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    I am buying a new home. I do not really need a home inspection. Chelan Home Inspection

    There is a perception that a new home should have very little wrong. I agree it should and most of the time this is the case. But when you are buying a new home, in truth there should be nothing wrong.

    Here is a case of why it is important to have a home inspection, even for those new homes.


    Let start with the laundry room, nice new flooring but we are missing an important item, the dryer exhaust duct. It is very nice to have an air exchange hole to the crawlspace.

                                               Missing Dryer duct Chelan Home Inspection

    Here is another nice feature. Many people love disposals. But I have found that they have a limitation. They do not work very well when they have no power cord attached.

                                                Missing power cord to disposal   Wenatchee Home Inspection

    But wait we have the crawlspace to inspect. Here are some nice features.

    The baffling of the foundation vent is baffling.

                                                Improper vent baffling Chelan Home Inspection

    Or this, having the screening of the foundation vent already compromised so "Mickey Mouse" and his friends can have a nice new home too!

                                               Compromised vent screen Chelan Home Inspection

    But wait, there is one more feature. Having the waste line properly supported. This was close they have the straps in place but they forgot one little detail.

                                               Improper waste line support Wenatchee Home Inspection

    Every home be it new, old or in between should have a quality home inspection performed. There is no perfect home and mistakes will happen but a home inspector can help you gather that information to make an informed decision.

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair


    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572


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    Concrete encased Electrodes- UFER everybody. Chelan Home Inspection Services.

    Well it has been on the books for a while but they are going to finally enforce it all over Washington State. Several municipalities have already been doing this.

    The concrete encased electrode or UFER ground uses the rebar in the foundation footing to create the GEC (grounding electrode conductor).

                                             UFER Ground system Chelan Home Inspections

    Grounding is the process of electrically connecting any metallic object to the earth by the way of an earth electrode system. The National Electric Code requires that the grounding electrodes be tested to ensure that they are under 25-ohms resistance-to-ground (Earth).

    There have been various studies and it has been shown when properly installed the UFER/concrete-encased electrode system will have a resistance of four ohms or less to ground for the life of the foundation which is considered 30 years or better.

    This is the update from Washington State-
    “Grounding electrodes – This change requires, except for mobile/manufactured homes, a concrete encased electrode to be installed and used at each new building or structure that is built upon a permanent concrete foundation.  If the concrete encased grounding electrode is not available for connections, a ground ring must be installed per NEC 250.”

                                       Grounding electrodes Chelan Property Inspection

    So if you are buying or building a new home the contractor should be properly installing a UFER system.

    What this means to us as home inspectors is that we will need to look for the access point(s) and connection to confirm the system is in place. The connection point has to be accessible for inspection.

            UFER ground access Chelan Home Inspection    UFER ground Wenatchee home Inspection

    As per the Washington State home inspection standards of practice a home inspector is to identify “The existence of a connected service-grounding conductor and service-grounding electrode when same can be determined.”

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair


    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service
    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572


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    Change your panel, Change your life. Wenatchee and Chelan Home Inspection Services.

    We rarely think about it. It serves us every day.  It is the largest safety device in your home but most do not appreciate what is does.

    It is your electrical service panel. It is the heart of the home electrical system and is in essence the heart of our modern lifestyle.

    If you went to your main service panel and shut off the main breaker what would your life be in your home? No lights, no heat, no cooking, no TV so on… and so on.

    As a home inspector I had a curious thought. Why is it when I recommend a panel be replaced it becomes more of an issue than other components of the home?

    As home inspectors we often cite that a roof need replacement or if an air conditioner or heat pump is old it is ready for replacement or your water heater needs replacement. Most people understand and are used to the thought that these types of components reach the end of a useful lifespan and should be replaced.

                                          Zinsco Panel with smoke damage Wenatchee home inspection

    But the main service panel, now that is a different story. This seems to get homeowners and some realtors a little jumpy. They start to question my recommendation and ask more questions.

    This brings me to my main point. Service panels and their associated components were built for the time they were installed.  As such they were not designed in many ways for our modern lifestyles and demands. Americans use more electrical power per person than do people of any other country in the world, but that does not mean that we have a better understanding of electricity.

    Safety features and design requirements have been developed, improved and implemented in newer installations.

                                             overcrowding and poor bend radius Chelan Home Inspection

    Through time many of these older panels become overcrowded and their initial design was poor at best. Time is not a friend of electrical systems and they should be replaced.

    So here is a thought, roof replacement cost is about 6-7 k and up. An air conditioner/heat pump can be 2-3k and up. The cost to replace a service panel is usually in the $1200 to $1500 range.

    I know this is not cheap but this is the one component that may save your life. A roof leak is bad but it most likely will not kill you. If your service panel catches fire or does not properly function it may have a devastating consequence.


    Now I acknowledge that the events that have to happen to create a life threatening situation is a low probability but this is a safety device. It is like the airbag in your car, you sure hope to never need it but you will be glad it is there in the event of an accident.

                                       New installation Wenatchee Real Estate Inspection

    The NFPA reported in 2009, an estimated 44,800 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments involved some type of electrical failure or malfunction as a factor contributing to ignition.  These fires resulted in 472 civilian deaths, 1,500 civilian injuries, and $1.6 billion in direct property damage.NFPA electrical fires report.

    A study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the 1980s indicated that the frequency of fires in residential electrical systems was disproportionately high in homes more than 40 years old. The thought is that the aging of older electrical systems, combined with the fact that older homes were not built to the more rigid building codes of recent times, were deemed the most likely contributing factors.Residential Electrical Aging Research Project.

    If you have a panel manufactured by Zinsco, Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) or even Bryant, these panels have a reputation for being problematic and a potential safety hazard and should be replaced sooner versus later but any electrical system 40 years or older needs a thorough evaluation.

    As home inspectors we are hired to provide information. There is no pass or fail of a home. We all assume some risk but understanding that risk will help you make a better decision.

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair


    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572


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    Concrete Encased Electrodes (CEE/UFER). Leavenworth Real Estate Inspection

    I was asked to write a little background on Concrete Encased Electrodes (CEE) or what is referred to as a “UFER Ground”. This is a grounding method that was developed during WWII to provide an electrical earth grounding method in dry areas. Most grounding systems rely on moisture and pH in the soil and to create a low impedance path to the earth. The “UFER” technique uses the construction of concrete foundations to create a low impedance alternative for grounding.

                                      Concrete encased electrode Chelan Real Estate

    Concrete has a high pH (known as a base chemically). Concrete also absorbs moisture very quickly and releases moisture very slowly. Herbert Ufer realized that this means that concrete had a ready supply of ions and so provides a better electrical grounding path in almost any type of soil.

    Grounding (and bonding) is maybe the most overlooked and misunderstood part of the electrical systems. The main reason for grounding in electrical systems is safety.

    Grounding is a bit misleading. The term for most purposes means earthing or connecting the circuit to the earth. But really it is connecting the circuit to a common point of reference which in most cases is the earth.

    This brings us to impedance and its effect on the grounding system.

                                                     Ohms Law Wenatchee Home Inspection

    Impedance, in very simple terms, is resistance occurring in AC electrical circuits.  The degree of resistance is measured in units known as ohms.  The lower the impedance, the easier it is for electricity to flow through an object.  For utilities they are looking for grounding system that are 1 ohm or less and most commercial facilities are looking for 5 ohms or less. For residential ground rod the NEC requires 25 ohms or it must be supplemented with another rod. But here is the catch; once a second rod is installed they do not need to confirm that it has a resistance of less than 25 ohms.

    UFER ground Chelan Real Estate

                                                       

    Enter the CEE or UFER ground. It has been shown that the “UFER” ground achieves 5 ohms or less.In 1942, H.G. Ufer performed an 18 year study on the resistance of concrete-encased electrodes. At the end of the study in 1960, the average of 24 installations was 3.57 ohms, none ever exceeding 4.8 ohms over the 18 years. The best reading was 2.1 ohms.

                                          Flow of electricity in AC Chelan Real Estate

    Now for a little more about electricity and how it travels. The notion about electricity following the path of least resistance is actually incorrect.  Electricity will follow “all paths” back to the source, but it will follow paths proportionally according to the conductivity of each path.

                                               Path of electricity Wenatchee Real Estate

    So when impedance increases even slightly, the electrical current seeks other paths to ground.  When electrical path in the grounding circuit is greater than a person in contact with an energized material it can and will travel through that person. So having a low impedance path to ground is crucial.

                 

    The grounding system is for protection of people, equipment and fire. This goes hand in hand with overcurrent protection. For the protection to work properly they must installed correctly and be fast enough to eliminate or minimize damage. This is why it is so important.

    “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance. “

    Confucius


    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572


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    Screwed- Weekend warriors and decks!                        Quincy Home Inspection Services

    I have a saying if a see a deck done completely right I will jump up and down and make sure that whole world knows it. As a home inspector I just never see them done completely right. Decks seems to be one of those components of the home that just do not receive the attention to detail they deserve.

    In many cases this lack of detail may have very minor consequences but as the deck ages or if the deck goes up in height these details can rear their ugly head.

    Here is one detail that needs to be always evaluated… the joist hanger fasteners.

    Joist hangers are pretty common on most decks and are a great at what they are designed for, if installed correctly.

                                              Improper fasteners in joist hanger Quincy Home Inspection

    These are engineered products and as such have specific requirements for their installation. So let’s look at one little detail the fastener.

    Simpsom Ties is a very common manufacturer of joist hangers and is on of the common ones I see when performing home inspections.

    When using these hangers the manufacturer will specify what type of fasteners are to be used.

    From Simpsom- “All specified fasteners must be installed according to the instructions in this catalog. Incorrect fastener quantity, size, type, material, or finish may cause the connection to fail.”

    Also they state- “Common screws may NOT be used to replace NAILS in connectors.”

                                Fasteners for joist hangers Quincy Home Inspection

    Most people do not understand that most common screws are designed to prevent withdrawal, the pulling apart of materials but are weak on shear which is a strain produced by pressure in the structure of a substance, when its layers are shifted in relation to each other.

    So in using an improper fastener you could be compromising the strength of the connection which could lead to failure.

    Remember- “Do not Screw when you should be Nailed”.

    Simpsom’s-  “Installers Pocket Guide

    Note: There are engineered screws that are designed for shear applications.

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair


    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

    Your Quincy, Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Services.

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572


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    Laying on your back- Plumbing Tees, Wyes and why nots. Chelan Home Inspection

    Well there are times to be laying on your back but when you are doing plumbing knowing what fitting can go where is very important in how the system will perform over a long period of time.

    There is much more to plumbing than just having it run downhill.

    During a home inspection I come upon this little configuration.

                                 Improper sanitary tee installation Chelan Home Inspection

    (Note: There was an improper grade also.)

    When using sanitary tees they may not be installed on its back with the side opening in a vertical position.

    The purpose for why this is not good is that when the waste hits the bottom of the horizontal pipe it will splash back upstream in the horizontal pipe. This in turn can lead to waste solids being collecting on the upstream side and potentially causing a clog in the line.

                                        Proper tee placement Wenatchee Home Inspection

    When connecting any vertical waste drop to a horizontal run the proper way to do it is to either use a Wye & 1/8 bend (45 deg), or a Sanitary combo. A sanitary combo is a combination Wye & 1/8 bend already made in one fitting.

                            Wye with eighth bend Chelan Home Inspection                       Sanitary Combo Wenatchee Home Inspection


    The reason to form a long radius bend to insure the waste is directed in the downstream direction as it enters the horizontal run.

    A sanitary tee should be used when connecting a horizontal run, such as a waste arm to a vent stack or vertical riser.

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair


    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572


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    Lights out- Three way switches. Wenatchee and Quincy WA Home Inspection services.

    One thing I try to do during a home inspection is to test that the 3 (and 4 or 5) way light switches have been wired correctly, or should I say working correctly (I actually do not see the wiring).

    It is not all that uncommon to find that someone has not performed this correctly, mainly in older homes.

                                         Light out on 3 way circuit  Wenatchee Home Inspection

    This seems to be one of those items that can confuse many DIY’ers. It really is pretty simple but you must understand how the "3 way" circuit works.

    Hold on Mr. Home Inspector, why are they called "3-way circuits" when I have only 2 switches?

    Well friends this has a bit of history to it. This goes back to the days of yore, to the days of Mr. Edison when this new trade of electrician comes into being and one way they would bid the job is by “drop points”.  A drop point could be a switch, a junction or a load point etc... So a regular switch would have 1 switch and one load, or known as a “2 way” switch.  So then we add that second switch and now we have 2 switches and 1 load and the term “3 way” comes into play. Makes sense right?

    In simple terms a 3-way circuit is a lighting circuit that allows a light fixture to be controlled by two wall switches in different locations. They do this by switching the hot wire (load) toward the light on two alternate wires called "travelers".  The heart of this circuit is the 3-way switches.

    Now there are several ways to “skin the 3 way cat” but I will show the most common way.

    3 way switch variations

                               3 way light circuit Quincy WA Home Inspection
    As you can see in this illustration we have the hot wire (black) come into the first 3-Way switch then we have two travelers leaving the switch going to the next 3-Way switch then a single wire out to the light. The neutral (white) is spliced and travels independently to the light to complete the circuit.

    What makes this more complicated for many is just where the light is placed in the wiring system but the principle is exactly the same.

    There are also 4-way, 5-way, and 10-way circuits. These really are just the same except we place 4-way switches between the two 3-way switches in the circuit.

                                    4 way light circuit Quincy WA Home Inspections

    Now wasn’t that easy?

    But in all reality if you do not understand how these systems work you are much better off hiring a professional. Electricity can kill or burn your home down.

     

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair


    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service
    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572


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    Galvanized Pipes… an end of an era. Wenatchee and Leavenworth Home Inspections

    Like most components in a home they have a functional lifespan. As a home inspector in many cases we will inform a client of a component that has reached its predicted lifespan.

    This does not mean that it will fail soon but the likelihood of failure is higher and that you should be planning for replacement.

    As with the case of galvanized pipe it has several issues when it reaches it predicted lifespan.

    Galvanized piping has a useful life of around 40 to 50 years. How long it will actually last depends on many variables.
    Galvanized pipe is an item that I see slipping away to the days of yore and it should.

              Rust in galvanized piping Wenatchee Home Inspection           Rust in galvanized pipe Leavenworth Home Inspection

    Galvanized pipe reacts with minerals in the water supply. This in turn will produce scaling in the piping that can lead to lower water pressure. In areas of hard water it generally reduces the lifespan of galvanized pipe.

                                          Galvanized pipe Wenatchee Home Inspection

    Galvanized pipe is a steel pipe that is covered with a layer of zinc to prevent corrosion and to increase its life expectancy. As it ages and start to corrode it will produce discoloration in the water and in extreme cases excessive staining of fixtures.

    Another issue is rust warts. These are areas where the pipe has rusted through and will start to leak. The problem with them is they may rust back over and temporarily seal themselves.

                                       Rust Warts on galvanized pipe Leavenworth Home Inspection

    The cost of re-piping can vary greatly depending accessibility and home finishes. A common cost around Wenatchee is usually around $250 per fixture.  This will be one of the better investments. If you ever seen a flooded home you know this cost will be relatively low compared to the cost of replacing many items in your home due to a severe water leak.

    When purchasing a older home this will be one of those cost you will need to think about.

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair


    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service
    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572


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  • 03/07/13--06:27: A plug, so simple but…
  • A plug, so simple but…                                       Wenatchee and Chelan House Inspections

    I should start with a little melody from “The Who”… “Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals. I get my back into my living. I don't need to fight to prove I'm right, I don't need to be forgiven.”

    Well here we are out in the field of home inspections this happy little wanderer has found another example of how you are not to do something.

    Now I know some of these items are not earth shattering or shocking but things should be done correctly.

    Here we have an example of some exterior wiring that I find on a fairly frequent basis.

     

                                     UF cable with plug Wenatchee House inspections

    Homeowner needs power to an outbuilding, yard lights, yard receptacles or ponds etc...  So you have some skills and basic understanding on how to get power from point A to point B.

    But true understanding and knowing the rules is a bit of a different beast.  We cannot use flexible cord as cabling and we cannot use cabling as flexible cord. Knowing the difference is the key here.

    The example is UF cable. It is designed to be used in wet locations and can be direct buried.

    Here is the nuance.  Where it leave the ground needs to be protected ( like in conduit). It also is not designed to be used with a plug. That is for flexible cords.

    Also direct-buried conductors should be properly buried to 18 to 24 in., depending on code cycle.

                                                    

                                      Proper burial of UF Cable  Leavenworth House Inspection

                                                                  (Per 2008 NEC)

    But hold on there partner, as always there is an exception!  For residential branch circuits rated 120 volts or less with GFCI protection and maximum breaker (overcurrent) protection of 20 Amps you can now reduce the burial depth to 12 inches.  See it is really very clear.

    Exception for residential direct burial Wenatchee Real Estate Services


    Again before the wires leave the ground it must be protected up to 8 feet. Well as you can see here that cannot be achieved.

    So in essence this is wrong and there is a potential for wire damage.  It can be a fairly easy fix but shows a professional has not been here.

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair


    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572


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    CATV and communication cables on the home.  Wenatchee and Cle Elum Home Inspection Services.

    I feel as home inspectors we are there to inform as much as call the big items such as structural issues, major plumbing leaks or failed roofs etc…

    Here is one on the “you probably do not think about it much” item list.   It so common that most just do not put much thought to it.

    This is communication/CATV cables in your home. Many of the wiring requirements for communication cabling are very similar to other electrical wire.

    But there are several items that need to be addressed with these cabling systems.

    Proper grounding of communication circuits, CATV cables, TV and satellite masts, etc. are essential in preventing fires and electric shock from dangerous potential differences between the electrical systems.

    Grounding of all communications systems must be to the homes main grounding system. The best way is to bond them to a common point at the building grounding electrode system.

                        Improper CATV wire on service mast Wenatchee Home Inspection

    Now I want to talk about aerial cable and communication coming in on the electrical service mast. There are several codes that cover this and it is a no-no.

    Service masts can only be used for the support of power service drop conductors (NEC section 230). Aerial cables for radio, TV, or CATV cannot be attached to the electric service mast (NEC section 810 ) and antennas cannot be attached to the electric service mast.

    So here is a great example why this is important. I was performing a home inspection and documenting some items for an insurance company from an accident where a drunk driver hit a power pole causing the power transformer to explode.

    When the energy was released it took several paths and one was via the CATV cable that was improperly attached to the electrical service mast.

    Here are a couple of photos of the cable junction box that melted the wires and blew the cover off.

     

       Melted wires in CATV junction box Wenatchee Home Inspection    Melted Wires Cle Elum Home Inspection

     

                                    Cover blown off from power surge Chelan Home Inspection

    Here is the cable on the roof that has melted.

                                           Cable wires melted on electrical mast  Wenatchee Home Inspection

    Many comments I write during a home inspection cover these types of issues. In normal circumstance this would not be an issue. But when something goes wrong the installation can have a grave effect on the outcome.

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair


    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572


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    Before and After- Cleaning up the mess after the electrical inspection. Chelan and Leavenworth Real Estate Inspections

    As home inspectors we see a lot of dubious wiring practices, mostly by DIY’ers. Many people think it is easy to do wiring but do not understand many of the nuances and safety issues that go with performing electrical installations.

    Here in the State of Washington you need to get a permit to do almost any electrical wiring other than changing a receptacle or light fixture. There really is good reason for this.


    Here is an example of why it is good to hire a professional electrician.

                                          DIY'er electrical work Leavenworth Real Estate Inspection

    This is the wiring I found when inspecting the crawlspace. This is a mess to say the least.

    A closer look at the installation Chelan Real Estate Inspection


    Here is what it looks like after a master electrician I know came in and cleaned up the mess.  It does not take much to see the difference on workmanship.

                                    Clean up by a master electrician- Wenatchee Home Inspection

    Having a licensed electrician perform this work will most likely save you money over the long haul. When you go to sell the home the mess will have to be corrected and you are going to pay a higher price in labor and materials.

    Remember getting a permit will help ensure the work was performed according to the current code standards.

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair


    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572


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    A Chink in the Armor- Log homes inspections - Chelan and Leavenworth Home Inspections

     

    Log homes are beautiful and can add a sense of charm in the environment that they are built.

    But they also come with some of their own unique challenges.

     

    Beautiful log home Wenatchee Home Inspections

     

    Performing a log home inspection will come with some extra work to be done when evaluating a log home.  Being that they are made with, well logs, they are much more of a dynamic material than most traditional building materials.

     

    The logs have a tendency to move and shrink during the first few years after construction.  This is to be expected. The amount of shrinkage that takes place in wood depends on several factors such as the amount of moisture loss, the tree species as well as grain orientation.The location and design of a log home is a major contributing factor to long-term maintenance costs and upkeep.

     

    Here is some examples of an upward checks, one that is allowing some moisture intrusion into the home.

     

    Upward Checks in logs Leavenworth Home InspectionsWater Stains on interior Chelan Home Inspections

     

    upward cracks Leavenworth Home Inspection

     

    The two major areas of concern will be staining and caulking. Your log home will require some sort of stain or sealant between 6 months and 1 year after construction and every 3 year or so depending on the environment.  Logs can become deteriorated by weather. Stains and coatings are designed to protect log surfaces from UV damage and excessive checking caused by log drying.

     

    Special attention should be given to exposed log ends. End grain absorbs twelve times more water than the rest of the log surface. If left unprotected, end grain is particularly susceptible to fungal attack and deterioration.

     

    Here is a example of weathering of the end grain in a log home.

     

    Exposed end grain of logs  Wenatchee Home Inspection

     

    Chinking will need to be performed to prevent air, moisture and bug intrusion. Special attention needs to be used on upward facing checks/cracks. They can be a pesky source of air and water infiltration. The wider and deeper they are, the greater the potential for problems. Sealing the checks with a caulking /chinking material will usually cure the situation.  It is a good idea to saturate the checking first with a wood preservative prior to caulking. This extra precaution will greatly reduce any chance of any rot.

     

     

    Maintenance will be critical in keeping your log home in tip top shape.

     

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair

     

    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

     

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service


    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572

     

    NCW Home Inspections


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    All decked out- Building a long lasting deck. Wenatchee and Chelan Real Estate Inspections

     

    Decks, Decks, Decks… I love decks, but as a Chelan home inspector I have never seen one done completely right. Now I have seen a few that were close and probably will fare very well but still not 100% right.

     

    Depending on the climate and the environment in which the deck was built will greatly increase or decrease the cause and effect of issues associated with some of these deficiencies.

     

    The number one issue with decks beside the structural integrity is how it will handle water.

     

    Even here in our dryer climate of North Central Washington this will still have a great effect on the materials.

     

    Attached is a PDF from NADRA, the North American Deck and Railing Association, that addresses water management and deck building.

     

    Don’t Build Decks that Rot

     

    Here is an example of a deck that moisture was collecting on the beam and blocking then absorbing into the joists causing rot of the joist members.

     

    Joist rot from moisture collection Wenatchee Real EstateJoist rot from moisture Chelan Real Estate

     

    Again flashings can play a critical role in how durable a deck will be. If we think about all these horizontal surfaces as being little roofs we can now start to think about how to best handle these areas.

     

    Flashing detail to prevent moisture issues Chelan Real Estate Inspections

     

    Little details again can play a huge role in how the long term effects of weather and moisture on building materials.

     

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair

     

    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

     

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

     

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572

     


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    A little BS on BX cables.  Armored or Metal Clad Cables used in exterior installations.

     

    Wenatchee and Chelan Real Estate Inspection Services.

     

    Wiring in locations that are subject to “physical damage” will need protection. But what that protection is will depend on where the wires are installed and the environment of the installation.

     

    As home inspectors we see a lot of wiring in locations that need protection. Many common areas I find unprotected wiring are in closets and cabinets.

     

    But another very common area I find unprotected wiring during a home inspection is on the exterior of homes. Any wiring that is on the exterior of the home needs to be rated for use in damp or wet locations.

     

    During a Chelan Home Inspection I came across the use of what is often called BX cable. BX is actually a brand name like Romex and Kleenex. BX is not defined as a term by the NEC and is technically called AC (armored cable).

    Old BX Cable- AC Cable Wenatchee Real Estate

    Armored cable was first listed with Underwriters Laboratories Inc. in 1899 for the Sprague Electric Co. of New York.  It was originally called “Greenfield Flexible Steel-Armored Conductors,” after one of its inventors, Harry Greenfield. Some will refer to this cable as Greenfield cable. Armored cable (AC) first appears in the 1903 NEC.

     

     

     

    There were originally two initial versions of armored cable. One was called “AX” and the other “BX,” with the “X” standing for “experimental.”  The “BX” version became the one that eventually was produced, and hence the name “BX” became the common name.BX became the registered trade name of AC Cable distributed by General Electric who had acquired Sprague Electric.

     

    So “BX” is defined as “AC” cable (armored clad) and “MC” is defined as Metal Clad cable. These two cable assemblies are very similar in construction.(See note on FMC below)

     

    BX cables Type AC Cable Chelan Real Estate Inspection

     

    The biggest difference between the two cable systems is that MC has full size ground wire while AC uses a combination of the jacket and a thin bonding strip or wire to function as the equipment ground. The bonding wire is unique to AC cable and this allows the outer metal armor in conjunction with the bonding wire to be used as an equipment ground.

     

    Note: Early AC cable often does not have this bonding wire.

     

    MC Cable with PVC coating Wenatchee Home Inspection

     

    Now AC cable cannot be used in exterior or damp locations. Where MC Cable may be used in exterior applications but must be suitable for exterior or direct burial. This type of MC Cable will have a continuous PVC outer jacket.

     

    Here are two examples from home inspections of AC/MC cables being used in exterior application that are not appropriate. As you can see they do not have a protective PVC outer jacket that would allow the use on exterior applications.

     

    Buried BX cable Wenatchee Home InspectionBX or MC cable not rated for exterior use Chelan Real Estate Inspections

     

    Knowing when and where a type of cabling system can and cannot be used is very important in electrical installations and is often a mark that a professional has not done the work.

     

    Note: There is also FMC, (flexable metal conduit) called by the slang of "Greenfield" that comes without conductors installed.

     

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair

     

    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

     

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

     

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572

     


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    Chirping on Crickets- Chelan and Douglas County Real Estate Inspection

     

    No this is not just a Jiminy Cricket type of post, this is a post about those little roof lines behind your chimney called crickets or known as a saddle flashing.

     

    Chimney Cricket Chelan Real Estate Inspection

     

    Standard practice (and code) state that if you have a chimney that is 30 inches wide or more you should have a “Cricket” behind it to ensure water and debris flow past the chimney. But if you are in an area that has lots of roof debris you may need one on even a smaller chimney.

     

    So in essence a cricket is a small peaked roof or flashing built on the backside, or high side, of a chimney. When a cricket is installed on your chimney, debris will be less likely to build up behind the chimney. This will in turn help with the deterioration of roofing materials in this area and leakage around the chimney.

     

    Here is an example from a home inspection of debris collecting behind the chimney. We had spalling of the chimney and elevated moisture levels in the soffit panel from leakage around the chimney.

     

    Debris behind Chimney Douglas County Real EstateElevated moisture in soffit Chelan Real Estate

     

    Since chimneys are such a problem area you should inspect them once every year or two for loose or missing flashing and cracks in the masonry. If you catch some of these issues early it will save you money in the long run.

     

    “Yep, temptations. They're the wrong things that seem right at the time, but, uh... even though the right things may seem wrong sometimes, or sometimes the wrong things, may be right at the wrong time, or visa versa. Understand?”

     

    Jiminy Cricket

     

    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

     

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

     

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572

     


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    Trippin’  How many times can a breaker trip? Inquiring minds want to know. Wenatchee Home and Real Estate Inspection services.

     

    This came up on a recent Home Inspector’s board and thought it was an interesting subject. (Thank you Mr. Egan for sending me down the path ; )

     

    So, how many times can a circuit breaker trip? I really did not know what the correct answer was. So I did a little research and found the the answer is “it depends”.

     

    Miniature Circuit Breaker Wenatchee Home InspectionMolded Case Circtuit Breaker Wenatchee Home Inspection

     

    For MCB (Miniature Circuit Breaker), which what we find in most homes they have to meet a criteria set by UL Standard 489 and NEMA Standard AB1 for Molded Case Circuit Breakers (MCCB).ETA White Paper

     

    Circuit Breaker Wenatchee Home Inspections

     

    With 100 amp or less breakers they are tested to be operated 6000 times at rated current and 4000 without current, that is 10,000 operations, most likely they will never see that many operation unless the breaker is being used as a switch and in the right scenario, so highly unlikely this will be exceeded.

     

    But now we move into two other criteria- Overload and Short Circuit.

     

    In an overload condition they are rated for 50 operations at 6x (600%) rated current. During UL 489 testing, the device must survive short-circuit testing and continue to provide future overload protection.

     

    From Eaton (Cutler Hammer) literature: UL489,(document link) requires that a breaker must safely clear its maximum current, which is the short circuit current rating of the breaker, twice and still be functional.  Schneider  (Square-D) uses this same criteria (document link).  And per IEEE 3.35 Circuit breaker useful life: it is prudent to replace any MCCB that has interrupted, at most, two faults at rated maximum current.

     

    But wait, Eaton later in the document goes on to state-

    “In actual application, high fault levels are extremely rare (less than 2% of all faults). An arcing fault is by far the most common type of a fault and the only type of a fault that can occur after installation. Arcing faults are usually the result of an insulation failure within a motor or wiring system. Such faults are initially very low level faults that if not cleared quickly can escalate rapidly. Arcing faults can also occur as the result of accidental contact between exposed live conductors, such as the dropping of a tool across exposed terminals. Molded case circuit breakers have dead front construction with no exposed live parts to help prevent such “accidental contact” faults. Molded case circuit breakers can be expected to safely clear such faults many times and still be operable.”

     

    If it a maximum rated short has caused the breaker to trip more than once it is most likely time to replace the breaker.

     

    Knowing what caused the breaker to trip either by overload (which is usually thermal trip) or short circuit (usually magnetic trip) will determine if the breaker needs to be replaced. This means that a qualified electrician should evaluate the cause and perform repairs and replacement as necessary.

     

    So this also brings into the question of the not so uncommon practice by some electricians of intentionally shorting the circuit to determine what breaker is protecting the branch circuit. Should they replace the breaker now?

     

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair

     

    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…

     

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572

     


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    Water heater wiring- It is so special. Wenatchee and Quincy Home Inspection

     

    Well as a home inspector in the land of electricity almost every water heater I see is an electric water heater.  I actually feel pretty lucky about that. I don’t have to worry about draft hoods, B-vents, combustion air, drip legs, carbon monoxide and all the other fun that goes with gas heaters.

     

    But it has not gone unnoticed that the simple act of getting the electrical power to the water heater seems to be a bit of a challenge to perform correctly.

     

    I see many a water heater that has been improperly wired. So here is a few that may make you wonder.

     

    Water Heater Wiring Wenatchee Home InspectionClose but not quite right Quincy Home Inspection

     

     

    Improper wiring at water heater  Wenatchee home InspectionWiring issues at water heater Quincy Home Inspection

     

    They really are not that hard to do and do right, but often people are in the “just make it work” modality.

     

     

    properly wired

     

    So in the rush to get the hot shower or bath the installation becomes a little less than professional.  Doing it right really does not take that much more time and will be infinitely safer.

     

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair

     

    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

     

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

     

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572

     


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    It will be that time for termites’ swarms soon in Eastern Washington. Wenatchee and Chelan Pest Inspection Services

     

    With the weather now warming it will not be long for those little creatures that can cause a great deal of damage if gone unchecked start to fly… the Western Subterranean Termite.

     

    Termite Alate

     

    The swarmers (reproductives) called "alates" can be seen during daylight hours and are usually produced by mature colonies.

    Termite vs Ant

     

    Termites are very poor fliers, they may create what is called a castle to give them some elevation and will use the wind to help sweep them along. When they land they will drop their wings and look for a mate to start a new colony. They are looking for a new suitable habitat to call home that is usually moist and has wood available.  Lets hope it is not your home.

                                           Termite Castle Wenatchee Home Inspection

    In Eastern Washington the usual time for swarming is in the spring, though in areas such as Western Washington it maybe in the fall. So for Eastern Washington and the Wenatchee Valley this is a good time to be looking for them around your home, especially if it is an older home.  You would be surprised how often I find evidence of termites here and the surrounding counties.

     

    Termite Mud Tube

     

    Termites eat and tunnel into wooden structures and other cellulose materials. They seem to really like cardboard along with other paper materials. Termite colonies grow slowly and the damage is done slowly. Because they are hard to detect, they usually have time on their side and the damage can be extensive by the time it is discovered.

     

    Termites in paper

     

    Here is a great paper from Washington State University- Termite: Biology, Prevention and Control.

     

    Left untreated these industrious little creatures can cause significant structural damage. If you suspect you have termites do not hesitate to bring in a professional structural pest inspector or pest control operator.

     

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair

     

    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

     

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572

     


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    Warm weather brings out Nuisance Ants- Odorous house ants and pavement ants.

     

    Wenatchee Home and pest inspection services

     

    As a home inspector and structural pest inspector I get asked about those pesky little nuisance ants quite often. As a structural pest inspector I am not so worried about them from the standpoint that they will do harm to the house. But they really can be a bit of a pain when they are getting into the home. I just went through a recent bout with them.

    Ant Identification Wenatchee Home Inspection

     

    The most troublesome nuisance ants in Washington State are the Odorous House Ant (also known as the Sugar ant) and the Pavement ant. The Odorous House Ants get their name from the stench they produce when squished. Some say they smell like a rotten coconut or rancid butter.

     

    There are other ant species that can come into the home such as the Argentine ant and the Pharaoh ants but are not quite as common.  Then there are Moisture ants (yellow ants and cornfield ants) that can cause some damage but they are related to moisture issues in the home. Thatching ants are mound builders made up of small sticks outside. They can occasionally wander inside buildings.

     

    Those ants that are coming indoors are usually looking for human and pet food. Odorous House Ants do not contaminate food to any great extent (other than adding some additional protein). The primary foods for ants are the sugar and proteins found in pet food, unsealed food stores, garbage and food debris. They also may be looking for water if that is not available outside.

     

    Common Ant Problems Wenatchee Pest Inspections

     

    The odorous house ant is small (1/8-inch), darkish, and forms distinct trails along outdoor and indoor surfaces.They are often mistaken for the pavement ant, which can be easily controlled with most baits.

     

    Sanitation and habitat control is a primary way of controlling them. But if you are not able to you may need to try to kill the colony.

     

     

     

     

     

    Here are a couple of guides on ant behaviour and control-

    Management without chemicals-  Non Chemical Control.  

    Washington State Department of Ecology-Integrated Pest Management for Nuisance Ants

     

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair

     

    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

     

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572

     


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    The unintended consequences of not knowing what you do not know. Chelan and Quincy Home Inspections.

     

    What you do not know can have some unintended consequences.  It is a fact you do not know what you do not know.

     

    As home inspectors we are hired to know. Someone is putting their trust in us to have that knowledge to help them with one of the largest and more emotional decisions in their life.

     

    Home inspectors are humans, we are not infallible and as such we also do not know that we do not know. This is why we are constantly learning to limit those voids of knowledge… at least I hope we are.

     

    So case in point, I have done several home inspections in the last year where we had a modification that changes the dynamics and level of safety in a home. This is taking a carport and turning it into a garage.

    Garage conversion check list

     

    Carport

     

    From an older UBC (Uniform building code)-  A one-story carport entirely open on two or more sides need not have a fire separation between the carport and the dwelling.  Windows between the carport and the dwelling shall not be operable. Doors may be of any type, provided that any sash used in a door be fixed; doors between a dwelling and a carport shall be self-closing.

     

    So a carport is defined as having two or more open sides. If you have three sides you are technically now a garage.

     

    So this is when the safety issues now come in. Garages have higher probability for fire than other areas of the home. People tend to store flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oils, paints, degreasers and other items that are flammable or combustible.  Add to that, many garages are also used as workshops, so sparks can be flying.

     

    Garage Fire Separation

     

    This makes it now very important to have the proper fire separation between this newly created attached garage and the home. We want to prevent a fire that could start in the garage from easily spreading into the house and/or attic.  Fire separation also prevents carbon monoxide and other fumes from entering into the house.

     

    All penetrations need to be sealed and a proper barrier installed which is usually consists 1/2 sheetrock. No windows or vents are allowed and the door has to be fire rated or 1-3/8 solid core with proper seals.

     

    Attic vents in garage

     

    So in this example we have vents in the bird blocking inside this new garage. If a fire happened in the garage it could quickly move into the attic space and burn while the occupants may be unaware of what is happening.

     

    Fire separation from the garage and the home is not designed to completely stop the fire from progressing into the home but to give the occupants in the home time for escape which is defined as a 1-hour, hence the 1 hour resistive barrier.

     

    So not knowing what you do not know and doing something can change the risk potential and safety involved.

     

    “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

    Red Adair

     

    NCW Home Inspections, LLC is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

     

    Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Real Estate, Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

    www.ncwhomeinspections.com                                              509-670-9572


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