What I'm Seeing Now

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The Stairs Are Wrong, But What's That?

The contractor, of course, said they didn't need a permit, and the stairs are wrong, but what's that?

One should exit the door to a 36" platform, the stairs are not of proper or equal height, there should be two handrails and the stairs cover the siding and rim joist (moisture and termite invitation).

Well, I see that so much lately none of this was a surprise.

But why would solid concrete stairs have a hole in the middle of a stair?  What's that?

I sidled up to have a peek inside.

Thinking that surely the cover could be removed I tried, but it was glued in there tightly!  Trying to remove it previously might be how it got broken.

Getting closer, can you see what it is?  I was shocked to see it is the dryer vent cover!  And looking inside it was easy to see how clogged it is.

Looking deeper reveals how much more clogged the tubing is.  And the photo does not do it justice.  It's clogged!

Such covers are NOT appropriate for dryer vents.  In the winter they are cold and the air is hot.  That tube gets cold throughout its run from the rim joist to this point.  And the warm air that passes through it creates condensation, and the lint in the tubing and vent sticks and clogs.

IT IS A FIRE HAZARD WAITING TO HAPPEN!

Additionally, the vent from the dryer is the typical 4" solid metal tube, and that is great.  But it funnels down and into this 2" plastic tube, which also causes clogging.

My recommendation:  before a project always check to see if what you are doing requires a permit.  Doing that first is always a Best Practice.  It probably only takes a phone call.   My county has a link on its website that says, "When do I need a permit?"  And clicking brings up a list.  It's best to check to make sure you are not left with dangerous conditions or remodeling that does not meet codes.  Codes are minimum standards, to be sure.  But certainly one of the best reasons for them is safety.

 

 

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 48 commentsJay Markanich • June 28 2014 02:53AM

Comments

Oh gosh, that is a mess.  Earlier in the week I was at a house wo/ the 36" platform on the back steps and I knew it was wrong from one of your blog posts that I remembered reading.  Wow on the dryer vent.

Posted by Women of Westchester Working Together, Women helping Women get ahead (Women of Westchester Working Together) over 4 years ago

This is one of those, "What were they thinking?" posts Debbie.  Stepping out onto a step is another accident waiting to happen.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Well I would have guessed a lot of things but not a dryer vent. 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 4 years ago

Maybe a secret opening for the telescope to spy on the neighbor, James?

The speaker so you can listen to the game while sitting on the back patio?

An air hole?

The mind goes wild!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

My question is, how does a dryer vent get installed in such a location in the first place???

If that house is having a home inspection, it would follow that it's under a Contract of Sale.  I wonder if the listing agent took notice of that vent.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Who knows Lenn?  The stairs and patio were installed a couple of years ago.  These are original owners.

During the buying process the buyer noticed it but did not know what it was.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, your post was a nice read today. Picked up some useful points. Hope to come across others from you soon.

Posted by Winston Heverly, GRI, ABR, SFR, CDPE, CIAS, PA (Winston Realty, Inc.) over 4 years ago

I sure wish you were in my area Jay.  I've been through at least 5 home inspectors in my 6 year career and haven't been incredibly pleasd with any of them.  

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 4 years ago

Well that is a new one. I imagine those steps would become icy in the winter when you've got warm air coming out of the dryer!

Posted by Debbie Malone, From Lynchburg To The Lake (434) 546-0369 (Londeree's Real Estate & Property Management) over 4 years ago

The magic word is "Permit."  It's the homeowner's only protection from a contractor who wants to do things his way.  Usually the problem comes from laziness as far as I can see -- a creative shortcut or work-around.  I just wish more people realized that the permitting process is there for their benefit -- not just a governmental annoyance.

Posted by Dianne Goode, Realtor/Broker (Raleigh Cary Realty) over 4 years ago

Little thought went into that project....other than "How cheap can I get it done".

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 4 years ago

Jay, at first I thought it was the drain pipe for the sump pump.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 4 years ago

Good posting here...I can see the custom work here and how it meant well...No platform to land on when coming or going? That's a trip to emergency if one is not careful

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 4 years ago

Hi, Jay. It's scary to think a "professional" (term used loosely here) put that together. It's like he was trying to win a contest for how many things to get wrong in one project...

Thanks for sharing,
Bruce

 

Posted by Bruce Kunz, REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale (C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100) over 4 years ago

That is an odd spot for a vent Jay. It will act as an outdoor air freshener for those approaching the door.

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) over 4 years ago

Seems like there were much better alternatives to the dryer vent location...but then what do I know?

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 4 years ago

And the homeowner didn't complain when it was finished?  Stairs of different heights would have been the one thing that anyone would have wanted -- I have seen the concrete over siding before and I can understand a homeowner thinking that if a contractor thought the vent was ok, it must be.  But uneven heights?  Hmmmm?

Posted by Suzie Townley, Relaxed Professionalism (Diamond Partners, Inc) over 4 years ago

Jay- another "what were they thinking?" moment for sure.  How in the heck does a dryer vent end up there??

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 4 years ago

As soon as I saw the vent I said, Oooooh, there's lint in it -- it's for the dryer!   I feel like I should get a ribbon or something.

 

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) over 4 years ago

Jay, you got me with this one. I knew about the landing size, but couldn't imagine what that vent was. I guessed a light!! What a terrible idea to put it inside a concrete step!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 4 years ago

Nice description, Jay.  I'm curious what you would advise the buyer to do with the information you discovered?  Several possibilities cross my mind.

Posted by Sally Lawrence, Broker, CHS, e-Pro, SFR, REALTOR® (Advantage Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Well now that's a first ever!  I was thinking it was a dryer vent, but not at a step!  Who's bright idea was that?  Thanks for sharing - It still amazes me what people will do! Have an awesome weekend.

Posted by Graziella Bruner, Associate Broker - Serving Wayne & Oakland County (NCS Premier Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Jay - you are a master!  You should be wearing a Sherlock Holmes hat in your profile picture!  I attended dozens of home inspections when I was an agent and I don't think that any of them would have caught this.

Posted by ReadySetLoan Condo Approval Team, The FHA/VA Condo Project Approval Specialists (ReadySetLoan Condo Team LLC) over 4 years ago

Boy, those permits seem to be an obstacle for homeowners and would-be contractors (I say "would be, because the licensed and bonded ones know better). 

It IS a best practice! 

Scary stuff about the fire hazard, too.

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) over 4 years ago

Surprise, Surprise. Interesting to see what the fix is for that. Going to have to change the route fro the vent. Thats why I always say get an inspection.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) over 4 years ago

Thanks Winston.  I'm here mostly every day!

Thank you A&J.  The post the other day was for some investor clients of mine who live in Fort Wayne.

That is quite another thing Debbie!  That could very well be!

Dianne - those are very true words.  And contractors very often try to talk people out of pulling permits for things.

Than - this is a big pickle!  And I don't know but the dryer vent was not moved to avoid these stairs.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

That was elsewhere Mike.  And buried.  I could not find where it discharges!

It is Richie.  Hence the need for a platform and the code regarding that.

There sure is a lot going on there Bruce!  And clearly little understanding of codes.

That's an idea Tom!  Put in some extra freshening sheets!

The basement inside there is unfinished Gary, and it could have been rerouted.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Suzie - hindsight is 20/20.  Surely so in this case...

They extended it straight out Kathy.  It could have been rerouted.

Give yourself a ribbon Kat!  I suggest gold.

A light would have made sense Tom!  But not here.

This was one of the major disappointments during the inspection Sally.  I suggest the buyer get all the information he can, but I don't advise how to proceed.

Graziella - I am amazed every week, sometimes many times a week!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

The stories you have to tell, Jay!

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Serving San Francisco and the Silicon Valley (Pacific Union International) over 4 years ago

Well, Eric, I hope that isn't so!  Everyone should have caught this!

Gayle - I find that often homeowners will believe a contractor that says they don't need a permit.  Too bad.

Bill - that might work as regards the dryer vent.  But the other problems remain.

Lottie - they just keep coming!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

What a mess. How backed up the dryer vent is no one really knows. Do it yourselfer? Probably...

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Jay, it is humbling to know that I am not smart enough to think stuff up like this.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Not sure who did it Evelyn, but it is there!

Charlie - I am with you.  This takes creativity beyond my imagination.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Not having a landing is a great way to keep the law suits coming. Guess they didn't want to use too much of that patio

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 4 years ago

The homeowners are probably wondering why their dryer is not drying their clothes. The vent is clogged!! 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 4 years ago

Jay, just when I thought I had seen it all somebody pulls the old dryer vent in the step routine. That was creative. Goofy, but creative.

Posted by Mike Cooper, Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 4 years ago

Jay - I have never seen anything like that before.  It looks like something that should be addressed sooner than later.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 4 years ago

Ed - just when you think it's safe to go outside!

Pamela - not drying is a sure sign there is a problem somewhere.

Both those things Mike!  And more!  This is an old trick?

Joan - move the dryer vent and turn that hole into a light?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Dryer vents are always making life difficult. But when you need a fire in an emergency out in the woods when it's 5 below and snow is flying and there's no tinder, nothing beats it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6MpSs47ZBY

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 4 years ago

That's it in a nutshell Scott!

So, the L in SLS must stand for Like?  With a thumbs up as you push the button?

But wait!  Your video didn't say anything about plastic vents outside!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

The dryer vent is quite clever. It could have probably worked in a warm climate and with a the right cap on the end. With that restriction and a cold pipe it was doomed. 

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 4 years ago

A warm climate might work Rob.  But the big metal tube funnels down to a small plastic tube too.  That's clog territory there!

What end cap could you use on a staircase?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, OH MY, that is a very strange place for the dryer vent!   Bet you see all kinds of creative construction!

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (Metro Brokers - House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) over 4 years ago

This one truly ranks as creative, Joan!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, Thanks for the post and helpful information.

Posted by Sybil Campbell, REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia (Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia) over 4 years ago

Thanks Sybil.  I hope you can benefit!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I thought it was going to be some type of safety light. Dryer vent isn't surprising though. it might have actually worked if they hadn't choked it down to 2".

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) over 4 years ago

Jeff - if you can't get the grill off to clean it isn't a good idea anywhere.  But the moisture on the steps probably isn't good either in the winter.  It should be moved.  A light there would be great, except the staircase is covering the rim joist.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

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