The Whole House Cleaner Maid

I was about halfway through an inspection of a beautiful 15-year-old upscale single-family house in McLean when I noticed the maid going about her Enterprise, AL cleaning services routine.

She was using a conventional vacuum cleaner. As an inspector some things make me go “Hummmm.” In this case, it was the fact that I had inspected a whole house vacuum machine in the garage that seemed to be working fine and I had run across a loop of hose stored in a closet.  Yet here was the maid using a separate vacuum cleaner. What gives?

I know a lot about whole house vacuums, having installed one myself when I built my home 30 years ago. I enthusiastically recommend them to everyone, especially people with houses under construction because that’s when it’s easy to install them.

These machines truly make your life easier, and they can work like a charm.  I asked the maid why she wasn’t using the in-wall vacuum cleaner? And she said “We are afraid of it!” She was referring to herself and the “Mrs.” In the four years she had been cleaning for them, she had never used it.

I was curious and being a good Samaritan I got the dusty hose out and plugged it in. Wow – suction! In about 10 , took over and started using it and she loved it! It was much better at getting up the Collie’s hair that was all over everything.

Although these units are terrific, not many people know about them and I don’t run into them very often. I love to plug the name of my unit’s manufacturer,  Nu Tone because they honored their lifetime warranty on my unit when it’s motor went burned out after 16 years! They gave me a new one no questions asked! I think the company was purchased by Broan and I hope that doesn’t change anything about the product or service.

Sometimes I see these machines installed incorrectly with the unit’s exhaust back into the house, or with clogged lines and no convenient clean-out installed.  A cleanout is important as I learned when my young son tried to clean up his room by vacuuming up all his toys. Weebles, remember them? They don’t vacuum well.

Sometimes I see burned out motors or worn out hoses.  But most often, they are not used because when the house changed hands the sellers didn’t tell the buyers what a great thing they are getting with the in-wall vac.

Home inspections can be fun and educational.  You never know what you will find.

Representative Sampling is BS

When I was training to be an inspector I had several inspectors and trainers tell me that it was OK to do a representative sampling of outlets, windows, etc. It didn’t sit well with me and I have, over the years, tried an experiment to test whether representative sampling is even worth considering. I have learned that representative sampling is BS. Here is a good example:

Recently, I was inspecting a house and it had a garage ceiling hatch. The hatch was 15 feet up. I said to myself, “Damn, I really don’t want to go out and struggle with the big ladder. There’s probably nothing up there.” Then I went out and got the ladder. What we found was a section of the wall of the attic which adjoins the house that had minimal R-11 batt insulation hanging loosely over the copper piping to the Master Bath Shower. Not good. I told my client that this has to be fixed immediately. The pipes need to be individually insulated, the wall insulation needs to be improved, and sheathing needs to be installed covering the insulation. Since the insulation was absolutely dry, I didn’t think much more about it.  It would be in my report.  Well, about ½ an hour later I found the hot water shut off, OFF, at the water heater. The water heater pilot lite was on. Finding no reason why this water would be off I turned it on. A couple of minutes later we found Niagara Falls in the garage. Water dripping from about 40 places in the garage ceiling. The house was vacant, and it is obvious that the owner knew about this defect. A note would have saved a lot of money and probably a sale. Was he thinking I would miss this?

Whenever my tendency is to think, something will be OK and I don’t need to check it, I stop and say to my self…”Random Skip”. Then I check it. More often than not, I am glad I did.

You never know what you are going to find!