PinnacleRecently while performing a home inspection in Winnetka we uncovered minor cracks in the stucco exterior that did not look to be an issue for the siding system to the eye.  The cracks on this newer built home in Winnetka most likely were caused by missing control  joints that are installed the stucco system to assure that if the rigid wall stucco system requires movement the stucco will not crack and cause costly repairs to be required.   The missing control joints on the stucco system was just the beginning of the issues on the stucco wall system that were causing cracks to develop in the finish coat of the stucco.  The stucco system also requires that all connections to the wall system are sealed to assure that water entry does not occur and cause additional cracks to develop in the future.  The stucco system has missing flashing systems that are required to be installed on the top areas of the windows and door trim to prevent wood rot on the window and door trim from occurring that can lead to water entry in the walls system of the Winnetka home inspection.  wood rot on the trim of windows and doors can allow water entry in the stucco wall system and can develop into shifting of the stucco system in the long term of the homes wall system.   The next item all home inspectors should look for is that the stucco wall system has an air gap.  An air gap is an area where there is a separation of the stucco to the ground, roofing system or any other system that can allow water to collect and cause damage to occur on the stucco system in the future.


As you can see the word “water” is used very commonly in this blog article because water entry in any wall system can cause issues with mold or mildew that can be very costly to repair if water has occurred.  The property that was part of the Winnetka home inspection did have issues with moisture entry and did require a further inspection methods.    Further stucco inspection methods may be required.  Permission from sellers of the home may be required because these tests are invasive type tests that can damage the siding and should not be performed on any home during a home inspection without the explicit permission of the sellers or the seller’s agent in writing.


If you are a home owner or a home buyer that has further questions about stucco wall systems and how we inspect them please contact us @ or 847-251-1186.

Thanks for stopping by-  The Thermal Home Inspector

Jim Kolke 

Loose toiletRecently while performing a Winnetka home inspection, we found that 1 of the 6 bathroom toilets were loose at the floor connection.  Loose toilet connections are prone to allow water to flow from the wax ring connection.  Loose toilet floor connections or loose closet bolts are a common issue while performing home inspections.  A wax ring is installed in the area between the toilet and the floor.  The toilet is secured with bolts that are called closet bolts.  These bolts can become loose and cause the toilet to move like what was seen during the Winnetka home inspection.  I have seen loose toilets cause thousands of dollars of water damage that sometimes cannot be seen due to homeowners not using the area below the loose toilet.    Most homeowners do not go into the basement on a regular basis especially when the laundry is on the 1st floor or the 2nd floor of the home.  If a loose toilet is found in the powder room bathroom on the 1st floor, there is a potential issue with water from the powder room toilet from leaking between the toilets to floor connection causing water damage below in the finished or unfinished areas of the basement.

At Pinnacle Property Inspection Services we tape the seats of the toilet to the toilet with a note explaining to the seller and the seller’s real estate agent that the toilet has movement and may leak now or in the near future.  Like I explained before, loose toilets can cause costly repairs.  Two days after the Winnetka home inspection, I received a phone call from the selling real estate agent that her client and herself were appalled that we tapped the toilet seat to the toilet.  This blog was designed to inform buyers and sellers why it is so important to cease use of loose toilets to assure that damage does not occur in your new or existing home.

As you probably can guess, the sellers of the home did continue using the loose toilet in the powder room in the 1st floor of the Winnetka home inspection.  Luckily for the buyers, we took hundreds of pictures of the home to assure quality of the home will be the same from the day of the home inspection to the day of the closing of the home.  There were multiple pictures verifying the basement did not have water damage under the loose toilet in the powder room.  My clients from the Winnetka home inspection closed on the home and after 2 days noticed urine smell in the basement that was noted directly below the powder room.  As part of the selling agreement, the sellers agreed to fix the loose toilet from a “licensed plumber” prior to closing.  The sellers caulked around the floor to toilet connection which caused the water to leak under the toilet in the basement instead of on the floor in the powder room.  The concern now is mildew, mold and human excrement on the walls and ceiling of the basement may pose health issues.  The cost of all of these repairs will be in the thousands which all could have been avoided if the sellers and the seller’s real estate agent were forthcoming.

Loose toilet connections in any bathroom should be repaired immediately to assure that damage does not occur like what was seen in the Winnetka home inspection.  If you have any questions about this issue please contact me at 312-961-4228 or

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

The Thermal Home Inspector


  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


We are based in the North Shore which comprises many older villages. Winnetka along with others is where we inspect alot of older homes.  While performing a home inspection in Winnetka, Illinois I noticed that the basement floor drain was backing up.  The issue was that it didn’t rain that week!  I informed the client that a sewer rodding may be needed.

To investigate this, I ran the water in one of the bathrooms at the home inspection in Winnetka.  The water ran down the sewer with no issues. This is generally an odd result, but in older homes their could be multiple sewer mains going to the street. I decided to run every faucet in the home at the same time to check that their was not the issue at this home inspection in Winnetka.

There were no issues with the waste system, except for the floor drain in the basement.  The level of water in the drain did not change with all the water I added. That meant only one thing!  French drain.  This home has a french drain that had been compromised with a blockage in the pipe.

A french drain is a drain that takes water and leads it to the exterior of the property and released it on the property grounds.  This practice is only used with rain water now ,but used to be used with floor drains within the home 80 years ago.

At the home inspection in Winnetka we suggested that a plumbing contractor  be hired to evaluate the condition of the french drain.  Generally, I would advise that the french drain be abandoned and an ejector pit be installed.  This repair could be costly though.

If you have issues similar to this and need help identifying the problem contact us at-