List three main functions of exterior cladding
- Protect the structure from water
- Provide reasonable security
- Enhance the appearance of the house
List ten exterior wall surface materials that you’ll commonly find
- Asphalt shingles
- Wood siding
- Cement based siding
- Clay and slate shingles
- Plywwod, hardwood and OSB
- Metal and vinyl siding
- Fiber-cement siding
List common problems that are found on all types of wall systems
- Water penetration
- Too close to grade
- Too close to roof surface at the bottom of the siding
- Planters and gardens against the wall
List seven common problems with masonry walls
- Missing weep holes and flashings
- Mechanical damage
- Bowing walls
- Mortar deterioration
Describe efflorescence. What is it?
Efflorescence is a whitish powdery salt deposit that is associated with water moving through masonry. Water dissolves the salts from masonry or mortar and desposits them on the surface as crystals when evaporating.
Expanding, rusting steel lintels over windows and doors often cause cracks
in what direction in masonry walls?
Stucco is made up of ______, ______, and ______.
Cement, aggregate, and water
What is the problem with having aluminum in contact with stucco?
It oxidizes (deteriorates)
List three functions of a weep screed.
- Provides a finished edge
- Allows drainage
- Prevents water from being drawn up into the wall
List five common problems with conventional stucco.
- Cracks, crumbling, loose or bulging
- Incompatible flashings
- Mechanical damage
- Rusted lath or trim
- No drip screed
What is the problem that people are experiencing with EIFS?
Water is getting into the wall system at penetrations and causing structural damage
What is a kickout?
A flashing used where a wall extends beyond a roof, to shed roof water away from the stucco.
List three causes of problems that are unique to EIFS compared to conventional
- Lack of building paper
- No drainage plane
- Poor drying potential
List six factors that may suggest concealed problems with an EIFS application.
- High wind exposure
- High rainfall area
- Small or no overhang
- Lots of penetrations
- Attention to detail at openings is poor
- Horizontal stucco surfaces
- Poor caulking maintenance
List ten areas outside to check for evidence of problems with EIFS installations.
- Roof/wall connections
- Door and window openings
- Opening for electrical conduits, lights, cable TV lines
- Vent openings
- Railing and deck connections
- Cracks, bulges, peeling, fungus, exposed reinforcing mesh or trim
- Evidence of repairs
List five areas on the interior to check for evidence of problems with EIFS
- Stains on walls, floors, and ceilings
- Rusting or rotting carpet tack strip
- Peeling paint
- Damaged flooring
- Elevated moisture levels in drywall or subflooring
List two areas in basements and crawlspaces to look for with respect to
problems on EIFS installations
- Mold, mildew or rot on joists, sills, rim joists and subflooring
- Stains on foundations coming from sill area
What is the effect of vines growing on wood siding?
Vines hold water and reduce the drying potential
For each of the choices below, circle the siding that would perform better.
a. 12-inch-wide board - or - 6-inch-wide board
b. 3/4-inch-wide board - or - 3/8-inch-thick board
c. smooth board - or - rough-textured board
d. 6-foot-long board - or - 12-foot-long board
3/4 inch wide board
6-foot long board
How many layers of wood shingles are typically used in a siding application?
List five common problems with conventional wood siding (boards,shingles, or shakes).
- Paint/stain problems
Hardoard is a type of _______ board
List four common problems with plywood, OSB, and hardboard.
- Rot, swelling, and delamination
- Buckling or cracking
- Mechanical damage
What is the life expectancy of vinyl and aluminum siding?
More than 40 years
List seven common problems with metal and vinyl siding.
- Buckled or wavy
- Metal siding not grounded
- Flashing and caulking defects
- Mechanical damage
Why should metal siding be grounded?
So the house shell cannot become electrically charged
Asbestos cement shingles should be removed from homes.
What is the most common problem with asbestos cement shingles?
Mechanical damage because the siding is brittle
List three common problems with modern fiber-cement shingles.
- Mechanical damage
- MIssing paint or caulking
- Nailing problems
How far should wood siding be kept above grade level?
List two common problems to look for on the exterior of exposed
Where are soffits and fascia typically found?
At the rafter ends
What materials are commonly used for soffits and fascia?
Wood, aluminum, fiber-cement, hardboard, OSB, plywood, or vinyl
What are the issues surrounding a double layer of soffit material
(e.g., aluminum over wood)?
Damage on the original layer cannot be detected
Soffit vents can be covered up, rendering them ineffective.
List four common problems with soffits and fascia.
- Loose or missing pieces
- Paint or stain needed
List seven different things you would want to evaluate with respect to doors
- Energy efficiency
- Water leakage
List twelve common problems with doors and windows.
- Paint/stain problems
- Caulkingand flashing problems
- Putty (glazing compound) problems
- Sill slope
- Deteriorated sills
- Frame deformation
- Storms and screens missing or damaged
- Cracked or broken glass
- Condensation between panes
Give three examples of where flashings would typically be found on exterior
- Over windows or doors
- At bottom of walls
- At horizontal siding joints in panel type siding
List six common problems with caulking, trim, and flashings.
- Missing flashings
- Ineffective or incomplete flashings
- Caulking missing or ineffective
List three mechanisms by which water may get into wall systems from the
- Rain driven by wind
- Rain running down the wall (gravity)
- Water wicking into the wall
Why should all the risers in a set of steps be uniform?
Uneven risers are a trip hazard
Rise is usually ______ inches maximum, and tread depth is typically
______ to ______ inches minimum.
Rise is 7¾ inches maximum, tread depth is 10 inches minimum
The nosing is usually ______ inch(es) deep.
¾” to 1¼”
Minimum dimensions for landings are often stated as ______ feet by
Explain why the absence of a landing may be a safety hazard.
An outward opening door can knock someone off the stairs.
Spalling is the crumbling, flaking, chipping, or shaling of the surface of the
What is the best way to check for rot in a wooden stair stringer?
Probe the wood with an awl or screwdriver.
Why can carpet on wood porches be bad?
It prevents close inspection, and holds water against the wood, causing rot.
Guardrails are typically required on porches, decks, or balconies more than______ inches above grade.
The openings between railing spindles should not be greater than ______inches.
Why should spindles be vertical, not horizontal?
Horizontal spindles are climbable.
Railings on stairways should be between ______ inches and ______ inches above the stair nosing depending on your area.
34 to 38 inches
Guardrails should be at least ______ inches high.
Why shouldn’t you align a beam with a gutter to check for sag?
Gutters slope so they always look off level
What is the requirement for beam end bearing on masonry?
How might paint indicate that a beam has slipped out of its pocket?
If the beam has been painted and there are unpainted parts visible at the
supports, this may indicate movement of the beam.
Beams should be mechanically fastened to their supporting members.
Joists are usually spaced ______ or ______ inches on center.
16 or 24 inches
The metal brackets used to support joists are called ______.
What two inspection techniques can you use to check for sagging joists?
- Bounce on the deck
2. Scan the deck with our eye at deck level
Two ways to attach a ledgerboard to a wood-frame structure are:
- Lag bolts every 24 inches
2. Multiple nails every 16 to 24 inches
Describe the proper way to flash a ledgerboard installed over siding.
Flashing extends from under the siding, over the top of the ledgerboard, and down.
What is the biggest problem with cantilevered decks?
Rot is found where the joists penetrate the wall
Why are plywood or waferboard sheets poor choices for porch or deck flooring?
They abosorb water readily and rot.
Why should there be no supply or return registers from heating/cooling ductwork in a garage?
To prevent fumes from entering he house.
Most garage floors are not structural.
Garage floors that are suspended and have storage or living space below
a. can be adequately assessed by a home inspector.
b. should be investigated by a specialist.
b. should be investigated by a specialist
A good concrete garage floor slab is usually at least ______ inches thick and has ______ inches of gravel beneath it.
3 inches thick, with 5 inches of well compacted gravel below.
Which way should garage floors slope?
To drain (usually towards the door)
What does a hollow sound on the garage floor indicate?
Settled soil under the slab. The slab is now suspended.
Why do many authorities discourage floor drains in garages?
Because automotive fluids can find their way into municipal sewers.
The diameter of a garage drain exit pipe should be at least _______ inches.
Why should the end of the drain pipe in a driveway drain turn down?
To reduce the amount of debris that gets into the drain pipe.
Automatic garage door openers have to be strong because they lift the weight of the door.
List five problems to look for on a typical sectional garage door.
- Difficult to open or close
- Rust or denting
- Rot or insect damage
- Automatic opener problems
- Paint or stain problems
It’s best to test a garage door opener from (inside/outside) the garage.
If the vehicle door stops two inches short of the garage floor, there is a
problem with the ______.
Adjustment of the closing limit
What is the recommended way to test the automatic reverse on a garage door opener?
With a two inch block of wood placed in the door’s path
What is the commonly recommended slope for ground around a house?
6 inch drop over the first 10 feet away from the foundation
Dramatic slope is likely less important if the ground surface is
Bad grading will always cause wet basements.
Briefly describe a common foundation drainage material.
A black plastic dimpled membrane that acts to relieve hydrostatic pressure
in the soil.
To work well, a foundation drainage layer requires ______.
Perimeter drainage tile
Three possible implications of poor lot grading are
- Wet basements and crawlspaces
- Damage to foundations
- Damage to siding materials, in severe cases
What is used to keep soil away from a basement window?
A window well
Why are porous surface materials near a house a potential problem?
The earth below them may be impervious, and slope towards the house.
List five clues to look for concerning ravine or sloping lots.
- Is there vegetation growing over the whole surface?
- Are there bands of freshly exposed topsoil?
- Are the tree trunks vertical?
- Is there cracking in the walls on the ravine side of the house?
- Are retaining walls leaning out over the ravine?
Briefly state the function of gutters and downspouts.
Gutters and downspouts carry water from the roof away from the building,
protecting the cladding system and the foundation.
Gutters are also called ______ or ______. Downspouts are also called
______, ______, or ______.
Gutters are called troughs, or eavestroughs. Downspouts are called rain
water leaders, leaders, or conductor pipes.
Why are gutters and downspouts sometimes left off in northern areas?
Because of ice damming problems
Steep roofs may have a large surface area but a small ______. This means that their gutters (need to be bigger/can be smaller) than you might expect.
Gutters can be smaller
Roof shingles should not project more than ______ inches out over the inner edge of the gutter
1 inch maximum projection
Gutter leaks are most common at
Seams and changes in direction
What can cause copper gutters to develop pinhole leaks?
Corrosive action from leaves or needles from trees
A house with integral gutters is more prone to ice damming it if has a steep roof.
A typical gutter slope is ______.
1 inch drop over 200 inches run
What can happen to roof material if a dormer has gutters but no downspouts?
Localized discoloration and premature wear occur below the gutter
List three advantages of downspouts discharging above grade.
- Easy to repair or replace
- Easy to know if the downspouts and gutters are working properly
- With a proper extension, the landscaping is not damaged
List three disadvantages of downspouts discharging above grade.
- Traffic problems at building corners
- They must be moved or lifted to cut the grass
- If drainage is poor, the water can pool near the house
List three disadvantages of downspouts discharging into drains below grade.
- Tough to inspect
- Repair is expensive
- They may go into the floor drains on old houses which can flood the basement if the floor drain trap is clogged, collapsed, or broken.
State a simple solution to problems with a below-grade downspout pipe.
Redirect the downspout to discharge water above grade with an extension away from the building
The top of the gravel in a window well should be ______ inches away from the window frame.
What are the risks associated with an improperly draining walkway?
Moss or ice, which are trip hazards. Surface damage of the material itself, and water penetration into the building if the surface is against the house.
List four possible problems that can arise from a large tree growing too close to a house.
Trees may -
- Damage the siding
- Prevent air and sunlight from drying the siding
- Heave or push in the foundation
- Damage roofs
What might a long stretch of new sod running from the front of the house to the street indicate?
A new water or sewer line
What would you tell a client about a retaining wall that is leaning over but not broken, cracked, or damaged?
It is impossible to tell from a single visit if the wall is in danger of collapse. Leaning walls with no cracks or buckling should be further investigated by
Why might you install insulation on the back of a retaining wall and under the topsoil behind the wall?
This is done for frost control
Ideally, weep holes in a solid retaining wall are at least ______ inches in diameter and not more than ______ feet apart.
4 inches in diameter
not more than 10 feet apart