Doors Windows Stairways
Photographs of issues with doors, windows, and stairways found during home inspections.
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The window above the door is called a transom. The windows to either side of the door are sometimes called the side lights. This is a great way to reduce the need of light fixtures by using the sun. The side lights should be made from tempered glass. There will be a mark on the glass stating that it is tempered, usually in a bottom corner. Why tempered? Any glass in or near the door (exterior or interior) need this safety feature to reduce the amount of injury if someone goes through the glass.
You would expect that builders will take care of issues before the walk through is set to happen with the buyer. On this back door, the trim has not been completed. We need the wood to be painted, and the joint between the trim and the wall to be sealed.
Doors have gone through changes over the years. On the higher end are doors which have metal surfaces for the exterior. These have great properties, but can also face the problems caused by weather. High water or back splashing water can hit the door in the same spot. If there is no sun to dry the surface, we can begin to see rust. If we leave this condition, the damage to the door can continue to become worse.
When examining a door, look for damaged or missing hardware. This door was not part of the original building plans. The buyers had wanted it to make use of the space underneath a stairwell. When the Master bedroom door was open, this door was not noticed, hence the builder forgot to add the doorknob. Check to see that the door knob is not loose when installed, since this can lead to further problems, such as not being able to open the door easily. On the lower left corner of this door we see the doorstop. Doorstops should be in place, and they should stop the door from hitting the wall. For our storage room door, we would want a doorstop on the door itself. A good position would be a doorstop that fits onto the hinge.
Lack of a doorstop causes damage to walls and doors. In this case, the door was hitting some framing for another door, causing damage to the door covering. Interior doors suffer more from this damage, due to the fact that they are hollow core. This means that there is a rectangular frame with a cross brace which is covered by panels, leaving the interior hollow. You do not want a hollow core door on an exterior door for security and energy efficiency.
Surface damage may be one problem for the door without a stop, but having the panels come off is another. Looking along the edge of the interior door’s frame, we see a gap on each side where the panels are coming off. This can also occur due to a bad glue job. One thing to consider is that most people never upgrade their interior doors, but this can be a big improvement in the home (builders often install a standard, inexpensive door).
This is an example of the caulking around the window trim coming away, allowing a leak. The brick is angled to move the water away from the wall, but the missing mortar permits water to flow into the interior wall.
Windows that have screens which cover the full window are often attached with screws. The problem is that if someone has to get out of the house because of a fire, the screens hamper a quick exit. The screen could be punched out, but the frame would stay in place. Finding a better way to hold screens in place would be optimal.
Newer window designs have slits in the base of the frame to allow water to flow out. The number of slits depends upon the size of the window. A common problem is homeowners caulking over these slits to seal the window for energy efficiency. In this case, the builder’s crew was going to quickly around the house, so they caulked over the slit. Why is this a problem? Rain standing in the window could flow into the home. A small drip can cause big damage over time.
Current window design has windows being held into the frame with a bead of silicone on the frame, then a glazing strip siliconed into place on the exterior. This damage can lead to future issues: window leak, energy efficiency concerns, or even a broken pane. For some terminology, a window pane can be called glazing as well. In older homes, a glazing compound was used instead of the silicone and glazing strip
This glazing strip is bent into an upright position. The same problems as above can occur, but this bent strip caused another problem: the window was hard to operate. Windows should operate smoothly to allow for people to escape through this opening in case of an emergency.
This is a casement window, and the problem is obvious, if you know what to examine. The window screen is missing. On most windows the window screen goes onto the exterior, but on casement windows have screens on the interior (there is a groove in the frame for the screen). Most homeowners remove them, or builders do not install them for the same reason: appearance; however, during a power outage, you may want your window open for the breeze. Without the screen, you obtain bugs. The other common place to check for problems on casement windows is the opening arm assembly. Handles come off. Opening arms do not stay in their track. The opening mechanism does not work, due to lack of use.
Jalousie windows are no longer common in the Houston area, but they are still on older homes. Like casement windows, the window screen is on the interior. The individual panes lift up to open when the handle is cranked. These windows do allow air flow, which is not the best for contemporary air conditioning equipment. The window is made from individual panes of glass. A glass company can cut a piece of glass to match the missing pane of glass seen in the first photo. The screens are attached by latches, so they can be removed. The problem with the screen pictured here is found on many older screens: bent frames allow insects into the home.
Of course stairways without a handrail can be dangerous, but just as problematic is the loose handrail. This is a simple maintenance item that homeowners forget, but once loose, the handrail can receive more damage faster. Eventually that handrail may be falling off when you need it.
Ever wonder how your stairs are made? In this foreclosure, the floor coverings had been removed, so we find no carpet on the stairs. You may notice that the risers are not solid wood pieces. Treads are what you step on; risers are the parts that are the vertical part of the step Risers are not always fully covered, which may confuse some, but this is not a structural issue. What we do want to check is that all of the pieces are fastened together, and that the entire assembly is attached to the walls. Walking the stairs, we should find that all treads are the same depth, and that all risers are the same height. People go onto steps expecting a rhythm to their pace. Differences in height or depth disrupts that rhythm, which can cause falls.
really liked this stair case. It is from a historic home in Miami,
which is the lighthouse keeper’s cottage. A little slice of New
England in Florida. There is a problem, which is hard to see in this
view. The balusters are more than four inches apart. The balusters
should be just a little bit closer to prevent children from falling
the same cottage as above is an example of an older style door. I
just liked the look, so I thought that I would share it.
parquet floor with style. This was a floor put in place for a
Leonardo da Vinci exhibit. Most wood floors stay with a straight
forward design. This was a little more work, but it produces a