Once your offer has been accepted, the next step is getting through your inspections. As the buyer, you
Flooding may be quick but drying out a home is a time-consuming effort. Allowing natural ventilation and evaporation to work is better for the home than the use of heated forced-air or air conditioning systems. The rapid drying out of a historic building using hot air power drying systems can cause irreparable harm to significant features of the building.
Before starting to dry out your home, make certain to address health and safety concerns. Safety must come first; do not endanger yourself, your family, or other occupants. Assume all power lines are live. Do not trust the fact that power may be off all over the neighborhood; turn off the power to your house. Check for the odor of leaking LP or natural gas and turn off these services. Be aware that floodwaters may be contaminated with sewage or animal waste and present a health hazard. During clean up, protect eyes, mouth, and hands, and use disinfectants to wash hands before eating. If you are uncomfortable when entering your house and have any question regarding personal safety, do not go inside, but have a professional make an assessment.
Make a photographic record before you begin to clean up the damage. Documentation of the damages will be beneficial when negotiating with insurance companies or other agencies
Make temporary repairs to roofs and windows to prevent additional water from entering the building as you work to dry it out. Plan on temporary repairs lasting a minimum of six months. Temporary repair options include the use of tarpaulin, 30- or 90-pound felt paper, or plywood covered with tarpaper.
Water saturation affects a home in three ways:
- Water causes direct damage to materials. Wallboard disintegrates; wood can swell, warp, or rot; electrical parts can short out, malfunction, and cause fires or shock.
- Mud, silt, and unknown contaminants in the water get everything dirty and are unhealthy. Floodwater is more damaging than rainwater.
- Dampness promotes the growth of moisture-related mold, mildew, and fungus that leads to dry rot.
Remove all water-soaked items stored in the attic for treatment. The weight of water-soaked boxes can cause cracking in the plaster ceilings of the floor below. Open windows and vents to allow fresh air to circulate. If your electrical system is safe and you have an attic fan, turn it on.
As you enter rooms, inspect ceilings carefully. Wet plaster and sheetrock are very heavy and can be a hazard. Be aware of bulging ceilings that may hold trapped water. If rainwater has collected in the ceiling, the rainwater will find its own route into the floors below. Collect water in buckets by poking holes at the edge of the bulging ceiling to release the water.
Plaster responds to drying out much better than sheetrock; however, durability depends on the plaster mix, the original application, the degree of water saturation, placement, and the type of lath used. Plaster over metal lath is likely to require replacement. Wood lath may expand if saturated, causing the plaster keys to break. Check for loose plaster and plan to reattach it using plaster washers. Plaster ceilings can be temporarily shored by using 2x4s nailed together to form a “T”, then wedging the top of the “T” to press plywood against the ceiling.
Most plaster walls can be saved if damaged by clean rainwater. Drain water that may be held within the wall cavity by removing the baseboard and drilling holes through the plaster several inches above the floor. Use cordless or hand drills to avoid electrical shock and be careful to avoid wiring within the walls. Remove any insulation if wet via the baseboard removal and allow the wall cavity to dry out thoroughly.
If sheetrock has been exposed to water for less than two hours, it can probably be repaired. If the sheetrock was exposed to floodwater for more than two hours, it will be saturated by contaminated water and require complete replacement.
Open windows in all rooms, even if there is no evidence of moisture retention. If the windows are swollen shut, remove the inside stop bead to free window sash. The use of window fans will help draw fresh air through the building, helping to dry out wall cavities between interior and exterior walls.
Wash down wood features, including trim, doors, mantels, and stairs, to remove mud and silt. Mold and mildew can be cleaned off using a weak solution of Clorox and water or commercially available disinfectant.
Remove wet carpets and furniture from the house. Drying out these items in the house only adds to the moisture level within the house. Remove sheet vinyl or linoleum flooring to allow for maximum evaporation.
If wood floors are coated with mud, wash down with fresh water. Floorboards may begin to warp as they dry, but further drying may bring the boards back to their original shape. The use of weights or shoring on the wood floors during the drying process may lessen the occurrence of severe warping and buckling. Remove vapor barriers and insulation from beneath the floor to allow for complete air circulation. Do not use heating, air conditioning, or other forced air to promote drying of wood floors. Rapid drying can promote cupping of the floorboards as the top surface dries out faster. Drying out floorboards may take several months.
If the duct work has standing water, wash it out with clean water. Replace electrical receptacles if water levels reached high enough to cover them.
If your basement is flooded, do not rush to pump it out. Draining the basement while the surrounding ground is saturated may create uneven pressure on the basement walls and floor resulting in cracking or collapse. Once water surrounding the house has drained off, lower the water level in the basement by two or three feet, mark the water line, and wait overnight. If the basement water level rises, then it is too early to fully pump out the basement. If the water level is stable or lower, then pump out another two or three feet and again check the water level overnight.
Water-damaged household furnishings including textiles, books, photographs, paintings, and furniture should receive proper treatment to minimize damage and ease repair and restoration. In general, wet mud should be rinsed off objects with clean water before air drying
Remember that air circulation is the key to completely drying out a structure. Heaters or air conditioners should not force the drying process. If you force your building to dry too quickly, additional damage to the building elements will occur.
Humidity is the leading cause of mold growth in the basement.
In over 2,400 inspections, I consistently find one defect 95% of the time, negative grading. Negative grading is when the soil around your home is sloped towards your foundation, most foundation and water problems can be directly connected to negative grading causing hydrostatic pressure against the foundation.
Hydrostatic pressure is the water pressure against your foundation, water weighs slightly more than 60 lbs. per cubic foot. If the soil around your foundation is saturated with water, there could be tens of thousands of pounds of hydrostatic pressure against the foundation wall. This makes it likely that water will find its way into your basement, as well as causing foundation problems with cracking or bowing.
Repairing negative grading usually is relatively inexpensive and easy to correct but needs to be done correctly or there may be more harm done than good. But if the the driveway, patio or sidewalk is causing the negative slope the repair will be much higher and may require professional services.
Here are several examples of what I find that looks good as I walk up to the home but upon further investigations may be causing problems:
- Rock being used for grading
- Mulch used for grading
Using rock or mulch is deceptive in promoting what looks like a positive or proper grade of soil. Remember mulch and rock sits on top of the ground surface, water will sit in the rock and mulch is to retain moisture, think “giant sponge”. Rock and mulch can be used for cosmetic purposes after the grading is done correctly.
I recommend that homeowners use black dirt to grade 1/2 inch a foot for the first 10 feet away from the foundation or 1 inch a foot for 6 feet away from the foundation to have proper run-off of water away from the foundation. This may require removal of concrete, asphalt, plants or shrubs. After achieving the correct slope you may replant the shrubs or plants.
In the event that your yard will not allow positive drainage, then you may have to dig down and install a swale or French drain to divert the water away from the foundation.
Gutters and downspouts are another extremely important element in water control. Keep gutters clean and downspout extensions in place (6 feet or more). Paint the inside of galvanized gutters, which will extend the life. Shortly after a rain or thaw in winter, look for leaks at seams in the gutters. These can be re-caulked before they cause damage to fascia or soffit boards. If no gutters exist, it is recommended that they be added.
Water is a great force many people underestimate, but causes the most harm to our homes, with a little forethought and planning these problems may be avoided.
My Home Stinks
What is an Anti-Tip Bracket?
A common item called out in 95% of my inspections is the anti-tip bracket missing from a free standing range.
Anti-tip brackets are metal devices designed to prevent freestanding ranges from tipping. They are normally attached to a rear leg of the range or screwed into the wall or the floor behind the range, and are included in all installation kits. A unit that
One of the most common defects I have come across lately in home inspections is ungrounded or improperly grounded Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing Gas line (CSST). The biggest reason for this is that CCST had become very popular starting in the early 2000’s and did not become known to be a hazard if not grounded/bonded until about 2013.
Properly bonding and grounding of a CSST system may reduce the risk of damage and fire from a lightning strike. Lightning is a highly destructive force.
Tri-State Home Inspections provides inspections and testing for methamphetamine.
- Meth can only be found with lab samples to be sure the home is free of meth residue