A recent Glencoe home inspection explains why it is so pertinent to have the location of the exterior curb box for the water supply to the home documented during a home inspection.  A curb box or buffalo box is the exterior shut off for the water supply main to the home that is located usually within the first 10 feet from the street to the home.  This valve is used in emergencies to shut off the water off in the home if there are major issues in the home that cannot be shut off from the interior water main shut off valve.    If you live in an older home your curb box or buffalo box may be under dirt due to the age of the home and the fact that the dirt around the home is constantly changing.  A covered or not located curb box or buffalo box can pose many issues.  Some of the issues include.

  • Damaged or missing curb box cover that can allow debris or water entry in the valve housing.  Debris in curb box housing can prevent the use of the valve in emergencies.
  • Not located curb boxes prevent emergency shut off of the water supply from the exterior if the interior valve has been damaged or compromised.

While performing the recent Home inspection in Glencoe Illinois we were restricted from the locating of the curb box for the water supply.  The large amount of snow that we recently received in the Midwest prevented proper location of this curb box.  In this situation we recommend that the seller or the buyer of the home to contact the village, city or town that they are buying the home in to assist in locating the curb box.  Most of the municipalities have a plumbing department that can assist in the location of the curb box prior to closing.  Usually the curb boxes can be found quickly by the city or village plumbing departments as long as snow and ice are not 3′ -4′ deep.

When the curb boxes are located the village or town plumbing department may also paint the cover blue to assure location of this curb box is easy to perform in the future.  This is exactly what was done for the clients of the Glencoe home inspection.  My clients from this property had no idea how important the curb box was to their new home.  To be honest, I understand.  I have clients in our plumbing company that have lived in their homes for 30 years and never seen or used their curb box.  A curb box only has a value when you really need it.  That is why the location of the curb box was brought up during the Glencoe home inspection.

If you are a home buyer this should be on your question list for your home inspector to look for if he or she does not bring it to your attention.  If you are a homeowner and do not know where your curb box is located then I suggest you contact your city or towns plumbing department to inquire if they will assist in the location of this valve to assure the location is documented in emergency settings.

Please contact me if you have any questions on any questions pertaining to curb boxes at pinnaclepropertyinspection.com or at 312-961-4228.  Thanks for stopping by and stay warm.


Jim Kolke

Thermal Home Inspector


House wrap or Tyvec wrap is used in every home or building to prevent water intrusion into the building envelope.  In this blog, I will explain how some rehabbers try to deceive home inspectors.

 I was hired for a home inspection in Waukegan, Illinois.  I was told that the home was not a foreclosure or a short sale.  Generally, when I inspect a foreclosure or a short sale there is a large laundry list of issues that need to rectified.  That is not an issue with most buyers who are looking at a bank owned property because they are going into the deal with the idea that there will be numerous issues to do to make the home the way they want it.  Also, the buyers of bank owned properties generally receive a large discount in price for their potential sweat equity.

In the case of the home inspection in Waukegan there were over 120 items that would need to be repaired or replaced.  Generally when I do  a home inspection I spend no more than an hour outside of the home.  When I pulled up to the home inspection in Waukegan I was very concerned with the home’s health.  The home was originally built in the 1940′s and was recently rehabbed in 2008.  What caught my eye was the total disregard for installation of the siding that happened to be “Hardiboard”.   Hardiboard is a great product when installed properly.  None of the connections were sealed at the edges, majority of the siding material wasn’t nailed into the sheathing and the areas that were nailed in were nailed incorrectly.

On further inspection of the siding, I found that a section literally fell off the wall where I noticed that the “Tyvec wrap” wasn’t secured to the wall and there was no insulation between the siding and wrap!  The “Tyvec” wrap secures the home against water entering the sheathing and causing water damage or worse – mold!  The Waukegan Home inspection seemed to start off bad and I thought there would be a chance that the rest of the home would get better.

Boy was I wrong.

Like I said in the beginning of this blog , I found over 120 issues that would need to be corrected.  My client wanted a definitive number on the repairs, so I called a general contractor who came up with over $100,000.00 worth of repairs.  This blog is not meant to scare home buyers,  it’s here to educate home buyers.  If you’re buying a home make sure every area and system is tested and explained to you so that you can be educated on your home.

If  you are buying a foreclosure or a home you think has issues and have question about what to look for contact us at~ www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com

Please leave a comment.  Thanks~ Jim Kolke