In my last article, I wrote about how I’ve learned so much by visiting the parts of houses that most people don’t like to go into themselves. In that article, my focus was on the problems with the attic kneewall. Today, with Halloween upon us, let me show you some of the scarier stuff I’ve found in the deep, dark recesses of the houses we live in. Take the dead rat to your left, for example. Animals, both living & dead, are among the scary discoveries awaiting the arrival of the intrepid home performance explorer.
So, how about snakes? Do you like yours venomous or non-venomous? Is that a baby copperhead, hanging from a spider web? Or a harmless Dekay’s brown snake? Are you brave enough to find out?
Camel crickets love dark, damp places. That’s why I’ve seen so many of them in crawl spaces.
Below is the entrance to a particularly scary crawl space I visited a few years ago. This is the one where I came face-to-fur with a possum! Fortunately, it was already dead.
Here is something you definitely don’t want to find under your house: a corroded furnace flue pipe that allows combustion exhaust gases, possibly including carbon monoxide, to get into your home.
What have we here? Ah, yes, that common inhabitant of homes – mold. This outbreak resulted from a plumbing leak.
On the subject of “microbial infestations,” the legally cautious term I learned from a speaker at the Affordable Comfort (ACI) conference a few years ago, they also grow on wood when the humidity levels in the air are high.
Although your home probably doesn’t have sparks running up a Tesla coil, as in Frankenstein and other scary movies, it may well have some scary electrical problems of its own:
And below, those wires should be connected in junction boxes, not floating loose:
Lest you think electrical problems are only for existing homes, here’s a nice little wiring trick in the house that I built:
(OK, this wasn’t really scary if you knew that it was a joke. My friend and electrician, Zot, stuffed as many extra scraps of wire and empty romex sheathing into the junction box as would fit. The inspector really liked this at the rough-in inspection!)
Finally, there’s nothing like an open sewer under the house to give it some realistic Halloween flair – and aroma! (Note the liquid level in that pipe and the toilet paper melting into the dirt.) This was the same home that had the dead rat in the attic.
Allison A. Bailes III, PhD is a speaker, writer, building science consultant, and the founder of Energy Vanguard in Decatur, Georgia. He has a doctorate in physics and is the author of a bestselling book on building science. He also writes the Energy Vanguard Blog. For more updates, you can subscribe to Energy Vanguard’s weekly newsletter and follow him on LinkedIn.
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