NY Metro ASHI News

                                                                  January 2003

A Publication of the NY Metro Chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors

Published by John Gerardi (gerardi@att.net)

January Meeting
Change of Location This Month Only

RTCA's Offices
2 Hayes Street, Elmsford, NY (914) 345-3380
{Take Route 9A to Elmsford, go west on Haven (two intersections north of Route 287 overpass), then go south one block on Hayes to RTCA's offfices.

Date: Thursday, January 30, 2003, 6:00PM

Next Meeting's Program  

Radon in air measurement

Guests are welcome at all meetings.  


                       VIC'S (AD)VICE COLUMN


                                                  Victor J. Faggella


                                   NEUTOCRETE FIELD TRIP


        Recently, Neutocrete, one of our advertisers and seminar exhibitors, provided those who attended our Seminar 2002, with the opportunity to accompany one of their crews on an actual on site installation. For those not familiar with Neutocrete, it is a company which specializes in improving a house's total environment by sealing crawl space floors.

        The turn out was less than expected and five of our chapter members who had signed up for the event were unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances.  Therefore, I was asked to summarize the experience both for them and all those other members who were unable to attend.  I was advised by the CEO, Anthony Buonaiuto, that due to the fact that those attending obtained so much from this field trip, that another will be provided in the future.  It may also be possible to arrange a field trip for chapter members only.


        To summarize the day:  After registration, a light breakfast and greetings from the entire staff of Neutocrete, we adjourned to the conference room for presentations by Anthony and Frank Buonaiuto and Julian Garcia.  The purpose of the presentations was to prepare us for the on site inspection of work in progress, which was to follow.  It was noted that the material used in the Neutocrete process (lightweight concrete) is not new and has been used in the construction industry for many years.  Vermiculite, Perlite and other lightweight aggregates and other ingredients are mixed with the concrete to give it the desired properties.  What is new, and patented, is the actual sealing process.  We were also advised that Neutocrete is working in conjunction with "Advanced Energy" (a non-profit research consulting firm) "to develop building and retro fit standards for crawlspace construction to improve the structural integrity and air quality of the living environment".


        After the preparatory presentations, we were driven to a site where actual work was in progress.  The crawl space had been divided into three parts, to enable the inspectors to observe all phases of the process.  The first third was the original crawl space with the dirt floor and all typical debris; the second third was the cleared and prepared crawl space area; the last third was being finished with the Neutocrete process and the inspectors were able to observe the various techniques used.  We were then driven to a "test" crawl space.  One of the problems encountered with the lightweight concrete is excessive shrinkage.  Various mixes, with different aggregates and additives had been applied to marked off areas of this crawl space and areas were being monitored, over a period of time to determine which mix performs best.


        We returned to Neutocrete's facility for lunch and a round table discussion.  During the discussion, various questions were answered and ideas exchanged.  In my opinion, this was a beneficial experience not only for the inspectors but for Neutocrete itself.  I strongly urge those members who were not able to attend this seminar, to attend the next one when it is given.  On behalf of the chapter, I would like to thank Anthony and Frank Buonaiuto and all their staff for having us.


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BY NORMAN BECKER. P.E., Contributing Editor


Chimney Cricket

We would certainly appreciate your suggestions to correct a persistent leak in our roof by the chimney. This leak is causing water damage to the ceiling by the fireplace in our living room. My husband's efforts to tar the edges between the roof and chimney help for a while but don't correct the problem. We replaced the roof, but that made no difference. Will a sad­dle from the roof to the chimney help?

                                                                                  VELMA DRAKE, WATSKEA, IL                                                                                                                                           


A cricket (a/so called a saddle) should solve the problem. Based on the photo that you sent, your chimney is about 4 ft. wide.   Whenever the width of a chimney located along the slope of a roof is more than 2 ft., a cricket should join the roof and chim­ney. The cricket prevents debris or snow and ice from piling up behind the chimney. This can cause rain or melting snow to back up under the shingles and leak into the house. The cricket also deflects water running down the roof around the chimney.


The cricket's slope should be the same as that of the roof. If the cricket is large and exposed to view, it should be covered with the same shingles as those on the rest of the roof.  A small or non-exposed cricket can be covered with metal. The joints between the cricket and chimney, and the cricket and roof should be flashed.

Flame Spread

Can you tell me what "Flame Spread 200 or less" means?  I saw it on a label on the back of a 4 x 8 plywood panel that had a decorative finish.

                                                                                      PAUL MAUCH, MT. VIEW, CA


Flame spread is the propagation of a flame over a surface. The flame­ spread rating classifies the fire haz­ard potential of different building materials. It is based on tests per­formed by independent labs using procedures developed by Underwrit­ers Laboratories. Inorganic materi­als and untreated red oak provide the range against which flame-spread ratings are made. Inorganic materi­als, which include concrete, cement­-asbestos board and metal, have a flame spread of 0.  Untreated red oak has a flame spread of 100.

Building codes require materials that have a low flame-spread rating (0-25) to be used in fire escape routes, such as in stairways and exits. Where passageways and corridors are not part of an enclosed exit, the flame­ spread rating of the material should not exceed 75. Materials used for in­terior walls and ceilings generally have a flame-spread classification of 200 or less. This includes most un­treated plywood or paneling.

Squeak Cures

Alter reading the column on "Squeaking Floors" in Homeowners Clinic (page 88, August '90), Fred Gaca of Antioch, Illinois, sent in his suggestions.


If you are repairing a squeaking floor, use 1 5/8 -in.-long drywall screws in­stead of nails to attach the plywood to the joist. Drywall screws don’t require pre-drilling a hole and will countersink themselves.  They hold tighter than nails and won’t come loose even if the wood shrinks.

In my area, where a typical year sees temperatures go from subzero to more than 100 degrees F and humidity from 0% to 100%, some contractors use these screws, instead of nails, on outdoor decks so everything stays tight.  I used drywall screws when I built my deck two years ago, and every board is as tight as when it was attached.


Day & Night Search

I had a gas-fired water heater made by the Day & Night Manufacturing Co. installed in my home when it was built in 1958. It still works, but may go out at any time. I would like to know if it's still being produced. Thanks for any information.

                                                                                                        SIMON HAYDEL

                                                                                                       NEW ORLEANS, LA


Day & Night water heaters are no longer being manufactured. However there are a number of other good ­quality gas-fired water heaters on the market to choose from. Check with a plumbing supply store.     PM







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by Evan Grugett

From "Building Standards Today" November 2002, a publication of the ICBO.

Health House Debuts

A custom built home in Woodbury, Minnesota, which was open during the area's
Fall Parade of Homes, is the first in the nation to follow the newly revised builder
guidelines developed by the American Lung Association's "Health House" program.
Features of the home include a whole-house ventilation and filtration system, radiant
floor heating, and hard surfaced flooring throughout.

For the capillary break in the home, granular fill is used under the slab to prevent the
flow of bulk water from the soil to the wall.  Without the break, organizers say that
water in contact with the footings moves into the wall by capillary suction and is
transported throughout the wall by air convection in block cores. From there is
diffuses into the house and becomes a source of moisture problems. 

The house also includes large overhangs over walls and windows.  This feature
deflects most of the rain and prevents penetration of moisture on doors and
windows.  Insulation is provided by a soft foam sprayed into walls, floors, and
ceilings.  Sprayed on as a liquid, the insulation expands in seconds to what the
Health House program calls a superior insulation and air barrier.  By completely
sealing the bulding envelope, the material not only insulates but also controls the
intrusions of allergens, mildew and exterior sounds into the building.  For more
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Why frost heaves occur?

        by Carl Gerosa


The frost that can lift an entire building is no different than what forms on your window.   The only difference in this form is, the frost is invisible and mysterious because it occurs below ground.


When the outdoor temperature drops below 32 degrees f., the moisture in the ground begins to freeze, staring at the top.   Frost gradually works its way downward as persistent cold weather cools the soil at ever deeper levels.


If the soil is well drained and contains little moisture, frost spreads evenly through the soil and won't cause trouble. But if the soil is wet, the water will often freeze in a paper thin sheet, called a "lens."   Depending on the weather, these icy lenses can grow thicker, fed by water rising up through the soil from wetter soil below or from the water table.


When the water freezes it expands about 9” in volume. So when water freezes against the lens, it expands, thickens the lenses and compresses the soil, eventually thrusting the soil upward along with everything on top of it.  This uplift is called frost heave.


Usually the heave is slow, creeping only a fraction of an inch over days. Yet the power of frost heave is virtually unstoppable, because the expansive force of freezing water is huge, somewhere around 50,000 pound per sq. Inch.  A frost heave can lift a seven story building or collapse steel reinforced walls.


When temperatures rise and the frost lens melts, the damage is already done. The cracks remain, and foundations, once heaved, never quite settle back to their original place.  Each year they move a bit further, until you have a major problem. Frost won't usually latch onto the side of a house's foundation because even a small amount of heat from the interior drives moisture in the soil away from the walls. Secondary structures such as decks, garages, patios, porches and retaining walls are more likely to be affected for this reason.


Frost footings are the answer to this problem. They are installed below the frost line, where at this level frost does not occur. Another way of battling the frost used by builders is the use of non-frost susceptible soil when placing the footings. This soil is usually coarse particles of gravel and sand because they drain well thus moving the moisture away from the foundation.  Providing good drainage is another way of aiding in the prevention of frost heaving.


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