Floor Pad Cracking & Home Inspections

Shane Serra - Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Floor Pad Cracking & Home Inspections

A common question asked by many clients while having their home inspection performed is whether floor pad cracks are a serious problem? In most cases your home inspector will likely say no. It is not uncommon at all for floor pad cracks to develop, especially within the first few years that a home is built while the concrete is still curing.

Identifying Problematic Floor Pad Cracks During Home Inspections

Small hair line cracks (less than a few millimetres in width) are typical and usually do not present any problems for most homes and their owners. Although some buyers or home owners may view this opinion with some skepticism, it is normal for cracks to develop and again they generally do not cause any serious problems.

There are some rare cases where floor pad cracks can be problematic and also be an indication of possible underlying problems. Cracks which are more than a few millimetres in thickness with evidence of heaving or differential settlement should be monitored very closely and if movement persists it will likely need to be addressed by a concrete specialist.

How Your Home Inspector Can Help Tackle Floor Pad Crack

Things like poor installation of substrate or high water tables can cause problems and lead to excessive cracking and potential structural problems. Sometimes alternative water drainage strategies need to be implemented, or in cases of poor quality construction, entire floors will need to be removed and redone. A general rule of thumb for thickness of a floor pad is at least three inches.

So if you observe some floor pad cracking during your home inspection, try not to get too excited as its most likely a normal scenario and nothing to get worked up about. Be sure to consult with your home inspector and listen to what they have to say before jumping to conclusions. Of course if your home inspector is competent they will let you know whether or not you really have something to address.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, WETT inspections, thermal imaging inspections and mould inspections in Barrie, Alliston, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Innisfil.

Common Problems With Decks Found During Home Inspections

Shane Serra - Friday, April 14, 2017

Decks by far have to be one of the most common upgrades that homeowners will take upon themselves to construct. Unfortunately, decks are also one of the most common problem areas observed on the exterior of a home during an inspection.

Improper Deck Framing

Improper deck framing is a very common problem. There are many “weekend warrior” types that feel their construction skills are up to par for building a deck. Problem is most don’t have a clue, and this can lead to some serious safety issues. Improper deck framing is a problem commonly observed during home inspections.

Over spanned and over spaced joists, improper sized joist hangers, improper joist fastening, ledger boards not secured properly, improper joist supports, undersized beams, undersized beam columns, improper or damaged footings are all typical issues found during home inspections.

Some other common issues found with decks during home inspections are improper, damaged or missing railings, improperly constructed stairs, deck stairs not properly fastened to the deck itself, damaged or deteriorated treads and surface planks and rot and deterioration in general.

Implications of Deck Defects

Implications of these defects can sometimes be serious. If a deck collapses and someone becomes injured or seriously hurt, one could find themselves being slapped with a substantial lawsuit. This is why attention needs to be given to inspecting the deck to ensure it is safe to use.

More often than not, poorly constructed decks are observed during home inspections. Most homeowners also do not follow local code compliance regulations regarding proper deck safety and construction methods, again another reason to ensure your home inspector has a real good look at that deck.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, WETT inspections, thermal imaging and mould inspections in Barrie and across Simcoe County.

Why You Should Never Choose a Cheap Home Inspector

Shane Serra - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Many people generally view all home inspectors as the same and therefore may have a tendency to hire the cheapest home inspector they can find, big mistake! A typical observation is that most people assume all home inspectors are the same and therefore will provide the exact same level of service while conducting your home inspection. Wrong!

Unfortunately, the home inspection industry in Ontario is self regulated at this time and anyone who feels they are competent enough, can print off business cards, launch a website and plaster their vehicle with graphics calling themselves a “home inspector”. This can be a bit scary and unnerving for most folks who are looking to hire an inspector to help them make an informed decision about the home they are about to buy. Fortunately there are a few things you can consider while shopping around and interviewing potential inspectors.

What type of background does the inspector have?

Generally, a good home inspector will have some sort of background in construction or contracting, engineering or architectural disciplines. People with this type of background generally have the knowledge and experience needed to conduct a proper inspection and identify problems and areas of non performance within a residential home.

What type of training does the inspector have?

Having a suitable background isn’t enough, proper training is also required. Has the inspector worked with a seasoned home inspector and been mentored? Has the inspector taken a credible training program, such as the Carson & Dunlop Inspection Training Program? What other education and training does this person have? Be wary of so called “certified inspectors” that have taken nothing more than a 2 hour online course to get their “certification”.

Is the inspector a full time inspector or just doing it part time to supplement their income? This is important because many people perform home inspections on a part time basis and have little to no vested interest in their business or their clients should something go wrong. Someone doing inspections on a full time basis will surely have much more experience than a part timer.

Is the home inspector insured?

This one is really important should something unforeseen or big happen. Humans can indeed make mistakes, therefore it is imperative that the home inspector be properly insured, carrying both general liability and error and omissions insurance.

What type of report is provided?

Gone are the days of chicken scratch and checklist style reports. A quality report should include photos of problem areas in an easy to understand and read computer generated format.

When looking for an inspector consider these tips and factor them into your decision making process for hiring your inspector. If you are shopping home inspectors and one is much cheaper than the other you must ask yourself, why? Chances are you won’t be getting the service you require and the few bucks you saved will end up costing you in the long run. Don’t make your decision based solely on the inspection fee alone.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. provides home inspections, WETT inspections, mould inspections and thermal imaging in Barrie and across Simcoe County.

Three Reasons Why You Should Get a Home Inspection

Shane Serra - Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why get a home inspection? One could spend a lot of time debating why they should have a home inspection performed prior to purchasing a new or resale home. Here are three solid reasons for why you should consider having a home inspection if buying a home.

Gives You Peace of Mind

First good reason to have a home inspection performed is for peace of mind. There are so many things that happen during a real estate transaction; it can easily become stressful and overwhelming. With all these distractions hitting you from all angles, it can be difficult to have a really good look at the home your thinking of buying with all this background “noise” stealing your attention. While some people may have the amount of knowledge and experience needed to really have a good look at that house you want to buy, it is a fact that most buyers will not have the skills needed to conduct a thorough inspection that will give them the peace of mind they want prior to finalizing their purchase. Hiring a professional home inspector eases the burden on the people buying the home knowing that a second set of qualified eyes is checking that house in your best interest. Regardless of what the outcome of the inspection is, you get peace of mind knowing it was inspected by a pro.

Helps Make an Informed Decision

The second good reason to have a home inspection performed is to help you make an informed decision. Again, regardless of the results of your home inspection, good, bad or somewhere in between, you now have as much info about the home that you can reasonably expect when working through the transaction process. This in turn will help you make an informed decision and will help you set a realistic expectation for what to budget for if you decide to purchase the home. Perhaps the outcome isn’t to the buyers liking and this will also help them move forward in their search for the right home.

Get a Non Biased Third Party Opinion

The third reason to have an inspection performed is to get a non-biased neutral third party opinion about the condition of the home. Most people won’t argue that emotions can have a significant impact on ones decision making ability. If you take that emotion out of the equation it can provide a sense of clarity prior to making that final move on whether to go ahead and seal the deal on the home. Hopefully this provides some insight as to why one should seriously consider having a home inspection conducted when buying a new or resale home.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs home inspections, WETT inspections, mould inspections and thermal imaging in Barrie, Alliston, Orillia, Collingwood and across Simcoe County.

WETT Inspections – Chimney Sweeping

Shane Serra - Friday, October 16, 2015

Quite often during a WETT inspection the client or homeowner will ask us when is the best time to have the chimney swept. While there is no perfect simple answer for this, if we apply a little bit of common sense and consider the follow, it should help you decide when is the right time for you to have your chimney swept.

Here are some simple things to consider when trying to figure out when is the best time to have your chimney swept:


How often does your fireplace or woodstove get used? Some homeowners will only use their fireplace during the holidays or at family gatherings, mostly for the “feel” or ambiance, some will only use their woodstove during really cold periods to supplement their main heating source. The bottom line here is, the more often the fireplace or stove gets used, then the more often it should be cleaned, this includes the chimney and its flue or liner.Also, if the unit is used sparingly, then you better do a cursory inspection of the chimney flue if it’s been sitting idle for some time to ensure there are no obstructions (critters) which can lead to spillage back into the home.

Fuel Type

Most people just assume that you burn whatever wood you have and that’s the end of it. WRONG! Anyone that is well versed or experienced in using wood heat will tell you it’s a bit of an art choosing which fuel to use. Ideally you would only burn well seasoned hardwood, for some of us this isn’t feasible, so mixed wood may be used. It’s important to understand how burning soft or unseasoned wood (or other undesirable items such as garbage, a big NO NO!) can lead to excessive creosote buildup which can lead to a chimney fire. Bottom line here is if you have less than ideal fuel, you should consider more frequent inspection and cleaning of the chimney to prevent excessive creosote buildup which can lead to expensive and potentially life threatening situations.


Here is where a bit of experience comes into play. Ideally you want to get a good flame established quickly and get the chimney up to operating temperature to prevent smoldering and spillage into the home. Once the fire is established, it is best to maintain a steady and slow burn of the wood to prevent excessive wasteful heat while still maintaining high enough chimney flue temps that creosote will be less likely to accumulate.

So when is the right time to have your chimney swept? It depends on how often you use your wood burning unit, what type of fuel used and the burn cycles the unit sees. For most users, a chimney sweeping once a year in the spring will be the ideal. For users that burn lots of wood and depend heavily on wood heat then a bi-annual cleaning may be the best idea. Units that are used rarely may only need cleaning every few years, but these units should be checked regularly to ensure critters haven’t got into the chimney during periods of dormancy.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. offers WETT inspections for all wood burning appliances in Barrie and across Simcoe County.


Importance of WETT Inspection for Your Pellet Stoves

Shane Serra - Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pellet stoves are a great heating alternative to traditional wood fired appliances. With the increase in popularity of pellet stoves, inspections of the units will only become more demanding.

Pellet stoves are special in nature in the sense that they don’t typically follow the normal rules surrounding wood burning appliances. Here are some of the differences between pellet stoves and their traditional counterparts.

  • Sealed special (PV) vent/chimney piping due to pressurized venting systems. Smoke would leak around the joints if not sealed correctly.
  • Automatic fuel feeders. Many pellet stove are equipped with automatic feeders or hoppers so it’s more of a “set and forget” approach.
  • Reduced clearances to combustible materials. Because of pellet stove construction, operation and venting, often the clearances to combustible materials or quite less than typical woodstoves.

Over the last few years due to the increase in pellet stove popularity, we have seen several installations done very poorly which could lead to house fires or even death. It seems that there is still much confusion on how to install these units and operate them safely. A WETT Inspection of your pellet stove will ensure it is installed correctly and safe to use.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. provides WETT inspections in Barrie and across Simcoe County. We perform WETT inspections on Woodstoves, Pellet Stoves, Fireplaces and their Chimneys.


WETT Inspections – Inspection of Floor Protection

Shane Serra - Saturday, July 18, 2015

WETT Inspections – Inspection of Floor Protection

One of the most common problems we see during WETT inspections on woodstoves and especially fireplaces is the lack of proper floor protection. In general, we often see improper or poor floor protection which can lead to obvious safety hazards.

Inspecting Floor Protection

During the inspection of a typical free standing wood stove, part of the WETT inspection procedure is to inspect the floor protection around the entire unit. In most cases typical floor protection requirements for most woodstoves must extend 18 inches in front of any loading door, and 8 inches around the sides and rear of the unit. Some certified appliances can call for reduced clearances, but in most cases the dimensions listed above are fairly typical. Floor protection must consist of a continuous, durable, non-combustible pad that will provide the ember protection described in CSA B365 (Installation Code for Solid Fuel Burning Appliances).

Standard Requirements for Hearth Pad

More commonly, we see traditional wood burning fireplaces that have improper floor protection. The hearth is typically constructed of masonry and generally extends (for fireplaces with an opening of less than 6ft²) 16 inches in front of the fireplace and 8 inches past the sides. If the fireplace has an opening larger than 6ft², then the hearth pad must extend 20” in front of the opening and 12” past its sides.

In addition to the standard requirements for the hearth pad, if the hearth is raised up off the floor, then a formula for the required extension needed must be calculated based off the height from which the hearth sits off the floor.

Ensuring your have proper floor protection in place prior to your WETT inspection of your woodstove or fireplace will help the unit pass a WETT inspection.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. offers WETT Inspections in Barrie and across Simcoe County.