If you are from the Chicago land area or have visited us in the winter then you know it can get very cold and snowy and sometimes both at the same time.  Yesterday,  I was inspecting a home in Chicago, Illinois and it was early in the morning when I started. I got the full blast of 40 degrees at 7am!  This led to the honey do list that I went over with my client from the Chicago home inspection.

Most of the items I have for this list are for the exterior of your home.  You don’t want to get stuck trying to do these items in a 20 degrees below zero afternoon if you do not  have to.  Ill start with the exterior items that will be addressed  and then Ill get into the interior projects.

  1. Gutter cleaning – Gutter cleaning can cause water issues into soffits if the gutters are full of debris and this debris clogs the drain.  Also ice damning can occur if there is debris that is in the gutter that will not allow the drainage to go down the downspout which in turn causes ice.  The gutter fills with ice then the shingles start to take water from underneath.  Hopefully your home has an ice shield.
  2. Sprinkler system – If your home has a lawn sprinkler system you will need to get your service provider to come by and remove your backflow preventer and blow out the lines.
  3. Storm windows – If you live in an old home that has storm windows that need to be installed annually then this is the time to remove the screens and install your storm windows.
  4. Crawl space vents -  If you have a crawl space that has plumbing piping that does not have heat tape on it then you will need to close the vents on the crawl to prevent extreme cold air from entering this space and possibly breaking your water piping.
  5. Hose bib and hoses – If your hose bib has a shut off in the home then this is the time to shut it off and leave the hose bib open to release any access water so it does not freeze.  Clear all the water from the hoses and roll them up for the next season.
  6. Balconies – If you live in a condo or own a home with a balcony you want to make sure the drainage points are clear to prevent issues on the balcony.
  7. Furnace/ boiler cleaning – This is a great time to bring in a hvac professional to inspect and clean your furnace or boiler.  When a contractor has to come to your home at 3am you wont be paying $100.00 for that service call!
  8. Smoke detector – Replace batteries as the season changes.
  9. Furnace filters – Change filters in furnaces at the change of seasons.
  10. Exterior projects – These projects should be buttoned up for the winter if at all possible.

As you can see there are quite a few things that will need to be done prior to closing the house up for the winter.  My clients from the Chicago home inspection were amazed that there could be so many items to be addressed  to prepare your home for a cold winter.  If you find that your home has repairs that will need to be done prior to winter this is a list that will help you with what these repairs may cost – http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/repair-replacement-costs.html.  My clients from the Chicago home inspection found this very useful for the repairs that were needed in their home.

Hopefully this  “honey do list” is helpful to you and your families on preparing your home for a long Chicago winter.  If you have questions about this topic please contact me at – http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/about-jim-kolke.html.

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke


Water heaters can be a possible destructive item in a multi unit property.  Recently, we were hired by @ properties to represent an absentee buyer from out of the country who needed a home inspection in Chicago.  This inspection was in the hot area of Old Town.  Old Town is west of the Gold coast and south of Lincoln Park.  This is definitely not a rare occasion, as alot of buyers relocating to the Chicago area are not able to be at their own condo inspection.

An absent buyer doesn’t mean you do any less of a job, in fact it means you better document every area of the property to protect your client.  The Old town  home inspection in Chicago was a typical penthouse condo.  Everything seemed to be fine at the property, until I started to inspect the water supply ball valves and water heater.  I immediately noticed water leaking from the water heater casing.  This is generally a sign that the water heater storage tank is going to break or leak out completely.  The water heater at the Chicago home inspection did have a water overflow pan with drainage below the water heater.  This overflow pan is installed to prevent water heater tanks leaking to the floors below them causing costly repairs.

The reason that the A O Smith water heater’s storage tank was developing holes can come from various issues.  The main one of course is age.  Generally, water heaters are only suppose to exist in service from 11-15 years depending on the type of unit you purchased and how much use it gets.  My opinion on the unit in the Chicago home inspection was that there was paint that was stored right next to the water heater.  The paint cans may be sealed but the vapors are still able to enter the burner area where the water is heated.  There is moisture in natural gas that when heated condensates on the bottom side of a storage tank.  When the paint fumes comes in contact with the moisture on the tank it starts to corrode the area.  I believe age of the unit and paint being stored adjacent to the unit caused the unit to have issues.  The A O Smith water heater was 12 years old and it was time to change out the unit anyways.

If you have questions about how long house hold systems should last check out~ www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/repair-replacement-costs.html

If you have questions about how water heaters work contact us at~ www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com

Please leave a comment or a question if we can help you with issues you have on your property.  Thanks ~ Jim Kolke

If you know anything about Chicago’s Lincoln Park you know that parking is a commodity.  People purchase parking spots in garages for $20,000.00.  Then you still have to pay maintenance and property taxes on that parking spot.  I received a call from a perspective client wanting to know if we could do a condo home inspection in Chicago, Illinois.  The actual area was the hot urban paradise of Lincoln Park which is known for the bars and happening restaurants.  I explained to our new client how we do condo home inspections in Chicago.  Basically, we inspect the whole building as though you were buying the whole building.  My new client liked that idea, but when I explained to her that I would also be inspecting her deeded parking spot she seemed a little confused.  I explained to her not to worry I had it all under control.

I inspected the condo in Chicago with your typical GFCI issues.  Generally, I find that in older condos or homes that GFCI’s are not installed in the bathrooms and kitchens.  That seemed to be the only issue that I found at the home inspection in Chicago besides the bad paint on the walls.

I was done essentially with the condo inspection in Chicago except for the deeded parking space.  As soon as I saw the parking space, I informed my client that a licensed plumbing contractor would have to be called.  The horizontal cast iron waste piping was leaking waste from one of the lead and oakum joints.  A mix of waste water and rust had left a mark on the concrete floor 7″ in diameter.  The repair of this pipe would need to be done before my client should park her vehicle in her space.  The condo association was notified of the leak in the garage of the home inspection in Lincoln Park.  These things do happen, but it makes it alot easier if they are found before you sign your name on the dotted line.

If you need a condo home inspection in Chicago and have concerns with how the building is built  contact us at~ www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com  Please leave a comment or a question you might have about your condo.  Thanks~  Jim Kolke

Depending on where you live in the city, in Chicago you may have issues with the sewer systems.  Some of the older areas of Chicago have very old clay sewer systems that are undersized because  of  the growth of single family homes into multi- unit condo buildings. The issues that will develop because of these undersized systems is water back up into the basements of these properties tied to the particular sewer. This was definitely the case for the condo home inspection in Chicago, Illinois ( Ukrainian Village).

Ukrainian Village is a very old community that was originally occupied by people from the Ukraine.  The area has changed with a diverse nationalities and lifestyles.  A great place to live to enjoy some of the nicest restaurants and trendiest bars. These are some of the things that bring in the young professionals just graduating from college.   My client hired us  for the condo home inspection in Chicago.  The structure from the outside was a typical brick built 3 flat that generally is built like a fortress.  On inspecting this particular property, that seemed to be true here also.

The condo seemed to be in great shape. All of the water piping was converted to copper, new windows, all plaster walls removed and drywall installed,  new insulation, new electric panel and more.  This home inspection in Chicago seemed to be flaw free.

If you do read our blogs regularly you’ll remember that we inspect the whole property like you were buying the whole building.  This home inspection in Chicago wouldn’t be different. When I entered the basement, I caught a light smell of methane gas. Methane gas comes from sewers. On further investigation, I found that this property had issues with water back up from the sewer, so the condo association contacted a plumbing company to install a sewer back up system with double checks. The sewer cover wasn’t sealed and gas was escaping to open air. The cover needs to be fitted so that sewer gas will not escape.  This system with prevent sewer water from entering the property.  If the sewer starts to back up to the properties main sewer pipe it will hit a check valve that will block the entrance of water into the building  sewer pipes.  This is definitely a great item to have.  It will need regular maintenance though.  Just another good selling point to the condo inspection in Chicago.

If you own a property or are buying a property that has sewer back up issues and you need help with answers contact us at ~ www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com

Please leave a comment or ideas that you want us to answer in our blog.  Thank You  ~  Jim Kolke