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Written by InterNACHI past Director, course developer, CMI and author Kenton Shepard.

Kenton's Reference is a collection of MS Word folders and documents, organized by home inspection subject, with reference articles covering a variety of inspection-related subjects. The Reference contains about 45,000 words; printed as a book, the reference material would run about 200 pages.

Much of it is educational, like the articles on asphalt shingle batch problems, on how to read electrical panel manufacturer's labels, and on the causes- and evidence- of water heater backdrafting.

Some of it is pure reference, like the charts and links to information such as date codes for HVAC appliances and charts showing when and where GFCI protection became a requirement.

Reference includes:

  • Educational articles;
  • Inspection checklists;
  • Links to PDF installation and inspection manuals;
  • Links to technical bulletins from manufacturers and associations;
  • Links to sources for inspector education;
  • Date codes for furnaces and water heaters;
  • Links to over 600 inspection-related articles.

Note: Reference content varies with format.

ROOF

MAKING RECOMMENDATIONS.............................................................................. 5

ROOF STRUCTURE EXTERIOR................................................................................ 5

Appearance........................................................................................................................................................... 5

Sagging Ridge................................................................................................................................................. 5

Sagging Rafters............................................................................................................................................. 5

Sagging Rake Overhangs......................................................................................................................... 5

Localized Depressions in the Roof.................................................................................................... 5

Humps in the Roof...................................................................................................................................... 6

WALKING the ROOF.................................................................................................... 6

UNDERLAYMENT......................................................................................................... 6

Underlayment Types...................................................................................................................................... 6

Black Felt.......................................................................................................................................................... 6

Installation of Felt Underlayment................................................................................................ 7

Fastening:.............................................................................................................................................. 7

Felt Underlayment Failure.......................................................................................................... 7

Rubberized Asphalt  (self-adhering/self-sealing)................................................................... 8

Polymer-Modified Bitumen............................................................................................................. 9

Selvedge Edge:......................................................................................................................................... 9

Non-Bitumen Synthetics......................................................................................................................... 9

Installing Synthetic Underlayment........................................................................................... 10

ASPHALT SHINGLES................................................................................................. 11

Asphalt Shingle Inspection Checklist................................................................................................. 11

Inspection Concerns:.............................................................................................................................. 11

Asphalt Shingle Bonding........................................................................................................................... 13

Diagnosing Wind Damage........................................................................................................................ 14

Roof Structure Ventilation and Premature Shingle Failure:............................................... 15

Blisters VS Hail Damage:........................................................................................................................... 15

Craze-Cracking................................................................................................................................................ 16

Batch Problems............................................................................................................................................... 16

Factors Affecting Shingle Aging............................................................................................................ 17

Uniform Granule Loss................................................................................................................................. 18

Algae Discoloration Of Roofs.................................................................................................................. 18

Controlling Ice Dam Growth................................................................................................................... 19

About Warranties.......................................................................................................................................... 19

Warranty Length................................................................................................................................. 19

Manufacturer's Warranty.................................................................................................................... 19

Wind Warranty :  Separate and Shorter..................................................................................... 20

Contractor's Warranty.......................................................................................................................... 21

CONCRETE TILE ROOFS......................................................................................... 21

Note on Tile Standards:.............................................................................................................................. 21

Concrete Tile Inspection Checklist...................................................................................................... 21

Photos:............................................................................................................................................................. 22

Installation:........................................................................................................................................................ 22

Inspection Concerns..................................................................................................................................... 23

Flashing   (installation and condition)........................................................................................ 23

Aging Characteristics of Concrete Tile:............................................................................................ 24

CLAY TILE ROOFS..................................................................................................... 26

How Clay Tile Ages and Fails.................................................................................................................. 26

Vitrification:................................................................................................................................................. 26

Porosity:......................................................................................................................................................... 27

Density:........................................................................................................................................................... 27

Microcracks:................................................................................................................................................ 27

Flaking:........................................................................................................................................................... 27

Clay Tile Classification................................................................................................................................ 27

Fastening............................................................................................................................................................. 28

Sidewall Flashing........................................................................................................................................... 28

Biological Growth.......................................................................................................................................... 29

Walking Clay Tile........................................................................................................................................... 29

Historic Tile....................................................................................................................................................... 29

Resources:.......................................................................................................................................................... 29

SLATE ROOFS............................................................................................................. 29

About Slate Roofs........................................................................................................................................... 29

Inspection Concerns..................................................................................................................................... 30

METAL ROOFS............................................................................................................ 31

IRC Definitions:............................................................................................................................................... 31

Minimum Slope............................................................................................................................................... 31

Galvanic Corrosion........................................................................................................................................ 31

Fastening............................................................................................................................................................. 31

Offset Side Joints............................................................................................................................................. 32

Flashing................................................................................................................................................................ 32

WOOD SHAKE ROOFS.............................................................................................. 32

Wood Shake Inspection Checklist........................................................................................................ 32

Photos:............................................................................................................................................................. 32

Installation:.................................................................................................................................................. 32

Condition....................................................................................................................................................... 33

Flashing.......................................................................................................................................................... 33

Aging/Failure Characteristics................................................................................................................ 34

Roof Sheathing................................................................................................................................................. 35

Interlay VS Underlay.................................................................................................................................... 35

Types of Shakes............................................................................................................................................... 35

Grain Type..................................................................................................................................................... 35

Edgegrain (best).................................................................................................................................. 36

Flatgrain (worst)................................................................................................................................. 36

Slashgrain (uncommon)................................................................................................................. 36

Shake Grades............................................................................................................................................... 36

Flashing................................................................................................................................................................ 37

Ice Barrier........................................................................................................................................................... 37

WOOD SHINGLE ROOFS.......................................................................................... 37

Wood Shingle Inspection Checklist.................................................................................................... 37

Photos:............................................................................................................................................................. 37

Installation:.................................................................................................................................................. 38

Condition....................................................................................................................................................... 38

Flashing.......................................................................................................................................................... 39

Aging/Failure Characteristics................................................................................................................ 39

Roof Sheathing................................................................................................................................................. 40

Acceptable Sheathing Types.............................................................................................................. 41

No Interlayment Allowed!........................................................................................................................ 41

Flashing................................................................................................................................................................ 42

Types of  Wood Shingles............................................................................................................................ 42

Roll Roofing................................................................................................................. 42

Installation Details........................................................................................................................................ 42

Lifespan................................................................................................................................................................ 42

FIBER-CEMENT............................................................................................................................................... 43

About Fiber-cement Roofing................................................................................................................... 43

BUILT-UP ROOFS........................................................................................................................................... 44

About Built-Up Roofs................................................................................................................................... 44

Built-up Roof Membrane Components............................................................................................. 44

Base Sheets................................................................................................................................................... 45

Ply Sheets...................................................................................................................................................... 45

Bitumen.......................................................................................................................................................... 46

Weather-Surfacing; Cap Sheets, Gravel & Flood Coats........................................................... 48

Membrane Flashings.................................................................................................................................... 49

Bitumen-based Sheets:.......................................................................................................................... 49

Liquid-applied Flashings:.................................................................................................................... 49

Accessories........................................................................................................................................................ 49

Rosin-Sized Sheathing Paper............................................................................................................. 49

Polyester Fabrics...................................................................................................................................... 49

Bituminous Roof Cements................................................................................................................... 50

Grades of Roofing Cement............................................................................................................. 50

Polymer-Modified Bitumen Adhesives....................................................................................... 50

Inspecting Built-Up Roof Membranes............................................................................................... 50

Cracking.......................................................................................................................................................... 51

Craze-cracking...................................................................................................................................... 51

Buckling.................................................................................................................................................... 52

Blisters............................................................................................................................................................ 52

Inadequate Drainage:............................................................................................................................. 53

Non-Visible Transport/Storage/Application-Based Problems......................................... 54

Storage and Transport..................................................................................................................... 54

Application: Weather Conditions.............................................................................................. 54

Construction Traffic........................................................................................................................... 54

Roof-mounted Photovoltaic (PV) Arrays:............................................................................ 54

EPDM ROOFS.............................................................................................................. 55

EPDM Attributes:........................................................................................................................................... 55

EPDM Installation.......................................................................................................................................... 56

Mechanically Attached Membranes.............................................................................................. 56

Adhered Membranes/Lightweight Concrete Problems.................................................... 56

Ballasted Membranes............................................................................................................................. 56

Areas Needing Reinforcement.......................................................................................................... 56

Splicing Seams............................................................................................................................................ 56

Liquid splicing....................................................................................................................................... 56

Tape Splicing.......................................................................................................................................... 57

Evaluation of Age........................................................................................................................................... 58

Seam Technology History.................................................................................................................... 58

Puncture Resistance............................................................................................................................... 58

Flashing Improvements........................................................................................................................ 58

Blisters.................................................................................................................................................................. 59

TPO................................................................................................................................. 59

About TPO Roofing....................................................................................................................................... 59

TPO Attributes................................................................................................................................................. 60

Inspection Concerns..................................................................................................................................... 60

Blisters:........................................................................................................................................................... 60

Air Movement Across the Membrane:......................................................................................... 61

Heat-source Degradation:................................................................................................................... 61

PVC................................................................................................................................. 62

About PVC Roofing........................................................................................................................................ 62

PVC Attributes:................................................................................................................................................ 62

Compatibility Issues:.............................................................................................................................. 62

Thickness:..................................................................................................................................................... 62

Reinforcement:.......................................................................................................................................... 62

Plasticizers:.................................................................................................................................................. 63

Attachment:.................................................................................................................................................. 63

Flashing.......................................................................................................................................................... 63

Accessories:.................................................................................................................................................. 63

PVC Alloys:.................................................................................................................................................... 63

General Considerations........................................................................................................................ 63

Installation Considerations...................................................................................................................... 64

Mechanically Attached Membranes.............................................................................................. 64

Adhered Membranes:............................................................................................................................. 64

Ballasted Membranes:........................................................................................................................... 65

Inspection Considerations....................................................................................................................... 65

Air Movement Across the Membrane:......................................................................................... 66

Blisters............................................................................................................................................................ 66

Embrittlement............................................................................................................................................ 66

Shrinkage....................................................................................................................................................... 67

 

 

EXTERIOR

GRADE.............................................................................................................................. 1

PLANTERS...................................................................................................................... 2

EXTERIOR STAIRS....................................................................................................... 2

RETAINING WALLS..................................................................................................... 3

INSPECTING VINYL SIDING...................................................................................... 3

General Installation......................................................................................................................................... 3

Flashing and Clearances............................................................................................................................... 3

Fastening................................................................................................................................................................ 3

INSPECTING HARDIEPLANK................................................................................... 4

General Requirements:.................................................................................................................................. 4

Clearances and Flashing............................................................................................................................... 4

General Installation......................................................................................................................................... 4

Fastening................................................................................................................................................................ 4

INSPECTING COMPOSITE SIDING.......................................................................... 5

General Requirements................................................................................................................................... 5

Clearances and Flashing............................................................................................................................... 5

General Installation......................................................................................................................................... 5

Fastening................................................................................................................................................................ 6

Warranty Information!.................................................................................................................................. 6

INSPECTING BRICK..................................................................................................... 6

Veneer VS Double-wythe............................................................................................................................. 6

Brick Veneer:.................................................................................................................................................. 6

Double-wythe:............................................................................................................................................... 6

CRACKING............................................................................................................................................................. 7

Differential Soil Movement.................................................................................................................... 7

Craze Cracking:............................................................................................................................................. 8

Brick Crack Appearance.......................................................................................................................... 8

Crack Description........................................................................................................................................ 9

Brick Face Delamination and Loss......................................................................................................... 9

Staining................................................................................................................................................................ 10

Efflorescence:.............................................................................................................................................. 10

Subflorescence:.......................................................................................................................................... 10

Other Stain Sources................................................................................................................................. 11

Erosion/pitting:......................................................................................................................................... 11

Mortar Joint Deterioration:................................................................................................................ 11

Brick Window Sills:................................................................................................................................. 11

 

 

ELECTRICAL

RESIDENTIAL ELECTRICAL CHECKLIST............................................................. 2

Bear in Mind…..................................................................................................................................................... 2

Service Drop......................................................................................................................................................... 2

Service Clearances can Vary!................................................................................................................ 3

Major Public Electrical Utilities..................................................................................................... 4

Inspection of Load Centers......................................................................................................................... 4

Types of Panelboards................................................................................................................................ 4

Panelboard Categories........................................................................................................................ 5

Panel Working Clearances..................................................................................................................... 6

Panel location................................................................................................................................................. 6

Main Disconnect........................................................................................................................................... 7

Fused Disconnect with a Load Center....................................................................................... 7

SAFETY......................................................................................................................................................... 8

Dead Front Cover......................................................................................................................................... 8

Breakers............................................................................................................................................................ 8

GFCI Locations by Year....................................................................................................................... 9

Testing GFCI Outlets.......................................................................................................................... 10

Labels............................................................................................................................................................... 10

Manufacturer’s Label........................................................................................................................ 10

Circuit Directory.................................................................................................................................. 12

Panel Cabinet......................................................................................................................................... 12

Service Entrance Conductor Connections............................................................................ 12

Panelboard Grounding and Bonding................................................................................................. 12

Grounding..................................................................................................................................................... 12

Service Grounding......................................................................................................................... 12

Visible Grounding Electrodes:............................................................................................... 13

Grounding Electrodes that are not visible:.................................................................... 13

Equipment Grounding...................................................................................................................... 14

When Does an Outbuilding Need its Own Grounding Electrode?.................... 14

Bonding........................................................................................................................................................... 14

Bonding INSIDE the service panel............................................................................................ 15

Bonding Bushings.......................................................................................................................... 15

Bonding OUTSIDE the service panel....................................................................................... 16

Sub-panels.......................................................................................................................................................... 16

Floating Neutral Bus Bar...................................................................................................................... 16

Branch Wiring Checklist............................................................................................................................ 17

Receptacles/Switches............................................................................................................................ 17

Wiring.............................................................................................................................................................. 17

Panel Wiring........................................................................................................................................... 18

Cable Types:........................................................................................................................................... 18

Concerns With Neutrals....................................................................................................................... 20

Danger of Fused Neutrals............................................................................................................... 20

 

 

PLUMBING INSPECTION

WATER PIPES................................................................................................................ 1

Environmental Factors Affecting Material Choices..................................................................... 1

Water chemical Composition............................................................................................................... 2

Soil Chemical Composition.................................................................................................................... 2

ACCEPTABLE WATER SERVICE PIPES................................................................. 2

ACCEPTABLE POTABLE WATER DISTRIBUTION PIPES................................ 4

Water Pipe Bonding........................................................................................................................................ 4

WATER HEATER INSPECTION CHECKLIST........................................................ 5

General:................................................................................................................................................................... 5

Improper Locations:....................................................................................................................................... 5

Shut-offs:................................................................................................................................................................ 5

Temperature/Pressure Relief Valves................................................................................................... 6

TPR Discharge Piping Regulations................................................................................................... 6

Acceptable TPR Discharge Pipe Materials................................................................................... 6

GAS WATER HEATERS............................................................................................... 7

Combustion Air Requirements:................................................................................................................ 7

Combustion Chamber:................................................................................................................................... 7

Combustion Exhaust Venting.................................................................................................................... 7

Water Heater Backdrafting: Causes and Recognition................................................................ 8

Causes of Backdrafting............................................................................................................................. 8

Signs of Backdrafting................................................................................................................................. 8

Testing procedure when backdrafting is suspected:............................................................. 9

ELECTRIC WATER HEATERS................................................................................... 9

WATER HEATER CONCERNS................................................................................... 9

Why Water Tanks Leak:................................................................................................................................ 9

Water Pressure:............................................................................................................................................ 9

Water Temperature:............................................................................................................................... 10

Discolored Hot Water:................................................................................................................................ 11

Rumbling, Crackling, Popping Sounds.............................................................................................. 11

WATER PIPE CONNECTIONS................................................................................ 11

 

 

 

HEATING

CARBON MONOXIDE................................................................................................... 1

CALCULATING ADEQUATE COMBUSTION AIR................................................. 1

Gas-fired Appliance......................................................................................................................................... 1

Oil-fired Appliance........................................................................................................................................... 3

GAS-FIRED FURNACE................................................................................................. 3

Gas Furnace Inspection Checklist........................................................................................................... 3

Gas Furnace Operation.................................................................................................................................. 5

Furnace Efficiency............................................................................................................................................ 6

By-Passing Unfamiliar Thermostats..................................................................................................... 6

HVAC Date Codes.............................................................................................................................................. 6

IDENTIFYING A CRACKED HEAT EXCHANGER:............................................... 6

Potential Health Hazards of Cracked Heat Exchangers............................................................. 6

Identifying Cracked Heat Exchangers.................................................................................................. 7

Inspection Recommendations.................................................................................................................. 7

VENTING INTO CHIMNEYS....................................................................................... 7

The Problems...................................................................................................................................................... 7

Incomplete combustion:......................................................................................................................... 8

Condensation:................................................................................................................................................ 8

Chimney Problem Identification............................................................................................................. 8

Solutions........................................................................................................................................................... 9

 

 

 

COOLING

AIR-CONDITIONING SYSTEM CHECKLIST.......................................................... 1

Exterior................................................................................................................................................................... 1

Condenser........................................................................................................................................................ 1

Interior............................................................................................................................................................... 1

What's inspected?............................................................................................................................................. 2

Temperature Gradients................................................................................................................................. 2

 

 

INTERIOR

RECOMMENDING CORRECTION OF CODE VIOLATIONS............................... 2

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS.................................................................................. 3

Carbon Monoxide.............................................................................................................................................. 3

Lead Paint.............................................................................................................................................................. 4

From the EPA:................................................................................................................................................ 4

Lead Inspection....................................................................................................................................... 5

Risk Assessment..................................................................................................................................... 5

Mold.......................................................................................................................................................................... 5

Smoke Detectors................................................................................................................................................ 6

Radon....................................................................................................................................................................... 7

Asbestos.................................................................................................................................................................. 8

Vinyl Flooring................................................................................................................................................ 8

Fiber-cement Siding and Roof Tile................................................................................................... 9

FIREPLACE INSPECTION LIABILITY..................................................................................................... 9

Gas Fireplace Inspection...................................................................................................................... 10

Wood-Burning Fireplace/Stove/Chimney Inspection...................................................... 10

ATTIC INSPECTION.................................................................................................. 11

Personal Protective Equipment............................................................................................................ 11

Attic Access........................................................................................................................................................ 11

Conventional Roof Framing..................................................................................................................... 12

Ridges.............................................................................................................................................................. 12

Conventional Ridge............................................................................................................................ 12

Structural Ridges................................................................................................................................. 13

Collar Ties VS Rafter Ties:.............................................................................................................. 13

Truss Roof Framing...................................................................................................................................... 13

Site-built Trusses...................................................................................................................................... 14

Roof Sheathing................................................................................................................................................. 14

Radiant Barrier Sheathing (potential fire danger).............................................................. 15

Fasteners for Metal Connectors:........................................................................................................... 15

H-Clips are not Always Required:.................................................................................................. 16

Attic Thermal Envelope............................................................................................................................. 16

Why Attics Need Ventilation.............................................................................................................. 16

Roof Structure Ventilation............................................................................................................. 17

Calculating Attic Ventilation Requirements....................................................................... 17

Ventilation of Vaulted Roof Structures.................................................................................. 17

Attic Electrical.................................................................................................................................................. 18

Attic Plumbing................................................................................................................................................. 18

Attic HVAC.......................................................................................................................................................... 18

Misc. Attic Conditions.................................................................................................................................. 19

KITCHEN INSPECTION CHECKLIST.................................................................... 19

INSPECTING STAIRS................................................................................................ 20

Staircase Requirements Vary!................................................................................................................ 20

2015 IRC Stair Requirements (R311.7)........................................................................................... 21

Stairway.......................................................................................................................................................... 21

Handrails....................................................................................................................................................... 21

Level Guards (guardrails)................................................................................................................... 21

Stair Handrail Assemblies (sloped guards).............................................................................. 21

Baluster Spacing; Guardrails VS Handrails:........................................................................ 22

Risers............................................................................................................................................................... 22

Treads.............................................................................................................................................................. 22

Landings......................................................................................................................................................... 22

Winding Stairs................................................................................................................................................. 22

Treads:............................................................................................................................................................ 22

Spiral Staircases.............................................................................................................................................. 22

Exterior Basement Stairs.......................................................................................................................... 23

FLOORS......................................................................................................................... 23

Hardwood Floors........................................................................................................................................... 23

Squeaking...................................................................................................................................................... 23

Joist-Related........................................................................................................................................... 23

Seasonal Shrinkage............................................................................................................................ 24

Buckling.......................................................................................................................................................... 24

Chatter Marks............................................................................................................................................. 24

Crowning....................................................................................................................................................... 24

Excessive Gaps........................................................................................................................................... 24

Greenhouse Effect.................................................................................................................................... 24

WDI................................................................................................................................................................... 25

Sticker Stain................................................................................................................................................. 25

Vinyl....................................................................................................................................................................... 25

DOOR INSPECTION................................................................................................... 25

General Considerations.............................................................................................................................. 25

Sliding Glass Doors....................................................................................................................................... 26

Closet Doors...................................................................................................................................................... 26

WINDOW INSPECTION........................................................................................... 26

General Considerations.............................................................................................................................. 26

Tempered Glass:............................................................................................................................................. 27

Condensation on Double-Pane Windows........................................................................................ 27

Repair of Windows with Failed Seals........................................................................................... 28

Multiple-pane Windows....................................................................................................................... 28

 

 

STRUCTURE

ROOF FRAMING............................................................................................................ 1

FOUNDATIONS.............................................................................................................. 2

Cracking.................................................................................................................................................................. 2

Differential Soil Movement.................................................................................................................... 2

Heaving......................................................................................................................................................... 2

Heaving Cracks................................................................................................................................... 2

Settling.......................................................................................................................................................... 2

Settling Cracks.......................................................................................................................................... 3

Creep.............................................................................................................................................................. 3

Hydrostatic pressure:.......................................................................................................................... 4

Rocks in backfill:.......................................................................................................................................... 4

Corners:............................................................................................................................................................. 4

Resistance to Shrinkage:......................................................................................................................... 5

Crack Appearance....................................................................................................................................... 5

Stepped Cracking:.................................................................................................................................. 5

Straight cracking:................................................................................................................................... 5

Cracking/Deterioration Above Arched Openings:............................................................. 5

Crack Description........................................................................................................................................ 5

Efflorescence/ Subflorescence................................................................................................................. 6

Efflorescence:................................................................................................................................................. 6

Subflorescence:............................................................................................................................................. 6

Cone Of Compression..................................................................................................................................... 7

Other Foundation Issues.............................................................................................................................. 7

Foundation bowing:................................................................................................................................... 7

Foundation Hardware:............................................................................................................................. 7

Cold joints:....................................................................................................................................................... 8

Honeycombing:............................................................................................................................................. 8

FLOOR STRUCTURE CHECKLIST............................................................................ 8

Main Floor Structure....................................................................................................................................... 9

Framing Fasteners...................................................................................................................................... 9

Minimum Bearing........................................................................................................................................ 9

Allowable Notching and Boring.......................................................................................................... 9

Squash Blocks................................................................................................................................................ 9

WALL FRAMING........................................................................................................ 10

Studs     R602.6................................................................................................................................................ 10

Non-Bearing Partition Walls............................................................................................................. 10

Other Stud Walls (including bearing walls)............................................................................. 10

 

 

 

LOG HOMES

RESOURCES.................................................................................................................... 1

INSPECTING LOG HOMES......................................................................................... 1

LOG WALL SETTLING & SHRINKAGE................................................................... 3

Settling..................................................................................................................................................................... 3

Log Shrinkage...................................................................................................................................................... 4

Free Water....................................................................................................................................................... 4

Bound Water.................................................................................................................................................. 4

Dry Logs............................................................................................................................................................ 4

Measuring Log Moisture Content...................................................................................................... 5

Shrinkage/Settling Concerns............................................................................................................... 5

LOG CHECKING............................................................................................................. 6

CHINKING....................................................................................................................... 6

Mortar-Based Chinking................................................................................................................................. 7

Moisture-Retention Problems............................................................................................................. 7

Modern Chinking............................................................................................................................................... 7

Inspection Considerations:......................................................................................................................... 8

WOOD DECAY..................................................................................................................................................... 9