Yesterday I was hired to inspect a foreclosure townhome that had windows that were cracked in a transom.  A transom is a window above another window that allows sunlight to fill the room.  I personally really like the fact that this home had these transoms.  I found out at the Chicago home inspection in Greek town that my clients hired me because we use a Fluke thermal imager on every home inspection.  They saw water stains and paint bubbling on the ceiling of a bay window area in the living room.

On my arrival to the Chicago home inspection I found water coming through a ceiling in the living rooms bay window.  Obviously there were issues with the roof and the flashing’s that would need attention, roofing contractor. There were also issues with windows that were cracked and possible lack of headers above windows.  My clients from the Chicago home inspection were very concerned that there were structural issues with the lack of headers above windows.  That is when I took up my fluke thermal imager and we began scanning the walls.

The fluke thermal imager has many uses and I will explain many of them in this article.

  • Structural issues are sometimes filed with the use of a fluke thermal imager. These issues can be seen only when a temperature differential is available in the fluke thermal imager is not an x-ray machine it is a temperature tool.  Because the exterior temperature of a home is different than interior temperature of the home we are able to the see the actual wall joists and headers.
  • Water intrusion in walls and ceilings of the home is easily seen with the use of a fluke thermal imager. The use of a fluke thermal imager by itself is never done.  Tramex moisture meters are also used as another tool to document the fact that there is water or moisture in a wall.  The use of either tool by their self is never done because checks and balances are a must in any home inspection.
  • Electrical breaker boxes are scanned for overheated breakers.  If a breaker is overloaded or double tapped the fluke thermal imager will see it as an overheated breaker.  Overheated breakers can cause fires and homes.  It is pertinent that a fluke thermal imager is used to scan your electrical breaker box your home inspection is being done.
  • Insulation voids are found with the use of a fluke thermal imager. Fluke thermal imager’s are able to tell that insulation is missing or compromised in a wall or an attic with the use of temperature differential.

If you are a home owner or a home buyer and you have questions about this process them please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

Most of my clients know me as The Thermal Home Inspector but I also am known as The Mold Man.  If you have read my other articles on mold then you will know that every home has mold of some type.  My job is to assist you by taking professional samples and sending them to a lab to qualify the type of mold you have in your home.  When I come to your home to perform a mold inspection I do a visual inspection to develop a hypothesis of what type of mold inspection you will need.

My client from the Darien home inspection has concerns of mold in the foreclosure home he wanted to buy.  Thats why we were performing a mold inspection in his possible new home.  There are several type of tests thatwe can do for different situations that may come up.

  • Air sampling is a must at all mold inspections that Pinnacle Property Inspection Services performs.  We always do a in home air sample.  We like to an exterior sample if the weather allows for this measurement to happen.  This measurement gives us an overall if the home has any active mold spores.  This is generally the first test we  suggest to our clients unless we see or smell obvious reasons to do other tests.
  • Bio tape or swab test are done in areas where there is suspected mold and we need to test the mold to identify the type of mold that is present.
  • Carpet sampling can give a great length of history of what type if any was or is present in the home.
  • In wall sampling is another test that can not be done in a home that is not owned by the client without written permission from the owner.  This mold test will identify any possible mold growth or breeding in the walls.

All of these mold tests have special features but can be used at all mold inspections together if needed.  The Darien home inspection had what we call visible moisture that we found with our Fluke Thermal imager and Tramex moisture meter.  This gave us evidence to suggest to our client to get bio tape tests to identify what type of mold is present.

My clients from the Darien home inspection were concerned with the cost of a mold inspection.  We price our mold inspections by the amount of  cartridges we have to use thus send to the lab.  A standard air mold test is $179.00.  You can get the 2 air samples and 1 bio tape mold test for $285.00.

Mold is not something you want to play with because mold can effect your structural integrity of your home, cosmetic looks of your home and possible health issues for the occupants of the home.  I explained to my client from the Darien home inspection that mold inspections can save you money with construction costs and possible medical bills.

As you can see it is really up to you what you want to do.  If you think you have mold in your home and have more questions about how to precede then please contact  me at ~ The Mold Man or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke


  As most of you know I’m known as The Thermal Home inspector.  When we sent out an email confirmation for a thermal home inspection in Winnetka I received a call from the buyers real estate agent wanting to know what a thermal home inspection is.  Many agents are afraid of our Fluke thermal imager until the see what it does for their clients.  I named myself The Thermal Home Inspector because ALL of my home inspections come with thermal imaging.  Thermal imaging with Pinnacle Property Inspection Services, Inc. is complimentary to all of my clients.  I believe a home inspection without thermal imaging is like driving blindfold.  Some home inspectors say its not needed!  Really?  That’s what people said about cell phones, internet, television, radio, electric and so on.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  Even if your home inspector charges extra for the use of their Fluke thermal imager for thermal scanning its worth the charge.  In this article I’ll give the major components we used the Fluke thermal imager on at the Winnetka home Inspection.

  • Exterior walls are scanned to see if their are any water penetration issues from flashing’s, siding materials, roofing, chimneys, windows, doors, light fixtures, electrical fixtures and bathroom vent penetrations.  If we see an abnormality we qualify the area with the use of a Tramex moisture meter.  The Winnetka home inspector did come up positive with water issues on the exterior of the home do to issues with flashing’s.  This is highly probable with older homes that are not maintained properly.
  • Plumbing walls, ceilings and floors are areas that we scan on are standard home inspection.  These areas are known to have water penetrations from loose floor toilet connects, leaking wax rings, leaking p traps from sinks and poor caulking around tubs and showers.  If you have a tile shower base we are scan the floor below this base to make sure it was installed properly.  All of these areas are definitely areas with possible intrusions. 
  • Electrical breaker boxes are scanned after every light fixture is turned on for 1 hour to optimize our testing capabilities.  we are looking for overheated breakers that can cause fires if not found.  To the naked eye you would not know this


  • Flat roofs are scanned at night and are qualified with the use of Tramex roof scanner to assure that we really do have water in the roof.
  • Basement finished walls are scanned to see if their is any foundation leaks. If heavy rains happened prior to our home inspection then the chances of water entry documented with our Fluke Thermal imager is very high.  This was another issue that was found at the Winnetka home inspection

These are just a few of the areas that we use our Fluke Thermal imager to do thermal imaging while performing a home inspection.  When you hire The Thermal Home Inspector for your home inspection you will see why it is worth every penny for the knowledge of what is really wrong with your home.  In the future every home inspector will carry a thermal imager for his or her inspections or he will be out of business!

Thermal imagers are the only way to go when having your home inspected.  If you have questions about thermal imaging then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

Water issues in a home can go unnoticed for long periods of time.  Especially in the winter months in the Midwest when temperatures rarely go above freezing.  I recently was hired for a foreclosure home inspection in Morton Grove, Illinois.  As you know from my past articles that foreclosure home inspections can deliver large cost to cure inspection reports.  As I have said before, no one really cares about the home you are looking to purchase.  The old home owners were basically asked to leave and the bank just wants to get the property off of its books without spending anymore money on it.

One of the major issues I found at the Morton Grove home inspection was water issues that derived from limestone lintels around the windows that were not sealed properly and back pitched allowing water to enter into the building components of the home.  The question that my clients from the Morton Grove home inspection had was “how do we fix it?”.  The first thing is to know that you have the water issue from the window lintels.  The only way I can find these type of issues is with the use of my Fluke Thermal Imager and Tramex moisture meter.  The Fluke thermal imager finds the problem and the Tramex moisture meter verifies that it truly is a water intrusion.  When you do find and verify that you do have water intrusion issues then you will need the repair methods which are below.

  • Window silicone is your friend.  The use of silicone is a must but the temperature must be above freezing for this method to work.  This is the best remedy in my mind and the most cost efficient.  This is exactly what I advise my clients from the Morton Grove home inspection to do to prevent further water issues.  The window flashing’s and lintels should be water tight to prevent water penetration at all areas around the window.
  • Back pitched limestone lintels or rusted lintels can be repaired or replaced by can be very expensive.  If you are on a fixed buget  but still need the water issues eliminated then I suggest using silicone and understand that these repairs are only temporary until the lintels  can be repaired or replaced.  This is a very expensive repair and just be bid out buy multiple masonry contractors.
  • Missing motar around windows or cracks in the brickwork are generally from other issues that contributed to the problem and will need to be repaired on their own. The issue at hand is that of the water penetration and should be treated with urgency to prevent possible mildew growth or even worse mold growth.  The missing mortar and/ or cracked bricks will need to be repaired by a masonry contractor as soon as possible.

As you can see window flashing’s and lintels can allow water to enter your home and cause damage to the building components.  These issues will need to be rectified as soon as possible to prevent further issues to your home.  If you have questions about leaking window flashing’s and lintels then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

If you are shopping for a home or already own a home I’m almost positive that you are not going into the attic.  I definitely think you should and take a tape measure or yard stick with you.  This article will deliver reasons why you want to maximize your insulation depth otherwise known as the “R – value” of a home.  The attic of a home is an area that you can increase your insulation depth reasonably cheap.  The Mundelein home inspection I performed had an insulation depth that I considered under depth and would require a repair replacement cost for my clients.  I like to see at least 12″ of insulation in an attic or R-38.  The building code in Illinois is 16″ or R-49.  When we build homes, we install R-60 which is 19″.  As most of you know, I’m a home inspector in Illinois and we are in one of the colder regions that requires more insulation depth.  I’ll explain the different types of insulation and why you might want to use one over the other.

  • Rolled fiberglass by Owen is a great product that I would use as a bottom layer in an attic, walls, in crawl spaces, sill plate areas, basement walls.  The rolled fiberglass product has a vapor barrier and is a great product in areas that moisture may enter.  This would be your whole home.  It is a great product when building a home, but is cumbersome when trying to use it in attics after the home is built.  Getting the bales of rolled fiberglass into the attic can be time consuming.
  • Blown in fiberglass is my favorite product for do it your selfers.   This product is easy to use and can be installed easily on a Sunday afternoon.  The cost of this product is about $1.00 a square ft. per 9″ of purchase material.  Most contractors will charge you $2.25 a square ft installed.  This product has an easy clean up and easy delivery into attics.  This blown in insulation is installed by a 2″ line that is connected to a pumping system that it services on the exterior of the home while the material is being installed by a worker in the attic.  This is the product that I suggested my clients from the Mundelein home inspection use in their attic for energy saving.
  • Styrofoam board is a great product that can be used in basement walls against the foundation.  I suggest that this product be totally sealed to prevent moisture build up in the walls that will eventually turn into mold.  This is a great product if installed properly.  This product was used in the basement of the Mundelein home inspection and seemed to be installed properly.  There was no evidence of water or moisture issues that could be seen with my Fluke thermal imager or Tramex moisture meter.

The bottom line is insulation will save you money on your utility bills if the proper amount of insulation is installed.  The R- value equations is 1″ of insulation is equal to 3.2 of a r-value.  It has been proven that a well insulated home will reduce your heating bills in half.   This is the same information I gave my clients from the Mundelein home inspection.

If you are still unsure of how the r-value of insulation is conceived, then please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke