Example of roofing system

Example of roofing system

Recently while performing a Buffalo Grove home inspection we encountered large chunks of ice which are known as ice dams that occurs usually when the attic of a home has insufficient insulation or poor ventilation of the attic.  To get the full understanding of ice damming we have to climb on the top of the roof to physically see the size of the ice dam.   This is where nerves of steel are required.  Most listing agents do not really appreciate are need for thoroughness although there is no other way to get the full extent of the potential damage the ice dam can cause to the homes attic or walls.  We always explain to the client that we may not be able to access your roof in the winter due to the potential safety issues that may develop for the home inspector.   Luckily for the clients from the Buffalo Grove home inspection we were able to walk the roof and properly inspect the roof.

While walking the roof we found that the roofing shingles had been torn in many areas due to the shifting of the ice dam.  These areas allowed the tar paper that is installed to protect the wood decking completely exposed.  If the tar paper is compromised the wood decking can become wet allowing water entry in the attic and potentially in the home’s attic.  The roof of the Buffalo Grove home inspection will require repairs to assure that water entry does not occur in the upcoming spring.

When we entered the homes 2nd floor we noticed a faint brown mark in the ceiling directly adjacent to the exterior wall of the laundry room.  This location was thermal imaged with a Fluke Thermal imager and scanned with a Tramex moisture meter.  We just found ice damming damage that was documented for the clients of the Buffalo Grove home inspection.   We also found the same issue on the 2nd floor hall walls directly across the from the laundry room.  How to stop the ice damming from occurring?

Ice damming was occurring on this particular home from loose or not properly sealed ice shield.  The ice shield is installed under the tar paper which is only installed between 2′ – 3′ from the edges of the roof.  Due to the large amount of snow we received in the Chicago land area this winter followed by the rain caused the snow to freeze up in 4′ – 8′ ice dams.  This allows the water to melt and find its way under the shingles of the roof.  Fiberglass / asphalt roofs are shed roofs which will not hold water in these types of situations.  The water from the ice dam melted and wicked its way under the ice shield from the gutter and found its way in the walls.  This particular home is 3 years old and was built correctly.  Mother Nature just happened to deliver more snow that what can be handled for building codes in this region.

Ice damming for other homes can be caused by many ways that you can look for in your home.

  • Insufficient insulation in the attic ~ Missing or limited amounts of attic insulation will allow heat from the home to access the attic.  Warm attics in the winter cause the snow to melt during the day and freeze in the night causing ice damning to occur.  If you attic has let than 8″ of insulation then you may need to add insulation to your attic to prevent the loss of your homes heat in the attic.  If you are buying a new home the attic should have a minimum of 10″ of rolled fiberglass insulation.  (The Buffalo Grove home inspection home had 18″ of insulation!)
  • Poor or no ventilation in the attic ~ Ventilation in an attic is a major system that should be verified.  If you do not see roof vents, soffit vents, ridge vents, gable vents, attic fans then your attic may be overheated and will require vents to be added to move air through.  The attic should generally be the same temperature as the outside or exterior temperature.  Poor ventilation causes the heat to be trapped in the attic causing the snow to melt and cause ice damming.
  • Large or long soffits ~ Soffits longer than 4′ can pose a landing pad for ice to dam up potentially causing the ice damming issue to develop.  The big soffits is just something that is a design and cannot be changes unless you are up for the addition of soffit electric heating elements to be added to the roof to melt the snow and ice.  Large soffits are seen but not on a regular basis unless you are the company removing ice dams.

If you have ice damming and you have a newer home (5-10 years) there may not be a whole lot you can do to change your home because your issues just like the Buffalo Grove home inspection was just due to the multiple snow storms we had this year.  If you have an older home check your home for the items we listed above and see if you need to perform corrections in any of these areas.  If  you have any questions about this or any other issues please contact us at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thank you for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

Pinnacle Property Inspection Services, Inc.

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


Trees planted around a home give a house curb appeal and make the property “homey”.  I personally love a tree lined street like the one I live on in Chicago’s North Shore.  I also understand that there is a price to having those big trees close around my home.  There are positives and negatives in all items of a home.  This is exactly what I informed my clients that hired me to do a home inspection in Buffalo Grove, Illinois on a vintage tree lined home with tons of curb appeal.

Lets talk about the positives first because they are self-evident.

  •   Trees deliver curb appeal that make people want the home that you own.
  •  Trees deliver shade in the summer and they supply wind breaks in areas that do not have properties close by.
  • Aid in helping the topsoil from eroding around the property.

The negatives to having trees around your home goes hand in hand with these type of trees primarily:

  • Willow
  • Silver Maple 
  • Ash 
  • Box Elder 
  • Sweetgum 
  • Poplar 
  • Sycamore 

All of these trees when grown to full capacity and within 50 feet of a homes foundation, water supply, and or sewer waste system need to be monitored.  Why?  All of these type of trees are known to seek out water from weak areas of a water supply system and waste water system.  When homes have been left for long periods of time havoc can be done on a sewer system by the roots of these trees.  The home inspection in Buffalo Grove had Willow trees around the home.   Luckily, for the owners of this home there wasn’t any evidence of sewer damage.

Sewer waste systems, french drains, septic fields and water supply systems can be compromised by these trees.  Tree roots find areas that are weak and access the area where water is active to feed.  If this happens to your property, you have a couple options to eliminate the problem.

  1. Rod the sewer ~ The sewer may need to be roded and inspected with a sewer camera to decide how much damage has been done to the waste system by the roots of these trees.
  2. Replace all or part of the sewer main ~ If you find through a sewer inspection camera that your sewer system has areas that are cracked or a collapsing due to the roots gaining entry you might have to either dig up the sewer and replace it or install a sewer liner.
  • Replacement of sewers can be done, but are costly and timely and can be very messy.  Sewer repair prices start at $2000.00.  You can see  more repair  prices at sewer repair prices.
  • Sewer lining can be done for up to 50% cheaper than replacing sewer lines. Lining of a sewer can be done generally in a day. There is only 1 hole dug for the installation of the liner.  The hole is dug at the city side of the sewer main and then pulled through into the main of the home.

Homes with trees close to the foundation are suggested to have chemicals installed into the sewer on a regular basis to prevent possible damages and costly repairs.  As you probably know, I’m a licensed plumber and always used  copper chloride as a root killer after a roding of a sewer.  This is not good for return calls for plumbers, but it makes for a happy customer.

So if your buying a new home or already own your dream home and aren’t sure what your looking for you  are more than welcome to contact me at The Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and be safe.

Jim Kolke

If you are buying a home that is 60 plus years old or a home in a rural area there is a possibility that you may have some sort of fuel storage tank on your property.  Just because you have a storage tank on your property does not mean that the house is bad.  The condition, location, type, amount of fuel in the tank and age of the tank will determine how you should procede.  My clients from the Buffalo Grove, Illinois home inspection were concerned of the side effects of having a storage tank in the home.

There are a few issues that can arise from a fuel storage tank  on your property.  The first concern is the fact that you have a storage tank on the property.  The location of the tank will also dictate future issues and how they will affect you directly and indirectly.

A buried storage tank can be an easier issues to deal with in the fact that it is not seen or smelled and if there is leaking of the tank it will not be noticiblable.  A leaking storage tank can pose issues if the property water supply comes from a personal well.  If the tank is empty and there is no evidence of leaking then leaving the tank below ground is my advise.  If you choose to remove the tank from a basement below concrete plan on spending $2500.00 $7000.00 to remove the fuel storage tank. You can see other repair/ replacement prices at ~ http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/repair-replacement-costs.html.  This is where my clients from the Buffalo Grove home inspection went for pricing on issues in their home.

Fuel storage tanks that are located above ground are easily removed depending on where the tank is located.  If you happen to have a fuel storage tank located above the ground I would advise you to have it removed if you were my client.  The storage tank I found at the home inspection in Buffalo Grove was in a crawl space.  This fuel storage tank was empty but there was evidence of leaking of oil.  After calling a tank specialist my clients agreed to have it removed for $1200.00.  There was a smell of oil in the crawl that could only be smelled in the crawl so removing this tank along with portions of the gravel in the Buffalo Grove home inspection would eliminate the smell and all issues.

Some people would run from a home with a storage tank?  The Buffalo Grove home inspection was a great home even with a storage tank.  By removing the fuel storage tank my clients got the home they wanted with no major issues to speak of.

If you are buying a home or building and you are nervous about what issues could come of having a fuel storage tank on your property please contact me at ~ http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/about-jim-kolke.html so that I can “talk you off the ledge” and point you in the right direction on getting your dream home.

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke


Often times when performing a home inspection in Buffalo Grove, we see that ground circuit interrupters are not installed. In the home inspections in Buffalo Grove, Illinois it seems that they are not as prevalent because many of the homes in this area are built in the early 70′s And 80′s.

As some people know, Buffalo Grove is split into 2 different counties – Lake county and Cook county.   Our experience shows that there doesn’t seem to be a big difference in the issues we find during our home inspections in Buffalo Grove – Cook County or Lake County.   The construction processes and codes may vary slightly because of the variances in the two counties codes, but either way most home inspections performed in Buffalo Grove tend to have other common issues like; water heaters, sump pumps, furnaces and kitchen appliances.  These are things that are generally original equipment and will need to be replaced or repaired in the near future.

If lack of a Ground circuit fault interrupter (GCFI) shows up on our home inspection report for your Buffalo Grove home, don’t worry.  This generally is an easy repair. The cost for a GCFI is normally about $10 and a contractor or electrician can normally install for about $50.

Ground circuit interrupters are necessary in areas around water or where water can gain direct access.  Generally, these areas are in kitchens near the sink, in bathrooms, utility rooms, garages, basements, and all exterior areas of the home.

The GCFI in essence is a breaker with little resistance.  This item is used to help prevent electrocution and can be a potential life saver.  In the event of an accident, let’s say a hairdryer falls into a sink full of water, the GCFI will kill the circuit and avoid any injury to anyone touching the water.

Adding GFCI’s to a property that you own already is a great safety precaution.

You can ask about them at your local home supply store. You’ll be glad you did.

If you have any questions or comments about this post, please feel to register and post a comment. www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com

Jim Kolke