At Home Inspector M.D. Inc. we emphasize homeowner knowledge. Your house, like the human body without proper maintenance, can break down and fail. Archived here, you will find various useful tips that can help maintain the safety and condition of your house.
Too short downspout extensions
One of the most common issues inspectors find in most homes is too short downspout extensions.
Why? Bad installation. Many expel water too close to the foundation wall, thus potentially causing foundation leaks or settlement of the house. A result that will cost thousands of dollars to repair. How? For optimum results, we recommend a rigid sloped downspout extension that exits water about 4 to 6 feet (1.83 m) away from the sides of the house. Proper downspout extensions combined with the proper slope of the soil around the house can dramatically reduce water penetration into the basement.
How can you tell if there is enough insulation in the attic outside the house?
This tip is just an indicator, not a confirmation of an issue. During winter, shortly after a snowfall, look around your neighbourhood, if all the roofs have snow on the same side, simply look for the roof that has little or no snow on it. A poorly insulated ceiling will result in so much heat loss that it will melt the snow on the roof.
Do you have the correct brand of breakers in your panel?
If you have a breaker panel chances are you have either a Square D, Federal Pioneer, Homeline, Cutler-Hammer (Eaton), GE, or Siemens manufactured panel in your home. These brands are the most common in Canada.
The problem is you may have Siemens, Cutler-Hammer (Eaton), or Homeline breakers installed in each other's panels.
Why? Because they all use a 1" wide breaker design that has a similar connection style. Either by mistake or on purpose, the wrong brand of breaker is installed in the panel. This is not allowed in Canada, as per each manufacturer. The breakers are not CSA approved to be in a different manufactured branded panel.
How to confirm? Simply look for the manufacturer's name on the breaker front. DO NOT REMOVE the panel cover! If there are multiple brands in one panel, have a professional electrician remove and replace the wrong breaker(s) in the panel.
The hidden meaning of icicles
Visually, icicles hanging off a roof look stunning, but they may be telling you there are issues in your attic and roof.
Why? Icicles can be the result of “ice dams”. Ice dams occur when there is too much heat escaping from the ceiling to the attic and poor ventilation. This melts the upper parts of the roof, and the water then refreezes near the colder part near the edge (eaves) of the roof.
How? This can cause physical damage to the eaves but also can allow leaks through the roof, so minimizing ice dams is important. During winter, icicles and staining on the siding are a tell. During the summer, does the house you are looking at have electrical heating wires on the roof, or do you see physical damage at the eaves from shovels? Preventing ice dams from occurring means having proper roof ventilation and insulation in the attic.
How do you know what are the load-bearing walls?
You do not knock on them. The sound of the load and non-loading bearing wall is no different. There are various ways to find out, but we are just going to concentrate on providing you with the idea of what can be a load-bearing wall. A load-bearing wall is a concentrated load that is carried continuously from the top, straight down to the bottom (footing) of the house. For example, if a wall on the main floor does not have a wall or columns underneath it in the basement to transfer the concentrated load to the footings, then it is most likely not a load-bearing wall. The load-bearing wall on the main floor would have supports directly above and below.
Important! Always consult a structural engineer and contractor to confirm load-bearing walls and what is required to remove them. Never remove walls without confirmation from a professional.
Keep siding above grade
One of the most fundamental rules in keeping a house dry is having a gradual slope away from the foundation walls. Circle your house and note if there is any slope grading in the soil or concrete sides.
Why? Your siding plays an important role in protecting your house from moisture penetration. Having your siding (stucco, masonry, metal, vinyl) away from grade is essential in protecting it from moisture damage, spalling, rotted wood, or rusted fasteners.
How? As a general rule, look for about 8" minimum clearance from grade for stucco/wood/metal/vinyl, and 6" minimum for masonry. For brick veneer, this is critical because the soil may cover the weep holes in the siding, preventing proper drying out of moisture behind the brick.