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O L D E R   H O M E   P I T F A L L S

Why inspect? Resale homes can be a great value. But you need a quality, impartial inspection to spot current problems and dangerous building practices that may likely lead to heartache down the road. There are many, many things to look for, and only a professional inspector who makes it his full time job to know what to look for are likely to catch them all. But, to give you an idea, here are a few common problem areas on older homes.

wood eating insects: Insects are the most potent, and the most stealthy
cause of major damage to homes in our wet climate. They can eat a home from the inside out, hidden not only behind sheetrock and beneath walls, but even within lumber. Insects can tunnel through the inside of your studs, rafters, and floor joists and leave only a hollow and weakened shell. Moist wood is preferred, and a water intrusion into your structure will accelerate insect actvity. In dry lumber the bugs may pick through your wood and eat only the tastiest bits. Typically insect damage can be fixed, though it may require removing sheetrock to patch and plate the affected wood. If your home              is pier and beam, you can easily stop most bugs by installing galvanized             sheet metal between wood foundation beams and concrete piers. On slab homes, insects may crawl through cracks or openings around plumbing. Always watch for mud tunnels as you see at left, a sure sign of wood eating creatures.

         THE 1950-60's

asbestos: This fireproof mineral was in use throughout the first seven decades of the 20th century in homes, but reached its peak in the 50's and 60's. You are most likely to find asbestos in the ceramic siding, fireplaces, sprayed-on acoustical ceiling, ceiling tiles, insulations, and vinyl flooring of the period. In most cases, asbestos in the home poses no danger as long as it is not disturbed. Asbestos fibers are tiny and incredibly sharp. When an asbestos product is broken, sanded, burnt, or cracked, the fibers are considered to be 'friable' and may find their way into the air. In most cases, the best approach is to leave the asbestos product in
place and cover or otherwise contain it.

         THE 1970's

aluminum wiring: Also seen in late 60's homes, aluminum wiring was a low cost alternative that promised slightly more energy efficiency. Unfortunately, the manufacturers should have done more long range testing, because over time aluminum wiring can react with copper in outlets and light sockets, and/or build up an insulating layer of aluminum oxide on its surface as it slowly reacts with the air. In either case you could end up with a very unexpected electrical fire.

Federal Pacific breakers: Testing has shown that many Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Stab-Lok brand breakers from this era fail to trip when they are supposed to. A shorted or overstressed electrical line would therefore continue to heat up and could start a fire. In fact, Federal Pacific actually lost its UL (Underwriters Laboratory) certification over this problem. Click here for more information on this from the government's Consumer Products Safety Commission.

         THE 1980's

particle board siding: Who ever thought this was a good idea? As you probably know,
particle board and water don't mix. It's only a bunch of wood fragments glued together
to make a cheap lumber. Indoors, under a good roof, it's good material (although
some people have concerns about the chemicals it 'outgasses' as it dries).
Outside, exposed to rain and sun, heat and cold the failure of
particle board siding is a matter of time. A thin film of
waterproofing on the exterior side will last for a while,
but when (not if) it fails, the structure of your
home will begin to rot and mold from the
moisture seeping through it.

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



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

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