The Right Foundation for a Sale

Spring is here in Wisconsin, and that means more rain and stress on the foundations of your clients’ homes. Nothing can kill a sale faster than to see water damage, especially in or around the foundation of a home. It can take on many forms, like rust or water crystals on walls, damp floors, cracks, or mold. Replacing the sump pump, installing a dehumidifier, and making sure all down spouts are clearing the water far enough away from the house are good starts. However, your client’s problem could be much deeper. That’s why a pre-sale home inspection is your best course.

A Pre-Sale Home Inspection will provide you and your client with the necessary items that must be fixed, in order to facilitate the sale of their home.

One of the key areas I look at is the foundation of a home. Over time, a home’s drain tiles can get clogged or poor landscaping can cause the basement walls to buckle. It is worth the time and investment for your client to know which source is the cause of their trouble and to fix it right away.

As a licensed home inspector, I recommend you seek out a independent foundation expert or qualified engineer (P.E.). They will use proper tools and techniques (i.e. laser alignment for the walls, and if necessary, drill and test for proper drainage) to determine the origin or cause of the problem. Often, it’s a simple fix and one that can save your seller thousands of dollars and prevent future claims

It’s Good to Vent… The Attic

Your home should be a respite of comfort, even during the most humid months in Wisconsin. However, that can be challenging when one of the most common problems homeowners face is inadequate attic ventilation. Poor attic ventilation can make your home unbearably warm and cause damage to the roof (e.g. fatigue the sheathing) when moisture gets trapped. This will also increase your energy costs as your air conditioning is run more to dissipate the heat.NOTE:Attic insulation stores up the day’s heat and can increase the temperature of your interior ceilings to as much as 110 degrees.

winter attic ventingNot Just a Summer Issue

It’s still important to vent the attic even in the Winter.  Moisture from indoor activities will migrate from the living spaces to the attic. This can delaminate plywood, rot roof sheathing and framing or cause mold/mildew to grow.

What to Look For

Rusted nails and stained roof sheathing (boards) are the first signs of a ventilation problem.  Here’s what to look for seasonally:

  • Winter – Moisture or frost on exposed nails at the underside of the roof sheathing.  Frost can loosen and push nails out.
  • Summer – On warm and windless days, there should be a maximum 10-15 degree difference between the air in the attic and a shady spot outside.


  1. Clear any blocked soffit vents. This can often cure most ventilation problems.
  2. If you don’t have vents, install ridge and soffit vents to allow for natural airflow.  Cool air enters the soffits under the exterior roof overhangs and circulates the hot air via natural convection to a roof or gable-mounted low speed fan.
    : During Summer operation, the thermostat will automatically operate the fans as needed to force air circulation.In the Winter, the fan should be operated by a humidistat and attic should be kept cool to avoid ice dam issues.
  3. Have a Home Energy Audit performed. This will often illustrate hidden problems while providing you with a plan of what areas to address first.

Having adequate attic ventilation year round is important to the long-term health of your home, optimum interior comfort, and reduced heating and cooling costs.

Wet Basements

The Constant Problem of Wet Basements

Water can be sneaky, especially when it comes to basements. You walk down to your basement and see evidence of moisture: condensation on the walls, peeling paint, tiles lifting off the floor or a white hued deposit on the walls that’s called efflorescence.

Negative Grading of soil

All basements simply want to fill with water. Our common clay soil is like plastic and holds and expands when water is present. It can swell like a dry sponge and crack and crush walls with ease.

You cannot easily find the leak. So what are you supposed to do? The problem has to be dealt with before the leak goes from a nuisance to a major problem that requires expensive cleanup or repairs.

First, know that you are not alone. The Des Plaines, Illinois-based American Society of Home Inspectors estimates 60 percent of U.S. homes have wet basements, and 38 percent run the risk of basement mold. All basements want to fill with water because water always seeks the lowest point and often that’s the basement. Read more