If you are shopping for homes or you are extremely happy with your home that you live in now then this article is for you.  I just completed a home inspection in Lake Zurich, Illinois and had multiple questions from a young newly wed couple who were buying their first home and were very nervous about every aspect of a home purchase.  The Lake Zurich home I was inspecting was a 3 bedroom 2 bath ranch home.  Generally, a home inspection of this caliber would only take 2-3 hours.  The home inspection ended up taking 4.5 hours to inspect due to the many questions my new home buyers had prepared and asked me.  You see, if I don’t help these people and give them the correct answer then the chances are high that they might never get the right answer.  The question that stuck with me wereabout  the electrical issues.   My clients from the Lake Zurich home inspection were both afraid of electric issues that arose from the home inspection.  They wanted to have gfci type outlets throughout the home.  I explained that it could be done, but I most definitely would not put one behind the refrigerator.  I explained where these outlets were found and why they were used.

  • Bathrooms are a great place to have gfci type electric outlets.
  • Kitchens should have gfci type electric outlets in every outlet except for the outlet behind the refrigerator.
  • Crawl spaces and unfinished basements are a must for gfci type electric outlets.
  • Garages need gfci type electrical outlets to protect possible water to electric connection.
  • Laundry rooms must have gfci type electric outlets
  • Exterior outlets of a home should all be gfci protected outlets.

All of these areas are areas that water and electric may meet.  The gfci type electrical outlet is installed to prevent a surge in electric and if an occupant has direct connection to the electric from the outlet they will not be harmed.

The Lake Zurich home inspectioncame up with many issues.  The reason why  is because it was a foreclosure property that happened to be abandoned by the occupants a year ago.  Foreclosure home inspections are known to be full of potential issues that my clients will need repair or replacement cost prices so that they can decide if the repairs will be to much for them to handle.  One of the issues was the fact that the homes electrical breaker box was undersized and had 6 double taps that would mean the breaker box would have to be updated along with the installation of gfci type electrical outlets in all the areas that require these type of outlets.

As you see, there are many areas for gfci type electrical outlets and why they are needed.  If you have further questions about electrical issues  then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

If you either own a home or are buying a home with a finished basement then you need to read this article.  When performing a home inspection in Downers Grove I found that not only did the sump pump not work but there was no battery back up sump pump to protect the basement from possible flooding.  Sump pump buying and installation is serious business when trying to protect your most expensive investment.  If you are in the market for a sump pump and a battery back up sump pump system then you want to buy the best you can.  Going cheap may cost you alot more money in the future on basement repairs.  Generally sump pumps cost about $200.00 to buy and only $100.00 to have a plumber to install it.  Most of my readers know that I’m a licensed plumber #J194988 and here are the things I look for when buying a sump pump and a battery back up pump system.

  • Cast Iron bodies on a sump pump is a must.  Plastic is for toys!  There are many large manufacturers that sell these plastic pumps that are merely disposable units.  Zoeller pumpsare the only pumps I use. Period!  Zoeller pumps are known in the plumbing industry to be the best and best value for the money.  Zoeller sump pumps are known to last up to 10years. This is a great example of a proper installed sump pump with a battery back up system.


  • Replaceable sump pump switches should be a item that your sump pump should have.  These switches are known to fail with years of service.  Being able to remove the existing switch and replacing it for a new switch allows you to repair the pump instead of replacing it.
  • Steel impellers are what allows the pump to pull water and solids through the pump body and out the discharge pipe.  Plastic impellers are known to snap off and break.
  • Alarms on battery back up pumps are a must to allow you to know you have a issues with your sump pumps.  Sump pumps that do not have alarms will be useless if you don’t know you have an issue.

My clients from the Downers Grove home inspection were going to be in the market for a sump pump and battery back up system.  I suggested that they purchase a Zoeller sump pump and battery back up pump package.  This whole system can be bought for under $800.00.  This may sound expensive to you but a basement that has been flooded can cost $10,000.00 to repair.  Items that will need to be cleaned or replaced are below.

  • Carpet may be dried but plan on replacing because it is now a breeding ground for mold and mildew.  Got allergies?
  • Drywall will need to be cut up to the area that was not affected and replaced.
  • Insulation in the walls will all have to be replaced.
  • Furniture and electronics will all have to be disposed of if they have been contaminated.
  • Labor to perform all of these replacements will be extremely costly.
  • $10,000.00 – $25,000.00

Sump pump battery back up system sounds cheap now?  My client from the Downers Grove home inspection was sold on my idea of a Zoeller sump pump battery back system.  Even if you are not good with numbers you can easily see that not having a battery back up for your sump pump is insane.

Hopefully this article helped you to make an educated decision like my client from the Downers Grove home inspection.  If you are still unsure about why this system should be installed in your home then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thank you for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

Water issues in a home can go unnoticed for long periods of time.  Especially in the winter months in the Midwest when temperatures rarely go above freezing.  I recently was hired for a foreclosure home inspection in Morton Grove, Illinois.  As you know from my past articles that foreclosure home inspections can deliver large cost to cure inspection reports.  As I have said before, no one really cares about the home you are looking to purchase.  The old home owners were basically asked to leave and the bank just wants to get the property off of its books without spending anymore money on it.

One of the major issues I found at the Morton Grove home inspection was water issues that derived from limestone lintels around the windows that were not sealed properly and back pitched allowing water to enter into the building components of the home.  The question that my clients from the Morton Grove home inspection had was “how do we fix it?”.  The first thing is to know that you have the water issue from the window lintels.  The only way I can find these type of issues is with the use of my Fluke Thermal Imager and Tramex moisture meter.  The Fluke thermal imager finds the problem and the Tramex moisture meter verifies that it truly is a water intrusion.  When you do find and verify that you do have water intrusion issues then you will need the repair methods which are below.

  • Window silicone is your friend.  The use of silicone is a must but the temperature must be above freezing for this method to work.  This is the best remedy in my mind and the most cost efficient.  This is exactly what I advise my clients from the Morton Grove home inspection to do to prevent further water issues.  The window flashing’s and lintels should be water tight to prevent water penetration at all areas around the window.
  • Back pitched limestone lintels or rusted lintels can be repaired or replaced by can be very expensive.  If you are on a fixed buget  but still need the water issues eliminated then I suggest using silicone and understand that these repairs are only temporary until the lintels  can be repaired or replaced.  This is a very expensive repair and just be bid out buy multiple masonry contractors.
  • Missing motar around windows or cracks in the brickwork are generally from other issues that contributed to the problem and will need to be repaired on their own. The issue at hand is that of the water penetration and should be treated with urgency to prevent possible mildew growth or even worse mold growth.  The missing mortar and/ or cracked bricks will need to be repaired by a masonry contractor as soon as possible.

As you can see window flashing’s and lintels can allow water to enter your home and cause damage to the building components.  These issues will need to be rectified as soon as possible to prevent further issues to your home.  If you have questions about leaking window flashing’s and lintels then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke


If you have been home shopping in today’s market, then you might have walked into a foreclosed home that was for sale by the bank.  Most homes that have been foreclosed have been winterized and do not have heat or running water.  As you probably know, I’m a Skokie home inspector that specializes in Foreclosure home inspections.  Foreclosure home inspections are in my mind the hardest type of inspections. Why?

  • Water to these homes has been shut off and winterized.  When a home has been winterized, 50% of the time there are areas in the water piping system of the home that will require repairs that may cost thousands.  The reason why there are issues with the water piping system is due to the fact that the home was not properly winterized.  There may be areas that the water was not removed and the water piping has split or cracked and will not hold water properly.  Luckily for my clients, this Skokie home inspector is also a licensed plumber.  I can give real prices from a licensed plumber to the bank for repairs that can save you time and money.
  • Total disregard for the property is par for the coarse when this Skokieinspector inspects foreclosure home inspections.  The amount of possible issues can be in the hundreds due to the fact that no one really cares about the property that you are having a foreclosed home inspection on.  I definitely think that there are some great deals out in the real estate market as long as you hire the right home inspector to inspect your property. If any major item is missed or you decide not to get the home de-winterized you run the risk of having repair or replacement costs that might cost you thousands.

These 2 items is why this Skokie home inspector suggests that you not only hire a qualified home inspector to perform your Foreclosured home inspection, but a home inspector that uses Fluke thermal imagers for their home inspections.  Because water issues may be the number one issue on a foreclosure home inspection, I suggest the use of a Fluke thermal imager and a Tramex moisture meter to give every client the assurity that they deserve that there are no water issues in the home they are about to purchase.  I personally use only the Fluke thermal imagerand a Tramex moisture meter for all of my foreclosed home inspections because as far as I’m concerned doing a home inspection without them is like driving blindfolded.  Many of the other Skokie home inspectors do not use Fluke Thermal imagers or Tramex moisture meters because lack of funds, lack of customer service or because they just don’t know.  Either way you must protect your biggest investment by hiring the best Skokie home inspector you can.

As you see, the home inspection portion of your home buying experience is probably the most important and you should hire the best person qualified to represent your biggest investment.  If you have further questions about foreclosed home inspections then please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

I’m sure you have seen a home that had a front stoop or stairs that have fallen or were shifted.  This also happens to sidewalks that are along side of a home.  When doing a home inspection settling stairs and sidewalks issues comes up more than I would like to see.

At my home inspection in Elmwood Park, Illinois the settling stairs had to be the first thing I noticed when approaching the home.  The side walks had the same pitch towards the home that is generally a bad thing.  Why?  The grading of a home is what basically pushes water away from the foundation.  If the grading (dirt), sidewalks, patios, driveways, stairs and porches are tilted or pitched towards the home like the Elmwood Park home inspection there can be problems with not only the tilted or settling stairs but with foundation cracks, water in the basement and so much more.

If you have problems with water entering you home from settling stairs, tilted patios and so on you will have possible repair cost in you basement that could be in the thousands.  I would suggest you repair the settling stair by one of two ways.

  • Mud jacking is a way to lift a certain area of the settling stairs to get them to go in a direction that will eliminate poor drainage towards the foundation.  With this repair you will still have to make corrections to the grading and drainage around the stairs to prevent further settling.  Generally this repair method is 1/3 of the price of total removal and reinstallallation.
  • Total demolition and re installation is the more expensive correction of  settling stairs.  The benefits of this repair is that you will have a new set of concrete stairs and you will know that  the grading a sub structure is repaired properly.  The grading and drainage around you settling stairs will still need to be corrected to prevent future issues with settling.

My clients from the Elmwood Park home inspection were leaning to repair the settling stairs with the mud jacking procedure. The cost to mud jack their stairs was $700.00 versus $2000.00 for new concrete stairs.

As you can see my clients from the  Elmwood Park home inspection found out that poor grading and poor drainage  can produce costly repairs around your home.   If you have further questions about this subject please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke