Must-Have Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

The end of summer is the perfect time to catch up on maintenance for your home. With a whole summer packed with fun and relaxation, your chore list has likely begun to accumulate. Before the colder weather sets in, take advantage of these next few weeks to get your home in order with Inspect-It 1st’s fall home maintenance checklist.

 

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

fall home maintenance checklist

Follow these tips to make sure your home is in tip-top shape and ready for the changing seasons.

 

Check Your Roof

If trees surround your home, it’s important to inspect your roof and gutters before the leaves begin to fall. Check your roof for any damaged or missing shingles to ensure it stays protected during the impending cooler weather. While checking the status of your roof, keep an eye out for clogged or damaged gutters as well. Sticks, leaves, and other debris can pile up fast in gutters and require extensive time and work to clean them thoroughly. Consider installing leaf guards to help keep them clean and free of debris.

 

Prepare for Cooler Weather

Examine your windows and doorways for any gaps. Leaving space can not only let your warm air escape and cool air enter but also can leave your home susceptible to possible water damage. To fill any gaps, apply a fresh coat of caulk to keep things sealed shut. To further protect your home from escaping air or potential water damage, you can install weather stripping as well.

 

Remove Outdoor Hoses

If you live in an area where temperatures drop significantly, it’s a good idea to remove your outdoor garden hose. Freezing temperatures can cause the pipes and faucets to burst, leaving your home susceptible to minor leaks or serious water damage. To remove your hoses, be sure to drain them entirely and wind them in a coil for convenient storage indoors.

 

Inspect your HVAC System

While the temperatures are still pleasant, consider getting a professional inspection of your HVAC system. A technician can inspect your unit to ensure everything is in working order and prepared for the changing seasons. The best time to get an HVAC system inspection is before a malfunction occurs, so your home is never without cool air or heat. If you’d rather check your HVAC system yourself, refer to this guide for easy-to-follow steps.

 

Fireplace Maintenance

For homes with a wood-burning fireplace, it’s necessary to get a proper inspection done by a professional. During the inspection, a licensed technician can sweep the chimney, maintenance the flue, and check the overall condition of the fireplace. Chimney sweep companies often book many weeks in advance due to the increased demand in the fall season, so it’s best to schedule an appointment as early as you can.

 

For more tips on how to prepare your home for fall, contact Inspect-It 1st! We can help you develop a customizable fall home maintenance checklist to ensure your home is ready for the changing of the seasons. To get started, call us today at (877) 392-6278 or find your local IIF office online.



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How to Get Rid of Common Household Pests

eliminate common household pestsTaking pride in your household is one of the best parts of being a homeowner. And you should—you’ve created a safe, comfortable, clean environment in which to live. Unfortunately, these very reasons are attractive to other, unwanted visitors as well: common household pests.

 

Most Common Household Pests

What defines “common household pests” varies depending on geographic region. In the Southwest, homeowners keep their eyes out for bark scorpions and rattlesnakes; in the Pacific Northwest, residents battle Firebrats and Silverfish.

But there are some pests that homeowners will encounter from coast to coast and boarder to boarder. While they may be small, these pests can do some serious damage if not properly mitigated in a timely fashion.

 

  1. Mice and Rats

Rodents are drawn to your homes’ warmth as the seasons change, as well as garbage and food. Mice and rats burrow in walls, under floorboards, and in other sheltered locations like sheds, basements, and attics.

 

The Problem:

Rodents are notorious disease-carriers. These pesky pests harbor potentially dangerous infections like Lyme disease and typhus. Plus, they can contaminate floors and other surfaces with feces.

 

 

  1. Cockroaches

Cockroaches are ubiquitous, especially in urban areas. These ancient bugs love warm, humid spaces, such as bathrooms and kitchens, as well as drains and heating pipes.

 

The Problem:

Besides giving the illusion of an unkempt household, cockroaches are an extreme allergen, especially in children. Roches have also been known to transmit bacteria like Salmonella, parasitic worms and more.

 

  1. Earwigs

Another common creepy-crawler, earwigs are mostly just annoying. They are drawn to dampness and humidity, both indoors and out.

 

The Problem:

These bugs are attracted to light, as well as the aroma of food. Infestations can wreak havoc on plants. Also, earwigs’ pair of forceps can leave a stinging pinch.

 

  1. Carpenter Ants

Though relatively harmless, carpenter ants are a nuisance.

 

The Problem:

Carpenter ants do not eat wood, but they do carve out galleries by chewing tunnels. The galleries weaken wooden structures.

 

  1. Termites

Termites live in the soil beneath homes. While they are attracted to damp and decaying wood, they will happily eat dry lumber as well.

 

The Problem:

Voracious eaters, termites can decimate wooden structures, including houses. According to reports, termites cause approximately $750 million worth of property damage each year.

Ways to Keep Common Household Pests at Bay:

The most effective methods for pest eradication are preventative. Usually, once the infestation takes hold, the only course of action requires harsh repellants, sprays, and poisons, which are potentially hazardous to your household.

 

common household pests problemKeep Clean

Food entices most common household pests. To keep bugs at bay, be sure you are keeping clean when it comes to food. Clean up any messes or spills, store dry food in tightly sealed containers, and take your trash out often.

 

Stay Dry

As noted before, lots of pests are particularly attracted to water, so make sure to keep your house nice and dry. Eliminate stagnant water near your house, wipe up spills, and fix anything that is dripping water.

 

Quick Fix

It is important to repair any cracks, holes, and openings that may be allowing pests into your home. Caulk around windows and baseboards, patch your window screens and apply weather stripping for extra assurance.

 

If your pest problem has gotten out of hand, or you’re not sure where to start, call a professional for peace of mind, like Inspect-It 1st. In addition to performing pre-listing and pre-purchase inspections, we also offer pest and termite inspections. Contact your local Inspect-It 1st franchise to learn more.



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7 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

prepare your home for hurricane seasonThe latest reports predict that the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season will be one for the record books. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts a 45 percent possibility of an above average season. A more active season can result in a higher number of tropical storms with the potential to develop into hurricanes.

 

Scientists and Meteorologists have pointed to the early start to the season, as well as other factors like warm water temperatures and weak El Niño current, for the predicted increase. For homeowners on the East coast, this serves as a warning. There is no guarantee there will be more hurricane landfalls in the U.S., but a little preparation during these months (June 1-Nov. 30) never hurt anything. Here, Inspect-It 1st has rounded up the most important ways to prepare your home for hurricane season. It’s better to be safe than sorry, as they say.

 

Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

Hurricane season can be hard on your home. Even if no tropical storms make landfall, off-shore hurricanes and severe storms can invite damage if you’re not prepared.

 

  1. Have an Evacuation Plan

First and foremost, make a plan for evacuation. If all else fails, or if a storm surge forces you and your family to evacuate, you need to know where to go. And quickly.

 

Check to see if your home is in the evacuation path, an area which the government mandates that residents must leave in the event of a hurricane. Even if you fall outside of the designated area, it’s still a good idea to plan for evacuation, just in case.

 

Consult local government websites and community boards for information about alert systems, evacuations, and departure routes. Keep in mind that those in mobile homes, stilt houses or high-rise buildings might have to evacuate sooner than others.

 

Make sure each family member is aware of the plan and walk children through step-by-step instructions to ensure their safety. If you own pets, consider a plan for them as well.

 

  1. Assess Your Insurance Coverage

Prior to hurricane season, review your insurance policy. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, make sure the policy covers flood damage and rebuilding costs should damage occur. Often, homeowner insurance policies will cover one but not the other. You will need both in the event of a severe storm.

 

If you also own a car, it might be a good idea to check on insurance protections for the vehicle as well.

 

  1. Storm Guard Your Home

Another important precaution to take during hurricane season is safeguarding your home. Begin with a full inspection of your house to make sure that there aren’t any problems that would be exacerbated by a tropical storm.

 

Next, secure and seal your roof. As the home’s largest potential opening, strong winds and excess water can do severe damage if they penetrate the roof. Fix and replace all tiles and shingles that are missing, cracked, or warped.

 

After securing your roof, seal your doors and windows. Commercial caulk and weather stripping wear over time, so check their condition once a year.

 

Purchase plywood or install hurricane covers for windows and doors. Board up entrances for extra security if the storm begins to worsen.

 

  1. Take Inventory

It is important to take inventory of your home, belongings and other assets. Once a year, document all your possessions and how much each is worth. That way, in the case of damage, you’ll know what needs to be replaced and if it is covered under your insurance plan.

 

  1. Buy Supplies

It is smart to have a disaster supply kit ready to go in the house. The kit can include things like batteries, flashlights, first aid supplies, water, personal documents, prescription drugs, electronics chargers, and more. The disaster supply kit will accompany you in the event of an evacuation.

 

  1. Make Copies

Before hurricane season, make duplicates of your important documents including deeds and proof of ownership of assets. Back up your digital records on external hard drives or in cloud-based software as well.

 

  1. Final Moments

There is nothing more important than the safety of yourself and your loved ones. Heed calls for evacuation even if you have not properly prepared your property. But if you do have some time before an approaching storm reaches landfall, there are a couple of quick things you can do:

  • Clear your lawn of furniture, umbrellas, potted plants, and other items that could be picked up by strong winds.
  • Move your car to safety, whether it is the garage, or just away from trees and electric lines.
  • Shut off all utilities at their cutoff points, usually located near the meter.
  • Before you evacuate your home, turn off the main breaker in your circuit box.

 

If you are in need of a pre-hurricane inspection or have questions about how to prepare your home for hurricane season, contact the professionals at Inspect-It 1st. We have the industry experience and know-how to tackle the tough questions homeowners face. Contact us online or call us today at (877) 392-6278.



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Performing Proper HVAC Inspections

Pre-planning goes a long way when it comes to home care, and HVAC units should not be forgotten about until an issue arises. The best time to pay your HVAC unit some attention is when it appears to be functioning properly, and before any major changes in weather occur (fall and spring seasons). To make sure your home’s air quality and indoor temperature are in good standing, perform frequent HVAC inspections with Inspect-It 1st’s guide.

 

Why Should I Perform HVAC Inspections?

HVAC inspections are important for several reasons. Most obvious is the need to make sure the unit is properly functioning. Your HVAC should maintain temperatures programmed in your thermostat, and parts and mechanisms should be physically intact and functional. A fully operational HVAC system is what keeps you cool and comfortable on hot days, and warm during the cooler winter season.

 

It’s also important to check for problems with your HVAC unit for the sake of energy bills. A clogged or malfunctioning unit can cause energy bills to skyrocket—a frustrating consequence to an easily avoidable problem. If debris is clogging your unit, your system will work harder than necessary. Working overtime on the temperature and air quality in your home might go unnoticed at first, but will surely make an appearance on your energy bill and in your wallet.

 

performing HVAC inspections

What to Look For

Spotting basic issues with an HVAC unit can be done by assessing the system itself and exposed duct work or other pipes and vents.

 

HVAC System

Your HVAC system should be free of any surrounding materials such as leaves, bushes, excess dirt, or other blockages. Excess debris can compromise the effectiveness of your system, and lead to a host of other problems with the air quality and temperature in your home. The unit should also appear to be in good physical standing. Check for any rust or physical damages to any parts of the system. If you spot any issues, make a note of the areas so you can pass the information along to a professional.

 

Once you’ve inspected the outside of your HVAC unit, locate the air filter. Most air filters need replacing once every month. If you have a reusable filter, it will need cleaning at the same frequency. To check if your filter needs replaced or cleaned, check for any built-up dust, dirt, or other materials. If you’re using a reusable air filter, use this guide to learn how to clean it properly.

 

Though checking air filters is a task that is often forgotten, it is extremely important. Allowing air to pass through a dirty filter leads to that same contaminated air circulating throughout your home. Inspecting your air filter is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to maintain clean air quality in your home.

 

Duct Work, Pipes, and Vents

After ensuring your HVAC unit is in good standing, both inside and out, you can move on to checking the ducts, pipes, and vents. Look for any excess condensation along these areas, as this can be a sign that there is an issue with the unit. Also, make a note of any peeling tape, dirt streaks, or dents. If you can spot any of these characteristics, they are likely causing problems with the air flow in your home.

 

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your air flow, regularly cleaning these passages is a good practice. Dusting air vents and making sure furniture is not blocking them can help improve your air flow and quality. If you have pets, be sure to vacuum or sweep up any pet hair surrounding the vents as well.

 

If you want to make sure your home is ready for warmer weather, contact the experts at Inspect-It 1st! Our inspectors will perform a thorough inspection of your HVAC system to ensure everything is in working order. Find your nearest IIF office here to schedule your HVAC inspection appointment.



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Tips for Handling Skylight Repairs

Skylights are often a great selling point in homes. checklist for skylight repairsThey offer natural light as well as provide a unique and scenic view for homeowners to enjoy. While this feature is extremely popular, it can also entail some risks. Most often, skylights can leak water or other debris in your home. If you’re experiencing any damages or issues with your skylight, read these tips below to find out how to properly address skylight repairs.

 

Skylight Repairs: Common Issues

Skylight repairs are more complicated and dangerous than they appear. If your skylight is showing signs of damage, refrain from climbing on the roof to get a closer look at the issue. It’s important to remember that only a professional should examine a damaged skylight. The skylight’s compromised safety and structure are extremely hazardous. Instead, use these tips to safely identify the issue, and pass them along to a professional. If your skylight is leaking it is often caused by:

  • Problems with the installation of the flashing
    • Flashing refers to the protection of the skylight from outside elements. If it’s damaged or has loosened over time, it can allow water to seep into your home. Flashing kits are readily available through most home improvement stores.
  • Improper roof draining system
    • If your roof is draining towards the skylight, over time, this can cause leaking issues.
  • Condensation
    • This is most common in the colder months of the year. Some condensation is natural, but if it’s excessive, it can signify an issue with the condensation channels on the skylight.
  • Skylight gears
    • If your skylight can open and close, it’s possible there’s an issue with the gears responsible for this function. They may have become loosened, rusted, or damaged in some other way, which could allow water to leak through the skylight.
  • General installation issues
    • A number of things can go wrong when installing a skylight. It’s best to rely on a professional technician to identify any damages.

Safety Precautions

Though sometimes the problem can be spotted with ease, it’s best to leave any skylight repairs to professionals. Even if an issue seems minor, leaking skylights can disguise larger issues with the structure and stability of the window. The best thing to do in these situations is to gather as much information as you can from a safe viewpoint and provide the information to a professional.

 

For professional inspections and assistance with skylight repairs, contact the experts at Inspect-It 1st! Our technicians will identify any issues with your skylight in a safe and professional manner. With Inspect-It 1st, you can trust your business or family’s home is in good hands! Find a local IIF office near you here.



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Performing a Proper Deck Inspection

Warmer weather is right around the corner! In preparation for your days spent outdoors, make sure your deck is ready to go. Unfortunately, decks tend to give little to no warning before they sink or even collapse. To avoid any mishaps with your summer hot spot, be sure you do a proper deck inspection.

 

To find out what to look for when you begin your deck inspection, follow these tips from Inspect-It-1st!

 

Deck Inspection: What a Safe Deck Looks Like

tips for deck inspection

When examining such a large structure, it’s helpful to start with the basics. By knowing what to look for in a solid, sound, and safe deck, it will be easier to spot potential problems on your own. All structurally sound decks should include:

  • Proof that the deck meets city codes, and if applicable, has a valid building permit
  • Solid base-footings that are below the frost-line
  • A secure and level ledger that attaches the deck to the house
    • A ledger is responsible for supporting about half of the deck’s weight!
  • Adequate space between the boards
    • Boards should be placed about one-eighth of an inch apart. By allowing a little room between each board, the wood can expand and contract with temperature changes without impacting the deck’s overall structure.
  • Maintenance of a protective wood finish
    • To effectively protect the wood, this should be assessed and reapplied about every two years or as needed.

Is Your Deck Safe?

Now that you know what to look for, you can begin inspecting your deck. If you notice any of the following problems with yours, it’s important that you address and resolve the issues immediately. Any problems you may find, no matter how minor they may appear, should be considered “red flags.” The integrity of a deck can become compromised by the smallest of issues, and needs to be fixed as soon as possible before further use of the area.

 

Rotted Wood

Examine the flooring, railings, stairs, and support posts. To test if the wood is rotted, you will need a tool or ice pick that you can insert into the wood. If the tool or pick can be inserted more than one-half of an inch, it’s a sign that the wood is not structurally sound. This can be from moisture, mildew, or not properly maintaining the finish on the wood. All rotted spots need to be removed and replaced. Follow this guide to learn how to safely replace the wood.

 

Moisture

Decks can generally handle the wear and tear from rain and snow, but it’s important to make sure the moisture is being drained away from the structure. Flashing refers to a waterproof material that protects the wood from water that could seep into it. Make sure your flashing is installed properly, and test that it is still doing its job correctly. If too much moisture gets into the wood, your deck can begin to sink or even rot. Also, make sure any sprinklers or gutter drains are a safe distance away from the structure.

 

Railings

Especially on tall decks, it’s imperative that your railings are stable, and the appropriate height and width apart. Check each railing for stability by trying to wiggle it loose. If the railing moves significantly, it likely needs to be tightened or replaced. All railings should be at least three yards high and no more than four inches wide.

 

Connections

Since there are lots of pieces and parts to a deck, it’s a good idea to make sure whatever is securing them is still installed correctly. Screws and bolts can loosen over time and should be checked for security regularly. Examine the entirety of the deck and be sure connections are still tight. If you need to replace any hardware, be sure you do so with materials that are labeled for outdoor use only.

 

The Big Picture

After getting up close and personal with the deck, you should step as far away as possible from it to get a good view of the whole thing. By doing this, you can check for sagging, warping, and the overall levelness of the deck. If you see any parts that don’t look sturdy or are slanted, it’s best to take note of the issue and consult a professional for further assistance determining the problem.

 

Outdoor decks are great sources of entertainment and a fun spot to lounge or bond with family and friends. To ensure you get the most out of your deck this spring and summer, make sure you perform deck inspections regularly. If you’d rather leave the hard work to the professionals, contact Inspect-It-1st for an expert deck inspection. Find a location near you here to speak with a local inspector.



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Residential Roofing Tips

residential roofing tipsEvery day, your roof pulls off double duty. It acts as your home’s first line of self-defense and your family’s first layer of protection during inclement weather.

 

Return the favor by spending a few moments on preventative roof maintenance twice a year—once in the spring and once in the fall. Negligence can lead to expensive repairs, so be sure to follow Inspect-It 1st’s residential roofing tips to keep yours in tip-top shape.

 

First Things First

Before you begin to examine the state of your roof, check your homeowners’ insurance manual to see if your policy covers serious roof damage. If it doesn’t, you’ll know you have to take precautionary measures seriously; or you might decide to switch to a plan that offers residential roof coverage.

Next, determine what material your roof is made of. The most common roofing materials include:

  • Asphalt Shingles
  • Clay or Concrete Tiles
  • Slate
  • Wood Shingles
  • Metal

Each material is unique, and thus, will have unique maintenance problems. Material durability differs greatly and its life cycle should be taken into consideration. Asphalt shingles are quite economical but only last about 20-25 years, while the lifespan of a slate roof can be more than 100 years.

 

What to Look for

To conduct a roof inspection, you’ll want to work your way around your house. Start on the ground and note potential problems from there, then use a ladder to examine the issue further. Some problems may require you to physically be on the roof to fix, but it’s best for your roof—and your safety—to spend as little time as possible on top of your house. When inspecting the roof from the exterior, look for the following:

 

  • Broken, buckling or curling shingles
  • Patches of moss and lichen
  • Missing shingles
  • Cracked caulking
  • Rusting flashing
  • Sand-like granules in gutters
  • Peeling paint underneath roof overhangs

 

Early signs of trouble that you can detect inside your home include:

 

  • Damp sections around fireplaces
  • Dark patches on ceilings
  • Water stains

 

Depending on the scope of damage, you may be able to do some repairs yourself. Things like resealing the roof’s flashing with caulk, replacing shingles or moss eradication can be done in a day’s time. Bigger issues, like rusted out vent boots or large areas of damaged roofing, may require a professional roofer.

 

It’s also smart to call in a professional inspection service, like Inspect-It 1st, if a heavy storm or natural disaster hits your neighborhood. Experienced, certified inspectors will be able to assess the situation in full and advise on repairs.

 

Expert Residential Roofing Tips

  • Inspect your roof when you’re cleaning your gutters; you’ll be able to kill two birds with one stone and you’ll be more likely to remember to do it.
  • If you’re afraid of heights and/or ladders, you can use binoculars to check your roof from the ground but you’ll want to hire an inspection service, like Inspect-It 1st, at least once a year to get up close and personal with your roof.
  • Trim the low-hanging branches of trees that surround your house to prevent them from causing damage to your roof shingles.
  • Be sure to check your states’ building and standards code to make sure your roof’s specifications abide by the rules. Codes are frequently updated, and failure to comply could result in a citation. The International Building Code is a good place to start, which encompasses regulations on everything from the slope of the roof to energy conservation.

If you’re in need of a residential roofing inspection or any other kind inspection, consider Inspect-It 1st. Inspect-It 1st can group your inspection needs together for both the home’s interior and exterior, to save you time and money. Find an Inspect-It 1st location near you.



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Facts About Radon Levels

Radon testing comes up frequently in home inspection conversations. Many homeowners are unaware of the adverse effects of radon and how important testing for it is. The inspection experts at Inspect-It 1st put together a quick radon facts guide to help you learn more about what it is, what it does, and why testing for it is important.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is odorless and colorless making it impossible to detect without the proper equipment. When inhaled, radon can be incredibly damaging to the human body. So much so that the Surgeon General of the United States identified radon as the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.

High levels of radon in your home can exponentially increase your family’s likelihood of developing lung canceradon levels factsr. Some studies point to children being more susceptible to the adverse impacts of radon due to their higher respiration rates and rapidly dividing cells.

Where Can Radon Be Found in the Home?

Radon is typically located in the ground, groundwater, or building materials of a home. As uranium naturally breaks down in soil, rock, and water, radon occurs and gets into the air we breathe or the water we drink. Radon in the air is much more common and is how humans typically end up inhaling it.

  • There are a number of ways radon can get into your home including:
  • Cracks in solid floors
  • Construction joints
  • Cracks in walls
  • Gaps in suspended floors
  • Gaps around service pipes
  • Cavities inside walls
  • Water supply

While radon occurs everywhere, you are most likely to be exposed to it at home, where you spend the majority of your time.

What are the Dangers of Radon?

Radon can cause many health issues, but the most severe problem is lung cancer. Radon is the first leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and second leading cause of lung cancer globally.

Smokers see even greater health impacts of radon due to their already elevated level of lung cancer risk. Smokers are much more susceptible to developing lung cancer if they have also been exposed to radon.

Can You Test For Radon?

Yes! You can very quickly test for radon and you should. Testing is the only positive way to ensure that you and your family are not exposed to dangerous levels of radon. Test all floors lower than the third floor. We recommend calling your local Inspect-It 1st expert to do the testing to ensure that the test is accurate, but there are home-test kits that can give you a quick snapshot of your potential radon levels.

When Should I Test?

If you are moving into a new house, have just completed building your house, are moving into a new rental space, or have no current record of a radon test for your home, you should test for radon. Many homes are now built with radon resistance, but you should still test to be safe.

What Level of Radon is Safe?

Average radon rates in homes are about 1.3 pico Curies per liter of air [pCi/L]. To be safe, radon levels in your home should be below 4 pCi/L. While there is no “safe” amount of radon, the Environmental Protection Agency identified below 4 pCi/L as an acceptable amount for a safe home. A proper test can tell you exactly what your radon levels are. If your levels are above 4 pCi/L, it is time to take action to reduce them.

How to Reduce Radon Levels

Thankfully, it is possible to reduce the amount of radon in a home. Radon reduction systems are available and can be effective at removing 99% of the radon in your home. These systems use vent pipes and fans to vent radon out of your home. Sealing cracks in the foundation or other gaps in the home can also help. An Inspect-It 1st expert can assist in determining what will work best for your home.

If you suspect you have radon in your home or want to test to be safe, call your local Inspect-It 1st today!



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The Importance of Well Water Testing

If your home has a well water system, it is not protected by mandatory quality testing like public drinking water systems are. For that reason, it is important to make sure that well water systems are regularly tested to make sure it is safe to drink and use for washing dishes, clothes, showering, and more.

What is Well Testing?well water testing

Let’s start with an explanation of the differences between city & well water.

Well testing is conducted on water samples from the well water system to ensure the water isn’t contaminated by dangerous bacteria, germs, or chemicals.

Since it is not required by the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] that well water systems receive regular testing, it is a good idea to commit to having your water tested at least once a year. Checking your well system once a year helps ensure the mechanical parts of the system are in good working order and that the water isn’t contaminated.

Why Should Your Well Water Be Tested?

There are a number of contaminants and hazards that you should look out for when testing your well water. These include:

  • Total Coliforms
  • Fecal Coliform/E.Coli
  • pH
  • Nitrate
  • Volatile Organic Compounds

Below is more information on each contaminant and why you should test for them.

Total Coliforms

Coliform bacteria are microbes. They don’t typically make you sick, but if the “total coliforms” are tested and return at a high level, it can indicate the presence of harmful germs, parasites, or bacteria.

Fecal Coliform/E.Coli

Fecal Coliform can be tested for by itself. While they are usually harmless, elevated levels can indicate that your well water has been contaminated by fecal matter and harmful germs. These can lead to illnesses like dysentery, hepatitis, and more.

pH

The pH level of your well water can completely change the look and taste of your water. If the pH levels are too high or too low, the water can damage your plumbing, causing metals like lead to leak into your water, and potentially make you ill.

Nitrate

Nitrate is one of the most important things to test for in a well water test. High levels of nitrates can make you and your family very sick. This is why a nitrate test is recommended for all well water systems. If the nitrate levels are too high, it may be time to consider another location for your well.

Volatile Organic Compounds [VOCs]

VOCs are chemicals that come from fuel or industrial waste. At certain levels, VOCs can cause health concerns but their presence is largely dependent on where you live. It is the best practice to ask your local health or environmental department if VOCs are an issue in your area.

Other Chemicals and Contaminants

Some well water testing depends on the location of your well. It may be important to test for lead, arsenic, mercury, and pesticides if you live in certain areas. Your local Inspect-it 1st professional will know exactly which well water tests are needed for your area.

When Should You Get Your Well Tested?

It is recommended that you have your well water tested each year, usually in the spring. Some other signs that point to you needing to test your water are as follows:

  • There is a change in water quality (i.e. taste, color, odor)
  • Problems with well water have been reported in your area.
  • You have had problems around your well (floods, digging around the area, nearby waste disposal sites).
  • Parts of your well system have been replaced or repaired.

 

You should also have the well water tested before you list your home for sale, before you buy a home, before a home inspection, and before renting a home with well water.

Who Should Perform Your Well Water Testing?

Well water testing is a complicated and highly scientific process requiring lab time and specialized equipment. Your local Inspect-it 1st has all the tools and professional skills needed for well water testing. So when you suspect that your water may be contaminated or if you just want to have your well tested for peace of mind, call Inspect-it 1st for the best in well water testing.



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At-Home Septic System Testing

test your septic systemResidential septic systems house some pretty nasty situations that are usually—and thankfully—out of sight, out of mind. But when the system malfunctions, things can get stinky.

 

What Is a Septic System?

Septic systems are underground, onsite wastewater structures specifically designed to treat biological human waste when access to a centralized sewer system impractical. Septic systems are usually comprised of a main drainage pipe, a holding tank, a “drainfield” and ground soil. Through the various stages, septic systems allow human waste to be naturally broken down by bacteria, and then safely released into the environment.

 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 25% of American households utilize septic systems—either individual or small community systems—to treat their wastewater.

 

A home’s septic system handles all wastewater from the household’s plumbing—which means everything from the obvious to bathwater and laundry output is processed by the septic system. While the system can safely handle some soaps and detergents, make sure that you use phosphate-free products. Phosphates promote algae growth –effectively acting as fertilizer—which can block pipes and cause problems. It is also vitally important that you never flush harsh chemicals or non-biodegradable items such as paper towels, tampons or diapers down the toilet. It is also important to keep kitchen scraps out of the equation, even if you have a garbage disposal in your sink. Instead, consider starting a compost pile to combat food waste, or resign these items to the trash.

 

Does Your Home Have a Septic System?

If you’re unsure as to whether or not your home has a septic system, there are few ways to find out. Poll your neighbors. If they have a septic tank, chances are you do as well. Rural homes that aren’t connected to city water—meaning you use well water—usually will have a septic system. Another tell-tale sign: your bills. Check to see if there is a $0.00 charge for sewer services on your water or property tax bill. If so, that usually means you have a septic system and therefore don’t need to pay for sewer fees.

 

After you determine that your home has a septic system, you may be wondering where it is located. As stated, these systems are built underground so look for lids or manhole covers in your yard. You can also consult your house’s “as built” blueprints, if you have access to these drawings. If you are still stumped, contact a plumber, or inspector to locate it for you.

 

Signs of System Failure

It is important to regularly monitor and maintain your septic system. This saves you money, keeps your environment (and in turn, your family) healthy and protects your home’s property value. Call in a professional inspector if you experience any of the following:

  • Foul odor near the septic tank or around the drainfield
  • Water backing up in household drains
  • Soiled, pooling water in your basement or around your septic system

At-Home’s Septic System Testing

While there are ways to properly inspect your septic system yourself, it is wise to call in a professional inspection service to do the dirty work for you, like Inspect-It 1st. The system is complex, and much of it is underground, so it’s best to leave it to the experienced inspectors so you don’t create more problems. A certified, Inspect-It 1st inspector will perform the trusted “dye test” method to determine if each component of your septic system is functioning correctly. Inspect-It 1st offers a wide variety of other inspection services as well, so there’s only one call to make, whether you need a pre-purchase, pre-listing, commercial or residential inspection.

 

 



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Our home inspection company's history began in 1991 with the establishment of American Home Inspection. Over the course of the following seven years, a home inspection business prototype was developed that could be implemented anywhere in the United States. Our founders believed they had a unique methodology of providing homebuyers and sellers with consistent, professional and unbiased home inspections.

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