May, 2017

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Draining One Roof Onto Another Roof

I see this quite often on two-story homes and condos.  There are nice gutters on the upper and lower roofs, but the upper roof drains onto the lower roof.

What the gutter installer has done is take all the water from the roof surface of the gutter above and concentrate it into one small area.  This is worse than no gutters at all.  Water will come out of the downspout with lots of velocity and force, quickly removing the protective granules from the shingles. This will quickly age the affected shingles, resulting in early failure of the roofing (a leak).

In the example picture, there is also a kickout used as a splash block to prevent the water from overshooting the gutter below. This will only serve to back water up in this area and drive the water under the shingles and behind the stucco wall .


Improper downspout dumping water from one roof onto another roof

The correct installation would have the downspout extended to the gutter below and turned down into the lower gutter, or even better, have the downspout at a location where the water could be taken to the ground.


Interior Key Locks

Occasionally I come across exterior doors with keyed locks on the interior.  This is often done in the mistaken belief of security. Because there is a window near or in the door, there is a false need to put a keyed lock on the inside.  A burglar could break the side window and reach in and open a thumb latch.  That is somewhat true.  But, glass in a door or next to a door is supposed to be tempered glass and is much harder to break than regular glass.  Secondly, I’ve never seen a home without a window that could not be broken to gain access to the home. In fact, this is the usual manor of entry I see in empty homes.


But most importantly, in the event of a fire, the occupants are going to need to leave the house quickly.  When seconds matter, and your brain is in panic mode, the last thing you need to do is spend minutes looking for the key to the door.  As one of my firemen friends said, “This is where we’ll find the bodies after the fire.”


Circuit Breaker Panels

Who painted the breaker panel and why?  Very hard to identify wires: black for hot, white for neutral, green or bare for ground.  If they could mask off the breakers, why not mask off the whole panel?


Lots of fabric coated romex, including the main feed.  Older fabric coated romex had a plastic insulator that becomes brittle after it ages.  Bend the wire to make a connection and suddenly you have a large bare wire to work with (note the electrical tape on the left side).  Not safe.


Underground Fuel Oil Tanks

Rarely, I’ll come across a couple of pipes sticking up in the yard, usually near the house.  These two pipes are the fill pipe and vent pipe for an underground tank that contained fuel oil for the old oil heaters used here in Florida.

The issue is liability.  The owner of the tank is the one responsible for the removal and remediation of contamination. Don’t let this be you.

DSC09246The cost to remove the old tank can range from $1,000 to $2,000  if is it still sound (no leaks).  The costs go up tremendously if it has leaked.  Homeadvisor says the costs can be between $10,000 up to $100,000 or more if it has leaked and contaminated the surrounding soils.

If it has leaked fuel oil and contaminated the aquifer there is no end to government involvement and fines.

Bottom line is if your inspector finds one of these, have the seller pay to removed it and certify compliance.  This is one time you really want to see proper paperwork.

Lights in Showers

I see a lot of showers with lights in them.  Great if they are done right, but done wrong and you are looking at mixing water and electricity.

A recessed light in a wet environment has to be rated for that area. Got to your local home supply store (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) and look at the recessed lights.  The ones for the shower all have a lens between the bulb and the shower to prevent splashes from hitting the hot bulb.  One drop of water on a hot bulb and it can explode, scattering glass all over the shower.

National Electric Code says if the fixture is above the tub or shower, and within 8 ft. vertically from the top of the bathtub rim or shower threshold, the fixture must be rated for damp locations. Most ceilings are 8 feet high, with showers often having drop ceilings.

If the fixture may be subject to shower spray, it has to be rated for wet locations. These are the fixtures that look like they belong in a submarine or the pool.


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