It's Not If, It's When

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Last fall I did an inspection on a house with the potential for foundation problems.

It's topography has it in a bowl beneath the house beside and behind.  There is a hill between it and drainage to the street to the other side.  One rear gutter connected to a meandering plastic drain which emptied kind of in the middle of the house, but couldn't go anywhere anyway because of the hill.  The rear yard and patio on that yard inclined toward the house. There was evidence of moisture in a visible portion of the foundation wall.  There were many signs that pointed to moisture potential in the house.

It had been a dry summer and fall.  There was no evidence of moisture in the basement walls, although they were covered with drywall.  But the basement floor had an unusual feature:  it was built up on 2x8's with a wood floor and new carpeting.  What made this floor unusual was that the ceiling above was just under 6'6".  Not very high.  Not exactly, um, right.

There had to be a reason.  We discussed all it could mean.  One of the things we discussed was cover up.

We had a couple of heavy rain storms followed by a very deep snow storm a little while ago.  It's melting produced lots of water, obviously.  And that means water pressure.

My client called just over a week ago.  "You said there were many things conducive to the foundation leaking and, 'It's not if, it's when,' as to that basement wall.  Well, we removed that wood floor the other day and it was dry.  Today there is a lot of water.  Can you come over?"

Here is what my IR camera saw:

In the image to the right you can see the remains of the flooring that was removed.  Above that spot the ceiling is a foot higher, so it made sense to remove it to there.  Notice that the moisture evident that day, seen as navy blue, purple and lavender, is mostly below the level of the floor that was removed.  All along the wall.  Even though it was not there during the inspection, one has to think it had been there before!  Now the work begins.

My recommendation:  When there are many indicators that are conducive to wet basements, you should pay them heed.  And what isn't there one day can be there the next!

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Rainmaker
1,183,101
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Jay,

I am always cautious to be careful about basements that might be dry one day and not the next.

Jan 08, 2010 07:58 PM #1
Rainer
75,559
Joel Prince
The Principle Group, Inc - Hixson, TN
Hixson/Soddy Real Estate Broker

Jay -

Great post and pics.

I'm no home inspector.  But a home's foundation is kind of important, right?

Just kidding  :)

Thanks for the info.

Jan 08, 2010 08:46 PM #2
Rainmaker
1,252,721
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Steve - at the time of the inspection there was no evidence that it was or had been wet.  But that bouncy, poorly-done wood floor was odd at best.  It was just a matter of time before things got wet.

Joel - glad you liked it.  IR cameras are very definitive in what they show, in most applications.  Basements are what they are!

Jan 09, 2010 03:05 AM #3
Rainer
24,301
Mandy Buchholz
Benchmark Realty, LLC - Murfreesboro, TN

Good post, thanks for keeping us informed. My question should a buyer go ahead with the purchase and have a professional company do preventive maintenance.

Jan 09, 2010 08:46 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,252,721
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Mandy - sometimes major things need to happen outside, regarding grading and water diversion, before it is a good idea to do anything inside.  Keeping water off the house is the best preventative.

Jan 09, 2010 12:22 PM #5
Rainmaker
164,300
Kate Ford
Get-Your-Best-Mortgage-Rate.com - San Diego, CA
Ask Kate a mortgage question...

I do not miss having a basement. Our last one was dry for years but every winter, we wondered what was coming.

Jan 09, 2010 04:31 PM #6
Rainmaker
1,252,721
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

By now, Kate, since it wasn't for you it might have been for someone else!  Not if, when!

Jan 09, 2010 05:24 PM #7
Rainmaker
637,034
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Had FLIR gives us (ASHI) a seminar this past Thursday. The newer cameras are much smaller and lighter. Plus they take both IR and digital pictures. Alas I will have to keep my old (about 4 years) camera for now.  I love IR.

Jan 10, 2010 07:46 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,252,721
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

James - I have had my RAZ-IR for almost 6 years.  It is the size of a hamster and does 120x160 pixels.  That was way state of the art when I bought it.  The software is better now, but my camera is fine.  It even does movies!

Jan 10, 2010 07:54 AM #9
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Rainmaker
1,252,721

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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