“Difficulty” is not on their radar!

OK, this is the question of the day.

Why would “anyone” deliberately dump a 5 gallon bucket of sawdust in a crawl space?

Carpenter Ant Frass

Carpenter Ant Frass

I see all sorts of things dumped and stored in crawl spaces. I have even seen sawdust from when the home was built, or from floor refinishing that has filtered down through the cracks in the floor boards–making neat parallel lines on the black vapor barrier covering the ground.

But this stuff was just piled–more or less in one location–along the foundation. It was nowhere near the access to the crawl space, so one might think it was difficult to get it to where it was as well.

But the “someone” that dumped the sawdust, I am quite sure, never contemplates “difficulty.”

carpenter ant frass

This is especially true when you realize this stuff got there ONE BITE AT A TIME!

Carpenter Ants make amazing carpenters–although they seem much better at taking things apart than putting things together.

These carpenters have been working on this home for quite some time and have piled up their construction debris as prove of their industriousness and patience.

“Difficulty” and “impatience” are something that they obviously do not consider.

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Hidden damage should be anticipated….

Home inspectors can’t see inside walls, but sometimes we do see things on the surface where “predicting” what will behind those surfaces is actually possible to some degree.  Whether hidden damage is moderate or extensive might even be able to be predicted based on the location in the structure and whether structural elements are involved.

Damage to a non bearing wall can be quite extensive and not give itself away, while less extensive damage to key supports might prevent doors from closing, break glass in windows or cause floors to slope.

At an inspection a few months back I found a small slot in the trim around a window (the black mark on the trim  near the center of the picture).

Seeing behind walls

Seeing behind walls

There was some decay/rot present at the exterior window sill and the wallpaper was delaminating, consistent with past moisture intrusion in the area.

I knew the slot in the trim was mining from Carpenter Ants and therefor “predicting” some amount of hidden damage was not a stretch.  As inspectors, we do not very often get a chance to know how accurate our predictions are, so when I was invited back to see the damage I was delighted.  The ants had indeed done quite a bit of mining in the area as can be seen in the following picture.

Working in the dark

Working in the dark

Several wall cavities were filled with frass as well.

Frassulation?

Frassulation?

In their own way they were “insulating” the walls where there previously was none.

This approach to insulating your house should probably be avoided however.

The ants had worked across the bottom of the window framing and up the right side of the window and across the header and then up the diagonal brace above the header and into the double top plate.

Carpenter Ant damage

Carpenter Ant damage

That was the extent of visible damage—but most likely other damage should be anticipated.

It would seem that the predictions never end.

 

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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