Phone: (434) 851-5477
FAX: (434) 821-3450
P.O. Box 11524 
Lynchburg, VA 24506
Inspector: Charles McCauley, P.E.
VA Licensed Engineer no. 0402-029618
VA Certified Home Inspector no. 3380-000331
VA Licensed Class-C Contractor no. 2705-112837


Residential Property Inspection Report
Client(s): John Doe
Property address: Main St
Lynchburg, VA 24500
Inspection date: Wednesday, June 25, 2008
This report published on 7/3/2008 10:14:33 AM EDT

View summary page

The property inspected herein was an older and very elegant estate home on a beautiful wooded lot located in the Langhorne area of Lynchburg. The home was built over a full basement and partial crawlspaces. It appeared to be about 5,500-6,000 square feet in size.

As with all homes, systems or components age and may require updating at times. The repairs recommended in this report are common for a home of this age and type. All homes require regular maintenance, occasional repairs, and occasional system improvements. Considering the age of this home, its condition can be rated as above average in most areas.

Please note the limitations of a home inspection and the standards of practice that are followed. Both are listed near the end of the report.

This report is the exclusive property of Engineered Inspection Services LLC and the client(s) listed in the report title. Use of this report by any unauthorized persons is prohibited.

How to Read this Report
This report is organized by the property's functional areas.  Within each functional area, descriptive information is listed first and is shown in bold type.  Items of concern follow descriptive information. Concerns are shown and sorted according to these types:
SafetyDenotes a condition that is unsafe and in need of prompt attention. This condition poses a risk of injury or death if not corrected 
Major DefectDenotes a system or component which is considered significantly deficient or is unsafe. Significant deficiencies need to be corrected and, except for some safety items, are likely to involve significant expense 
Repair/ReplaceDenotes a system or component which is missing or which needs corrective action to assure proper and reliable function. Recommend repairing item or replacing 
Repair/MaintainDenotes a system or component which needs routine repair, cleaning or maintenance 
Minor DefectCorrection likely involves only a minor expense 
MaintainRecommend ongoing maintenance 
EvaluateRecommend further detailed evaluation by a specialist 
MonitorDenotes a system or component needing further monitoring in order to determine if repairs are necessary. Recommend monitoring in the future 
CommentThis describes general information for the homebuyer 

Structural Pest Inspection Concerns
Items of concern relating to the structural pest inspection are shown as follows:
WDO/WDI InfestationEvidence of infestation of wood destroying insects or organisms (Live or dead insect bodies, fungal growth, etc.) 
WDO/WDI DamageDamage caused by wood destroying insects or organisms (Rot, carpenter ant galleries, etc.) 
WDO/WDI Conducive
Conditions conducive for wood destroying insects or organisms (Wood-soil contact, shrubs in contact with siding, roof or plumbing leaks, etc.) 

Click here for a glossary of building construction terms.  Contact your inspector if there are terms that you do not understand, or visit the glossary of construction terms at

Table of Contents
General information
Exterior / Foundation
Roof / Attic
Plumbing / Fuel Systems
Water Heater
Fireplaces / Stoves / Chimneys
Bathrooms / Laundry / Sinks
Interior Rooms / Areas
Environmental and Safety Issues
Other Structures
General information Return to table of contents
Report number: 06-2008-25
Structures inspected: house and detached garage plus guest home
Type of building: Single family
Age of building: 80-85 years
Time started: 9:15 am
Time finished: 11:45 am
Inspection Fee: 550.00 including radon
Payment method: Invoiced
Present during inspection: Client(s), Realtor(s)
Occupied: No
Weather conditions: Clear
Temperature: Warm
Ground condition: Dry
Foundation type: Unfinished basement, Finished basement, Crawlspace
The following items are excluded from this inspection: Private sewage disposal system, Generator system
send to: Buyer, Selling Realtor

1) Safety, Comment - Structures built prior to 1979 may contain lead-based paint and/or asbestos in various building materials such as insulation, siding, and/or floor and ceiling tiles. Both lead and asbestos are known health hazards. Evaluating for the presence of lead and/or asbestos is not included in this inspection. The client(s) should consult with specialists as necessary, such as industrial hygienists, professional labs and/or abatement contractors for this type of evaluation. For information on lead, asbestos and other hazardous materials in homes, visit these websites:
  • The Environmental Protection Association (
  • The Consumer Products Safety Commission (
  • The Center for Disease Control (
    2) Safety - This property has one or more fuel burning appliances, and no carbon monoxide alarms are visible. This is a safety hazard. Recommend installing one or more carbon monoxide alarms as necessary and as per the manufacturer's instructions. For more information, visit
    Invoice Return to table of contents

    3) - Engineered Inspection Services
    P.O. Box 11524
    Lynchburg, VA 24506
    ph. 434-821-2333


    Invoice No. 06-2008- 25
    Inspection Date June 25, 2008

    SOLD TO:
    John Doe

    Main St.
    Lynchburg, VA 24500

    Description Amount

    Standard pre-purchase home inspection $ 430.00
    Radon test 120.00

    TOTAL due $ 550.00

    Thank you for your business !

    Payment of this invoice is due upon receipt. The late payment charge rate of interest is 1.5% monthly (18.0% per annum), after 30 days.

    Grounds Return to table of contents
    Limitations: The following items are not included in this inspection: swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, water features and related equipment; playground, recreation or leisure equipment; landscape lighting; areas below exterior structures with less than three feet of vertical clearance; irrigation systems; invisible fencing; sea walls, docks and boathouses. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not test or determine the adequacy of drainage systems for grounds, walkways, below-grade stairs and roof downspouts. The inspector does not provide an evaluation of geological conditions and/or site stability, compliance of pool or spa fencing with municipal requirements, or determination that deck, balcony and/or stair membranes are watertight.
    Site profile: Level
    Condition of driveway: Appeared serviceable
    Driveway material: Asphalt
    Condition of sidewalks and/or patios: Appeared serviceable
    Sidewalk material: Brick
    Condition of deck, patio and/or porch covers: Appeared serviceable
    4) Safety, Repair/Replace, Evaluate - One or more trip hazards were found in sidewalk and/or patio sections due to heaving and/or deterioration. The one shown is near the front right corner of the house.

    Photo 12  

    5) Safety, Repair/Replace, Evaluate - There was a broken cleanout visible in the rear yard (right rear corner area). The function of this item was unknown and needs further evaluation. It is a trip hazard as it is.

    Photo 15  

    6) Safety, Evaluate - The stone stairway on the right side of the house is somewhat dangerous due to loose stone of various size and bedding. Also, the steel railing on the adjacent retaining wall has insufficient rail spacing if children are present.

    Photo 87  

    7) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - Evidence of poor drainage was found in one or more sections of the area in front of the house in the form of damp soil and moiste areas in the basement. One or more drains were visible, but the drain(s) appeared to be clogged. Drains should be cleared now and in the future as necessary to prevent water from accumulating. Due to the age of the house, it is highly probable that the original tile underground drains no longer work. Additional soil to create a positive slope away from the foundation is recommended. Also recommend attachement of all downspouts to new drains.

    Photo 7  

    Photo 9  

    8) Repair/Maintain, Monitor - Minor cracks and/or deterioration were found in one or more of the brick retaining or brick walls surrounding the rear yard. Recommend repairing any loose bricks or cracks with mortar, elastomeric sealant, or other suitable material to prevent water intrusion and further deterioration. The client should monitor such walls in the future for continued deterioration (cracking, leaning, bowing, etc.). The serpentine brick wall may be affected by the mature vegetation in close proximity.

    Photo 13  

    Photo 17  

    Photo 19  

    Photo 71  

    9) Repair/Maintain, WDO/WDI Conducive conditions - Vegetation such as trees, shrubs and/or vines was in contact with or less than one foot from the building exterior. Vegetation can serve as a conduit for wood destroying insects and may retain moisture against the exterior after it rains. Vegetation should be pruned and/or removed as necessary to maintain a one foot clearance between it and the building exterior.

    Photo 5  

    Exterior / Foundation Return to table of contents
    Limitations: The following items are not included in this inspection: below-grade foundation walls and footings, or those obscured by vegetation or building components; exterior building surfaces or components obscured by vegetation, stored items or debris. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Some amount of cracking is normal in concrete slabs and foundation walls due to shrinkage and drying. Note that the inspector does not determination the adequacy of sump pumps, seismic reinforcement, nor determine if support posts, columns, beams, joists, studs, trusses, etc. are of adequate size, spanning or spacing.
    Condition of wall covering: Appeared serviceable
    Apparent wall structure: Wood frame
    Wall covering: Brick veneer
    Condition of foundation and footings: Appeared serviceable
    Foundation type: Unfinished basement, Finished basement, Crawlspace
    Foundation material: Poured in place concrete
    Footing material: Poured in place concrete
    Condition of floor substructure: Appeared serviceable
    Pier or support post material: Masonry
    Beam material: Built up wood
    Floor structure: Solid wood joists
    Condition of crawl space: Appeared serviceable
    Crawl space inspection method: Traversed
    Insulation material underneath floor above: None visible
    Ventilation: None visible
    Vapor barrier present: Yes
    Condition of the basement: Appeared serviceable
    10) Repair/Replace, Maintain, Evaluate - The main problem with porches on older homes is that their routine maintenance is often neglected until repair or replacement is unavoidable.

    The front entry porch of this house was of brick construction with an elegant wood frame and roof. There was some minor localized areas of wood rot as shown but these can be patched. The columns were in decent condition.

    The copper flashing did not appear to be well sealed on the right side of the short roof. The paint and caulk must be maintained especially where the wood adjoins the brick as replacement of these wood elements could be expensive.

    Large wood entry frames and columns are vulnerable to moisture attack if not properly maintained. The base block (plinth) and the decorative trim (torus) at the base of most columns are often rotted on old porches due to lack of caulking and paint. No soft or rotted areas were found.

    Photo 1  

    Photo 2  

    Photo 3  

    Photo 4  

    11) Repair/Replace, Evaluate, Monitor, WDO/WDI Conducive conditions - Evidence of prior water intrusion was found in one or more sections of the basement. For example, water stains at support post bases, efflorescence on the foundation etc. Accumulated water is a conducive condition for wood destroying insects and organisms and should not be present in the basement. The client should review any disclosure statements available and ask the property owner about past accumulation of water in the basement. The basement should be monitored in the future for accumulated water, especially after heavy and/or prolonged periods of rain. If water is found to accumulate, a qualified contractor who specializes in drainage issues should evaluate and repair as necessary. Typical repairs for preventing water from accumulating in basements include:

  • Repairing, installing or improving rain run-off systems (gutters, downspouts and extensions or drain lines)
  • Improving perimeter grading
  • Repairing, installing or improving underground footing and/or curtain drains

    Ideally, water should not enter basements, but if water must be controlled after it enters the basement, then typical repairs include installing a sump pump.
    12) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - The rear basement entry porch has an unventilated wood ceiling that has some wood rot due to condensation.

    Photo 14  

    13) Maintain, Evaluate - The eaves on the home including the soffits, fascia, and gable trim were of wood construction. The eaves were in generally good condition however; they are in need of updated paint and caulking. Some small age-related gaps were noted in some areas as shown.

    Photo 18  

    14) Maintain, Evaluate - The windows on the home were the original wood double-hung units with single pane glass. Aluminum storm windows had been added for energy efficiency. The windows were in generally good condition consistent with their age. A random number of the windows were tested for operation in each room. Most were relatively easy to open and the sash hardware appeared to be in good order.

    The exterior window sills were substantial in size and in need of paint. The wood window frames were in good shape for the age but paint and caulking must be maintained.

    Old House Info - Windows

    Most old homes have double-hung windows with moveable upper and lower sashes. The most typical double-hung design is the 6-over-6 divided pane style. As with every other part of an old house, moisture and neglect are the usual causes of damage to old windows. With proper care and maintenance a wood window can last 200 years or more.

    It is fortunate that most old windows are good candidates for rebuilding rather than replacement. Most old double-hung windows are quite large and a new replacement window would be very expensive. While new windows are energy efficient, adding a storm panel to an old window provides the same reduction in heat loss and a 40 percent reduction in air infiltration. Weather stripping, new glazing and caulking can further reduce losses on the old windows.

    Compared with new windows, old windows can be difficult to open, be painted shut, have broken sash cords, and are difficult to clean especially on upper levels of the house. However, the homeowner must weigh the convenience of new windows with the historical significance of the original units. Most of an older homes charm is highlighted in its windows.

    The window sill is the most vulnerable surface of the window. Neglecting routine caulking and painting allows water to soak into the wood and eventually cause rot. The outside face of the sash is the next most likely to show the effects of weather and time.

    This house also has the original wood shutters. These are somewhat of a nightmare to paint especially with many coats of old paint intact. Some of the shutters have some sag due to their heavy weight.

    Photo 8  

    Photo 11  

    Photo 16  

    Photo 20  

    15) - The construction of the home is very good quality. The materials and workmanship, where visible, are good. The visible joist spans appear to be within typical construction practices. The inspection did not discover evidence of substantial structural movement. No major defects were observed in the accessible structural components of the house. No repair to structural components is necessary at this time.

    The house was constructed over a full basement with poured concrete foundation walls. About 80% of the foundation was visible for inspection. The foundation walls were in very good condition with no damage or structural issues. There were no cracks in the visible portions of the foundation walls that would indicate shrinkage or settlement.

    The crawlspace was accessible. The earth floor was suitably covered with a plastic vapor barrier to prevent excess moisture.

    The floor structure was visible from the basement/crawlspace. All framing was in good condition and was performed according to generally accepted construction practice. There was no evidence of wood rot or active insects at the time of the inspection. The roof structure was visible from the attic. All framing was in good condition and was performed according to generally accepted construction practice. There was no evidence of wood rot or active insects at the time of the inspection.

    Photo 33  

    16) - The siding on the home consisted of brick masonry. All areas observed were in very good condition with no visible damage or deterioration of the brick or mortar joints. There were no signs of settlement or structural movement.
    Roof / Attic Return to table of contents
    Limitations: The following items or areas are not included in this inspection: areas that could not be traversed or viewed clearly due to lack of access; areas and components obscured by insulation; solar roofing components; any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not determination if rafters, trusses, joists, beams, etc. are of adequate size, spanning or spacing. The inspector does not provide an estimate of remaining roof surface life, does not determine that the roof has absolutely no leaks at the time of the inspection, and does not determine that the roof won't leak in the future. Only active leaks and evidence of past leaks observed during the inspection are reported on as part of this inspection. To absolutely determine than no leaks exist, complete access to all roof structure areas must be available during a wide variety of weather conditions, including prolonged heavy rain, high wind from varying directions, heavy accumulations of snow and/or ice, and melting snow and ice.
    Condition of roof structure: Appeared serviceable
    Roof type: Gable
    Age of roof surface(s): 80-85 years
    Source for building age: Property listing
    Roof inspection method: Viewed from ground with binoculars
    Condition of gutters, downspouts and extensions: Appeared serviceable
    Gutter and downspout material: copper
    Gutter and downspout installation: Full
    Condition of attic: Appeared serviceable
    Roof structure type: Rafters
    Ceiling structure: Ceiling beams
    Ceiling insulation material: Fiberglass loose fill
    Ceiling insulation depth: approx. 6-inches
    Ceiling insulation rating: 19
    Roof ventilation: Appears serviceable
    17) Repair/Replace, Evaluate, WDO/WDI Conducive conditions - Some, copper roof flashings or counter flashings were loose. Leaks may occur as a result. A qualified contractor should evaluate and repair as necessary. Some obvious leaks were noted in the attic and they appear to be related to the chimney flashing. A thorough inspection of the chimney flashings is recommend by a roofing contractor. This includes the flashing, counter-flashing and caulking or sealing at the chimney area.

    Photo 64  

    Photo 65  

    Photo 67  

    18) Maintain, Evaluate - The gutters and downspouts were copper and in generally very good condition. The attachement of the downspouts to old underground drains was previously addressed and needs attention. The gutters appear to penetrate the eaves typical of a built-in gutter. This can be a problem area if leaks occur and localized wood rot can occur. The gutters drain into large copper funnels called "scuppers" as shown. In general, there did not appear to be any significant problems with the gutters or eave penetrations. Some galvanic corrosion was noted on the downspout connectors. This is usually due to dissimilar metals (copper downspout and steel connector).

    Old House Info - Gutters

    Prior to the introduction of cheap pre-formed metal gutters used today, the gutters of older homes were typically concealed into the cornice details at the eave. Since any leak on this type of gutter would eventually find its way into the walls, it was critical that any built-in gutter be carefully constructed and well maintained. Most of these gutters were lined with expensive sheet copper or cheaper tin plate or galvanized iron. Besides the danger of corrosion, some styles of metal-lined gutters suffered from thermal stresses that could tear apart soldered seams. This often necessitated elaborate expansion joints and the gutters became very unpopular.

    Many old homes have elegant cornice details and the attachment of external gutters would have detracted from their appearance. Therefore roof drainage was internalized by concealing it within the cornice itself. The resulting built-in or box gutter was considered a hallmark of quality construction well into the 1930s. Because of the location of the gutter with the structural elements of the house, a leaking built-in gutter can cause serious damage over time. Relining a leaking built-in gutter may fix the leak but does nothing to repair the damage. In the worst cases, rafters, plates, studs, sheathing and joists can be affected. Also, the entire cornice may need rebuilding which is time consuming and expensive.

    Photo 6  

    Photo 10  

    19) Evaluate - Slate Roofing

    The slate roofing on this house was in good condition for its age. Some loose slates were noted by a roofing contractor but these can be repaired and are a small percentage of the total roof surface.

    Old House Info - Slate Roofs

    The majority of domestically produced slate roofing spanned the latter half of the nineteenth and the early decades of the twentieth centuries. The natural colors and patterns in domestic slate could be mixed and this was very popular with the Victorian style of home and often indicated a homeowner’s prosperity. Slate is still quarried in Virginia, New York, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. The color, characteristics, and price of slate depend largely on where it was quarried.

    Some slates (most notably from Pennsylvania) have more ribbons which are bands of rock that have different color and composition. The ribbons wear faster than the rest of the slate and are thus considered defects. Slates with ribbons can be used if the overlying shingle covers the ribbon or the slate is installed with the ribbon facing down.

    One of the reasons that slate roofing became so expensive is that the highest-quality and most easily quarried slate beds were quickly exhausted. Low-quality slates are more porous and tend to absorb water along their grain, which freezes and eventually splits apart the shingles. Some slates have more impurities which can serve to split the shingles over time.

    Slate installation demands care and precision. Nails must not be too tight or too loose or damage will occur. Nail choice is important. Galvanized nails will rust and break long before the slate has even begun to wear. Solid copper nails are the only choice for slate. As a rule of thumb, if more than 20 percent of the slates are damaged, the entire roof should be replaced.

    Note: A new lightweight shingle made from recycled rubber is available that looks amazingly like real slate. It costs about a third less than real slate and they weigh about 25% of what real slate weighs. This product is called “Authentic Roof 2000” available from Crowe Building Products. The shingles are very strong and have a 50-year warranty. They can be installed over solid or skip sheathing.

    Although replacement slate is not normally stocked at the local home improvement store, it is still readily available. However, the homeowner should keep in mind the high freight cost associated with slate.

    Photo 22  

    20) Evaluate - The attic or 3rd floor of the house was spacious and had partition walls installed with an insulated attic above. There was some loose fiberglass insulation in the upper attic cavity which is substandard by today's requirements. Recommend installation of an additional 6-inches or as recommended by an insulating contractor. With a house of this size, any energy conservation is important.

    Photo 66  

    21) Comment - Because of the roof covering type, the inspector was unable to traverse the roof and wasn't able to fully evaluate the entire roof.
    Electric Return to table of contents
    Limitations: The following items are not included in this inspection: generator systems, surge suppressors, inaccessible or concealed wiring; underground utilities and systems; low voltage lighting or lighting on timers or sensors. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not determine the adequacy of grounding or bonding, does not determine if this system has an adequate capacity for the client's specific needs, nor determine if this system has any reserve capacity for additions or expansion. The inspector does not operate circuit breakers as part of the inspection, install or change light bulbs, nor determine the operability of every wall switch.
    Electric service condition: Appeared serviceable
    Primary service type: Overhead
    Number of service conductors: 2
    Service voltage (volts): 120
    Service amperage (amps): 125
    Primary service overload protection type: Circuit breakers
    Service entrance conductor material: Aluminum
    Main disconnect rating (amps): 125
    System ground: Ground rod(s) in soil, Cold water supply pipes
    Condition of main service panel: Appeared serviceable
    Condition of sub: Appeared serviceable
    Location of main service panel #A: Basement
    Location of sub-panel #B: guest house
    Location of sub-panel #C: garage
    Branch circuit wiring type: Non-metallic sheathed, Knob and tube, Copper
    Condition of branch circuit wiring: Near, at or beyond service life
    Smoke detector power source: Not determined
    22) Safety, Major Defect, Repair/Replace, Evaluate - This property had one or more Federal Pacific Electric brand main service or sub-panels that use "Stab-Lok" circuit breakers (panel #A). Both double and single pole versions of these circuit breakers are known to fail by not tripping when they are supposed to. This is a potential but serious fire hazard. Recommend having a qualified electrician replace any and all Federal Pacific panels. For more information, visit:

    If the Federal Pacific panel(s) are not replaced, then a qualified electrician should thoroughly evaluate the panel(s) and make repairs as necessary. Recommend installing smoke detectors above Federal Pacific panels.

    Photo 88  

    23) Safety, Repair/Replace, Evaluate - Two-pronged electric receptacles rather than three-pronged, grounded receptacles were installed in many areas. They are considered to be unsafe by today's standards and limit the ability to use appliances that require a ground in these rooms. Examples of appliances that require grounded receptacles include:

  • Computer hardware
  • Refrigerators
  • Freezers
  • Air conditioners
  • Clothes washers
  • Clothes dryers
  • Dishwashers
  • Kitchen food waste disposers
  • Information technology equipment
  • Sump pumps
  • Electrical aquarium equipment
  • Hand-held motor-operated tools
  • Stationary and fixed motor-operated tools
  • Light industrial motor-operated tools
  • Hedge clippers
  • Lawn mowers

    This list is not exhaustive. A qualified electrician should evaluate and install grounded receptacles as per the client's needs and standard building practices.
    24) Safety, Repair/Replace, Evaluate - One or more electric receptacles at the kitchen, bathroom(s), laundry room, garage, exterior, basement had no visible ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. This is a safety hazard due to the risk of shock. Recommend having a qualified electrician evaluate to determine if GFCI protection exists, and if not, repair as necessary. For more information, visit:

    25) Safety, Repair/Replace, Evaluate - Some light fixtures appeared beyond their intended service life and may pose a hazard for shock or fire. A qualified electrician should evaluate and replace components if necessary.

    Photo 37  

    26) Safety, Repair/Replace, Evaluate - The house still had some of the original knob & tube wiring present in various areas such as the basement and attic. This is shown in the photo(s) below. Some of these lines were tested with an ammeter and still had current in some areas. It is always recommended that it be replaced, simply due to its age, whenever any renovation is done. As is often the case with older homes, many times the connections of newer wiring with the older knob & tube wiring are not properly done. All connections should be within a junction box and should be performed by a licensed electrician to make sure they are done properly.

    Old House Info - Knob-and-Tube Wiring

    The oldest surviving wiring you might expect to find in an old house today is the knob-and-tube system of individual rubber-coated conductors strung on porcelain insulators that enjoyed wide use from the 1890s into the 1920s. You can never safely assume that any knob-and-tube circuit is disconnected. Some of the wires may still carry current, spliced to cables of more recent vintage. The most likely suspects are attic and cellar lighting circuits, where the conductors are accessible and uncovered by insulation or wall finishes.

    The problem with knob-and-tube wiring is the same problem that plagues old wiring in general. The rubber insulation looses its flexibility after about 25 years and can crack and break off. Thus any surviving knob-and-tube wiring still in use today is well past its normal life. If you continue to use knob-and-tube wiring, you might not break any rules, but you are gambling with your safety and your house.

    Concealed knob and tube wiring is not allowed in new installations since 1975 though the NEC does allow existing systems to remain in place and to be extended with other wiring methods such as non-metallic cable.

    Originally, the splices in knob and tube systems were exposed. Wires were wrapped around each other and then soldered. They were then taped. Refer to the diagram below. Splices to another newer wiring method must be contained in junction boxes. Because the wires entering the boxes must have at least 6 inches of free conductor in the box, a single box is seldom sufficient; two boxes are usually needed. In most instances, splices are improper and should be avoided. The individual conductors must enter the junction boxes through separate holes.

    New circuits are usually a better choice instead of extending the older wiring system. When doubt exists, it is best to ask the local building inspector (authority having jurisdiction) as to what is allowed or required in the local area.

    Note: Many insurance companies refuse to write fire insurance on a house with knob and tube wiring. Some will do so if an electrical contractor is willing to certify the safety of the system. The problem may not be the knob and tube itself so much as the fact that the system is old. Over time electrical demand in a house is likely to increase and proper modification of knob and tube wiring is not easy. If the system is overloaded and overfused, excessive current in the wires can cause the solder in the connections to melt creating potential arcing.

    Photo 27  

    Photo 76  

    27) Safety, Repair/Replace, Evaluate - Most of the electrical outlets were the old 2-prong ungrounded system. This can be a real inconvenience for today's needs especially with computers and electronics. The photos show what typically happens with ungrounded outlets. The homeowner uses adapters which do not provide a ground. In this case, a window air conditioner and the washing machine are both appliances which require grounds.

    Old House Info on Two-Wire Electrical Circuits

    Generally speaking, if an electrical circuit was properly wired and up to code when it was first installed, then it’s up to code now. Most building inspectors will not make you change out existing wiring if it appears to be sound and correctly wired and has not been modified or added to in an illegal way. But when a contractor completely opens the walls, floors, or ceilings and makes it easy to access the wiring, most building inspectors will require those areas to be rewired to meet current electrical code.

    The problem with a two-wire circuit is that it’s not grounded. The older Romex and BX cables had no separate grounding conductor, or the conductor was so small that it wouldn’t count by today’s code. This type of cable can usually be identified by the sheathing, which looks like snake skin or tarred cloth.

    There are a couple of ways to deal with two-wire Romex or knob & tube wiring. It’s legal to exchange a two-prong receptacle for a GFCI receptacle or to put the whole circuit behind a GFCI circuit breaker. However, you may not be able to get the GFCI breaker to hold, because old circuits tend to have some ground leakage. The GFCI protection is actually much better at preventing electrocution than grounding is, though you will be required to mark every outlet with the words “no grounding conductor present”. This is to remind people not to plug a surge protector into that circuit, because a surge protector won’t work unless it’s properly grounded.

    It is possible to upgrade a circuit by running a separate grounding conductor to the nearest panel, the service main, or the system grounding electrode. However, in the time it takes to run a grounding wire to a panel, you could just as easily run a new cable with a grounding wire in it.

    In the end, the best and often the fastest way to bring a two-wire circuit up to code is simply to rewire it. When that’s not possible, the building inspector may accept one of the methods described above.

    Due to the age of the home, there were a minimal number of outlets. This may represent an inconvenience for some homeowners with modern electrical and electronic devices and their requirements.

    Photo 50  

    Photo 55  

    28) Safety, Repair/Replace - Based on the age of this structure and the appearance of existing smoke alarms, the alarms may be older than 10 years old. According to National Fire Protection Association, aging smoke alarms don't operate as efficiently and often are the source for nuisance alarms. Older smoke alarms are estimated to have a 30% probability of failure within the first 10 years. Newer smoke alarms do better, but should be replaced after 10 years. Unless you know that the smoke alarms are new, replacing them when moving into a new residence is also recommended by NFPA. For more information, visit this article: NFPA urges replacing home smoke alarms after 10 years.
    29) Safety, Repair/Replace - The light fixture on the rear left corner is loose as shown. This is a safety concern needing repair.

    Photo 21  

    30) Safety, Repair/Replace - Some wire junctions were noted above the main panel as shown. These were heavily wrapped with tape but should be in a proper junction box for safety.

    Photo 35  

    31) Safety, Evaluate - Branch circuit wiring installed in buildings built prior to the mid 1980s is typically rated for a maximum temperature of only 60 degrees Centigrade. This includes non-metallic sheathed (Romex) wiring, and both BX and AC metal clad flexible wiring. Knob and tube wiring, typically installed in homes built prior to 1950 may be rated for even lower maximum temperatures. Newer electric fixtures including lighting and fans typically require wiring rated for 90 degrees Centigrade. Connecting older, 60 degree-rated wiring to such newer fixtures is a potential safety hazard due to the risk of fire. Repairs for such conditions often involve replacing the last few feet of wiring to newer fixtures with new 90 degree-rated wire. This often requires installing a junction box to join the old and new wiring.

    It is beyond the scope of this inspection to determine if such incompatible components are installed, or to determine the extent to which they're installed. Based on the age of this building, the client should be aware that this safety hazard may be present in this building. Recommend consulting with the property owner to determine if and when newer fixtures were installed, and/or to have a qualified electrician evaluate and repair as per standard building practices.

    32) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - The electric service to this property appeared to be rated at substantially less than 400 amps, and may be inadequate for the client's needs. Recommend consulting with a qualified electrician about upgrading to a 400 amp service.

    Photo 34  

    Photo 36  

    33) - Some switches appeared beyond their intended service life and may pose a hazard for shock or fire. A qualified electrician should evaluate and replace components if necessary.

    Photo 45  

    34) - All lights, switches and ceiling fans tested operated properly.
    Plumbing / Fuel Systems Return to table of contents
    Limitations: The following items are not included in this inspection: private wells and sewage disposal systems; main, side and lateral sewer lines; gray water systems; pressure boosting systems; incinerating or composting toilets; fire suppression sprinkler systems; water softeners, conditioners or filtering systems; plumbing components concealed within the foundation or building structure, or in inaccessible areas such as below tubs; underground utilities and systems; overflow drains for tubs and sinks; backflow prevention devices. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not operate water supply or shut-off valves due to the possibility of valves leaking or breaking when operated. The inspector does not test for lead in the water supply, the water pipes or solder, does not determine if plumbing and fuel lines are adequately sized, and does not determining the existence or condition of underground or above-ground fuel tanks.
    Condition of service and main line: Appeared serviceable
    Location of main water shut: at meter and furnace
    Water service: Public
    Service pipe material: Not determined
    Condition of supply lines: Near, at or beyond service life
    Supply pipe material: Copper, Galvanized steel
    Condition of waste lines: Required repair, replacement and/or evaluation (see comments below)
    Waste pipe material: Plastic, Galvanized steel, Cast iron
    Location of main fuel shut: at meter and furnace
    35) Safety, Comment - Copper water supply pipes in buildings built prior to 1986 may be joined with solder that contains lead. Lead is a known health hazard, especially for children. Laws were passed in 1985 prohibiting the use of lead in solder, but prior to that solder normally contained about 50 percent lead. The client should be aware of this, especially if children will be living in this structure. Evaluating for the presence of lead in this structure is not included in this inspection. The client should consider having a qualified lab test for lead, and if necessary take steps to reduce or remove lead from the water supply. Various solutions such as these may be advised:

  • Flush water taps or faucets. Do not drink water that has been sitting in the plumbing lines for more than six hours.
  • Install appropriate filters at points of use.
  • Use only cold water for cooking and drinking. Hot water dissolves lead more quickly than cold water.
  • Use bottled or distilled water.
  • Treat well water to make it less corrosive.
  • Have a qualified plumbing contractor replace supply pipes and/or plumbing components as necessary.

    For more information visit:
    36) Repair/Replace, Evaluate, WDO/WDI Conducive conditions - Leaks were found in one or more water supply pipes, above the laundry area in the basement. A qualified plumber should evaluate and repair as necessary.
    37) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - Traps at one or more locations in waste lines were substandard. Traps are required to prevent sewer gases from entering living spaces. A qualified plumber should evaluate and repair as necessary.
    38) Monitor - Based on the apparent age of the water supply lines and/or observations made during the inspection, of the water supply lines in this building were near the end of their service life. The clients should monitor these lines for leaks and budget for replacing supply lines as necessary in the near future.

    Photo 39  

    39) - The main water cutoff valve for the house is shown in the photo below (circled). The valve is located in the basement laundry area.

    Photo 38  

    Water Heater Return to table of contents
    Limitations: The following items are not included in this inspection: solar water heating systems; circulation systems. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not provide an estimate of remaining life on water heaters, does not determine if water heaters are appropriately sized, or perform any evaluations that require a pilot light to be lit.
    Condition of water heater: Near, at or beyond service life
    Type: Tank
    Energy source: Natural gas
    Capacity (in gallons): 50
    Manufacturer: A.O. Smith
    Model: FSG-50-242
    Location of water heater: furnace room
    40) Comment - The estimated useful life for most water heaters is 8 to 12 years. This water heater appears to be at this age and/or its useful lifespan and may need replacing at any time. Recommend budgeting for a replacement in the near future.

    Photo 40  

    Heating Return to table of contents
    Limitations: The following items are not included in this inspection: humidifiers, dehumidifiers, electronic air filters; solar, coal or wood fired heat systems; thermostat or temperature control accuracy and timed functions; heating components concealed within the building structure or in inaccessible areas; underground utilities and systems; safety devices and controls (due to automatic operation). Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not provide an estimate of remaining life on heating system components, does not determine if heating systems are appropriately sized, or perform any evaluations that require a pilot light to be lit. It is beyond the scope of this inspection to determine if furnace heat exchangers are intact and free of leaks.
    Condition of heating system: Near, at or beyond service life
    Location of heating system: Mechanical room
    Heating type: Steam
    Fuel type: Natural gas
    Manufacturer: Burnham
    Last service date: unknown
    41) Evaluate, Comment - The home was equipped with a gas fired, steam boiler as shown in the photo below. This type of system has a water filled boiler, heated by gas) and the steam rises to the individual radiators in each room. The steam condenses back to liquid in the radiator and drains back to the boiler where it is reheated. There was some substantial corroison around the boiler.

    One of the bigger problems with these types of systems is that the radiators typically date to the original construction of the home, along with the piping that extends inside the walls and corrosion is a concern over a 100-year period. Sometimes leakage occurs around the radiator connections, requiring them to be removed, since piping replacement is very difficult. Most of these radiators have air bleed valves; however, with this type of system, these should not be operated.

    The radiators in most of the rooms appeared to be in generally good condition. Again, these date to the original construction of the home. The exact internal condition is impossible to determine, as is the exact life; however, there were no significant concerns at the time of the inspection.

    The boiler heating system was not fully evaluated because the system was to be evaluated for update by a licensed heating contractor. Note that as per the standards of practice for NACHI ( and ASHI (, the inspector is not required to operate shut-off valves, pilot lights or overcurrent protection devices, or any controls other than "normal controls".

    Photo 41  

    Photo 42  

    Photo 43  

    Photo 44  

    Fireplaces / Stoves / Chimneys Return to table of contents
    Limitations: The following items are not included in this inspection: coal stoves, gas logs, chimney flues (except where visible). Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not determine the adequacy of drafting or sizing in fireplace and stove flues, nor determine if prefabricated or zero clearance fireplaces are installed in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications. The inspector does not perform any evaluations that require a pilot light to be lit.
    Condition of fireplaces, stoves: Appeared serviceable
    Location #A: living room
    Location #B: Library
    Fireplace type: Masonry
    Fuel type: Wood
    Condition of chimneys: Appeared serviceable
    Chimney type: Masonry
    42) Safety, Repair/Replace - No spark screen or rain cap was installed for the chimney flue at location #. Spark screens prevent the following:

  • Fire hazard from wood fire sparks and embers exiting flues
  • Wildlife (birds, rodents, raccoons, etc.) entering flues

    Rain caps prevent the following:

  • Rainwater entering flues and mixing with combustion deposits, creating caustic chemicals which can corrode flues
  • Rainwater entering flues and causing damage to masonry from freeze-thaw cycles

    A qualified person should install screening and rain caps as per standard building practices.
    43) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - The damper at location #B was missing. A qualified contractor should evaluate and repair as necessary. The fireplaces were professionally inspected (by others) at the time of the home inspection. Their opinions will supersede any given in this report.

    Photo 59  

    Photo 60  

    44) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - The masonry chimney at location #A showed some evidence of deterioration, including deteriorated mortar. A qualified contractor should evaluate and repair as necessary.

    Photo 23  

    45) Comment - All solid fuel burning appliances (woodstoves and fireplaces, etc.) should be inspected annually by a qualified chimney service contractor, cleaned and repaired as necessary.
    Kitchen Return to table of contents
    Limitations: The following items are not included in this inspection: free-standing or portable appliances such as dishwashers, trash compactors, refrigerators, freezers, ice makers; specialty appliances such as hot water dispensers, water filters and trash compactors; appliance timers, clocks, cook functions, self and/or continuous cleaning operations, thermostat or temperature control accuracy, and lights. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not provide an estimate of the remaining life of appliances, and does not determine the adequacy of operation of appliances such as dishwashers, garbage disposals, trash compactors, ovens, broilers, etc.
    46) Comment - The estimated useful life for most kitchen appliances is 10 to 15 years. One or more appliances (dishwasher, refrigerator, range) appeared to be near, at or beyond their service life. Recommend budgeting for replacements in the near future.
    47) - The appliances are old units that are approaching the end of their serviceable life. While replacement is not needed right away, it would be wise to budget for new appliances. In the interim, a higher level of maintenance can be expected. The kitchen counters were standard plastic laminate and in fair condition with no damage noted. The cabinets were modest quality cabinets and in generally well-maintained condition. There were no observable areas of damage. Normal wear and tear was evident consistent with the age of the home.

    It was noted that one of the radiators was inconveniently located below the kitchen counter and ventilated doors were installed. This is a very poor setup and removal of he radiator is recommended.

    Photo 52  

    Photo 53  

    Photo 54  

    Bathrooms / Laundry / Sinks Return to table of contents
    Limitations: The following items are not included in this inspection: overflow drains for tubs and sinks; bidets, heated towel racks, saunas, steam generators, clothes washers, clothes dryers. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not determine the adequacy of washing machine drain lines, washing machine catch pan drain lines, or clothes dryer exhaust ducts. The inspector does not operate water supply or shut-off valves for sinks, toilets, bidets, clothes washers, etc. due to the possibility of valves leaking or breaking when operated. The inspector does not determine if shower pans or tub and shower enclosures are water tight, or determine the completeness or operability of any gas piping to laundry appliances.
    48) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - The laundry area was in the basement and considered inconvenient for a house this size. Also, ungrounded outlets were being used for the washing machine. Recommend relocation of the laundry to one of the upper levels of the house.

    The bathrooms throughout the house were in fair condition. Some had been updated. The old cast iron bathtubs were still in service and in decent condition. The half bath downstairs had obvious floor repair below the toilet as shown. This was probably due to a leaking seal however; the repair with plywood is not appropriate. The owner may wish to remove the old fixtures and properly repair the floor to match the level of the main floor.

    The evaluation of fixtures is discretionary if the owner wishes to keep some of the older items. However; replacement of any plumbing is highly recommended to bring the system up to date.

    Photo 56  

    Photo 62  

    Interior Rooms / Areas Return to table of contents
    Limitations: The following items are not included in this inspection: security, intercom and sound systems; communications wiring; central vacuum systems; elevators and stair lifts; sources of obnoxious odors; cosmetic deficiencies due to normal wear and tear in wall, floor and ceiling surfaces and coverings, or in equipment; deficiencies relating to interior decorating; low voltage and gas lighting systems. Any comments made regarding these items are as a courtesy only. Note that the inspector does not evaluate any areas or items which require moving stored items, furnishings, debris, equipment, floor coverings, insulation or similar materials. The inspector does not test for asbestos, lead, radon, mold, hazardous waste, urea formaldehyde urethane, or any other toxic substance. Some items such as window operability are tested on a sampled basis. The client should be aware that paint may obscure wall and ceiling defects, floor coverings may obscure floor defects, and furnishings may obscure wall, floor and floor covering defects. If furnishings were present during the inspection, recommend a full evaluation of walls, floors and ceilings that were previously obscured when possible. Determining the cause of odors is not within the scope of this inspection.
    Exterior door material: Wood
    Condition of exterior entry doors: Appeared serviceable
    Condition of interior doors: Appeared serviceable
    Type of windows: Wood, Single pane, Double hung, Jalousie
    Condition of windows: Appeared serviceable
    Wall type or covering: Plaster
    Condition of walls:
    Ceiling type or covering: Plaster
    Condition of ceilings: Appeared serviceable
    Flooring type or covering: Wood
    Condition of flooring: Appeared serviceable
    49) Safety, Evaluate - The winder stairs leading to the basement were in good condition but they are substandard by today's code. The lack of width on the inner side of the stair treads is a safety hazard and persons can easily fall e.g. carrying baskets of laundry down the stairs. Small children are also a concern. Modern stairs are required to have at least 6-inches of width on all treads. The owner should evaluate these and consider improvement for safety.

    Photo 25  

    Photo 26  

    50) Safety - Some areas of peeling paint were evident although localized.

    This structure was built prior to 1979 and may contain lead paint. Laws were enacted in 1978 in the US preventing the use of lead paint in residential structures. Lead is a known safety hazard, especially to children but also to adults. The paint found in and around this structure appeared to be intact and may be encapsulated by more recent layers of paint that are not lead-based. Regardless, recommend following precautions as described in the following links to Consumer Products Safety Commission website articles regarding possible lead paint:

    Photo 57  

    51) Repair/Replace, Evaluate - Wood flooring in the foyer areas was soft or had previous water damage near the stairway. This may indicating that the floor has been wet in the past, or that repairs or the installation was substandard. Recommend consulting with the property owner about this. The client should consider having a qualified contractor evaluate and repair or refinish floors as necessary. For more information, visit:

    52) Minor Defect - Minor cracks and/or holes were found in walls in one or more areas. They do not appear to be a structural concern, but the client may wish to repair these for aesthetic reasons.
    53) Evaluate - Some cracks were noted in the single pane glass on some windows. Repair is discretionary. Also, the paint was very poor in some window sill areas as shown.

    Photo 58  

    Photo 63  

    54) Monitor - Stains or peeling paint were found in one or more ceiling areas. However, no elevated levels of moisture were found. The stain(s) may be due to past roof and/or plumbing leaks. Recommend asking the property owner about this, and monitoring the stained area(s) in the future, especially after heavy or prolonged rain. If elevated moisture is found in the future, a qualified contractor should evaluate and repair as necessary.

    Photo 64  

    55) - The main stairway was in excellent condition. All beams were still straight and level and the railing was generally tight and secure.

    Photo 61  

    Environmental and Safety Issues Return to table of contents

    56) Safety, Evaluate - Insulation on the boiler distribution piping appears to contain asbestos. This can only be verified by laboratory analysis. The amount is quite extensive. Also, some loose insulation was noted on the crawlspace floor as shown.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) reports that asbestos represents a health hazard if “friable” (damaged, crumbling, or in any state that allows the release of fibers). If replacement of the boiler necessitates the removal of the asbestos containing insulation, a specialist should be engaged. If any sections of this insulation are indeed friable, or become friable over time, a specialist should be engaged. Further guidance is available from the E.P.A. Due to the age of construction, there may be other materials within the home that contain asbestos but are not identified by this inspection report.

    Photo 28  

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    Photo 30  

    Photo 31  

    Photo 32  

    57) - There is the potential for lead content in the drinking water within the home. Lead in water may have two sources; the piping system of the utility delivering water to the house and/or the solder used on copper pipes prior to 1988. This can only be confirmed by laboratory analysis. An evaluation of lead in water is beyond the scope of this inspection. For more information, consult the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) for further guidance and a list of testing labs in your area.
    58) - Lead based paint was in use until approximately 1978. According to the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, a lead hazard can be present in a house of this age. This can only be confirmed by laboratory analysis. An evaluation of lead in paint is beyond the scope of this inspection. For more information, consult the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) for further guidance and a list of testing labs in your area.

    Information About Lead Based Paint

    Lead-based paint is hazardous to your health.
    Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children and can also affect adults. In children, lead poisoning can cause irreversible brain damage and can impair mental functioning. It can retard mental and physical development and reduce attention span. It can also retard fetal development even at extremely low levels of lead. In adults, it can cause irritability, poor muscle coordination, and nerve damage to the sense organs and nerves controlling the body. Lead poisoning may also cause problems with reproduction (such as a decreased sperm count). It may also increase blood pressure. Thus, young children, fetuses, infants, and adults with high blood pressure are the most vulnerable to the effects of lead.
    Children should be screened for lead poisoning.
    In communities where the houses are old and deteriorating, take advantage of available screening programs offered by local health departments and have children checked regularly to see if they are suffering from lead poisoning. Because the early symptoms of lead poisoning are easy to confuse with other illnesses, it is difficult to diagnose lead poisoning without medical testing. Early symptoms may include persistent tiredness, irritability, loss of appetite, stomach discomfort, reduced attention span, insomnia, and constipation. Failure to treat children in the early stages can cause long-term or permanent health damage.
    The current blood lead level which defines lead poisoning is 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. However, since poisoning may occur at lower levels than previously thought, various federal agencies are considering whether this level should be lowered further so that lead poisoning prevention programs will have the latest information on testing children for lead poisoning.
    Consumers can be exposed to lead from paint.
    Eating paint chips is one way young children are exposed to lead. It is not the most common way that consumers, in general, are exposed to lead. Ingesting and inhaling lead dust that is created as lead-based paint "chalks," chips, or peels from deteriorated surfaces can expose consumers to lead. Walking on small paint chips found on the floor, or opening and closing a painted frame window, can also create lead dust. Other sources of lead include deposits that may be present in homes after years of use of leaded gasoline and from industrial sources like smelting. Consumers can also generate lead dust by sanding lead-based paint or by scraping or heating lead-based paint.
    Lead dust can settle on floors, walls, and furniture. Under these conditions, children can ingest lead dust from hand-to-mouth con- tact or in food. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air through cleaning, such as sweeping or vacuuming, or by movement of people throughout the house.
    Older homes may contain lead based paint.
    Lead was used as a pigment and drying agent in "alkyd" oil based paint. "Latex" water based paints generally have not contained lead. About two-thirds of the homes built before 1940 and one-half of the homes built from 1940 to 1960 contain heavily-leaded paint. Some homes built after 1960 also contain heavily-leaded paint. It may be on any interior or exterior surface, particularly on woodwork, doors, and windows. In 1978, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission lowered the legal maximum lead content in most kinds of paint to 0.06% (a trace amount). Consider having the paint in homes constructed before the 1980s tested for lead before renovating or if the paint or underlying surface is deteriorating. This is particularly important if infants, children, or pregnant women are present.

    Consumers can have paint tested for lead.
    There are do-it-yourself kits available. However, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has not evaluated any of these kits. One home test kit uses sodium sulfide solution. This procedure requires you to place a drop of sodium sulfide solution on a paint chip. The paint chip slowly turns darker if lead is present. There are problems with this test, however. Other metals may cause false positive results, and resins in the paint may prevent the sulfide from causing the paint chip to change color. Thus, the presence of lead may not be correctly indicated. In addition the darkening may be detected only on very light-colored paint.

    Another in-home test requires a trained professional who can operate the equipment safely. This test uses X-ray fluorescence to determine if the paint contains lead. Although the test can be done in your home, it should be done only by professionals trained by the equipment manufacturer or who have passed a state or local government training course, since the equipment contains radioactive materials. In addition, in some tests, the method has not been reliable.
    Consumers may choose to have a testing laboratory test a paint sample for lead. Lab testing is considered more reliable than other methods. Lab tests may cost from $20 to $50 per sample. To have the lab test for lead paint, consumers may:
    • Get sample containers from the lab or use re-sealable plastic bags. Label the containers or bags with the consumer's name and the location in the house from which each paint sample was taken. Several samples should be taken from each affected room (see HUD Guidelines discussed below).
    • Use a sharp knife to cut through the edges of the sample paint. The lab should tell you the size of the sample needed. It will probably be about 2 inches by 2 inches.
    • Lift off the paint with a clean putty knife and put it into the container. Be sure to take a sample of all layers of paint, since only the lower layers may contain lead. Do not include any of the underlying wood, plaster, metal, and brick.
    • Wipe the surface and any paint dust with a wet cloth or paper towel and discard the cloth or towel.
    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recommends that action to reduce exposure should be taken when the lead in paint is greater than 0.5% by lab testing or greater than 1.0 milligrams per square centimeter by X-ray fluorescence. Action is especially important when paint is deteriorating or when infants, children, or pregnant women are present. Consumers can reduce exposure to lead-based paint.

    If you have lead-based paint, you should take steps to reduce your exposure to lead.
    You can:
    1. Have the painted item replaced.
    You can replace a door or other easily removed item if you can do it without creating lead dust. Items that are difficult to remove should be replaced by professionals who will control and contain lead dust.
    2. Cover the lead-based paint.
    You can spray the surface with a sealant or cover it with gypsum wallboard. However, painting over lead-based paint with non-lead paint is not a long-term solution. Even though the lead-based paint may be covered by non-lead paint, the lead-based paint may continue to loosen from the surface below and create lead dust. The new paint may also partially mix with the lead-based paint, and lead dust will be released when the new paint begins to deteriorate.
    3. Have the lead-based paint removed.
    Have professionals trained in removing lead-based paint do this work. Each of the paint-removal methods (sandpaper, scrapers, chemicals, sandblasters, and torches or heat guns) can produce lead fumes or dust. Fumes or dust can become airborne and be inhaled or ingested. Wet methods help reduce the amount of lead dust. Removing moldings, trim, window sills, and other painted surfaces for professional paint stripping outside the home may also create dust. Be sure the professionals contain the lead dust. Wet-wipe all surfaces to remove any dust or paint chips. Wet-clean the area before re-entry.
    You can remove a small amount of lead-based paint if you can avoid creating any dust. Make sure the surface is less than about one square foot (such as a window sill). Any job larger than about one square foot should be done by professionals. Make sure you can use a wet method (such as a liquid paint stripper).
    4. Reduce lead dust exposure.
    You can periodically wet mop and wipe surfaces and floors with a high phosphorous (at least 5%) cleaning solution. Wear waterproof gloves to prevent skin irritation. Avoid activities that will disturb or damage lead based paint and create dust. This is a preventive measure and is not an alternative to replacement or removal.
    Contact your state and local health departments lead poisoning prevention programs and housing authorities for information about testing labs and contractors who can safely remove lead-based paint. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) prepared guidelines for removing lead-based paint. Ask contractors about their qualifications, experience removing lead-based paint, and plans to follow these guidelines.

    59) - Radon gas is a naturally occurring gas that is invisible, odorless and tasteless. A danger exists when the gas percolates through the ground and enters a tightly enclosed structure (such as a home). Long-term exposure to high levels of radon gas can cause cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) states that a radon reading of more than 4.0 picocuries per liter of air represents a health hazard. A radon evaluation is beyond the scope of this inspection (unless specifically requested). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Surgeon General Strongly recommend taking further action when the home’s radon test results are 4.0 pCi/L or greater. The concentration of radon in the home is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). Radon levels less than 4.0 pCi/L still pose some risk and in many cases may be reduced.
    60) - Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can result from a faulty fuel burning furnace, range, water heater, space heater or wood stove. Proper maintenance of these appliances is the best way to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. For more information, consult the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 1-800-638-2772 (C.P.S.C.) for further guidance. It would be wise to install carbon monoxide detectors within the home.

    Information About Carbon Monoxide

    What is carbon monoxide (CO) and how is it produced in the home?
    CO is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas. It is produced by the incomplete combustion of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels. Appliances fueled with gas, oil, kerosene, or wood may produce CO. If such appliances ar not installed, maintained, and used properly, CO may accumulate to dangerous levels.
    What are the symptoms of CO poisoning and why are these symptoms particularly dangerous?
    Breathing CO causes symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and weakness in healthy people. CO also causes sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and disorientation. At very high levels, it causes loss of consciousness and death.
    This is particularly dangerous because CO effects often are not recognized. CO is odorless and some of the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu or other common illnesses.
    Are some people more affected by exposure to CO than others?
    CO exposures especially affect unborn babies, infants, and people with anemia or a history of heart disease. Breathing low levels of the chemical can cause fatigue and increase chest pain in people with chronic heart disease.
    How many people die from CO poisoning each year?
    In 1989, the most recent year for which statistics are available, thee were about 220 deaths from CO poisoning associated with gas-fired appliances, about 30 CO deaths associated with solid-fueled appliances (including charcoal grills), and about 45 CO deaths associated with liquid- fueled heaters.
    How many people are poisoned from CO each year?
    Nearly 5,000 people in the United States are treated in hospital emergency rooms for CO poisoning; this number is believed to be an underestimate because many people with CO symptoms mistake the symptoms for the flu or are misdiagnosed and never get treated.

    How can production of dangerous levels of CO be prevented?
    Dangerous levels of CO can be prevented by proper appliance maintenance, installation, and use:
    • A qualified service technician should check your home's central and room heating appliances (including water heaters and gas dryers) annually. The technician should look at the electrical and mechanical components of appliances, such as thermostat controls and automatic safety devices.
    • Chimneys and flues should be checked for blockages, corrosion, and loose connections.
    • Individual appliances should be serviced regularly. Kerosene and gas space heaters (vented and unvented) should be cleaned and inspected to insure proper operation.
    • CPSC recommends finding a reputable service company in the phone book or asking your utility company to suggest a qualified service technician.
    • Proper installation is critical to the safe operation of combustion appliances. All new appliances have installation instructions that should be followed exactly. Local building codes should be followed as well.
    • Vented appliances should be vented properly, according to manufacturer's instructions.
    • Adequate combustion air should be provided to assure complete combustion.
    • All combustion appliances should be installed by professionals.
    Appliance Use:
    Follow manufacturer's directions for safe operation.
    • Make sure the room where an unvented gas or kerosene space heater is used is well ventilated; doors leading to another room should be open to insure proper ventilation.
    • Never use an unvented combustion heater overnight or in a room where you are sleeping.
    Are there signs that might indicate improper appliance operation?
    Yes, these are:
    • Decreasing hot water supply
    • Furnace unable to heat house or runs constantly
    • Sooting, especially on appliances
    • Unfamiliar or burning odor
    • Increased condensation inside windows
    Are there visible signs that might indicate a CO problem?
    Yes, these are:
    • Improper connections on vents and chimneys
    • Visible rust or stains on vents and chimneys
    • An appliance that makes unusual sounds or emits an unusual smell
    • An appliance that keeps shutting off (Many new appliances have safety components attached that prevent operation if an unsafe condition exists. If an appliance stops operating, it may be because a safety device is preventing a dangerous condition. Therefore, don't try to operate an appliance that keeps shutting off; call a service person instead.)
    Are there other ways to prevent CO poisoning?
    Yes, these are:
    • Never use a range or oven to heat the living areas of the home
    • Never use a charcoal grill or hibachi in the home
    • Never keep a car running in an attached garage

    Can CO be detected?
    Yes, CO can be detected with CO detectors that meet the requirements of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard 2034.
    Since the toxic effect of CO is dependent upon both CO concentration and length of exposure, long-term exposure to a low concentration can produce effects similar to short term exposure to a high concentration.
    Detectors should measure both high CO concentrations over short periods of time and low CO concentrations over long periods of time - the effects of CO can be cumulative over time. The detectors also sound an alarm before the level of CO in a person's blood would become crippling. CO detectors that meet the UL 2034 standard currently cost between $35 and $80.
    Where should the detector be installed?
    CO gases distribute evenly and fairly quickly throughout the house; therefore, a CO detector should be installed on the wall or ceiling in sleeping area/s but outside individual bedrooms to alert occupants who are sleeping.
    Aren't there safety devices already on some appliances? And if so, why is a CO detector needed?
    Vent safety shutoff systems have been required on furnaces and vented heaters sine the late 1980s. They protect against blocked or disconnected vents or chimneys. Oxygen depletion sensors (ODS) have also been installed on unvented gas space heaters since the 1980s. ODS protect against the production of CO caused by insufficient oxygen for proper combustion. These devices (ODSs and vent safety shutoff systems) are not a substitute for regular professional servicing, and many older, potentially CO-producing appliances may not have such devices. Therefore, a CO detector is still important in any home as another line of defense.
    Are there other CO detectors that are less expensive?
    There are inexpensive cardboard or plastic detectors that change color and do not sound an alarm and have a limited useful life. They require the occupant to look at the device to determine if CO is present. CO concentrations can build up rapidly while occupants are asleep, and these devices would not sound an alarm to wake them.

    For additional information, write to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C., 20207, call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-638-2772, or visit the website

    Other Structures Return to table of contents

    61) Evaluate, WDO/WDI Damage - The property had a detached garage with some living area and a large attic. The garage dated to a similar time as the main house. It also had a slate roof in decent condition with quite a bit of moss growing from the shade. The exterior was somewhat unmaintained but most materials were intact and in need of routine maintenance. The eaves were in rather poor condition.The garage door was in fair condition and operated properly.

    The garage section had some obvious termite damage on the rear wall that appeared to be past damage. Similar damage was noted in the bathroom interior wall.

    As with the house, the electrical system was dated with knob-and-tube wiring and a fused neutral. A standby generator was also present but is not part of the inspection. Recommend upgrading all wiring to current standards for safety. An outlet was also laying near the drain on the garage floor which is an inappropriate location.

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    62) Evaluate, WDO/WDI Damage - A smaller guest house was present on the rear of the property. This structure was also somewhat dilapidated but could be fixed up and provide decent secondary living quarters. Buildings can go downhill quickly if not maintained and can often result in the owner having to replace materials rather than repair the existing ones. This house may be a good candidate for vinyl siding. The roof and siding were the most critical areas needing attention. Other areas could be deferred.

    The front porch needs some rebuilding and the porch columns are in poor condition. The wood clapboard siding was intact but had heavy coats of prior paint that were peeling.

    The metal roof appeared to be in decent condition however; it was rusting and needs attention to prevent further deterioration. The chimney also needs some repointing in localized areas.

    The crawlspace was accessible but headspace was low in most areas. Updated plumbing was visible.

    The furnace, water heater, and electric panel were located in a utilty room and appeared to be in serviceable condition.

    The interior hallway had some past termite damage noted in the hardwood flooring. There were some areas of staining on the ceiling and some peeling paint that could indicate minor roof leaks.

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    Basement Return to table of contents

    63) Safety, Repair/Replace - The one grounded outlet in the basement had reversed polarity meaning that the hot and neutral wires were reversed. This is a relatively easy repair.

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    64) - At the time of the inspection, there were no signs of current leakage in the basement. However; this is impossible to determine with any certainty during a one-time inspection.

    The basement had several rooms with only one that had been finished some time in the past. This room had indications of past water entry on the wall panels and tile floor. A dead bat was also found in this room. Recommend removal of the paneling for a better look at the front wall. It is important to remember that when this house was built, basements were meant to be non-living areas and don't have the attention given to today's basements. For owners of many old homes, basement leakage is a way of life. During rainy periods, or during the spring thaw, leakage is experienced. As basement leakage rarely influences the structural integrity of a home, and because basements of old homes usually remain unfinished, this condition is simply tolerated. Some precautions are, of course, taken to avoid damage to storage and personal belongings.

    It was noted that the basement had a perimeter drain system installed. This is identified by the darker colored concrete around the wall as shown in the photo. This system requires cutting the concrete floor to allow installation of a drain pipe that carries any water intrusion to a sump pump. Most of these systems are fairly effective with chronic water problems and carry some type of warranty.

    Basement Info

    The basement shows evidence of moisture penetration. It should be understood that it is impossible to predict the severity or frequency of moisture penetration on a one-time visit to a home. Virtually all basements exhibit signs of moisture penetration and virtually all basements will indeed leak at some point in time. The visible evidence is not unusual for a home of this age, construction and location. Further monitoring of the foundation will be required to determine what improvements, if any, will be required. Basement leakage rarely affects the structural integrity of a home.

    The vast majority of basement leakage problems are the result of insufficient control of storm water at the surface. The ground around the house should be sloped to encourage water to flow away from the foundations. Gutters and downspouts should act to collect roof water and drain the water at least five (5) feet from the foundation or into a functional storm sewer. Downspouts that are clogged or broken below grade level, or that discharge too close to the foundation are the most common source of basement leakage. Please refer to the Roofing and Exterior sections of the report for more information.

    In the event that basement leakage problems are experienced, lot and roof drainage improvements should be undertaken as a first step. Please beware of contractors who recommend expensive solutions. Excavation, damp-proofing and/or the installation of drainage tiles should be a last resort. In some cases, however, it is necessary. Your plans for using the basement may also influence the approach taken to curing any dampness that is experienced.

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    Dead bat - looking for the bat cave

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    65) - Proper performance of the sump pump is critical to preventing basement leakage. Sump pumps usually serve to discharge storm water from the perimeter foundation drainage tiles. If the sump pump becomes inoperative or the discharge line is broken, damaged or improperly sloped, basement leakage can result. The operation of the sump pump should be carefully monitored. If the sump pump operates regularly, it may be prudent to consider a back up pump, or a battery power supply in the event of a power interruption. Please refer to the “Plumbing” section, where there may be more information on the sump pump. (Note: It is usually not possible to verify the discharge location of the sump pump line during an inspection.)

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