Jim Kolke Thermal Home Inspector

Mold in an attic can be a harmful issue if not corrected

It’s been a busy year but I’ve afforded time to start blogging about what has occurred this year while performing home inspection in Wilmette Illinois and other cities in the Chicago land area.  Many of the home inspections that I perform deliver less than favorable results to my clients.  Some of the worst issues that come up on home inspections are ~  mold in attics, cracks in foundations, high radon levels, damaged roofs that will require replacement and old furnaces and air conditioners that will require replacement.  These issues area probably some of the more expensive items that may require replacement at  a potential home inspection.

Unfortunately, while performing a home inspection in Wilmette on a foreclosure property all of these issues were named in the inspection report which caused my client to cancel the contract.  This happened to be the 2nd home inspection for my clients at a cost of $625.00 per home inspection.  I was frustrated for my clients because I know money does not grow on trees.  I discounted the service fee (which I never do) because they were first time buyers and they did not know what to look for when looking at homes.  This article will touch on some of the major items that could be found in your potential home inspection.  Before you submit an offer please look at the areas below to prevent loss of funds to perform a home inspection.

  • Mold in attics ~ Mold in attics is more common than most people may think.  If you are driving around looking at homes a step stool may worth putting in your trunk with a flashlight to look in attics to see if mold may be an issue in a home you are interested in.  Mold can become an issue in attics from bathroom fans being vented into the attic and poor ventilation.  You might be able to see if the bathrooms are vented to the attic while looking into the attic.  Mold removal can be very expensive depending on how much mold is found.  This happened to be one of the major issues at the Wilmette home inspection I performed.
  • Cracks in foundations ~ Cracks in foundations generally occur due to poor grading around the homes foundation or the lack of leaders.  If the basement is unfinished then take your flashlight and walk the perimeter of the basements foundation and see if there any cracks.  Not every home will allow the luxury of inspecting the foundation due to the basement being finished.  The home inspection I performed in Wilmette had 6 cracks in the foundation that would require epoxy injection.  Epoxy injection repairs generally cost $400.00 per crack and as you can see can add up very quickly.
  • Radon levels ~ A radon level above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) is the EPA’s recommended level for action.  This basically means that a radon mitigation system will be needed to be installed into the homes foundation to lower the levels.  Radon mitigation systems can cost up to $3000.00 for complex systems.
  • Damaged roofs ~ before walking into your possible dream home take a look at the roof and see if the shingles seem wavy or cracked.  If this is what you see then the chances are you may need a new roof.  Roofs may cost up to $20,000.00 depending on how large the home is and should be built into your offer price for the property.
  • Old furnaces and old air conditioners may require replacement ~ Check the tags on the furnace and the air conditioner to determine the age of the units.  If the units are older than 20 years then you should plan on replacing these items while presenting your offer.  This was another issue that did make the report for the clients at the Wilmette home inspection.  Furnaces and air conditioners can cost $3000.00 and up depending on large the unit is and how many you may require.

As you can see these are real dollar issues that can “make or break or break a deal” very quickly.  Please follow what has been outlined in this article while looking at homes to prevent setting yourself up for failure at your home inspection.  If you have questions please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 847-251-1186.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

~Jim Kolke~

The home buying process can be a very stressful period even for experienced home buyers who have purchased homes before.  Many of my clients call and want to order all the services that we offer.  There are no two homes that are the same and all home inspections should be approached with that mind set.  Recently my client from a Buffalo Grove home inspection wanted to order a mold inspection.  I asked my client why she wanted a mold inspection?  She said her friend said to get a mold inspection before buying a home.  There is nothing wrong with getting a mold inspection if you need it or you find reasons to perform a mold test.  There are issues that you should look for prior to booking your mold inspection in Buffalo Grove is what I explained to my client.

  • High moisture in a home can be a reason to contemplate a mold inspection at your home inspection.
  • Evidence of past or present water entry in a home can cause concern and a good reason to purchase a mold test.
  • Past or present water entry in a basement is a good reason to purchase a mold test.  Finished basements are known areas that water entry can be hidden for years without the current home owners knowing that they have an issue.
  • Foul or stale odors from a basement or crawl can be the by product from mold growth and may be a good reason to purchase a mold test from your home inspector.
  • Standing water in a crawl space is a known breeding zone for mold.  The inspection of the insulation and the floor sheeting will be needed to determine if as mold test is needed.

There are many types of mold that are in the fungi kingdom.  There are only a few that will grow in your home do to water issues that ignite the mold.  With further review I advised my client to perform a mold test with her home inspection at the Buffalo Grove home.  The Buffalo Grove Mold inspection came up with very high numbers in the basement and the second floor of the home.  The reason the home had mold growth was due to previous sewer back up that was not correctly cleaned in a timely fashion.  Generally you have up to 48 hours to clean and dry out the areas that are affected with water before mold will begin to grow.  The second floor of the home had high levels of mold growth because the furnace is in the basement and the forced air system was delivering mold fibers throughout the home through the ducts.  This leads me to a new matter.  Not only do you have mold remediation to deal with but duct cleaning will also be needed to eliminate any mold fibers that may be breeding in the ducts.

The client from the Buffalo Grove mold inspection understood why I wanted to qualify her need for a mold inspection before she spent her hard earned money.  If you are buying or own a home that you think needs a mold test please review the possible issues above prior to spending your hard earned money.  Please contact me if you have further questions about mold or mold services at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

As you probably can guess we get a lot of calls for mold inspections here at Pinnacle Property Inspection Services.  This is obviously a business and needs to make money.  Luckily for all my clients I believe a home should be qualified before doing a full mold inspection.  That is exactly what I explained to my new client from the Skokie home inspection.  Just because you want a mold inspection does not mean you need one.  Mold inspections can be expensive because of all the lab fees and such. I explained to my client that I would have my mold testing equipment on the truck if we needed it but I suggested letting me do my thermal home inspection before moving forward with the mold inspection.

While I was performing the home inspection in the Skokie, Illinois home I was looking for all type of tells that would lead me to informing my client that he might want to purchase a mold inspection.  The items that would alarm me would be ~

  • Mold like substance would be the biggest reason for purchasing a mold test.  Visually seeing any type of mold might be a good reason to purchase a mold test.
  • Water infiltration in an attic, crawl space, basement or any other area in a home is a good reason for moving forward with a mold test.
  • High relative humidity a.k.a. (RH) can be found in crawl spaces, attics, bathrooms and basements can be a a reason to get a mold inspection service.
  • Musty or foul smells coming from areas in walls may be a good reason to purchase a mold inspection.

If you are very sensitive to mold or mildew and your eyes water or you begin to cough that is the best result that might be from mold or mildew in the home that will need to be identified.  The Skokie home inspection has some seepage from the foundation walls that was allowing moisture into the home.  The drywall in the basement had a mildew like substance that was dry and could be cleaned off with soap and water.

The remedy of the mold removal to the areas that could be seen were  easy enough but the hidden made my client from the Skokie home inspection nervous and he wanted me to perform a mold inspection to give him as much information as we could.  Mold can hide in places that we can’t see so I believe his choice was the right one.

If you are wondering if you need a mold inspection follow this list prior to hiring a mold inspection service  to perform mold testing in your home.  Mold testing can cost anywhere from $100.00 to $750.00 depending on how many locations need testing.

If you need help with these issues any other issues pertaining to your home or building please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

When a client calls to book a home inspection I ask many questions to determine how long the inspection will take.  One of these questions is does this home have a crawl space?  Almost every time I ask this question my soon to be clients don’t know the answer.  The point I’m getting to is that crawl spaces can bring a whole different dynamic to a home’s structure and being.  There are many types of crawl spaces and all need to be inspected diligently to protect and educate the client about what is down there and how will it affect the home.  My client from the Bensenville home inspection knew there was a crawl space present in the home and wanted to know everything he could about the area.

This particular crawl space did have portion of moisture barrier present but not a solid sheet that would prevent moisture to enter the living area above.  In fact the crawl looked pretty good overall.  A missing vapor barrier or moisture barrier can allow moisture to enter the crawlspace from the dirt or gravel base which in turn will enter the living area above. Many issues can develop from moisture in your crawl.

  • Mold and mildew are one of the biggest issues that can develop from moisture in a crawl space.  Mold and or mildew can develop on foundation walls, floor joist and floor sheeting very easy.
  • Hardwood floors can be ruined by crowning.  Crowning of hardwood floors happens when moisture enters the floor on a consistent basis.  Once this happens it cannot be reversed.
  • Allergens can develop and get into your living area of the home.  Once this happens it can be passed throughout the home through the duct work.  The only way to eliminate this issue is to have the heating ducts cleaned.

Luckily for my client from the Bensenville home inspection there were no issues from the list above in his home.   That leads me to another list of items that you want to look for in your crawl space.  This is a list of items you want to find in your crawl space to keep it a healthy crawl space.

  • Ventilation in a crawl is a must.  If your crawl space does get moisture it will be able to be vented out easily.  You always want at least 2 vents in your crawl space.  The crawlspace at the Bensenville home inspection had 5 vents.  I believe that is why the gravel crawl space did not have high humidity.
  • Vapor barrier or moisture barrier is a must also.  I prefer to see the floor of a crawl space to be concrete.  In my opinion that is the best moisture barrier but plastic will get the job done.  The vapor and moisture barrier prevent moisture from entering the home causing havoc on the structure.
  • Heating ducts in a crawl space should be insulated to prevent heat loss from the furnace to the vent in the room where the vent is going.  You can lose up to 20 degrees by not having insulated ducts in your crawl space.
  • Plumbing pipes will need to be insulated to prevent cracks in piping in the long Midwest winters.
  • Insulation should be installed in the floor joists of the ceiling of the crawl space to keep the heat and cool air in the room above the crawl space.

The Bensenville home inspection was missing insulation and had other issues to deal with in the crawl space.   The property had water entry into the block foundation due to poor grading around the home.  This is a simple and reasonably cheap repair that can be done by any homeowner.  As you can see there are many questions you need to ask when looking at your crawl space.  If you have further questions about crawl spaces then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

 

   It is very common to have clients that are looking for a home inspection to want to purchase every service that we have to offer.  I don’t believe on selling a client a service that they may not need.  Don’t getme wrong.  I am in business to make money but only honestly not using scare tactics to increase our revenue.  If you need a radon measurement because your area is known to have high levels then I would advise you to purchase a radon measurement.  Have you seen mold or mildew in the home when you were looking at it?  Then you might want to get a mold inspection or testing.  My client from the Gurnee home inspection was dead set on getting every service that we offered.  I explained that buying every inspection service we offer should not be done without doing your homework.

You ask how I get this info to make my decision.  Below are the check points for the various inspection services.

  • Mold inspection or testing should be done if the home smells musty in certain areas like crawl spaces, attics or garages that are attached.  If you see any areas that may have surface mildew or mold then you might want to add a mold inspection to your home inspection.  If you see any areas that have moisture penetration into the attic or window flashing’s that may have been there for awhile may be a reason for a mold inspection.  If your home inspector thinks that the basement may have had water penetration or flooding then purchase a mold inspection.
    •  Asbestos pipe wrapping, asbestos tiles, asbestos shingles and other asbestos products were used up to 1988 and generally are not found.  If you have a basement and the tile floor is 9″ x 9″ then the probability that those tiles are asbestos is very high.  Asbestos tiles and pipe wrapping is not an issue unless it is disturbed.  If the basement has seen flooding or any water that has sat on the asbestos tile for any time then the tiles may be brittle.  Brittle tiles that are chipping may pose issues and should be inspected by a professional asbestos inspector.
    • Radon gas measurement is a service that we offer and we do hundreds of tests a year.  The results vary depending on where the property is that we are performing a radon measurement.  I believe that the presence of dirt crawl spaces or any crawl space does increase your potential for a possible higher radon measurement number.  Sump pumps are another contributor to higher readings in radon measurements and always suggest to my clients that these sump and ejector pits be sealed properly.  Gaps in the connection of foundation walls and basement floors will allow the possibility of higher radon measurement numbers.

Lead paint was used in homes and buildings up to 1978 but was still seen up to 1980. Lead paint can be tested a home inspector with a non-invasive testing method. Carve testing is the proper way to test for lead paint but cannot be done at a home inspection. My client from the Gurnee home inspection was concerned about lead paint because he had a 2 year old son that could be harmed by lead paint. Lead paint is known to harm children under the age of 5 years. Lead paint can’t be verified by just looking at it.

As you can see there are kinds of items you need to look for before you start ordering every service your home inspector offers.  My client from the Gurnee home inspection was ready to hand over $1050.00 for every home inspection service we offer.  The Gurnee home inspection service fee was $600.00.  He purchased our standard home inspection and a mold inspection.  Money doesn’t grow on trees so make sure you know what you need.    Hopefully this was helpful for all of my readers.  If you have further questions about what type of home inspection services you need then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe

Jim Kolke