The purpose of this article is to share a few of the problems that Alto Home Inspection, LLC found during this inspection so that those shopping for homes in the Village of East Aurora can understand what a well-qualified home inspector looks for here in Western NY.
The issues described here were found during the inspection of a historic home near Hamlin Park, in November of 2020. This house was on the smaller side, and was built in 1904.
Considering that the house was over 110 years old, it’s not surprising to anyone (hopefully!) that there were a few problems found. Houses of this age have gone through at least one or two upgrades to their electrical and plumbing systems. Shingles on these houses most likely have been replaced several times.
When Alto Home Inspection, LLC conducts a residential inspection, we usually spend between 2-3 hours at the house. Our clients tend to say that we provide an extremely detailed inspection and report. Although we found quite a few areas of concern at this house in East Aurora, here we’ll just discuss a few of them.
The items that I wanted to share here affected the furnace, plumbing, electrical, foundation and windows. Three of these issues are relatively minor, but our client was informed that one of them presented a danger to the safety of little ones.
Let’s get to it!
A Furnace Leak
At first read “furnace leak” might sound a little strange. Why would a furnace have a leak? Why would moisture even be present in a furnace?
The detail missing here is that the leak I found in the furnace in East Aurora was in a high efficiency furnace. Compared to furnaces that are less efficient, high efficiency ones create condensation inside of the heat exchanger.
We won’t get into the details of why this happens in this article, but for now the takeaway should be that high efficiency furnaces produce condensation, and more skill and attention to detail is required by the furnace installer to prevent moisture from escaping from the internal pathways and causing rust.
The photos here show rust underneath the connection point between a rubber hose and a plastic cover. The leak may have been repaired in the past, but since that couldn’t be determined during the home inspection, I recommended to my client that she have a qualified furnace repair technician perform a detailed assessment of the system and make any needed repairs.
I’ve seen active leaks in high-efficiency furnaces cause rust to actually break through from the upper to the lower section of the furnace, creating an issue with air flow that essentially ruined the furnace. This is one of the reasons why I always suggest to my clients that they purchase annual maintenance contracts from HVAC companies so that their equipment can be inspected on a regular basis.
Weird Hose Connected to the Sewer Lateral
It’s not unusual in old houses in East Aurora, Hamburg or elsewhere in Western NY to find strange “features” when it comes to plumbing (or other systems).
But this short length of plastic hose that was sticking out of a hole in the main sewer pipe was a good example of why licensed plumbers should be used whenever possible.
I couldn’t sort out what the “installer” of this hose was hoping to accomplish, but the way it was done can lead to a gross result:
If there’s a sewer backup, raw sewage could come out of the hose.
Since there’s no apparent purpose for this hose, I recommended that my client have it removed and the remaining hole repaired by a qualified plumber.
Double-Hung Window Won’t Stay Open
This is a real safety issue. A window in the house would easily open, but it also would close just as easily.
It would actually quickly slam shut as soon as it was let go.
Wooden double-hung windows such as this one are fairly heavy. Consider what might happen if a kid managed to open the window then let go of it. The kid might try to catch it and hurt their arm. If timing was right, could something even worse happen?
What causes this problem?
The windows in the home were designed to use a counter-balance system to keep them open. This system included rope, pulleys and lead weights on both the left and right sides of each window.
Over time, the rope wore down and eventually broke on both sides of the window. (this is a common occurrence with historic homes of this age.)
How can the homeowner correct this life safety problem?
A good window repair person can replace the cords that connect the lower window sash to their counterweights. This shouldn’t be an expensive repair, and is something I strongly encourage my clients to do.
Bad Electrical Work
It’s amazing how many electrical problems are found during home inspections. East Aurora home inspectors can only report on visible defects, but regardless it seems that there are always several notable problems.
This house in the village would have been built with “knob and tube” wiring, and it’s been upgraded at least twice over the past 100+ years.
It seems that one of these upgrades included the installation of this orange “Romex” cable, by someone who had no idea what they were doing.
The white, black and bare copper wire that the arrow in the above picture points to shouldn’t be visible from outside of the breaker panel that it connects to. Only the orange, outside sheath should be.
Having those inside wires exposed places them at greater risk for damage. It also doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the rest of the electrical work in the home. After all, home inspectors can’t rip open walls to see what’s in them.
When I find something like this, even though the fix is super simple, the recommendation is always to have a qualified electrician make the repair and to also assess the rest of the home’s electrical work.
Don’t Skip Home Inspections for East Aurora Houses
In this competitive market in East Aurora and near Buffalo, many buyers are choosing to exclude the inspection contingency when making purchase offers.
In other states there are strong legal requirements placed on home sellers and real estate agents in terms of property disclosure reports. In California, for example, you would see a disclosure packet containing well over 30 pages of information. In Western NY, 4 pages is about all you would expect.
The home inspection contingency here in Western New York state is a critical element of the contract that provides for an independent inspection by a licensed professional. Following that inspection, you will receive a home inspection report that serves to explain in clear language the visual condition of the house that you are under contract to buy.
Considering the age of houses in East Aurora, skipping the home inspection places buyers at risk of closing on a home with foundation problems that require expensive repairs, or systemic issues with plumbing or electrical components.
My advice to those skipping the inspection contingency is to have at least $10,000 set aside for repairs upon move-in.
If you happen to be house shopping in East Aurora, we’d be glad to conduct a detailed and expert home inspection, as we do throughout the Western NY region.