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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Carbon Monoxide Testing In Your Home

carbon monoxide testing serviceAs a homeowner, there are many circumstances that you need to be wary of in order to best protect your house and your family, from property damage caused by environmental factors, like fires and flooding, to accidental gas leaks like radon or carbon monoxide. In the U.S., around 20,000-30,000 people are affected by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning every year. While some things may be out of your control, carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable.

 

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

The gas known as carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, colorless and tasteless, as well as hazardous to humans when released in poorly ventilated or enclosed spaces. The gas is formed naturally from the burning of carbon-containing materials (such as coal, wood, kerosene, etc.).

 

When there is an excess of carbon monoxide in the air, your body displaces the oxygen in your blood with CO. This causes the gas to build up in your bloodstream and results in carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

If caught early, carbon monoxide poisoning can be reversed, but long-term effects can still occur. Bodily systems that require large amounts of oxygen—like the nervous and cardiovascular systems—can be permanently damaged. Carbon monoxide poisoning can also have significant effects on reproduction.

 

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are varied, and often flu-like, including headaches, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, chest pain, muscle weakness and others. While anybody can be affected by carbon monoxide poisoning, those that are most susceptible include infants, and the elderly and those with chronic heart or breathing conditions. Those that are sleeping or inebriated are also at risk.

 

How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Your Home

While carbon monoxide poisoning can be a real threat, there are precautions you can take to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. Below are just a few steps you can take to ensure that your family is protected from carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

  • Make sure gas appliances are properly ventilated.
  • Keep a carbon monoxide detector inside your home—be sure to replace it every five years.
  • Have your heating system serviced by a certified technician once a year
  • Do not use a power generator inside your house or garage.
  • Make sure your chimney is checked/cleaned every year.

Carbon Monoxide Testing In Your Home

Preventative measures, like installing a CO detector and monitoring ventilation, are good first steps. But if you are still concerned you can perform at-home carbon monoxide testing. Passive CO test kits—also called detector badges—can be purchased at hardware stores for around $10.

 

To perform carbon monoxide testing, start by documenting the date of your test on the test badge from the kit. Secure the test badge close to the area in which you’re concerned about carbon monoxide leaks. This could be your furnace room, garage or your fireplace. Make sure that the test badge is out of direct sunlight and away from ammonia or any other solvents and cleaners. Return to the test badge after 15 minutes and look for any darkening in color. Even if the discoloration is slight, you’ll want to have a certified inspector look further into the issue and locate the source of the leak.

 

Inspect-It 1st offers a full range of inspection services, including residential carbon monoxide testing. For the last 15 years, our certified professionals have been providing high-quality, thorough inspections and reports for buyers, sellers, and commercial properties. If you suspect a possible carbon monoxide leak in your home call Inspect-It 1st today!



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Asbestos Testing In Your Home

test for asbestos in you homeSome homeowners may be surprised to learn that asbestos-containing materials could have been used in the construction of their home—especially if the house was built before 1980 when regulations were enacted. You may be thinking: Where can asbestos be found in my home? How do I know if I’m at risk? Below, Inspect-It 1st breaks down the basics about asbestos.

 

What is asbestos?

 

Asbestos is a silicate mineral that has been used in the past for various commercial applications, due to its resistance to heat and other insulating properties. Because asbestos naturally occurs in the environment as durable bundles of fibers, its tensile strength has been applied in the manufacturing of everything from toasters and dishwashers, to fireproof vests and roofing materials.

 

The use of asbestos curbed around 1980, when it was found to be carcinogenic, causing mesothelioma. In 1989 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put a ban on any new uses of asbestos, however, those that pre-date 1989 are still allowed. Asbestos becomes hazardous when it is airborne, and risk factors include both the concentration of asbestos in the air and the cumulative duration of exposure. Industries with the highest risk of asbestos-related occupational hazards are military veterans, sheet metal workers, auto mechanics, firefighters, electricians and others who have been exposed to asbestos in the past several decades.

 

How do you know if your home has asbestos?

 

Older homes—those built before 1980—could contain some asbestos, whether it’s in the roof shingles, flashing, siding, tiling, ducts, insulation or joint compound. As the asbestos particles start to deteriorate due to damage or old age, fibers are released into the air. Asbestos transite pipes also pose a problem. As the cement pipes break down, asbestos fibers can make their way through the piping and into the drinking water.

 

The only way to successfully test for asbestos within the home is to send samples of the suspected contamination sites into a lab for analysis. While there are a few DIY home asbestos testing kits available, the American Lung Association strongly recommends enlisting the expertise of a professional service, like Inspect-It 1st.

 

If asbestos is found in your home, there are a few different ways to deal with it, depending on where it is located. If the material is still in good condition, the asbestos is contained and doesn’t pose an imminent threat. Sometimes the asbestos-containing material can be isolated and repaired. In drastic cases, asbestos removal is possible. Asbestos abatement is the only permanent solution to the problem, which can be done by a certified professional.

 

Concerned that you and your family’s health is at risk due to the asbestos in your house? Call Inspect-It 1st to perform asbestos testing in your home and give you piece of mind.



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Lead-Based Paint Testing

testing for lead-based paintIf your home was built before 1978, chances are it may contain lead paint, which can pose a problem if you’re planning to renovate, repair or repaint.

 

What Is Lead-Based Paint?

Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal that used to be mixed into paints and materials like gasoline, batteries, ceramics and others. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deemed lead-based paint a public health hazard in 1978 and banned its use, as well as enacted strict regulations for abatement.

 

Hazards of Lead-Based Paint

Deteriorating lead-based paint can be released into the air through dust and into the soil through flaking, where it breaks down and sticks to soil particles. Lead particles can travel long distances and can even make their way into water sources.

Easily absorbed by the body, lead can have dangerous effects on all major organs and bodily systems. Lead poisoning causes a variety of symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, nausea, fatigue and irritability, but can also harm children without any tell-tale signs. Those most at risk for the harmful effects of lead poisoning are children under the age of six who are in their developmental stages and pregnant women.

 

Lead-Based Paint Detection

Prevention is the best remedy when it comes to lead poisoning, and though the EPA strongly suggests that certified professionals perform inspections, there are many at-home, lead-based paint testing kits available.

Lead-based paint is most commonly found on the exterior walls, but can also be found in the household. To test for lead paint, gently scrape away layers of paint on each area of your house you plan on remodeling or repainting. Read the directions on the DIY lead-based paint testing kit, as each differs, but most show results with a change of color.

 

Steps to Take After a Positive Reading

If the results come back positive during your lead-based paint testing, there are a few immediate steps you can take:

  • Clean up any paint chips you can find
  • Frequently wash children’s hands and toys to reduce exposure
  • Dust and mop frequently

Inspection & Prevention

False negatives and questionable accuracy in at-home, lead-based paint testing kits can occur, so it may be best to have a full inspection done by a professional.

Homeowners, buyers, and real estate professionals choose to “Inspect-It 1st” because of our ability to perform a wide range of inspection services tailored to the market’s needs, you have the convenience of making one call instead of scheduling multiple inspectors. If you suspect that your house may contain lead-based paint or want to ensure your home is lead paint free, contact Inspect-It 1st today!



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Mold Testing in a Home

How to Detect Mold in a HouseJust about everyone has heard of mold and knows of the damage it can do over time if left untreated, but many homeowners don’t know exactly what mold is or how to detect it in the house.

The Inspect-It 1st team is experienced with a variety of common home problems, many of which lead to mold growth, and our home inspectors are experts in the services we provide. This blog post shares all homeowners need to know about mold detection and testing.

What is Mold?

Molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors, growing best in warm, damp conditions. Molds need water to grow, and they spread by producing spores. According to the CDC, indoor mold is most likely to be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements or showers.

 

In addition, some people are sensitive to molds, and exposure can cause symptoms such as congestion, eye and skin irritation, wheezing and sometimes more severe reactions. If you notice a moldy smell or begin suffering allergic symptoms, there’s a good chance mold is hidden in the house.

How to Detect Mold in a House

If you see or smell mold in your home, there is a potential health risk, so no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal. As long as water is present, mold will continue to grow and eventually damage the home structure, as well as increase the chances of your exposure.

 

Mold testing, which should always be performed by a qualified professional, can tell you if you have a mold problem in your home, detect hidden mold, measure indoor air quality and identify what species of mold is present.

 

The three main types of mold tests are air testing, surface testing and bulk testing. Air sampling tests the concentration of mold spores in the air, which can tell you if there’s a mold problem even if you haven’t found the growth. Surface testing takes samples from household surfaces to assess how much the mold has grown and spread. Lastly, bulk testing involves collecting pieces of material from the home to estimate the concentration of particles around the house. Testing is also useful after mold removal, ensuring that the removal was successful and thorough.

 

Inspection and Prevention

With the potential dangers to both your health and your home when mold grows undetected, it’s important to be informed and aware of areas more prone to mold growth, calling in the professionals for inspection if necessary.

 

Homeowners, buyers and real estate professionals choose to “Inspect-It 1st” because with a high level of customer care and our ability to deliver a wide range of inspection services tailored to the market’s needs, you have the convenience of making one call instead of scheduling multiple inspectors. If you suspect the presence of mold in your home or want to ensure your home is mold-free, contact Inspect-It 1st today!



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Home Water Leak Detection

ResearchHome Water Leak Testing image shows the typical home loses between 2,000 and 20,000 gallons of water each year due to leaks. Some common leaks such as faucets or water heaters are easy to detect; however, many leaks go undetected for years if the source of the leak isn’t visible. In addition, the precise location of a leak isn’t always apparent either, as some leaks may start in one place but flow along a channel before draining down and creating visible damage in another.

 

The Inspect-It 1st team is well-versed in home water leak detection, as well as water leak testing and prevention through our inspection services. If you suspect you may have a leak and aren’t sure what steps to take next, below are some of the best ways to detect a water leak in a house.

 

How to Detect a Water Leak in a House

  • Use Your Water Meter

    The best way to check if there’s a water leak in your home is by monitoring your water meter. Check and write down your meter reading, then after ensuring no water is being run in or outside the house, check the reading again an hour or two later. If the reading has changed, you have a leak.

  • Detect Leaking Faucets and Toilets

    These are the most common sources of water leaks in a home, with leaky faucets generally a result of a worn rubber washer, and toilet leaks typically caused by its flapper, both of which are easily replaceable. Close listening is important, and if you hear any hissing noises, try and locate where it’s coming from as this is indicative of a leak.

  • Detect an Underground Leak

    While any water leak in your home can be detected using the water meter, underground leaks are often detected visually. Make note if the look or feel of certain areas is consistently wet. Being aware of any puddles or dark spots on your driveway and curb can help detect underground leaks as well.

  • Schedule an Inspection

    When it comes to the upkeep of your home, the saying, “Better safe than sorry,” always rings true. If you suspect a water leak issue, bringing in a professional as soon as possible to prevent the problem from escalating is a tremendous save for potential destruction, financial cost and stress.

 

With the average cost of home water damage insurance claims being nearly $7,000, water leak testing and keeping your home dry should be a top priority for homeowners. Inspect-It 1st provides a wide range of inspection services, giving you the convenience of making one call instead of having to schedule multiple inspectors. We deliver a high-quality, thorough inspection report and are here whenever you have a question, even after the inspection. If you detect a water leak in your home, contact Inspect-It 1st today to learn more about water leak testing services!



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How Much Does Home Inspection Cost ?

How Much is a Home InspectionPurchasing a home is arguably one of the biggest decisions one makes in life, so it’s essential to be sure you’re purchasing the right one – and avoiding any unpleasant surprises that may come with it.

 

A property inspection is a small investment that plays a big role in your home-buying process. Our thorough inspection services include a complete assessment of the home’s systems and interior/exterior components, also evaluating how these systems are working together and identifying areas that need to be watched, repaired or replaced.

How Much is a Home Inspection ?

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), costs for home inspections vary dramatically, depending on the region, size and age of the house, scope of services and other factors, typically ranging from $300 to $500. The reported average costs around $315, with condos and homes under 1,000 sq. ft. costing as little as $200 and homes over 2,000 sq. ft. costing $400 or more.

Here is what you should know going into the home inspection process:

  • Inspectors quote inspection fees using different methods. Some charge a flat rate by square footage of the living areas, some by square footage under the roof, or others may charge by amount of time spent on the inspection.
  • Typically, the larger your home is, the more you should expect to pay for an inspection.
  • The age of the home can affect cost as well. Newer homes can usually be inspected in a shorter time than older ones due to repairs, additions and other aspects that come with age.
  • There’s no industry standard for calculating home inspection price, so be sure to ask your inspector up front how much you’ll be charged.
  • Paying the lowest cost doesn’t always mean you’re getting the best value. Inspectors aren’t regulated by the HUD, so inspectors charging the cheapest rates may not be providing the most thorough service.

 

If you’re ready to purchase a home, before you close the deal, Inspect-It 1st! Our pre-purchase inspections will give you the accurate information you need to make one of life’s most important decisions, with confidence. We encourage potential buyers to accompany the inspector, and after our on-site inspection and consultation, you will receive our high-quality, thorough inspection report, complete with color photos and an easy-to-use summary. Contact us today to learn more about the home inspection process and to get started on yours!

 



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The Importance of Water Quality Testing This Summer

Water quality testing keeps your family safe.Water quality testing on an annual basis or when purchasing a new home prevents unnecessary health risks to you and your family. While the United States has one of the safest and healthiest water supplies in the world, there’s still a chance of contamination. The only way to be sure of the water being delivered to your home is through water quality testing by professionals. Even if you have a water test kit, it’s not something you can figure out on your own. There are contaminants that may escape the detection of anyone who isn’t trained in what to look for and where.

 

Is water quality testing regulated?

Yes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates your tap water so that it is safe to drink and use. They create rules for proper water treatment and the maximum contaminant levels of different elements that can safely exist in a public water supply without posing a risk.

 

Companies like Inspect-It 1st utilize the rules and regulations set up by the EPA to ensure public safety. Through a combination of specialized equipment and experience, inspectors test your home’s water directly and determine if anything needs to be fixed in order to maintain a safe and sanitary water supply.

 

What contaminants can water quality testing detect?

There are standards and regulations for over 90 different types of water contaminants, including Salmonella, E. Coli, and disinfectant by-products. In some cases, the presence of a contaminant may make the water unsafe to drink. In other cases, only a very high level of a contaminant will cause concern.

The contaminants come from a variety of places or land conditions. Here are a few common sources for the contaminants detected by water quality testing:

  • Manufacturing processes nearby can pollute the groundwater with heavy metals or cyanide.
  • Sewage systems may malfunction or seep into the incoming water supply.
  • Local land use practices (fertilization, pesticides, livestock) can contaminate local water sources.

Why is water quality testing so important?

While the presence of certain naturally occurring chemicals or minerals may not pose an imminent threat, other contaminants can be seriously hazardous to your family’s health. Health issues from unclean water include reproductive problems, neurological conditions, and gastrointestinal illness. Infants, pregnant women, and the elderly may have a particularly high risk for these health conditions.

If you suspect your home water to be compromised or want to ensure that the water in a new house is safe, Inspect-It 1st. Water quality testing keeps your family safe and allows your mind to be at ease in your new home! Find an inspector near you today.



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Home Fire Safety Tips and Preparation

Home fire safety is practiced at a grill.Since May is National Barbecue Month, now is the time to brush up on your home fire safety knowledge. As you roll out the grill and invite neighbors over for a backyard cookout, a fire accident is probably the last thing on your mind. The summer has arrived, and it’s time to enjoy it! But stepping into the situation without concern for home fire safety or any preparation could lead to disaster. Whereas, if you have gone through the necessary preparations, you’ll be better equipped to handle whatever happens.

So to give you and your family peace of mind this summer, consider these six home fire safety tips pertaining to grilling:

  1. Give Your Grill Space – Rain or shine, your grill should never be positioned beneath an overhanging tree, awning, etc. In addition, it’s best to have at least two feet of cleared space around the grill on all sides. That means you should keep it away from wooden railings and house siding, too.
  2. Assess Your Equipment – Before your first barbecue of the season, check for a rusty tank, cracked hose, or corroded couplings. Each of these would send out dangerous fumes that could lead to a yard or house fire.
  3. Kindle a Dead Flame – If your flame is dying, avoid using lighter fluid to revive it. Instead, opt for kindling. This home fire safety tip will help you keep the fire within your control.
  4. Be Vigilant – Don’t leave your grill cooking unattended, even for a few minutes. Keeping an eye on it allows you to shut the lid and suffocate the fire if anything seems awry.
  5. Proper Ash Dispersal – Ashes should be removed after each use and dumped into a bucket full of water. Make sure the bucket is metal. After a day has passed, bury the watery ashes in the yard.
  6. Extinguisher at the Ready – Knowing where you have a fire extinguisher in the house isn’t sufficient if the grill were to flame up. The minutes spent fetching it could mean the difference in salvaging your yard, deck, or entire house. It’s important to instead keep the extinguisher outside and ready in case of a problem.

Following these six home fire safety tips for grilling is a good foundation for a safe summer home. Another measure you can take in fire preparation is to inventory your belongings.  Normal household spring cleaning is the opportune time to create a log by taking photographs. The photos should be stored online or away from the house. If fire, flood, or theft occurs, they can then be used to calculate the loss for insurance purposes. You can also use the log as a visual reference for things you’ll need to replace.

For further home fire safety improvements, consider an electrical inspection from Inspect-It 1st.



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Summertime Prep: A Comprehensive Pool Inspection

Woman relaxes after getting a pool inspection.A pool inspection is highly recommended at the beginning of each summer, or optimally in the spring. That way, a swimming pool can either be deemed safe and clean for your enjoyment or you can proceed with the proper repairs to ensure that it’s ready for summer use! Yearly repairs also help maintain a pool so that the expenses for upkeep remain manageable. Otherwise, a pool that is left to fall into disrepair could produce a hefty fee for replacement or removal.

 

Typical pool inspection includes an assessment of the following key safety and health components:

  • The presence, absence, and state of child-safe barriers
  • The security and safety of handrails, slides, ladders, and diving boards
  • Proper cleaning system function
  • The maintenance of interior and exterior finish materials (EX: steps, decks, and coping)
  • Checking for cross-connections within the water supply system
  • Ensuring the external bonds between pump motors, heaters, blowers, and other equipment
  • The operation of electronic circuits, underwater lighting, circuit interrupters, and conduits
  • System-wide observation of valves, piping, pumps, filters, drains, heaters, and safety controls

Do you think your home pool and spa may be out-of-date or need repair? Before you jump in this summer, Inspect-It 1st! That way, you can have peace of mind that your family and friends will be safe as they enjoy pool parties and daily swims.

 

A pool inspection is also beneficial when buying or selling a home. Aside from being a way to ensure safety, it also protects your interests as a seller or buyer, much like a typical home inspection for things like roofing, siding, paint, foundation, patio, plumbing, electrical, and ventilation. If you’re in the middle of a home sale or purchase, consider Inspect-It 1st. With Inspect-It 1st, you can group your inspection needs for features inside and outside of the home, including the comprehensive pool inspection. Inspect-It 1st does it all!



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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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