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Stains on walls after hurricane

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Melissa says:
September 5, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I also have this issue. I was supposed to close on a house this Tues, where the stains were not apparent previous to 1st inspection. Now after Hurricane very apparent. House is in PA and there is also a tree shading these areas, found out these rooms have hardly ever been ventilated.

The lines are all over upstairs showing all studs joints and beams. My realtor in an effort to close and have us deal with this issue on our own has tried to make us not do a second inspection, which of course is outrageous. I am concerned that the owner will paint and try to hide this from our second inspector.

The carpets are also surrounded by a black soot. This house is only 16 yrs old. Can I walk away from this house or what…I am currently in temp housing with my 2yr old and husband,,,we have sold our home in FL and moved here, of course not expecting this.

These new finding were not on the original report and have not been evident prior to now. We have a real estate lawyer, who has worked mostly with our agent in the past regarding documents. However I have contacted him regarding the matter. Our agent has proved to be questionable in her ethics all of a sudden. We really need more expert advice on if we can walk away from this matter.

Thank you so much.
asked in Interior Walls by darekrudy (21,730 points)
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1 Answer

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Hi Melissa,

In some cases, as it might be in this one, answering the question without actually “touching” the problem and digging around the possibilities… may not be possible. As you already know from my article (stains on walls), there are several conditions that might be responsible for those dark stains.

If this house is only 16 years old, the furnace (if it is forced air) should not be an issue but I’ve seen some of them 15 years old, with cracked heat exchanger causing wall / ceiling stains and dumping soot onto the carpeting (you’d need a professional to check all of the fuel burning appliances, preferably nobody associated with the Realtor). If you’re positive that those dark stains have appeared (or their amount increased) everywhere after the hurricane, the chances are that they are mold related. There might be flooded crawlspace underneath the house (or just wet), high water table around and under the house that increases moisture level and causes mold growth, leaking wall finish, etc.

So, since the general home inspection is only a “visual” procedure (according to standards of practice, the inspector has no obligation to lift the siding to check for water damage, attempt to check wall interior for insulation, mold, etc., enter the attic if he feels that it might not be safe or could cause some damage, and so forth. He can but he is not obligated to do it. So, you need an experienced home inspector that is working for you / not for the agent, and will find the reason for those stains / not just state that there are stains.

It’s your money and I wouldn’t worry about the agent. I lost many of them while doing home inspections because they thought I should be obligated to perform inspection in such way that it guarantees successful deal. I can call you but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to tell you much more from Illinois. You just need a pair of experienced eyes.
Let me know,

answered by darekrudy (21,730 points)
Thank you so much for your quick response. I really appreciate your advice and expertise. Everything that you mentioned is right on. My 2nd inspection will occur tomorrow, and you brought up so many good points for me to keep in mind. It puts me at some ease to know that you understand how unethical some realtors can be...and how they often skew these inspections.
This time around I will be getting an indepenent ASHI certified home inspector.
However my realtor has contacted the first one, who she has a strong relationship with, and asked him to be involved..which I don't feel comfortable with and we did not request. I did speak with him and he stated he didn't think it was the insulation b/c he did go to the attic briefly and saw over 10 inches blown in.

Our realtor also contacted our lawyer without our consent asking how to speed up this closing and avoid a second inspection, stating that it was just a paint problem. She thereafter went over to the sellers house with a paint contractor trying to prove her point, without our consent our advising us. This is just something she told our lawyer.

We have specifically stated we were going to have a second inspection. Her ethics concern me and I am a little worried that when we go to the house tomorrow for the second inspection, it will be covered in paint.  I'm not sure what will happen with the inspection then.
Honestly it could be soo many things, I personally feel it may be the furnace blowing the dirt..these rooms have not been ventilated. But b/c these marks have not shown until after the storm, they must have appeared due to the moisture wetness. But I will also keep in mind the cracked heat exchanger causing wall.

Thank you so much for bringing that up. I think that is something to definitely check causing the ceiling stains and soot onto the carpeting. Do you think my inspector would be able to take a good look at those fueling appliance. I will call and ask. What should I expect..since they wont look behind walls..and will see that the attic is insulated...a moisture reader may or may not be able to detect the cause
If all goes well, I am hoping that with the first inspection not noting this huge fact and the 2nd one hopefully doing so maybe we will be able to walk away from this disaster. Our lawyer, however, is also biased...went with someone realtor suggested (how many ways could we go wrong..huh?) and although he first sided with us, he is now stating that even if the inspector says there's an issue we can't walk away and get our 16k deposit unless it can be proven that it was due to the Hurricane.

This is getting really ridiculous...I dont know how much more proof we'll need. The seller is stating now that those marks  and huge crack have always been there...however they were not visible before. Should that have not been disclosed on the the disclosure...not according to our attorney. We will be needing to seek another attorney..if you know any good ones. Would be much easier if I was in Illinois. I'm not sure where your located, but I love Chicago..if I'm ever in your area I will have to thank you with a nice dinner. And I will definitely keep your contact, if I ever buy a home in Chicago, you are the expert to have.
Thank you for your advice and educating this young and inexpereinced gal. I really appreciate it. My worst nightmare would be moving my 2 yr old into this suddenly suspect home, and it is a sigh of relief to gain some comprehension and clarity regarding this issue. Also, thank you for removing my number...it's the first time I ever posted it..and I was desperate for an expert.
All the best,

Hi Melissa,
No dinner necessary, I’m glad I can answer some questions. Not really a solution in your case because somebody has to physically re-evaluate those things. I just hope that he’ll be able to find the answer, that’s what you should expect.
In your first message you didn’t mention anything about the huge crack, where is it, the foundation, walls, how big (wide, long)? That’s extremely important!

  • There’s a mold question in the disclosure but… they can say that they don’t know anything about mold. Large crack is a structural issue and I believe that there’s a question concerning structure in the disclosure, but I’m not sure, I may be wrong.

Let me know the results of this second inspection and the entire situation.
Good Luck Melissa. I hope everything goes well for you.

Thanks for your help. I haven't had internet access in a few days, so I'm sorry for the late reply. My ex-realtor sent me a message plainly stating that she saw my post on checkthishouse.com and would no longer represent us.

This was hilarious and shocking to me coming from the same women who ignored our concerns and threatened us in an effort to close this deal. It made me feel really good when I saw your email stating how some people didn't like my post. "How dare you" on your site was of course this lady!

She had forgotten that she once told us that she uses an alias to post on websites. It just shows how some people can go even beyond unprofessionallism. She's so lucky I didn't even name her on the site. I just want to thank you for putting her in her place! :-)
Furthermore, our 2nd inspector was a super amazing guy. And guess what, water in the basement was found, water spurting out of the fueling appliances and he was just really accurate and knew his stuff. He pretty much showed how there were incredible moisture problems coming from nearly every area of the house causing these stains.

Also poor insulation and incredibly high humidity levels. I would've never gotten there without your help or a site like yours. I was able to get all my concerns answered b/c of the questions you prepped me with. I'll forward you the inspection report
Otherwise, still haven't found a new attorney to better represent us. This ordeal has been exhausting for me, and am rethinking this whole relocation. By the way, my inspector called me and said the seller's agent called harrassing and threatening him...these people are insane! Thanks again for being such a great guy!