Do Your Boundary Walls Look Like This?
This photo I took during a client’s comprehensive buyers inspection had rising damp, falling damp and penetrating damp. In addition, the white marks on the wall were caused by efflorescence.
Often the maintenance of the walls that are attached to or which do not form part of our houses is neglected. These are our boundary, garden and courtyard walls.
These walls are very important in that they protect our privacy and security and are our first line of defence against intruders. Unfortunately, we sometimes do not make enough effort to protect them!
The greatest enemy of these walls is damp which penetrates into the wall from below, above and from the sides of the walls.
Rising damp occurs as a result of capillary action at and below ground level into porous masonry building materials. These material are mainly concrete, bricks and mortar. The moisture rises up the wall in this way. It usually occurs where there is no damp proof course (DPC). Freestanding walls such as boundary and garden walls do not normally have DPC built into the walls because it would make the wall unstable. A layer of DPC would break the bond between the wall and its foundation.
Continue reading “Damp In Freestanding Walls”
MY WATER BILL WENT WAY UP! HOW DO I FIND A LEAK?
Your high water bill could be due to either a temporary increase in water usage or a leak. To find out if it’s a leak, first shut off all your water-using fixtures in the house.
Take the cover off your water meter box and flip open the protective cover plate on the meter dial. Normally, your metre box will be somewhere along the front property line, often near a corner. You may have to dig down a little in the dirt to find it.
The meter may be a newer one that has a small round or diamond-shaped low-flow indicator near the centre. The low flow indicator may be red or black like in the photo above. It should not be turning. But if it is, there’s a leak somewhere in your plumbing system. At a meter without a low-flow indicator, note the meter reading or take a picture with your cellphone. Check back in an hour or so and see if it has changed.
There are a number of places to check if the meter says you have water flow indicating a leak:
Not just the at the sinks. Also check the taps at the washing machine hookup, water heater, tub/shower, and the outside hose taps.
Leaking Toilet Cisterns (tanks)
A flapper valve that doesn’t seat properly at the bottom of the cistern will cause a leak. Check the ballcock arm and overflow tube as well, it may also be defective. Drop a dye tablet (available in most hardware stores specifically for toilet testing) in the tank. Do not flush, and wait for 15-minutes. If the colour shows up in the bowl, the toilet needs repair.
The small valve with a flip-up handle at the top or side of the geyser called a Temperature and Pressure Release valve. This important valve is designed to open if the water gets too hot, to keep the tank from exploding. These valves sometimes fail by opening slightly and letting loose a slow trickle of hot water. The water normally runs in a steel or copper pipe to a location at the exterior wall. Find the termination of the TPR valve and check for a drip. NEVER work on these valves yourself! Only a suitably trained and experienced plumber should! Continue reading “High Water Bills”
WHAT ARE THOSE POWDERY WHITE AREAS ON MY BRICK WALLS?
Efflorescence is one sign that is often dismissed as just being an eyesore and is given surface treatment only. This is the presence of the white powder that forms on the face or surface of concrete, plasterwork and brickwork.
It is a cause for concern!
Efflorescence is a build-up of minerals and salts on the surface of the concrete, brick and plasterwork due to repeated bouts of excess water in the material. The minerals and salts that naturally occur in the material are dissolved when the brickwork, plasterwork or concrete is waterlogged with water.
Concrete, pavers, brickwork and plasterwork are porous and can absorb or wick water and draw salts to it like a tree transports water from its roots to its leaves. This is capillary action. When efflorescence happens, it can indicate a moisture issue that could potentially damage the structure.
When water reaches a building material’s surface, evaporation will occur. Water absorption and wicking will continue after the water evaporates and the salt is left behind. This eventually creates a high salt concentration, leading to osmosis.
What is Osmosis
Simply put, osmosis in building materials is the movement of water from a region of low salt concentration to a region of high salt concentration in the material.
During osmosis, when water moves toward salts and minerals to reduce its concentration, it can cause large hydrostatic pressures within the porous building material. As a result, these pressures can damage or destroy the material.
Osmosis can cause pressure that ranges up to 200 bar, exceeding the structural strength of concrete. Therefore, osmosis may result in porous building material cracking, flaking or falling apart. Continue reading “Efflorescence”
Detecting Leaks Around Your Windows
Seals which are broken, pulling away, missing or which are damaged as a result of ageing or long-term weather exposure will cause windows and doors to leak. Furthermore, the sealant or window putty used to seal the glazing beads on wooden windows may crack and allow moisture into the gazed areas of your windows. In addition, when the glazing putty on your steel windows cracks or a section falls out moisture will corrode the steel window frame.
These are the most obvious areas where leakages occur!
However, the most undetected area for leaks at windows is the junction between the window frame and the brickwork, plasterwork and window sill. As a matter of fact, it is one of the most common defects that I have found on both new and older homes.
There are multiple ways to detect leaks around your windows and doors:
- On the outside of your home, check the areas where two different materials meet. This includes your door and window corners and frame.
- Look for cracks in the door itself and in window panes.
- Examine the existing caulking (sealing) and window weather stripping and weatherboards on doors. Make sure both are in good condition. In addition, leave no gaps or cracks.
- If you can see daylight around a window or door frame, there will be a leak.
- Shut a window and check for gaps in which you can insert the paint scraper. If you can easily insert the scraper under the closing part of the window, it is probably not watertight!
Continue reading “Sealing at Windows and Door Frames”
About Walk-Through Inspections
A walkthrough is not a general home inspection. It is a much more informal inspection than my usual property inspections. As a result, I perform a visual walkthrough of the home/building and provide you with comments summarizing my observations. Furthermore, my comments will be nothing more than a subjective summary of my initial observations during the walk-through.
A walkthrough is also very affordable. This type of inspection is mainly for a client who does not (at this point) want a full home inspection. Because a walkthrough is less formal, I do not adhere to the InterNACHI Standards of Practice. If you are present at the walkthrough I do not generate a written report. I communicate my observations orally to you.
However, you don’t have to be present during the walkthrough. If you are not, I will generate a checklist during the walkthrough by using specialised software for your information.
However, we will need to have a Walk-Though Inspection Agreement with each other. This is to protect me against liability as a result of deviating from the requirements of InterNACHI Standards of Practice.
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