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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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

Show All Comments
Rainmaker
190,653
Lois Davies
Cape Coral & SW Florida
Century 21 Birchwood Realty, Inc.

Hi Jay....you probably would have made a good detective or doctor trying to diagnose an illness.  You must get a lot of satisfaction when you are able to help people like this.

October 02, 2010 06:49 AM
Rainer
276,790
Kathryn Maguire
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach
GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881

I am astounded at your powers of deduction.  Sherlock Holmes has nothing on you!

October 02, 2010 07:37 AM
Rainmaker
1,564,390
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - Westchester hardwood flooring
Floor Coverings International Westchester NY & Stamford CT

Good detective work. I love Lenn's comment.  Good idea to come a home inspector when problems like these arise.  It doesn't just need to be around the time of buying a home.

October 02, 2010 07:54 AM
Rainmaker
497,606
Susan Haughton, REALTOR Alexandria VA Homes for Sale

Good work. Now we will have to call you Inspector.  Uh, wait, you already ARE an inspector...but now with a capital "I"!!

October 02, 2010 08:03 AM
Rainmaker
1,342,033
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
WI Realtors - Luxury - Short Sale - CDPE, REDS
Keller Williams 414-525-0563

And then contact your neighbors and let them know that may not be the best place to be shooting bottle rockets.

October 02, 2010 08:20 AM
Rainmaker
497,427
Dan Edward Phillips
Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA
Dan Edward Phillips, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA

Very interesting cause and effect, thanks for sharing it.

October 02, 2010 09:16 AM
Ambassador
1,068,198
Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

Jay, any possibility of sun being manified through the glass fixture?

October 02, 2010 09:27 AM
Rainmaker
56,966
Sergio DePinto
Re/Max Premier Inc. - Greater Toronto Area

Hey Jay,

Great detective work and very resourceful use of your tools. Good advise for anyone having questions or concerns to hire a qualified home inspector...

October 02, 2010 12:14 PM
Rainmaker
1,217,835
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Thank you Lenn, but once she told me about the fireworks and the line of sight was there, that was my conclusion.

And my French really stinks.  I speak Spanish like a native though!

October 02, 2010 09:15 PM
Rainmaker
1,217,835
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Thank you Ty, that is very nice to say, but I only go to Ontario when I visit Canadian Bacon!

And thank you too, Lois.  I do a lot of diagnosing when I am out with the Boy Scouts.

Kathryn - it is a process of elimination!  But the homeowner had the best clue!

October 02, 2010 09:17 PM
Rainmaker
1,217,835
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Debbie - I agree!  I think people should have me over once a year or so!!  And just in time for dinner.

Thanks Susan.  This house wasn't far from you.

S&D - apparently it is an annual event in that neighborhood.  The homeowners go elsewhere, and one reason, she said, was to get the car out of the driveway!

October 02, 2010 09:19 PM
Rainmaker
1,217,835
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Dan - cause and effect and determine!

Charlie - that was one of the theories proposed, and mentioned in the post.  But given the angle of the sun to that spot I didn't think so.  I have seen, as have you, the sun refract off windows and melt the siding on the house next door, but such refraction has never been accompanied by such scorching.

Sergio - I think a qualified home inspector is the best way to go!

October 02, 2010 09:21 PM
Rainmaker
351,438
Damon Gettier
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert

Jay, it is nice of you to take the time to check this our for someone.  Most inspectors would not take the time without an inspection fee.  (Not that I really blame them)

October 02, 2010 09:55 PM
Rainmaker
1,217,835
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Well, Damon, I did have a few emails with the homeowner and put together a package of photos, which I posted on a couple of message boards for help.  I did all that happily, and no charge.  The homeowners then asked me to stop by, which I did for a fee, but actually half my normal fee.

October 02, 2010 10:02 PM
Rainer
369,954
Tish Lloyd
Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches
BlueCoast Realty Corporation

Jay ~ Everyone loves a happy ending.  Really frightening to think how this could have ended.  You are the best, Ke-mo sah-bee!

October 02, 2010 10:02 PM
Rainmaker
1,217,835
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
1,722,857
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi & Corinna Birgit Cromartie
Palm Harbor & Dunedin FL Residential Real Estate
Charles Rutenberg Realty

Amazing, some of the things you find!

October 03, 2010 11:48 AM
Rainmaker
1,217,835
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
229,481
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
1,217,835
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
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
1,217,835

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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