Do you wake up in the morning coughing or sneezing?  Does this condition seem to go on for 10 -15 minutes?  Do you have allergies or some sort of breathing issue?  I’m not a doctor but today I will play one.  The air you breath in your home can be very dirty depending on home often you change your furnace filter,  the type of furnace filter you use, the condition of your heating duct work, if you have pets and the last time you had your furnace cleaned by a heating contractor.  All of these items will contribute to the conditioning of the air you breath inside your home.  My clients from the Morton Grove home inspection noticed that the heating vents had dust all over them and were concerned that that the dust would pose a problem for their son who did have severe allergies.  If you see dust than you know you have to have the heating system serviced.  The question is what is in the areas that you cant see?

If you are about to purchase a house, condo, trailer, or any type of property that you will reside in I advise cleaning the furnace and all of the duct work. The cost of heating duct cleaning can be from $6- $10 per vent.  Count all of your vents and multiply this number by $6 and that is about what your cleaning will cost.  Even if you don’t have allergies there can be all types of issues that are residing in your duct work.  You can see a furnace being inspected at ~  This seem to be very helpful for my clients from the Morton Grove home inspection.

Just because you get your furnace cleaned and the duct work cleaned that doesn’t mean your done.  You still need to protect this system by using quality furnace filters. My advise is to change out your furnace filter every 3 months.  Generally you change the filter in the beginning of the season.   If you live in an area that is known for being dusty, you have pets, allergies or asthma is a concern to you then I would plan on changing your filter to the HEPA type of filter which cost a little more but do block out 99% of the dust and contaminants.  The next step would be to install an air cleaner on your furnace.  This is what my clients from the Morton Grove home inspection were purposing on doing in their new home.

The only problem with air cleaning systems on a furnace is the fact that they only work when the furnace is on.  You might have to keep your blower motor on all the time to engage this system and be able to maximize the benefits of what it has to offer.

The cost of the air cleaning system can be anywhere from $300.00 – $700.00 installed by a heating contractor.  You can see pricing for other repairs you might need on your home at  ~

As you can see this is a easy remedy as long as you know what your looking for.  If you have further questions about heating ducts please contact me at  ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

Many times while inspecting homes in the Chicagoland area, I find radon mitigation systems that were not known about by the buyer.  Sometimes my clients want to stop the inspection and pack up and go?  I then have to put on my teachers cap and educate my clients.  Its not that I’m afraid I’ll lose a sale.  They called me once and they will call me again.  I don’t want my clients to lose  out on a home that they seemed to like but found out that a system that they have little or no knowledge of is determining what they do.  If they still feel the same after I explain the pros and cons of the system then its their decision.  After class they never go.

Last week I was hired to inspect a beautiful home in Naperville, Illinois.   The home was recently built and had everything buyers are looking for.  While doing my pre-inspection walk-thru I noticed that there was a radon mitigation system.  When my clients showed up we went over the exterior of the home and the radon mitigation system was brought up.  The wife from the Naperville home inspection became very uneasy with the thought of the radon mitigation system being in a home with her children.  They definitely wanted to leave, but I was able to give the pros and cons and that was all they needed.

The pros of having a radon mitigation system definitely out-ways the cons in my opinion.  All homes have some radon gas inside.  You can see what the levels are in your area at ~  Because all homes have some level of radon gas you will be able to rest assured that your home is having the levels reduced or controlled on a regular basis.  That means that the radon gas is being removed all the time by a fan out of the home to keep the levels at a safe place.  This is why the pros out weigh the cons, period.

The cons to having a radon mitigation system is that the fan runs all the time and will use energy (electric).  This electric costs money to run.  The amount of electric is comparable to that of a box fan.  It costs about $25.00 – $35.00 to run this fan for a year.  That’s about the cost of a visit to Burger King with the kids.  This is what I explained to my clients at the Naperville home inspection.   The other con is the fact that radon measurement will be required on a bi-yearly basis to ensure that the radon mitigation system is working properly.  The cost for a radon measurement is between $150.00- $225.00.

As you can see the radon mitigation system that was installed in the Naperville home was in my opinion a plus.  So if your looking for homes and you find a piece of pvc pipe on the outside of the home don’t be afraid.  That system was installed to protect your family.

If you have further questions about radon or radon mitigation systems please contact me at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

Who doesn’t want to save money?  That is a silly question-right!  I was hired by  a diligent home buyer who questioned ever portion of my in home inspection which was performed in Northfield, Illinois.  Remember, the turtle won the race!  My client was concerned with the age of the mechanical systems and was opting to changing these systems prior to the move in to his new home.  He heard of the federal tax rebate plan and wanted more information.  I emailed him exactly what Ill be speaking about today.

The Northfield home inspection was a property that was built in 1992 and all of the mechanical systems were 18years old.  Most of these systems were nearing the end of the manufacturers suggested life span.  Manufacturers give suggested time spans on how long they believe their products will last.  All of the systems were in working order, but my client wanted to start with a “clean slate” for all of his mechanical systems.  You can see suggested replacement costs at ~ or you can ask for help from contractors in the area.

The federal tax rebate plan started in 1/1/2009 and will expire on 12/31/2010.  The plan covers heating systems, water heating systems, windows, doors, insulation and roofs.  You can see the direct link ~  If you live in Illinois there are other rebates you can add to the federal rebates.  You can find the info at ~ Nicor ,  North Shore gas ~,  Peoples gas ~

The gas companies are getting involved because there is federal relief fund that will be sent back their way.  All the documentation must come from a licensed contractor with serial numbers and model numbers to get the rebate.  I explained to my client from the Northfield home inspection that his possible saving on a high efficient furnace, tank-less water heater, and new air conditioner could be in the area of $4000.00 dollars.  Not to shabby!

If you have further questions about how to get your rebates and what systems qualify for this program please contact me directly at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

I believe a home inspection should be a period that we inspect your choice in home or property but I really believe in empowering my clients by educating them on how their home works.  More importantly, I want to educate them on what to look for when systems in a home may have possible issues and what to do when these systems fail.  Recently, I was hired for a home inspection in Tinley Park, Illinois.  My clients were concerned on the mechanical systems age, cost to replace, and life expectancy.

The air conditioner unit is generally inspected first due to the fact that is on the exterior of the home.  The air conditioner manufacturer was a Carrier that happened to be 11 years old.  The age of the air conditioner was not alarming.  Generally, air conditioner units have a life expectancy of over 20 years.  The cost for replacement starts from $1500.00 for a 1 ton unit to $7000.00 for a 5 ton unit.  The Tinley Park home inspection had no apparent issues on the air conditioning system.  You can see an actual air conditioner inspection at ~

The next mechanical system I inspected at the Tinley Park home inspection was the heating system.  The heating system is composed of a furnace, duct work, thermostat, and humidifier.  All of these items are major components that need to be in good working order for a heating system.  The furnace at the Tinley Park home inspection was also a Carrier that happened to be the same age as the air conditioner.  This is not uncommon to see that the furnace and air conditioner are the same age.  We see a lot of split systems being the same age because you can save money replacing the furnace and air conditioner at the same time.  A furnace life expectancy is 25 years with annual maintenance.  The cost to replace a furnace depends on if you purchase a high efficient unit or a 80% unit.  You can see prices of furnaces at ~

The water heater was the next mechanical system I inspected at the Tinley Park home inspection.  The property had a 6 year old 50 gallon Rheem water heater.  I inspected the tank and burners to see if there was any rusting on the tank that can lead to the demise of the water heater.  Water heaters life expectancy is 12 years.  If you get more than 12 years you are lucky.  To replace a 40 gallon water heater you can plan on spending between $550.00 – $750.00 depending on piping materials, ease of installation and location in the country you reside.

Hopefully this helps consumers understand what to look for when searching for a home.  If you have any questions please contact me at ~

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke