Q: The house we are buying is about three years old and has double glazed windows. Our home inspector reported moisture condensation on the inside of several of these windows. So the sellers called the builder who said this had happened in several houses in the subdivision. He said the windows can be removed, cleaned and closed. Is this a viable solution for window seal leaks?
A: When double glazed window seals fail, the problem is almost always a manufacturing defect which is usually covered by the window manufacturer’s warranty. You should get the name of the window manufacturer and ask the sellers to contact them immediately about the warranty.
Patching these windows, as advised by the builder, is an invitation to future problems. Repairs of this type are unlikely to be permanent and will void the manufacturer’s warranty. In addition, warranties on windows are generally limited to the original owner of a home; so do not close the escrow until this situation is totally resolved. Once you have purchased the home, the warranty may no longer be in effect.
Q: After moving into our house, we started hearing clicking noises in the floor, especially at night. It seemed strange, as our home inspector found no problem under the building. We called the builder but he said the subfloor is not under warranty. He recommended reattaching the plywood with screws, which was not necessary when building the house. So we asked our handyman to take a look. He discovered that the floor insulation under the house had been installed with the paper side down. Is it important and could it be the cause of the popping noises?
A: Your builder may not warrant the subfloor (although it’s hard to see why), but they should warrant the consequences of a construction defect. If the floor insulation was installed with the vapor barrier facing down, this is a significant defect because it promotes moisture condensation on the framing and subfloor. Excess moisture promotes the expansion of wooden elements, which is a possible cause of clicking noises. However, the potential for moisture-related damage, such as dry rot and mold, is of more concern.
First on the agenda is a full sub-floor and framing assessment by a trained pest control operator. This will require removing the insulation from the floor. If fungus grows, chemical treatment or replacement of wooden elements will be necessary. A professional mold investigation is also advised. Once these issues are resolved, new insulation should be installed, with the vapor barrier facing up.
The fact that your home inspector did not identify the insulation problem casts doubt on the overall thoroughness of this inspection. If an obvious defect like this was missed, there may be other undisclosed issues. Therefore, a second inspection by a more qualified and experienced inspector is advised. Try to find an inspector who has performed thousands of inspections and who has a reputation for being thorough.
• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write to AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.
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