Bathroom Exhaust Problems

Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Bathroom, Blog, Home Care Tips |

During my more than 15 years inspecting homes, I have seen many issues caused by bathroom exhaust fans and ducting.  A lot of time the issues can cause high humidity, condensation, mold, and structural roof damage, all potential health concerns and possible major repair costs. I have seen these issues over and over when most can be repaired and avoided.     These fans are called “supplemental exhaust” in OBC according to the Ontario and Canadian Building codes.  They provide additional ventilation to a high humidity area of a home.  According to the Building Code a bathroom is required to have either natural ventilation (a window that opens) or mechanical ventilation (an exhaust fan) for ventilation.  The five most common issues with bathroom exhaust fans you should know and look for are: The fan is noisy!  If the fan is used every day, in time it will wear out (the motor or bearings) and begin making noise upon start up or continuously during operation. It’s time for replacement.  This can usually be done without damage to ceiling by just swapping out the old fan and motor while on a ladder in the room.  Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions and turn off electrical power to the fan. The fan does not suck! By this I mean it does not suck much air at all.  How do you know?  A quick test all inspectors use is to take one piece of toilet paper and place it against the fan grill on the ceiling.  If the fan can’t suck enough air to hold it then it SUCKS and there is a problem! Either the fan is old and it needs to be replaced or the exhaust is blocked. Sometimes I’ve seen a fan wired backwards and its blowing air instead of sucking.  Usually if the fan is old, making more noise than normal, and it is not sucking, more than likely it just needs to be replaced. The duct going through the cold attic is not insulated. According to OBC (3) the duct must be insulated.  The reason for this is to help stop condensation.  It’s a cold -20C winter day and you are having a shower, the warm moist air rises quickly to the ceiling in the bathroom and the fan is pulling this air into the flexible ducting.  The attic temperature is close to the outside temperate and definitely cold.  The warm moist air meets the cold surface of the inside of the duct and instantly causes condensation.  This is bad.  The moisture could run back to the fan and leak on to the drywall ceiling or leak on to the insulation both probably causing mould...

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5 Things to Check Outside of Your Home this Spring

Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Blog, Home Care Tips |

Spring is here, or near depending where you live, so now that the snow is gone you should have a look outside your house to find those things that may need to be addressed. Walk around your home and look up at the roof to check your shingles. Can you see any damaged shingles? . With high wind and loose shingles you can get the odd shingle flipped over and torn off.  Walk across the street and look at your roof from a distance. A missing shingle will be pretty obvious.  A few shingles can be replaced easily by a knowledgeable handyman, or if your shingles are  old call a roofing company to do temporary repair and give you a quote on replacing the shingles.   2. While looking up, walk around your house and look at the gutters and soffits. Have the soffits come loose or been damaged by pests?  Raccoons, squirrels and birds can damage the thin aluminum soffits and get access to your attic to nest.  Look for a gap between the gutter and the roof sheathing,  squirrels can get in there too.   3. While looking at exterior walls, check all your exhaust vent hoods. Do they all have there flaps and/or screens?  If they’re missing get them repaired, it’s spring and birds will be in them nesting soon.     4. Roof vents are access points for squirrels too!  I have seen some myself. If you are okay with heights and know how to climb a ladder to safely reach the peak of your roof have a look for damaged vents. If not, just hire a professional.         5. Is there any standing water around your house? Check for saturated soft soaked ground and standing water.  If the ground is still partly frozen (end of April – early May), surface water can not easily soak through the soil so if you find saturated, soft, soaking ground this means there is poor drainage and surface grading.  This surface water may work its way against your basement wall, into your sump pit and/or into your basement.  If you can not solve this issue yourself then hire a professional landscaping company.  Better to take preventative action rather than having to deal with the possible result. Who knows, if you look hard enough maybe you will make some money?  Who says it does not pay to own a home?...

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6 Things to Do to Help Prevent Basement Flooding in a Coming Storm

Posted by on May 6, 2017 in Blog |

Clean out your gutters and downspouts, and ensure downspouts on the ground extend 6 feet away from the house foundation. Check any underground pipe connections for debris making sure they are not plugged. If in doubt, disconnect and run above ground away from the house. 2. Ensure water from downspouts drains away from the house foundation towards the street or drainage catch basin. Clear any snow or ice or debris so it drains with the help of gravity. 3. Ensure the ground slopes away from the house like a pitcher’s mound to keep water away from the foundation 4. If you have a sump pump in the basement you should be familiar with it so check to make sure it is working and that the discharge pipe outside extends away from house just like downspouts. 5. Check the road drainage by making sure any catch basin on the road is clear of debris like branches, grass, twigs, garbage, etc. 6. If you have basement window wells clear the stone inside the well of any debris, like the catch basins mentioned above, so they can drain as they were designed.  If you have covers over them make sure they are in place and secured from wind damage. These are the basic things to consider to keep water draining away from your home and out of your basement.  If you are not sure, you should consult a professional home inspector for specific advice for your home.  You should always follow any local municipal bylaws regarding surface drainage specific to your community.  As a general rule, no surface drainage should be directed from your property to a neighboring...

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Having Kitec water piping will cost you

Posted by on Mar 23, 2016 in Blog |

HAVING KITEC WATER PIPING WILL COST YOU Failures of Kitec polyethylene water piping has cost home owners hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements and some insurance companies will not insure homes with this water piping.  Defects in materials and design are causing premature failure in the piping and fittings.  The defective piping and fittings were sold by IPEX from 1995 – 2007 in Canada and the USA and installed in nearly 300,000 homes. Kitec piping is being discovered in homes during the buying and selling process in Ontario, usually at the home inspection.  This is causing lots of grief and anxiety for homeowners and sellers as well as Realtors and home inspectors.  This is an attempt to help all parties involved understand the situation and ramifications moving forward. The legal history This is the boring stuff that even I hate researching but it is important to understand the basics of the class action lawsuit – so here is the shortened version for you.  By 2011 lawyers for many plaintiffs said over 3500 parties had either filed claims or were considering filing.  IPEX (IPEX Defendants) agreed to settle a class action lawsuit effective Jan 9, 2012.  The settlement was agreed upon by IPEX and plaintiffs to avoid costly court proceedings and lawyer fees for both.  The result is a US $125 Million fund to be used to pay claimants for the repair of buildings, homes, residences, or any other structures with a Kitec System and any settlement fund legal and administration fees.  After administration and legal fees the fund for claimants is estimated to be US $93.8 million. If your Kitec piping has leaked before the deadline and you fixed it, keep your receipts, take photos, keep the broken piping/fitting and go to the settlement website and make a claim.  According to the proposed Plan of Distribution you will receive US $287.50 for each repair behind walls or US $112.50 for each open and accessible repair. If you have not had any leaks/failures then you still want to file a claim on the settlement website before the Jan 9, 2020 deadline because after the deadline the remaining fund will be divided up among the claimants for compensation for damages caused and for removal of all Kitec piping. The final amount paid depends on the type and extent of any possible failure, the size and type of Kitec system and its installation, and the available funds left in the Settlement Fund.  You can make multiple claims before the Jan 9, 2012 deadline if you have multiple failures/leaks and this will increase your portion of the final payout too.  So that gives everyone an idea of what compensation is...

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Air Conditioner Spring Startup

Posted by on May 24, 2015 in Blog |

We’ve already had a few days of hot weather and in no time you will want to start using your central air conditioner, the largest electricity load of a typical house.  The air conditioners compressor and condensing coil is located in the unit you see outside of your home. Before you consider using your air conditioner make sure you:   Take off the winter cover It may sound obvious to take off the winter cover but it happens all of the time. You want to be sure you’ve removed the cover before the temperature heats up and the air conditioner comes on.  If the air conditioner comes on when the cover is still on, you could permanently damage the unit and suddenly need a new air conditioner ($2000 – $4000).  It is recommended that you do not turn on the air conditioner unless the outside temperature is above 16° C because the liquid being pumped by the compressor will be heavy and you may severely damage the heart of the system, the compressor. If the compressor is damaged it will need replacement. Clean up around the unit Cut back any trees, shrubs, plants that are near the unit that have grown since last year.  I would recommend 12” – 24” of clearance all around.  Brush away any leaves or large debris that is on the outside of the unit. Make sure your unit is level Some air conditioning units are sitting on a cement block on the ground and these will settle and become un-level over time.  As little as a 10°tilt can affect the operation of your unit. The high speed fan bearings could wear out prematurely and the refrigerant or compressor copper lines can become damaged. If you are replacing your unit I recommend installing a metal bracket fastened to the foundation (see photo) to ensure the unit stays perfectly level and it helps avoid debris and dirt from the ground. Blow out the dust and dirt To help the efficiency of your air condition it is a good idea to blow out dust and dirt from between the fins of the condensing coil fins outside.  The dirt impedes the heat transfer that needs to happen at the tiny spaces between the fins and will make the air conditioner work longer to achieve its job of cooling the house.  Working longer means using more electricity, costing more money and increasing the environmental impact so it is in everyone’s interest to keep the fins clean outside.  Use an air compressor or pressure washer to clean out between the fins.  Be careful not to bend the thin fins by getting too close to them with air hose or pressure...

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“Must Know” Components of a Replacement Window

Posted by on Oct 21, 2014 in Blog, Windows |

“MUST KNOW” COMPONENTS OF A WINDOW Like everything, windows have their own terminology and components you need to understand or at least be familiar with before you begin to investigate replacing your windows.  When you talk to window contractors and sales people they will throw around words to describe window components and choices of features that will affect the function and importantly the price of your window and it can be confusing.  On top of knowing what features you need not all window contractors will produce a quote based on the same information. You will want to be sure you are comparing quotes based on the same products, service and installation features. How is a window put together? Understanding how a window is made will help you understand what makes a window energy efficient and meet your usage needs. The window itself is composed of panes of glass with a spacer between them for separation, the sash which supports the glass panes, the frame which supports the sash and is used to fasten the window to the wall framing, and the exterior sill.  See drawing supplied by Jeldwen Window and Doors. Every window is finished with trim. There is the trim that goes around the window opening it cover the drywall edges and framing the finishing trim that matches your baseboards and other door trims in your home. The “jamb extension” is a piece of 1x4” or 1x6” wood trim laid along the four sides of the window to extend over the rough opening.  Basically it is an interior sill that hides all the wood framing around the window. The“moulding” or “casing” is the trim around the window that covers the gap between the drywall and the jamb extension mentioned above.  This is the trim that should match the baseboards and other door trim you are using in the room.  Both the jamb extension and the moulding can be installed by the window suppliers for an additional cost so make sure it is either included or excluded from all quotes when comparing.  When you purchase a window from a big box store the trim required to properly finish the window will not be included you will have to plan to purchase this in addition to the window. What to look for when getting a window quote You need to be able to compare quotes which include the same product and service. Not all window installers and contractors will include all of the window components you will need when they are providing your requested quote. Be sure to compare your quotes looking at the same elements. When requesting your quote you will need to clarify with your window installer: Type...

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