about us :: contact information . our services . coverage area . request a quote . testimonials . certifications and references . fees for services
common problems :: electrical faults . water intrusion . older home pitfalls
resources :: homeowner maintenance guide
C O M M O N   P R O B L E M S :   W A T E R   I N T R U S I O N

WATER IS THE ENEMY- at least, of your building's structure. To 'have a roof over your head' is perhaps the essential aspect of owning shelter; keeping the wet stuff out is its primary purpose. When water does pierce the carefully built shield of roofing, windows, doors, siding, and foundation it starts all sorts of chemical reactions that begin to break your residence into the component molecules from which it was formed- and we don't want that to happen do we? You can't underestimate how costly water damage can be- that is why it is essential to catch intrusion early and fix the causes of the leak.

                Managing Texas Gumbo:  

In Houston we are unlucky enough to have expansive soil throughout most of the area- in essence a kind of mud that expands as it gets wet, and shrinks as it dries. That's why you'll actually see cracks develop in the ground in many places during dry spells. If your home is newer, it may have a better kind of topsoil that the builder brought in and (hopefully) compacted before your slab was poured- but don't think you are out of the woods- underneath all that fine grass-growing soil is still plain old Texas Gumbo.

As expansive soil works back and forth on your home's foundation, it can actually suck your house into the ground. The most serious problems result when one part of the ground around your home is wetter than the other parts. Settling is normal, but differential settlement- where one part of the house settles more quickly- can lead to cracked foundations and even structural problems. To stave off trouble, consider watering the dirt around your foundation regularly if it hasn't rained in a while. Try not to plant flowerbeds too close to your home unless they are Xiroscaped. Xiroscaping is the practice of using native plants that can live happily with the natural rain patterns in your area, saving on water, and saving you from creating a permanent wet spot near your foundation.

Rain gutters may save your flowerbeds from a pounding, but they may not be tbe the best thing for the health of your foundation. By directing the runoff to one spot in your yard, you unevenly water your foundations and may end up with some nasty differential settlement.

A UH professor discusses espansive soil
a guide to Xeriscaping in Texas

        Ground Clearance:  
It should go without saying, but the wood parts of your house shouldn't touch the ground. Wood shouldn't even be near the dirt around your house unless it is pressure treated, and even treated lumber should be kept at least 4 inches from grade. If your house is pier and beam, you are especially vulnerable, because it is a virtual inevitability in Houston that the piers will sink further and further into the mud as the years pass. The closer your foundation is to the ground, the closer your home is to becoming Termite City.

Pier and beam houses are the easiest foundations to raise, and your report may reccomend doing so. It typically costs between $3000 and $6000 to hire a qualified contractor to raise a 1000 square foot pier and beam house to a reccomended 22 inches or higher. Look for home movers in the yellow pages to find someone to do this for you. Ask specific questions about what equipment they will be using and how much experience they have. Also, keep in mind that if structural changes such as major reroofing or installing sheetrock were done when the home was out of level, leveling the home may cause problems for this work.

        EIFS Stucco:  
Originally developed in Europe for repairing all-masonry construction, this synthetic, foamy exterior cover is not the best choice for wood framed houses in an environment as wet as Houston. If it is installed on your home, your report is likely to find water damage around windows and doors kept wet by EIFS' impermeable foaminess. On new construction with EIFS it is typical to find insufficient flashing around building openings and insufficient drainage openings. Modern manufacturers claim to have solved these problems, and it may be that water intrusion is normally due to improper installation, but for now EIFS Stucco is likely to trigger some red flags on your report.

EIFS facts from About.com
the view of the EIFS Industry Members Association

        Masonry Stucco:  
Traditional stucco, which can be identified by the firm sound you'll hear when you tap on it, is a more expensive, and less insulating covering than the EIFS type, but is also more breathable and so less likely to cause rot. It is still important that drainage screed is installed however. Commonly, the stucco surface will be laid all the way to the ground. Although an acceptable practice in arid northern Mexico, letting your stucco get closer than 4 inches to dirt is a recipe for moisture intrusion in east Texas.

        Roofing Failures:  
Skylights, brick chimneys and flues, and roof mounted solar panels are all likely to cause water intrusion over time and are likely to be listed as problem areas on your inspection. Skylights especially are commonly installed without the appropriate flashing. Because of their shape, chimneys are a little easier for builders to flash but still need regular maintenance to prevent seeps and leaks. Solar panels, whether hot water, winter heating, or electrical, tend to leak around their mounting brackets, and if improperly installed can hold moisture against the roof.

On older homes, it is common for tree branches of nearby mature trees to rub against the roof. Your report will reccomend that the offender be regularly trimmed if this is the case. If the tree branch has been in contact with your roof for some time, and the granules embedded in the surface of your asphalt shingles have been rubbed off, it is a good idea to replace this area, as it is sure to fail well before the rest of your roofing.

            Samuel H. Sahagian : TREC 7669 - 832.453.2766 - sam@vitalinspections.com - 2104 Sprite Lane - Pearland, Texas 77581            

houston home inspection

How often do we find water intrusion problems during a home inspection? The Houston area is very wet. Often, contractors rush construction and do not adequately protect structures around windows, doors, and roof vents. Unfortunately, even some of the fine homes in our hometown of Pearland fail inspection. Sam Sahagian, our head inspector, has represented homeowners in lawsuits over excessive mold resulting from homebuilder mistakes. He knows the warning signs and can usually quickly spot water intrusion that most Houston homeowners don't notice until it is too late.




Vital Inspections, Thorough, Independent, Fast, and Complete Home Inspections throughout the Houston, Texas region.
Inspections for re-sale, new construction, and home purchases.

Vital Inspections - Serving the Greater Houston Metropolitan area:

Aldine, Atascocita, Bacliff, Barbers Hill, Baytown, Bearcreek, Beasley, Bellaire, Brookside Village, Bunker Hill, Champions, Channelview, Clear Creek, ClearLake, Cleveland, Conroe, Crosby, Cut N Shoot, Cypress, Dayton, Decker Prairie, Deer Park, First Colony, Fondren, Friendswood, Galena Park, Galveston, Hedwig, Hempstead, Houston, Huffman, Humble, Hunters Creek, Jacinto City, Jersey Village, Katy, Kemah, Kingwood, Klien, La Porte, League City, Liberty, Magnolia, Meadows Place, Missouri City,
Mont Belvieu, Montgomery, New Caney, North Forest, OakHill, Oak Ridge North, Pasadena, Pearland, Pecan Grove, Piney Point, Porter, Richmond, Roman Forest, Rosenburg, Seabrook, Shenandoah, Shore Acres, SouthHouston, Southside Place, Spring, Spring Branch, Spring Valley, Stafford, Stafford, Stagecoach, Sugarland,
Taylor Lake Village, Texas City, The Woodlands, Tomball, Waller, Webster, West University Place, Willis, Woodbranch Village, Harris County, Montgomery County,
Waller County, Ft Bend County, Liberty County

Vital Inspections for:
Home inspection, inspections, real estate inspections, commercial inspections, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, foundation inspections, Houston Inspector, Texas Building Inspector, Texas property Inspector, Texas Real Estate Inspector, Houston Real Estate inspector.

Go To kwikit.us