What’s Warping That Siding?

What’s Warping That Siding?

As a home inspector in New Jersey you will see a great number of homes cladded with vinyl siding. Sometimes you will see a square of patch of cladding that looks like partially melted siding on the side of a house. It is easy to figure out the cause if the patch of siding is over a gas barbecue, near a direct vent for a fireplace, or other fixed heat source. It is a problem when there is with no apparent reason causing the distortion.

To get to the bottom of it you will need to visit that house at the perfect time. That time would be when the sun is out and reflecting off the high tech, low emissivity glass that is installed in the windows of the home at a perfect angle to hit that siding. That glass is low emissivity because it reflects about a third of the solar energy striking  the window, reducing solar energy entering the home. The widow is reflecting quite a bit of energy. It not only reflects the solar energy but focuses it much the same way a lens focuses light energy, the window also being a lens. This reflected, focused energy projects onto the siding nearby, and as a result, the vinyl cladding starts to absorb the energy and heats up, approaching its melting point and changing its shape. Sometimes the reflected energy can even come from a neighbor’s window to cause this melting, if close enough.

There is no easy fix for this either, unless you are willing to take the expense of siding the house with a more heat resistant material, or get rid of your nice, energy efficient windows. Both poor and expensive options. And there is no vinyl siding available right now that is resistant to the level of heat that can be generated. The most common way to deal with the situation is to block the radiation in some way. You can do this with a decorative screen or the use most common method; plant a tree (an evergreen) in the path of the radiated heat.  The designer of the home, or architect, should take this phenomena into consideration when planning the position and orientation of the windows and walls of the home to avoid the issue. -Submitted by John Bittner 3/19/19.

Weather Proofing and Weather Resistance for Homes, a Home Inspection Perspective

The primary functions of a home include providing a safe, habitable, functional living space that meets the living requirements of the occupants. To do this the home must remain functional in its environment during its economic life. Its components have to be able to survive the environment and control the effects on the occupants. Generally, this means what is considered weatherproofing the structure. Houses are first and foremost shelter. Their design must incorporate this concept from the inception. A house, no matter how beautiful and well sited, is of little use if it does not protect the occupants from weather events. Materials and products used in the structure are therefore designed to be resistant to weather, particularly rain, wind, and solar energy and to condition the space against extremes of heat and cold. But if the house is to last it must also be resistant to weathering, or the effects of weather on the structure. Failure to consider and incorporate effective design and materials in the construction of the home to be weatherproof and resist weathering results in the failure to satisfy the primary function of the home.

In New Jersey, home inspectors are required to make a visual inspection of various components of a home. The items that have to be inspected are regulated. A description of the component, defects in the component, ramifications of the defect, and recommendations to the buyer are required to be included in a written report. Inspectors are directed to include material defects in the report, but can also include non-material defects at their discretion. Material defects are defects that effect the value, safety, or habitability of the home. We will examine common defects in components including the roof, exterior cladding, windows, trim, and doors that present the first line of defense against weather and the existing conditions of these components that often indicate their ability meet their performance.

Over the course of several articles we will consider weather proofing and weathering resistance from the home inspection perspective.

 

Stephen J. Bittner, PE

Bittner Property Inspections, LLC

Home Inspections in New Jersey

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The following Q & A discussion addresses the home inspection process in New Jersey

Home Inspections in New Jersey: Q & A

Buying a home in New Jersey affords the consumer various protections and assurances. Realtors often advise buyers to get a home inspection accomplished on the prospective property.

Should I get my home inspected?

Yes you should. In New Jersey the standard real estate contract provides you certain rights concerning your impending sale. One requires the seller to correct any material defect found by a licensed home inspector during the inspection contingency period. If the defect is not corrected, usually by repair or replacement, you have contractual relief. This is powerful protection for you. No home, even a new one, is perfectly built.

What is considered a material defect?

“Material defect” means a condition, or functional aspect, of a structural component or system that is readily ascertainable during a home inspection that substantially affects the value, habitability or safety of the dwelling, but does not include decorative, stylistic, cosmetic, or aesthetic aspects of the system, structure or component.-N.J.A.

Who is allowed to inspect my home?

Inspectors in New Jersey are regulated by the Home Inspectors Advisory Board. Licensing requires formal education from an authorized provider, passing a national certification exam, and mentored home inspection experience. All inspectors are required to carry Errors and Omissions insurance and complete continuing education requirements to keep their license current.

What is inspected?

Standard inspections in New Jersey should be completed according in accordance with the regulations that govern home inspectors. Found at this link:

http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/regulations/Chapter-40-Subchapter-15-Home-Inspection-Advisory-Committee.pdf

You are well advised to review this regulation to understand what you should expect and, of equal importance what not to expect from a regulated home inspection. We will cover specifics in later articles.

John Bittner

Bittner Property Inspections, LLC

Soffit and Ridge Passive Roof Ventilation Considerations During Home Inspections

The purpose of ventilating the attic is to cool the roof deck and reduce humidity in the summer and to prevent condensation in the attic in winter. Proper ventilation also keeps the attic cooler and reduces energy cooling costs in the summer. High temperatures can degrade the roof covering and deck, leading to premature failure. Moisture deposited as condensation in the winter moths and humid conditions in the summer months contribute to mold in the attic area and rot in the decking and other structural members. Sufficient ventilation is therefore vital in a well designed and constructed house as a preventative measure to ensure longevity of the structure and a healthful living environment in the home.

Modern warranty standards established by  most roofing manufacturers now recommend a minimal ventilation intake of 9 square inches or more of net free area (NFA) per lineal foot of roof line. Ventilation outlets are recommended at an equal level. These are the minimum standards that must be met for most manufacturers’ warrantees for the roof covering to be in force.

Many existing homes with passive ventilation use a soffit intake and roof ridge outlet configuration. The existing soffit vents are normally punched vinyl or aluminum with a of a little over 6 NFA per per inch per foot of soffit overhang. As most existing soffits have 1 foot or less overhang, this represents a deficit of around 30% of currently recommended input NFA. This translates to most existing homes having inadequate input NFA when they have their roofs replaced, voiding their warranties for future damage related to inadequate ventilation.

To address this, commercial edge venting products or replacement vented soffits meeting the standard that provide the required NFA are available. These products represent a significant, but necessary, increase in replacement roofing costs. Homeowners sometimes do not increase ventilation to avoid cost or are not advised of the requirement because their roof replacement contractors are unaware of the current standards and do not advise the home owner accordingly.

New homes may not be constructed to current industry requirements. Sometimes this is due to a difference in building codes and the roofing manufacturer’s recommendations. Homeowners should be advised that as a result, their new home’s roof warranty may be compromised. Design changes should be considered in the planning stages for a new home’s roof to ensure that sufficient ventilation is included to satisfy warranty requirements, which may be in excess of the requirement in the local building code.

During a normal home inspection the existence of attic ventilation is verified, and  the system is described as built. Suspected damage related to insufficient ventilation is pointed out, the expected repercussions explained, and a recommendation given for evaluation and repair by a qualified roof ventilation contractor. Homeowners should have the ventilation corrected at the time of any structural repair to avoid recurrence of damage.

Because of the myriad ways ventilation requirements have been included in the building codes, insufficient ventilation without apparent damage to the structure is seldom listed as a defect. The normal approach is to recommend further evaluation and correction of the ventilation deficiency to ensure longevity of the roof and attic structure and avoidance of mold production in the attic space. Ventilation correction, in the absence of current structural damage or the presence of mold, often falls to the new buyer as an improvement rather than a correction of the defect.

Homeowners are cautioned that insufficient ventilation has a direct causal relationship to structural damage and existence of mold. The limited visual, non-destructive inspection of the attic space may not reveal hidden or latent defects that can later be attributed to ventilation issues. The inspector may also have limited access to all areas of the attic because of lack of access or unsafe conditions, defects may exist.

Homeowners should be aware of current ventilation requirements, and where possible, seek to improve their home’s ventilation systems to protect the structure, avoid mold proliferation, and protect their roof replacement warranties. Use of trained, industry certified contractors is highly recommended to perform this work.

Stephen & John Bittner

© Bittner Property Inspections, LLC

   Sewell, NJ