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

Jim Kolke Thermal Home Inspector

Mold in an attic can be a harmful issue if not corrected

It’s been a busy year but I’ve afforded time to start blogging about what has occurred this year while performing home inspection in Wilmette Illinois and other cities in the Chicago land area.  Many of the home inspections that I perform deliver less than favorable results to my clients.  Some of the worst issues that come up on home inspections are ~  mold in attics, cracks in foundations, high radon levels, damaged roofs that will require replacement and old furnaces and air conditioners that will require replacement.  These issues area probably some of the more expensive items that may require replacement at  a potential home inspection.

Unfortunately, while performing a home inspection in Wilmette on a foreclosure property all of these issues were named in the inspection report which caused my client to cancel the contract.  This happened to be the 2nd home inspection for my clients at a cost of $625.00 per home inspection.  I was frustrated for my clients because I know money does not grow on trees.  I discounted the service fee (which I never do) because they were first time buyers and they did not know what to look for when looking at homes.  This article will touch on some of the major items that could be found in your potential home inspection.  Before you submit an offer please look at the areas below to prevent loss of funds to perform a home inspection.

  • Mold in attics ~ Mold in attics is more common than most people may think.  If you are driving around looking at homes a step stool may worth putting in your trunk with a flashlight to look in attics to see if mold may be an issue in a home you are interested in.  Mold can become an issue in attics from bathroom fans being vented into the attic and poor ventilation.  You might be able to see if the bathrooms are vented to the attic while looking into the attic.  Mold removal can be very expensive depending on how much mold is found.  This happened to be one of the major issues at the Wilmette home inspection I performed.
  • Cracks in foundations ~ Cracks in foundations generally occur due to poor grading around the homes foundation or the lack of leaders.  If the basement is unfinished then take your flashlight and walk the perimeter of the basements foundation and see if there any cracks.  Not every home will allow the luxury of inspecting the foundation due to the basement being finished.  The home inspection I performed in Wilmette had 6 cracks in the foundation that would require epoxy injection.  Epoxy injection repairs generally cost $400.00 per crack and as you can see can add up very quickly.
  • Radon levels ~ A radon level above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) is the EPA’s recommended level for action.  This basically means that a radon mitigation system will be needed to be installed into the homes foundation to lower the levels.  Radon mitigation systems can cost up to $3000.00 for complex systems.
  • Damaged roofs ~ before walking into your possible dream home take a look at the roof and see if the shingles seem wavy or cracked.  If this is what you see then the chances are you may need a new roof.  Roofs may cost up to $20,000.00 depending on how large the home is and should be built into your offer price for the property.
  • Old furnaces and old air conditioners may require replacement ~ Check the tags on the furnace and the air conditioner to determine the age of the units.  If the units are older than 20 years then you should plan on replacing these items while presenting your offer.  This was another issue that did make the report for the clients at the Wilmette home inspection.  Furnaces and air conditioners can cost $3000.00 and up depending on large the unit is and how many you may require.

As you can see these are real dollar issues that can “make or break or break a deal” very quickly.  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 questions please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 847-251-1186.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

~Jim Kolke~

If you have been watching the news, then you will know that in Chicago we recently had micro tornado’s pass through our area.  There were winds that topped out at 100 miles per hour.  These winds forced a large branch from a tree that was over hanging over a home in Wilmette, Illinois.  The home that I am speaking about was a home inspection in Wilmette, I was hired to inspect.  The biggest concern I had for my client was that the tree was not owned by the home that the damage was done on.  This is a big concern these days because of all the wind and rain storms we been having of late.

My client was not concerned about the damage to the home because it was going to be fixed prior to his closing.  His concern was what to do to prohibit future issues like this happening.

As you know I am not an attorney, but I will speak with some basic common sense.  If you see that there is a possible issue that may cause damage to your home, then I would think that the prudent thing to do is to eliminate that possible issue from causing damage to the property.  The damage to the Wilmette home inspection would not have happened if there was no branch hanging over the home to fall on it.

I know from personal experiences that some insurance companies will not insure homes with tree limbs hanging over the home.  Trees planted to close to homes also are frowned on because they also can either fall on the home in a large storm or cause damage to the foundation  and sewer waste piping.

How much will it cost to remove a branch over a home? Was the question from my client from the Wilmette home inspection.  The proper answer is hard because pricing for tree or branch removal can vary greatly depending on multiple factors.

  • The height of the tree can add cost to the removal of the branch or tree.
  • How close to the structure is the tree or branch?  The more dangerous or possible chance for damage to the home will raise the time it takes to remove the tree will increase the price.
  • Is the tree in good condition?  If the tree had a disease that will make it difficult to remove then plan on a higher removal cost.

As you can see, there are many issues that can determine the price of your tree branch removal.  The tree branch issues at the Wilmette home inspection was priced out at $1700.00 and the neighbor who owned the tree was splitting the cost with the property I inspected.

Trees and the landscaping of a home should be a major part of any home inspection process and should definitely be documented.  If you have any questions about what to look for with trees hanging over your home, please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

Does your home have a whole house humidifier on your furnace?  If you do then you should read this article.  I found a reservoir whole house humidifier on a furnace while performing a home inspection in Wilmette, Illinois.  Humidifiers are systems that run water through them while air from the furnace passes through to add moisture to the air.  Mold is known to breed in humidifiers along with other systems in a home. There are two types of whole house humidifiers that can be installed on a furnace supply duct.

  • Pad filtered whole house humidifiers allow the bypass of warm air through the filter of the humidifier which attracts moisture to the warm air.  This air is circulated throughout the home through the duct system of the home.  These types of whole house humidifiers are not known to have high counts of mold.
  • Reservoir whole house humidifiers have water in the bottom of the humidifier where a fan turns with filters on it.  The warm air passes through the filters and the moisture is added to the warm air.  These whole house humidifiers are known to breed mold because of the standing water in the unit.

Both of these types of whole house humidifiers are good for the purpose they are intended for.  They both should be cleaned with dish soap and water to clean out any possible mold growth.   These units should be cleaned annually or replaced every three years to prevent mold breeding.  If regular cleaning of the humidifier the possibility of mold in the ducts will be diminished greatly.  Replacement of a whole house humidifier should only cost $275.00.

Unfortunately, the Wilmette home inspection came up with moist air that was found with hygrometer and surface mildew that I felt that my clients should know what it was.  I suggested a mold inspection for my clients in their new home in Wilmette, Illinois.

I performed a mold air test, a swab sample mold test on the ducts from that the furnace that had a humidifier that happened to have a large amount of mold in it.  The mold inspection in Wilmette came up positive with Stachybotrys which is sometimes called “Black Mold”.  The ducts from the furnace were the area that had evidence of Stachybotrys mold in it and I suggested that the ducts be cleaned by a professional HVAC contractor that had experience with Mediation of mold in ducts.

As you can see mold can come and live anywhere in your home.  My clients from the Wilmette mold inspection were amazed that the mold would be living in the humidifier and contaminate the ducts and rest of the home when in use.  If you have questions about mold and where it can live please contact me at ~ The Mold Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke 

As you know, the home sales have been meager in the last few years.  Many of the part time home inspectors have disappeared from the industry. Those that have stayed are well behind the times with their technology, marketing, reporting and knowledge of construction.  There are home inspectors that I know for a fact that have never wore a pair of work boots and/or stepped on a construction job site!  It’s like hiring a baker that has never baked in his life, but read the book!  Do you see where I’m going with this?  The state of Illinois says you must be licensed to be a home inspector.  Home inspection companies do not have to carry errors and omission insurance or carry liability insurance.  No rules for that?  There are no rules that you must have prior construction history.  No I do not mean reading a book or painting a fence, working on cars, cleaning your house, or a weekend warrior job.  These things do not make you credible as a home inspector in my mind!  So I developed this list to protect the possible home and condo buyers from the people who call themselves home inspectors, but do not have the so called credibility for the title.

  • What kind of construction have you done in your life time and for how many years?
  • What is the company that supplies your errors and omission insurance?
  • Do you have general liability insurance and where is it from, so you can check to see if it is current?
  • What kind of tools do you use when you do a home inspection?
  • Do you use a Thermal imager?
  • How is your report delivered?

As most of you know, I am from Wilmette Illinois and have been a pillar in the building community for many years.  I started doing home inspections in Wilmette for friends that wanted a builder to assist them before there was licensing in the business.  Recently, I performed a Wilmette home inspection and I heard that a home inspector flooded out a home in Wilmette and the buyers and realtor were going to be liable for the damages because the home inspector was not insured.  Better yet not even licensed!  This angers me to no end that these types of home inspectors are still in business.

If you are a buyer or seller of a home and have questions on what to ask your possible home inspector then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke