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I have to do a presentation on "Inspection Safety" this March and am looking for tales and wo's of Home Inspectors. I want to cover the subject from the moment the Inspector wakes up, going to the inspection, doing the inspection and leaving. Stories on driver safety, equiptment failure, ladder or roof falls, electric shocks, crawl space dangers, you name it, I want to talk about it.

If your would like to share a story and/or pictures, I will give credit or keep your name out of it, if you give me permission.

Thanks in advance.

P.S. Any good jokes can also be used.

Ezra Malernee

Canton, Ohio

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In a crawlspace under an addition to a colonial farmhouse covered with black plastic, I discovered a 35' deep hand dug stone lined well. When my hand put pressure on the plastic and no earth resisted, so I thought I might cut open the plastic and take a little peak.

At a remote vacation home on a lake, it was raining buckets, I thought I would get the roof done quickly. No one was there yet as I scrambled up the slippery front span of the gable roof to the ridge. Just as I stepped to straddle the ridge, I quickly realized there was no rear span. No shingles, sheathing or rafters! The first inspection that I used an umbrella to inspect the interior, but not the last. Apparently, the PO was in the process of adding another level, but ran out of money and sold. Since that incident, I always do a walk around before the roof.

Nail behind knee cap - Don't wear soft knee pads.

Hantavirus and two bacterial respiratory infections - Wear a good respirator.

Protruding nail caught left eye, Em. doc said It will never work again, but was wrong - Watch where you're going in old barns.

I'll probably remember some more.

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Slick-talking real estate agent trying to convince your client that each defect or finding you communicate is really "no big deal" and "its just a matter of a trip to Home Depot; it'll be fixed in no time"

Over-anxious client who wants to follow you absolutely everywhere, and I mean everywhere during the inspection and wants to know how every single nail, screw, fixture, handle, guage, and trinkett in the home functions, where it was manufactured, and its exact condition.

Seller of the home is hard-headed and absolutely won't vacate the premises for the inspection. They also shadow you and try and refute everything you're trying to communicate with the buyer.

oh . . . did you mean. . . emotional or physical safety?

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Scorpions, Black Widows, Skunks, Rattlesnakes, Dogs; however, most of the agents are reasonably decent people.

Don't forget 145 degree attics.

I turned on a bedroom ceiling fan at an inspection (using the pull chain), the light globe crashed to the floor next to me. It shook me up a little. Went into the kitchen and turned on the fan and same think. The second one I caught.

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The only thing that ever scared me was a ceiling fan. I was working in a big wandering house, in a bedroom hardly anyone ever set foot in. The ceiling was vaulted, so the fan was hanging on about an 8 foot down-rod. There was only the one switch so I went over and turned it on "high" with the pull chain, then stepped over to the closet to check that out while the fan got going. I stepped back over to the fan without looking up at first, and when I did the damned thing was so far out of balance it had the light globe drawing three foot circles in the air above my head. I thought it was gonna frickin' decapitate me before I could get out from under it!

Since then I turn the fans on high and step back without looking away. If it starts wobbling I turn it off pronto; that's all I need to know about that part. I also check for loose blades and grounding (via the trusty Fluke).

Brian G.

No "Fan" of Spinning Blades Over My Head [:P] [:-tong2]

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Originally posted by homnspector

Don't forget 145 degree attics.

Good point.

In the summer the first thing I do is crank down the air conditioning and open the attic access. I then start the inspection on the outside of the house. This helps somewhat with the heat.

I can't take credit for this idea though, one of the other regulars here (name not remembered) came up with that.

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During the summer I pretty much insist on starting in the morning, roof and attic first, followed by everything else outside. I only do one on any given day, so that solves most of my heat-danger issues.

I did get called out to look at a roof & attic only last summer, and I was stuck doing it right after lunch (it paid well). I don't know what the temperature was, but when I inhaled it hurt a little. Never experienced that before. Did my thing and got the hell down from the attic. [:-hot]

Brian G.

What's the Treatment for Scorched Lung? [:-crazy]

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Rule #1: Never go into a crawlspace without a respirator (Hanta Virus will kill you pretty darned quick) and a weapon.

I once had the earth floor of a crawlspace and the vapor barrier collapse beneath me and fell into a rat warren. The damned things were pouring out all around me. Since I'm more afraid of rats than death, I damned near had a coronary and went screaming like a banshee out of that building as the rats started pouring out of the crawlspace all around the lady client and the realtor. The lady customer hit me like a linebacker about ten feet from the door and went screaming out ahead of me. Then the realtor came out on the step and began yelling for me to get back into the house and finish the inspection. I think my reply was something like, "Ain't no f*#@ing way I'm going back into that house." He was yelling something about how I'd never work in Seattle again as I left. (She fired him and I did a job for her about six months later. I left a perfectly good, and expensive, scuba light down in that hole but I'm not interested in going back for it.).

Rule #2: Never go up on a roof unless someone is standing outside watching you.

I once got up onto a two story wood shingle roof and a sudden strong gust of wind blew my ladder down just as it began to rain. Wood roofs are like standing on grease when they get wet. I stood there yelling but the client and realtor were in the back of the house jacking their jaws and didn't hear me. With the roof getting more and more wet and no safe place to stand, I shinnied down the downspout to the roof of a porch and knocked on the windows. When they still didn't come, I jimmied a second floor window and climbed inside. When I walked into the kitchen I hear, "Gee, you were sure up there a long time!"

Another time I stepped out onto a roof after only having had about 2 hours sleep the night before. Something happened and the next thing I knew I was waking up on the ground with someone trying to shove a plastic airway down my throat. Apparently, I'd feinted, fallen and broken five ribs and punctured my left lung. The realtor and client had gone inside to measure for carpeting while I was on the roof. They weren't aware anything had happened until a kid passing by saw me on the ground in the yard, knocked on the door and told them there was a bum sleeping in the yard. They said I was turning blue from lack of oxygen by the time I was found.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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In a crawl space I got too close to a leak in some copper supply that gave me the shock of my life... except for the time I stuck my hand in a panel to put the contractors circuit notes back where I got them. That one threw me to the ground like a dirty rag. Good thing I have a strong heart. [:-dunce] I'm over the curly hair though.

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Mike,

I once had the same bad experience with a ladder that you did. I was on top of a 10-year-old two-story house when I heard a horrific clanging and clattering below. I scooted toward the front of the roof and saw my ladder straddling the front yard. I actually started thinking I was lucky the ladder hadn't smashed into a seller's car before I realized I had no way to get off the roof. The soffits were too wide--or I was too big of a chicken--to try to climb down, so there I sat, for nearly an hour, ace-home-inspector-guy, trapped on a roof. I finally was rescued by a teenager walking down the street who was kind enough to put the ladder back in place. When I was down, I shoved twenty bucks into his hand and got back to work.

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Yeah,

The downspout thing isn't fun. Our eaves are 2-feet deep here. I literally had to hang my 200+ lbs off the gutter at the downspout and then transition from the gutter to the leader by hooking the leader with both feet and then quickly stretching and pulling myself to the wall. All the time, those spikes and ferrules kept whispering, "I'm bending, I'm bending, if you don't get the hell off me right now I'm gonna drop you like Humpty Dumpty. Took me 15 minutes afterward to straighten out those spikes and realign the gutter.

Really hairy 15 seconds or so.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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And the solution costs less than a dollar, although I still don't always use it. A bungee cord wrapped around both a ladder rung and a gutter spike will prevent the wind from dislodging the ladder.

Oh, and one more crawlspace yuck-yuck. I once scrabbled through an access door a couple of feet and was engulfed by a swarm of fleas. But of course I didn't realize they were fleas until after I'd torpedoed out of the crawlspace, flailing my arms and twisting and heaving as if I were having an epileptic seizure to the tenth power. I finally calmed down and called my pal the termite inspector, who also has an entomology degree. He said the fleas weren't what really concerned him, but rather the vile creature in the crawlspace--use your imagination, I did--that was attracting them. I refused to go back in the crawlspace until an exterminator had cleared it of all objectionable inhabitants. Never had to return, though, 'cause my buyer decided she'd search elsewhere for a place to live.

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Originally posted by Bain

And the solution costs less than a dollar, although I still don't always use it. A bungee cord wrapped around both a ladder rung and a gutter spike will prevent the wind from dislodging the ladder.

Yeah, That makes sense but my solution was to ditch the lightweight aluminum extension ladder and go purchase a pair of L-G knock-offs - Gorilla Ladders - at the big orange box. Those things are heavy as hell and the splayed legs provide really solid footing and prevent 'em from blowing over. It's a problem I never had again after that.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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I have no fingerprints on my right hand, from touching electric range burners.

Got the "ringworm" from attics and crawlspaces. Any anti-fungal gets rid of it within a day or two.

Every pair of jeans I have gets a worn thru hole in the right knee.

My boots always wear out at the right toe top first.

Have poked more holes in my skull than I can count - nails in attics.

Learned the hard way to wash my hands more often.

Hold my breath when looking inside chimneys - just in case the furnace goes on, or is on.

Never take a picture of your client's wife (just because she is cute!)

Tap on all fireplace dampers before opening them - squirrels, racoons, birds, fat guys with red velvet and fur.

etc..

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  • 2 weeks later...

I entered an attic that had no walk boards and like a dummy I stepped on dry wall and fell through up to my belt buckle. The owner started yelling that I would have to repair the damage. He was worried about the hole in ceiling but never inquired if I was hurt.

I was checking an electrical main service panel with cover off I stumbled and fell into it with my arm and shoulder. Luckily it did not hurt me but it is not a good idea to do such things.

I was doing a home with a Realtor and checked the clothes dryer and I twisted to hard and broke it off. The Realtor who is a good guy covered me for the cost. But the next job he told me not to bother with the washer/dryer. Wonder why.

Did a home for same Realtor and the addresses were mixed up and I inspected the wrong house while he waited at the right house. From then on for some reason he goes to extra lengths to give me directions [:-paperba.

Paul Burrell

Life is what it is so you can use my name and location. The only thing funnier than a human is two humans.

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In my area my attic accesses are small hatches in bedroom closet ceilings. There have been many times when there was a firearm leaning against the closet wall. I don't know if they were loaded because I will not handle them, put a ladder over them, or go around them. I document in the report then I could not inspect the attic because of the dangerous condition that existed. I will go back to inspect it later when then the seller removes the firearm, but I charge for the second trip.

Once there was a loaded hand gun left on the bedroom night table. It was a revolver so I could tell it was loaded for 10 feet away.

I am amazed that some people would leave there house in such a dangerous condition.

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  • 3 years later...

Always open any appliance and look inside before turning it on (testing).

Always open cabinet doors slowly. Expensive,breakable stuff could fall out and shatter.

Falling off a roof isn't worth the fee!

Always check garage door locking mechanism before opening $

Have (ask) the REEELTOR to entertain the seller. If you get distracted, you may miss something.[:-banghea

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Chicago, winter of 2008 on my way to inspect a suburban house that sits on a hill after an ice storm. I'm originally from Pittsburgh so hills are no big deal.

Started up the driveway in 4 wheel drive and got half way up when the wheels started to spin. It didn't matter what gear I was in, I wasn't going any further.

As soon as I let off the gas the truck started to go backward. Brakes, gas, low gear, nothing seemed to stop the truck. When I looked in the mirror and saw the drop-off, I thought "This is gonna hurt!"

An hour and half and two tow trucks later, I walked up the driveway to start my inspection. Fortunately, there was no damage to the truck...just my pride.

Jeff Beck

Foresight Inspection Service LLC

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As an 18-year-old just starting to work construction I walked off the south side of a roof onto the ladder without difficulty and came back the next morning not realizing that the dew on the north side of roof might have frozen. I put up the ladder and stepped up onto the sheeting, my feet went out from underneath me and I went backwards off the roof.

I went down two and a half stories, fortunately through pine trees that the property owner had demanded be preserved. Nevertheless I was out cold after I hit the ground, but by the time the ambulance arrived I was up and working again - back then, without insurance, there was no way I was going to the ER. The next morning and for days thereafter I felt about the worst I've ever felt in my life, nothing was broken, but everything was wrenched, torn and sore.

Fortunately that lesson has stayed with me, recently I was up on the roof of a split level, walked up the south side to the peak, carefully put my foot on the north side of my roof, while keeping the other foot and and two hands firmly planted - sure enough, it was glass slick.

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Hi

That's exactly what I'm talking about. Inspectors learn from this kind of stuff and they should be learning it when they go to these courses so that when they're faced with a job they aren't saying it's too dangerous - just 'cuz.

One would expect that a well-trained home inspector, roofer, satellite dish installer, chimneysweep, framer, steelworker, etc., knows how to go high and keep himself safe but one wouldn't expect a homeowner, a guy with no work experience other than flipping burgers or shuffling papers in a cubicle to know how to do it and do it properly and safely. That's what being a professional in a given profession is about.

Years ago, the only people that came into this gig were builders who were tired of knocking nails; now we've got former Dairy Queen owners and computer techs who've never been on a roof before coming into the gig and trying to re-define the profession to make excuses for their not haven taken the time to learn how to do the business right before they jumped into it.

Folks need to understand that to do this gig right one is expected to go high, crawl into tight places and go low into dirty places and if they don't want to do that, they need to go do something else.

My opinion; you can spit on it if you want - it won't change my mind. Like I've said many times before - I'm not the King and folks should be really glad I'm not 'cuz there'd definitely be some changes on this rock if I were.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Slight drift, but I'm checking out a downtown office building in a week or so.

I stopped by the place yesterday to see how complex it was before telling my customer what my fee would be. In the basement, there were dead rats, one that looked really fresh--I assume he'd recently dined on a rat-poison appetizer.

My question, though, for you city dwellers, are there any hazards I should be aware of other than the obvious bite/rabies thing?

(After quickly rereading the above, I'm thinking that maybe every damn one of us have got to be idiots for signing up for jobs where exposure to dead rats is a concern.)

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