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Jeff Beck

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    Home Inspector

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  1. From yesterday's inspection: Is this back flow valve located in the correct position? There is a battery powered back-up pump on top of the main sump pump but only the main is protected by the back flow valve. When the main pump is manually activated it drains the crock. When the main shuts off, the crock refills through the back-up pump. The picture doesn't show it but both pumps are submerged with ample room to spare when the crock is refilled through the back-up pump. Click to Enlarge 63.54 KB Or maybe the better question is shouldn't both pumps be located on the base of the crock and protected by a single back flow valve? Thanks in advance for your advice and help Jeff
  2. Thanks Kurt, I've already told them to replace the pump and to add a back-up. In the last big rain they had almost 8" of water in their finished basement. None of the adjacent buildings flooded including the one to the north which is actually lower than theirs. I wasn't able to get an answer when I tried to speak with someone in the building department. Surprise...surprise! They have a plumber that recommended that the bottom of the sump crock be sealed which sounds like it may be a good idea. Do you know if any code requires a solid bottom to a sump crock? Just curious. Jeff
  3. California and Armitage, I think it's 1700 N. Fransisco.
  4. Does anyone know if the Chicago Plumbing Code requires that a sump pit have a solid bottom? My daughter and son-in-law's house was built around 2004 and has a sump pit with a 1/3 horse sump pump (with no back-up pump). The sides of the pit are concrete but the bottom is just stone. Their basement flooded in the last big rain storm and we couldn't figure out where the water came from until I started poking around in the sump pit and discovered that the base was just stone. My feeling is that all the moisture from the run-off bubbled up through the pit and overwhelmed the pump. Thanks for any advice! Jeff Beck Retired inspector and full time grand-pap
  5. John, I think that's true to a certain extent but not always. The insurance guys that I've talked to about this pointed out that if the K&T has been disconnected but not removed and there is a subsequent fire that's not K&T related, and the adjuster/investigator sees the K&T, they may use that to deny the claim. This leads to subsequent reviews and possibly a lawsuit which is why they want to charge more if the K&T remains. Companies the size of Allstate and State Farm have people who do nothing but think up ways to avoid spending money on claims.
  6. From what I hear from the insurance guys that I know, it depends on if you're already a client or applying for insurance . Most underwriters prefer that it be removed but some of the smaller companies will take having it disconnected and certified by an electrical contractor. One of my friends also told me that if it is just disconnected that the premiums will be higher. I'm not sure that makes sense but ultimately it's just all about the money anyway.
  7. Recent inspection of a vintage house had some knob and tube wiring. I recommended that this be replaced because it was a Safety Hazard and would make getting homeowner's insurance difficult if not impossible. The seller who is a contractor and flipper has tried several times to convince the buyers that this isn't a problem. The more he tries the more concerned the buyers become. Today he called to say that he had an electrician inspect the knob and tube wiring. The electrician said the wiring was all right and the only reason to replace it was for aesthetics. I reviewed my pictures taken at the inspection and found this one. Click to Enlarge 60.01 KB On second look it does seem that the wiring has an insulator other than rag wrap. Am I wrong in recommending that it be replaced? Jeff Beck Foresight Inspection
  8. Wow!! I lost my Internet connection over the weekend and when I signed on this morning I was blown away by all your best wishes. You guys continue to amaze me! Jim K., I think I may take your advice about the novel writing contest. When I visited the site you referenced, I couldn't help thinking about the great quote from Wayne Gretzky, "You miss 100% of the shots that you never take." For those of you that recommended keeping my license I really considered that but in the end decided that it was best to not die with my boots on. (thank you Jim Morrison). I'm not retiring as much as I'm volunteering. My wife has been a volunteer at our local hospital for years. She asked if I could help out so the hospital has a new "team". I'll be the one emptying bed pans. I've worked with Habitat for Humanity for several years inspecting the houses that they are considering for rehab and also as a member of the Family Selection Committee. They can always use an extra hand. Finally, my 13 month old grand daughter and I have a standing date every week to get ice cream at the local Tastee Freeze. I'd like to expand the time we spend together. Actually, when I get this damnable cast of my leg I may be busier than I was when I was inspecting full time. Randy should we pass on the street, you won't miss me, I'm the one with the cast on his left leg and the smile on his face. Thank you all, each of you have made being a professional home inspector one of the highlights of my life. Be safe! Jeff Beck
  9. I've been toying with the idea of retiring since before I turned 66 at the beginning of the month. Last Friday night I tripped going down our stairs, fell, and broke my leg. Those anti-clumsy pills didn't work! I think this is the Big Guy Upstairs' way of telling me that I'm supposed to retire so I've decided to not renew my license at the end of November. I'll have a cast on my leg for the next 4 - 5 weeks so for all intents and purposes I've retired. I want to thank you all for your help over these past years. I really appreciate your willingness to share your extensive knowledge and ideas! I regret not being able to give back more to the board but there is so much knowledge here it's a little intimidating. With the housing market being what it is, we're in trying times but I believe that we're still very fortunate to work in a field where we can truly help our clients. Help them to avoid a heart ache and a financial disaster or provide them with the confidence to make a decision that can improve their lives and as well as their families. Best of luck to all of you and again thanks very much. Jeff Beck Foresight Inspection Service LLC
  10. Thanks Mike, I was hoping to get lucky and find someone who had seen something like this before. I was able to get to the site early today and have taken some pictures. Here are some establishing shots: Split face masonry chimney chase: Click to Enlarge 70.36 KB Lower portion of the chase: Click to Enlarge 87.61 KB Exposed lower portion of the chase: Click to Enlarge 80.44 KB The foundation for the house goes down another 24" below grade. Every masonry chimney chase that I've seen is supported by either wing walls or a bump out pocket in the foundation so that the load of the chimney is carried down to the spread footings. Occasionally, I'll see support walls that cut back to the foundation at a 45 degree angle. I have never seen anything like this before. As I said in my original post, the frost line in Chicago is 45". The base of this chase terminated well above the frost line. My concern is that there may not be enough of a base to carry the load of the chase and secondly because of the depth to counteract frost heave. This builder has taken numerous short cuts (as evidenced by the washed-out sewer line in a 3 year old house) so I am being overly suspicious of anything I find. I'd really appreciate any comments if this is suspect and if so where I might go to find a code reference (if one exists) or if I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill. Thanks, Jeff
  11. Is it permissible to support a masonry chimney chase with a 24" poured concrete foundation that's attached to the house foundation with rebar? The location is Chicago and the frost line is 45". I don't have any pictures, a sewer contractor that's working on my daughter's house called me today and said that he had never seen anything like this before. There are no wing walls or a 45 degree wall that rests on the footing. The chase is approximately 24' high and 48" wide. Jeff
  12. Thanks for all the replies, stainless it is. Mike, a special thank you for the article (and for all you do). The shoe maker's children title was meant as a joke, I haven't had time to get up on my own roof. Jeff
  13. After spending the past several months climbing on customer's roofs. I finally got a chance to get up on my own where I see that both chimneys have cracked concrete caps. I vaguely remember some years back some talk about a caulk type product made specifically for repairing cracks in concrete chimney caps. Before I go back up with the hydrostatic I thought I'd check to see if there is anything better to seal with. Does anyone have a suggestion? Thanks! Jeff
  14. Gunnar, As I recall the Illinois Association of Home Inspectors was formed to provide home inspectors with a voice in Springfield. While this is a very noble cause, no one told them that all our state's elected officials will only listen to Mike Madigan (well, sometimes to his daughter Lisa, the Attorney General). Everyone's needs are a little different so you have to decide what you are looking for when you pick a group. The decision criteria should focus on the Chapter as John has said. What you'll receive from the national association is nice, but the relationships that you form and the education you'll receive for the most part will come from the local chapters. The two local (well sort of) ASHI Chapters are NICASHI (Northern Illinois Chapter and The Great Lakes Chapter. NICASHI meets monthly and Great Lakes meets three times a year. When I was starting out I joined NICASHI and after a couple of years switched to Great Lakes. Of the Great Lakes three yearly meetings only one is held in the Chicago area (the other two are held in Michigan and Indiana). All are over a weekend. I thought the quality of the education was better and there was less of an attitude of "I wont' help you because you could be a competitor." I will say that I never looked at NACHI because of the reputation they had on the Inspector boards (especially Nick the Great). I was at a trade show earlier this year and met the local NACHI chapter president. He described their education program and I have to admit it sounded very impressive. He also seemed like a pretty good guy (i.e. not one who would have anything to do with the crap that Nick is known for pulling.) I'm in West Dundee if you'd like to talk give me a call. Jeff Beck Foresight Inspection Service LLC
  15. Thanks Brandon and Marc. I never thought about the separation issue. I'm not sure if this municipality has a garage fire stop code but I can check. I was thinking more a long the lines of fumes entering the house from the garage. The flue does have a 2" clearance to the back wall. The storage unit on the right does not have the recommended clearance which I have already reported and it will be moved (supposedly) [].
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