Recently, we sat down with a longtime home inspector, and he told us some tales and shared some photos that were downright frightening.
Much of the damage he’s encountered could have been prevented if the homeowners had just heeded the silent signs that their house was in trouble.
1. Bulge in Washing Machine Hose?
A bulging washing machine hose is an emergency. It may burst next year, next week or right now. But it will fail and it won’t just leak—it will gush. In just a few minutes, it can do thousands of dollars in damage.
What to do: Immediately turn off the valves connected to the hoses. Before your next load of laundry, you’ll need to replace the hoses. Buy new braided steel hoses and while you’re at the home centre, invest in a pressure gauge that hooks onto a spigot or laundry room faucet.
Your rubber hoses may have bulged because your water pressure was too high. It shouldn’t be more than 80 psi. If it is, install a pressure-reducing valve (PRV) before you damage other appliances and fixtures in your house. If you already have a PRV, it may be set too high or due for replacement.
2. Stains Around a Bath Fan?
The stain could be caused by a roof leak, but condensation inside the duct is the most likely cause.
If you live in a cold climate, there’s a good chance that the warm, moist air from the bathroom is condensing inside the duct and the water is seeping back down into the fan housing.
It’s soaking the drywall around the fan and may be ruining your fan motor or even the framing components in your attic.
Vents are usually on walls or roofs, but sometimes they’re in the soffits.
A stuck damper can lead to heavy condensation.
A bath fan duct that’s not insulated (or poorly insulated) gets really cold in the attic.
A cold duct filled with warm moist air is a recipe for condensation.
On exceptionally cold days, that condensed water freezes and then drips back down when the temperature rises.
Even insulated ducts get cold enough for condensation to form when the fan first starts up.
If a fan is run long enough, the duct will warm up and dry out.
Consider replacing the wall switch with a timer switch, which will run the fan for a set period of time.
Condensation forms in ducts (above left).
Warm air condenses on the inside of a cold duct and the water runs back down into the house. Insulate the duct (above right).
You could wrap the existing duct in insulation, but it’s usually easier to replace it with a duct prewrapped in an insulated jacket.
3. Efflorescence on Chimney Brick?
Efflorescence is the white material that appears on brick. It occurs when moisture moves through masonry. That moisture picks up minerals and leaves them behind in the form of tiny crystals.
The minerals themselves do no harm, and a small amount of efflorescence is common. But heavy efflorescence on your chimney is a cause for concern. It’s a sign of moisture inside the chimney – and when that moisture freezes, it can slowly wreck the chimney from the inside out.
Even more alarming, your flue liner could be cracked or broken, and deadly combustion gases from your furnace, fireplace or water heater may be leaking into your home.
Cracks in the crown allow water in (top left). Water that gets inside the chimney through cracks in the crown can cause efflorescence and damage the bricks.
Seal the crown (bottom). Small cracks in the crown can be sealed with an elastomeric masonry sealer, but a crumbling crown will have to be replaced. Smear on the sealant by hand, then smooth it with a brush.