Grateful for the wind in my face!

One of my recent posts, More Attic Ventilation Is Not Going To Help, was about excessive moisture in an attic due to breaches in the air barrier between the indoors and the attic space.

As that post discussed, these by-passes can be obvious or hidden. There are often multiple breaches in the same home and some may be easy to find and other may be very difficult to fine. When I find these breaches I point them out and recommend that proper repairs be made. These breaches, if not a problem now, may become a problem in the future.

The picture below is an example of an obvious breach in the connection of the ceiling heat register to the insulated duct in the attic. The picture is looking down at the insulation and the pink insulation is part of the wrap that goes around the heat duct that runs to the ceiling register.

It was pretty easy to find because the heating system was running and this little hole in the insulation was blowing air in my face as I climbed through the access hatch into the attic.

mouseholeairbypass

If the heating system had not been running, I like to think I would not have just thought it was a mouse hole.

The truth is though—it does not look at all like a mouse hole because there is no trail.

I’m just grateful for the wind in my face.

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

If you enjoyed this post, and would like to get notices of new posts to my blog, please subscribe via email in the little box to the right. I promise NO spamming of your email! 🙂

Two approaches to wrong

The roof on a building I inspected a while ago had two steps where the elevation of the roof changed. Both were flashed improperly. The metal flashing at this transition should never be a continuous piece whether it is installed on top of the shingles:

flashings-on-top1

Or under the shingles:

flashings-on-top2

Regardless of its position, if the metal flashing is continuous, water will eventually either travel across the shingles and then into the roof structure or under the shingles and across the flashing to the roof structure. Of course any water should then encounter the felt paper under the shingles, but the felt paper is not designed to be water proof—it is full of holes from nailing all the shingles down. Eventually either method of installation will result in damage to the roof structure.

This transition should have step flashings. Proper step flashings will result in as many overlapping pieces as there are rows of shingles. This will guarantee proper drainage and prevent damage to the roof.

Obviously the flashings should also be counter-flashed. In both of the installations pictured above it is likely intended (or was intended) for a fascia to be installed to lap over the flashings. While this will likely prevent water from getting behind the improper continuous metal flashings from above—it will result in the higher roof shingles not overhanging the fascia enough to prevent water from wicking behind the fascia or into the upper roof structure.

Installation of some sort of metal counter-flashing will likely be necessary in conjunction with removal of the continuous flashings and installation of proper step-flashings.

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

If you enjoyed this post, and would like to get notices of new posts to my blog, please subscribe via email in the little box to the right. I promise NO spamming of your email! 🙂

Dry Rot and the “Kleenex Effect”

While some would argue that I am “nit picking,” the fact is that sometimes it is very important to understand the terms we use.

kleenex-effect1I am sure there are interesting studies as to just how things become “generic.” Take Kleenex for example. Kleenex is a brand name that is commonly used to describe any kind of nose-wipe. While Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc. may have an issue with the misuse of its brand name “Kleenex,” the fact remains that when someone says they need a kleenex it really won’t matter too much who the tissue is made by as they all do pretty much the same job.

The term “Dry Rot” is similarly used to generically describe wood decay/rot in homes. The problem with using this term in a generic fashion is that there is a huge difference between actual Dry Rot and other types of wood decay/rot and requires quite different protocols for elimination.

All types of rot require that the wood have sufficient “free water” to support growth (for this discussion we will assume that oxygen, food and temperatures are suitable). Moisture levels to support Brown Cubical Rot, Soft Rot, and White Rot (the three most common types of rot) typically have to be above 30% for the organisms to be happy and prosper. With Dry Rot the wood moisture content will also have to have sufficient free water, but the wood gets to be at this level because the fungus is bringing the moisture to the wood as opposed to the wood being already wet.kleenex-effect2

This is a very important distinction because fixing a leaky roof or leaky toilet will be sufficient to stop the growth of most wood decay rot brought about by these conditions, but will not be sufficient to stop the growth of a fungus that is growing to the wood—bringing moisture to the wood from the ground.

Dry rot has the potential of attacking huge areas of a home’s structure without any real moisture issue already existing in the wood. Generally speaking brown rot or soft rot are more likely to be more localized. It can be more widespread if venting is inadequate or some other condition is present that elevates moisture levels in the woodwork above 30 percent, but generally speaking it will be more localized to the area of leaking—whether a plumbing leak or otherwise.

To date, there have been “rumored” cases of true “Dry Rot” in Washington State, but because of the Kleenex Effect–many people think it is very common.

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

If you enjoyed this post, and would like to get notices of new posts to my blog, please subscribe via email in the little box to the right. I promise NO spamming of your email! 🙂