Orillia Home Inspector Tips

Providing Valuable Home Owner Resources for Maintenance

Category: Plumbing

Plumbing issues a home owner or home inspector might encounter in the Orillia area.

Septic Tank Inspections

Septic tank inspections are an often overlooked item when purchasing a rural property. typical septic system layoutTypically the seller pumps the tank prior to closing but rarely is the system itself inspected. The majority of purchasers pay too little attention to their septic tank and are most likely unaware of the possible costs of a replacement system.

When I am hired to inspect a rural property with a septic system I always advise my clients to hire a Certified Septic Tank Installer to pump their tank, which is being done by seller anyway, and get a written report on condition of system.   Certified installers are  registered with the MMAH and possess a Building Code Identification Number (BCIN#) as certified On-Site Sewage System Installer/Inspectors and have experience in defect recognition, investigation of malfunctioning systems, and detailed knowledge of the Ontario Building Code (OBC) relating to on-site wastewater treatment (septic) systems.

Beware of inspectors who have an online certificate for septic inspections and are not registered and insured to perform septic inspections in Ontario.

The primary function of the septic tank is to settle out solids from the wastewater. Solidsseptic tank levels are allowed to settle out by holding the sewage in a quiet environment within the tank. Typically, 24 to 48 hours of settling is required. A four-bedroom home might have a daily flow of 480 gallons per day (assuming 120 gallons per bedroom per day). In a 1,000-gallon tank, this provides two days for solids to settle. But as the solids build up, there is less room in the tank for the liquid and thus less settling time. The accepted maximum level of
solids in the tank is 1/3 of the liquid depth. Once the 1/3 level is reached the tank should be pumped.

In the USA over half of the inspected septic systems inspected under new EPA testing regime have failed the test.  Some of the common reasons for failure are: tanks need to be de-sludged, ineffective operation and maintenance of tank; rainwater entering tank and leakage from tanks.

Maintaining your septic tank

The lack of septic tank maintenance can cause sewage to back up into your house or solids to overflow to the drainfield. Once solids overflow and leave through the tank outlet, they can quickly clog a drain field to the point that a new one is required. Most septic tanks need to be pumped every three to five years, depending on the tank size and the amount and type of solids entering the tank. The inspection of the sludge and scum levels is the only way to determine when a tank needs to be pumped. This is not necessarily a pleasant task, but can be done relatively easily. Septic tank pumping firms are available to perform the inspection.

WETT Inspections in Orillia

Purchasing a Century Home

Don't Buy a Money PitPurchasing a Century Home requires doing your homework.  When buying an older home you are usually buying a home with built in character which has withstood the test of time and is hopefully still in living condition. There are some common issues that you might discover when purchasing an older home. Having your home inspected by someone with years of experience is paramount to ensure you invest your money wisely.  I have listed some of basic problems encountered over the years..

Your century homes foundation is probably constructed of cement and rock. Older homes do not have exterior waterproofing and there will be no weeping tile draining into sump. This inspection area is one of the most important and expensive to repair if faulty.  Many century homes will have little trenches in concrete around perimeter that drain into a dug drain hole.

Knob and tube wiring was typically installed in older homes when electricity became available. You have to have a home inspector or electrician check to ensure all the knob and tube wiring was replaced, many times I have found live Knob and Tube in service chases or in attics. Even if knob and tube was upgraded, the installed cable may not have a ground wire attached.  Some homes have upgraded outlets but no ground is not available.

Asbestos was installed in most older homes as it was the insulation of choice back in theold boiler - asbestos removed day.  Many older homes had hot water boilers with cast iron radiators. This systems were typically insulated with asbestos insulation. Many times during an inspection I find the basement asbestos has been removed but the heat ducts passing through the home still have asbestos insulation attached.  Asbestos requires professional removal which is very expensive.

Lead plumbing pipes and galvanized plumbing lines can be very expensive to replace and were used on most older homes. Most insurance companies in Ontario will not insure a home with galvanized plumbing pipes. Galvanized pipes are past their life expectancy and there is the possibility of water contamination from corroding pipes.

Older homes may have many layers of lead paint which has built up over the years. Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children and can also affect adults. In children, lead poisoning can cause irreversible brain damage and can impair mental functioning. It can retard mental and physical development and reduce attention span. It can also retard fetal development even at extremely low levels of lead. Thus, young children, fetuses, infants, and adults with high blood pressure are the most vulnerable to the effects of lead.

Your house is old and gorgeous but how is it heated.  During inspections I have had clientsOil Tank Costs who were quite surprised to learn that the only heat on second floor were some grilles in the floor.  So much for privacy or toasty warm beds.  Also older homes sometimes buried their oil tanks which is no longer permitted.  Removing a buried oil tank can easily cost upwards of $20,000.00 and if it has leaked, the sky’s the limit on costs.

The Orillia Home Inspector has over ten years of experience in inspecting Century Homes and is also a Certified Building Code Official with the Ontario Building Officials Association.

Cheater Valve Used for Venting

Cheater Valve Used for Venting. This is a common issue that I have often wrote about as it confuses some Home Inspectors. Cheater Valves, a.k.a. air admittance valves are addressed by the Ontario Building Code and may be used when installed in compliance with the code. Your local municipality may restrict the use of “cheater valves” and it is recommended that you check with them prior to installing one.

2.5.9. Air Admittance Valves
(See A-2.2.10.16.(1) in Appendix A.)

2.5.9.1. Air Admittance Valve as a Vent Terminal

1) Individual vents may terminate with a connection to an air admittance valve as provided in Articles 2.5.9.2. and 2.5.9.3. (See also Sentence 2.2.10.16.(1).)

2.5.9.2. Air Admittance Valves

Cheater Valve Installation1) Air admittance valves shall only be used to vent
a)fixtures located in island counters,
b)fixtures that may be affected by frost closure of the vent due to local climatic conditions,
c)fixtures in one- and two-family dwellings undergoing renovation, or
d)installations where connection to a vent may not be practical.

air-admittance-valveAir admittance valves shall be located
a)not less than 100 mm above the horizontal branch drain or fixture drain being vented,
b)within the maximum developed length permitted for the vent, and
c)not less than 150 mm above insulation materials.

2.5.9.3. Installation Conditions

1) Air admittance valves shall not be installed in supply or return air plenums, or in locations where they may be exposed to freezing temperatures.

2) Air admittance valves shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer`s installation instructions.

3) Air admittance valves shall be rated for the size of vent pipe to which they are connected.

4) Installed air admittance valves shall be
a)accessible, and
b)located in a space that allows air to enter the valve.

5) Every drainage system shall have one vent that terminates to the outdoors in conformance with Sentence 2.5.6.2.(1).

Note: If you meet the conditions required by Ontario Building Code and Municipality it is important to ensure your valve is CSA approved.

If you are selling your property and a home inspection report details a list of deficiencies, sometimes it is in your best interests to do some research into some of deficiencies noted. I have received the odd gift from home owners who have been requested to make some expensive repairs prior to selling home, when in fact they were not required. An in-experienced home inspector can cost both the buyer and seller money.

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