Category Archives for Houses

Inspecting a 1960’s West Vancouver Home – Fairbairn Inspection Services

Hi this is David from Fairbairn Home Inspections and today we’re doing an inspection on a 1960’s home in West Vancouver, so let’s go see what we can find. Ok, so here we are at the roof, we’re having a look at these asphalt shingles. This is a fairly cheap material, it’s just a pre-fab asphalt shingle, these typically last about 15 years, still a lot of granule cover on them. If we go up to the ridge caps, they are in poor condition, you can actually see that they’re dried out and they’re getting of loss of coating here, so they going to need replacement soon. And if we come over here to the chimney, we can see that somebody’s actually got a big piece of concrete here. I believe the chimney has leaked in the past and looks like there’s probably some damage below this concrete here. There is also a couple loose bricks at the chimney, so we’re going to need to get these repairs because a loose brick is not safe, it could fall on somebody.

So here we have an awning which is installed over top of the deck and it’s been installed on the roof shingles, you can see the stand-offs at the top there and if you look at the door below we can see some signs that it’s been leaking. There are some water stains, it’s actually been dripping off the front of the door.

Here we are at the back of the house and we’re having in a look at an addition which is actually leaking, if we go inside there’s actually a lot of mold in this wall right here and the reason is because they’ve let the vegetation and the soil get higher than the base of the wall. So there is water leaking in and they’ve actually had pooling water in the back corner and to also make it worse, is there are a couple of downspouts near by that are actually pouring water around the foundation wall. So we’re going to need a drainage company to come in, clear all this out, improve the grading so the water will drain away from the house and then we’re going to need some drywall repair inside and I’ll show you that in a moment. And here’s the other side of the wall and if we look, there’s actually quite a bit of mold growth at the base of the wall and if we take our moisture meter, it’s going to tell us if it’s wet or not. It’s actually really wet but we’re just going to show you, so we just put the pins in and we can see that it’s very, very wet. This is actually black mold.

One of the tell tale signs of a structural problem is all the doors in the house will actually close by themselves in the same direction and it actually latches too.

Hi, we’re here at the front of the house and one of the issues in this house is there’s some settlement going on with the structure and you can see right here you have some brick and cracking and going up the side. It has been painted over and the it opened up again. That’s one of the signs that it’s still moving. If it’s been painted and then the cracks open back up again, it may be an active settlement and if we come over to the side here a lot of this brick here by the window is cracked as well. There is actually some sinking going on in the living room. So we’re probably going to need a foundation contractor to come and have a look at this house.

Here is a really common issue I find with dishwashers. When you have a stone countertop, you cannot bolt the dishwasher to the counter and so there are no anchors to hold the dishwasher in place and if you push down on the door, look what happens. It actually rolls forward and that could hurt somebody, so we’re going to recommend they install some screws. It’s a really easy job, and it’s one of the safety items we look for.

And here we have a sink that’s actually leaking, dripping down from the bowl above. It’s one of those clear glass type sinks and usually they’re not mounted very well. This one is actually quite loose andy may be related to why it’s dripping. One of the things I always do is fill up the entire sink and then drain it, sometimes if you just run water into the sink a little bit, it won’t leak but when you push the stopper in fill it up and drain it down at the same time, it’ll actually start to leak. That’s one of the checks we do with every home inspection.

Thanks for watching. If we can help you with a home inspection, give us a call anytime at 604-395-2795 or you can visit us at

New Construction Home Inspection Tips | 604-395-2795

Hi, this is David with Fairbairn Inspection Services and we’re here in Maple Ridge and we’re about to start a new home construction inspection so I’ll show you what’s included and what we’re going to do.

I like to look out for small cosmetic deficiencies like this split board right here, this will be an easy repair and of course you can see it from the street.

Here we’re looking at a downspout that just terminates and drives water onto the shingles; I prefer to have these extended so that the water carries down to the gutter below. This will prolong life of the shingles and prevent roof damage.

Testing for combustible gas leakage.

We’re at the side of the house and we’re looking at some guard rails; part of the inspection is we want to make sure that everything is safe in terms of are the guard rails secure and we’re also looking out for anywhere that you have a drop over two feet where someone might fall and injure themselves.

Another thing we find a lot of is missing window well covers. If you have a window well in your basement you want to make sure it’s covered so that nobody can fall in and become trapped. The window well cover has to be removable so if there’s a fire or emergency someone can escape through the window well.

Here we can see a roof vent in the attic that has caused a small crater in the insulation below it. This is due to air pressure differences. On the right hand side we see a soffit baffle and this is basically a foam tray that allows air to pass over the insulation. You can see how much insulation is in this attic, it’s quite high. If we didn’t have these soffit baffles the bottom edge of the roof would be blocked and no air would be able to enter the attic.

So here we are in the ensuite bathroom and we’re testing out the plumbing so we’re filling up the sinks as well as the bathtub which has a Jacuzzi on it. I like to test sinks by filling them completely and running them through the overflow lines and then draining them and making sure they don’t leak. I suspect in new construction they may not be fully tested prior to the walk through. Another thing that we’re going to want to check for is that the sinks are properly mounted to the underside of the counter; that means having a supporting strap or a bracket to ensure the sink doesn’t fall.

Here we are using a thermal imaging camera to check the walls, ceilings and the floors of the building for any moisture or missing insulation. Here we can see the framing of the wall outlined in blue stripes. This allows to check for a number of things. We can also use thermal imaging to detect if there are any electrical or overheating issues or any plumbing leaks.

Here in the main upstairs bathroom we have a door that sticks in the frame when you try to open it, you can hear the squeaking. I like to use a laser level to check the walls and ceilings and the floors to see if they’re plumb and level. Sometimes an out of square door can be the cause. At any rate it should be covered by the builder.
So here we are doing our kitchen inspection, now because it’s a new construction we don’t have any appliances installed yet. We can check the connections and make sure that they’re present such as maybe an ice maker line for the fridge or a gas hook up for the stove. We’re also going to be testing our garburator, make sure the garburator works fine and it’s important to check our range hoods above the stove, we want to make sure they’re connected properly and they’re actually venting all the cooking grease and smoke outside of the home and that they’re well sealed.

Testing all fireplaces for leakage.

Here we are in the furnace room and there’s a lot going on in this room but I’ll show you what it does. Basically we have our hot water tank behind me here, this is an electric hot water tank and we’re just looking for really obvious installation defects such as for instance this release tube here, we want to make sure this is present, this is what actually would jettison the water and steam out if the tank were to overheat so basic safety things like that. We’re also looking for earthquake straps on the tank; those are required in some areas.
We’ve got around the corner here; we’ve got our main water shut off valve, so this is how we can shut off all the water to the property. I always like to point that out to the buyers, you know, this is where you can shut off all your hot and cold water.

We also have a sprinkler system in this house so the fire sprinkler shut off is located here as well.
Now on this side we’ve got our furnace. This is a high efficiency; I believe it’s a Lennox furnace so they’ve done a couple things here that I’ll show you how they’ve set it up. Basically it’s a high efficiency furnace for the heating but they’ve also left some refrigerant lines installed here so that if the owner wants to add a heat pump or an air conditioner these are already installed. All you have to do is put a coil above the furnace and install your condensing unit outside in the back yard so these are all ready to go. This is very common for new construction. What I like to do is check the filter really carefully inside the furnace, make sure that it’s not plugged with construction dust, you know after the dry wallers are here there’s a lot of dust in the air, you want to make sure that it’s clean and it’s not plugged and the furnace is going to have a healthy life.

Over here we’ve got a makeup air so this our combustion air for our furnace room, we’ve got a gas burning appliance so we actually have to bring in fresh air from outside so the furnace can use it to burn the gas. The other thing we’re looking at is if we come over here, we’ve got our valve set for our gas. They’re all labelled actually in this house, we’ve got furnace, we’ve got fireplace, range, so everything’s here. I like to show the customer where this is, how they can shut off the gas in case of an emergency and there’s also a main shut off at the gas meter outside.

So here we are in the garage and what we always want to do with the overhead garage door is we want to test it out to make sure it’s safe. Now this garage door it’s got an opener stuck here and there’s a remote control and there’s also a button on the wall that raises and lowers the door you’ll notice at the bottom you have sensors so if somebody were to go underneath the door or drive underneath the door while it was closing it would auto reverse and then back up. I like to test it two ways, I like to test the sensors and I like to test the actual resistant of the door. So if we bypass the sensors give it a bit of resistance and see if it reverses as well.

Testing all arc-fault safety breakers.

Here’s a tip for you: if you’re getting a new construction inspection done, bring along a roll of green painters tape and if you find any drywall blemishes, nail pops, defects, cracks, missing paint, anything like that just put green tape up on the wall and that way the builder can find it later when he’s having the repair workers in to fix any problems.

This New Westminster House Was Ready to Collapse | Featured Home Inspection

This week’s featured Home Inspection is a home in the Queensborough neighbourhood of New Westminster.

Age: Unknown

Stories: 2 (Plus finished attic)

A quick look at the front and one side of the home showed no real concern – a young (less than 5 years) roof and some newer windows.

Complete Foundation Failure

However, the south side of the home revealed a catastrophic foundation/wall framing problem. The wall was bowed considerably, and the poured concrete foundation was in pieces. The amount of lean on this wall is evident in the photo below:

What causes movement like this?

This part of New Westminster is situated on the Eastern tip of Lulu Island, which is also home to Richmond. The whole area is a flood plain, and the water table is extremely high. New Construction homes in this area are now built on pile foundations due to the poor soil conditions, however, due to the age of this home, it was a typical Slab on Grade foundation. Coupled with poor drainage and surface water management, and over time the home began to sink and lean.

Here we see one of the bathrooms, where the extent of the structure damage was visible. The bathtub was pulling away from the wall. There were also gaps where the wall was breaking away at the corners…

Because of the cracking…

…The tile shower enclosure was badly damaged – here’s a moisture meter reading showing complete water saturation behind the tiles.

Knob and Tube Wiring

Another problem with older homes is electrical wiring. In the basement and attic, old knob and tube wiring was present. Knob and tube wiring is an obsolete wiring material which is considered potentially dangerous, and needs to be evaluated by an electrician, particularly to keep the insurance company happy. (They are extremely careful about it)

A ceramic knob and the associated wiring is visible in the above photo. Coupled with the structural issues, this home requires some fairly major work. I recommended they contact a structural engineer, and an electrician to review the home. Safety is the top priority!

Call us today to inspect your home in New Westminster! – 604 395-2795

Should Home Inspectors Test Appliances?

This is one of the most common questions we receive. In our area, many inspectors, due to liability or time constraints, will not test appliances. Some say that the risk of overflowing a dishwasher, or having a washing machine hose burst is “not worth the trouble”. We think that appliances should be tested as part of every home inspection.

The Reason:

If you moved in to your new home, and found out that the oven did not function, and the fridge compressor was leaking lubricant, how would you feel? You would be forced to pay hundreds, or even thousands of dollars in repair/replacement costs.

We feel that this is important information for the home buyer. Here are some ways we test various kitchen and laundry appliances:


We check to make sure that the set screws are in place, to make sure the dishwasher doesn’t tip or fall over. We check the washer arms, rolling racks and soap compartment.

We then run the dishwasher through a full cycle, making sure the fill and drain stages work properly, and that there’s no leakage from the unit.


We test all elements, (or gas burners) individually. We preheat the oven to 350 degrees and check to make sure it’s heating. Some ovens require anti-tip brackets. If they’re not installed we recommend they be added.


We check the temperatures, doors, ice maker (whether there’s ice in the hopper), and pull out the fridge to ensure no leakage or oil underneath. We also check to see if an ice maker water line is present, in case the buyer wants to add this option later.

We also test washers, dryers, microwaves, garburators, range hoods, and many more.

Call today to schedule a full Home Inspection with us – you’ll be glad you did – (604) 395-2795

Buried Oil Tanks

Before natural gas became available in 1957, many homes were heated by furnace oil. The tank feeding the furnace was stored underground and held between 300 and 1,000 gallons of oil.

Once houses were converted to natural gas, the tanks were often left buried beneath the soil and not all were emptied properly.

The containers rust and can allow oil to leach into the soil. The oil can then find its way into an older home’s perimeter drainage system and flow into the storm sump, resulting in a fuel oil odor inside the home. The oil can also run into a neighbour’s drainage system and cause the same problem.

Buried Oil Tank Removal

A Homeowner’s Responsibility

City staff don’t inspect properties-homeowners must determine on their own whether a tank is buried on their property and have it removed. Tanks must be removed under a permit from the city’s fire prevention office. A homeowner should use a contractor to remove the tank and hire a property surveyor if necessary if no visible signs of a tank are obvious.

A fire inspector checks the site when the tank is pulled out for evidence of soil contamination. Minor contamination may require some soil removal, but the environmental protection branch orders a professional cleanup plan for major problems.

In the past, leaving the abandoned tanks in the ground and filling them with sand was standard practice. But this is not the ideal option because the sand doesn’t always fill all the voids in a tank.

Insurance Coverage

Some insurance companies won’t provide insurance unless a problem tank is addressed. Even homeowners who have been “grandfathered in” by doing business at the same company for years, may be at risk of one day being asked to remove their oil tank.

Selling Your Home

In a recent case, a homeowner didn’t want to deal with the tank on his property, but the new purchaser wanted to find out whether there was a contamination problem. The homeowner agreed to allow the potential new buyer to take the tank out at his cost. It turned out the soil was badly contaminated and the purchaser backed out of the deal.

The homeowner was left with a huge hole in his back yard and substantial funds would have to be spent to clean it up. There are still legal actions pertaining to this property.

Before Listing Your Home

Homeowners might feel little incentive to check out their property for tanks out of fear they could face a costly removal and cleanup. However, this is a worthwhile step.

The tank could be intact today, but it could have a couple of hundred gallons of oil in it –  tanks weren’t pumped out when people converted to gas. Eventually, every tank is going to start leaking at some point in time. The faster you can deal with it and get the oil out of the tank, the better. It will significantly lessen your liability in the future.

Removal Costs

Pulling up a tank costs $2,000. Environmental consultants, who sign off on a property after analyzing five soils samples, charge about $1,500 to $2,000. Soil removal also costs more money.

Estimates of total costs run between $5,000 and $10,000.

How to Locate an Oil Tank

The two main visual clues are filler pipes or vent pipes along the exterior of the home. There are often cut off over the years, making meter detection the primary means of locating a possible oil tank. Other signs can be cut-off feed lines in the basement or furnace room.

Vent lines are often a “goose-neck” style, as seen below:

Oil Tank Fill Pipes

An oil tank scanning/removal company should always be called, regardless of the visual findings by the home inspector. These companies utilize equipment such as ground scanners and metal detectors, and can provide a certificate stating that nothing was found. Scanning can usually be done in a short period of time (less than 1 hour), and for a nominal charge.

We offer quality home inspection services in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. Call today to schedule your Inspection – 604 395-2795

Should You Get a Home Inspection on a New Construction House?

A new construction home is a great purchase. Not only do you get the benefit of first ownership (brand-new equipment, a warranty, etc.), but the value of a new home is great – much better than an equivalent piece of land with a 1970’s house full of bad wiring.

However, you should get a full home inspection done on every home, regardless of age. Here’s why:

There’s at least one issue you won’t find yourself

In every new home construction I’ve inspected, I have never found a home without at least one issue the owner wouldn’t have found until it was out of warranty.

(Note: all pictures on this page are from actual new-home inspections I have performed)

Leaking Temp-Pressure Relief Valve

Leaking Temp-Pressure Relief Valve

This brand-new hot-water tank had a leaking TPR (Temperature-Pressure Relief Valve). A TPR valve is designed to pop open and release water/steam from an overheating tank. They’re actually very delicate and a failing valve can suddenly pop open by itself, emptying the water out of the system and possibly injuring someone at the same time. This valve will need to be replaced.

Your Warranty Won’t Cover Everything

In Vancouver, most warranties use the Homeowner Protection Office’s performance guidelines on what is covered by a warranty. However, with a typical 2 / 5 / 10 warranty you may be out of luck by the time something fails. With a two-year mechanical warranty, imagine discovering this:

Radiant Floor Leak in Ceiling

Radiant Floor Leak in Ceiling

This owner’s radiant floor heating system had been leaking for years, and eventually formed a stain on the ceiling of his downstairs office. When he tried to claim it under warranty, he discovered that he was one month past the expiration of the mechanical coverage. An inspector with a good quality thermal imaging camera may have discovered this earlier, either during the initial inspection or the 11-month warranty inspection.

Catching a latent issue early on can be the difference between paying out-of-pocket, and instead having the builder/warranty company efficiently fix the problem.

The Builder Will Forget Something

Building a home is a huge undertaking. Which is why this kitchen backsplash ended up being completely missed by the tradesperson:

This kitchen backsplash was missing grout.

This kitchen backsplash was missing grout.

The entire kitchen was missing grout! This is an easy catch, but having a good quality home inspection report to give to the builder will make things easier for both of you.

Torn Roof Shingles

Torn Roof Shingles

Finally, here’s a photo from a brand-new roof I inspected last summer – I found five ripped, missing, or loose shingles on this roof. After the inspection, the client got them all repaired at no cost. Code inspectors will often avoid walking the entire roof and these frequently go missed. I’m glad we found them before the rainy season!

Contact us today to book an expert home inspection for your new home. You’ll be glad you did.

Estimated Life Expectancy Chart for Homes

The following chart details the predicted life expectancy of appliances, products, materials, systems and components.
Consumers and inspectors and other professionals advising their clients should note that these life expectancies have been determined through research and testing based on regular recommended maintenance and conditions of normal wear and tear, and not extreme weather (or other) conditions, neglect, over-use or abuse.  Therefore, they should be used as guidelines only, and not relied upon as guarantees or warranties. 
Surface preparation and paint quality are the most important determinants of a paint’s life expectancy. Ultraviolet (UV) rays via sunshine can shorten life expectancy.  Additionally, conditions of high humidity indoors or outdoors can affect the lifespan of these components, which is why they should be inspected and maintained seasonally.
Caulking (interior & exterior) 5 to 10
Construction Glue 20+
Paint (exterior) 7 to 10
Paint (interior) 10 to 15
Roofing Adhesives/Cements 15+
Sealants 8
Stains 3 to 8
Appliance life expectancy depends to a great extent on the use it receives. Furthermore, consumers often replace appliances long before they become worn out due to changes in styling, technology and consumer preferences.
Air Conditioner (window) 5 to 7
Compactor (trash) 6
Dehumidifier 8
Dishwasher 9
Disposal (food waste) 12
Dryer Vent  (plastic) 5
Dryer Vent  (steel) 20
Dryer (clothes) 13
Exhaust Fans 10
Freezer 10 to 20
Gas Oven 10 to 18
Hand Dryer 10 to 12
Humidifier (portable) 8
Microwave Oven 9
Range/Oven Hood 14
Electric Range 13 to 15
Gas Range 15 to 17
Refrigerator 9 to 13
Swamp Cooler 5 to 15
Washing Machine 5 to 15
Whole-House Vacuum System 20
Modern kitchens today are larger and more elaborate.  Together with the family room, they now form the “great room.”
Bathroom Cabinets 50+
Closet Shelves 100+
Entertainment Center/Home Office 10
Garage/Laundry Cabinets 70+
Kitchen Cabinets 50
Medicine Cabinet 25+
Modular (stock manufacturing-type) 50
Walls and ceilings last the full lifespan of the home.
Acoustical Tile Ceiling 40+ (older than 25 years may contain asbestos)
Ceramic Tile 70+
Concrete 75+
Gypsum 75
Wood Paneling 20 to 50
Suspended Ceiling 25+
Natural stone countertops, which are less expensive than they were just a few years ago, are becoming more popular, and one can expect them to last a lifetime. Cultured marble countertops have a shorter life expectancy, however.
Concrete 50
Cultured Marble 20
Natural Stone 100+
Laminate 20 to 30
Resin 10+
Tile 100+
Wood 100+
Decks are exposed to a wide range of conditions in different climates, from wind and hail in some areas, to relatively consistent, dry weather in others. See FASTENERS & STEEL section for fasteners.
Deck Planks 15
Composite 8 to 25
Structural Wood 10 to 30
Exterior fiberglass, steel and wood doors will last as long as the house, while vinyl and screen doors have a shorter life expectancy. The gaskets/weatherstripping of exterior doors may have to be replaced every 5 to 8 years.
Closet (interior) 100+
Fiberglass (exterior) 100+
Fire-Rated Steel (exterior) 100+
French (interior) 30 to 50
Screen (exterior) 30
Sliding Glass/Patio (exterior) 20 (for roller wheel/track repair/replacement)
Vinyl (exterior) 20
Wood (exterior) 100+
Wood (hollow-core interior) 20 to 30
Wood (solid-core interior) 30 to 100+
Copper-plated wiring, copper-clad aluminum, and bare copper wiring are expected to last a lifetime, whereas electrical accessories and lighting controls, such as dimmer switches, may need to be replaced after 10 years.  GFCIs could last 30 years, but much less if tripped regularly.
Remember that faulty, damaged or overloaded electrical circuits or equipment are the leading cause of house fires, so they should be inspected regularly and repaired or updated as needed.
Accessories 10+
Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) 30
Bare Copper 100+
Bulbs (compact fluorescent) 8,000 to 10,000+ hours
Bulbs (halogen) 4,000 to 8,000+ hours
Bulbs (incandescent) 1,000 to 2,000+ hours
Bulbs (LED) 30,000 to 50,000+ hours
Copper-Clad Aluminum 100+
Copper-Plated 100+
Fixtures 40
Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) up to 30
Lighting Controls 30+
Residential Propane Backup Generators 12
Service Panel 60
Solar Panels 20 to 30
Solar System Batteries 3 to 12
Wind Turbine Generators 20
Floor and roof trusses and laminated strand lumber are durable household components, and engineered trim may last 30 years.
Engineered Joists 80+
Laminated Strand Lumber 100+
Laminated Veneer Lumber 80+
Trusses 100+



Fastener manufacturers do not give lifespans for their products because they vary too much based on where the fasteners are installed in a home, the materials in which they’re installed, and the local climate and environment.  However, inspectors can use the guidelines below to make educated judgments about the materials they inspect.
Adjustable Steel Columns 50+
Fasteners (bright) 25 to 60
Fasteners (copper) 65 to 80+
Fasteners (galvanized) 10+
Fasteners (electro-galvanized) 15 to 45
Fasteners (hot-dipped galvanized) 35 to 60
Fasteners (stainless) 65 to 100+
Steel Beams 200+
Steel Columns 100+
Steel Plates 100+
Flooring life is dependent on maintenance and the amount of foot traffic the floor endures.
All Wood Floors 100+
Bamboo 100+
Brick Pavers 100+
Carpet 8 to 10
Concrete 50+
Engineered Wood 50+
Exotic Wood 100+
Granite 100+
Laminate 15 to 25
Linoleum 25
Marble 100+
Other Domestic Wood 100+
Slate 100
Terrazzo 75+
Tile 75 to 100
Vinyl 25
Concrete and poured-block footings and foundations will last a lifetime, assuming they were properly built.  Waterproofing with bituminous coating lasts 10 years, but if it cracks, it is immediately damaged.
Baseboard Waterproofing System 50
Bituminous-Coating Waterproofing 10
Concrete Block 100+
Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) 100
Post and Pier 20 to 65
Post and Tensioned Slab on Grade 100+
Poured-Concrete Footings and Foundation 100+
Slab on Grade (concrete) 100
Wood Foundation 5 to 40
Permanent Wood Foundation (PWF; treated) 75
Framing and structural systems have extended longevities; poured-concrete systems, timber frame houses and structural insulated panels will all last a lifetime.
Log 80 to 200
Poured-Concrete Systems 100+
Steel 100+
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) 100+
Timber Frame 100+
The quality and frequency of use will affect the longevity of garage doors and openers.
Garage Doors 20 to 25
Garage Door Openers 10 to 15
Home technology systems have diverse life expectancies and may have to be upgraded due to evolution in technology.
Built-In Audio 20
Carbon Monoxide Detectors* 5
Door Bells 45
Home Automation System 5 to 50
Intercoms 20
Security System 5 to 20
Smoke/Heat Detectors* less than 10
Wireless Home Networks 5+
* Batteries should be changed at least annually.
Thermostats may last 35 years but they are usually replaced before they fail due to technological improvements.
Air Conditioner (central) 7 to 15
Air Exchanger 15
Attic Fan 15 to 25
Boiler 40
Burner 10+
Ceiling Fan 5 to 10
Condenser 8 to 20
Dampers 20+
Dehumidifier 8
Diffusers, Grilles and Registers 25
Ducting 60 to 100
Electric Radiant Heater 40
Evaporator Cooler 15 to 25
Furnace 15 to 25
Gas Fireplace 15 to 25
Heat Exchanger 10 to 15
Heat Pump 10 to 15
Heat-Recovery Ventilator 20
Hot-Water and Steam-Radiant Boiler 40
Humidifier 12
Induction and Fan-Coil Units 10 to 15
Chimney Cap (concrete) 100+
Chimney Cap (metal) 10 to 20
Chimney Cap (mortar) 15
Chimney Flue Tile 40 to 120
Thermostats 35
Ventilator 7
As long as they are not punctured, cut or burned and are kept dry and away from UV rays, cellulose, fiberglass and foam insulation materials will last a lifetime. This is true regardless of whether they were installed as loose-fill, housewrap or batts/rolls.
Batts/Rolls 100+
Black Paper (felt paper) 15 to 30
Cellulose 100+
Fiberglass 100+
Foamboard 100+
Housewrap 80+
Liquid-Applied Membrane 50
Loose-Fill 100+
Rock Wool 100+
Wrap Tape 80+
Masonry is one of the most enduring household components. Fireplaces, chimneys and brick veneers can last the lifetime of a home.
Brick 100+
Insulated Concrete Forms (hybrid block) 100+
Concrete Masonry Units (CMUs) 100+
Man-Made Stone 25
Masonry Sealant 2 to 20
Stone 100+
Stucco/EIFS 50+
Veneer 100+
Custom millwork and stair parts will last a lifetime and are typically only upgraded for aesthetic reasons.
Attic Stairs (pull-down) 50
Custom Millwork 100+
Pre-Built Stairs 100+
Stair Parts 100+
Stairs 100+
The lifetime of any wood product depends heavily on moisture intrusion.
Flooring Underlayment 25
Hardboard 40
Particleboard 60
Plywood 100
Softwood 30
Oriented Strand Board (OSB) 60
Wall Panels 100+
The quality of plumbing fixtures varies dramatically.  The mineral content of water can shorten the life expectancy of water heaters and clog showerheads.  Also, some finishes may require special maintenance with approved cleaning agents per the manufacturers in order to last their expected service lives.
ABS and PVC Waste Pipe 50 to 80
Accessible/ADA Handles 100+
Acrylic Kitchen Sink 50
Cast-Iron Bathtub 100
Cast-Iron Waste Pipe (above ground) 60
Cast-Iron Waste Pipe (below ground) 50 to 60
Concrete Waste Pipe 100+
Copper Water Lines 70
Enameled Steel Kitchen Sink 5 to 10+
Faucets and Spray Hose 15 to 20
Fiberglass Bathtub and Shower 20
Gas Lines (black steel) 75
Gas Lines (flex) 30
Hose Bibs 20 to 30
Instant (on-demand) Water Heater 10
PEX 40
Plastic Water Lines 75
Saunas/Steam Room 15 to 20
Sewer Grinder Pump 10
Shower Enclosure/Module 50
Shower Doors 20
Showerheads 100+ (if not clogged by mineral/other deposits)
Soapstone Kitchen Sink 100+
Sump Pump 7
Toilet Tank Components 5
Toilets, Bidets and Urinals 100+
Vent Fan (ceiling) 5 to 10
Vessel Sink (stone, glass, porcelain, copper) 5 to 20+
Water Heater (conventional) 6 to 12
Water Line (copper) 50
Water Line (plastic) 50
Well Pump 15
Water Softener 20
Whirlpool Tub 20 to 50
Radon systems have but one moving part:  the radon fan.

Air Exchanger 15
Barometric Backdraft Damper/Fresh-Air Intake 20
Caulking 5 to 10
Labeling 25
Manometer 15
Piping 50+
Radon Fan 5 to 8
The life of a roof depends on local weather conditions, building and design, material quality, and adequate maintenance.  Hot climates drastically reduce asphalt shingle life.  Roofs in areas that experience severe weather, such as hail, tornadoes and/or hurricanes may also experience a shorter-than-normal lifespan overall or may incur isolated damage that requires repair in order to ensure the service life of the surrounding roofing materials.
Aluminum Coating 3 to 7
Asphalt Shingles (3-tab) 20
Asphalt (architectural) 30
BUR (built-up roofing) 30
Clay/Concrete 100+
Coal and Tar 30
Copper 70+
EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) Rubber 15 to 25
Fiber Cement 25
Green (vegetation-covered) 5 to 40
Metal 40 to 80
Modified Bitumen 20
Simulated Slate 10 to 35
Slate 60 to 150
TPO 7 to 20
Wood 25
Outside siding materials typically last a lifetime.  Some exterior components may require protection through appropriate paints or sealants, as well as regular maintenance.  Also, while well-maintained and undamaged flashing can last a long time, it is their connections that tend to fail, so seasonal inspection and maintenance are strongly recommended.
Aluminum Siding 25 to 40+
Aluminum Gutters, Downspouts, Soffit and Fascia 20 to 40+
Asbestos Shingle 100
Brick 100+
Cementitious 100+
Copper Downspouts 100
Copper Gutters 50+
Engineered Wood 100+
Fiber Cement 100+
Galvanized Steel Gutters/Downspouts 20
Manufactured Stone 100+
Stone 100+
Stucco/EIFS 50+
Trim 25
Vinyl Siding 60
Vinyl Gutters and Downspouts 25+
Wood/Exterior Shutters 20
Site and landscaping elements have life expectancies that vary dramatically.
American Red Clay 100+
Asphalt Driveway 15 to 20
Brick and Concrete Patio 15 to 25
Clay Paving 100+
Concrete Walks 40 to 50
Controllers 15
Gravel Walks 4 to 6
Mulch 1 to 2
Polyvinyl Fencing 100+
Sprinkler Heads 10 to 14
Underground PVC Piping 60+
Valves 20
Wood Chips 1 to 5
Wood Fencing 20
Swimming pools are comprised of many systems and components, all with varying life expectancies.
Concrete Shell 25+
Cover 7
Diving Board 10
Filter and Pump 10
Interior Finish 10 to 35
Vinyl Liner 10
Pool Water Heater 8
Waterline Tile 15+
Aluminum windows are expected to last between 15 and 20 years, while wooden windows should last nearly 30 years.
Aluminum/Aluminum-Clad 15 to 20
Double-Pane 8 to 20
Skylights 10 to 20
Window Glazing 10+
Vinyl Windows 20 to 40
Wood 30+

Note: Life expectancy varies with usage, weather, installation, maintenance and quality of materials.  This list should be used only as a general guideline and not as a guarantee or warranty regarding the performance or life expectancy of any appliance, product, system or component.

From InterNACHI’s Standard Estimated Life Expectancy Chart for Homes – InterNACHI

How to Replace Your Roof

All homes need to have their roofs replaced from time to time. There are major differences in materials and installation that will dramatically affect the price and longevity of them. Today we would like to focus on the most common material in our area, asphalt shingles.


When selecting a roof with 3/12 pitch or greater, asphalt shingles are economical;

These shingles will perform well for many years when properly installed by a licensed contractor who specializes in asphalt shingle roofs.


In order to get the best price and value from a roof, we have some tips you should consider, when reviewing a contractors quotation.


1) Does the bid include tearing off the old roof, or is it a roof over?

2) What kind of shingle are they using, is it a Laminated Shingle (also called Architectural Shingles)  – 30 years or more, or standard 3-tab shingles (cheaper 15+ year material)?

3) Are there any sheathing repairs in the bid? What material?

4) Bids should include all new flashing, (chimney to roof, siding to roof, skylights, plumbing and vents stacks)

5) Ensure that your contractor will bring your roof up to current standards for ventilation. (1sf of vent for every 150sf of roofing) We see many homes with inadequate roof venting.

6) Assure all bath and kitchen vents are properly vented with dedicated vents for each fan and do not point vent hoses to attic vents.

7) Including zinc strips will dramatically reduce moss problems on your new roof.


Asphalt Shingle Installation

Asphalt Shingle Installation


Occasionally, home owners will try to save money by ‘roofing over’ an existing roof. This is not usually recommended. A roof that is installed over an old roof will not lay flat, beside other issues. Why would anyone cover up old, deteriorated, damaged, roof covering material after spending all that time and money? Worse yet, what are the current conditions of the underlayment and plywood sheathing that has been covered up?

This can cause the new roof to not perform as well, leading to premature leaks and failure. It also traps more heat, causing the tar in the roof to evaporate petroleum, leading to cracks and failure. In addition, the added weight of another layer can cause structural problems.


As the surest way of knowing, the safest thing to do is to have the roof stripped so that it can be examined for potential structural problems and what the conditions are before resurfacing it and to be sure that you are acquiring a professional roofer that knows what he is doing.


When your roof is replaced, we recommend you choose a 30-year, architectural shingle. Standard 3-tab has a much shorter life, (closer to 15 years). Since the cost of a roof is mostly labour, there is no reason to go for the cheap materials. The labour is the same, and the materials cost about 1/3 more. With double the lifespan, it is the best value for your money.


When getting prices, ask the roofing companies if their bids include any sheeting repairs. Most tear-offs will require some repairs to sheeting. There are two kinds of common products, OSB and plywood. OSB is the standard sheeting used today, but plywood is a more expensive and superior product.

Ventilation is key to a long a lasting roof. When ventilation is poor, it is much more likely to have problems with structural pests in the roof framing and mold in the attic.


A cheap roofing bid will often not include proper venting of bath and kitchen fans.

When these are not properly vented outside, the moisture from them will contribute to structural pest issues and cause the roof sheeting to rot prematurely. Zinc strips will help keep moss from taking over your new roof. This will cost more upfront, but moss will destroy roofs quickly in wet climates.