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Good morning,

Also Posted at the ASHI Forum.

I recently inspected a small condominium. It was approximately 8-10 years old. It is a first floor unit in a two story building. Siding was concrete fiber lapped. Building had wood trim that was extensively decayed. A weather barrier was observed (some form of house wrap).

Discovery: the metal corner beads at all the exterior windows showed some pretty good corrosion. See picture. And to be honest I can?t recall ever commenting on corner bead corrosion on the interior of a home/building before.

Before I continue some will say that Charles has gone off the deep end of the pool and has hit his head, but here goes, I have developed what I believe to be an acute sense of smell or I have become super sensitive to certain odors related to moisture and wood decay. I will get a slight headache in the frontal lobe of my brain and my eyes will burn. Whenever I get these symptoms I have always found a wet wall of significance and related decay.

Now mind you, I have told my clients before about this keen olfactory sense, but only as simple banter, and have never used this ?skill? as a reason to report anything, however, back to the condo unit.

I kept mentally going back to the corroded corner beads at the windows. The interior of the unit had rounded corners which are vinyl. Why would the corner beads be corroded at the windows? The unit has not been recently repainted but certainly wasn?t 10 year old paint. Carpeting was several years old based on wear patterns and where I pulled back the carpet the carpet tacks were clean and unstained. Why corroded corner beads in an apparently clean unit?

I went back to the bathrooms and the kitchen. I noticed in one of the bathrooms some very subtle stains on the ? round behind the toilet and missing ? round in a linen closet. And upon closer examination of a wall I observed a subtle sheet rock repair on the backside of the wall to the tub/shower.

I suspect that this unit had a water related claim from a plumbing leak. The potential long term high relative humidity in the unit led to the corroded corner beads at the window.

In the verbal wrap-up to my inspection I told my client to ask his Insurance agent to get a CLUE Report. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) a claims history database created by ChoicePoint that enables insurance companies to access consumer claims information when they are underwriting or rating an insurance policy to see if this unit had a water claim in the past. I also recommended that the conduct an air analysis to see if there is any contaminants in the air.

I don?t want this to go off into a mold is gold debate. You should know that I am not a proponent of testing for the sake of testing and do not recommend testing, even when visible mold is present. I believe in the stop the moisture and clean it up as my personal philosophy. However?

Constructive criticism please. Have I gone too far?

Charles

Edited in Word. Posted via Mozilla FireFox. A apologize in advance if this post appears as one giant paragraph.

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Hurricane Charley passed east of Jacksonville in 2004 with max sustained winds of 85 mph. That's all I see from the hurricane damage angle.

The C.L.U.E reports only go back 5 years but you could try. Only the seller has access to that kind of report.

In either case, either a moisture incident or some defective corner bead product is involved.

This is perhaps a good time to possess an infrared camera.

Marc

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Don't need an infrared camera to know there's a problem there. Get a window contractor to tear it apart and fix it.

Infrared cameras without the associated training, and charging appropriately for its use, is NOT a good thing for the home inspection industry. Too many guys already shooting infrared without the associated training and knowledge to interpret the results. And, spending several thousand dollars for a piece of equipment they include the use of without additional charges is a bad business decision often based on the "more volume" argument.

On the other hand, infrared cameras WITH the associated training and knowledge, and appropriate charges for their use, is a good thing for the thermography business.

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Did you see anything else related to A/C, copper wiring problems that could be related to the problem drywall?

Florida was loaded with that product, but don't know if any of it does what is indicated here unless the products react with the corner bead metal ... assuming it is metal and not plastic.

Nevermind. Just reread the OP ... plastic corner bead was noted.

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I think the question is "Have I gone too far?" ?

Since we don't know where you started, we can't really say how far you've gone. [:)]

Anyway, I agree there is a moisture issue. You also found some damage evidence in the bathroom. But you say the damaged corner beads are on ALL the exterior windows. Doesn't that rule out the bathroom plumbing leak? I would blame this on wind and the ocean. The ocean is too close to those leaky windows. [:-graduat

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I understand your spidey sense with regard to moisture and decay. But you didn't say whether or not your sense was activated in this house. Was it?

When you talk about 1/4 round behind the toilet and in the linen closet are you talking about trim, like base shoe molding? Or are you talking about rounded drywall corners?

If the house had such incredible long-term high humidity from an indoor plumbing leak, would it not have shown up on lots of other stuff besides the metal corner bead on the exterior walls? And if someone was thorough enough to clean up all of that evidence, would they not also have cleaned up those corner beads - even if only to sand them down and repaint them?

I don't think you went too far in recommending a CLUE report (I recommend them on almost every house I inspect.) or an indoor air quality test - though I'm not sure what, exactly, they'll be testing for or what they're supposed to do if the test comes back positive.

(FYI, it seems that homebuyers can get CLUE reports from their insurance agents. I've had a few customers tell me that they got reports for free that way.)

The only time I've seen metal corner bead do what it's doing in your picture is when there's been a plumbing leak directly above or below it and the wood behind it is thoroughly rotted *OR* when the house is right on the water at the coast. In the latter case, all of the unprotected non-stainless steel in and on the house is corroded.

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Thanks for the comments.

The condo unit was located over eight miles from the beach. The unit faced due West.

The corner bead at the windows was metal. The corner bead at the remainder of the interior walls was rounded vinyl.

Usually when we have wind driven rain or poorly flashed windows we will also see moisture damage to the drywall at the window returns and moisture damaged to the sills. In this case there was evidence of moisture at the window head at two of the eight windows and no damage to the drywall. Moisture readings were inconclusive.

And yes, my olfactory senses alerted me on this unit.

Again, thanks for the feedback.

Charles

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OK, 8 miles from the beach and facing a big swamp? [:)]

No doubt there is a moisture issue and since you couldn't determine a source, you were right to call for more investigation, I agree. It may well have been from past flooding in the unit above.

Could it be rising damp from below? If so, that is an extreme case.

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Could it be rising damp from below? If so, that is an extreme case.

That's what I was thinking, most everything 10 years old in Florida is CMU, awesome capillarity.

I've never been there, but I believe it's just a big swamp with a beach.

There was a 60's country tune "If the skeeters don't git ya then the gators will." [:)]

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Now come on guys!

North Florida is a beautiful place to live and work! Sure we have swamps and alligators but we also have miles and miles of white sandy beaches, moderate temperatures (today its 66F with a low of 55F) and more golf courses in one city than you could imagine.

In North Florida we rarely see CMU construction. Its almost all wood frame with a smattering of block homes and those usually date to the 50s.

We have a mixed climate here and block homes offer some unique challenges as moisture can accumulate inside the block cells in such volume that floors and wall bases can get wet. The block cells can also be a wonderful habitat for palmetto bugs (our wonderful flying cockroaches).

In the case I described in my original post the condo was wood frame on slab.

Have a great day inspecting.

Charles

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