What I'm Seeing Now

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When You See This, What Does It Say To You?

When you see this, what does it say to you?

What, you don't see it?

When I get to a house to conduct an inspection, I try to arrive early. 

And early enough to walk around the house twice.

The first time I am looking up.

The second time I am looking down.

Then I connect dots.

This is what this home inspector saw.

Did you notice it?

In the first photo it is somewhat small.

But I show the photo trying to demonstrate what this looked like from the ground.  It is high up!  So this clue is a small one, but evident.  YOU HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO POTENTIAL DOTS!

That rust stain is significant.  It is to me anyway.  It indicates a problem with the AC system, which unit is located in the attic space.  IT'S THE FIRST DOT!

Looking directly underneath that small stain I saw the roof to a bay window directly below.  THAT'S THE SECOND DOT!

And looking to the right from that bay window there is significant rust staining on the stucco siding.  AND, THAT'S THE THIRD DOT!

All that says AC condensate clog in the primary condensate discharge line servicing the unit in the attic unit. 

So that water will not leak into the house there is (usually) a drip pan underneath the unit. 

The drip pan also has a discharge tube, which typically drains outdoors. 

In the photo here that secondary discharge is attached onto the front, on the lower right of the photo.

From the amount of staining on the siding outdoors, it is evident to me that this drip pan has been discharging the condensate as it fills up with water, and for some time!

Going into the attic space the pan is currently full of rusty water!  THE END OF THE DOT LINE!

This water cannot be coming from the AC system as that has not been used since the fall.  Any water draining into the pan last fall would have evaporated by now.  So what's the source of the water?

That box on the upper right is the humidifier.  It is unplugged!  Is it leaking?

The furnace is a high-efficiency condensing gas unit, which creates condensation all the while it is operating.  Is the drain line for that clogged?  And if so, is that the source of this water?

That's where I put my money, but I don't know and do not diagnose on home inspections.

I observe and report.  That reports starts verbally, outdoors, and I tell them what we are likely to find inside.  We did!

My recommendation:  problems inside can manifest outside!  Problems outside can manifest inside!  A home inspection covers hundreds of things and it takes careful looking, thinking and experienced anticipation to conduct one properly.  Be sure to walk around with your inspector and listen to what is said.  It can be a bit of an information overload, but fortunately, when it's concluded, you will get a report to lay it all out.

 

 

 

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 49 commentsJay Markanich • March 06 2013 04:09AM

Comments

Your thoroughness reminds me of a home inspector in my area who always gets my recommendations. We need more like you and him in this world! Excellent post/information.

Posted by Peggy Wester, Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County (Realty Executives Integrity) over 6 years ago

Most buyers would not have noticed it . It is good to get a home inspection.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 6 years ago

Good Morning,  Jay! Give that man a star! Water problems are the number one enemy of properties. A good inspector will always notice water related issues...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 6 years ago

An attic swimming pool, neat. 

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

If you see any discoloration like this you should hire a home inspector before you put it on the market and correct any issues. Once a buyer finds it could kill the deal or mean a big deduction off the offer price.

Posted by Edward Gilmartin (CRE) over 6 years ago

Thanks Peggy.  Sometimes the clues (dots) are really small.

NO buyers would have noticed this Gita.  Likely anyway.  Hopefully all home inspectors would have, but knowing what I know I kind of doubt that too.

Michael - that there is some gooood shine!

Jim - the little lounge chairs for the mice were just off photo.

Edward - the seller told me later that he had not been up there for three years.  That's likely!

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

Jay, friends of ours came home one evening and found their ceiling on the living room floor because of a plugged discharge tube. The drip pan over flowed. It caused quite a mess.

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

Hello Jay,

The homeowner may not have been in the attic for three years, but the rust outside should have put up some red flags.  You are a pro at connecting the dots!

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

And this secondary tube was nearly clogged shut Mike!  It was a matter of time.  That would have happened to my clients this summer!

Lisa - if they even noticed the rust!  This house has a front door that nobody uses, except guests.

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

Good morning, Jay.... that's a good example of a situation that no homeowner would have figured out.... if they were not selling their home, the damage would have eventually been severe... homeowners should have all of their systems serviced every year to avoid these situations...

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 6 years ago

Thanks Miss B.  I think the problem would have hit this summer, and to my clients!

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

Nice pick up Jay. That should be a notice to all home owners that seldom use the front door, myself included, to take a stroll and check out the 'not rights' every so often.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 6 years ago

Mmmmmm.  The A/C in my attic was installed without a drain pipe from the overflow pan.

When it filled and overflowed, a strange thing happened.  The smoke alarm in the landing on the 2nd floor went off - loudly.  HA!  Water was streaming out of the smoke alarm.  Apparently they can be activated by water as well as smoke.

The A/C guy who came, installed a drain pipe from the pan to the outside.  No problem since.

Crappy builder. 

Oh, sure I had a home inspection the week after settlement.  He didn't catch the defect (no drain from the drip pan.  

That was before I met Jay.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Ed - I told the seller he should have a home inspection on his house every three years.  NOBODY does that.  They think I'm trying to weasel money out of them.

There wasn't even a float to turn off the system Lenn?  That was a poorly-installed system.  Most anomalies will set off a smoke detector.

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

It says, have your unit serviced annually! I see this quite often. Most of the times the drain pans are not plumbed to the outside either, crazy! I'm not a big fan of having air handlers in the attic period.

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 6 years ago

In this house, with the grand open spaces Fred, it was necessary.  And it's pretty common here.  What they didn't do was cut a hole to send that pipe out, which is the more often installation.

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

I love reading your blog Jay.  You never know which topic you are going to cover and I feel like I always learn something new.  

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 6 years ago

You have been connecting the dots since childhood Christiansens!

;>)

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

Another post to learn from Jay. .

Thank you for sharing your passion. .

I painting over dots is not a solution. . .

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 6 years ago

What I see is a homeowner that goes by the out of sight out of mind rule. Annual checkup sounds like a good plan to me.

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 6 years ago

You're welcome Fernando.  Every house has its dots!

Scott - and I don't know for how long this has been going on!  Surely an annual evaluation is the way to go.

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

Hi Jay,

And the home owner never knew a thing right? The HUGE rust spot was never an RED FLAG right?

It's simply amazing what the home owners will say when asked about a certain issue with a home.

"TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE". I hate that.

Have a great day in Bristow my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

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

Well, Clint, that's what they say!  And in Virginia we have no disclosure criteria - sellers don't have to say anything.

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

Jay, but I like the house that color----can't we get it to do that all over?

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

Jay...

Great detective work! Now hopefully the problem can be corrected, but it' already going to be a little late in happening!

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) over 6 years ago

Twould be the only burnt orange house in the neighborhood Charlie!

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

Oh, this can be corrected Richard.  But it's been a while and the fix now might be a bit more than with a normal regular maintenance.

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

As they say knowledge is power. It's critical that a home inspection be done-- I am always skittish of buyers that forgo that most important feature of buying a home.

Posted by Lorraine or Loretta Kratz, Certified Negotiation Consultants (Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions.) over 6 years ago

Mr Layman who is a very good friend of mine would see that eave from afar and think...Oh, a bird trying to build a nest...Meanwhile...?

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

Home inspections are becoming, slowly, more respected L&L.  But there are still the hold outs!

Richie - that bird location was in the rear, where the soffit was coming off and there was a virtual landing strip for birds to get into the attic!

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

Hi Jay,  The outward manifestation of a problem does lead one to sometimes discover an internal problem. Good eye.  I wonder what the homeowner thought the discoloration was the result from what(?)...  It is amazing what people will defer on maintenance.

Posted by Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, REALTOR and Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) over 6 years ago

Gary - maybe he thought it was natural deterioration of synthetic stucco!

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

Jay, luckily we became experts playing connect the dots. Sometimes I think we wouldn't be good home inspectors were it not for the habits we picked up when we were growing up.

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) over 6 years ago

Sue - in the Highlights Magazine I used to read Goofus and Gallant.  I more closely resembled Goofus...

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

Great advise about the A/C system.  I learn a lot about houses by attending home inspections and what to look for.  I'll be on the look out for rust stains!  Thanks!

Posted by Barb Merrill, GRI, Associate Broker (Cactus Mountain Properties, LLC) over 6 years ago

Thanks Barb.  Often times rust outside is coming from inside.  Keep your eyes peeled!

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

I always learn something new by reading your blog.  And, this helps me in my job, so thank you.

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

I'm very glad it does Debbie, but what are you thinking?  Brazilian cherry soffit material, to hide the rust?

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

You would have thought that the homeowner would have noticed that orange wall!  

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

Just a little bleaching from the sun Kathryn.  A little...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago
Great post Jay. And this is why inspections are so important and need to be done by a professional. Bravo for connecting the dots.
Posted by Kimberly Tapscott, Giving you the service you deserve! (Keller Williams Prestige Properties) over 6 years ago

Thanks Kimberly.  They weren't too hard to connect!  I've been doing this a while.

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

What a keen eye. That is why inspections are so important.

Posted by Trisha Bush-LeFore, Providing Realtor Services in the Walla Walla Area (Preferred Properties Land & Homes) over 6 years ago

Thanks Trisha, but that and a tad bit of experience.

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

That was a very informative blog--especially with the pictures.  Your clients are lucky to have you for an  inspector.  Keep blogging!

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) over 6 years ago

I'm glad you liked it Mary.  I intend to!

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

Great blog post you have here Jay! It's full of information where everyone can really pick up some lessons. Spotting problems before potential buyers does can help us find solutions and explanations. It's like thinking of the patch before having seen the associated problems!

Posted by Bruno & Noel Tarquinii, www.search4homes.us over 6 years ago

The eyes have it.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) over 6 years ago

That's the idea behind a home inspection Bruno.  We try.  Do we see everything?  Obviously not.

Thanks Ken.  When they are working!

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

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