Archive for February, 2014

Radon In Homes – What you Need to Know

Posted on: February 25th, 2014 | No Comments

Radon in homes Radon – This is a term many homeowners have likely heard but do not necessarily know what it is or how it can harm their family. According to the EPA, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers in the United States and can be linked to up to 20,000 lung cancer deaths a year. Here’s what you need to know as a homeowner:

 

  • This radioactive particle is found the air and cause lung cancer in those exposed to large amounts. Radon is produced by the natural decay of uranium in the soil but this decay can be fixed and homes made safe from radon.

  • At home tests are available for testing your home’s radon levels. Generally these accumulate in the basement, nearest the ground where decaying uranium resides. The average concentration of radon in a home in the United States is 1.3 pCi/L. Radon concentrations between 2 and 4 pCi/L should consider fixing their home to protect against exposure to radon. For levels above 4 pCi/L the EPA strongly recommends action to be taken.

  • Contractors are available to test and fix your home. These people are experts in mitigating the risks of radon and ensuring your home is safe.

Contractors can be hired to inspect your home, especially rooms below ground level and those directly above ground level, for radon levels deemed unsafe. If your home does have higher than average radon levels there are a number of options.

 

As stated above, the EPA has set a maximum radon level of 4 pCi/L. Many homeowners take this to mean that anything below this level is “safe”. This simply is not true. Any levels between 2 and 4 pCi/L should still be considered dangerous and steps taken to reduce them. Your contractor will be able to explain the best option for dealing with radon in your home but generally there are three different solutions depending on the structure of our home.

 

  • For homes with basements, one of four types of suction can be used to reduce radon. Essentially, this process uses pipes directly in the earth below the basement slab and fans. The fans create suction below the slab and suck the radon up through the pipe. The open end of the pipe generally leads to an attic or outside the home where the radon is quickly diluted to safer levels.

  • Homes with a crawl space generally will use a thick plastic sheet layed over the earth. Underneath this sheet, a pipe and fan, much like that mentioned above, suck the radon out from the space between the ground and the plastic sheet and ventilate it to the outside. In some cases, ventilation of the space without a plastic sheet can also be used to reduce radon.

  • Any home, no matter the footings can benefit from sealing cracks in the foundation but this should be done in conjunction with other solutions to ensure the radon levels are reduced enough.

  • Ventilation of any space that may have excess radon is always a good idea. In lower levels of home be sure to open windows periodically, run fans to move the air up and out and keep track of radon levels.

The health risks associated with radon mean that all steps necessary should be taken to reduce exposure. Any of the above solutions can be used in conjunction with one another to ensure maximum diffusion. If you have radon accumulation in your home, contact a professional to ensure the correct steps are taken to reduce it’s presence and protect your family. For more information about radon visit the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/radon/index.html. There you will find information about radon levels in your area, where to find testing kits and the more about solutions to radon in your home.

Professional Landscaping: Is it Worth the Investment?

Posted on: February 11th, 2014 | No Comments

Professional landscaping - Landscaper laying sod in a yard. Have you ever driven through a neighborhood full of perfectly cut grass, beautiful gardens and manicured hedges? You may think to yourself, I could do that! Maybe you can, but landscape architecture is a profession backed by a four year degree and extensive knowledge in botany, horticulture as well as engineering and design. So, what can professional landscaping bring to your yard and is it worth the investment?

 

The rule of thumb for professional landscaping is that by spending 10% of your homes value on landscaping can add up to 20% to the selling price. This is not an immediate return on investment however. It takes about 5 years for plants to fill in, trees to put down strong root and everything to meld together to create a lush gardenscape and lawn. After 5 years you can expect a 75-100% return on investment plus the value it will add to your home in a sale.

 

Yards can also mean a lot to potential buyers. As the first thing they see when they pull up, a well kempt yard gives a great first impression and sets expectations on the inside of the house as well. All factors equal, it is possible a buyer will choose one house over another simply due to the landscaping. Knowing that professional landscaping has already been done also may draw buyers because it is an investment they do not have to make in the future. Maintaining an already landscaped yard is much easier than starting from scratch.

 

Once you decide to use a professional landscaper there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Certifications for landscape architects do exist. Alongside a four year degree, the American Society of Landscape Architects provides certification to landscape architects. “The Society’s mission is to lead, to educate, and to participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.” Members obtain certification, continued education and professional support and can be trusted for any landscaping project, large or small.

  • There are lots of options when it comes to landscaping. From simply sprucing up your yard to a complete overhaul, landscape architects are trained and qualified to provide any level of assistance. On a smaller scale adding new gardens, laying sod and planting trees can do wonders for your yard. Other trends include adding terraces, arbors, pools, paving stones along plants, trees and sod. A landscape architect can help assess your property and make suggestions based on your expectations.

  • Maintenance is required. From mowing and pruning to watering and weeding, landscaping takes commitment. You can always build a plan with your architect for upkeep on your own. If that seems a bit overwhelming, landscaping companies generally have teams of people that will come to your house as often as you like to help as much or as little as you wish.

Professional landscaping can seem like just one more thing to do on your property but, the investment is well worth it. From the increase in your property value, to the compliments from your neighbors and homegrown bouquets around the house, landscaping can bring more than just a monetary reward. By doing your research, requesting the guidance of a professional and keeping up with maintenance you will surely see the fruits of your labor for years to come.

 

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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