Monday, May 7, 2012

Some scary, some strange, some just make me say hmmm?

I take a lot of pictures when I do a home inspection, some of them are pretty boring and unless you see the comment that goes along with the picture they really don't make much sense.  However, every once in a while I see some strange, sometimes scary and occasionally just odd things and manage to capture those moments with a photograph.
Here are a few that might give you some insight into things a home inspector sees:

Bats on a Balcony
These little critters where found under a canvas canopy that was folded up.  This was on the 3rd floor balcony of a condominium in downtown Denver.  When I walked out on the balcony I saw what I thought might be mice poop and thought to myself, "those are some enterprising little critters", when I opened up the canopy I found that it was actually the flying kind of mice that were making the mess.  There were about 30 bats that were not too happy when I bothered them.  They kindly all flew away so I could finish my inspection, though.

This was a black widow spider I saw in a garage.  The picture does not do her any justice.  I am not a big fan of spiders, although I have to play mind games with myself every time I get into a crawlspace, but this was one of the most beautiful spiders I have ever seen.  The color of her body was a glossy black and the red hour glass shape was just like I heard described many times.  I felt bad that she was going to have to go although if it were my house I wouldn't feel a bit guilty about calling the exterminator.

This poor bird fell out of the chimney flue when I opened up the damper.  It certainly startled me but he had been dead for quite a while so there wasn't an awful smell.   The house was vacant so I can only assume that if someone had been living there they would have heard the poor thing in the chimney. I have not yet had the opportunity to encounter a live animal like a squirrel or a raccoon caught in a chimney, but I guess it isn't uncommon in the inspection world.

     This was a Do It Yourself sump pit and pump.  Unfortunately it worked about as well as you might expect.  the top of the bucket was above the floor joist.  It certainly couldn't have handled the flood that would have been required to fill the buck.  I'm not sure they understood the purpose.

This swag lamp as attic lighting was rather creative and pretty stylish to boot.  The best dressed attic in the neighborhood I imagine.

The car jack as floor support is much more common than you might think.  This is one of the better pictures I've been able to get of that 'fix' to a sagging floor.

I'll include more pictures in a later post.

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How to find a stud...

Of course I'm talking about the wood framing member found behind your drywall, but you knew that didn't you?
A Good Place to Start
    To find your first stud look for a receptacle (electrical outlet) in your wall.  The electrical boxes which hold your receptacles are attached directly to a wall stud.  You will find a stud located on one side or the other of the receptacle. 

 Electronic Stud Finder (the best method)
The surest method of stud-finding is the electronic stud finder.  This stud finder locates studs by measuring the density of a wall.  These units flash a light when a stud is found.  By coming toward the stud from both ends, you can find and mark its edges, and then accurately determine its center.  After finding the approximate location of your first stud by starting at a receptacle, you can verify its location using the electronic stud finder.  The remaining wall studs should be located at 16 or 24 inch intervals along your wall.
No Stud Finder?  Try this Simple Method
     To determine on which side of the receptacle the stud is located you can drive in a small test nail.  You can feel immediately if you have hit wood.  Measure 16” or 24” from that location and using the nail test again, verify the location of the stud. 
The "Traditional" Method
     Tap the wall lightly with your knuckles or a hammer wrapped in a cloth.  The solid sound of the wooden stud beneath the wall will be different from the hollow sound produced by the spaces between studs.
     Once you locate a solid area, drive in a small test nail.  If you do not hit the stud you will have to move slightly in one direction or the other and try again.
Magnetic Stud Finder
     A low-tech and inexpensive stud finder uses a magnet to locate nails or screws which fasten wall materials to underlying studs.
          These units will find the nails and screws, but they can also pick up metal conduit and galvanized pipes, so you should verify by checking 16” or 24 “ to the side of a given reading to see if there is another stud.
Last Resort
     Drill a small, sharply angled hole in an inconspicuous spot, push in a piece of coat hanger wire or other stiff wire until it hits a solid surface.  Mark the wire with tape, remove it from the hole and measure the length of wire from the tape to the end.  This is approximate distance from your hole to the side of the stud.  Measure 16” or 24” and using a small nail verify the location of the next stud.
If you're interested in learning more about how to improve or take care of your home check out our home improvement classes at  Workshop for Women