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  1. #1
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    Default FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Curious: How many inspectors conduct floor level surveys using a manometer or laser level?

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    Jerry McCarthy
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Jerry, I bought a level during a weak moment (inspector toys) a year or so back, but after reconsidering, I have never used it on a job.
    I had the idea of an added service/charge but decided against it.
    Want to buy a digital water level?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  3. #3
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    If I call a foundation out for an engineer or foundation company ... I let them run their level checks. Not an area I wanted to get into.


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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Curious: How many inspectors conduct floor level surveys using a manometer or laser level?
    A couple of questions:

    - How would you use a manometer for that? (I have a manometer and am curious.)

    - Are you asking as in: 'all the time' or as in: when specifically requested or suspected problems?

    I did a few floor level surveys with a laser level for customers who had wood floor installation problems.

    After I stopped inspecting, the prices of the rotating levels came down to where those would be the most practical way to perform a floor level survey, much more practical than using a stationary laser level (regular laser level).

    If you are working with a 'under construction' home on a slab, 'water' works best, though.

    Simply flood the slab, outline the ponds with crayon, measure and mark the depth, photograph the results (done that, works quite well for later reference). Same works for low slope roofs to show problem drainage areas.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    I only measure if I suspect problems. I have a laser level but not sure how to confirm its accuracy. The level that I put my faith in is a SmartLevel, which I don't see on the market anymore. It can be field calibrated and provides readings down to a 10th of a degree.

    I understand what Nolan is saying, but to provide a numeric or two puts a little more heft in the report.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    I also don't use any scientific type tools. I just use my feet.

    If I walk across the floor and it feels unlevel I call it out as such.

    I do have a large 4-inch ball bearing (came from the super collider project) that I may lay on a floor to see it rolls in the direction of the slope. Doesn't work well on carpeting though.

    rick


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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    If I have a question about anything being level I use my trusty 4' spirit level and a ruler to measure the amount of slope or rise. Works great and never needs calibration. Outside of what my 4' level can tell me I defer to a PE to shoot the elevations of the home.

    Some HI use the foundation levelness as a value added service to help them market their business. I know of at least one inspector in LA that was fined by the State Board of Engineers back in 2003 for providing engineering advice when he was not an engineer. All he did was say the slab was lower by 3.5" in X corner of the house and that the slab sloped front to back toward that corner and that this was an indication that the slab was not level and needed correction. Yep, he said a little too much, as most home inspectors do!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    I also don't use any scientific type tools. I just use my feet.

    If I walk across the floor and it feels unlevel I call it out as such.

    I do have a large 4-inch ball bearing (came from the super collider project) that I may lay on a floor to see it rolls in the direction of the slope. Doesn't work well on carpeting though.

    rick
    I have a civil war canon ball, I wonder it it would work like the ball bearing! I can see my clients now as I pull out the little eight pounder and roll it across the floor!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Jerry P; “How would you use a manometer for that? (I have a manometer and am curious.)”
    Manometer Surveys involve measuring a floor slab to determine the high and low spots by stretching water filled tubing throughout the house and measuring the changes in water level in the tube between the base unit and the measurement point. One can draw up a plot-plan by this method indicating where the high and low points are located. The water hose test after the slab is poured is far easier as is performing a visual framing inspection on what some builders hasten to cover up.

    So far the consensus is against floor surveys, which I absolutely applaud as the right choice. Home inspectors are “generalists” by nature and perform visual inspections of readily accessible systems, components and areas. Doing floor level surveys also violates many HI association SOPs. I say leave it to the folks who have PE after their names because as most of us know “no good deed goes unpunished.”

    BTW, a solid steel ball is an excellent tool and after I got my hands on one I retired my pool que ball, which had replaced my original golf ball. And that’s how one moves up the ladder of employing exotic property inspection equipment.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Jerry P; [I][B] Doing floor level surveys also violates many HI association SOPs.
    Violates? Would measuring for gas leaks also be a violation? Checking appliances? Perhaps you mean that it's outside of many SOP requirements.

    As for the LA inspector, if he reported the drop in the floor, with measurement or not, it would be factual, right? I don't see where you'd get into trouble reporting facts. Now if it was over his saying repair was necessary, that I could see.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Jerry P; “How would you use a manometer for that? (I have a manometer and am curious.)”
    Manometer Surveys involve measuring a floor slab to determine the high and low spots by stretching water filled tubing throughout the house and measuring the changes in water level ...
    I thought you were talking about using a digital manometer ... I was scratching my head on that ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Eric not being a SA but what do you mean measure a gas leak?
    If I smell gas I don't light a match, I report it.
    If, while walking about, I detect unevenness in the floors I report it and always defer to a PE. Never guess at causes and never tell anyone how to "fix" something, but only who you think should. After years of EW work one tends to see the many "traps" our profession has and besides doing one's best job possible you’ve got to always be focused and alert for such traps.

    It's when we talk to much is generally when we get ourselves into trouble. Just the facts Sir or Mam and no advice on what will last, how long, etc. We are "show & tell" at our best without the other stuff so limit your bedside manner as we are only the purvayers of information of which sometimes is not so good. (I'm rambling again, dam it!)

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  13. #13
    Jack Ahern's Avatar
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    Smile Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    My 2 cents. I use my feet. When I detect some unlevelness(sp),I pull out my Titleist instant floor measurement tool. Make a goofy golf joke, then proceed. Everybody gets the message.
    Go Pats


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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    Violates? Would measuring for gas leaks also be a violation? Checking appliances? Perhaps you mean that it's outside of many SOP requirements.

    As for the LA inspector, if he reported the drop in the floor, with measurement or not, it would be factual, right? I don't see where you'd get into trouble reporting facts. Now if it was over his saying repair was necessary, that I could see.
    The State Board of Engineering saw it differently. The said he was doing the job of an engineer. Eric, I agree with you but this was not the first time I had heard of an engineering board coming down on an inspector. Heck in 1997 I was fined $75 be the Mississippi Department of Agriculture for telling a client that I found termites! They said I violated the state structural pest control law by identifying termites without a license! A local PC contractor was mad at me because it was on his home that I found the termites! He turned me in to the state board. How silly can it get!

    IMO, it boils down to protection of their turf. They see other professions threatening their livelihood.

    When I find termites I now say that this; "I found what appears to be bugs eating the wood on the house. By state law I can't tell you that they are termites. You need to have a PC contractor to tell you that you have termites."

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Now Scott, that's the ultimate in being politically correct.
    However, I'm somewhat surprised the local chapter of the Society of Entomology didn't sue you for calling those creatures bugs?

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    BTW, a solid steel ball is an excellent tool and after I got my hands on one I retired my pool que ball, which had replaced my original golf ball. And that’s how one moves up the ladder of employing exotic property inspection equipment.
    Bummer. Jerry tells me I'm still on the first rung of the "ladder of employing exotic property inspection equipment." And I thought the fluorescent orange was a step up

    Gotta go. I'm off to the local bar to steal a cheap white cue ball.

    Then I better get on Google and order a flashier one.

    $165.00 for a flashy set of glow in the dark balls! Yeah!

    Don't want MY customers thinking I'm still on the first rung, ya know.

    -

    Erby Crofutt, Georgetown, KY - Read my Blog here: Erby the Central Kentucky Home Inspector B4 U Close Home Inspections www.b4uclose.com www.kentuckyradon.com
    Find on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/B4UCloseInspections

  17. #17
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    Violates? Would measuring for gas leaks also be a violation? Checking appliances? Perhaps you mean that it's outside of many SOP requirements.

    As for the LA inspector, if he reported the drop in the floor, with measurement or not, it would be factual, right? I don't see where you'd get into trouble reporting facts. Now if it was over his saying repair was necessary, that I could see.
    I agree with Eric. I think that saying it is "outside the scope" of the SOP is more accurate than saying it violates the SOP.

    Regarding the LA inspector who got into trouble with the engineering board, I underlined the passage from Scott's post where I think he started crossing the line.

    Some HI use the foundation levelness as a value added service to help them market their business. I know of at least one inspector in LA that was fined by the State Board of Engineers back in 2003 for providing engineering advice when he was not an engineer. All he did was say the slab was lower by 3.5" in X corner of the house and that the slab sloped front to back toward that corner and that this was an indication that the slab was not level and needed correction. Yep, he said a little too much, as most home inspectors do!
    I'm not defending the Board's action or saying it's right; I'm just trying to put my finger on where I think the inspector started saying "a little too much". I don't see taking the measurements and reporting how far the slab is out of level as being engineering. Once you start analyzing the data and drawing conclusions from it, you start crossing that line, and I suspect that is what got the inspector into trouble with the Board.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    I don't use a level.... But I do take off my shoes. At first it was just to be polite. I now realize I pick up way more imperfections and slopes in floors with socks vs. shoes.... and I track less dog crap through the house so it's just better all the way around


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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    I don't use a level.... But I do take off my shoes. At first it was just to be polite. I now realize I pick up way more imperfections and slopes in floors with socks vs. shoes.... and I track less dog crap through the house so it's just better all the way around
    This is why you have a pair of shoes for the inside and one for the outside. I never inspect a home without a pair of rubber soled shoes on.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Jerry M. - "measuring" is the term I use when referring to the use of a meter. I suppose that "metering" might be an alternative. "I metered a gas leak" - sounds weird. It'll take some getting use to.

    Scott - seems like we are either too vague or we're stepping on someone else's toes. I'd like to think that some of these people would appreciate the fact that we're finding business for them. I like your revised bug comment - shows what kind of moronic guidelines we have to work with.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  21. #21
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    A "flat" concrete slab for a house will run out 3/8 of an inch per 32 inches. Conventional wood floors, if the carpenter set all the crowns up for the floor joists, will run out 1/4 to 3/8 inch in six to eight feet. The best method is to look at the floor to determine if appears to be level. After that check the door and window frames to see how square they are. The majority of structural problems can be found at the doors and windows for a room. If you see un-level or feel an un-level floor (Scott P.'s method) start looking at the doors and windows for movement. I have found more structural problems when looking at a door that will not close than going over the floor with a level. If you want to use a level, check the interior walls to see how straight they are.

    Don Merritt


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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Merritt View Post
    A "flat" concrete slab for a house will run out 3/8 of an inch per 32 inches. Conventional wood floors, if the carpenter set all the crowns up for the floor joists, will run out 1/4 to 3/8 inch in six to eight feet. The best method is to look at the floor to determine if appears to be level. After that check the door and window frames to see how square they are. The majority of structural problems can be found at the doors and windows for a room. If you see un-level or feel an un-level floor (Scott P.'s method) start looking at the doors and windows for movement. I have found more structural problems when looking at a door that will not close than going over the floor with a level. If you want to use a level, check the interior walls to see how straight they are.

    Don Merritt
    Good point Don;

    Yes, the doors and windows will tell the story I would say about 90% of the time.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  23. #23
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Hello to all,

    Respectfully, I'd like to address the use of the term manometer. Here is the Merriam-Webster online definition of manometer:

    An instrument (as a pressure gauge) for measuring the pressure of gases and vapors

    I believe what we are talking about here is simply a water level. Here is a fairly nice description (albeit with some grammar flaws) of a water level.

    Where most home inspectors will be familiar with manometers is with radon mitigation systems and the u-shaped manometers found (attached to the pipe somewhere), which indicate fan operation (i.e. suction, or negative air pressure).

    What is interesting to me is that if you use the Google search term "manometer survey" you will see many websites that talk about the use of manometers to perform elevation surveys in buildings, etc. You will even see folks who sell Pro-Level Manometers, etc. They are simply water levels.

    Just thought some of the guys reading through this thread might not really know what manometers are, how they are different from water levels, and that it's really a water level that is used to measure relative elevations regarding building foundations, floors, etc.

    Happy New Year to All!


  24. #24
    Wesley Holley's Avatar
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    I'm Going back to Jerrys' original question on this thread.
    FLOOR LEVEL CHECK
    Curious: How many inspectors conduct floor level surveys using a manometer or laser level?
    I am a just a flooring inspector. Thats *all* I do now.
    For my field we need the floor to be FLAT not level.
    Usually within 1/8" within 10 Sq ft. depending on Mfg specs.
    I shoot a $20. laser with a manual adjustment bubble float 1st.
    Then the old school string level method to check for deflection.
    All my balls are magnetic so they don't roll unbiased. (but if you clang them together they play stormy weather) without the lightning effect....
    "There once was a man named Cass, Who had balls made completely of brass, He clanged them together and played "Stormy Weather" while Lightning shot out of his ass." Sorry, had to put my 1.5 cents in on this one.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Wesley,

    A couple of comments / questions ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wesley Holley View Post
    I shoot a $20. laser with a manual adjustment bubble float 1st.
    Why not one of the electronic reading levels with a laser? These give an almost absolute 'level' indication without the concern for 'is the bubble actually centered and indicating true level'.

    All my balls are magnetic so they don't roll unbiased.
    I'm not understanding the importance of "so they don't roll unbiased" statement. Why do you want them to roll "biased" magnetically? And "biased" with what? Nails in the floor?

    I'm confused?????

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  26. #26
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Quote Originally Posted by Shane Pouch View Post
    Hello to all,

    Respectfully, I'd like to address the use of the term manometer. Here is the Merriam-Webster online definition of manometer:

    An instrument (as a pressure gauge) for measuring the pressure of gases and vapors

    I believe what we are talking about here is simply a water level. Here is a fairly nice description (albeit with some grammar flaws) of a water level.
    A water level is the simplest form of a manometer - both ends must be open to atmosphere, thus, with the same pressure being at both ends, the water will seek its own level. Now, if you were to put one end of the water level into a chamber with higher pressure, the water will move to account for that pressure difference - i.e., you have measured the pressure difference ... albeit an uncalibrated 'measurement'. But ... with the right stuff, you can now measure "inches water column", which is what the digital manometers are calibrated from, typically reading in Pascals (basically, for our purposes. 250 Pascals = 1 inch water column, but, for more scientific measurements, 249 Pascals = 1 inch water column ... okay, 249.0889 if you really need to be finite with your answer).

    I just remember it as 250 Pascals = 1 inch water column - close enough for our work.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  27. #27
    Wesley Holley's Avatar
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Yes I use them to check nailing patterns in hardwood floors.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    I am beginning to regret posting my question “how many inspectors do floor level surveys?” Some felt the need to nitpick while others questioned definitions and yet never answered the posed question. And, I’ll never understand why anyone would meter/measure a gas leak? Seems the smart thing to do is to immediately report such and get the hell off the property.
    The consensus is not measuring out of level floor heights, with which I heartily agree. Scott’s post demonstrates what can happen when you change hats.
    BTW, for checking floor level heights a manometer is nothing more than a bucket of water with 2 hoses attached.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  29. #29
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Why measure for gas leaks? Because that is the procedure used by our local gas utilities. To further confirm the leak's presence they use Sherlock Leak Detector, which I also use. Now, considering that the gas companies around here are considered to be God when it comes to natural gas systems, I see little reason to question their methodology. I certainly would not expect it to be challenged in a courtroom.

    Also, most gas leaks that I find are relatively minor and easy to correct. I'm not sure that getting the "hell" out of the house sends the proper message to the client.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  30. #30
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    Why measure for gas leaks?
    Eric,

    I think that Jerry Mc.'s commentary on 'measuring' a gas leak is answered in your next statement:

    Because that is the procedure used by our local gas utilities. To further confirm the leak's presence they use Sherlock Leak Detector, which I also use.
    The gas utility is not "measuring" a gas leak, but are "detecting" 'the presence of' gas leaks.

    That being said (and if I am correct) then Jerry Mc.'s last post confuses me: "Some felt the need to nitpick while others questioned definitions ... " in that this is what he was doing (if my understanding of his posts is correct) ... 'measuring' versus 'detecting'.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  31. #31
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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Au contraire, but mine was meant as an honest question without adversarial baggage and Jerry, you had it right in the “detect” department. If I sounded arbitrary I apologize.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: FLOOR LEVEL CHECK

    Quote Originally Posted by Wesley Holley View Post
    I shoot a $20. laser with a manual adjustment bubble float 1st.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Why not one of the electronic reading levels with a laser? These give an almost absolute 'level' indication without the concern for 'is the bubble actually centered and indicating true level'.
    Wesley,

    I asked that because I have been playing with a 10" electronic level with built-in laser I got for Christmas. It is similar to the Smart Level but is Craftsman - and is about 1/3 the cost of the Smart Level.

    While each (the Smart Level and the Craftsman electronic level) has their own advantages, there are some nice features which the Craftsman one has that the Smart Level does not, the built-in laser being the biggest advantage.

    Of course, the Craftsman electronic was not all well thought out - for example, the center of the laser is 1-1/8 inch above the base of the level. Now, I ask, why on earth did they not think to make that a plain old simple 1 inch to the laser beam center instead of a silly 1-1/8 inches?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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