Loose toiletRecently while performing a Winnetka home inspection, we found that 1 of the 6 bathroom toilets were loose at the floor connection.  Loose toilet connections are prone to allow water to flow from the wax ring connection.  Loose toilet floor connections or loose closet bolts are a common issue while performing home inspections.  A wax ring is installed in the area between the toilet and the floor.  The toilet is secured with bolts that are called closet bolts.  These bolts can become loose and cause the toilet to move like what was seen during the Winnetka home inspection.  I have seen loose toilets cause thousands of dollars of water damage that sometimes cannot be seen due to homeowners not using the area below the loose toilet.    Most homeowners do not go into the basement on a regular basis especially when the laundry is on the 1st floor or the 2nd floor of the home.  If a loose toilet is found in the powder room bathroom on the 1st floor, there is a potential issue with water from the powder room toilet from leaking between the toilets to floor connection causing water damage below in the finished or unfinished areas of the basement.

At Pinnacle Property Inspection Services we tape the seats of the toilet to the toilet with a note explaining to the seller and the seller’s real estate agent that the toilet has movement and may leak now or in the near future.  Like I explained before, loose toilets can cause costly repairs.  Two days after the Winnetka home inspection, I received a phone call from the selling real estate agent that her client and herself were appalled that we tapped the toilet seat to the toilet.  This blog was designed to inform buyers and sellers why it is so important to cease use of loose toilets to assure that damage does not occur in your new or existing home.

As you probably can guess, the sellers of the home did continue using the loose toilet in the powder room in the 1st floor of the Winnetka home inspection.  Luckily for the buyers, we took hundreds of pictures of the home to assure quality of the home will be the same from the day of the home inspection to the day of the closing of the home.  There were multiple pictures verifying the basement did not have water damage under the loose toilet in the powder room.  My clients from the Winnetka home inspection closed on the home and after 2 days noticed urine smell in the basement that was noted directly below the powder room.  As part of the selling agreement, the sellers agreed to fix the loose toilet from a “licensed plumber” prior to closing.  The sellers caulked around the floor to toilet connection which caused the water to leak under the toilet in the basement instead of on the floor in the powder room.  The concern now is mildew, mold and human excrement on the walls and ceiling of the basement may pose health issues.  The cost of all of these repairs will be in the thousands which all could have been avoided if the sellers and the seller’s real estate agent were forthcoming.

Loose toilet connections in any bathroom should be repaired immediately to assure that damage does not occur like what was seen in the Winnetka home inspection.  If you have any questions about this issue please contact me at 312-961-4228 or pinnaclepropertyinspection.com.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

The Thermal Home Inspector

A recent Glencoe home inspection explains why it is so pertinent to have the location of the exterior curb box for the water supply to the home documented during a home inspection.  A curb box or buffalo box is the exterior shut off for the water supply main to the home that is located usually within the first 10 feet from the street to the home.  This valve is used in emergencies to shut off the water off in the home if there are major issues in the home that cannot be shut off from the interior water main shut off valve.    If you live in an older home your curb box or buffalo box may be under dirt due to the age of the home and the fact that the dirt around the home is constantly changing.  A covered or not located curb box or buffalo box can pose many issues.  Some of the issues include.

  • Damaged or missing curb box cover that can allow debris or water entry in the valve housing.  Debris in curb box housing can prevent the use of the valve in emergencies.
  • Not located curb boxes prevent emergency shut off of the water supply from the exterior if the interior valve has been damaged or compromised.

While performing the recent Home inspection in Glencoe Illinois we were restricted from the locating of the curb box for the water supply.  The large amount of snow that we recently received in the Midwest prevented proper location of this curb box.  In this situation we recommend that the seller or the buyer of the home to contact the village, city or town that they are buying the home in to assist in locating the curb box.  Most of the municipalities have a plumbing department that can assist in the location of the curb box prior to closing.  Usually the curb boxes can be found quickly by the city or village plumbing departments as long as snow and ice are not 3′ -4′ deep.

When the curb boxes are located the village or town plumbing department may also paint the cover blue to assure location of this curb box is easy to perform in the future.  This is exactly what was done for the clients of the Glencoe home inspection.  My clients from this property had no idea how important the curb box was to their new home.  To be honest, I understand.  I have clients in our plumbing company that have lived in their homes for 30 years and never seen or used their curb box.  A curb box only has a value when you really need it.  That is why the location of the curb box was brought up during the Glencoe home inspection.

If you are a home buyer this should be on your question list for your home inspector to look for if he or she does not bring it to your attention.  If you are a homeowner and do not know where your curb box is located then I suggest you contact your city or towns plumbing department to inquire if they will assist in the location of this valve to assure the location is documented in emergency settings.

Please contact me if you have any questions on any questions pertaining to curb boxes at pinnaclepropertyinspection.com or at 312-961-4228.  Thanks for stopping by and stay warm.


Jim Kolke

Thermal Home Inspector


Rusted gas main   Rusted gas piping on a gas meter


Rusted meters found during a home inspection.

Rusted meters found during a home inspection.

Rust on gas piping can be perceived as a non threatening issue for homeowners.    This was definitely the case we recently found when performing a home inspection in Skokie Illinois.  When arriving to the Skokie home we noticed a faint smell of natural gas when walking up to the front door of the home.  When smelling natural gas on any home all Pinnacle Property Inspection Services Employees are required to contact the gas company.  The natural gas supplier for Skokie Illinois is Peoples Gas.  The procedure for gas leaks on any property is very important.  Follow these easy steps that are suggested by Peoples Gas to assure that safety issues do not occur.




  • Get everyone out of the house immediately.
  • DO NOT use the telephone, a flashlight or any electrical switches.
  • Go to a neighbor’s house and call your gas company immediately.


Gas leaks should not be treated as a normal or safe occurrence.  The Peoples gas company arrived to our Skokie home inspection within 15 minutes which was pretty quick.  Gas was leaking from the gas main meter regulator that was old and rusted and gas piping connections that also were severely rusted being worn from the elements.   This particular gas meter had to have the gas meter regulator replaced which was replaced free of charge.  Unfortunately the regulators fail and require replacement eventually.  The gas piping on the main meter also required tightening and painting.  Keeping the gas piping painted is a must to assure that rust will not occur on the exposed metal piping.   Some gas companies will paint the gas piping on the exterior meter free of charge to assure that gas leaks do not develop and cause additional visits from a gas company service technician.  The Peoples Gas service technician was able to paint the gas meter and the natural gas piping free of charge during the Skokie home inspection.  Luckily the sellers of the home were not home and were not inconvenienced at all while repairs were being performed.


If you find yourself in the situation of gas leaks please understand that gas leaks can cause severe issues and should be treated with the utmost urgency to assure that safety issues do not occur in your home that may affect you and your family.  The Skokie home inspection was a clear cut example of how serious natural gas leaks can be.  If you have any questions about  natural gas leaks or any other issue you are more than welcome to contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.  Thank you for stopping by and stay safe.


Jim Kolke

Rusted gas piping on a gas meter

Frozen Hose BibFrozen Hose Bib

Hose bibs should be winterized to assure frozen pipes do not burst

Hose bibs should be winterized to assure frozen pipes do not burst

Recently when performing a home inspection in Wilmette Illinois a small issue was noted that can develop fast into a large issue that can be very costly.   A frozen hose bib was found in the home’s exterior.  Hose bibs come in various types that can allow for no winterization or for winterization.  Hose bibs that are not the anti freeze type will require valves to be installed in the basement of the home to allow for shutting the water off to the hose bib. Older homes have the older type of hose bibs known as gate valves that are known to freeze in the cold Chicago winters if not winterized.  The issue at hand of frozen gate valve hose bibs is that water damage can occur in the basement or the basement if the piping to the hose bib were to freeze in the walls.  Frozen piping in the basement walls can lead to issues with water in the basement that may develop into mold or mildew issues that may cause costly repairs or health concerns.  Most homes that have the older gate valve systems do not have shut off valves installed in the home that makes winterization hard or impossible to perform.   The gate valve hose bib on the home from the Wilmette home inspection was missing shut off valves in the home that will be required to perform a proper inspection.   The hose bib was frozen during the inspection and probably will not burst but still can pose an issue when performing a home inspection.    A foam cover is also a great way and an affordable way to winterize the hose bibs of a home.


If you are a homeowner with an anti freeze hose bib it is still recommended that interior water shut off valves are added to winterize the antifreeze hose bibs to assure that bursting of the piping does not occur.  If you do have shut off valves on the interior of the home for your hose bibs then the next step after shutting or closing the water off to the hose bib is to open the valve to the hose bib to allow all of the water in the hose bib to leave the valve preventing any trapped water from expanding and bursting the piping to the hose bib.   Frozen hose bibs like what was found at the Wilmette home inspection can be prevented with easy steps.


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 any questions about this issue please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector  or 847-251-1186.

Thank for stopping by.

Jim Kolke

Sewer piping that is damaged cannot be seen from the exterior of the home. The only way you can see this is by a sewer scope or a dig up.

If you are a home buyer that is preparing to hire a home inspector then you might want to read this article.  Recently while inspecting a home in Chicago I was questioned if I was going to inspect the sewer line of the home.  This question made me think awhile until I could explain to my client that is impossible for me to inspect the sewer because it is underground and I physically can’t see the sewer and identify if there are cracks or other issues with the sewer piping materiel.  This led me to recommending sewer contractors to scope the sewers in homes that I was inspecting for home buyers.

My clients from the Chicago home inspection were a little upset that I could not determine the health of the waste piping underground until I fully explained that the best I could do was to run the water for long periods of time to see if the sewer could take all the water.  This is the standard way most home inspectors inspect the sewers in the home inspections they are hired to perform.  Most people do not understand that home inspectors cannot change, modify or convert any portion of the home in any form or fashion.  This is what led me to decide to start recommending that home buyers hire sewer contractors or plumbing contractors to perform sewer inspections.

My clients from the Chicago home inspection hired Roto Rooter from Chicago to perform a sewer scoping.  The cost of the sewer scoping which included a clearing of the sewer was $315.00.  I know what most people are saying.  Home inspection costs $400.00 and sewer scoping costs $315.00 at a total of $715.00 before I even move in the home.  Luckily for my clients from the Chicago home inspection they performed a sewer inspection which found 2 partial collapsed clay sewer pipes!

No big deal 2 broken sewer pipes?  Wrong!  Replacement costs to repair the Chicago homes sewer was $4150.00 which was paid by the seller!  I can’t promise that this will be the results of a sewer scope that you may pay for.  I can promise you that the repairs on a sewer can cost a whole lot more though.  Some Realtors do not appreciate that I recommend that perspective home buyers have sewer inspections performed because they are afraid they inspection may find a reason that the home buyers won’t buy the home.  I believe the exact opposite.  I believe it gives the home buyers a definitive feeling of all of the components of the home and will allow them to move forward in the home buying purchase with a sound mind.

My home buyers from the Chicago home inspection did buy the home they hired me to inspect.  If your home is newer then you might not want to hire a sewer contractor to perform a sewer inspection.  Knowing if there are issues is worth every penny.  If you have further questions about sewers or any other portion of your home please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke