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Leavenworth Home Inspections – Common Conditions

Posted by Geordie Romer on April 17, 2008

Part I

By John Griffith, Cascade Site Services, Cashmere WA


The conditions described below are not in any particular order as far as significance or commonality. Leavenworth does have a large number of older homes, built in the early 1900’s, and many of these conditions are typical of older construction. Also, with the climate of Leavenworth being cooler, with higher precipitation than areas farther East, issues that involve drainage, ventilation and soil contact with wood take on heightened significance.


1) Poor exterior drainage: Since water or moisture related issues consistently result in more structural damage to homes than any other cause, water and/or moisture management is always the number one thing to be aware of. Water itself causes direct damage to homes in the form of settled foundations, cracked concrete patios and deteriorated wood siding. In addition, most secondary issues such as mold, wood rot and insect infestations are created by poor water management.


Common causes of poor exterior drainage include inadequate gutters, missing downspout extensions, ground that slopes toward the home and vents or windows below exterior grade.


2) Deteriorated exterior siding: Water management plays a big role here as well. Exterior siding must be maintained to prevent water from entering directly into or behind the siding. There are many different exterior siding materials in use, but regardless of which material is present, it must be protected from water intrusion. Composite wood siding is extremely vulnerable to moisture intrusion. Even the older cedar plank and newer, cement based “Hardi board” must be installed correctly and sealed properly to prevent water damage to the siding material.


Preventative maintenance such as painting, filling cracks and gaps, and sealing open nail holes goes a long ways in avoiding siding damage.


For more information on types of exterior siding, go to



3) Inadequate ventilation in the crawl space: Adequate ventilation in the crawl space is essential in preventing water/moisture damage. Molds, wood rot and even termite infestations can be prevented by maintaining adequate airflow throughout the crawl space. These organisms require moisture to thrive and keeping the crawl space cool and dry with proper ventilation is vital. As insulation has been added to older homes to improve energy efficiency, ventilation requirements have increased to prevent moisture buildup. Adding additional crawl space venting is a typical recommendation in older homes.



4) Inadequate ventilation in the attic: Just as the crawl space below a home needs adequate airflow, so does the attic spaces. In addition to preventing the same types of moisture issues found in crawl spaces, there are other reasons for maintaining ventilation in attics. One is prolonging the life of the roofing material. The useful life span of composition shingles and cedar shake or shingle roofing materials can be significantly shortened when subjected to prolonged high attic temperatures. Also, the formation of ice dams on the eaves of older homes is directly related to poor attic ventilation. Just as in the crawl space, increasing attic ventilation is a common recommendation in older homes.



5) Inadequate deck installation: This is one, of a few, very serious issues that can arise during a home inspection, due to the fact that a catastrophic deck failure can have fatal consequences. It is essential that all decks, and especially elevated decks, be installed correctly. Elevated decks should be installed by qualified, licensed contractors, and even then may have shortcomings, since there are different ways to install decks. Critical areas are the physical attachment to the exterior, provisions for water/moisture management at the exterior attachment, adequacy of fasteners/hardware and proper support from below the deck.

For more information on building a safe deck, go to and search “Building a deck”.
Thanks so much to John Griffith of Cascade Site Services, a Certified Home Inspector and Licensed Pest Inspector in the Leavenworth and Lake Wenatchee area.
This is Part I of a series. When we have posted Part II you will be able to click here to learn more about Leavenworth Home Inspection Issues.

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    If you’re planning to buy a home in this area, the best place to start is with the Leavenworth Home Buyer’s Guide.

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