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A 2 For 1 Works On Blue Plate Specials - But Not Bathroom Vents

I like special sales and a 2 for 1 works on blue plate specials - but not bathroom vents.

Bathroom vents have a lot to do.  They exhaust air from the bathroom and should always blow that air outdoors.

Sometimes homeowners know they have a problem.  They know their bathroom vents are not connected correctly to vent tubing, or that the tubing is not blowing the air to the outdoors.

In this neighborhood the homes were built in the mid 70s, and I have been in this neighborhood enough to know that the bathroom vents were not done properly by the builder.  Many simply blow into the attic or soffit vent.

If a bathroom is remodeled, of course, everything in it would need to be brought up to a modern condition, including code compliance.  That means all receptacles would be GFI connected, the toilets would be 1.6 gallons per flush, etc.  The bath vents would not be excluded.

Inspecting this house, it was obvious that both bathrooms had been remodeled.  And pretty well!

Do you see the cables?  Both bathrooms had been wired for cable TV!  And you can see that the soffit vents are completely covered with insulation.  To each his own...  Those may be other stories yet to be told!

But the vent arrangement was interesting.  The master bathroom had an exterior window and in that era no bath vent would have been required.  But the interior bathroom had no windows and as such it would have been required then to have a vent.

Modern codes require that all bathrooms be vented regardless of the window situation.  These people - homeowner or contractor - knew that!  Now both bathrooms have vents!

But they both use the same exhaust hole through the roof!  That would be alright if a special negative vent damper system was employed to prevent the one bathroom from venting its air into the other.  But I'm pretty sure that isn't the case here!

This county has adopted the International Residency Code for much of its own requirements.  Here is what the IRC says about bathroom vents:

IRC- M1506.2  Recirculation of air. Exhaust air from bathrooms and toilet rooms shall not be re-circulated within a residence or to another room or dwelling unit and shall be exhausted directly to the outdoors.  (emphasis mine)

That would seem to indicate that each vent have its own outdoor exit!  Not that the code is as creative as this arrangement above, but it is the code nonetheless.

My recommendation:  your home inspector is NOT a code inspector and can require nothing.  But sometimes to avoid any controversy, as he observes and reports, he may in addition indicate what a code states regarding something seen in a house.  And the buyer and seller will have to take it from there!  A minimum standard is, after all, the minimum acceptable!  Even when there is a blue plate special!

 

 

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 38 commentsJay Markanich • May 20 2012 04:15AM

Comments

Guessing that once again...no inspection with the remodeling project..yicks !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 6 years ago

Well, the old fart who rigged this up was certainly ingenious.

Never ceases to amaze me what people will come up with.

Keep em coming.

Posted by Erv Fleishman, Luxury Prop Specialist Realty Associates (Realty Associates) about 6 years ago

No S&D.  Either homeowner done or the contractor was trusted and no follow up happened!

Erv - this was a fun one!  While I liked the creativity a lot, I had to let my client know!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago
Great blog and great job. Keep up the good work and good luck to you this year. Thanks
Posted by JOSH EVANS *JoshEvansHomes 516-655-5000 (Village Properties of Mineola, LLC) about 6 years ago

I hope it's not to expensive to fix that issue, especially now that the bathrooms have already been remodeled.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 6 years ago

You have the best job!  You should write a book with all of the "interesting" improvements you have found over the years.

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) about 6 years ago

Jay, great info...just had this happen in a condo complex & they are all vented into the attic!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) about 6 years ago

Thanks Josh.

Debbie - it would require changing this arrangement to have two vent holes through the roof.  Not substantial.

Kathryn - the word interesting sure works!  Some have been mind blowing!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

That must have been a fun place to be when everyone was exhausting their bathrooms in the morning Ginny!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Hi Jay,

A least your vents are vented to the outside. Most I see are simply left to blow into the attic if there is a vent at all.

One vent says to the other "meet you at the Y" LOL

Have a great day in Virginia.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 6 years ago

Or they could meet at Johnny Carson's famous fork in the road Clint!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

We do bump into that from time to time.  The local inspectors are pretty good at making sure baths are vented correctly, but a lot of work goes without inspections.  

Posted by Mike Cooper, Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) about 6 years ago

Mike - I bet most work goes without inspections!  This inspector would have had to go to a lot of trouble to get to that spot in the attic I went to!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

This sounds like it could be easily fixed Jay, I see no need to share exhaust.  :)

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) about 6 years ago

Jay, why was this done in the first place? To save cutting another hole in the roof?

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 6 years ago

Now you know why certain different critters want to make that space their home...It is warm, ventilated and undisturbed...

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 6 years ago

Jay, 

Now that is a particularly nice installation. I would think in your climate you would want to insulate the duct also. It seems that the "old fart fan" just never get it proper doo ;)

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Jay - The "creativity or ingenuity" of homeowners/flippers/remodelers never ceases to amaze. That's why buyers need someone to point it out when an installation "stinks." 

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) about 6 years ago

That's quite a contraption they have going on there. When areas start to adopt the IECC the subject of venting and doing it right will be more on peoples minds.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) about 6 years ago

It can be fixed easily Tom!  And I have heard that you share exhaust all the time...

Probably Mike.  I think they wanted to be quick and dirty.

Richie - as a critter I find the attic space very fun because it is the largest room in the house!

Don - insulate, shminsulate.  Exhaust is exhaust.  We don't need no stinkin' protection, especially in winter!

I thought it a very nice installation too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

I bet this one was stinking from the start John!  And nobody understood why!

Rob - adoption is so time consuming, requires a lot of paper work, and bribes never hurt.  Oh, you meant the code recommendations?  Sorry...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Hello Jay,

It is amazing the creative concepts that are uncovered in home inspections...you always share the best with us - thank you!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) about 6 years ago

Jay -  That is a mighty nice octupus that you found up in that attic... hopefully it is a VERY rare species.

Posted by AJ Heidmann ~ CRS, YOUR Alexandria & Arlington, VA Real Estate Expert (McEnearney Associates, Inc.) about 6 years ago

You're welcome, again, Lisa!  We do have fun doing this, and writing about it!

AJ - it might not be as rare as I would like to see!  But this one was pretty creative, to be sure!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Jay, in our area, bathrooms require either mechanical ventilation or a means of natural ventilation and they can be connected together (bathroom fans) before they go through the roof to a cap with a back draft damper.  The code requirement is more aimed, I think, toward not venting them into another area of the home----or into the garage or crawl space etc.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 6 years ago

Sure, Charlie, back-draft preventers work here too.  And also that they vent outdoors, not elsewhere in the house.  In the 70s here, baths with windows never had vents and people when they upgrade try to get them to!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Jay:

What a complicated set up.  Cable in the bathroom but no proper vent out, that is amazing. 

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) about 6 years ago

Evelyn - you gotta think of everthing!  And they did!  And real expensive toilets too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Morning Jay congrats on the feature what does that make you about 5,000?  Anyway if builders can get it by they will it saves them money and after all that is why they are in the business.  Can charges still be brought or are the statute of limitations set them free?

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) about 6 years ago

This was done by the home owner or his contractor James.  This house is 38 years old!  Any builder statute of limitations has long expired!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Jay -- even your normal digital camera takes some very interesting pictures.  Why on earth did they pile all that insulation at the outside edge of the house?

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 6 years ago

To keep air from getting in through those large holes Steven!  All that air makes the attic cold you know!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Jay~we bought a home at Fishhawk Lake that was in foreclosure...sadly, I was not in real estate at the time, my husband decided not to have an inspection, since it was going to be sold as is and it was a new home, hardly lived in--BIG MISTAKE. Besides several HUGE issues we had to start with, the builder also decided not to do this as well. We ended up having to get that done before closing. Pain in the butt, but necessary. All we ever did was open the window above the shower--I'll bet that builder figured he could sneak by with that, TOO!

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) about 6 years ago

Here in CT (IRC 2005) the requirement is a window or a fan. I have had new construction wit out fans and it is fine by code, not by the homeowners. Me, I would want a fan. The problem I see is bath fans venting through the vented soffits. According to IRC 302.2 Ducts should terminate a minimum of three feet from building openings or property line. I guess no one around here thinks a soffit vent is a building opening. Wait no that's not true, the builder on my last new construction inspection knows now. ;)

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 6 years ago

Live and learn Gayle!  Life experience is a cruel but effective teacher!

Jim - everything has fans here, window or not.  I see the soffit vent thing every now and then, but not on new construction.  I did have a new construction today (pre-drywall) with both baths venting into one tube through the roof!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

I love to see you quoting code.  Too many home inspectors are scared $#!%-less of doing it.  

When I find two fans ducted together, I'll often turn one fan on and feel air coming out of the other fan.  This really helps the buyers 'get it' :) 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 6 years ago

I have been on roofs and smelled perfume through bathroom skylights Reubs.  It just occurred to me that perfume sprayed into one bath vent should be smelled in the other bathroom!

What should I use?  Shalimar?  Might as well, my wife never uses hers.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

P.s. Reubs...  Builders here demand that when home inspectors identify something on new construction they include the code that requires what they are identifying!  That is a riot!  So, if the receptacle is wired wrong, or not grounded, they want me to identify that the code requires that they fix it?  When I say that to supervisors their eyes cross.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

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