Articles by Keith Tripp

Nice PEX

Plastic water supply pipe.

“Nice pecs” used to be a personal compliment. Of course this was a long time ago. Back in that day, copper was used for water supply plumbing. Plastic water pipe has been used in residential construction for about twenty years now. Plastic pipe is lower cost both to purchase and install. The most common plastic pipe is called PEX. This is cross-linked polyethylene. The X stands for cross linking and this happens at the molecular level, it doesn’t describe the spider web of plastic pipe that you may find in the basement around your water heater. The cross linking of polymers results in a material that is more resistant to deformation and flow, but is less flexible.

There were many growing pains along the way with the advent of plastic water pipe. There are almost too many lawsuits to keep track of for pipe or fitting failures. Complicated by geographical temperature extremes, local building practices, and local water conditions, these lawsuits that originated all over North America were not necessarily reflective of valid issues in the Canadian GTA house. The lawsuits mostly related to leakage at fittings, and less often to actual pipe failure. Mostly the brass fittings were problematic, with an issue called dezincification.

Many of the early issues have been resolved and for the past 8 years or so plastic pipe issues seemed to have calmed down. If you have “old” (about pre-2008) plastic pipe in the house it’s worth checking for any signs of leakage or oozing at fittings, especially close to the water heater.

by Keith Tripp, 2016

Top Ten New Home Issues

Top Ten New Home Issues

Buyers of most new homes built in Ontario are covered by the Tarion warranty system. (see Tarion.com).  ProVantage Property Inspection provides warranty inspections for homeowners. This is the same detailed inspection as in the case of resale, with the report customized to align with the Tarion on-line reporting system.

 

Missing siding at a new home

Missing siding at a new home

Each year I wonder if the builder is going to do such a good job that I can’t find enough defects for my client to justify the cost of the inspection. That hasn’t happened yet. So, I thank the builders for allowing the warranty inspection business to remain viable.

 

The buyer of the new home is getting a better product than in years past. Now that the changes from the “2012” codes are firmly entrenched, the required attention to detail to meet basic code requirements means a better built home. The home also is more complicated, with the installation of energy saving products such as HRVs, DWHR units and hot water recirculation pumps. Sump systems have also make a come-back for different reasons in different municipalities.

 

So here are the top ten new home issues that allow the warranty inspection business to remain viable:

  1. Builders being chronically behind schedule and allowing homeowners to move in to incomplete homes. This means that landscaping, driveways, steps and decks, and gutter and downspout systems are incomplete.
  2. Incomplete or missing exterior sealants
  3. Errors at exhaust installations, including missing terminals, and even complete exhaust systems missing.
  4. Incomplete roofing and flashing details, especially at locations that are not visible from ground level. (See photo above).
  5. Incorrect plumbing installations. This relates to some of the more complicated plumbing systems now used such as DWHR units and hot water recirculating pumps.
  6. Attic Insulation underfills and blow outs. With the R50 requirement, insulation is often about 18-20 inches deep. Underfilling attic insulation has always been an issue. I find fewer underfills now, but the deep insulation is prone to being blown around especially when light fiberglass is used.
  7. Weep hole details in brick veneer walls: Weep holes not fully open, weep holes absent where required. Missing weep holes is most prevalent at “stone-style” brick installations where the brick pattern is irregular.
  8. Poor quality materials and workmanship at sump installations, including the installation of perforated basins where not appropriate.
  9. Builders failing to explain complicated features to homeowners. By failing to educate their clients on what they are selling them, that makes the education side of my inspections beneficial. Homes are more complicated than ever. The builders’ reps are usually poorly equipped to explain the new features and related risks and maintenance requirements.
  10. Poor quality concrete work at basement floors, garage floors and foundation walls. Even though many of the concrete cracks may not be covered under warranty, highly visible cracks cause concern to homeowners and trigger customers to request warranty inspections.

by Keith Tripp, 2016