Ask The Inspector
Some people quip – don’t judge a book by its cover – but when it comes to home inspections, conditions on the outside of the home are extremely important. The home’s exterior wall covering prevents water, pest and weather intrusion. As part of a general home inspection, your NPI professional will assess:
- The type of exterior cladding: brick, stucco, EIFS, traditional and vinyl siding, stone, asbestos or wood shingles.
- The condition of exterior surfaces, including the presence or absence of any cracks, blisters, chips, evidence of moisture intrusion and improper installation practices.
- The adequacy of clearance between the soil and exterior surface. Generally, 6-8 inches of clearance between the soil and exterior siding surfaces is preferred. Soil in contact with siding can cause rot and deterioration of the siding. Close contact can also promote termite and other wood destroying organisms and decay. The exception is brick masonry.
Each style and type of finish surface reacts differently to weather conditions and age. Based on the findings, an inspector may identify areas that need maintenance: repairs, repainting or caulking. This can be handy when planning budgets in years to come. Contact us for a quote on your next residential or commercial property inspection.
Brick can be a structural component of a home, serving as the wall itself, or a veneer, a type of siding. As a veneer, a single thickness of brick is added to the outside of a wood-framed home serving the same purpose as any exterior siding.
One way to identify brick veneer is the presence of weep holes. Weep holes are small openings at the bottom of brick veneer walls. They are designed to give moisture that accumulating in the space between the interior wooden wall and the exterior veneer a way out. Without weep holes for ventilation, moisture can become trapped in this cavity, causing mold, reducing the effectiveness of insulation, encouraging the formation of rot and attracting pests.
Weep holes can often be identified by open slots on a course, or row, of bricks near the foundation. The holes are typically 32-33 inches apart and should be kept clear of obstruction. It is a good idea to check and clear these weep holes periodically. Do not allow dirt, mulch or broken pieces of mortar to block the holes and trap moisture inside.
Snapshots From The Field
What’s Wrong With This Photo?
- A little caulk should solve this problem
- Install a drip cap and pan flashing to finish sealing the window
- The window installation is okay, there’s nothing wrong with it
- This is what appears to be an under-sized replacement window that has not been installed correctly.
Correct Answer is 4. This is what appears to be an under-sized replacement window that has not been installed correctly. Unless it is trimmed and sealed properly it will leak like a sieve.
A fresh coat of paint on wood siding or trim can often give a house some needed sparkle before an open house or sale. Fall, when weather is cool and dry, is a great time for this improvement. Here are a few tips to pass on to those who may consider painting the exterior of their home:
If using a paint sprayer, make sure to move cars or other vehicles away from the area being painted. The paint does tend to drift. If the home pre-dates 1978, lead paint is probably present. Call the National Lead Information Center, 1-800-424-LEAD and request information before proceeding with your project.
Before climbing ladders, check corners, eaves, soffits, small holes and behind shutters for wasp or other stinging insect nests. Remove the nests before climbing the ladder. It’s important to locate any areas of damage, popped nails or failed caulking and to fix those areas prior to painting.
Right before making exterior maintenance changes to prep a house for sale may be the best time for an NPI pre-listing inspection. Pre-listing inspections include a thorough visual review of the exterior cladding for the home seller. Details of any damage are clearly outlined in the written report. This can help the seller select areas of maintenance to tackle and improve buyer confidence.
Fall Clean-up Tips
There’s no better time to get prepared for cooler weather and wrap up end of year maintenance then October. Here are some things you can do to get ready for the winter:
- Make sure window screens are removed and storm windows are installed.
- Automotive fluids and pesticides should be stored safely in their original containers in a location where children cannot reach them.
- Clean or change your furnace filters depending on the type of system you have.
- Check and clean the clothes dryer exhaust and the space under the dryer, removing any lint, dirt or other debris?
- Make sure trees are trimmed safely back from the home reducing the danger of damage during storms?
- Caulk all windows, doors and other openings in the home to keep heating costs down?
Be sure to be prepared for the winter to come. Taking some time now to hammer out those final maintenance items will allow for a stress-free winter.
Did You Know?
Ivy on Brickwork
A well-built masonry wall, constructed with quality materials, can be expected to last hundreds of years. A covering of ivy may shorten its life some if allowed to dislodge mortar and masonry. If construction is weaker, the effects of the ivy will be greater. Tendrils, and plant growth may also hold water against surfaces, staining the walls.
On the positive side, ivy shades the walls and can reduce summer cooling costs. Large leaves may help shed rainwater away from the wall. According to the Brick Industry Association, removal of ivy may cause more damage to the brickwork than the plants themselves. If removed, ivy should be cut, not pulled away from the wall. Using chemicals or acids can further damage the masonry construction. Growing vines should be trimmed away from windows, gutters, eaves, woodwork and other decorative items.
Monthly Trivia Question
What type of house has proven resilient enough to withstand the shock of earthquakes in seismic zones?
Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbuck’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.