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Friday, September 16 2011
Has your biffy ever started talking to you? Toilets don’t speak English, instead they speak a type of gibberish known as Drip Latin.  Not quite the Latin we spoke as kids – you know, when we didn't want our little brothers or sisters to understand what we were talking about. My favorite one, usually aimed at the most annoying sibling: “amscray upidstay."

Toilets on the other hand have a special language, and curiously, it sounds a lot like flowing water.

As a general contractor in Seattle, and now as a Seattle home inspector, I have learned to recognize and heed this toilet talk. I recall a kitchen floor tile job I did for a neighbor when I was contracting several years’ back. It was getting close to shutting down time and I had crawled around all day laying tile on kitchen floor. Well, I do drink a considerable amount of coffee during the day, so right before leaving the job I had to use the bathroom. I recall hearing Drip Latin coming from the toilet. I performed the “shake the handle” thing, but to no avail. The gibberish continued. So, thinking the owners probably knew about this, I kind of shrugged it off and went my merry way, thinking I would call the owners that evening when they returned home from work  I had a few things to finish up before leaving the job and I was admiring my handiwork when I looked up and saw water cascading down the hallway and leaking into the floor cavity. Ohh sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet. Panic set in as I rushed to the biffy to turn off the water.

After clean up I, of course, wanted to find out what the issue was. As it turned out, the fill valve was not shutting off the water supply. Therefore the water continued to run to the point where it overwhelmed the overflow tube and leaked onto the floor from the handle penetration in the tank. I turned off the stop valve, left a note, and later called the owners to tell them about the incident. They told me that this “toilet talk” had been going on and ignored for a long time. The owners would just shake the handle to stop it. Well this worked until it didn't, and then it leaked until it was shut off and fixed. 

The moral of this story is that it’s easy to take a toilet for granted - at least until something goes seriously wrong. When your toilet talks, remember to heed its warning.

Posted by: Don AT 12:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 12 2011
Our website is up and running, thanks to Sandy and iBuilt. It has taken awhile but the results are well-worth it. My deepest thanks to Sandy, who happens to be my best friend and business partner, as well as my spouse. Your hard work does not go unnoticed and is much appreciated.

Our home inspection business in Seattle has been robust this year. We have added a sewer scope inspection service and the volume has been brisk. Recent scopes have revealed adverse conditions such as an electrical conduit running through the sewer, collapsed or near collapsed lines, pieces of concrete in the line, and of course, root intrusion. Although the sewer inspection results can sometimes be frustrating and require follow-up, the process of doing the sewer scopes has confirmed their importance for me. It is important for buyers to have a good understanding of a property from a structural standpoint, as well as a knowledge of what's underground.

The primary goal of our sewer scope is to confirm a working line that is discharging into the main sewer, usually located in the street; and to look at the condition of the pipe for offsets, breaks and general wear. There is one particular sewer line issue that I would like to touch on, because this has been a repeating issue for me, and can cause frustration for all parties. It is discovering that the line has roots in it. Although this doesn't sound like a major issue, its resolution can be more complicated than it sounds.

A line with a lot of roots in it, generally at the bell connections, cannot be viewed properly. We may be able to push past some of the roots, but the roots are obscuring the very connections that should be viewed. It is at the connections where there are likely adverse conditions. In short, a line full of roots cannot be properly inspected and is therefore incomplete. When we encounter significant roots in the line, our recommendation is to have the roots removed and a re-scope of the line scheduled. The only way to ensure a complete root removal is to scope the line before and after the root rooter tool has done its job. This is very important, because "clearing a line" does not necessarily mean removing all of the roots. The only way to confirm that the roots are removed, is to scope the line after the root removal tool has been run in the line. In my opinion, it is best if this is done by the root removal contractor, because he can go back in and remove any roots he may have missed, or roots that have been loosened but are laying in the line. 

The bottom line is, you can clear a line with a rooter tool but you can't see if any roots or other debris remain in the line without a follow-up sewer scope. Unfortunately, many line-clearing contractors do not offer this service. Or, the seller does not want to pay the going rate of $350 to $600 dollars for a line cleaning and sewer scope evaluation. 

My advice to the seller is to go ahead and spend the money. That way you will know if the line is clear and the roots are removed. You will also know the general condition of the line and a confirmation of its location. If this is done by a professional, they will provide you with a report and DVD, and usually this is all that is needed to complete the process. If the buyer then wants their original sewer line inspector to re-scope, you can rest assured as the seller that the line will be clear and the re-scope should be routine. 

Posted by: Don AT 04:20 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, September 02 2011
We just launched our new website and now I'm posting my first blog. Not a big deal in today's business world, but a big deal for me. With the help of IBuilt, I created and am managing our website. Yea me!

Before you think me a braggart, you must understand that I learned to type on an Underwood typewriter. I've dealt with white-out, carbon copies, and broken finger-nails and wasn't introduced to a computer until I was well into my thirties. This was a daunting task for me and I procrastinated for a very long time before (and during) the process.

We're a small home inspection company and we have had other websites during our eleven years of business. They were designed and managed well, but I wanted more control - a flaw of mine. I know the pros can give me a snazier website, and one with more bells and whistles. But I don't think that's what our clients need or are looking for. They are looking for information about home inspections, or sewer scopes, or something involving home buying, selling, or maintenance. So, my intention during the design process was to create something that reflected who we are and what we have to offer. Perhaps down the road I'll add a bell or whistle or two.

Posted by: Sandy AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

Hartman Home Inspections
3925 41st Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
Phone: 206.937.6359

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