Problems With Icicles

April 11, 2015

Snow/Ice dams reveals potential roof damage and problems…and yes, it was a brutal winter!

Although wintertime home inspections have little to no roof visibility due to snow cover, wintertime can reveal other issues that would be unknown during summer weather. (There are always challenges during home inspections here in northeast Ohio!) Many inspections this past winter showed major icicles and ice dams that can lead to roof leaks and potentially damage to the interiors of homes.

The general cause of ice buildup is heat loss in the attic space coupled with poor ventilation. For more information on what causes ice dams, check out this explanation of ice dams from the University of Minnesota.

Causes of icicles can include:

  • Lack of proper ventilation (i.e. lack of gable vents, roof vents, soffit/ridge vents, etc.)
  • Blocked ventilation points
  • Marginal insulation or lack of sufficient insulation
  • HVAC/forced air ducts running through the attic space
  • Solar radiation

Repairs & Upgrades:

  • increase ventilation, consider installing a powered attic fan
  • reduce heat loss from the interior
  • install additional insulation
  • install electrical heat cable/zig-zag cable

As always, it is recommended to consult a licensed contractor for repairs.

Happy Spring,


Smoke Detectors for Safety

November 14, 2013
type: photoelectric smoke detector

type: photoelectric smoke detector

In a typical home inspection, I routinely check for smoke detectors. This blog post will not cover every single requirement, but rather an education to the homeowner, whether you are purchasing a home or not. The issues I will raise is in the area of fire safety which includes the ever important smoke detector.

There are two basic types of smoke alarm detectors sold in the US ……ionization and photoelectric. I recommend both, but lean towards photoelectric detection and here’s why.

These two types of alarms indicate differently. Most people are just used to the typical ionization sensor smoke alarms, but if they become annoying, they are sometimes  disconnected by someone in the home.  According to The ASHI Reporter:

     “Remember, about 96% of US homes have at least one smoke alarm. Nearly two-thirds of all residential fire deaths occur in homes that are unprotected. Roughly 50% of homeowners with nonfunctional alarms cite nuisance tripping as the reason for disabling their alarms. To complete the picture, many of the remaining 1/3 of residential fire deaths occur in homes where an alarm sounds, but it sounds too late for the occupants to escape. Over the years a number of government, university and manufacturer research studies, many going back to the mid-1970’s, clearly show that ionization alarms are slow to react in deadly smoldering fires and account for the vast majority of nuisance trips.”

In July, 2010, Albany, California became the first city in that state to require photoelectric smoke alarms in new construction and remodels. Other cities in California and the Ohio cities of Shaker Heights, Chagrin Falls and others have enacted similar ordinances.

The phrase, “It’s better to be safe than sorry” really is true on the issue of fire safety in your home.

Take care,


Vent Pipe

June 20, 2013

Vent Pipe

When a plumbing vent pipe lines up with an attic roof rafter, just cut it out!

Water & moisture issues

February 16, 2013
window trim damage from moisture

window trim damaged from moisture

Just like a car needs regular oil changes to prevent damage, so do houses. A regular routine for homes should be caulking and painting around areas that are vulnerable to moisture or water leaks.

Here are the two critical areas to inspect:

  1. Siding – wood sided homes and aluminum wrapped windows are guilty culprits of water penetration if typical caulk maintenance is not kept up.
  2. Window frames – many homeowners don’t realize why they have water penetration during heavy rainstorms through windows and doors. Again, a recommendation of caulking and painting to maintain weather seals around all windows and door frames.

Mold and mildew are really common issues when inspecting homes in Northeast Ohio. I’ve addressed proper ventilation inside the home (see Mold…should you worry?), but keeping water from coming into the house needs to be priority as well.