Home Inspection FYI

Providing Help, Knowledge and Other Useful Information To Home Owners Everywhere

Home Inspection FYI - Providing Help, Knowledge and Other Useful Information To Home Owners Everywhere

Flood Damaged Buildings

Flood damaged homes and buildings are subject to hazards that include the risks of the following;

 Flooded house 150x100 Flood Damaged Buildings
  • growth of large mold colonies;
  • septic system collapse;
  • trip-and-fall injuries;
  • structural collapse;
  • fire and explosions;
  • toxic sludge and materials containing waterborne bacteria; and
  • electrical shock hazards.

Inspection Tips:

  • Inspect the building exterior for downed power lines and gas leaks. Gas leaks will smell like rotten eggs. If you suspect a gas leak, contact the utility company immediately.
  • While entering the building, see if the door sticks at the top. If it does, this could mean that the ceiling is ready to collapse. After you open the door, stand outside the doorway, clear of any falling debris.
  • Wear sturdy, treaded boots. According to the American Red Cross, the most common injury following a disaster is cut feet. Broken bottles, nails, glass, and other dangerous debris may litter the floor, and stairs may be very slippery.
  • Once you are inside the home, check for gas leaks again. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve, if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, a professional must turn it back on. Never use an open flame inside of a flood-damaged house unless you know that the gas has been turned off and the house is ventilated. To inspect for damage, use a battery-powered lantern or flashlight, and not an open flame or electrical fixture in the house.
  • Do not use appliances that may have gotten wet unless you know they have been dismantled, cleaned and dried.
  • Do not work by yourself. If you are injured, it might take a long time before you receive assistance. If you must work alone, bring a cell phone or radio so you may call for assistance, if the need arises.
  • Bring a HEPA-rated respirator to use in case you detect extensive mold. If you are asthmatic or otherwise at heightened risk to mold exposure, leave the mold destroyed Flood Damaged Buildingsbuilding. Other inspector-safety equipment, such as gloves and coveralls, may also prevent contact with mold and other contaminants.
  • Examine doors, walls, windows, floors and staircases to make sure that the building shows no signs of potential collapse. Inspect for loose plaster, drywall, and ceilings that may fall. Also, inspect the foundation for evidence of cracks and other structural damage that may render the building uninhabitable.
  • Inspect for fire hazards, such as broken and leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, and submerged furnaces and electrical appliances. Flammable and explosive materials may travel from upstream. Be aware that fire is the most frequent hazard in homes following floods.
  • Inspect for electrical system damage, such as broken and frayed wires, and burned insulation. You can turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice. Electrical equipment should be inspected by a qualified professional and dried before being returned to service.
  • Inspect for sewage and water supply-line damage. If you suspect sewage lines have been damaged, avoid using the toilets and instruct the client to call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, instruct the client to contact the water utility company and avoid operating the tap.
  • Use caution while inspecting crawlspaces for a variety of reasons, such as the presence of mold, sewage, asbestos, chemicals, rodents, and the risk of structural collapse.
  • Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes, which may have been washed into the building during the flood. You can use a stick to poke through debris to check for dangerous critters.

Advice for Homeowners of flood damaged homes :

  • Food that has come into contact with floodwater may be contaminated and it must be thrown away.  Canned food may be salvageable if the can is not dented or damaged.
  • Sterilize water if it is of questionable purity. One easy way to do this is to boil it for at least five minutes. Water wells that may have been affected by floodwater should be pumped out and the water tested for purity before drinking.
  • Have exposed wires replaced by a qualified professional.
  • As much as possible, remove the mud and silt that has entered the home, both by shoveling and hosing the house down. Mud and silt contain sewage and chemicals from farms, factories, roads and buildings. Discard items, such as mattresses and wallboard, that may be contaminated by mud or silt.
  • Turn off the house’s electricity. Do this even if the power company has turned off electricity to the area.
  • Take pictures of the building and its contents for insurance purposes.

Inspectors should be prepared for the unique dangers posed by a flood damaged house.

Green Lumber

“Green lumber” is another term for wet lumber, which is wood used in construction that has a moisture content of more than 19%.

Moisture Content of Green lumber

 
Green lumber is more commonly used in arid regions of the United States, such as Arizona and parts of California, because the wood will dry more quickly. Damper regions often require kiln-dried wood, which must have a moisture content of 19% or less. The additional expense of kiln-dried lumber is the reason it is used in only a small portion of construction.

How Wood Loses Moisture

Freshly cut wood will gradually lose moisture until it reaches equilibrium with its surroundings, which is referred to as its “equilibrium moisture content” (EMC). As it
wood 300x224 Green Lumberdries, the wood will shrink in size. Wood will continue to lose moisture until it reaches EMC, at which point it’s said to have reached its “in-service condition.”

The water that fills wood cells in lumber is known as “free water,” which accounts for most of the water weight of a tree. Cell walls also contain water, which is known as “bound water.” The weight of the water can account for more than half the mass of a tree in some species when it is cut down. Ideally, the lapse between the time the tree is first cut until the tree’s wood is used in construction will allow for most or all of the free water to evaporate, but this does not always happen. Shortly after wood is processed in lumber mills, it is bundled and wrapped in plastic, which retards evaporation. The wood has little chance to dry until the bundle is unwrapped and the framing process begins at the construction site.

Why is green lumber used?

  • Green lumber is relatively inexpensive.
  • Green lumber is softer than seasoned wood. It can be cut more easily, is not as likely to split, and nails can be driven into it more easily.

Problems associated with the use of green lumber:Fix Drywall Pops af Green Lumber

    • nail pops. Where wood frame members shrink, a gap is created between the nail and the drywall. If the drywall and nail are pushed together, the nail may force the drywall surface to elevate. A common place for nail pops to occur is at the base of vaulted ceilings near external walls. Although unsightly, they usually do not affect the building’s structural integrity. Homeowners who wish to fix this problem can simply push the nail further into the wall;
    • mold. Mold can begin to grow on green lumber before it is even used in construction. Airborne mold spores are found almost everywhere, and they can easily cause mold growth on wet lumber surfaces, especially while it is being transported long distances by train;
    • difficult to paint or stain. Low-permeability paint can prevent water vapor from exiting the wood, resulting in bubbling of the painted surface;
    • sap.  Sap and other liquid substances within the wood’s interior can ooze out and cause discoloration.
    • gaps in exterior trim can be created during shrinkage. This is especially true at the fascia

Can Solar Panels Work in the Dark?

Low Cost Solar Panels That Can See in the Dark

“Well…it can almost see in the dark. Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have just announced that they’ve been able to confirm a new high-efficiency solar cell design that handles pretty much the entire solar spectrum. To ice the solar cake, the new technology can be manufactured using ordinary low-cost processes that are currently in use”. Sounds interesting for solar panels and solar cells.

Read The Article Here From Clean Technica 

How Solar Panels work

Photovoltaic solar modules are composed of multiple, interconnected solar cells, which effectively trap photon energy between layers of silicon wafers. Negatively charged electrons are then knocked loose form their atoms, allowing them to flow freely through the semiconductors. Separate diodes, and P-N junctions prevent reverse currents and reduce loss of power on partially shaded solar panels.

Since the flow of electrical current is going in one direction, like a battery, the electricity generated is called direct current (DC). Sunlight conversion rates are typically in the 5 to 18 percent range, with some laboratory experiments reaching efficiencies as high as 30 percent. Future possibilities include the development of multi-junction solar cells that are capable of harnessing a wider bandwidth of useable light. We are still considered to be in the “early” stages of solar cells technology.