How can weather impact home inspections?
I often am asked about weather conditions by clients and how will that impact the home inspection process, occasionally I have client call to re-schedule an inspection because rain is forecasted that day. While snow may be an issue and hinder seeing exterior components, I absolutely do not like changing they date of an inspection due to rain conditions. Wet weather conditions are my best opportunity to evaluate the exterior building envelop for water leakage issues.
Let me repeat that, rainy days may help me find water intrusion that on dry days, I may only see signs of potential moisture intrusion. Signs of intrusion may be staining and sediment on basement walls and floors, and sellers may claim that it is from past events that have been corrected with no real definitive proof. It becomes a situation where the buyer has to choose to believe the seller or not and assume the risk. Actually, seeing moisture or using a moisture meter as a basis for proof of current or ongoing moisture issues provides proof so you may effectively negotiate the issue.
Water intrusion issues at windows, flashings and roofs may not show any visible moisture on walls or ceiling materials, testing every square inch of ceilings and walls is time consuming and out of the scope of a home inspection SOP. Traditionally home inspectors would look for stains and damage as clues but would not see any indications of leakage without these signs. I will scan walls and ceilings with a thermal camera and under the right thermal load conditions, moisture that has no visible indications it is present will show up as dark blue stains on the thermal image. I then verify that the area is in fact damp and not just air leakage from outside or HVAC ducts. (Note: not all home inspectors use thermal or have been trained to use thermal cameras properly to diagnose issues).
Snow, in the last few years in our area has been less of a problem than it was a number of years ago, I can only remember 2 inspections in the last two years in which I had to disclaim the roof or exterior features due to rain. In both cases I was doing a radon test and when I returned to the home two days later the snow had melted off the roof and I was able to inspect it at that time. Snow on the other hand may cause a temporary rise in radon levels in the home, this is because the snow acts as a envelope over the ground that forces soil gases towards cracks and voids in your foundation, increasing amount of leakage inside the home. Because the real-estate radon test is short term (48 hours) this can result in a temporary elevation of the test average. If the test average is very low or very high, that is typically not a concern, however when the test average is near the EPA action level of 4.0 pCi/l it may mean a second test should be conducted to verify or discount if mitigation is necessary.
Rain and roofs may mean I won’t walk the roof due to safety concerns, and I can only review the roof from the ground visually. If it is a very light rain or only misty, I can fly a drone and do a photo survey, however if there is heavy rain and/or high wind conditions, with permission, I will return at a later date to inspect the roof. Rain may also make it difficult to determine the estimated age of a roof, most roofs look younger than they are when they are wet. You can compensate for this by being able to get up close to the roof, but rains may make ladder use risky and while I feel it is very important to do the best job I can do for my clients, I cannot do this if I slip and fall off a wet ladder or roof and injure myself or something worse occurs.
The main takeaway is, that it is to your benefit to conduct an inspection immediately after or during significant rain events. Do not ask me about canceling due to rain, because I will be able to find water intrusion or confirm that there are little or no issues. I will also NOT leave you hanging if I cannot inspect and exterior area due to weather conditions as one way or another, I will find a way to get you the information you need.
Choosing Batten to Beam for home inspections
By employing the services of Batten to Beam LLC during a home inspection, homeowners can gain peace of mind knowing that their property has been thoroughly evaluated and that any weather-related concerns have been addressed. We allow homeowners to make informed decisions regarding repairs, maintenance, and future planning, ensuring the long-term safety and well-being of their homes. However, with our assistance, homeowners can mitigate the risks associated with weather-related damage during a home inspection. Please give us a call at +1 484-573-7194 for more information about inspection services or to schedule an appointment.