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Tips to Divert Rain Water | Fairfield Home Inspection Blog Series

Tips to Divert Rain Water | Fairfield Home Inspection Blog Series

Yes, Spring has sprung! And so has our Spring edition of our Fairfield Home Inspection blog series, Part 2: Tips to Divert Rain Water. We’ve been having quite the rainy Spring here in Fairfield, and we’re doing our part to inform our readers on tips to help with water issues via our Fairfield Home Inspector Blog Series. Our last post, we discussed tips to prevent wet basements. Today, let’s talk about ways to divert rain water from your home.   Let’s take a moment to talk about kickout flashing, and its importance in construction.  Kickout flashing (sometimes called diverter flashing) is a type of flashing that diverts rainwater away from wall surfaces when they adjoin directly to a roof. As a home inspection company it’s something we look for on homes susceptible to rain water issues. This flashing provides protection from moisture entry and subsequent damage that can result when it is missing.  A missing kickout flashing can allow for water to specifically enter behind the wall siding and possibly the interior of the home as well.  During a home inspection process, we’ll look for visible staining below these areas at the exterior siding, or moisture staining at the interior, are indications of rain water intrusion.  Left unchecked the moisture has the potential to create severe rot and damage. Kickout flashings should be installed anywhere a roof and exterior wall intersect, where the wall continues past the lower roof-edge and gutter, and where gutters terminate at the side of a chimney.  It is a simple, yet vital, piece of flashing that is either rarely seen or installed incorrectly in many... read more
Tips to Prevent Wet Basements | Fairfield Home Inspection

Tips to Prevent Wet Basements | Fairfield Home Inspection

Spring has sprung… as so has our Spring edition of our Fairfield Home Inspection blog series. The old rhyme is that April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring wet basements. Parts of Fairfield County, CT over the past couple of weeks have seen an excessive amount of rain, which has contributed to moisture in many crawlspaces and basements of homes. While predicting what level of rain may be a breaking point for water entry is not possible, there are a few areas you can address at the exterior of your property to help protect your basement and foundation before investing in a wet basement system. Two readily accessible things you can visually inspect at your home are the gutters and the grading. Today we’ll talk about grading, and by grading we are referring to the pitch of the soil at the exterior of the home. There is positive grading, which is soil that is sloping away from the home, and negative grading, which is soil that is sloping towards the home. Living in Fairfield County, we know that the topography may present us with challenges, but it is extremely important to examine a home for positive grading, as you want water to run away from the foundation, not towards it. Your soil should grade away from the home at 1 inch per foot for 6, even 10 feet, if possible. Look for any areas of settlement as well that may contribute to ponding next to the foundation. Read more about grading here If you have negative grade, you can simply add soil to help increase the grade.... read more
Tips to Prevent Frozen Pipes | Fairfield Home Inspector

Tips to Prevent Frozen Pipes | Fairfield Home Inspector

Spring is here, but as we know in Connecticut you still can get a cold snap, even in the early spring.  This week we continue with our final winter related homeowner topic that many in Fairfield County may be familiar with, or have experienced first hand: frozen pipes. When supply water resting inside copper pipes freezes, it causes the copper to expand.  They might not split the first time they freeze, but then again, they just might.  A small split typically occurs where the pressure is greatest along the pipe, but it can also happen at the fittings.  Once the weather turns, and the water unfreezes, then you’ll start to see the leakage. PEX piping has become popular and is freeze-resistant, but not freeze proof.  A study was done at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that involved the freezing and thawing of PEX pipes.  Two brands were frozen and thawed over 500 times without damage.  It should be noted that some of the fittings in their test did fail though (metal fittings).  Also, PEX-AL-PEX, which is piping that has an internal layer of aluminum bonded to 2 layers of PEX, did not fare any better than copper. Other supply materials, such as CPVC, will crack, and Polybutylene, which is freeze resistant, may survive but often the fittings will fail depending on the type used. Where should you look for vulnerable pipes?  Any supply piping that runs through an unconditioned space, such as an attic, a vented crawlspace, or a garage, is at risk.  Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation and exterior hose bibbs... read more
Tip #5 to Prevent and Remove Ice Damming | Fairfield Home Inspection

Tip #5 to Prevent and Remove Ice Damming | Fairfield Home Inspection

Welcome to Tip #5 in our Fairfield Home Inspection Blog series how to prevent and removing ice dams from your home. In Tip #4 we discussed ventilation and insulation (see Part #4 of our Fairfield Home Inspection Blog series), now we will discuss preventative measures you can take such as installing heat cables or using roof rakes.   So let’s get started on Tip #5 in our Fairfield Home Inspection Blog series! There are also some preventative measures one can take such as roof raking and heat cables.  Only hire a licensed electrician if you are considering  heat cables.  With roof rakes and shoveling, you have to be very careful to not actually contact the shingles or you risk damaging the roof.   Having discussed some ways to prevent ice damming and preventative measures, what if you are unlucky enough to experience ice damming?  Keep in mind this is now reactionary in nature, and you should be pro-active by taking into account elements discussed earlier before winter comes.   Also, none of the items described below are recommended or intended for instruction, however I wanted to share some of my personal experience over the years with preventing ice dams throughout Fairfield County, CT.  I always recommend hiring a qualified professional to remove the ice dam as ladders and ice don’t always mix well together.   I was part of an ice dam clean up effort in Wilton, CT a few years ago and can tell you there are no real easy ways out.  The key thing you want to try and do is relieve the water that is damming up... read more
Tip #4 to Prevent and Remove Ice Damming | Fairfield Home Inspection

Tip #4 to Prevent and Remove Ice Damming | Fairfield Home Inspection

Welcome to Tip #4 in our Fairfield Home Inspection Blog series how to preventing and removing ice dams from your home. In Tip #3 we discussed maintaining the correct temperature in the attic via proper ventilation to help prevent ice dams (see Part #3 of our Fairfield Home Inspection Blog series) While there are many ventilation and insulation actions you can take to help protect your home from ice damming, I want to talk specifically talk about another piece of the puzzle, Ice & Water Shield, and offer some insight on the installation this product.  Certainteed, GAF, Owens Corning, and Grace all offer of a variety of Ice & Water shield products, but they do have some things in common, one of which is that they are sold in 36″ wide rolls.  This is important to note as 3 of the 4 (Certainteed, Owens Corning and GAF) require the membrane to be installed up the roof to a point at least 24” past the interior warm inside wall.  Grace installation instructions state to “Extend the membrane on the roof deck above the highest expected level of water back-up from ice dams…” This information is important to take into account when looking at the length of the eave at ones house.  Common to homes in the northeast and the homes we inspect in Fairfield County, eaves can run up to 2 feet in length, and in some mid century contemporary designs be even larger.  That means correct installation would require a 2nd course, lapped over the original, as laying a 36″ wide ice and water shield on a 24″ eave would only offer 12″ of protection past the... read more
Tip #3: Prevent and Remove Ice Damming | Fairfield Home Inspection

Tip #3: Prevent and Remove Ice Damming | Fairfield Home Inspection

Welcome to Tip #3 in our Fairfield Home Inspection Blog series how to preventing and removing ice dams from your home. In Tip #2 we discussed identifying and solving heat loss issues for your Fairfield County home. The next critical element (Part 3 of our Fairfield Home Inspection Blog series) to helping prevent ice dams and maintaining the correct temperature in the attic is ventilation. It is important the temperature of the attic maintain temperatures that are close to the exterior throughout the year.  You don’t want it warm in the winter and certainly don’t want it too hot in the summer.  An attic space should have 1 square foot of ventilation for every 300 square feet of attic space, assuming vent space is split between soffit and ridge. Manufacturers of soffit vents and ridge vents typically specify the net free vent area of their products on the packaging or on installation instructions available online.   The concept behind current construction methods is to allow for air to flow from the eave out through the ridge of the roof through the use of soffit vents and and a ridge vent.  The air flows in through the soffit, up the rafter bays, and out the ridge vent.  It is important to look at where your attic insulation lays, and that it is not resting on top of the soffit, blocking your ventilation.  A key element in preventing that is something called a baffle- very common for the homes in Fairfield County that we inspect. Baffles create a channel for air to flow between the insulation and roof sheathing, and prevent... read more
Tip #2 to Prevent and Remove Ice Damming | Fairfield County Home Inspection

Tip #2 to Prevent and Remove Ice Damming | Fairfield County Home Inspection

In part #1 of our Fairfied County Home Inspection blog series, We discussed insulation as a step to help prevent ice damming at your Fairfield County home, lets talk about heat loss from the living space into the attic.  There can be a tremendous amount of warm, moist air that can enter the attic through a variety of small openings, especially in the cold CT winter months.   Think about the ceiling between the living space and the attic space, and how many openings there may be that you can, or even cannot, see. The small gaps around recessed lights, gaps around ceiling mounted duct registers, bathroom exhaust fans, plumbing vent pipes, and many other areas can be sealed to help restrict warm air from entering the attic. One of the biggest culprits are attic access hatches or pull down stairs.  Those key access points should be also insulated and weather stripped for increased efficiency and to prevent heat loss.  For pull down stairs, you could construct a rigid foam board box that can sit over the ladder, or buy a pre-made attic stair insulation cover.  Our home in Fairfield, CT has an attic hatch in the hallway in our house, and I cut multiple sections of rigid foam board which was stacked atop the hatch.  I secured it with adhesive, then finished with a weatherstripping around the opening.   A home energy/insulation specialist right in the Fairfield area will be able to evaluate and offer the best possible solutions for increasing insulation and better sealing your attic space from the living area below, thus helping one of the areas to prevent ice damming.  They would also be qualified to run a blower... read more
Tip #1: Prevent and Remove Ice Damming | Home Inspection Fairfield CT

Tip #1: Prevent and Remove Ice Damming | Home Inspection Fairfield CT

Here is Part 1 of our multi-part home inspection blog series: The first area to combat ice damming we will discuss is insulation in your home.  Insulation is rated according to an R-value.  R-value is the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow. So the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.   The idea is to keep all of the warm interior air in your home inside the conditioned space, where it belongs.  Each form of insulation will have a different R-value based on a per-inch measurement.   For this discussion we will specifically address the R-value in the ceiling space between the attic and conditioned area of the home.  Connecticut is located in Zone 5 according to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).  The minimum R-value for insulation at the ceiling in the attic space according to the 2015 IECC is R-49. (http://codes.iccsafe.org/app/book/content/2015-I-Codes/2015%20IECC%20HTML/Chapter%204%20[RE].html).  It is also important to note that many municipalities may vary in what they require, and the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) may indicate that R-38 is considered acceptable (cathedral ceilings can vary between R-30 and R-38 minimum).  While it is always best to check with your local building official, it certainly will not hurt, and would be recommended, to bring your insulation above and beyond what they may determine as acceptable.  Best practices should prevail over the minimum requirement.   Depending on your current insulation material and R-value based on the year your home was built, a contractor specializing in insulation can offer some solutions to raise your R-value, as well as discuss the variety of insulation materials that are available to you. ... read more
Tips to Prevent and Remove Ice Damming | Home Inspector Fairfield CT

Tips to Prevent and Remove Ice Damming | Home Inspector Fairfield CT

Temperatures and precipitation can fluctuate throughout Fairfield County, CT, and as Mark Twain once said…“If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”  One thing is certain, we will get snow.  How much, who knows?  If you lived in Connecticut in the winters over the past 4 to 5 years, you probably experienced or know first hand someone who had ice damming occur at their house.   So, what is ice damming?  Simply put, the first ingredient is accumulation of snow on a roof. The second step is when situations occur at the interior of the home to contribute to warm attic temperatures that can cause the snow sitting on the roof above to melt.  This is typically going to also involve temperatures fluctuating at and above/below 32 degrees over a sustained period of time at both the interior and exterior.  Meanwhile, the snow that is sitting on the roof at the eave, will stay frozen.  The melting water will run down the roof and hit the snow barrier, causing water to refreeze and collect.  This water will then ultimately work it’s way back up the roof and penetrate into the home.  Icicles will form at the exterior, and water can damage interior walls, ceilings, insulation, and cause serious moisture damage.  It can create a massive mess and be equally as messy to repair.  Repairs should not be done until the area is dry and the issues of heat loss are addressed.   There are a few things you can do to help prevent ice damming which I will outline in the coming weeks. Please view my other... read more