It that time of year when wasps are waking up. They gather in the corners of windows to take in the heat from the sun. I have always wondered where they spend the winter. There must be a little Motel 6 somewhere in the house. When I inspect a home I check everything that I can access. Doors, windows, light fixtures, switches, receptacles and faucets just to name a few. Windows come in all shapes and sizes. Transom, double hung, single hung, picture, garden, jalousie, hopper, awning, slider, casement, bow and bay. (I'll admit... I had to look up the spelling of jalousie!). Double hung windows, for those that don't know, are windows where both sashes slide up and down. Double hung windows are dangerous!
Disclaimer..... Double hung windows that are working properly are just fine. I don`t want to hear a rumor going around saying "Skip said double hung windows are dangerous and we can't buy this house because of them!"
Let me explain..... When I inspect a window I check for rot, proper operation, broken panes, and blown gas seals.
I have learned a thing or two about windows during my inspection career. When unlocking an unfamiliar double hung window be sure to hold the upper sash as you do it. I have had the pleasure of having the tips of my fingers smashed by the upper sash slamming down on them. Once was enough for me to learn my lesson. If you have never had this type of injury consider yourself blessed. Electrical shock waves all the way to your toes. If you are lucky, you will get to keep your purple fingernail that matches your purple finger tip.
Some double hung windows have a tilt lock feature. This enables you to tilt the window inward in order to clean it. They come in handy on the second floor. No ladders! I check this feature by sliding the locks and tilting the window in. On rare occasions they won't tilt and I will note that defect in the report. I do not want Mrs. Smith calling me on a Saturday morning telling me that her windows won't tilt in and I didn't let her know about it. Usually when they will not tilt it means that they have been installed too tight. Windows are installed with shims and sometimes the installer puts a few more in than needed. It could also be a broken tilt lock mechanism.
Anyway...... back to my story. I inspected a window the other day when the weather was a little chilly. I had my trusty denim jacket on. Check for broken panes, check for rot, check for blown gas seals, (if a gas seal is blown, the window has a cloudy look and no amount of cleaning will help) and check for proper operation. Ahhh... this window has a tilt lock. When you tilt the window in, in order to close it you have to use a small amount of force to put it back in its upright position. Depending on the size of the window, this can cause the window to shake slightly. The window in question was rather large and in order to put it back, I had to fully extend my arms over my head. Remember the wasps???..... When you raise your hands over your head, instinct is to look upward which is what I did. As the window shut it shook slightly and I felt something drop into my sleeve. It was then that I noticed a single wasp in the corner of the window. It could have been any number of things that dropped into my sleeve. A piece of wood, a large dust bunny but the flapping of tiny wings against my arm made me realize that it wasn't either of those things. A second ago, the lone wasp in the corner had a buddy and now his buddy is in the sleeve of my jacket. Thankfully the buyers and their realtor had just left moments ago. I'm not sure how they would have reacted from seeing their home inspector screaming like a little girl running through the house stripping down as he went. Thankfully, the wasp was still in a stupor from winter and did not sting me.
Double hung windows are dangerous!
SPIRE HOME INSPECTION Your full service Home Inspector for Western North Carolina.