Not The Problem They Feared

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

I get calls from people all over the country.  They have found my website and call with questions or for my advice with projects.  It happens a lot.  Sometimes they tell me where they are calling from, but I can see from the numbers on my phone that they are not local and I don't recognize the area code.

Oftentimes too, I get emails from people with similar needs.  But again, I don't know where they are contacting me from.  I do my best to answer their questions.  Often, too, I send their photos and questions to various home inspector message boards for input. 

I received a photo similar to this one from a couple who noticed a melted scorch mark near their front light while gardening one day.

The proximity to the light made it suspicious.

But I saw no evidence of a scorch at the fixture.

From a photo it is hard to determine what caused it!  So I sent it around.  From other home inspectors I got speculation that it was a hot cable buried inside the wall, from a former Christmas light short, wayward kids in the neighborhood with a lighter and even sunlight refracting off the light fixture glass!

But it was all speculation.

The people were concerned and I learned that they were not far away.  They asked me to stop by to see what I could.  I offered to do a thermal image examination to see if the wiring in the light fixture was warm, or if there was a warm cable behind the siding.

This is the thermal image of the scorch. 

And a close up of the scorch digitally.

Heat from a bad cable behind that spot would appear as a bright yellow or white area in the crevasse.

The yellow you see is the wood trim, which is the ambient air temperature and not really that warm.

I could confidently say there was no electrical anomaly which caused the scorch.

So what did?

The homeowner recalled that on July 4th the neighborhood had a fireworks display with assorted sparking and shooting fireworks.  They had left for the night to see another display, but when they got home found the casing of a bottle rocket on the front porch.  At that time they thought little of it.  I looked and there is a direct line of sight from the cul de sac to that spot on the siding by the front door.  Could a bottle rocket have caused the scorch?  Seems likely!

Could it be that they had not noticed that scorch until now?  Yes.  It is not so obvious unless you are up close and looking.  This family does not use the front door that often, favoring the garage entrance. 

If you look at the scorch, it seems to have started on the bottom and briefly burned upward, actually onto another course of siding, and then flamed out.  Since there is nothing else so obvious, that firework must have been the source of the problem!

My recommendation:  If you have a question on something around the house, contact your friendly neighborhood home inspector.  We are usually very happy to help!  And sometimes you might find an answer to your question!

 

 

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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  1. Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi 10/03/2010 11:50 AM
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Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Location:
Virginia Prince William County Bristow
Groups:
Active Rain Block Party
Adventures in Home Inspecting
Ask the Home Inspector
Canadian Bacon
Professional Home Inspectors
Tags:
home inspection
thermal imaging
thermal infrared

Comments 24 New Comment

Rainmaker
1,167,177
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Thanks Tish!  It is a bit irresponsible to fire off rockets and such that aren't controlled and could go anywhere.  I am glad that the scorch is the only thing that came of it!

October 02, 2010 10:08 PM
Ambassador
1,652,542
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi
Palm Harbor Florida Residential Real Estate
Charles Rutenberg Realty

Amazing, some of the things you find!

October 03, 2010 11:48 AM
Rainmaker
1,167,177
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Barbara-Jo - the homeowner gave me the biggest hint!  From there it was a deduction.

October 03, 2010 03:18 PM
Rainmaker
229,341
Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

Have you ever done an inspection to figure out a weird smell?  That's the one 'single item inspection' that I just won't take on.

October 03, 2010 09:35 PM
Rainmaker
1,167,177
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Reuben - it wasn't a weird smell, but a lady could smell the neighbor's yard fertilizer while standing at her kitchen sink.  i figured out why --

http://activerain.com/blogsview/1348599/thermal-camera-the-new-smell-detector-

October 04, 2010 06:21 AM
Rainmaker
1,167,177

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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An experienced home inspector's look at current home inspection events and conditions along with his useful recommendations.