Everyone can relate to how “inhospitable” crawl spaces can be, and I am not going to delight you with more horror stories typical of those places.
This is more about what contortions your inspector will endure to get him or her self into these spaces; and what limitations are logical and necessary to keep them out of the “hospital.” Obviously, the fire department cutting through the living room floor to retrieve a stuck home inspector would be very embarrassing no matter what the inspector found. But what great blog fodder that would be! For me, it is my head and shoulders that have to fit—-an opening of 10” by 14-1/2” is plenty big enough. If I can get my head and shoulders through the opening—-I am in there.
So what about heating/cooling ductwork in crawl spaces? Most inspectors are usually dealing with how to get around, over or under these installations—-without doing more damage to them than the last wanker did.
But what about the INSIDE of the ductwork—-should the inspector go INSIDE the ductwork if he can fit?
Well of course I am kidding—-sort of.
A while ago, at an inspection of a houseboat of all places, I had to inspect a crawl space that was the heating system plenum—-the cold air return to the furnace. This was not the first houseboat that I had inspected but it was the first that had a crawl space. It is kind of weird to be in a crawl space that you know has water slapping against the foundation all around you—and water flowing underneath you. The floor of the crawl space was at water level or a little below.
One might think that this crawl space would be a water nightmare, but in reality it was one of the driest crawl spaces I had ever been in—-and no vents either. It was a great example of why venting of crawl spaces is unnecessary and should not be allowed. By making this space what we called “conditioned” space it ultimately has no higher moisture levels than anywhere else in the house—-assuming there are no plumbing leaks to fill it up. This space has performed as designed for 26 years.
The problem with the installation is that clearances throughout the space (1000 sq ft) were a little less than desirable—-with less than 14 inches from the floor to the joists above. When there is this little room, I am more than likely accurate in guessing that few other inspectors have considered the space “accessible.” It has likely gone uninspected for 26 years. This just reinforced even more the importance of me being the one that gets to do it. I did get my exercise as there were three bays to inspect and all were dead ends.
Some days we get to have more fun than on others.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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