DEAR BARRY: I’ve been a home inspector for many years and have inspected more than 6,000 homes. For the first time since becoming an inspector, I’m shopping for a home of my own and plan to inspect it myself. A friend has advised against this. He says I should hire another home inspector. I feel totally confident to do my own inspection but would like your opinion. –James
DEAR JAMES: There is a saying in the legal profession that an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client and an idiot for a lawyer. This axiom was born from bitter and costly experience and can be applied to a number of professions. Medical doctors, for example, seldom have family members as patients.
The wisdom of this rule applies as well to home inspectors, for one simply reason: Objectivity is essential when evaluating the condition of a home, and emotional involvement reduces objectivity.
To be objective, an inspector must be unconcerned about the outcome of the inspection and the nature of the findings. Therefore, your home inspection should be done by someone with no vested interest in the property.
Attorneys, doctors and home inspectors are well advised not to mix professional activities with personal concerns. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t inspect the property, but you should not be the only home inspector to inspect it.
DEAR BARRY: Our home was built without a clothes dryer vent to the outside. The laundry is in the garage, and the previous owners used to let dryer lint settle on everything. We solved this by purchasing a dryer vent bucket from the hardware store, but our plumber says this is not permitted by code.
The bucket works just fine and never gives us any trouble. We just fill it with water and connect the dryer duct. The water in the bucket collects the lint, and we change the water from time to time. Is our plumber right about the code violation, or is the vent bucket OK? –Jan
DEAR JAN: Clothes dryer vent buckets are often used by homeowners whose laundries are not properly vented. They are commonly sold in hardware stores and, when regularly maintained, appear to perform their intended functions adequately. But it should be clearly understood that dryer vent buckets do not comply with the requirements of the Mechanical Code.
There are two reasons to require an exterior dryer vent: The first is excessive moisture, and the second is lint. When the water in a load of laundry is expelled into a building, moisture condensation can cause fungus and mold infection. When lint accumulates inside a building, the buildup can pose a fire hazard.
A vent bucket can trap some or most of the moisture and lint, but it cannot catch all of it. What’s more, the vent bucket depends on continued maintenance of the water level. If the water is spilled out or is lost by evaporation, the bucket becomes useless.
Ask your plumber if there is a practical vent path from your dryer to the exterior of the building. If so, this would be a worthwhile upgrade. If not, you may have to continue using the bucket. When you eventually sell your home, the dryer vent should be disclosed to buyers as a noncomplying condition.
To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.
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