If you either own a home or are buying a home with a finished basement then you need to read this article.  When performing a home inspection in Downers Grove I found that not only did the sump pump not work but there was no battery back up sump pump to protect the basement from possible flooding.  Sump pump buying and installation is serious business when trying to protect your most expensive investment.  If you are in the market for a sump pump and a battery back up sump pump system then you want to buy the best you can.  Going cheap may cost you alot more money in the future on basement repairs.  Generally sump pumps cost about $200.00 to buy and only $100.00 to have a plumber to install it.  Most of my readers know that I’m a licensed plumber #J194988 and here are the things I look for when buying a sump pump and a battery back up pump system.

  • Cast Iron bodies on a sump pump is a must.  Plastic is for toys!  There are many large manufacturers that sell these plastic pumps that are merely disposable units.  Zoeller pumpsare the only pumps I use. Period!  Zoeller pumps are known in the plumbing industry to be the best and best value for the money.  Zoeller sump pumps are known to last up to 10years. This is a great example of a proper installed sump pump with a battery back up system.


  • Replaceable sump pump switches should be a item that your sump pump should have.  These switches are known to fail with years of service.  Being able to remove the existing switch and replacing it for a new switch allows you to repair the pump instead of replacing it.
  • Steel impellers are what allows the pump to pull water and solids through the pump body and out the discharge pipe.  Plastic impellers are known to snap off and break.
  • Alarms on battery back up pumps are a must to allow you to know you have a issues with your sump pumps.  Sump pumps that do not have alarms will be useless if you don’t know you have an issue.

My clients from the Downers Grove home inspection were going to be in the market for a sump pump and battery back up system.  I suggested that they purchase a Zoeller sump pump and battery back up pump package.  This whole system can be bought for under $800.00.  This may sound expensive to you but a basement that has been flooded can cost $10,000.00 to repair.  Items that will need to be cleaned or replaced are below.

  • Carpet may be dried but plan on replacing because it is now a breeding ground for mold and mildew.  Got allergies?
  • Drywall will need to be cut up to the area that was not affected and replaced.
  • Insulation in the walls will all have to be replaced.
  • Furniture and electronics will all have to be disposed of if they have been contaminated.
  • Labor to perform all of these replacements will be extremely costly.
  • $10,000.00 – $25,000.00

Sump pump battery back up system sounds cheap now?  My client from the Downers Grove home inspection was sold on my idea of a Zoeller sump pump battery back system.  Even if you are not good with numbers you can easily see that not having a battery back up for your sump pump is insane.

Hopefully this article helped you to make an educated decision like my client from the Downers Grove home inspection.  If you are still unsure about why this system should be installed in your home then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thank you for stopping by and stay safe.

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 ~ http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/repair-replacement-costs.html.  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 ~ http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/about-jim-kolke.html.

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke

So your buying a home and your questioning if you need a radon measurement with your home inspection or not.  Today I will help you with deciding  if a radon measurement is needed.  Iwill be using a home inspection I performed in Downers Grove, Illinois as my test subject.  I’ll really be speaking about the metro area in Chicago, Illinois but you can see maps that can help you in your area of the United States.

The first thing that always comes up is the cost of the radon measurement.  The standard price for a radon measurement is between $175.00 – $225.00, depending on where you are in the Chicago area and if you are getting a break on the price because you are getting a home inspection.  In Illinois a radon measurement must be done with a continuous radon measurement device.  We are not allowed to use charcoal canisters in real estate transactions.  These monitors are plugged into an electric outlet and they take a sample of the air every 15 minutes.  We generally put these monitors in finished basements or  rooms above crawl spaces.  Sometimes we may have up to 5 monitors for one home.  The Downers Grove home inspection had 2 monitors because there were two different types of foundations.

If your in Illinois and your wondering if you need to spend $175.00 on this measurement go to http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/images/stories/pdf/2008datahigh.pdf and see how your city or village rates with past radon measurements.  We measure radon by Pc/l.   This is a standard guideline that all can understand nationwide.  Radon can only be found by the measurements that we employ due to the fact that radon gas is colorless, tasteless and odorless.  This gas can cause cancer from its alpha and beta particles that implant themselves into your lung fibers.

So you want to remove the radon.  How much will it cost?  This depends on multiple factors and a radon mitigator can go over that with you and your family.  Mitigation systems can cost between $1200.00 – $2000.00 and more if there are multiple foundation areas that the mitigator will have to work with.  You can see other items that are related to radon measurement and mitigation at http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/our-services/69-radonmeasurement.html.  This seemed to be very helpful for my clients of the home inspection in Downers Grove, Illinois.

If you have any questions about radon and how they can affect you and your family please contact me through ~ http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/about-jim-kolke.html.

Thanks for stopping by.  Jim Kolke



Last month on a home inspection in Downers Grove, Illinois I was faced with a clients question about his “dream” home’s plumbing system.  This could be a potential costly issue depending on the age of the system and if any upgrades were made. There are basically 3 different systems in a home. The first is the water supply; which gives you your water ( hot and cold). The second system is tied to the third. This system is called waste and venting, which works together but could still operate without the venting but not advised.

There were 2 issues that needed immediate attention at this home inspection in Downers Grove.  Both items were what we call “defective”.  That doesn’t always mean that the repairs will be expensive. In this case,  the repairs would be some what costly due to the severity of the repairs needed.

The 1st item that we found at this home inspection in Downers Grove was the water piping.  The water piping was 87 years old and made of galvanize piping.  Generally galvanize pipe has a life span of 50 years. This homes piping system had lasted longer than the average galvanize system.  The “tell tales” of galvanize piping issues is generally seen at the fitting connections.  There would be pitting and rusting. The more severe the rusting , pitting and possible leaking the more severe the damage to the piping. Galvanize pipe corrodes from the inside out.  In this case, leaks were seen in the pipe walls.  My recommendation was to upgrade  the water piping system to copper.

The 2nd issue found at the home inspection in Downers Grove was a missing condensate drip leg used in the gas supply for the water heater.  This is not a costly repair but a nessecary one to prevent the corrsion of the water heater tank. There is moisture in gas and it needs somewhere to go or it will burn at the burner under the tank and cause the tank to corrode.  By adding a drip leg this will eliminate this concern.

If you have questions about how to find out if your plumbing system is in need of attention you can contact us at www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com  Jim Kolke