Last month I wrote: Thanks to having several years of experience selling real estate in the greater Lake Norman area after 15 years selling in California, I can not only tell you exactly what to look for regarding earthquake safety (okay, not terribly useful here) but now I can also explain the benefits and shortcomings of different types of siding, how to mediate moisture in your crawlspace, what levels of radon are considered acceptable, how to test septic systems, private well-water and what to do if your double paned window seals break. Here is Part 3:
Moisture: What to look for when buying a home in the Lake Norman area
Moisture related issues are probably the most common problems found during the home inspection process here in the greater Lake Norman area. If you are not from the south, then this may seem surprising. Humidity, our amount of average rainfall and our wonderful red clay soil all contribute to the tendency to have moisture issues, especially if the previous home owner did not keep up with regular but rather simple maintenance of their home.
The most common moisture related items called out in a home inspection in the Lake Norman area are:
Excessive moisture readings in the crawlspace of the home
- Excessive moisture could be caused by any or all of the following: improper ventilation, inadequate moisture barriers, leaks, condensation, or rain or sprinker water flowing into the crawlspace due to poor grading. According to one of my inspectors, one square foot of vent area should be provided for every 500 square feet of crawl space and a moisture reading of 20% or higher would require some sort of remediation. You might check with several inspectors to get feedback regarding these numbers.
Missing or inadequate moisture barrier in the crawlspace
- A moisture barrier is simply a sheet of 6 mil or thicker plastic installed over the entire crawlspace floor. This sheet traps the moisture in the soil, stopping it from seeping into the house. Very inexpensive but very important!
Old/failing and or inadequate caulking and sealing around windows and any cracks or openings that would allow moisture to get into the walls
- Inspectors recommend that homeowners check the caulking around all windows and vents several times a years. Again, this is an inexpensive yet very important.
Inadequate or clogged gutters and downspouts
- Gutters and downspouts should be designed to divert water away from a house. It is important to make sure that downspouts take the water away from the house either through piping or by grading the soil so that water flows away from the house itself and doesn’t puddle around the foundation.
Moisture damage to wood soffits, fascias and anywhere wood exists on the exterior of the home
- Any time you have wood on the exterior of your home, make sure that you maintain the paint or protective covering so that moisture can’t get in to the wood. It is important that there is no earth-to-wood contact as well. (Decking wood should not touch dirt but rather cement or footing of some sort).
- Plumbing leaks are common inspection issues everywhere, not just here in Lake Norman. It is always important to check for leaks on a regular basis and repair them before any damage can be done to any nearby wood.
Condensation in double paned windows indicating a broken seal
- Double paned windows are found in most homes around Lake Norman. The two sheets of glass need to be completely sealed to their frame in order to keep out moisture. When you viewing potential homes look for a foggy look to any windows as this probably means that a seal is broken. There are companies that claim to be able to fix the seal and at the same time remove the trapped moisture but most people elect to replace the entire window.
Of course, I am not a contractor nor a physical inspector so please use this information as general guidelines and consult a licenced contractor or inspector with specific questions regarding moisture issues in the greater Mooresville Lake Norman area homes. And, when buying real estate in the Lake Norman Area, even new construction, I highly recommend that you have a professional inspect your property!