Author: Brandal Gehr

When Fido is in the house…

Remember! When doing an inspection or visiting a house that is not yours, treat any animals you run across with caution.

One time I arrived to do an inspection and the realtor was already there. The house was occupied, but the owners were gone.  I opened the front door and walked into the entryway and the dog, sleeping in the sun across the living room, jumped up, ran over and bit my leg! The realtor had to pull the dog off me and lock him in another room. Very exciting!  The bite turned out to be minimal so we did the inspection and summarized with my clients. 

When the owners came home I told them, “Your dog bit me when I arrived.”. They responded with, “Oh ya, he doesn’t like men.”. Maybe that bit of knowledge should have been in the listing notes.

Current Thoughts

Electricity is deadly. 

We all know this, yet most of us have been taught some basic incorrect information about electricity. For instance, I was taught that 120 VAC will hurt you, and that 240 VAC and 440 VAC will seriously damage or kill you. However, I went to an ongoing education electrical course and the master electrician teaching the course said, “If you have been shocked and you’re still alive, you’re really lucky.” So I listened up. “The real killer is the AMPS. If 1/10th of 1 AMP crosses your heart, you’re done.”. He went on to explain that the smallest circuit breaker in a standard electric panel is 15 AMPs so it would take a long time to shut off unless it’s an AFCI breaker.  Things to think about.

Funny story: I was taking the cover off an electric panel in the basement at an inspection. The client, a woman of about 50, was standing a safe 10 feet away from me. She says to me, “You know what one of my jobs was when I was a kid?”.  “No, what?” I asked.  She replied, “My dad did a lot of work on the house. When he was going to do something with the electric panel, he would hand me a baseball bat and tell me, “Honey, if I get shocked, you hit me as hard as you can to break the current.””. I asked her if she had to go to therapy for that:)

Got a cedar shake roof? Take a look in the attic!

Traditional cedar shake roofs are great roofs and need to be maintained correctly. A common issue that I have found over the years is that as cedar shake roofs age the shakes cup and lift up.  Cedar shake roofs are installed on what is called skip sheathing and long story short have gaps in the sheathing below the cedar shake material. When the roof material cups and the shakes lift it opens a door for rats to come through. If I am doing an inspection on a house with a cedar shake roof I am not surprised when I get in the attic and find that the insulation has been damaged by rodent intrusion.

I was in an attic once and the insulation had been completely destroyed by rodent intrusion. I finished the inspection, explained the issues to the clients, wrote my report and moved on. A few days later the agent called and said the sellers response was:  “There are no rats in the attic, we have dogs!”  The reality here is that your dogs do not live in the attic. Whether you have dogs or cats it makes no difference, rats are entering your house not through the front door. Most of the time I find that they are entering through the roof system somewhere and through a hole that most people thinks is too small for a rat to get through. Your average NW rat needs a 3/8” gap to squeeze through.

Little details matter when maintaining electrical components

When putting the cover plate on your electric panel you should never use sharp tipped screws. Sharp tipped screws when going into the panel can cut into the live wires in the panel, cause a circuit breaker to trip and damage to the wiring. Putting yourself in harms way by increasing your potential of being shocked is also a reality. Electric panels come with blunt tipped screws that do not cut the wires and if you loose those you can go to the hardware store and buy extras.

I was inspecting a house that had been remodeled by the owner and the owner was standing behind me when I took the panel off. He had used sharp tipped sheet rock screws to put the panel cover on.  I pointed out that this should not be done and explained the above reasons. He was non plussed about it. I put the panel cover back on and promptly pierced one of the wires with the sheet rock screw, causing a large spark and tripping the breaker.  I turned to him and said “kinda like that.”

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