1900 vintage houses

This is what I offer the client to help appreciate the building practices for the period.

Home Inspector Kingston The Financial Toolbox
** John Marston master home inspector**

Subject: significant construction changes for the periods of early 1900’s and mid 1900’s

Wood framed homes typically were built on stone masonry for walls and piers, with mortar. This typically gives rise to settlement and cracking. This would typically leave holes and allow the infiltration of water. Further, the crawl spaces would be uninsulated, and without any vapour barrier. Soil gases such as Radon or rotting debris would settle in liquid pools in the crawl space often giving rise to offensive odours. Any leaks in the galvanized plumbing waste pipes would allow sewer gases to infiltrate this space.

Plumbing systems using municipal filtration… waste and potable water supply, were typically steel or cast iron with lead joins. Drains from appliances (toilets, baths, etc) would typically be routed to the main drain through copper piping. The waste system would be vented through the roof to prevent siphoning. Clean out access would very often be in difficult to reach places. Potable water is typically supplied with galvanized steel ¾” or ½” pipes at the entry. These materials rust from the inside and thus reduce water pressure, especially noticeable at the second floor when running 2 appliances at once.

Roof loads typical design would be 20 to 30 psf with additional consideration for snow/ice and wind loads. Organic asphalt shingles are heavy and weigh more than 250 pounds per square. Composite fibreglass shingles weigh approx 180 lb/sqft. The support structure of roof rafters were typically high quality fir or hemlock 2x8 or even 2x10” on 24”OC. The rafters would be joined with planks of 1x6 or 1x8” with spacing

The wood framed construction would typically be 2x4” on 16”OC with tarred felt siding. The walls often would be covered with lathe and plaster or gypsum.

The electrical service typically would be from a drop line. The SE would be to an interrupt and then to a branch distribution using fuses and 60 amp. The initial wiring might have been knob and Tube where single uninsulated conductors would be mounted on porcelain knobs. These have mostly been replaced over the years due to safety concerns. If electrical upgrades have been made in the 1960’s where copper was expensive, the use of aluminium wiring may be present.

Insulation in the attic area would typically be blown in wool, fibreglass, asbestos or Vermiculate. It is important to take a sample of this material and send it to the lab for confirmation. Call Pro-lab and 954 384 4446. Insulation material in exterior walls were typically a wool or fibreglass bat finished on the interior. Often, vent pipes were covered with asbestos for insulation. These ducts/flues are not visible inside wall cavities but will be clear when removing inside wall coverings. Further insulation slows the movement of air and traps dirt, dust, and moisture. Over time, the insulation becomes clogged and is useless. In the cold months, the interior areas will be cold or even freezing.

Paint used typically contained some lead.

HVAC typically was radiated from a boiler to radiators, or central cast iron stove and vented through the building to outdoors. If an upgrade has been made using a gas or oil furnace, including a gas fired water heater, the forced air system was subject to back drafting and high heat. If there is only one flue to the outdoors, typically through the existing chimney and liner, there would be a safety issue if more than one appliance is routed through one duct.