Ask the Home Inspectors: Snakes, dryers and a new column

Jan. 4, 2012 at 5:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 4, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.

Joe and I stood in a cramped utility room to listen as a potential homebuyer discussed a close call with a common appliance.

Not long before, the customer, a middle-aged man, removed the backside panel from his clothes dryer. The creature that awaited him on the other side likely gives him the creeps still today.

A thick, angry and dark-colored water moccasin - a dangerous and venomous viper - slithered inside the compartment, and flashed its fangs. The man lunged backward just in time to avoid the snake's strike.

If you're wondering by now who Joe and I are, and just why we're sharing a story about a snake and a clothes dryer, here's the short answer:

We are licensed Victoria real estate inspectors who share a passion for learning about homes and all their systems - even appliances, such as clothes dryers. Likewise, we love passing on tips to homeowners, those in the market for a home and even landlords and renters.

This column, the first of many monthly installments to come, enables us to share in print the tips we pass on verbally to our customers. In here, you'll learn ways to better maintain your home and all its moving parts, plus tips to avoid dangerous situations and homes with costly deficiencies.

My name is Gabe Semenza, and I'm owner of Semenza Inspections, LLC. Joe is Joe Hanselka, owner of Crossroads Inspection Services, LLC. Together, we want to help you better understand your home and answer questions you might have along the way.

You might know me as a long-time investigative journalist for the Victoria Advocate. While I still contribute part time to the newspaper - generally via my Watchdog column and help with database projects - I have for months focused on building my home inspection business.

You might not know I also have years of experience in real estate investing, as well as in residential and commercial construction in five states, including Texas.

Joe, a real estate inspector since the 1980s, is a military veteran, an avid hunter and a former underwater welder. During his time in the Crossroads, he has inspected more than 7,000 homes.

Together as columnists we make an odd couple, no doubt. Our personalities are about as different as they get. But, somehow, we formed a friendship and a mutual respect.

I can still remember Joe's confused look when, in February, I asked him to train me to become a home inspector. I'm glad he did. The hours and hours of schooling I received all came together under his real-world tutelage.

So while we operate independent companies, we join again here in an effort to help you. We welcome any questions you have. To answer those we can't fit in this column, we've created an "Ask the Home Inspectors" blog at

If you go there now, we answer these questions:•  Why did I become a home inspector?

•  Is this some newspaper ploy to send me, an investigative journalist, undercover into the real estate world?

•  Why would Joe train a competitor?

As for our friend who encountered the water moccasin, he's fine. He managed to avoid a bite and to safely remove the snake. But now you know just one reason why we stress the importance of dryer vent caps that properly close.

Insects, rodents and even snakes can enter your home through the dryer vent if the outside cap is missing, blocked open by lint or otherwise deficient.

The only surprise you want to find in your dryer is a crisp $20 bill.

Gabe Semenza, TREC Lic. No. 20326, is owner of Semenza Inspections, LLC. Joe Hanselka, TREC Lic. No. 1166, is owner of Crossroads Inspection Services, LLC, and Semenza's professional sponsor. Contact the real estate inspectors at 361-676-1480 or 361-576-6429 respectively.



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