Seattle Home Inspector's Blog

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To paraphrase Dirty Harry: “…..you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?”

I found a kitchen exhaust fan the other day that was installed in 1950.

Old fan speed controlThe thing even ran when I turned on the antique controller.  Typically these old units, if they start at all, make so much noise they probably would not get used.  But not this one---this one just “purred” like it was put in yesterday.

The part that was not so cool was the ductwork in the attic---and was the reason for the Dirty Harry quote.  The thing about ductwork installed in 1950 is that it most likely has not gotten any better since 1950.  All kitchen exhaust fans need to be cleaned now and then and should always be smooth wall metal pipe---I don’t even like the flexible metal duct that lots of builders seem to like.  Of course the foil type vent pipe is a total no no.

It is possible to have a grease fire inside these vents and it is a pretty good idea to make them out of materials that can stand a little heat.  That said, you do not want to EVER have a fire in a kitchen exhaust duct---so keep them clean.

Wooden exhaust duct

Given that this vent pipe was made out of wood---it would seem to me that every time that timer was turned on you have to ask yourself one question:  Do I feel lucky?

 

 

Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector

 

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71 commentsCharles Buell • January 28 2011 09:17AM
To paraphrase Dirty Harry: “….. you've got to ask yourself one…
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I found a kitchen exhaust fan the other day that was installed in 1950. The thing even ran when I turned on the antique controller. Typically these old units, if they start at all, make so much noise they probably would not get used. But not… more
Think of your home as a sieve.
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We can never totally stop air movement in and out of homes. Not only are our attempts to seal homes never perfect, materials change over time and sometimes create new gaps where there were none to begin with. In this first picture we can see… more
If you want to get hit by a bus---you have to step off the curb.
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Now I have to assume that no one in their right mind really wants to get hit by a bus---but it does represent what it takes to succeed at whatever you are undertaking. (I won’t get into a long winded dissertation on the definition of &ldquo… more
Think of your house as a sponge.
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Water follows the easiest path. Sometimes the “easiest path” can be overcome by other forces---but usually water does run down hill. “Wicking” is just such a force that can literally make water go up hill---or… more
If you can’t afford the inspection you can’t afford the house!
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I have had recent discussions with agents and inspectors about what to me is a scary proposition. These discussions are not scary because the result would mean less work for me and other inspectors---but because of the sheer risk to the consumer… more
Six doors of separation
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Last fall I was sitting in my office working on an Inspection Report when the door bell rang. I can see from my office window (without being seen) who is at the door. We get lots of sales people pounding the streets and sometimes it is easier to… more