asbestos home inspection - Vermiculite under glass fibre attic insulation (grey granular material). Not all vermiculite contains asbestos. If found, all vermiculite should be laboratory tested for asbestos.

Asbestos Home Inspection

Homes built before 1990 are more likely to contain asbestos products.  The only method to confirm the presence of asbestos is by means of a laboratory analysis.  This is beyond the scope of a visual home inspection. Asbestos is only a health hazard if it becomes friable (airborne) and this will only become problematic if you intend to complete renovation or alteration of the house where potential asbestos containing material may be disturbed.  If asbestos is confirmed as being present, then this may have a financial implication due to the high cost of removal of the contaminated products by licensed contractors.

Where is asbestos found?

The common areas where asbestos products may be found are: drywall, loose fill attic insulation such as vermiculite, asbestos cement products, acoustic tiles, flooring materials such as vinyl tiles and linoleum.

asbestos home inspection - Vermiculite under glass fibre attic insulation (grey granular material). Not all vermiculite contains asbestos. If found, all vermiculite should be laboratory tested for asbestos.Vermiculite under glass fibre attic insulation (grey granular material).  Not all vermiculite contains asbestos. If found, all vermiculite should be laboratory tested for asbestos.


asbestos home inspection - White “bandage” type duct tape may contain asbestos (laboratory test required to confirm)White “bandage” type duct tape may contain asbestos (laboratory test required to confirm).



Work safe BC produce a guide showing the possible locations and appropriate advice for dealing with asbestos.  Here is a link to their website where this information can be obtained:


Moss and Tree Debris on Roofs


The definition of a roof, according to Wikipedia is: “Part of a building envelope. It is the covering on the uppermost part of a building or shelter which provides protection from animals and weather, notably rain or snow, but also heat, wind and sunlight. The word also denotes the framing or structure which supports that covering.”

In providing protection from the weather, one of the principal functions of a roof is to shed water efficiently.  This efficiency can be substantially reduced by the presence of moss and tree debris on the roof surface, in the gutters and valleys (the area between differing roof profiles).  

Moss is a plant that rests on the roof surface and can retain water.  This can lead to premature deterioration of the roof surface.

Removal of moss growth is dependent on a number of factors such as the amount present, how long it has been there, and the roof type.  It is recommended to check your roof frequently, especially after storms and heavy weather and more frequently if you have trees near to your house.

Tree debris consists of leaves, fir and pine tree needles and branches that can usually be removed by hand.

Removing moss and debris from the roof, valleys, skylight flashings and gutters should be considered a routine maintenance task.

Pressure washers should be used cautiously as if the pressure is set too high, the cleaning process can damage the roof. With this in mind, and considering roofs with heavy moss growth, I would recommend consulting a house exterior cleaning (detailing) contractor to assess the best method of removal.

Tree branches that physically come into contact with any roof can quickly deteriorate the roof surface.  When blown in the wind, the branches in contact with the roof act as an abrasive. Trees also can shade the roof and prevent it from drying.   Additionally, tree branches provide an access roof for wildlife, such as rodents (rats & squirrels) that may find access into your nice dry and warm attic.  It is recommended that tree branches be trimmed back so that they don’t come into contact with the roof – please consult a certified arborist contractor before any work is undertaken.

If you have any questions or need advice about debris on roofs, please do not hesitate to contact House Sound Home Inspection!


Infrared cameras and Home Inspections

Infrared cameras and Home Inspections

Using Infrared Thermal Imaging for Home Inspections

Anyone can buy and use an infrared camera. Many Licensed Home Inspectors are using infrared cameras as part of a home inspection.  The term for using infrared cameras and correctly interpreting the results is known as “Infrared Thermography”.

Read more

Checking Your Attic For Mould

Remember to check your attic!!

Checking your attic should form part of a routine house maintenance program.

The attic is a great way of checking for roof leaks and doing this on a regular basis means that any leak will be detected before it can do major, and costly, damage to your roof structure. Especially check around chimney and skylight penetrations as these have a higher chance of providing locations for water ingress.

Attics in the Pacific North West can also be prone to organic growth (mould, mildew etc), usually on the roof sheathing with the North facing side being particularly vulnerable. Mould/mildew spores surround us and are part of life. Look at what can happen to a stale piece of bread or fruit.

In order for spores to germinate, three things are required. The first is a food source (in an attic this is usually wood sheathing), the second is the correct temperature and finally – moisture. Remove any one of these three requirements and the mould growth ceases. The only thing that we can control with any certainty is moisture and this is contained in the air.

So the best way that we can prevent and control mould growth in attics is to reduce moisture levels.

So why do we need to check our attics a part of a preventative maintenance program?

In some houses, both the bathroom and dryer vents run through the attic and vent via the roof. If these become loose or detached from the roof, then the warm moist air contained in the exhaust discharges into the attic and provides two key ingredients for mould growth to thrive – moisture and heat. So please check the exhaust vent connections for air leakage and make sure the connection at the roof is in good condition. The photograph below shows a recent air leak from the insulated exhaust duct – note the dark staining on the roof truss and plywood sheathing around the exhaust duct. This has been caught in the early stages before costly repairs were required.


Moldy leaking roof caused by the bathroom fan

If your dryer or bathroom exhaust vents are configured to discharge in the soffit area (the underside of a roof overhang), moisture-laden warm exhaust can be blown back into the attic via the vented soffit. This is dependent on the wind direction in relation to the vent termination point. Should you find black staining in the attic close to the vent termination location, the easy solution is to blank off the soffit vents 3’ either side on the exterior surface.

Another strategy to deal with mould growth is to increase ventilation in the attic. Good air flow can vent moisture-laden air from the attic before condensation can occur.

In older houses, there can be several layers of attic insulation. What can happen is that insulation can be forced up against the roof sheathing and this can severely restrict or block air flow from the soffit vents. If you have this condition in your attic, a quick and cost-effective solution is to install air ducts/baffles. The photograph on the left shows them fitted. These are specifically designed molded lightweight plastic sections that simply push fit between the insulation and roof sheathing and restore and maintain air flow from the soffit. With most new construction that have attics, air ducts/baffles are usually fitted.Inspection of insulation in the attic.

Finally, when you leave the attic, check the access hatch. It should be insulated and weather stripped. You would be surprised how much moisture-laden air can enter an attic via the hatch.

How To Unclog Your Gutters

Routine Maintenance – Clogged Gutters

A man cleaning clogged gutters.

A building scientist once told me that 90% of wet basements and crawlspaces are caused by poor control of surface water runoff. The primary purpose of your roof is to shed water and it does this via the gutters (eaves troughs) and downspouts. As we leave fall and enter the winter season, now is a good time to check the condition of your roof and gutters to ensure that they can efficiently remove surface water. Leaves and tree debris can block water flow in the gutters and if permitted to remain on the roof, prevent it shedding water efficiently. Moss and tree debris also retains water and this can lead to premature deterioration of your roof. Removal of moss and leaf debris is best achieved by hand with a stiff brush or by hiring a specialist cleaning contractor. Care is required if using a pressure washer because if the pressure is set too high, it can remove asphalt shingles or the surface granules. The surface granules are there to protect the asphalt from UV light. Their loss will lead to rapid shingle deterioration. With wood shingles and shakes, high-pressure washing can seriously damage them.

Whilst there, the following is a suggested maintenance routine:

  1. Check gutters and roof surfaces and remove any tree debris from the roof and
  2. Check the gutter connections and transitions with the downspout. Downspout
    drains frequently get blocked with tree debris. Even if your gutters are fitted with
    leaf guards, these too can get clogged with leaf debris.
  3. Check the condition of the fasteners that secure the gutter to the fascia board.
    Loose or deteriorated fasteners will not hold the gutter in position should there be
    heavy snowfall and melt during the winter.
  4. If you have skylights, check the condition of the curb/flashing and look for moss
    growth and leaf debris close to the skylight.
  5. Downspouts either discharge into a perimeter drainage tile or above grade. If
    yours discharge above grade, then the distance from the foundation should be a
    minimum of 4’.
  6. Remember – only get on a roof if it is safe. Always follow Worksafe BC advice regarding working at heights. Here a link to their website for advice: Removal of leaf debris and moss from your roof and gutters is required routine maintenance task that will save you both time and money in the long term. When those heavy winter storms hit, you will know that your roof and gutters are in the best condition to perform their intended function – the efficient removal of surface water away from your home.

Monitor cracks in concrete

We’ve been getting some beautiful days recently, so take a few moments to walk around your home – carry out a visual inspection of the foundation, paths, steps and concrete sidewalks to ensure that no wintertime damage has occurred. While small cracks are nothing to worry about, if new ones appear and they seem to be getting wider, you may need some expert advice. Rapid deterioration can be prevented by sealing cracks. Avoid them turning into a big problem and increasing your maintenance costs.

Sidewalk with cracks

Mould/mildew prevention in your attic space

Mould or mildew spores are everywhere but only develop if three conditions are met. They are:
1) A food source, usually the wood components;
2) The right temperature (40-140 degrees F);
3) Moisture.

The easiest thing to control is moisture. The main source in the attic comes from moisture-laden air from the living space. It enters from uninsulated ceiling light fittings, any gaps in the vapour barrier or un-weather sealed attic hatches. Any moisture that does enter should be removed by adequate air flow in the attic space, hence the importance of the ventilation provision.

attic mould

Improve your attic insulation

If you are thinking of improving your attic insulation by using a “blown in” insulation product, remember to install baffles between each rafter or truss to maintain outside airflow from the soffits.

If installing insulating batts or blankets, keep these away from the soffit areas to maintain airflow.

Outside air flow in the attic is essential to remove warm moist air from the living area that may have entered the attic space.




Flexible plastic ducting

This material is frequently used to connect the dryer with the exterior so that warm moist air can be exhausted to the outside. It’s cheap and easy to use but I’m not a great fan of this material because the ridges can trap lint and severely restrict air flow. The photograph below shows excess plastic ducting used to connect the dryer with the exterior. It is located in a large crawlspace and the area is likely to be cold. Here’s what can happen:
• Due to the long run and changes in direction, the movement of exhaust air will be restricted. It is likely that before the air reaches the exterior, it will cool;
• The high moisture content in the air will condense and collect at the lowest point;
• The weight of the water will also pull the ducting down, making the situation worse;
• Eventually, the condensed water will totally block air flow;
• Being uninsulated in a cold or unheated crawlspace, the water could also freeze during the winter;
• The build-up of lint may also be a fire risk.
I recommended to my clients that they replace this with an insulated metal duct and have a horizontal run from the duct entrance above the white pipe to the exterior wall on the right, as shown by the arrow. This is a simple and inexpensive solution that will prevent major problems.
ducting Jan 21, 2015


Advice about vermiculite

What is it? Vermiculite is a granular material used as a loose fill insulation in homes. It was most prevalent in homes built during the 1950s and 1960s and is usually found in the attic. It was marketed under the brand name of Zonalite.

What are the concerns? It was found that some vermiculite, specifically from Libby Montana and a mine in Virginia, was heavily contaminated with asbestos. Asbestos that becomes airborne is a health hazard. However, not all vermiculite contains asbestos.

What should I do? Removal of vermiculite is recommended. If you are about to list your home, the presence of vermiculite may, and probably will, deter buyers. If it’s found in a home you intend to buy, have it removed before the deal is finalized simply because it may still be a potential health hazard and will pose a difficulty on re-sale. Typical remediation is under $20,000.

What should a Home Inspector do? A Home inspector is required to notify you of the presence of vermiculite and of the potential health risks. Best practice is to recommend further evaluation by a specialist to verify the presence of asbestos or not. Home inspectors are not usually certified to conduct asbestos testing of vermiculite as this requires specialist knowledge, training, and equipment.

Home Maintenance Tips August 2014

With the end of Summer approaching, it’s always a sensible idea to check your property for any maintenance issues. Here’s a helpful link:

If buying a condo/apartment or other home managed by a strata, we recommend that you examine management records to assess what repairs and maintenance issues you are responsible for.

Home Maintenance Tips July 2014

Installing an above-ground pool? Check this info:

Safety in the home: make sure you have fire extinguishers on every floor of your home – the one located near your kitchen should be suitable for grease fires. Also plan fire escape routes from your home, especially from the upper stories.

Home maintenance tip: check the condensation pan for leaks in air conditioning/heat pump installations.

Home maintenance tip: change your forced air systems air filter every 3 months. This will maintain interior air quality and reduce wear on the blower fan

Home Maintenance Tip June 2014

SLIDING DOORS AND WINDOWS: ensure their tracks are cleaned every three months and also, to reduce the risk of water damage to your home, check that the drain holes are open.

FOR THE SPRING: remove leaf debris from gutters and the screen at the top of downspouts. If you don’t have screens, it is recommended that these are fitted as they are a cheap, cost-effective way to prevent problems arising. The ability for water to drain from your home is the key to preventative maintenance.

Home Maintenance Tips June 2014

Summer maintenance: have your heating system serviced during the summer months on an annual basis.

Summer maintenance: complete exterior house painting during the fine summer weather in time for the onset of winter.

Summer maintenance: check caulk condition at window trim and frames to ensure that wind driven rain cannot penetrate. Repair in time for autumn and winter.

Importance of Annual Furnace Servicing

With winter upon us, isn’t it great to return to your warm cozy home? Please remember that with the long hot summer, it may be some time since your furnace last ran, and now it’s likely to be running frequently. Here are a couple of tips that you may have done already, but let’s consider them reminders:

1. It’s important to have your furnace serviced on an annual basis. This is to ensure that it runs efficiently and safely and now is the ideal time to do it.
2. If your forced air heating system is fitted with a conventional air filter, clean or change it on a monthly basis. Conventional air filters sit in the return air plenum, just upstream of the blower. Clean filters improve the comfort of the home and help reduce heating costs.

Home Maintenance Tips December 2013

Do you have an unfinished basement or crawlspace with uninsulated water pipes running through these spaces? Check them and ensure they are insulated. If not, try some of the foam wrap available in most home improvement stores. The foam simply clips around the pipe and protects the water in the pipe from freezing, leaving you to spend time in the great outdoors rather than waiting for a plumber and insurance assessor. Minimum cost for maximum risk prevention!

HOME SAFETY TIP: make sure there’s at least one fire extinguisher on every floor of your home, and remember that the one near the kitchen must be suitable for grease fires.

Also, plan escape routes from the upper stories of your home. Having a rope ladder may be a necessity.

Home Maintenance Tips November 2013

Do you have an unfinished basement or crawlspace with uninsulated water pipes running through these spaces? Check them and ensure they are insulated. If not, try some of the foam wrap available in most home improvement stores. The foam simply clips around the pipe and protects the water in the pipe from freezing, leaving you to spend time in the great outdoors rather than waiting for a plumber and insurance assessor. Minimum cost for maximum risk prevention!

HOME MAINTENANCE – TIP HEATING AND AIR-CONDITIONING SYSTEMS: House Sound Home Inspections recommends that you set up a service contract to ensure that your heating and air-conditioning systems are properly maintained to make sure they are inspected and serviced to protect your investment in them.

Home Maintenance Tip

HOME MAINTENANCE TIP: test ground fault circuit interrupters monthly to make sure they work if there is an electrical problem.

Home Maintenance Tips

MONTHLY: to reduce energy costs and reduce the risk of fires caused by grease, clean range hood filters.