Expert home advice blogs

Look after that investment

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.