Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. Unfortunately, this investment can potentially have a lot of issues, which is why having a home inspection performed by a qualified and detailed Home Inspector is so important.
But what should your Home Inspector look for? What inspections should you elect to have performed? For answers to these important questions, we went to Jim Brownell of Clearview Inspections!
Mold, most often caused by long term moisture issues, can cause additional damage and even affect your health!
A Home Inspector should inspect the entire home for signs of water damage or mold contamination. While mold is most commonly found in attics and basements, it can result from any leak, no matter how small, which means it can be found hiding in wall cavities, under floors, and above ceilings!
Jim explains: "While mold can sometimes be easily seen, most of the time, mold is hiding behind walls or in any enclosed space or opening in the homes construction. A lot of times, during a routine home inspection, a smell is detected in a finished basement, which leads to further investigation. Come to find out, the foundation has an undetected water intrusion issue, which over time, has caused a significant mold problem in the home. Don’t take a chance with mold, it can harm your home as well as your health. At Clearview Inspections, we have the ability to take air samples, surface swab samples, as well as air samples from wall or floor cavities. Whether buying a home, or suspecting a mold issue in your existing home, it is important to find out exactly what lays hidden."
Cracks in your foundation can be indicators of potentially serious issues.
During the home inspection, your Home Inspector will look at your home’s foundation for any signs of damage such as cracking or settling. In addition to potentially allowing your home to settle or shift, foundation issues can allow moisture to enter your home and cause further additional damage.
Jim says: "The foundation is the literal backbone of your home. Without a strong foundation, the home would crumble. During an inspection, we go over every inch of visible foundation to ensure your home is sitting strong. We also check interior features of your home which could indicate foundation issues, from sloping floors to windows and doors that won’t easily open or close."
Electrical that is improper, damaged, or no longer to code, could cause a fire!
In northeastern PA, we have a lot of older homes, which means we have a lot of older wiring. It’s possible to still find knob & tube wiring in homes today! Your Home Inspector will look for old wiring that is no longer to code, wiring that may be improper or unsafe, or electrical that may no longer be adequate to current electric needs.
Jim stresses the importance of a thorough electrical inspection: "Even newer homes can have electrical system issues. More commonly though, older homes with older wiring methods such as “knob-and-tube” and cloth wiring can present safety and fire hazards. We thoroughly go through the homes electrical system, checking for adequate grounding, presence of GFCI and AFCI receptacles, and proper main panel installation."
Plumbing issues could result in leaks and water damage if not addressed quickly.
Small leaks in supply or drain lines can result in serious water damage and mold contamination. During their inspection, your Home Inspector will look for signs of plumbing leaks and improper work that may result in future issues.
While often overlooked, Jim explains: "From Polybutylene supply lines to PVC hot water supply lines, the plumbing system can contain a number of issues not found during a walk-through. Starting at the water meter and ending at the toilet, main clean-out, and septic system, we inspect every inch of visible plumbing to ensure your homes plumbing system is in working order."
Asbestos was used in many building materials, such as pipe insulation and flooring!
Your Home Inspector will look for building materials that commonly contained Asbestos, particularly materials that are in poor condition. If your Home Inspector identifies building materials that they believe contain Asbestos, they may recommend testing, or a professional evaluation from an Asbestos Abatement professional such as Disaster Blaster.
Jim says: "A lot of times, I run across asbestos in the home. Whether it be ceiling tiles, vermiculite insulation, old pipe insulation, or even flooring panels, asbestos can be hard to detect unless you know what to look for. A big problem with old asbestos, is sometimes a DIY'er homeowner will start a renovation project and unknowingly disturb the asbestos, which then makes it an inhalation hazard. This is why it's very important to have a licensed Asbestos Abatement Contractor remove it properly."
The second leading cause of lung cancer, Radon is invisible, odorless, and tasteless!
Because Radon is undetectable by any of our senses, specialized testing is required to determine if your home has a Radon issue. Being extremely common in Northeastern PA, many Home Inspectors are licensed by the State of Pennsylvania to perform Radon testing and regularly provide this service during home inspections. We strongly encourage homeowners and potential homeowners to elect to have Radon testing performed. If test results show a high Radon level in your home, a licensed Radon Mitigation Company, such as Disaster Blaster, can install a Radon Mitigation System to address this issue.
Radon is not an issue to take lightly. Jim says: "At Clearview Inspections, we perform Radon testing using CRM’s (Continuous Radon Monitors). We set the machine for at least 48-hours, and get the EPA Average from the 48 hour levels. Radon is odorless, colorless, and unpredictable in regional presence. It is important to have a proper Radon test performed by a professional prior to purchasing a home to ensure a safe environment."
Insects / Pests
Termites, mice, and bats are only some of the pests that your Home Inspector will look for signs of.
Termites and other pests can leave a lasting impact on your home. From deteriorating supports and structural members, to holes that can allow the moisture and rain to enter your home, many of these issues may not be noticeable without a detailed investigation. Your Home Inspector will look for signs of pest intrusion and damage so that you are aware of any issues that may exist.
Pests can create a lot of issues for home buyers. Jim recommends: "Our WDO (Wood Destroying Organism) inspection, which is standard in all home inspections, detects the presence of live insects, insect parts, insect damage, insect tunnels, and prior treatment. Over time, WDO’s can pose significant hazards to the structural integrity of your home."
Damaged shingles, roof leaks, and age can lead to some costly repairs in the future if not caught during the inspection.
Your Home Inspector should get up on your roof to look for signs of damage, improper work, or age related issues that can allow rain and moisture into your home. Your roof is your first line of defense to the elements, and it’s important that it’s in good condition.
It's extremely important to check the roof that's going to be over your head. Jim says: "Ahhh….the roof. Besides the foundation, the roof comes in a close second in terms of importance to the homes overall health. A home inspection should include a thorough examination of the roof coverings and supporting structure. I can’t tell you how many times a slow leak is discovered in an attic, that was otherwise unnoticed. Unnoticed for years, with no evidence of the leak anywhere in the home except a small area in the back corner of the attic."
Heating System / HVAC
Problems with the heating system or furnace can be expensive and inconvenient.
Your heating system is one of the more expensive components of your home, so it’s important for your Home Inspector to ensure that it is in good working order and well maintained. During your home inspection, your Home Inspector should start up the heating system to ensure that it’s operational and working properly.
The costs of fixing issues with your heating system can be high. Jim explains: "The heating and air conditioning system can be one of the most costly components to replace in your home. At Clearview Inspections, we inspect every aspect of your homes heating and A/C system. We report the age, capacity, life expectancy, and overall condition of the system."
Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors should be checked to ensure they are in working order.
Recognizing the importance of Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors, your Home Inspector will test them to make sure that they are in place and operational. Unfortunately, many homes still don’t have Smoke & CO Detectors, enough smoke detectors, or smoke detectors in the right locations. Your Home Inspector will review the smoke detectors in the property (if any) and make recommendations as to how many and where smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors should be placed.
Functioning safety features such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are extremely important. Jim says: "We don’t like to think of fires or carbon monoxide incidents happening in our home, but if they do, it is important to have adequate ways of alerting us. It is recommended to have an adequate number of smoke detectors placed outside of all sleeping areas, as well as basements, garages, kitchens, and all living areas. During a home inspection, we check for the presence or absence of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and add them into your completed report."
We hope this information was helpful to you, and would like to thank Jim Brownell of Clearview Inspections for sharing his knowledge and expertise!
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As you can see, a proper home inspection includes everything from the roof to the foundation, and everything in between. Buying a home is the single biggest purchase that most people will make in their lifetimes. With a home inspection from Clearview Inspections, you get a same-day report with plenty of pictures, a thorough understanding of your new home, estimated repair costs, all backed by InterNACHI’s “Buy Back Guarantee”. We are fully insured, and DEP Certified to test for Radon in Pennsylvania. We strive to give you, the homebuyer, the most comprehensive inspection available. We introduce you to your new home and all of its components, ensuring you know exactly what you are putting your hard-earned money in to.
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