Star Bulletin & Advertiser – Sunday Edition
January 15, 1989
By Star Bulletin Staff
(View newspaper clipping)

Home inspections can prevent problems
Water-related troubles are the most common cause of home damage

Experienced home inspectors, such as Manny Manfredi of Kailua, have seen it all when it comes to problems.

In the past 12 years, Manfredi has inspected more than 1,000 Hawaii homes.

He said most of the major problems found could have been easily prevented or corrected if the homeowner knew or paid attention to these common problem: water intrusion affecting the foundation, structural ground termite damage, roofs at the end of their life, improper electrical wiring, wood in contact with the ground, structural problems such as incorrect framing not up to building standards and dry/wet rot of exposed wood.

Control of surface water (usually rain) around the house is very important and usually easy to maintain or correct. It should be checked at least once a year, and since this is the rainy season, here are some tips:

• On a heavy rainy day, walk around your house and note any water that pools against the house or reaches the exterior wall and foundations. See whether the house is acting like a dam in a river.

• Observe where the water comes from and runs to – side, front rear, or next door, etc.

• If the house is elevated (post and pier construction) and if it is safe to go under the house, inspect for any water intrusion. Please be very careful with the electrical wiring while you are under the house. You are in direct contract with the ground and any exposed wire "will curl your hair and other part of your body very nicely," said Manfredi.

• No water should ever reach or be present under the house. By far this is the most often and common cause of structural problems found. Water will disturb and undermine the ground around and under the walls and supporting cement block, thus causing sags, cracks, and settling. This is even more important when the house is in a hill or the ground slopes toward the house.

Control of the water may require roof gutters, landscaping, a French drain system (in the ground) or in some cases a masonry wall or a combination. All depends on the amount of water and the topography of the ground around the house. Whatever the situation may be, fix it or have it fixed.

• While you are either under or around the house, pay special attention to any wood, boxes, old lumber, or anything that may be termite edible in contact with the ground. Get rid of it or store them above the ground level. If any section of the walls, frame, exterior siding or supporting post is in contact or very close to the ground you are openly inviting termites for lunch and dinner.

• Termites will travel on the surface of masonry-concrete and steel to reach wood that is moist and juicy. So go around and outside and inside – under sinks, and around shower and tub and toilets – to look for any water stains, or anything wet. Have it fixed.

• If you hear drops inside your attic, have the roof checked for leaks or water seepage. Owners may patch up or repair roof leaks to extend the life of the roof, but water seepage is very hard to detect and correct. If water keeps seeping on a section of the roof, this section will more likely have the necessary humidity and related environment for termite intrusion. So if your roof is at the end if its life, and you really care about your house, reroofing is the best approach rather than patching.

• When was the last time you treated against termites? When was the last time you called a termite company for a full inspection and prevention report? If you do not remember, then more than likely it is overdue.

• Don't endanger your home by changes to the electrical system. Manfredi has seen people increase the size of the circuit breaker because it was tripping or they wanted to increase the ability of the wiring system. This is very dangerous and will cause the wiring to overheat and possibly start a fire. In the last four months, six homes had this problem.

• People also have ungrounded and/or improperly wired outlets. These include outlets with three prongs and no ground connected, reverse polarity, open electrical junctions made outside boxes. Other mistakes are improper wiring to fans, lights and other weekend projects without the use of a licensed electrician.

Manfredi recommends "ground fault circuit interrupters" for outlets in bathrooms, garages and outdoors and one or two electrical type smoke detectors. Installation of these devices requires a licensed electrician.