Crawlspaces: A Defect-Rich Environment!- San Diego Home Inspector- Part 2
... (continued from Crawlspaces: A Defect-Rich Environment!- San Diego Home Inspector- Part 1)
Sub-floor framing issues: Many San Diego homes have structural damage due to cut or over-notched floor joists that occurred during plumbing installations or other repairs. Cut, cracked or missing joists and support beams are often discovered during home inspections. This can compromise the structural integrity of the floor causing sagging or even collapse. Another common issue is inadequate clearance of the sub-floor framing from the soil. Support beams should have 12" clearance and floor joists should have 18"- if not, they are prone to moisture damage. Termite damage at the sub-floor is also very common.
Plumbing issues: The drains and water supply piping in the crawlspace should be closely examined. One advantage a raised foundation has over a slab foundation is that the plumbing is accessible. In San Diego, most homes with a raised foundation were built prior to 1970 and have cast iron drain piping. Since cast iron drains last only about 50 years, any still in existence are due to be replaced. I've seen a lot of deteriorated cast iron drains spilling sewage onto the ground under homes. Even one newer home I inspected had a sewage pump in the crawlspace that had malfunctioned resulting in a "lake" of raw sewage under the home!
The water supply piping should also be closely examined. Many homes are still being serviced by older galvanized steel water piping that is beyond it's serviceable life. Galvanized steel piping is problematic. It deteriorates with age causing restricted water flow and "rust-colored" water. Another issue I see quite often is improper strapping or hangers used for copper water piping. Only insulated, copper, or brass hangers should be used with copper piping. If steel hangers are used, the dissimilar metals will corrode and leakage can occur.
Electrical issues: Uncovered electrical junction boxes, open-spliced wiring, and electrical wiring laying on the ground presents a fire and shock hazard. Older, ungrounded knob & tube wiring can often be seen in the crawlspace area as well. In a damp area like a crawlspace, it's smart to have wiring issues repaired as soon as possible.
To summarize, the crawlspace is a defect-rich environment. It is one of the most important components of a home inspection. Carbon monoxide hazards, foundation and structural framing issues, moisture intrusion, fire and shock hazards, plumbing leaks causing damage to the structure, and other defects too numerous to list here are commonly found during a crawlspace inspection. Steve Stenros, a San Diego home inspector, is the owner of First Choice Inspections and is a CREIA MCI inspector. Clients receive a FREE lifetime appliance RecallChek with every standard home inspection. Appointments can be obtained by calling 888-335-3040.
Steve Stenros, MCI
Master CREIA Inspector #0115
ICC Residential Combination Inspector #5251439
Certified Infrared Thermographer #7791
FHA/HUD Inspector- #V975
203k Consultant #S0611
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