How to Inspect your House Windows and Doors

You don’t have to be a construction expert in order to realize that doors and windows are some of the most complex elements of a building’s exterior and that is why they need to be properly inspected as following:

Exterior Doors Inspection

entrydoorsinspectionWhen it comes to examining exterior doors, they need to be checked for their hardware functionality, overall fit and operation, but also their condition. There are many types of doors including glazed and non-glazed doors, aluminum, doors, steel doors, double and single wooden doors, but also hinged doors.

When checking the plastic and wooden doors, make sure that they are properly protected from the elements. They should also be rated for external use.

In warmer climates, most people will choose to use jalousie doors which need to be checked carefully to ensure that the louvers not only close in unison, but also able to offer adequate weather protection.

There are many buildings that can also use glass framed doors of operable and fixed panels that feature aluminum, vinyl covered wood, but also wood frames. In this case, you need to carefully inspect the track of the siding doors and make sure they are straight and that they’re free from breaks and dents. Take note of the doors’ locksets and degree of physical security and carefully inspect pairs of sliding and hinged doors.

The doors need also have the condition of their sills and frames inspected in order to ensure that they are protected against the elements and that there is no risk of flashing. In a hurricane region, make sure to check the double doors and exterior doors and make sure they have dead bolt locks with a throw length of minimum 1′.

Windows

windowsinspectionWhen examining windows, you need to inspect the condition of the sashes, sills, frames and their overall fit and operation. The interior inspection is when the windows’ hardware and overall condition will be properly assessed.

In residential buildings, inspectors may come across up to six kinds of frame materials and 8 types of windows. To name the type of materials used for the frames, they are metal clad wood, plastic clad wood, wood, but also steel, aluminum and of course, plastic.

The variety of windows to be inspected can range a lot and it includes fixed windows, outer awning windows, horizontal sliding windows, casement windows, but also single hung and double hung windows. On top of these types, there are also jalousies which are basically louvers made of glass on either a steel or aluminum frame.

The most vulnerable part of a window is the glazing around the glass panels and that is why it needs to be inspected very carefully, since repairing it is very time consuming.

Glazing strips and tapes around glass panels in aluminum or steel sashes should be patiently examined since they may indicate deterioration such as poor fit or hardened sealant. The metal sashes should be checked for weep holes which have been blocked by dirt, sealant or paint. The good news is that if they’re clogged, cleaning them is very simple.

Windows that aren’t protected against the elements should be checked for the presence of essential flashing at the head. If the windows are accessible from flat roofs or close to the ground, the inspector should take note of how secure they are, including their locks.

If inspecting the windows in a hurricane area, the inspector should take note of the ones that aren’t protected by shutters.

Geographical location also plays important role, maybe not in a way the windows should be inspected, everything above still applies, but in overall expectations of the window condition. You should expect the condition of a 10 year old wood window in Florida where the temperatures are staying above freezing (well, almost always)  to be much better than the condition of an identical window in Northern parts of US. For a 10, maybe 15 years old unit without proper maintenance window replacement might be necessary.

Weather stripping

weatherstrippinginspectionDoor weather and window stripping fall into 3 types, including plastic, foam plastic or metal stripping and each of them should be checked for fit. Plastic stripping needs to be checked for cracks and brittleness, foam plastic should be checked for resiliency and metal needs to be inspected for straightness, bends and dents. Also, the weather stripping should be held in place securely.

Shutters

shuttersinspectionThere are 2 types of shutters, including functional and decorative shutters. Make sure to check the shutters’ mounting to the wall and their condition.

Next, you need to assess how accurately the shutters meet their purpose, including protection against the elements, security, light control and privacy. Try to operate them and see if they work properly.

In a hurricane region, make sure the shutter are certified for hurricane use. If they also provide protection to glass doors and windows, make sure they were tested for windborne debris and impact resistance.

Awnings

awningsinspectionSometimes, glazed exterior doors and windows feature awnings over them to control the amount of sun entering the property, but also for decoration purpose. In terms of materials, awnings are generally made of plastic, metal or fabric on a plastic or metal frame.

While some of them can be easily folded against the external wall, others are fixed in place. Carefully check their condition and try to operate them to see if they work properly.

Storm Doors & Windows

stormdoorsandwindowsinspectionWhen it comes to storm doors and windows, they need to be assessed for their overall fit, condition, weather tightness and operation. Carefully check the condition of the glass and screen inserts. Take a good look at the weep hole as well and see if they’ve been blocked by dirt, sealant, paint or other types of debris.

Garage Doors

garagedoorsinspectionCheck the overall condition of the garage doors, but don’t forget to check for weather tightness, fit and operation as well. Doors with motors should be operated using the provided remote control while motorless garage doors need to be operated manually. The operation in both cases needs to be safe, swift, quiet and smooth. Check the door safety reversing device and take note of damaged or bent pieces, rust or loose connections.

Hardboard or wooden garage doors should be checked for rotting, splitting and cracking, steel doors need to be checked for rust, aluminum doors for bents and glass fiber doors for UV light deterioration.

In a hurricane area, make sure the assembly was reinforced or tested for wind loads or hurricanes.

Safety Glazing

safetyglazinginspectionGlazed entrance doors, such as sliding glass patio doors, storm doors, excluding jalousie doors need to be adequately wired, completely tempered or laminated glass or any other type of approved material. On top of that, glazing adjacent to any other surface that is generally used for walking needs to be safety glazing.

House Exterior Wall Inspection Essentials

Masonry refers to using individual units bound together with mortar and laid in to create various structures. When inspecting a property, house inspectors will find both veneer and rugged masonry walls. Unfortunately, each of them has various flaws.

Solid Masonry Walls

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A lot of properties these days are built using stone or full thickness brick masonry. There are also many new homes which are built using wood frame at the second floor and concrete blocks at the 1st floor. However, regardless of the way they are built, they are still prone to developing cracks. The cracks develop because of the natural settling of the property and a mortar line shrinkage.

wallcrackcausedbycorrodedlintel

 

The duty of a home inspector in regards to this is to find out whether the cracks can be considered defects or not. Cracks of any kind (including larger cracks) need to be inspected even more in order to see what consequences they can have on the property’s structure and that’s because they’re generally responsible for allowing water to seep in.

brickwalldamage

 

Most of the times, if the cracks in masonry walls are larger than one fourth of an inch, then they have to be inspected further. On top of that, if small cracks measure up to one fourth of an inch or even more than that, then this can be a sign of more than regular movement. If the cracks have lateral movement, they need to be inspected by a structural engineer as soon as possible in order to avoid massive damage to the property’s structure.

It’s also essential to check for other proofs and signs of movement which lead to the cracks in the walls. Its can include sloping floors, interior cracks, rubbing or trimmed interior doors, wracking of door frames and window frames and so forth. These signs, including the property’s age and the type of material that is inspected can signal more than regular movement and necessitate evaluation by professional and advice on what exactly needs to be done to fix these issues.

There are also licensed masonry contractors capable of  performing professional evaluation of a compromised  masonry structure. The main benefit of utilizing their help is a fact that evaluation and a masonry wall repair quote are in most cases performed without any charges to property owner.

Compared to cracks, bulges are a lot easier to assess and that is because they generally indicate movement in the wall. Because there is a chance that the wall may fail completely, it’s recommended that these issues are immediately investigated by a professional.

There are of course many other areas that have to be inspected carefully when it comes to rugged masonry walls and they include doors and windows. Rugged masonry walls aren’t barrier walls and that is why they can allow moisture to penetrate the property. Also, in order to allow for proper water drainage from behind the wall, a number of wythes is required.

Because of this, if there are any straight intrusions in the wall, then this can cause the moisture to be slowed down on its way towards the bottom. When this happens, the wood frames will absorb the moisture and become deteriorated.

Usually, when it comes to older stone masonry or solid brick masonry walls, they are reinforced using mortar. However, the mortar was usually soft and given the fact it’s also porous, it isn’t able to stop the moisture and prevent it from escaping between the stone or bricks. In time, old lime mortar will also deteriorate which means that it needs to be raked down and replaced.

It’s a process that many refer to as pointing.

re-pointing brick wall

 

The thing is that if the same type of mortar is not used, then this will cause the CMUs to spall. Therefore, if you’ve noticed your masonry walls have begun to deteriorate, then you should consider hiring a professional masonry expert who has experience and is knowledgeable in restoration procedures.

Veneers

brickveneerexample

 

In general, veneers can be any type of material, yet they’re oftentimes synonymous with either faux stone or brick. Since they are large materials, anchored veneers need a substructure. Using metal straps positioned at 24” on center each way, the veneers are carefully anchored to the wood frame walls. The materials should be installed with one to two inches of air gap between one another and the timber frame walls since this will cause the humidity to weep towards the bottom.

masonryveneerwall

 

Most of the times, weep holes are installed not more than 33” on center according to the Residential Building Code. On the other hand, according to the BIA, you should consider twenty four inches for weeps and sixteen inches for wicks, since this is going to help prevent pests from infesting the property and also make it easy for moisture to escape the wall.

The attached veneers are going to be glued to the property by using thin set plastic mortar. The way it goes is that a metal lath and building paper are going to be applied to the external part of the timber framing. After that, a three eights of an inch thick coat of plaster is applied and left to dry.

When the coating has dried properly, the joints are mortared and the attached veneer is glued. This is a simple way to go about installing them and the good news is that there’s no need to consider a second substructure ledge for the veneer.

Evaluation and repairs are generally considered necessary when inspectors detect issues in the anchored veneers such as lack of moisture exits, jammed weep holes and lack of weep holes.

From time to time, home inspectors can also come across attached veneer walls with portions that have become displaced because the humidity behind the wall couldn’t escape and the freezing led to movement.

When it comes to headers or metal lintels, they are generally installed to offer support to the masonry veneer, but sooner or later they are going to rust. If the inspector detects that the veneers have moved or that there’s excessive rusting, then he should investigate the matter further. In this case, there’s always going to be fissures of the mortar in the metal lintel. Contrary to what some people may believe, this is absolutely normal and they shouldn’t fill it with caulking since it represents the exit for humidity.