What's Wrong With This Picture?

Go back to the Case Studies & Photos page.


Picture #1
p1
What's Wrong? This hot water heater could be dangerous for several reasons. First, the soot build-up on top could be be a fire hazard and could also cause poor indoor air quality. second, and most importantly, the flue pipe at the top of the heater is tilted and possibly disconnected. This may lead to poor drafting of combustion gasses and carbon monoxide being drafted back into the home, which could be fatal. To ensure that a hot water heater is safe, make sure the pipe is straight up and down and thoroughly connected.

Learn more about carbon monoxide and other combustion gasses here and here.

Go back to photos.

Picture #2
p2
What's Wrong? Again, this flue pipe is not doing its job. Because this pipe is not properly connected and the hole not sealed, carbon monoxide and other combustion gasses could be drafted back into the home.

Learn more about carbon monoxide and other combustion gasses here and here.
Go back to photos.

Picture #3
p3
What's Wrong? This is a field or yard showing the signs of a backed-up septic system, possibly due to a lack of pumping. Not only does a septic system back-up cause a great deal of expensive property damage, but it is highly unsanitary and unhealthy. The water contains pathogens and bacteria, notably e-coli, that could cause sickness. Should this water seep into the home, the sickness problem becomes even more important and the bacteria in the water can promote very fast mold growth.

Learn how to get a septic system records and maintenance guidelines folder here.

Go back to photos.


Picture #4
p4
What's Wrong? The problem with this photo lies in the exhaust flue. The flue should incline from the appliance and, as per most states' code, should have two or fewer elbows. Between the second and third elbows, the pipe in actually in decline, causing the hot combustion gasses to not properly draft out. In fact, the hot gasses are scorching the wall, seen at the far right of the photo, causing a potential fire hazard.

Learn more about carbon monoxide and other combustion gasses here and here.
Go back to photos.

Picture #5
p5
What's Wrong? A fungus growing in a dirt crawl space is certainly a sign that there is too much moisture in the area. The moisture can also promote mold growth, which can lead to poor indoor air quality and can worsen allergies and asthma.

Learn more about mold here and here; learn more about allergies and asthma here and here.

Go back to photos.

Picture #6
p6
What's Wrong? This moldy window sill is the result of warm air hitting a cold surface and causing condensation that runs down the window and creates a moist environment for mold growth. The crack in the lower left corner of the window serves to make the glass surface even colder and promoting even more condensation and moisture. Also, the cracked window leads to poor home energy efficiency.

Learn more about mold here and here; learn more about energy efficiency and weatherization here.
Go back to photos.


Picture #7
p7
What's Wrong? The #1 rule of storing household chemicals is to not store them in a food container. Anyone, especially children, could mistake them for something to eat. Ideally, household chemicals should be stored in their original container. If that is not possible, a plain, properly labeled container is best. And, of course, the container should be kept well out of reach of children.

Learn more about home and child safety here, here and here; learn more about hazardous household chemicals here.
Go back to photos.

Picture #8
p8
What's Wrong? The mold on this bathroom ceiling and the rusty pole near the shower are both signs that the relative humidity in this bathroom is way too high. There is a fan above the shower - if it is functional, it needs to be turned on every time the shower is on; if it is not functional, it needs to be repaired or replaced. The mold growth can lead to poor indoor air quality and can worsen allergies and asthma.

Learn more about mold here and here; learn more about allergies and asthma here and here.
Go back to photos.

Picture #9
p9
What's Wrong? The mold on the beams of this attic is obvious, but what caused it? This is a situation where the bathroom exhaust was vented not outside, but directly into the attic. Once the warm, moist bathroom air hit the cold attic beams it condensed and created the moisture necessary for mold growth. In addition, dry rot of the wood could be a consideration and the wet insulation will have to be replaced.
Go back to photos.

Picture #10
p10
What's Wrong? If this is a pre-1978 home the paint could very well be lead-based paint and requires testing. If it is lead-based, the peeling paint must be removed by a professional, so as not to cause health problems, especially to young children who may ingest the paint flakes.

Learn more about lead and lead-based paint and the serious health issues they can cause here and here; learn more about the EPA rule regarding Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) here.

Go back to photos.

Picture #11
p11
What's Wrong? This wet crawl space could most likely be the result of flooding or a high water table. A moisture barrier needs to be installed and the entire crawl space needs to be dried out. The water, plus the organic matter in the floor material, will promote mold growth, which can lead to poor indoor air quality and can worsen allergies and asthma.

Learn more about mold here and here; learn more about allergies and asthma here and here.

Go back to photos.

Picture #12
p12
What's Wrong? This is another example of a room with much too high relative humidity and how moist air condenses when it comes in contact with a cold surface. The mold growth present is on areas that are much colder due to lack of insulation. The vertical studs in the walls, the wall corners, and the wall sections below and above the window are all areas that either don't contain insulation or the insulation may have settled. This much mold growth will definitely lead to poor indoor air quality and can worsen allergies and asthma.

Learn more about mold here and here; learn more about allergies and asthma here and here.

Go back to photos.

Picture #13
p13
What's Wrong? This abandoned, uncovered well is an excellent way for all kinds of toxins to enter the water supply - animal feces, dead/decomposing animals, pesticides - and contaminate drinking water. The well is also at ground level and large enough that animals and children could fall in and be trapped and injured.

Learn more about water quality and water safety here and here; learn more about home and child safety here, here and here
.
Go back to photos.

Picture #14
p14
What's Wrong? At first glance this looks to be a photo of a light-colored mold in a poorly ventilated bathroom. However, it is actually the product of smoking in a poorly ventilated bathroom. The environmental tobacco smoke is captured by the moist, warm air and the nicotine, tar and other toxins from the smoke are deposited in the corners and ceiling of the room. Commercial cigarettes should never be smoked indoors, especially if there are children in the home and if anyone suffers from allergies or asthma.

Learn more about environmental tobacco smoke here;
learn more about allergies and asthma here and here.
Go back to photos.

Picture #15
p15
What's Wrong? This photo is evidence that someone in the home is not only smoking indoors, but doing it in an area that is full of potentially flammable materials - carpet, bedding, cardboard. Not only is smoking indoors a health hazard but it is also a safety hazard.

Learn more about environmental tobacco smoke here; learn more about allergies and asthma here and here; learn more about home and child safety here, here and here.
Go back to photos.

Picture #16
p16
What's Wrong? There a few things going on in this photo. First, there are gutters installed but no downspout so the water does not have a safe place to drain. A hole was punched into the gutter (inset) to let water escape but it is draining out onto the dirt next to the home (the darker, wet dirt is faintly visible). The water will eventually make its way under the house and into the basement or crawl space, creating an environment for mold and dry rot. Second, the rock pile is a haven for rodents, snakes, insects and other pests. These pests carry diseases such as Hantavirus, and, with the rock pile being near the door, could very easily make their way into the home.

Learn more about household pests, Hantavirus and IPM (Integrated Pest Management) here, here and here.

Go back to photos.

Picture #17
p17
What's Wrong? This is a current well with an improperly capped well head; it is simply a concrete block resting atop the well head. The cap needs to be fitted and sealed so that materials such as animal feces, dead/decomposing animals and pesticides can't enter the well and contaminate the drinking water.

Learn more about water quality and water safety here and here.
Go back to photos.

Picture #18
p18
What's Wrong? This is another photo of mold growth on the ceiling of a bathroom with poor or nonexistent ventilation and much too high relative humidity. However, in this case, the ceiling material (inset) is contributing to the problem. The bumpy material is full of tiny pockets that trap the bacteria, making it almost impossible to reach with any cleaning instrument. This is a mold problem that could be managed much easier with the installation of a smooth shower material.

Learn more about mold here and here; learn more about allergies and asthma here and here.
Go back to photos.