The main reason is the soil conditions in The Houston Texas areas. The soil in Houston is very expansive. So when it rains or gets wet the soil expands and can cause the soil to heave putting enormous pressure on foundations. if you live in Houston you know that the summer is very dry and hot. During the dry summer conditions these clay expansive soils will shrink and can cause large voids which can lead to foundation settlement. Fluctuations of the soil is your foundations enemy. So dry and wet conditions will cause the fluctuation that can cause damage to your foundation. If home owners in Houston know that controlling the moisture level of the soil could avoid foundation issues than there would be far less foundation problems in the Houston areas. a watering program can be very valuable in our area. Watering the foundation during the the dry summer months and not watering during the wet month. There is a certain watering program you should follow and look for the advice of a Licensed P.E.
Let’s start out with one of the most important parts of your home that rarely gets noticed by home owners until there are problems. This is a reason it is so important to have a home inspection or annual inspections done to ketch conditions that can contribute to foundation failures. There are many conditions that can contribute to foundation issues from poor drainage to expanding and contracting soil that is present in the Houston area to poor building practices. On slab foundations corner pops or cracks at the corner of the foundation are common and are present at many older and newer homes if sealed and maintained these are not a Hugh concern. Many times there are hairline cracks visible at the exterior of the foundation, without any serious signs of deflection. These hairline cracks will need to be monitored over time. Then there are the more serious separating cracks where there are signs of deflection of the foundation. If serious deflection is observed at a home inspection I will recommend further evaluation by a structural engineer. This will give the client a better idea of how extensive and serious the problem may or may not be. A common problem with post tension foundations is that the tension cables become exposed and if left unchecked this can become more serious. When the post tension cables are exposed to the elements they rust and can break under the tremendous tension. This can cause serious damaged to your foundation. I recommend having these repaired if observed at a home inspection. They will need to be cleaned, and have an anti oxidant grease applied and also covered with a non shrink grout. Pier and beam foundation sit above the grade. Some of the issues with these can be poor construction, settlement over the years, damaged and moisture damage beams twisting beams, beams not resting properly on piers, and termite damage, Piers installed improperly or not in enough area to support the structure properly, damaged piers, and leaning piers, and many more defects can be present. All of these issues can be serious . I would recommend consulting with a structural engineer for a watering program for your foundation this can keep your foundation going strong for years.
How important is grading and drainage around a home?
Now for the grading and drainage defects that come up during some home inspections in Houston. Poor drainage can cause many problems in a home starting with the foundation. If there is not a positive slope away from your foundation this can cause damage to your foundation, you could end up with water inside your home causing mildew, mold, and moisture damage. Gutters and downspouts play a big role in moving water away from your roof, foundation. Clogged improperly installed gutters are observed at many home inspections I have performed and can cause serious damage. Missing or damaged downspouts, and missing splash blocks or extenders can also contribute to issues. Extensive vegetation at the exterior veneers of the home can cause moisture issues. High soil around the foundation can be conducive to termite activity you will never see the termite tube in high soil areas. These are some common issues observed during a home inspection and will need some attention. Some of these issues are easy fixed just require a little maintenance. Poor drainage can be more complicated and more expensive may require drains, or moving soil.
Costly replacement roofing materials.
The roofing materials protect your home for the elements and are very important. If you have major issues due to material failure or improper installation this can destroy your home by allow moisture into the home. The roof covering materials need regular maintenance. Debris will need to be removed from the roof surface which is a minor problem if maintained, but can cause materials to deteriorate sooner than life expectancy so it's important to remove from the roof. I would have my roof inspected after any bad storms or around 10 years, because roof jacks can fail allowing moisture to enter. During the home inspection if it is safe to walk i will walk the roof area to get a much better view. Some common defects are improper installation, improper flashing or missing flashing, lifting flashing that will allow wind driven rains to entry the structure, missing shingles, damaged shingles, missing H clips, mastic repairs around fireplace, roof jack flashing, and shingles. Mastic repairs are not a permanent solution and will need monitored. It is allows a better practice to replace flashing and shingles for a more permanent repair. Most defects are serious at the roof, because if not repaired it allows for moisture to enter into the structure and moisture can destroy areas of your home. So any defects noted in the home inspection report by your home inspector should be repaired.
What’s missing in my attic?
There can be many defects in the attic area some minor and some major. Some defects that might be found are missing insulation a low amount of insulation which may affect energy efficiency. Missing proper fasteners at the ceiling access door, or missing fire blocking material at the attic access doors. Rafters can be cut, cracked, split, or even missing in areas. Purling supports cut out around A/C systems or other areas. Collar ties cut, cracked, split, missing or not secured. There also may be moisture damaged discovered at rafters or other areas in attic. There may be open chases present in the attic. These are some of the defects that can be found in an attic area. It's important to always be careful when walking in an attic especially if there is not any decking present.
Down comes the walls.
The walls are very important to your home from the framing to the wall coverings. The walls protect your home from the elements. A failure in the wall system can cause problems. Some defects observed at a home inspection at the wall areas interior and exterior. At the exterior there may be areas where there are gaps in the walls that will need to be sealed to keep out moisture. Also areas around any penetrations are common areas that need sealed. Damaged cladding or missing at the exterior cracks in brick veneer or stone some of which may indicate signification foundation movement. Missing weep holes in brick or stone to allow moisture to escape from inside the walls. Vapor barrier missing or installed incorrectly most of the times not visible during a home inspection. Bowed walls, brick ties that have deteriorated leaving the brick veneer loose. I have observed a wall at a home inspection where the whole wall at the side of the home moved. Spalling bricks which is cause by water leaking into a structure in the Houston area. Water may find it's way into the structure through a crack, missing mortar, loose bricks, gaps around penetrations etc. Thermal expansion due to missing control joints or expansion joints required at long brick veneer walls, brick veneer will grow, missing expansion joint sealant. Extensive vegetation growing on walls at exterior. At the interior there may also be cracks in the drywall some of which may just be cosmetic and larger cracks which may indicate foundation movement. Loose drywall tape, stains that may indicate present or previous moisture entering the structure. If moisture is present inside the walls it creates an area where mold and mildew can grow. Remember moisture intrusion is your homes enemy. Moisture intrusions entering into your homes walls can have devastating effects on your home. Your walls may also be missing insulation leaving areas cold or hot. There are many defects that can be present at the walls of your home. This is why you need to have a home inspection of the property to have these defects discovered.
Stains on my ceilings
The ceiling and floor areas of a home can tell you a lot about a home. You just need to know what to look for and home inspectors through training and experience develop the skills to easy spot indications of issues at the ceiling and floor areas of that home you are under contract to buy. The ceiling and floors may indicate problems with the foundation. There may be cracks present in the ceiling and floors. Now some cracks are just a cosmetic issue while others may indicate foundation or structural issues which I will let you know if I believe any cracks are cosmetic or a more serious issue and will require to be further investigated by a professional that specializes in that particular area. There are other issues that may be visible or may not be visible due to new paint or floor covering. That's why I use Infrared thermal imaging to look at these areas for hidden moisture from plumbing leaks, roof leaks, Condensation dripping from ducts, A/C or water heater drain pans over flowing in the attic space est. If stains are present I will investigate the stain with infrared thermal imaging and test area with a moisture meter to determine if there is moisture present at the time of the inspection and this information will be included in your home inspection report . There also may be areas where insulation is missing. I will look in the attic area to view if there are areas present that are missing insulation although all areas are not visible in attic from a safe platform. This is why I also use The infrared camera to view the ceiling areas and this can also spot areas where insulation is missing. There also can be electrical issues present from exposed wires to excessive heat at light fixtures or receptacles and infrared will be utilized once again to expose any of potential issues. Know what kind of issues are present before you finalize the buying process certain defects can cost you thousands leaving you in a very bad financial position. Don't allow this to happen to you and your family and schedule your home inspection with a trusted home inspection company like Houston's Edge home inspections LLC .
What are the doors telling you?
A lot more than you think can be learned from your doors than you would think. Doors keep moisture out of your home if they are functioning properly. They also keep wind and the hot and cold weather out. They keep people out of your home and also pest. If your doors are not functioning properly they may not be able to provide any protection from moisture, hot and cold weather, intruders and pest. During the inspection of your doors. All doors are inspected if accessible. I open and close all the doors in the home. Defects observed at doors during a home inspection can include. Holes in doors, loose hinges, deteriorated door jambs or doors, Key locks at the inside of entry doors which can be a fire hazard, Doors that stick at jamb which can be an indication of foundation movement, doors not latching or locking, large gaps at doors, which can allow moisture, pest, and rodents into the home, missing weather striping, safety glass not present, cracked doors, missing hardware, Moisture damage, Moisture damaged door jambs, doors that are not fire rating at the attached garage area, missing caulking, missing paint and so much more. Doors are an important part of your home providing protection against the elements and protecting your family. lets make sure your doors are functioning properly. Once I have completed your home inspection you will know the defects that are present at the doors of the home your buying.
Window common defects
The home inspection of the stairway consist of. A visible inspection of the stairs. What defects may be present at the homes stairs. Does the hand rail return to the renewal post or wall, are there any loose steps, are rail opening to wide, Are riser height and tread width correct, damaged or deteriorated steps, railings, handrails, there may be loose steps, handrails etc.
Is my fireplace dangerous to operate?
The fireplace and chimney are visually inspected. Although much of the interior of the chimney are not visible during a home inspection other visible components are inspected such as. Mortar cap checking for cracks, missing equipment such as chimney cap, spark arrestor, damper clamp for fireplaces with gas logs, screens. Combustibles may be too close to fireplace openings, are the opening the right size, are the hearth extensions correct, does your chimney extend at least two feet above the highest roof area within ten feet measuring horizontally from the chimney, and must extend three feet above the highest point of any roof penetration. If buying a home with a fireplace I highly recommend having a chimney sweep. The reason is chimneys and fireplace maintenance is usually neglected by home owners and much of the interior is not visible during your home inspection. During the home inspection I will look down the chimney at the roof area looking for defects and Creosote build up and as much as I can looking up for the inside of the fireplace. If the home owner has been burning wood in the fireplace over the years and has not had any cleaning of the chimney performed than Creosote can build up inside your chimney. Creosote is highly flammable and it does not take much of a build up to create a potential fire hazard. If burning wood inside your fireplace you should have your chimney cleaned once a year to limit the risk of a chimney fire. There are many more things that need to be inspected this is just some of the areas and defects that can be discovered by your home inspector.
I’m all cracked up.
Porches, balconies, decks and driveways- Inspected for any defects such as cracks, moisture damage, lifting in areas, rail opening, secured railings etc.