Posts Tagged ‘home safety’

Mold Testing in a Home

Posted on: August 3rd, 2016 | No Comments

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!

The Importance of Water Quality Testing This Summer

Posted on: May 24th, 2016 | No Comments

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.

Summertime Prep: A Comprehensive Pool Inspection

Posted on: April 25th, 2016 | No Comments

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!

DIY Yearly Home Inspection Tips

Posted on: January 4th, 2016 | No Comments

A man completing a home inspection.It’s a new year, meaning it’s time for you to take control of your home with a yearly DIY home inspection, completed by, you guessed it, yourself! Whether or not you are selling your home in the near future, don’t forget about the importance of an annual home inspection. This will keep you aware of your home’s normal wear and tear, while also keeping you informed about needed repairs and updates. Doing this can make it easier to sell your home down the line. Tackling your own inspection might seem like an intimidating task because it involves looking at areas of your home that you may not fully understand. With these tips, you can get started on your DIY home inspection.

 

  • Outdoors. The outer area of your home, whether small or large, is a good place to start. The grading of your home should slope away from your foundation at least six inches within the first ten feet. If anything, the slope should be even greater than this. If you are experiencing any water or flooding in your basement, there is a possibility of poor grading outside. Other key issues to look for outdoors are standing water, branches or shrubs scrapping the house, fence condition, and concrete slabs with cracks.
  • Indoors. Throughout the interior of your home, there are a variety of places you should be examining when completing your DIY home inspection. Start in your attic. Check for stains on the ceiling (which could indicate a leak), decaying or rotting wood, and take a look at the electrical wires. Also, keep your eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary. If something doesn’t look quite right, call a professional. As you move through your home inspection, look at the walls and ceiling for cracks and whether they are level. All doors and windows should open and shut without force, and heating and cooling should be flowing throughout each room. Also, make sure that the lights are working properly and all water sources are running efficiently. Check for stains underneath sinks indicating possible water leaks. Keep in mind that there are other areas to review during your home inspection, these are just a start.
  • Miscellaneous. There are a few things to check no matter what room you are inspecting. Look for caulking in good condition, evidence of moisture where it shouldn’t be, and check for surface cracks. Check smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, visible wiring, and be sure that heating and cooling systems are operating without excessive noise and with a clean air filter. Also, walk around to see if you detect odors coming from your heating and cooling systems. This is a possible sign of improper care that should be addressed by a professional.

Now that you have these tips, walk around your home and look for signs of general wear and tear. It’s important to catch small issues before they become big problems. Being proactive about maintenance can help you save on repair costs when you decide to sell your home at some point in the future. If you come across an issue that doesn’t seem right, consult a professional. It’s better to be safe in your home, than sorry that you didn’t address an issue when it first arose. If you come across any issues that require further inspection by a professional, set up a home inspection with us at Inspect-It 1st®! We will inspect the interior and exterior of your home to make sure you and your family have a safe and happy space to call home.

A Flooded Basement: Prevent to Protect

Posted on: March 31st, 2015 | No Comments

Basement flooding coming through the back door.A flooded basement can happen for a number of reasons, most of them having nothing to do with leaving a window or cellar door open. In other words, it’s not your fault! Houses age, and just like people, their joints begin to wear down and functioning efficiently becomes more difficult.

If a basement develops pooling or settling water, it can have devastating effects on the health of residents as well as weakening the foundation and creating a safety hazard. The first step to eliminating the problem or preventing it altogether is addressing the possible causes. Let’s take a look at a few of these aging structural concerns that may lead to a flooded basement:

  • Old Plumbing – Older homes use older building materials that may have been the best quality at the time but are now outdated and inefficient. One example is clay piping for a home’s plumbing system. Clay becomes softer and more brittle over time, causing it to be susceptible to being infested with roots. This can break pipes and cause major leaks which end up as a flooded basement and a headache.
  • Cracked Foundation – A foundation is not only a strong base for the structure of your home, but also a barrier to the outside. When it becomes cracked from age, stress, or even natural disaster, the outside elements can get through. This includes things like water or even weeds, insects, and rodents depending on the size of the crack or hole.
  • Sloped Yard – There can also be water seepage through a solid foundation or pooling and draining through walls. This seems to happen most often with houses whose yards slope toward the home. Water from rainfall or even sprinklers will drain down the slope and pool against the wall or down the wall into the foundation.

If you think your flooded basement is due to one of these causes or you suspect that your basement will flood, don’t despair. Each one of them can be addressed – even before any water pools. Here are some correction methods for flooded basement prevention:

  • Install a New Plumbing System – Just like joints can be rebuilt and reinforced, so too can a house’s pipes. Clay is only supposed to last 50-60 years, so just replace the piping when it starts to break down. This can cost anywhere from $2,000-20,000 and is usually estimated by foot of pipe. The bigger your home, the more money it will cost.
  • Patching Cracks – It is possible to patch foundation cracks on your own. Most hydraulic cements do an adequate job and can last a few years. However, a more permanent fix isn’t too much more expensive. An epoxy-ejection system can fill in the crack completely and permanently for around $60 per tube. That’s considerably more cost effective than covering flood damage.
  • A New Yard Gradient – Leveling out the gradient of your yard can be a positive thing, not only by reducing basement leaks, but also for the aesthetic and usability of the yard. A level yard will incur less pooling and fewer weeds. A firmer ground also means fewer rodents. Additionally, it uncovers or brings in new soil that will offer more enrichment for grass or a garden. Moving dirt around to level your yard can cost anywhere from $15-30 per yard. So once again, the full cost depends on the size of the yard and the problem.

Don’t let a flooded basement affect the integrity, stability, or comfortability of your home – especially when there are affordable solutions and people to help. If you suspect any one of these issues listed above, don’t hesitate to contact Inspect It 1st for quality inspection services. Being informed and getting the repairs taken care of quickly can ease your mind, protect your home investment, and – most importantly – protect your family.

Safety During Small Bathroom Renovations

Posted on: March 16th, 2015 | No Comments

Small bathroom renovations can be fun and financially beneficial for a DIYer, but every home renovation should be tempered with a little caution. Renovation usually means taking out your handy tool box and loosening some screws here and there or dismantling something. And any time you dismantle something, there’s a chance to uncover a problem in the bare bones beneath. But for small bathroom renovations, it could potentially mean altering or damaging the plumbing as well.

Here are some cautions to take with small bathroom renovations:

  • Man working on a small bathroom renovation. Paint – Believe it or not, lead paint is a possibility inside the home just as much as outside. In a bathroom especially, baseboards with lead paint might peel and flake from the moisture in the air and over time create a serious health hazard. Remove old paint rather than painting over it to ensure this toxin doesn’t stick around. CAUTION: Lead paint is hazardous to breathe, and many states require a specific contractor for proper removal. However, if you elect to do it yourself, remember to:
    • Wear a mask.
    • Move all other objects out of the bathroom so they are not contaminated.
    • Cover any objects that can’t be moved with polyethylene plastic.
    • Cover the door with poly to contain the air contamination.
    • Shut off heat, air conditioning, and other ventilation systems.
  • Walls/Tile – Before you start breaking down walls to renovate or popping up vinyl tiles, be aware that asbestos could be lurking. Just like with lead paint, particles may be released into the air and cause a serious health hazard, putting you and your loved ones at risk for lung cancer and disease. If you find asbestos, you may be required to notify certain agencies, depending on your state. Either way, you’ll definitely want a professional to guide you through the removal process.
  • Plumbing – If part of your renovation requires something even as small as putting in a new toilet, there is the opportunity to crack pipes or uncover old or leaky plumbing. Older houses may even have clay pipes that become infested with roots or other debris and have cracked over time. To avoid flooding, sewer backups, and other costly issues, simply have an inspector check the system while the renovations are taking place.

If carried out correctly and with the right precautions, small bathroom renovations can pay for themselves. How? By increasing the value of your home. Not to mention, they can provide clean and fresh updates to old and inefficient layouts or conditions. In short, they can make your family more comfortable. So don’t be discouraged by the cautions; they are only meant to make sure your work turns out spotless and safe!

During small bathroom renovations, you might come across plumbing that you believe is old or inefficient. Or maybe you find mold and a leak behind some bathroom tiles. Carrying out the renovations on your own doesn’t mean you should deal with potential problems on your own. Before you cover up that mold stain or ignore the voice in the back of your head, Inspect It 1st! A skilled home inspector from Inspect It 1st can give you the peace of mind that your plumbing is solid or give you the knowledge you need to have it repaired. Small bathroom renovations may not be easy, but they can be done safely and help you keep your loved ones safe, too!

Assessing the Structural Integrity of Your Home

Posted on: February 17th, 2015 | No Comments

Inspectors checking out the structural integrity of a building.Structural integrity is a key component of safety for any commercial building or home. Consider for a moment that the architect, contractor, or engineer who designed the property did not account for some crucial condition or need. A classic story of failed structural integrity tells of an architect who designed and built a library. The building was beautiful, but each year it sank a few inches due to the weight of the books. The architect had accounted for everything except the books, a crucial aspect and need of the property. Eventually, it was knocked down and had to be rebuilt, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

While your home may not have thousands of books weighing it down, its structural integrity may not be as strong as a seller claims. The current owner may not realize that the requirements or loads of the structure have changed, especially if the home has been in the family for many years. Perhaps additions have been built without proper guidance.

 

Structural integrity is the ability of a home to maintain its structure over time, not bending, breaking, or collapsing. A lot more is known about materials and their respective strengths today than was known 20, 50, or 100 years ago. Experts can assess the current state of a foundation, load-bearing beams, and other home framework components. It’s possible that the wood or metal used to support your home has been flexing and becoming more stressed and vulnerable.

 

A test of structural integrity assures that catastrophic failure does not occur, leading to injury, damage, monetary loss, or even death. Ultimately, your family is your number one priority. Safeguarding them by inspecting the structural integrity and other home conditions is the best way to gain peace of mind and preserve your investment.

 

Since 1991, Inspect It 1st has been the go-to inspection franchise for buyers, sellers, and real estate agents. Every inspector is trained extensively and offers exceptional customer support, because they care to see homes and other properties that are safe for the occupants for many years to come. Inspect It 1st offers inspection services which range from investigating structural integrity to testing water quality. So before you buy or sell, Inspect It 1st!

Holiday Safety Tips for Your Household

Posted on: December 28th, 2014 | No Comments

Don’t let the hustle and bustle of holiday madness result in a dangerous environment for your family; instead, keep these holiday safety tips in mind!

Mother and two sons enjoying  the season and following holiday safety tips.

 

Holiday Safety Tips for Kids:

Vigilance is key when it comes to practicing proper holiday safety tips for any younger members of the family.

  • Decorate with kids in mind. Place breakable ornaments and sharp hooks higher on your tree. Also keep other decorations with smaller parts out of their reach. Kids are curious!
  • Electronic toys are great, but they often come with batteries that can be harmful to small children. Stay vigilant and consider removing the batteries when the toy is not being played with. Other toys or decorations may include magnets, which are equally harmful and should be removed.
  • Decorating is a great holiday tradition, but certain holiday plants are poisonous to humans (and pets). Keep the following out of reach: mistletoe, holly berries, and Jerusalem cherries.
  • Engage older children in cooking. Use the opportunity to teach all children kitchen rules and precautions.
  • Remove wrapping paper and bow remnants promptly after gifts have been opened, as these can be a choking hazard to small children. Also avoid allowing balloons to deflate for this same reason.

 

Holiday Safety Tips for Pets:

Like kids, pets are curious and holiday safety tips are just as important for these four-legged family members.

  • When pets are allowed to wander into the hectic comings and goings of family, it’s easy to lose track of them. Keep them safe by picking up anything close to the ground that might be harmful, like Poinsettias and the other poisonous plants mentioned above.
  • Sweet treats are one of the greatest parts of Christmas, but they should never be given to pets and should be kept out of their reach. Chocolate is especially dangerous to dogs.

 

Holiday Safety Tips for the Whole Family:

Whether you are traveling or preparing your own home to be a gathering place for friends and family, remember these general holiday safety tips.

  • Water your tree regularly to prevent dry needles from piling up on the floor and being consumed by young kids or pets. They are also a fire hazard.
  • Keep open flames (candles, fireplace) under close watch and away from flammable objects (tree, garland, blankets, etc.). Always extinguish when leaving the house or going to bed. In addition, keep foreign objects such as wrapping paper or disposable dinnerware out of the fireplace.
  • Check light strands for fraying, broken sockets, etc.
  • If you are traveling, check the car prior to your journey. Do the tires have good tread depth? Are the car seats secure? Is the oil and windshield wiper fluid full?
  • When traveling, passengers may get restless (especially younger ones). It’s beneficial to everyone to take occasional breaks to stretch their legs, get food and use the bathroom.
  • Never hang electric lights on a metallic tree or fasten them to walls with metal tacks or nails.
  • Create a list of emergency numbers for any emergency that might arise, no matter who is home. This is especially handy and a stress-reliever for parents leaving children in the hands of family from out of town or a baby sitter.

It’s never clearer than during the holidays that family comes first, and that’s why following these holiday safety tips are important! Keep these safety tips in mind and create a safer environment for everyone.

Don’t stop with these holiday safety tips. Follow through and have your house inspected for any less apparent safety issues prior to visits from your family. Inspect It 1st can check your house for serious health threats like Radon or aging house problems such as plumbing leaks or heating malfunctions.

Buyer’s Checklist: Spa and Pool Inspection

Posted on: November 29th, 2014 | No Comments

Floatation device in a pool ready for pool inspection.

Buying a new property is exciting, but don’t be wowed by the inclusion of a pool and forget the pool inspection! A poorly maintained pool or spa can not only suggest a poorly cared for home, it can also mean thousands of dollars in repair or reconstruction costs to make the property safe and functional for your family. Don’t get hosed by a lack of knowledge; instead, have some conditions and warning signs to look for going into the home buying process and then consider a pool inspection before signing the paperwork.

 

 

 

Before taking the plunge into a house purchase that includes a backyard pool or spa, there are important points to consider:

  1. Asset or Burden? – The first question to ask is if you will utilize a swimming pool. If not, don’t settle for a house in which you’ll have to care for one, or worse yet, pay for upkeep. You might think a swimming pool is an automatic asset as a buyer, but don’t be fooled. In warm climates, a pool might add a 10% resale value to a home, but that’s not true of everywhere! The winter weather in midwestern states, for instance, can damage and deteriorate a pool each year. Maintenance and pool inspection expenses can rack up to between $50-100 per month, even in good weather conditions. The water itself costs, along with heating, chemical balance, water filtration, liability, and mechanical problems that may arise in a pool inspection. In addition, every few years, a pool should be resurfaced. All in all, a pool can amount to an extra few thousand dollars each year for homeowners.
  2. Is the pool or spa up-to-date? – Hoses, pumps, liners, ladders, railing, slides, steps, diving boards – all of these may have cracks, safety concerns, or be in another state of disrepair. Only a pool inspection technician can fully investigate what may require repair and replacement. Even certain external pool conditions such as nearby outlets should be checked for proper circuit-interrupter devices that are missing from older pools. A lack of pool inspection services on pumps and heaters could result in electrocution.
  3. Proper Fencing – Erecting and maintaining proper fencing is critical to your family and guest safety, not to mention the neighborhood (if you have an open backyard). There are codes and local requirements for height and gate closing so as to prevent potential mishaps.
  4. Filling a Pool In – If you love a house but the pool inspection came up with a few thousand dollars in repair costs, you might consider filling it in. But this, too, can be extremely expensive. Quotes for larger pools have been up to $20,000.

Ultimately, deciding to buy a house with a pre-existing pool or spa comes down to money and time. A buyer must weigh the potential use and eventual resale value against repair, upkeep, and pool inspection costs. How do the sides measure out? It might end up being more beneficial to search for an equally lovable home and avoid pools altogether. But if you are considering taking the dive into a house investment, Inspect It 1st offers quality pool inspection services to give you all of the facts and figures for an informed decision.

Series on Safety: Termite Infestation

Posted on: November 14th, 2014 | No Comments

Termites easting away at a piece of wood. What:

There are five common types of termite: dampwood, drywood, conehead, formosan, and subterranean. All of these types of termite consume cellulose-based material, a material that exists to some degree in and around every home in the form of dead plant, wood, and cellulose bits in soil. A termite may only be a single centimeter in length but can cause considerable and costly damage, especially because where there is one, there are always others.

 

Where:

A home foundation is not the only place to find a termite, though it may potentially cause the most danger and damage. Termites also feed on furniture, books, shelves, and antiques (such as sleds or wooden plaques).

 

Drywood termites are the stereotypical kind of termite that often comes to mind to represent the little pest. It is the kind that lives within the wood it consumes, infesting walls and furniture in colonies.

 

Signs:

Often called the “silent destroyer,” a termite can threaten the home without leaving any obvious signs of damage. However, wood that sounds hollow when tapped may indicate a problem. Additionally, watch for “discarded” wings, droppings, and mud tubes on exterior walls and crawl spaces.

 

When a colony is matured, winged “swarming termites” may be visible around windows and doors. They are most active in springtime, which is when they typically mate and spread to other locations to start new colonies.

 

Prevention Steps:

  1. Eliminate moisture problems such as leaks, blocked gutters and vents, standing water, etc.
  2. Seal pipe and utility line entrance points.
  3. Keep firewood away from house foundation.
  4. Check fences and wooden decks for damage.
  5. Keep any wood on and around your home from directly contacting the soil.

 

Treatment:

Contact a trusted expert like Inspect It 1st to investigate. If termites are found, further spray treatment may be needed.

 

A termite problem is detrimental to health as well as safety, but they are not the only pest or concern that may be hiding in a home. Whether you are selling and want to ensure that your house is safe for the next family or you are buying and want to make sure your investment is sound, Inspect It 1st! Take a look at the various inspection services offered by Inspect It 1st and allow the experts to build your peace of mind surrounding termite pests and other potential issues.

 

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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