Q. Catch Pan Under Washer?

Q. Hey Mark,

Our home inspection report recommends a catch pan under the washing machine. What exactly is that and how do I get one?

Thanks,
Andrew

A. Hey Andrew,

Recommending a catch pan under a washing machine is a common recommendation with some home inspectors. Some municipalities even require it in certain circumstances.

Personally, I don’t commonly recommend catch pans for a number of reasons. The first problem being that they are difficult to install after the home is already built. If installed properly, they will have a drain and plumbing to direct the water safely away from the leak. However, if not installed with a drain, or if the drain is clogged, they can easily overflow if the home is not occupied for a period of time, and the leak is not detected right away. Another reason being that they only “catch” the water that falls directly into them and do nothing to address water spraying all over the room from a busted hose or pipe. Lastly, they are easily damaged when replacing the washer/dryer, or removing them for servicing or cleaning.

Instead, I recommend specific devices be installed on all appliances that use water, because of the possibility of a future break. I have an affiliate relationship with a company that manufactures these devices and homeowners can install them themselves. The company is called “Flood Stop”. The devices have a small sensor that can be placed on the floor, which detects moisture. Once the sensor is activated, the device immediately closes a valve on the water supply to shut off water to the appliance. It also sets off an alarm to alert you that there is some sort of problem. Some insurance companies may offer discounts on your premiums with these devices installed. Be sure to check with your insurance carrier to see if that is the case with your coverage. These devices, depending on the appliance, run around $100-$125.

You can learn more about the flood stop products by clicking this link: Flood Stop. I have personally talked to the owner (and inventor) of flood stop and he has agreed to offer you (as well as any other reader accessing this special link) a 10% discount should decide to purchase any of his products. Simply enter coupon code “king” at your checkout.

St. Louis Earthquake, Cracks in Foundation & Radon Gas

5.2 Earthquake and Radon

Hey Readers,

Since the recent earthquake here in St. Louis, I’ve received calls from folks who are concerned about cracks that have formed in their homes. Earthquakes instill a fear in all of our hearts that the structural integrity of our home might be compromised. For larger earthquakes, that is a very real and serious concern. When we experience a medium intensity quake, as we did this week, typically the only damage is minor cracking of foundation walls, and basement slabs, as well as cracking of masonry. Continue reading

Q. My Inspector Couldn’t Access the Attic

Q: I am purchasing a home, and I just had a home inspection done. The sellers still live there, and they had some belongings in the closet that were blocking access to the attic. My inspector said that he was unable to look in the attic because it was blocked. It was only a couple of boxes, shouldn’t he have simply moved them? It just seems lazy to me. I mean, for the money I was paying him, I think he could move a box or two.

A: I understand your frustration with the situation you encountered. Unfortunately, this is a common misunderstanding; so let me address it. This probably is not an issue of laziness on the part of your inspector. Continue reading

Q. Why Do Inspector Prices Vary?

Q: Hey Mark

I’ve been getting prices from different home inspectors and it seems the prices vary quite a bit. Why are there so many different prices for the same thing?

A: Well, I think you answered your own question. They are not different prices for the same thing. They are different prices for different home inspections.

Each inspector will probably be inspecting similar things (Structure, Electrical, Plumbing, Roof, HVAC). How that inspection is performed, what specifically is covered, and how thoroughly it is covered, is unique to each inspector. Inspectors also have different ways of reporting the homes defects. Different inspectors offer different services.

I recommend using a list of questions to ask a home inspector you are interviewing. If you follow this link you will find a good and impartial list of questions from H.U.D. titled: “Ten Important Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector.” It will help you get a better feel for what is or is not being done for the price that is quoted.

Q. What’s the Problem with Fuse Panels?

Q. Hey Mark,

The home I am buying has a fuse panel. I was told this is bad and some insurance companies will not insure the home. Is this correct?

Rose R.

A. Hey Rose,

Having a fuse panel in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Fuse panels are older, but older doesn’t necessarily mean defective. In fact, fuses have proved to be a reliable way of protecting circuitry because of their design. Continue reading