One of the most common items written up in a home inspection in the Phoenix area is AC condensate drain lines. Air conditioning removes moisture from the air, making the air more comfortable. That is why it is called “conditioning” and not “cooling”. This moisture must be able to drain to an acceptable location. It is a simple concept of a primary drain that should have a trap, followed by a vent, and a pipe to the ground outside. Over time, these may clog up, so the next part of the system is the overflow. The overflow can drain into a pan with a secondary pipe to the outside, or can be piped directly to the outside.
Many times, we find the factory plugs still in place at the overflow, causing the internal tray to overflow inside the unit, rusting the housing and possibly the coil.
Many installers are poorly trained and confused and think the overflow is a vent and install a pipe up 6″ or more, but then go one step further and cap it. Why would you cap a vent? Sometimes I find both primary and overflow Tee’d into the same pipe. What is the point of that? if it clogs up towards the bottom, both are clogged and it will make a mess in the attic. Moisture leaking into the attic can be disastrous, ruining insulation and causing mold.
As an inspector, I get into homes that have been tested by time and I see what works and what fails. The same AC guys that did thousands of improper installs over the years now do service and still don’t see the problems. I get calls from home sellers “My AC guy said there’s nothing wrong”. Then why is it full of rust and a big water stain underneath!!! There is one company in the phoenix area that gets it and goes one step further by installing a great product called EZ Trap. It is a clear plastic trap with multiple clean out caps and even comes with a brush for cleaning. Cost less than $10 and no more cutting pipes to clear a clog. This should be standard equipment. I installed it on my own unit in less than 5 minutes. Next time you pay someone to service your system, insist on installing EZ trap.
I came across this old furnace from the 50’s that has so many things wrong and someone took the time to give it a nice coat of paint rather than fix the safety hazards. Luckily it was no longer in use, just left behind in the attic.
Tile shower in upstairs condo leaks. Guy in downstairs condo has wet ceiling. Guy downstairs opens ceiling and sees leak. Consults with Rube Goldberg and proceeds to cut the corner off a milk jug, tie it up into place with wire, caulk completely around to seal, glue a funnel to the to of the upside down jug, and run a drain hose to who knows where! Very nice work, even painted everything with Kilz to seal off the mold, until the funnel started to leak.
Being a home inspector in Arizona brings many hazards. On a daily basis, we stick our hands and heads in places homeowners often don’t go, and deal with many common issues and an occasional uncommon suprise.
Most common and almost daily is having to open 15 or more windows that are buried in dust, and often we have to open the blinds first and get the DUST SHOWER!
Always look before you reach in with a plug! Very often I find the outlet covers are home to a Black Widow spider!
I always check the electric panel for open holes or gaps. Sometimes I open the panel to find a wasp nest, and this one was not happy to be disturbed!
this guy bit me on the ear!
Less dramatic, but still a health hazard, is being exposed to unknowns such as hidden mold. Sometimes an area looks suspicious and upon closer examination I find mold under the carpet. No wonder I was sneezing the whole time there!
There is always the hazards of crawling around in the attic. There is a reason we are not required to crawl through trusses, but sometimes we do it anyway to get a better look. This looks like evidence of a truss web breaking and someone falling through the ceiling. Never trust a 30 yr old attic baked 2×4!
So those are just a few of the things that make a good day go bad for a home inspector.
Was your home built energy efficient?
With the rising energy costs and threat of global warming, shouldn’t all homes be built to the highest possible standards? Should builders be allowed to keep churning out cheaper, inefficient homes just because people will buy them? What is more important, saving $100 on your mortgage or $100 on your energy bill? Energy efficient building involves both the materials that are used in a home and the equipment installed in the home to heat, cool, and light our families. The important aspect is the materials used within the home, such as insulation and solar reflective barriers. Upgrading these items later is not a feasible option unless you want to tear your home apart.
Of the 50 states, 9 have not adopted any type of code to mandate efficient home building and two of them, Alaska and Arizona, have the harshest climates and the most to gain. Colorado and Arkansas are still using the 2003 IECC, and only 5 states have adopted the 2012 code. How can a California home be built to the highest standards yet in Arizona there are none? California utilizes the “Cool Roof” standards http://coolroofs.org/ to govern required solar reflectivity of a roof covering and will even rebate up to $.30 /sq.ft for replacing your roof with a new one that meets standards. Florida also understands the importance of keeping your attic cool http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/publications/html/FSEC-EN-15/
You can also receive federal tax credits for improving the efficiency of your home. http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index
So here in Arizona, most builders are finally offering radiant barrier sheathing on the roof, but only to be competitive in a tough market where if you can’t build a cheaper house they are now trying to build a better one (at the expense of cheaper cabinets or flooring). If you are buying a new home, make sure your builder is energy star rated or similar and uses radiant barriers, air sealing, blown or spray in insulation and other features that will save energy and money.
Wright Inspections LLC