What I'm Seeing Now


Is This A Poisoned Air Conditioning Compressor?

How is this a poisoned air conditioning compressor?

So, what's wrong here?

Sure, the unit is tilting, not good.

Sure, the unit is too close to the fence, not good.

Sure, the unit is too close to the soil, not good.

Sure, the unit is 20 years old.

But what else do you see?

It's kind of covered with plants.

Those aren't just "plants."

What's growing ON and IN the unit is

Poison Ivy!

That's right, poison ivy.

I find that very often people don't know what is and what is not  poison ivy.

Here in Virginia they often mistake it for Virginia Creeper, which is another vine.

Creeper has five leaves.

Poison ivy (and poison oak) has three leaves, equal in size, and shiny.

It's shiny because it is full of oil.

If that oil gets on your skin, and you are allergic to it (15% of us are not allergic), if left long enough it will bond.

Once it bonds to your skin no matter what you do you cannot get rid of it!

You can make it feel better temporarily by shrinking the little itchy pustules with an alcohol-based suave, or Calamine Lotion.

But that is only temporary.  The special creams, and steroids, and such, do not do much for very long. 

Once it has taken hold poison a ivy rash lasts 10-14 days.  Sometimes longer.


It is an especially insidious plant.  It is a true vine.  If you see a vine with very "hairy" roots growing up a tree or on a fence that is a sure sign the plant is poison ivy.  Even if it's winter and there are no leaves, that hairy vine will tell you what the plant is.

Poison ivy is a true rhizome plant.  It sends rhizome shoots underground which will pop up elsewhere.

It spreads rapidly.  It spreads far.

You can see from the photo that it has also infested the deck and house.  It is growing ONTO and UNDER the siding, and getting inside the house.  So long as it has a root source outdoors it will be very content growing indoors.

Kill it before you remove it.  Killing it will make it brittle.


So be carefully removing it. 

Wash your clothes after working with it.  If you touch it, wash as soon as possible with COLD WATER AND DISHWASHER SOAP.  The soap suspends it and the cold water hardens it to wash it off.

Dishwasher soap is formulated to cut oil and grease and removes poison ivy oils better from the skin.  Other soaps work too, but not as well.

If poison ivy gets on your dog's coat and you pet the dog you can contract it!

My recommendation:  learn what poison ivy looks like and keep your eyes peeled.  It's best to eradicate it when it is small and it's roots have not progressed to where they will spread underground.  When it progresses as far as in the photo above it can be a real problem.  This house is a foreclosure and this poison ivy began in the neighbor's yard and progressed for over a year into the subject yard and house in the photo.  This will not be fun to get rid of.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 16 commentsJay Markanich • August 24 2015 12:22AM


 Good Monday morning Jay. Besides being poisoned, I can see some other issues with the compressor.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 5 years ago

Some are mentioned Michael.  Can you see any others?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Ugh. I have been very allergic since I was a kid - in fact, I used to have to go to the doctor every week to get shots to minimize my reaction. Therefore, I am obsessed with seeing and avoiding it. Here in NY, poison ivy is everywhere and it's hard to get away from. Good post.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) almost 5 years ago

Right after we get off the bus at Boy Scout camp we go on the poison ivy trail to identify what is and what is not poison ivy, Kat.  Best to start the week that way!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Jay. Oh my, when I saw the photo my first thought is that unit needs some immediate attention.  With all that growth it has to be impeding the unit and its function

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) almost 5 years ago

I am allergic to poison ivy and am scared to remove the weeds because I do not know if it is poison ivy. Is there any way to get rid of them?

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) almost 5 years ago

Oh gosh.  I hate poison ivy. I haven't had it for a while, but when I was younger and got it, I got it bad.  One time, it was so bad I had to miss school.  I couldn't open one of my eyes and the other was partially shut. Hate it.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 5 years ago

Jay, you do uncover some unusal circumstances in your inspections! Keep them coming! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) almost 5 years ago

I'm fairly immune from this . I can pull it out and only get a few small bumps !

Posted by Michael J. Perry, Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist (KW Elite ) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Jay. Very scary stuff that poison Ivy. It is here but so is another similiar plant that is also insidious but not poison: Grape vines.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Being one of the fifteen percent it was my chore to keep the poison ive pulled any where near the house and barns and then being doused with cold water and washing the clothes so no one else of the ten remaining came in contact.

Thanks for the memory.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) almost 5 years ago


When I was a child I was exposed to smoke from poison ivy being burned off at a playground.

Since that time, a simple exposure will spread like wildfire.  Then I'm on the cortizone routine.  Goodness only knows what that has caused over the years.

When I to spend time in the outdoors, I strip upon entering the house and everything goes into the washing machine. 

Oh well.

I avoid that stuff like the plague.  Like the plague. No, I don't walk on fishing water banks without long pants and sleeves. 

Folks who aren't sensitive to poison ivy don't realize how aweful it can be.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

After reading this - and the comments - I feel very fortunate to live where poison ivy doesn't!

Aside from plants with pickers, the worst we have is stinging nettles. They're found along creek beds or in other rich soil that stays damp and shaded. (The back wall of the barn used to be a place to be on the alert.)

They sting like mad for a while, but a blob of mud usually helps calm the sting. Interestingly, some people pick it and use it for medicinal tea. 

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) almost 5 years ago

When I was growing, up I managed to get into poision ivy every summer.  It would get on my hands and face and one season my eyes were almost swollen shut for two days.  Eventually I learned to spot it and stay away from it, but those periods when I had it on my hands so bad I couldn't move my fingers are hard to forget.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) almost 5 years ago

All of that James.  And the gardening will be fun!

Gita - there are sprays that kill poison ivy and nothing else.  Round Up will kill it too, but everything else around it as well.

Debbie - it is easy to spread around your body, which you apparently did as you scratched and rubbed yourself.  It is insidious, as I said!

Wayne - I post some of it because I think it's interesting.  But I also try to be instructive.

Be wary Michael.  Allergies can change with age!


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

We have that here too Sheila!  In fact, it was mixed in with this poison ivy, along with Creeper.

You are a lucky boy Raymond.  And good that you know the cold water trick.

That happend to my brother too Lenn.  He got it every year as a result.  The doctor said it was in his blood!  He had to wear plastic gloves to bed!  I've seen photos of you fishing dressed from head to toe!

Marte - I have dealt with the nettles.  They really hurt!  And, you may not know, it is an edible plant.  (says the scoutmaster...)

Stephen - it is important to teach children what to look for.  They wise up quickly once they get it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

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