a room and I think we figured it out a different way.  I noticed some spotting in an overhead light fixture in the bath.  When we pulled the cover off, we found some mouse droppings.  The conclusion - poor little mouse was permanently stuck somewhere in the ceiling and the odor would eventually go away!

Posted by Michael J. O'Connor, Eastvale - 951-847-4883 (Diamond Ridge Realty) over 7 years ago

Kudos to you for spending the $$ for this technology for your clients.  My home inspector did, too and I love it for my clients.  Great post! 

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) over 7 years ago

Always interesting topics and I learn a lot about defects in homes from your posts, so thank you for so many invaluable lessons.

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) over 7 years ago

Great info & reminder to keep your eyes open during inspections!

Posted by Mark Hoggard (Churchill-Brown & Associates - Nichols Hills) over 7 years ago

Hi Jay, very interesting technology.  I'll have to ask my inspector if he uses it.

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) over 7 years ago

Yes to today's technology & inspectors that use them! I was interested to read what you found but I guess that will be a mystery for now. 

I once had a strange odor in a new house that was only there in the summer months.  I had EVERYONE in that house & everyone said they could smell 'it' but no one knew where it was coming from.  We thought animals had died in the vents, in the walls ??? We tried everything plus some things that we just guessed on & found nothing.  Then one day a guy said 'is your sump pump sealed'?  Well that was it!  A tube of caulk later - no smell.  What happened was the ejector pump was not sealed properly & the AC unit was drawing in the smell along the floor.  So the smell was there, then gone, then there. 

Just a story .....  I've lived thru it before.

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

Wow - it sounds like a case for Sherlock Holmes.  If not Sherlock Homes, then at least Mighty Mo and his special equipment to the rescue.  Thanks for all this info.  I love learning about what causes odors and all other home inspection tips. Have a great day!

Posted by Ellen Kippel, Licensed NY and NJ realtor 914-588-2365 (Weichert Realtors) over 7 years ago

Thanks Warren.  That will be a log of cataloging!

Steve - training and experience are the real key.  It is a bit art and a bit science.

Michael - not a mouse!  Hard to find, hard to figure out!

Jan - I bought mine about 9 years ago, when they were much more expensive.  But it paid for itself quickly.

 

 

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

You're selcome Kimo.  We try to be instructive all the time!

Mark - I find AR to be a great learning site too.

Bob - if he did you would know!  He would have sent you marketing right away!

Lyn - no way the thermal camera would have found that one!

Ellen - as a tool, I find Mighty Mo to be the sharpest arrow in my quiver.

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

finding those issues takes a little bit of investigating, doesn't it? It's great that you found the problem, maybe not so great for the sellers

Posted by Sandy McAlpine, Search Lake Norman Homes For Sale - Lake Norman NC (RE/MAX EXECUTIVE) over 7 years ago

Isn't it funny how you can almost "see" a leak even when there's no water present?  Missing flashing, gutters tipped the wrong way, or a roof directing water right into a dormer or chimney...  Your client's defect was the same one that, after decades, rotted out the sillplate in my home.  A good inspector and his ol' moisture meter picked that up during my pre-purchase inspection (I wasn't an inspector yet).

Posted by Julie Babcock -Nook & Cranny Home Inspections (Nook & Cranny Home Inspections Tonawanda, NY) over 7 years ago

Sandy - these are the homeowners!  They moved in when there was nothing to detect and over time realized there is a problem!

Julie - thermal imaging is best done with a moisture meter as sometimes what one migh think to be moisture really isn't.  It's a bit art and a bit science.

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

Wow, what timing. An agent in my office is having an odor problem at a rental property. I'll pass on the blog in hopes it helps point her to the righ inspector. Thanks,

Posted by Elisa Uribe Realtor #01427070, Opening the Doors to California Homes -East Bay (Golden Gate Sotheby's International) over 7 years ago

I hope it helps Elisa!  Odors are often water related, but not always!

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

Jay - you are the MAN!  I always enjoy reading about your adventures.  I wish you were working in Tallapoosa, GA...of course you wuldn't make the big bucks here.

Posted by Karen Steed, Associate Broker Haralson Realty (Tallapoosa, Bremen, Waco, Buchanan, Temple, Carrollton) over 7 years ago

Very informative post! Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Aloha!

Posted by Monique Ting, Your agent under the sun (INET Realty Honolulu, HI) over 7 years ago

Great job.  What I like is you figured it out before you whipped out the fancy gear.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Jay, I always enjoy your post as I always learn something. If AR ever holds a vote for our favorite blogger I would have to vote for you.

Posted by Wayne Jackson, North Idaho Realtor, Serving Coeur dnullAlene and Hayden Lake (Lakeshore Realty 208-714-4109) over 7 years ago

Karen - we live in a "booming" market, by comparison to lots of areas around the country.  I wish I was making the big bucks here too!  I was far busier during the Bush Depression...

Ahola Monique.  Very cool to reach out to Hawaii!

Gene - it was somewhat evident because it had rained the night before and there was staining outside.  I would have suspected it, but had it not rained even the camera would not have been so demonstrative.

Thank you Wayne!  That is a very nice compliment, but I learn as much on this site as you do!

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

While the thermography tool is impressive, it still was the keen experienced eye that notated the exterior problem first, and knew where to concentrate his investigation to start with.  Prior to having this tool, you would still have suspected this problem lied where it did and would have pinpointed it, albeit with a lot more troublesome effort.  The point is let's not give this handy tool all the credit.  There is no substitute for the experienced keen awareness of the man.

Posted by Ken Anderson, Broker in Burlington, Ontario (Apex Results Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 7 years ago

Thanks.  Like a previous post, Ken, I said you have to find the source.  Well, this water isn't starting inside the wall!

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

Nice catch. I want one of those cameras. It will just be a novelty for me.

Posted by Wayne B. Pruner, Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI (Oregon First) almost 7 years ago

Well, they are out there Wayne!  They aren't as easy as they look though.  I have spent thousands in training.

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

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