By Mitch Kuffa
Are you ready for some Homework? No, no, not that kind of homework. Home Inspector Mitch Kuffa shares his experiences and insights in his Homework series.
In this episode, Mitch discusses things in the home that don’t mix. He explains many guidelines you should follow in your house to stay up to building code specifications and keep your home safe!
Mitchell Kuffa Jr. is a licensed builder who performs private home inspections. Check out all of Mitch’s articles here!
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Inspections By MJK
Mitch & Celeste Kuffa
627 N Riverside
St. Clair, MI 48079
Let’s talk about things in your house that JUST DON’T MIX!
ELECTRICAL & WATER:
When inspecting houses we constantly see broken plugs near sinks, missing cover plates in bathrooms, hanging wires by laundry tubs, etc… Talk about a hazard. That’s why GFI plugs (ground fault interrupters) are recommended and required in new construction. These sensitive plugs are installed at kitchen sinks, bathrooms, exterior plugs, around swimming pools, garage, etc… Fuse panels should be away from water pipes. Shower fixtures should be waterproof.
ATTIC INSULATION WITH NO VENTILATION:
70% of the heat loss goes up through your roof. If you have substantial insulation in the attic this area now becomes colder and with inadequate ventilation, the air in the attic becomes stagnant and trapped. In this situation, it is only a matter of time before the moisture in the air reaches its dew point and condensates. This condition can lead to a mold/mildew condition.
STAIRS WITH NO RAILINGS:
All pedestrian traffic hazards are a concern, but they become the most prominent at stairs. There are very strict requirements in this area and they are especially important for children and the elderly. There should be stair rails that close-in open areas, assist rails mounted to the walls in closed areas, and guardrails typically at landings, balcony’s or similar. All are needed to help minimize accidents.
SHALLOW ROOF PITCHES WITH CONVENTIONAL SHINGLES:
Any roof with a shallow pitch (less than 3” of fall in 1’ of run), should be covered with a different type of roofing material. Water is shed from a roof surface via gravity and so the shallower the roof pitch, the more difficult it is to get the water to run off. Add to this formula wind, temperature changes, expansion/contraction, etc. and the water can back up under a conventional shingle, but cannot infiltrate a membrane-type roof, rolled roofing, or certain metal roof cover. These roofs become one piece at the completion of installation and the water has nowhere to infiltrate.
NON-FUNCTIONAL GUTTERS AND CLAY SOILS:
Clay has the ability to hold water. If roof water runs off and is not controlled by a functional set of gutters and downspouts, the adjacent soils become saturated. These saturated clay soils become and stay very heavy. They can put undue pressure on the foundation walls which will eventually fail and then leak. Remember, the Colorado River cut the Grand Canyon. You do not give water any leeway, it will win in the end.
HOT WATER TANKS OR FURNACES LOCATED IN THE GARAGE:
Gasoline fumes are very heavy and settle near the floor. If a parked vehicle, lawnmower, or gas can have a leak and then the hot water tank or furnace fires up…BOOM!. If it happens to be absolutely necessary to place these systems in the garage, then they should be elevated or preferably be in an approved vented room or closet designed for the same.
HUMIDITY IN A TIGHT/SEALED HOUSE:
I recently met with a homeowner who encountered a moisture condition in his house and had a bid from a sub-contractor to dig up the exterior and install new foundation waterproofing, drain tiles, etc. to the tune of $8,000.00. After inspecting the house (approx. 1200 sq. ft.), I noted that there were 5 occupants that had active lifestyles (exercised, cooking, bathing, etc.). In addition, the indications were that the mold stains, rusted hinges, peeling wallpaper, etc., were from the moisture they created. They simply had to open windows more often, use the draw fans (bathroom, above range, etc.) and turn on some fans. Humidity needs to escape your house or somehow be dried out. Modern houses are more susceptible to this situation because they are tight ( have weather-stripped doors & windows, heavy insulation, etc.). Your house needs to breathe.
So you see, certain things in your house need to go hand in hand while others do not mix.