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So far Lee Fearnley has created 11 blog entries.

Are you buying a meth lab? – Home Inspection Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Maple Ridge

 

I have been a home inspector in Vancouver for several years now and have seen the results that clandestine drug labs can have on a property. This is just one of the tell-tale signs that you may be unsuspectingly investing in a ‘drug-lab’. While this comes from an American government site, the signs and dangers are the same in Canada. If you are not using a local home inspector to inspect your purchase, please be aware that there are significant dangers in buying a former ‘drug-lab’ or ‘grow-op’ (please see my previous post    http://stonegate-home-inspections.com/blog/marijuana-grow-op-identification-home-inspection-vancouver-port-coquitlam-coquitlam-port-moody-and-maple-ridge/  for marijuana grow operation identification hints)

The following link is related to Meth Labs and discusses visible signs of Methamphetamine production on propane cylinders, a commonly used vessel in the production of Methamphetamine.

http://www.ncagr.gov/standard/LP/LPgasConcerns/documents/Anhydrousammoniaandpropanecylinders.pdf

Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd offers competitive pricing and quality home inspections and commercial inspections throughout Vancouver and the lower mainland. If you suspect that you are investing in a former grow-op or meth lab, please call Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd. We will come out to provide professional advice and a clear report on findings as well as recommendations for correction of any problems found within the property.

Disclaimer

“Please note that while my blogs may offer links to individuals or companies, it is the readers’ responsibility to do their own due diligence when choosing to accept these links. Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd and its’ officers and employees do not receive referral fees or other kick-backs from these links or recommendations for service from the suppliers.”

 

References

Renovation Experts- Asbestos testing in Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Maple Ridge

 

Summer is upon us and renovation season is underway. Did you know that as a homeowner you are responsible to ensure the safety of anyone that is on your property or in your house? Did you know that this includes contractors that you have hired? A lot of people are not aware that Work Safe B.C. has the ability to fine home owners who fail to properly protect workers. Most home owner policies do not include coverages for workers. It is very important to ask your renovation company if they have General Liability coverage for their workers and Errors and Omissions coverage for the work they are doing and also to know the limits they are covered for. If they are doing a $200,000 renovation and only carry $100,000 coverage, this is not enough.

If you are renovating a home that is pre 1990, there is a good chance that there is asbestos in the building products (for more information on Asbestos Containing Materials please read my post Asbestos- What’s the Problem. Not all contractors are concerned about the risk of asbestos exposure and will downplay the risks to you, your family, your neighbors and their workers because they are more concerned about making money and know that asbestos related diseases take several years to develop.

And although it is true that asbestos removal and remediation can be expensive it doesn’t outweigh the cost of losing one’s health or that of a loved one. The first priority should be asbestos testing because only if you are sure that the product contains or doesn’t contain asbestos can you be confident of the risk to your health. Asbestos does not always have to be removed from a home, it can be encapsulated with a special product or simply covered over. The important thing is that the asbestos fibres do not become air borne due to the asbestos being disturbed.

Asbestos testing is not expensive and the turn-around time from the labs can be less than 24 hours so the project needn’t be burdened with extra costs or unnecessary delays. However, bear in mind that Work Safe B.C. inspectors can halt work should they suspect that asbestos is present, which can burden the project with extra costs (fines) and delays.

Please also be aware that the results of any environmental testing (molds, water, oil tank etc.) including asbestos testing should be attached to your disclosure statements when the house is put up for sale. Negative results are a positive for home value so I always recommend including ALL test results whether they are bad or good. And beware, the failure to properly disclose any of these results leaves you open to a potential lawsuit.

Stonegate Home Inspections offers ASBESTOS Testing among other services. Please feel free to contact us and request a free quote if you require any of our environmental services (mold sampling, asbestos testing, air quality testing) or require any of our inspection services (home inspection, commercial inspection, WETT inspection, maintenance inspection or fire and safety inspection).

Disclaimer

“Please note that while my blogs may offer links to individuals or companies, it is the readers’ responsibility to do their own due diligence when choosing to accept these links. Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd and its’ officers and employees do not receive referral fees or other kick-backs from these links or recommendations for service from the suppliers.”

 

References

Marijuana Grow- op identification – Home Inspection Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Maple Ridge

I have been a home inspector for several years now and have recently noticed a rise in the number of homes that are being listed for sale that have been used for indoor Marijuana Growing Operations or “grow-ops”.  I believe the change in government policy relating to medical marijuana supply to be the primary factor for the influx. The government policy once allowed personal medical marijuana to be grown under license at registered homes but now requires government approved suppliers which grow in warehouses and other commercial buildings and removes the license from the home growers. The legal battle is continuing between the presently licensed home growers and the federal government but many of the home growers are shutting down their operations and selling the tainted homes.

Another factor which may be contributing to the influx of grow ops on the real estate market is the legalization of marijuana in the United States. The once lucrative B.C. Bud market has reportedly seen prices steadily falling to all-time lows, which has taken the promise of “easy money’ out of the business. Not to mention that the business was risky at the best of times with the constant threat of detection and prosecution by the authorities but also the well documented threat of “grow-rips” by competitors and other thugs.

If you are planning on investing in the real estate market whether it be in a rural or urban area it is wise to have the building inspected by a licensed home inspector. Not only can a licensed home inspector identify issues with a ‘normal’ house but they are also trained to identify signs of marijuana grow-ops, these include: hidden rooms, modified wiring, modified plumbing, modified heating, modified structure and other tell-tale signs. Common places for marijuana grow-ops are out buildings, such as this one discovered during a home inspection in Maple Ridge.

The garage had been converted into a “grow-op” complete with water and electricity. The neighbors were also put at risk due to the potential for a fire in the garage and also because their house was less than 25 feet away from the building! The owners had made little attempt to hide the fact that it was a “grow-op” and justified it by saying “it was a legal grow-op”. Legal or not the dangers are the same, modified wiring and electrical panels (in this case NMD cable run underground- NMD is not meant for underground installation and could have caused a fire. The extra 100 amp breaker in the 100 amp panel had signs of over-heating and the dead-ended aluminum cable left in the box), modified plumbing (in this case water lines were cut into and there were no backflow prevention devices which could allow chemicals and pesticides to flow back into the potable water supply), modified structure (in this case a bonus as the garage would likely have fallen down if they hadn’t beefed it up for the grow op by adding plywood to the walls and ceilings and adding vapour barriers and insulation). There is still a security risk associated with owning a former grow-op as not all people who are aware of the location may be aware that the grow op has been shut down and may come back for a “grow-rip” putting the new owners at risk.

If you are considering buying a former grow-op there are lenders that will provide funding but most will steer clear of them due to the investment risk they pose. Investors steer clear of them because of the stigmatism that is associated with a “grow-op” which may also limit your ability to sell for top dollar.

Stonegate Home Inspections has been performing home inspections in Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody and Maple Ridge since 2010 and offers competitive pricing and top quality service. Please feel free to contact us and request a free quote if you require any of our environmental services (mold sampling, asbestos testing, air quality testing) or require any of our inspection services (home inspection, commercial inspection, WETT inspection, maintenance inspection or fire and safety inspection).

Disclaimer

“Please note that while my blogs may offer links to individuals or companies, it is the readers’ responsibility to do their own due diligence when choosing to accept these links. Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd and its’ officers and employees do not receive referral fees or other kick-backs from these links or recommendations for service from the suppliers.”

 

References

WETT Inspection tips Port Coquitlam

 

Summer is upon us in beautiful B.C. and that has spurred me to think about air quality. The Fraser Valley air quality plummets when the heat wave of summer hits us. This is partly due to the high pressure fronts (and with them less wind) but also the summer travellers and the campfires that everyone enjoys.
There are ways to lessen the impact that campfires have on our air quality and as a WETT Technician I’d like to share a few tidbits that will help you burn your campfires in the most efficient way. And as an added bonus, these tidbits can also be used for your winter fireplace burning.
Fact: A properly burning fire has very little smoke.

Smoke is actually water vapour and a complex mix of hydrocarbon compounds. The hydrocarbon compounds are actually liquid tar droplets and combustible gases. With enough oxygen and a high enough temperature these hydrocarbon compounds will decompose into gases and carbon deposits, making for a very clean burning fire.

The choice of firewood is the most important factor in making a clean burning fire.

• You want to choose a hardwood as this will give the best coals to burn hot.
• You want to use only well-seasoned firewood as you don’t want to waste heat vaporising the water molecules.

The next factor is starting a hot fire that can maintain the necessary temperature for complete combustion.

• Start your fire with finely chopped kindling and 10-12 pieces of newspaper. Stack the kindling so that when the paper is burned up the kindling doesn’t collapse and smother itself.
• Chop your wood into manageable sized pieces. If your logs are too big they will not ignite quickly, smaller pieces have more surface area and will catch fire much faster and burn hotter.
• Stoke your fire with 2 pieces of wood and stack them so that there is plenty of air space between the existing logs and the new ones. This will allow the necessary oxygen for the ignition and burning process.
By following these simple guidelines you can do your part to keep our air clean even while enjoying an outdoor fire.

Stonegate Home Inspections offers WETT Level I inspections in Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody (as well as the rest of the G.V.R.D.). Please feel free to contact us and request a free quote if you require a WETT inspection for any wood burning appliances you may have.

Disclaimer
“Please note that while my blogs may offer links to individuals or companies, it is the readers’ responsibility to do their own due diligence when choosing to accept these links. Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd and its’ officers and employees do not receive referral fees or other kick-backs from these links or recommendations for service from the suppliers.”

References

Radon Testing Vancouver- Vancouver Home Inspector

Radon Testing in Vancouver. Vancouver Home Inspector

Radon has been in the news recently and given that Radon is a proven carcinogen, more and more clients are requesting radon tests as part of the home inspection. Here are some quick facts about radon in B.C.

  • Radon is a known carcinogen, and is estimated to cause up to 10% of all lung cancers in Canada.
  • It is a radioactive gas that is produced by the decay of uranium.
  • Radon is naturally occurring, and emanates from soil and rocks. It percolates up through soil into buildings, and if it is not evacuated there can be much higher exposure levels indoors than outdoors.
  • High radon levels can be easily tested for, allowing for mitigation.
  • Health Canada’s guideline for the acceptable level of indoor radon in a normal living area has been set at 200 Bq/m³.

 

As radon is a gas, it is able to diffuse through the soil and other materials around the foundation of a home. Because homes tend to operate under a negative pressure (meaning that the air pressure inside the home is lower than the air pressure outside) this creates a vacuum that pulls radon-rich air into the lower areas of the home through any dirt floor areas or unsealed sumps or cracks, fissures, or pores in the building materials.

 

The following radon maps for homes in BC were created from a survey performed in 2007 for radon in BC cities, giving an indication of the radon prone areas within the province.

radon map BC

Testing for Radon is not expensive but proper testing should be carried out for a 12 month period.

  • Long-term radon testing over the course of 12 months provides the most accurate estimate of average annual indoor radon levels.
  • There are several types of detectors recommended for long-term tests (most popular are electret and Alpha-trac).
  • Short-term testing can be used for preliminary crude screening of the effectiveness of radon remediation/ prevention work already undertaken, or of the possible need for remediation of real estate being purchased.
  • If short-term testing detects Radon, long-term testing should be subsequently carried out for confirmation.

 

Stonegate Home Inspections offers affordable Radon testing to help identify Radon hazard within your home. Please feel free to contact us and request a free quote if you have any concerns relating to Radon exposure.

Disclaimer

“Please note that while my blogs may offer links to individuals or companies, it is the readers’ responsibility to do their own due diligence when choosing to accept these links. Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd and its’ officers and employees do not receive referral fees or other kick-backs from these links or recommendations for service from the suppliers.”

References

BC Centre for Disease Control- www.bccdc.ca/healthenv/Contaminants/Radon/

 

Spring Renovation Show- Asbestos Containing Materials

Spring Renovation Show. Vancouver Home Inspections

If you are considering doing a home renovation this Spring or later in the year, you should consider attending the annual Spring Home Renovation Show brought to you by the Greater Vancouver Home Builder’s Association and FortisBC.

The annual event is full of great ideas and the latest trends. Homeowners are able to meet Renomark renovators for a free consultation. There are also 20-minute seminars on such topics as kitchen design trends, design for small spaces and heritage renovations.

The Spring Reno Show is on May 24th from 10 am to 4 pm at VanDusen Gardens, 5251 Oak Street. Check out the website at http://www.westvancouver.com/gvhba-spring-home-renovation-show/15982/

 

If you are considering renovating and your home was built prior to 1990 you should have asbestos sampling done to protect yourself and any contractors that may be exposed to asbestos fibres during the renovation work. Please see my blog on Asbestos Containing Materials- http://stonegate-home-inspections.com/blog/asbestos-whats-the-problem/

Stonegate Home Inspections offers affordable Asbestos Sampling to help identify Asbestos hazards within your home. Please feel free to contact us and request a free quote if you have any concerns relating to Asbestos exposure.

Disclaimer

“Please note that while my blogs may offer links to individuals or companies, it is the readers’ responsibility to do their own due diligence when choosing to accept these links. Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd and its’ officers and employees do not receive referral fees or other kick-backs from these links or recommendations for service from the suppliers.”

References

Mold Prevention, Mold Remediation

Mold Prevention

Further to my post on Understanding Mold, mold sampling and Air Quality testing, here are a few tips on how to prevent mold growth within your home.

Remembering that molds can grow almost everywhere and on any substance providing moisture, food and correct temperature range is present. Of the three inputs (moisture, food and temperature), the easiest to remove is moisture, thus the best method of prevention is to reduce the amount of moisture.

By keeping the relative humidity between 30% and 50% (inside the home) you are choking off the water supply and preventing the mold from thriving. To accomplish this goal, prevention measures include:

  • Vent showers and other moisture generating sources directly to the outside. It was common practice in the 1980’s and some into the 1990’s for the construction trades to vent exhaust fans into the attic without penetrating the roof or simply running the exhaust pipe to the soffit but not actually out of the attic. These practices led to numerous complaints of wet insulation and mold growth in attics.
  • Control humidity with air conditioners and/or dehumidifiers (It is important to remember that when using air      conditioners and dehumidifiers to keep them in good condition. Empty any water collectors regularly so this water does not contribute to the moisture problem! If you use humidifiers, ensure that they are cleaned regularly).
  • Use exhaust fans when cooking, dishwashing, or laundering (especially in the food service or laundry areas) or when cleaning large areas.
  • Insulate cold surfaces to prevent condensation on piping, windows, exterior walls, roofs and floors where possible.
  • Keep the building and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in good repair.
  • Clean up any floods or spills immediately (within 24-48 hours).
  • For floors and carpets, remove spots or stains immediately. Reduce the amount of water used when cleaning carpets as much as possible.
  • Do not install carpet around fountains, sinks, bathtubs/showers or directly on top of concrete floors that are prone to leaks or frequent condensation.
  • Do not stack firewood inside the house. A chord of wood can release up to 10 gallons of moisture into the living space.
  • Open windows1/2”-1” in bedrooms to allow air exchanges while sleeping.
  • Regular cleaning and dusting to prevent organic material (food for mold) from accumulating.
  • Regular maintenance inspection to ensure flashings, through wall penetrations, roof and attic condition are all in      optimum condition to prevent moisture ingress.

Mold Remediation

Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd. offers services to help you understand the extent of any mold problem from localised damage (stained caulking in bathrooms) to major damage (mold growth from indoor Marijuana Growing activities). Please feel free to contact us and request a free quote if you have any concerns relating to potential mold problems.

Disclaimer

“Please note that while my blogs may offer links to individuals or companies, it is the readers’ responsibility to do their own due diligence when choosing to accept these links. Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd and its’ officers and employees do not receive referral fees or other kick-backs from these links or recommendations for service from the suppliers.”

References

http://stonegate-home-inspections.com/blog/?p=45

 

 

Understanding mold- mold sampling and air quality testing

Understanding mold- mold sampling and air quality testing

stachyb

Cultured Stachybotrys (black mold) colonies obtained from drywall paper

Mold 101

Molds (or mildew) are fungi. Fungi are neither plant nor animal but, since 1969, have their own kingdom. The fungi kingdom includes such wonderful organisms as the delicious edible mushrooms, the makers of the “miracle drug” penicillin and the yeast that makes our bread rise and our fine wines ferment. Biologically, all fungi have defined cell walls, lack chlorophyll and reproduce by means of spores. Approximately 100,000 species of fungi have been described and it is estimated that there are at least that many waiting to be discovered. The vast majority of fungi feed on dead or decaying organic matter – they are one of the principle agents responsible for the natural recycling of dead plant and animal life.

Mold begins life as a spore (comparable to seeds in the plant kingdom). Spores are minuscule and are ever present in the air around us. Because of their size ranging from 3-40 microns (human hair is 100-150 microns), they are literally everywhere. In very humid air, the concentration of spores is much higher. Because of their tiny size, they are carried by air currents and only settle on surfaces in very still air. They may stay dormant for long periods of time, waiting for favorable conditions to germinate.

There are four critical requirements for mold growth – available mold spores, available mold food (organic substance), appropriate temperatures and considerable moisture.

Once germinated, the mold produces string-like filaments known as hyphae. This is the growing stage of the mold.  When many hyphae come together, the mass is known as mycelium, the visible part of the mold which can produce and release spores into the air to start new colonies. In contrast, fungi that can adopt a single celled growth habit are called yeasts. Common household molds have a characteristic “musty” or “earthy” smell, somewhat like the forest floor deep in the woods. Growing colonies of mold can also be visually observed in many cases. Most people are familiar with moldy bread or mold growth on cheese or other food products that have been kept too long, so the “green fuzzy” characteristic of most mold growth is familiar.

 

What does mold do?

Molds cause biodegradation of natural materials, which can be unwanted when it is your homes’ structural members or when it becomes food spoilage. They also play important roles in biotechnology and food science in the production of various foods, beverages, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals and enzymes.

Some diseases of animals and humans can be caused by molds, usually as a result of allergic sensitivity to their spores or caused by toxic compounds produced by molds. The term “toxic mold” refers to molds that produce mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, and not to all molds in general. Symptoms caused by mold allergy are watery, itchy eyes, a chronic cough, headaches or migraines, difficulty breathing, rashes, tiredness, sinus problems, nasal blockage and frequent sneezing.

Mold in the home can usually be found in damp, dark or steamy areas e.g. bathroom or kitchen, cluttered storage areas, recently flooded areas, basement areas, plumbing spaces, areas with poor ventilation and outdoors in humid environments. Molds are ubiquitous in nature, and mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust.

Molds can also pose a hazard to human and animal health when they are consumed following the growth of certain mold species in stored food. Some species produce toxic secondary metabolites, collectively termed mycotoxins. These toxic properties may be used for the benefit of humans when the toxicity is directed against other organisms; for example, penicillin adversely affects the growth of Gram-positive bacteria, clostridia, certain spirochetes, and certain fungi, that cause disease.

Air quality testing

Is mold testing worth the money? This question has been asked by many home inspectors and Industrial Hygienists and there seems to be a division in the ranks. At Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd, we are of the opinion that air quality testing is not worth the investment for the average homeowner but there are certain circumstances where you may have to pay for a mold sampling. One such scenario would be to prove to an insurance adjuster that the staining on the walls/roof/floor or in the attic or crawlspace is mold, not just dust or dirt.

Note that an air quality test is different from mold sampling. An air quality test tells you how many spores or other contaminants per volume of air are present at the time of testing whereas mold sampling will tell you if what you see is mold, and even what type of mold (depending upon the lab work selected). Results from air quality testing are a hotly debated subject, for more information I recommend the following article http://forensic-applications.com/moulds/sampling.html

Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd offers Mold sampling, Air Quality testing and Inspection Services that will allow you to determine the extent of any water damages, resultant mold problem or air quality problem.

 

Disclaimer

“Please note that while my blogs may offer links to individuals or companies, it is the readers’ responsibility to do their own due diligence when choosing to accept these links. Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd and its’ officers and employees do not receive referral fees or other kick-backs from these links or recommendations for service from the suppliers.”

References

http://forensic-applications.com/moulds/sampling.html

http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/consumer/buildings/basics/moldgrowth.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold

http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/biol_hazards/iaq_mold.html

 

Asbestos- What’s the problem?

Asbestos in houses

In a home, asbestos is most commonly assumed to be used as a covering for pipes and boilers. However, it was also commonly found in the following areas:

  1. Exterior siding products (Asbestos cement (transite) board siding and under-sheeting and even stucco),
  2. Window putty,
  3. Downpipes can be made of asbestos cement,
  4. Flooring (vinyl tiles and linoleum sheet flooring and flooring adhesive)
  5. Electrical outlets and switches
  6. Main electrical panel and older fuse boxes (each fuse wire has an individual asbestos flash guard)
  7. Gypsum board filling compound and patching and joint compound for walls and ceilings,
  8. Boiler and furnace insulation including the door and gasket covers,
  9. Furnace duct tape and pipe insulation,
  10. Heat reflectors for wood stoves,
  11. Insulation on older electrical wiring,
  12. Exterior deck under sheeting,
  13. Roof gutters and soffit boards can be made of asbestos cement,
  14. Roof felt and shingles,
  15. Attic insulation (vermiculite),
  16. Textured or stipple-coated walls and ceilings,
  17. Recessed and incandescent lighting (backing material),
  18. Acoustic tiles (popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s),
  19. Artificial fireplace logs and ashes and
  20. Asbestos pads under the fireplace hearth extension.

It should be noted that while asbestos has been present in our homes for many years it is not a health risk unless it has been disturbed either by mechanical damage or natural wear.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural mineral with unusual qualities that has been used by humans for the past 4500 years. It is strong enough to withstand high temperatures, chemical attack and wear. A poor conductor, it insulates well against heat and electricity. The crystals can become long, flexible, silky fibres that can be made into a variety of forms. It can be used as yarn or cloth and added to materials like cement. This combination of properties has made it a valuable product and used in hundreds of applications and products over the years.

What health problems are associated with Asbestos?

Asbestos poses health risks only when the fibres are present in the air that people breath. Asbestos fibres that are contained or encapsulated pose no health risks.

When the asbestos containing material becomes ‘friable’ (i.e. damaged to the extent that asbestos fibres become airborne) the asbestos fibres can be inhaled. Once inhaled, the fibres can become trapped in the lung tissues and ultimately lead to severely impaired lung function (asbestosis) and cancer of the lungs.

When can asbestos be a problem?

The main cause of asbestos fibre release is renovation work. Many people are unaware of the potential for asbestos in everyday materials because it doesn’t look like asbestos in many forms.

There are over thirty (30) different varieties of asbestos being used today. To determine is a product actually is asbestos and to ascertain what risk is involved, requires a laboratory analysis. If you do not know if asbestos exists in a particular product in your home, you may wish to have an experienced contractor inspect them. If the presence of asbestos is confirmed, the best procedure may be to seal (encapsulate) the surface so that particles will not be released into the indoor air.

Alternatively, removal of asbestos is a complex and expensive matter. It is best left to an experienced contractor, as maximum precautions must be taken to safeguard the workers and the home owners during the removal process.

If you are considering renovating a house that is pre-1990 it is recommended that you have an asbestos evaluation before any work is carried out.

 

Stonegate Home Inspections’ Services

Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd. offers an asbestos evaluation (as a subset of the safety inspection) for homeowners that are considering renovations or that may have concerns related to asbestos contamination in their homes or out buildings. In addition, Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd. is also able to take on asbestos abatement (i.e. removal or encapsulation) for both small and large jobs.

Please contact us for a free quote on either asbestos evaluation or asbestos abatement.

 

Disclaimer

“Please note that while my blogs may offer links to individuals or companies, it is the readers’ responsibility to do their own due diligence when choosing to accept these links. Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd and its’ officers and employees do not receive referral fees or other kick-backs from these links or recommendations for service from the suppliers.”

 

Maintaining Drainage Tile Systems

The importance of proper drainage

Proper drainage around a foundation is essential to ensuring a dry basement. Ninety-nine percent of basements will develop leaks if the drainage of rain water and ground water is not managed. The components involved in rain water collection and drainage are:

  1. The roof and roof flashings,
  2. the roof gutters,
  3. the gutter downspouts and
  4. the drainage tile system.

The drainage tile system is underground and is therefore not inspected during a visual inspection. It is not uncommon for a home inspector to recommend further evaluation of the drainage tile system (by a qualified contractor) when there is evidence of problems above ground.

The drainage tile system is responsible for collecting rain water from the roof drainage and helping direct the ground water away from the foundation. If the drainage tile system is blocked this can allow hydrostatic pressure to build up against the foundation wall. This hydrostatic pressure is what forces the water to find the cracks in the foundation wall and eventually into the interior of your cherished basement. If you have water damage coverage in your insurance policy it should cover the damages to the interior elements but it won’t be able to replace family heirlooms or sentimental objects like photographs should they be damaged.

Changes to Insurance Policies

A recent article in “The Canadian Home Inspector” (Volume 18, Number 3- Fall 2013) quoted CBC News (Aug 29, 2013) as their source for the article stating that insurance companies consider water damage as a “major issue” for insurers whereas in the past where coverage was often added as an after-thought. The combination of changing weather patterns “causing rains to come on strong, sudden and dump extreme amounts of water” and the fact that “people are spending extreme amounts of money on their basements” has led to a huge increase in insurance claims. This increase will be offset by increases in insurance premiums.

For this reason, I recommend maintaining your homes’ drainage system.

Recommendations for Maintaining a Drainage System

An essential part of keeping your foundation and basement dry is performing the dreaded task of cleaning out the gutter and drains. While there aren’t many people who look forward to this particular chore, it is important to keep debris from getting into the underground portion of the drainage system. It is also recommended that you pay attention to the gutters and downspouts during periods of heavy rain to observe for leaks and blockages. Unclogging or repairing gutters and downspouts is far cheaper than unclogging or repairing the underground portion of the system.

How to clean gutters

In October or November (or whenever trees near your gutters are shedding their leaves in earnest), get out the ladder and clean the guttering. A word of caution regarding the use of ladders, “be sure to follow proper procedures and NEVER over extend or lean while on a ladder”.

Use a garden trowel or small shovel to scoop out the decaying leaves and wet muck that almost certainly is lining the gutters. Do not take a rubbish bag up with you to put the decaying leaves into. If you’re using a ladder, or standing on a step, adding extra bags is a sure way to increase your risk of over-balancing. Instead, simply stand a wheelbarrow near your ladder and toss the muck into it. It’s all ready then to wheel down to your garden compost bin. Finish off by flushing the pipes clean by using a hose with a spray nozzle.

How to unclog drains

Your drains can become blocked with debris anytime throughout the year and it is well worth walking around your home every month just to check that none of the drain covers has become clogged with leaves or rubbish. If they have, simply scoop all matter out, then follow with around 100ml of neat bleach down the drain.

Stonegate Home Inspections’ Services

Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd. offers a maintenance inspection for homeowners that do not have the time or perhaps the energy to check the components of their drainage tile system.

 

Disclaimer

“Please note that while my blogs may offer links to individuals or companies, it is the readers’ responsibility to do their own due diligence when choosing to accept these links. Stonegate Home Inspections Ltd and its’ officers and employees do not receive referral fees or other kick-backs from these links or recommendations for service from the suppliers.”

 

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