This is a secret of plumbing contractors nation wide.  Sewer rodding is a very lucrative portion of the plumbing industry.  I’m going to tell you what to look for before calling a plumbing contractor to rod your sewer.  My remedies are proven to work.  The fact that I’m a licensed plumber in Chicago, Illinois should give you some assurance that I know what I’m talking about.

I recently was hired to perform a home inspection in Des Plaines, Illinois.  While inspecting this home, I saw evidence of water issues on the baseboards of the basement floor. you can see other issues i look for while doing a home inspection at ~ The stains were only 2″ high off the floor.  There was a sewer clean out cover on the floor near the area with the staining.  The owner of the home admitted that the sewer needs to be rodded every 6 months.  I explained to my clients that this is because there are issues with tree roots.  There was a silver maple in the front yard of the Des Plaines home inspection which happens to be one of the trees that causes issues with its roots in the sewer lines.  The other type of tree is the weeping willow.

These types of trees can cause blocked sewers to the point that the sewer would have to be dug up and replaced.  Tree roots seek out water supplies.  The sewer is a great area to get water.  Generally, sewers are made of cast iron, clay tile or pvc piping.  The only pipe that is resilient to these roots is pvc.  The problem is that most sewers were made of clay tile and cast iron.  The roots can find their way into the piping at the connections.  Once inside the pipe the root sets up a network of smaller roots to optimize on the water collection.  The only way to remove these roots is to rod the sewer with  a cutting sewer blade that actually cuts the roots.  Immediately after the sewer is rodded copper sulfate should be added to the the sewer via the lowest toilet in the home.  This procedure should be done at night again prior to going to bed and again the following evening.  I personally buy 3 containers to optimize the coverage of the sewer piping system.   The copper sulphate kills roots but will not be as effective if the roots are not cut by a rod blade.  If you have a backed up sewer already then you will have to get a plumber to rod the sewer.  Make sure that a cutting bit is used to cut all the roots out.  This was the advise I gave my clients from the Des Plaines home inspection.

When shopping for root kill at your local hardware store make sure that the main ingredient in the product  is copper sulphate.  Any other main ingredient will not attain the ideal results.  I don’t have a favorite root kill product.  I just go for the product with the highest levels of copper sulphate.

Hopefully you understand the magnatude of adding copper sulphate to your sewer after having the sewer system rodded.  This procedure should save you money by not having your sewer roded for years.

If you have further questions about sewers or other home inspection issues please contact me at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

If you own a home or are buying a home that is more than 50 years old then you might want to read this article.  Galvanize water piping corrodes from the inside out.  Homes that are 50 years or older and have not had the water piping removed and converted to copper piping will possibly start showing signs of corrosion.  I was hired for a home inspection in Downers Grove, Illinois that happened to be 65 years old and had galvanize piping for the water supply lines and the volume of water through these pipes was reduced greatly due to the rust that had taken over the interior portion of the piping.

The pressure of the water supply to the home was 50 psi which is good.  Most people think that their plumbing pipes preasure what causes the issues.  The real issues is the volume  or area of the piping has been reduced because of the rust inside the pipe.  What then happens is the flow is reduced because now you are trying to get the same amount of water through a much smaller pipe.  The Downers Grove home inspection had issues with all of the water piping but the hot water lines were dramatically worse than the cold water supply.  This is due to the fact that the water has been heated and changes the composition of the water so slightly and allows air to rust the interior of the galvanize pipe.

There are contractors that will try to blow out you water supply pipes but this is a patch at best and removal of galvanize piping and installation of copper piping is the only proper repair for this issue.  You can see prices for this issue and others at ~  This is the page we gave to our clients from the Downers Grove home inspection to help come with prices for issues we found at their home inspection.  Generally replacement of galvanize piping to copper water piping can cost any where from $2500.00 – $10000.00 depending on how many bathrooms, laundries, kitchens, wet bars and  hose bibs you have.

Before you hire a plumbing contractor to come out and look at your piping try this quick remedy. Go to a sink that has poor pressure remove the aerator.  The aerator is the part of the faucet where the water comes out.  You can unscrew this part and see if there are particles of rust.  If you see this and your pressure of water is low than you will probably need piping replacement.  This is how I determined that the home inspection in Downers Grove would need water piping replacement.

As you can see there can be a multitude of reasons that you are having issues with your water piping in your home.  If you find your self needing further assistance with this issue please contact me at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

Cracks in an exterior of a home can mean alot of things or nothing at all.  The only way to tell how severe the cracks are is by inspecting the homes structure.  Recently, I was inspecting a home in Northbrook, Illinois and I thought it would make a great topic for all of my readers.  The home I was inspecting had multiple cracks in its brick exterior.  The home is a frame built home with a brick exterior skin.

The cracks over the windows had developed over many years due to rusting lintels.  Lintels are made of steel and support the brick over a window openings.  Rusting lintels are the number one reason cracks occur above window frames. This generally is not a structural issue, but can develop into a structural issue if left unrepaired.  These repairs can be costly.  We developed a cost to cure page that you can see at ~  This page can assist you in getting an idea of  how much repairs may cost.  If you need further help, contact Jim Kolke at ~  This is how my clients from the Northbrook home inspection found me.

The only true way to tell if a crack is active is to install a crack monitor.  The proper way to install a crack monitor is to epoxy the monitor to both sides of the crack and leave on the wall or foundation for as long as you can.  As you see in the image supplied, the monitor’s measurements are down to mm.  This is done so that measurements on cracks can be measured in short periods of time.  The Northbrook home inspection will possibly need a monitor installed at various crack locations to determine if repairs are warranted.

The structural cracks can cost thousands to rectify.  I did find a possible strucutral crack above a garage door opening.  The reason this crack occured is because the 2″ * 12″  that was doubled up to make a wood beam was not  installed far enough into the pocket and started to crack.  The Northbrook home was built in 1957.  That means that this is a very slow crack, but it is at a point of no return and structural repairs will be needed.

My suggection to my clients from the Northbrook home inspection was to get a framing contractor involved.  They needed a ball park number for the repairs for their antorney/inspectionperiod of their contract (when after the contract is signed by both parties, but when the buyer has 5 days for review from an attorney and a licenced home inspector to protect their purchase of the home).

Lally columns would be needed to reinforce the garage opening so that the existing beam could be removed.  A steel beam with lally columns installed in the walls along side of the garage door opening would have to be installed to support the beam and prevent further cracking issues.  The exterior brick skin would have to be removed and replaced  after the repairs were completed.


As you can see, cracks in exteriors can be simply a crack or possiblely  alot more.  If you need further help with these issues or issues pertaining to your home please contact me at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

Cracks in a foundation can be very serious.  How serious the cracks are depends on their location and the condition they are in.  When I find a crack in a basement the first thing I look for is if there is any history of water penetration.  The next concern is if there is displacement or shifting of the foundation walls.  This is exactly how I what I did while performing the home inspection in Chicago for my clients.

There are two types of cracks.  There are structural and non stuctural.  I talk about the non structural first.  Non stuctural cracks are cracks that can develop from settling of the foundation, settling of a homes structure and expansion and contraction of the concrete that the foundation is made of.  Most of the  cracks that I see in a basement foundation are non stuctural but may still need attention.  These cracks can develop from poor grading along the foundation of the home, window frames in the foundation walls, loading from beams and poor compaction of the material under the foundation footing walls.  The foundation walls of the Chicago home inspection had cracks in the foundation that derived from poor grading and concrete expansion.  These cracks did not have past or present water penetration.

If you do find a crack that does or does not have water issues I still advise to repair it.  These cracks can become active and repairs are minimal most of the time.  Depending on the size and water penetration of the crack will determine what type of repair the contractor will do.  Foundation repairs generally cost $200.00 a crack.  You can see other repair prices at ~  Repairs can be done quickly but the cause of the crack will still need to be corrected.  This is the same advice I gave to my clients from the Chicago home inspection.

Structural cracks are the more serious type and if found should be evaluated by an structural engineer.  Structural cracks could have been non structural cracks that were left not repaired and developed into structural cracks.  If you see horizontal cracks or bulging of the foundation that is the first sign of structural issues.

These type of issues will require more investigation and probably more costs to repair.  My Chicago home inspection did not have any structural type cracks.  If you see these type of issues and need immediate help contact me ~  Letting these issues go without repair can possibly cause damage to the structural of the home that you own.

As you can see cracks in a foundation should not be left active.  Repairs to the issues that helped create these cracks also will require repairs as soon as possible because they still may allow they cracks to continue developing.  If you still need more help contact me at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

While performing a home inspection in Waukegan, Illinois my clients asked me if their new homes basement got water before.  This a very hard question even to the most seasoned home inspectors in the industry.  It is easy to throw a blanket statement out to your clients to appease them.  I want to give them the most honest answer I could come up with.  To do this I must inspect the exterior of the home and the interior of the basement walls withe moisture meters, thermal imagers and with my prior experience to possible inform me of past water inclusions.

When you look at the exterior of a home you want to look at the soil or grass that is touching your foundation.  The dirt or grade should be pitched away from the home.  One of the first reasons you might get water in your basement is from the lack of leaders on your downspouts.  Leaders should be 4′ – 6′ long and pouring on a splash block to allow the earth around the home to absorb the rain water.  If you don’t have these installed and want to know pricing for these issues you can see them at ~

The leaders, gutters and grading are some of the main reasons for water issues in basements.  If these items are in the proper order then the chance of these items being the culprits are very limited.  The next reason for water issues in a basement are due to sewer back up.  Sewer back up is when your sewer literally backs up into your home through a floor drain, toilet or shower drain.  The only way this can be stopped is by having a back flow prevention device built into your sewer system.  These systems can cost any where from $7000.00 -  $15000.00 depending on how elaborate the system needs to be.

The next issues would be cracks or penetrations in the foundation.  Depending on where you are at in the country this could be a big issue. If the basement walls are all drywalled over then the use of a thermal imager with moisture meters is the only way to inspect for possible issues.  If you bought a home recently and the basement was recently painted you could still see past evidence of water issues on base boards, door frames, doors, mechanical systems, piping and more.  You just have to be patient and the answers will come to you.

Hopefully this will help you stop water issues in your basments but if you have more questions you can contact me at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke