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~

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



In this economical market everyone is trying to save money every way possible.  I find that many home owners try to maneuver their thermostat with double digit movements.

I recently met a couple that hired me to inspect their new home in Wilmette, Illinois.  The home boasted 3 floors with two split heating and cooling systems.  A split system is a heating and cooling system with an exterior cooling system.  This is standard in newer homes.  Generally, the compressor is the part of a cooling system that is on the outside of the home and the “a-coil” is the portion above the furnace in a plenum. To heat and cool a home of the size I was inspecting in Wilmette, you would most definitely need two heating systems and two cooling systems.

I overheard my clients from the Wilmette home inspection explaining to each other how they were going to keep the thermostat very low when they were not home and turn it up when they came home.  I explained to them that their gas and electric bills would be 50% higher due to this vast movement in temperature.

You can adjust your thermostat up to 5 degrees and not see much of a change in your utility bills.  When you increase these temperature spreads the furnace or air conditioner must run longer to catch up to the new desired temperature.  Example- If you keep your thermostat at 70 degrees during the day when you are home and at night when you are sleeping you set the thermostat to 60 degrees your heating/cooling system will need to run for at least 1-2 hours to catch up.  If this is done daily the costs can be compounded.

My clients from the Wilmette home inspection thought the complete opposite, as do most people.  I also advised having your heating /cooling system evaluated by a heating contractor annually.  This generally costs $99.00 depending on where you live.  You can see other repair prices at home inspection repair prices.

As you now can see, maneuvering your thermostat takes some finesse when trying to save some money on your utility bills.  Keep your thermostat movement to no more than 5 degrees and you will save money in the big picture.  If you have further questions, contact me at Wilmette home inspector.

·         Thanks for stopping by and get saving your money.  Jim Kolke