My Home Inspector Blog: Crawlspaces: A Defect-Rich Environment!- San Diego Home Inspector- Part 1

Crawlspaces: A Defect-Rich Environment!- San Diego Home Inspector- Part 1

Crawlspaces: A Defect-Rich Environment!- San Diego Home Inspector- Part 1


The crawlspace area is where a home inspector really earns his money. If I'm inspecting a home with a raised foundation, 30 additional minutes can be spent in the crawlspace alone. Spiders, rats, snakes or other surprises may await you. Crawling on your belly under a home is not glamorous, but a thorough investigation of this area is vital. A crawlspace is one of the most defect-rich environments a home inspector will encounter. Due to it's dark, damp, unwelcoming environment, many of it's components are often neglected or overlooked for years. Let's look at several crawlspace components and the problems associated with them:

 

Gas-burning appliances: Floor furnaces and horizontal furnaces are often seen installed in a crawlspace area. They must have six inches of clearance from the soil to prevent moisture damage and deterioration of the unit. The flue assembly typically runs horizontally through the crawlspace to the point where it turns vertical to be vented above the roof line. The flue and draft hood often have holes corroded in them or have disconnected presenting a carbon monoxide hazard.

 

 

Combustion products can escape and rise through the floor of the home where they are breathed in by the occupants. Improper pitch is also commonly seen at the horizontal run of the flue- it should have 1/4" rise for every foot. There are also rules pertaining to the length of the horizontal run versus the vertical run.

 

 

 

 

Foundation issues: The best view of a home's foundation can be seen from the crawlspace. If horizontal cracking is present, this is often evidence of deterioration of the reinforcing steel within the foundation wall. Vertical or diagonal cracking can mean there has been structural movement or settling.

 

 

 

Spalling (when the surface of the foundation wall begins to chip or flake and fall off) and efflorescence (white powdery deposits) are often evidence of moisture penetration. Signs of settling can often be seen at the crawlspace piers and posts. Foundation problems are structural in nature and repairs can be costly.

 

 

 

Moisture issues: Excessive moisture conditions and even standing water are often encountered in a crawlspace. The soil in a crawlspace area should remain relatively dry, even during wet weather. Installation of a sump pump is only a band-aid and does not address the real issue which is exterior water penetration. If excessive crawlspace moisture exists, a grading and drainage contractor should be consulted to evaluate the perimeter drainage system.

 

 

We still need to talk about several other critical components, so I'll do Part 2 of Crawlspaces: A Defect-Rich Environment!- San Diego Home Inspector tomorrow. 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.





 


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Comment balloon 6 commentsSteve Stenros • May 25 2011 01:26PM

Comments

Steve - We were recently previewing a home near SDSU that had a crawl space.  I feel sorry for the inspector that has to go under this house.  They had drainage issues so they added a foot of soil under house and now it is nearly impossible to get under it.   

Posted by Steve Hall, Make the Call to Hankins and Hall (RE/MAX United) over 7 years ago

Wow, Steve, that's not good. If the floor joists are less than 18" from the soil they will become moisture damaged. That was the wrong fix for the problem.

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) over 7 years ago

Steve:

Inspectors most definitely earns their wages when inspecting a home that has a crawl space. I have seen furnace venting/air ducts  eaten away by the little critters that like to reside in such places, with heating problems that become part of the package replacement is tough.

Are there robotic systems available that can go under a home and save an inspector the time and be safer than venturing forth & crawling under a home?

Steve, have you done a post of solar paneling?

 

 

 

Posted by Lorraine or Loretta Kratz, Certified Negotiation Consultants (Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions.) over 7 years ago

I've joked in the past that I'm going to make a helmet-camera, put it on my dog, and train him to inspect the crawlspaces!

No, I haven't done a solar post, yet. It's a great idea. I think we all will see more and more solar in the coming years. I made a note of it.

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) over 7 years ago

Good Morning Steve, there is nothing more important for a home owner with a raised foundation than maintaining the craw space.  The problem is many home owners can not deal with the concept of 'confined space entry'. 

Maintaining the space pays its rewards.

Posted by Dan Edward Phillips, Realtor and Broker/Owner (Dan Edward Phillips) over 7 years ago

I concur, Dan. Some are worse than others.

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) over 7 years ago

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