Weekly Home Information Guide
Safety first! Have a reliable person know of your entry into any confined area especially the crawl area. The crawl area can be the hardest area to inspect. Poor lighting, bare/exposed earth, ponding water, low heights, mould, mildew, fungi, stale air, confined spaces and/or vermin may be encountered. Wear proper close fitting breathing protection.
All crawl spaces should have good cross ventilation, air/vapour barrier floors, insulated perimeter walls, insulated between floor joists, frost/freeze protected exposed piping be they drain, waste, vent, potable water or heating. Newer construction may have heated crawls, concrete/gravel floors, an air vapour barrier, drains, heating appliance or a hot water heater. There are others.
Ensure a dryer crawl by having the gutters, downspouts, perimeter drainage and splash blocks in good repair. Sloping the ground away from the structure will greatly reduce water into the crawl. Splash blocks or extended downspouts should be added to on ground downspouts to direct the water away from the base of the structure. Ensure that the window wells are clear of all debris and the drains are free flowing. Water loving trees and shrubs should be kept well clear of the home because their roots may/will plug the drainage and/or crack the foundation. It is not easy to repair either of these two systems.
The wood posts, floor joists, sub-floors, piers and bracing should be structurally sound, have a separation barrier between wood and concrete contact as this helps prevent rot. A vapour barrier will greatly reduce the moisture levels thus reducing rot damage, less vermin, no musty odors and a healthier environment.
All support columns (wood, steel, stone, cinder or cement block) should have a solid concrete footing. Remember, this is what holds up the centre of the house. Repair or replace any rotted/weakened columns or joists as these can sag the floor and prevent proper door, window or drawer use. Special areas of concern are the toilet base, tub base, and sink waste pipes. Areas behind insulation, with or without sidewall vapour barriers, are prone to insect, rot or other damage. Destructive testing is the only method to be sure of their presence. Older homes, with little or no maintenance, little or no ventilation and no ground vapour barrier, the higher possibility of some structural damage or deterioration. Older construction methods may have left the wooden cross strapping between the perimeter foundation wall and the footings. Remove all the wood and replace with expansive/hydraulic cement.
All electrical wiring should be elevated, protected and serviceable. The older the home the less likely that the system will be grounded. Any exposed light bulbs should be protected by a cage.
Ventilation/bug screens should be in good repair and cleaned at least once a year. Close them during the winter months and reopen them for the warmer months if heated. Unheated crawl areas should be vented year round. Fresh air added into the crawl areas create a healthier environment for the whole home.
Most older homes typically do not have an interior drain and we strongly suggest that one be added especially if there is a water heater or galvanized piping in the crawl. Ponding water is a source of an environmental concern.
The entry door either interior or exterior should be close fitting and insulated to prevent any unwanted drafts. An exterior door should be weather protected and locked to prevent any unwarranted entry.
Often the crawl is not inspected by the owner for a long time and as a result many problems go undetected until it is too late. A regular crawl inspection will greatly reduce any surprises by finding any problems before they become major headaches.
A change in lifestyle may include the addition of a waterbed, piano, large record collection, ceiling to floor bookcase or large aquarium and may result in the floors sagging, windows not opening, doors not closing, cracks in the walls etc. Monitor all substructure members after such additions are strongly advised.
Owning a home is probably the largest single investment a person may make in their lifetime and to ensure that the home does not prematurely deteriorate the homeowner is urged to have a yearly maintenance schedule. Simple tasks undertaken on a seasonal basis will help prolong the health of the home and its occupants year after year.
We recommend qualified tradespeople do all tasks, as they offer quality materials, proper installation requirements and most important a written guarantee.
Know that, for peace of mind, the care and attention you give your home will serve you well year after year and in comfort.