Benefits of Replacing Your Home’s Old Windows

Benefits of Replacing Your Home’s Old WindowsIf you live in an older home, chances are you’ve experienced the hassles that accompany hard to shut, drafty and dingy old windows. There are a number of great reasons to consider replacing your old windows, and they cover both aesthetic and practical concerns. Here’s our list of the top three benefits of replacing old windows.

Energy efficiency

Old windows are often comprised of a single layer of glass. The most popular contemporary window designs typically feature two panes of glass, sometimes even three depending on the level of thermal performance a homeowner is looking for. Multi-paned windows serve as more effective insulators, keeping warm air in during the winter and cool air in during the summer. This can reduce the load placed on your HVAC system, and save you a lot of money on your energy bills in the long run.

Noise control

Modern windows have also been designed to control sound distribution. That is to say, similarly to air currents, contemporary windows can keep unwanted sounds out so that the inside of your home remains quiet and comfortable. If you live in a high-traffic area that experiences a lot of road noise or construction, a new set of windows can keep all that sound to a minimum.  

Aesthetic value

Regardless of whether or not you’re planning to sell your home anytime soon, new windows can increase its market value. In addition to the increased comfort and quiet they offer, new windows enhance curb appeal and make the interior of your home look more attractive as well. By increasing the resale value of your home, new windows can be a great investment to make for the future.

Are your old windows costing you money on your monthly energy bills? A home energy audit from First Choice Inspectors can help you assess your home’s thermal performance, and make cost-effective suggestions for improvement. Get your quote today or call us at (773) 429-9711 to learn more.

Preparing Your HVAC System for Summer

But before you start using it on a regular basis, you should take the time to prepare it for the summer season. Summer is right around the corner, and you know what that means, right? It won’t be long before you are relying on your home’s HVAC system and, more specifically, your home’s air conditioner to keep your house cool. But before you start using it on a regular basis, you should take the time to prepare it for the summer season. Here are some tips for getting your A/C unit ready for warm weather.

Inspect the outdoor condenser for your A/C system.

Did you cover your condenser to protect it from the elements during the winter? If so, now is the time to remove your cover and put it away until the fall. It’s also time to inspect the panels on your condenser to make sure they are intact and free of any debris. Additionally, you should check to make sure you don’t need to repair or replace the insulation that should be wrapped around your consensus’s suction line. In general, take a look in and around the condenser to make sure it appears to be in good working order.

Take a look at the indoor air handler unit for your A/C system.

Before you start using your A/C unit at the start of the summer season, you should change your air filter. You should also make sure the coil drainage hose is set up properly and ready to carry away any condensation once your A/C is turned on. It’s also a good idea to clean dirt, dust and debris from the air vents and return grills in your home.

Turn your A/C on and make sure it works.

Once you have inspected all of your A/C equipment inside and outside of your home, you should turn your HVAC system on to make sure everything works the way it should. If you hear any unfamiliar noises coming from your A/C unit or you don’t feel any cool air coming out of your home’s vents, you could have a hidden issue within the system. It’s better to find this out now when the temperatures are still mild outside rather than waiting for the first heat wave to learn that your A/C system is broken.

Want to make sure your HVAC system is in good working order? Give us a call today at 773-429-9711 to learn more about the mechanical services we include in our professional home inspections at First Choice Inspectors.

What Problems Could Affect a Home’s Foundation?

When buying a new home, there are many things to consider. You want to find something that has enough bedrooms and bathrooms in it for your family. You also want to find something that has been updated and that matches your personal style. And then, there are things like the local school system and property taxes that you will have to think about prior to making an offer. However, before you agree to buy a home, one of the most important things you need to do is check its foundation to ensure that it’s sturdy and problem-free.

A cracked foundation is one of the worst problems that you can have as a homeowner. The structural integrity of your entire house rests upon the strength and support of the foundation, so if there is a crack anywhere in it, it needs to be addressed and fixed immediately. Nevertheless, that isn’t the only issue you might encounter with a home’s foundation. Excessive settling is also an issue for many homeowners. Just about all homes settle into the ground and sink a little bit over the years. However, there are some homes that are built on top of soil that is not meant to hold up a house, and they tend to sink more than others. It could lead to a big headache down the line for you if you are living in a home like this.

If you are in the process of buying a home, it’s important for you to work with a home inspector to gauge how healthy the foundation of the home is. You shouldn’t enter into a binding contract to buy a home until you know for a fact that the foundation is going to hold up for you. Otherwise, you might end up spending an arm and a leg over the years trying to repair your foundation.

First Choice Inspectors can take a look at the foundation of a home you are looking to buy and inspect it for any structural damage. We can also analyze the other parts of a home to point out any potential problems to you. Call us at 773-429-9711 today to schedule an appointment with one of our inspectors.

Here’s Why You Should Have an Inspection Done Before Listing Your Home

When is the last time you had your home inspected? Most likely, it has been a long time since a professional looked it over, and that’s typical. But if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, you should consider having First Choice Inspectors conduct a thorough inspection. Yes, you as the seller should get your home inspected. This is a proactive move on your part that can be used to more effectively market and sell the property. It’s like getting a “seal of approval” from an objective source. Furthermore, it allows you, the seller, to discover any problems that need repairs before they become a bone of contention in the negotiation process.

Potential buyers will feel more at peace about purchasing your home if they know it has been professionally inspected and they can read over the detailed report. The fact that you’re willing to share this information with them helps build trust.

If an inspector finds something in need of repair and you, the seller, are able to have it fixed before putting the home on the market, then you can show the potential buyer you took care of it so they wouldn’t have to– this also makes them feel better about their impending purchase. It’s better to address any problems before trying to sell a house than to have to deal with buyers nitpicking over things later on. Selling a home can be stressful, so whatever you can do to de-stress the process should be done.

Interestingly, the two main things that help sell a property are its price and condition. Therefore, it’s best to make sure the home is in its best condition before putting it up for sale. You won’t truly know how your house is “holding up” until you have a professional home inspector check it.

In the Chicago area, contact First Choice Inspectors to arrange a proper inspection.

What to Expect During Your Home Inspection

Home Inspectiion What can you expect during your home inspection? Typically your home inspector is a professional man who knows a lot about homes. He will give the home you’re interested in a thorough examination, much like a doctor checks a patient.

The inspector typically carries a clipboard with sheets of paper on it. On these pieces of paper are lists of various things found in a typical home, like the appliances in the kitchen, faucets in the bathroom, etc. The inspector goes from room to room in a house looking at things, testing them when needed. For instance, he may put a gadget into the outlet in a wall in the living room and that gadget will tell him if it’s getting electricity as it should. If it’s not, he’ll make a note of it.

Meanwhile, the inspector is likely to examine the “nooks and crannies” of the house– the basement, the attic, etc. Again, he’ll make note of what he sees, if everything is in good working order, and/or what needs fixing or replacing.

The nice thing about having a home inspection done is that you can follow the inspector along and ask questions. See that stain on the ceiling near the fireplace? The inspector can explain to you what he thinks is going on there. If it’s a big deal, you can then ask the seller to have it repaired before you buy the house. That way you’re not stuck paying for the problem!

A home inspector is an examiner who essentially gives your house a report card. Where it’s failing, improvements need to be done. In other areas, it’s fine– all’s well.

In the Chicago area, you can email info@firstchoiceinspectors.com or call 773-429-9711 to have a professional home inspector walk through the home you intend to sell or buy and then give you a detailed report of what he found. This information proves to be invaluable to people.

The Importance of Having an Inspection Done Before Buying a Foreclosed Home

Foreclosed HomesForeclosed homes can typically be bought for a “better” price than a non-foreclosed home. Think about it this way: the home, at one time, was utilized and loved. Now, however, it’s most likely owned by a bank just looking to get rid of it. This could be a very good deal for the right buyer.

Most foreclosed homes end up being unoccupied for quite some time. What happens to homes when no one’s around to maintain them? Things can go wrong. Boarded up homes don’t have air circulating through them. No one’s there to open the doors and windows frequently. Pipes can burst. Toilets can clog. Rodents can chew through wires. Holes in the roof can form, letting in water leading to ceiling damage… and the list goes on and on.

First Choice Inspectors offers a service you might consider when in the process of buying a foreclosed home. First Choice can do a foreclosed home inspection so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into before you’ve made the big purchase. You’ve heard the term “better safe than sorry,” right? This is true in this case, for sure.

Having a foreclosed home properly and professionally inspected allows a buyer to have better peace of mind than just buying the property “as is” and “hoping for the best.” An inspection lets you know if the purchase is truly a worthwhile deal or a money pit that’s not worth the headaches!

First Choice Inspectors, LLC, offers the best property inspection and house inspections in Chicago, Illinois, and its surrounding areas including Hoffman Estates. Email info@firstchoiceinspectors.com for more information about having a foreclosed home inspected before you sign on the dotted line to buy it. It’s better to know any problems with a home before you buy it than to discover them unexpectedly at inopportune times once you’re moved in and are just trying to relax after moving all your boxes and furniture and “stuff” into the new place.

 

Common Problems Caused By Poor Roof Ventilation

Roof VentsFirst Choice Inspectors see a lot of roofs in Chicago and Aurora, Illinois. As inspectors, they look for common problems caused by poor roof ventilation. So, what do they look for?

Inspectors often look at an attic to figure out how the roof ventilation of a house is working well… or not. When a roof is properly vented, the attic allows for airflow such that the air is cooled and moisture is reduced. This is a good thing. Problems occur when the ventilation isn’t working right, and the attic becomes overtly hot and moist. When this occurs, an inspector might notice mold and mildew, saggy or spongy decking, and frost or ice dam formations where they shouldn’t be.

Obviously mold is something no homeowner wants because breathing that stuff in is not good for one’s health. Furthermore, mold messes with the roof sheathing, causing it to wear down. If and when too much moisture ends up in the roof decking, guess what happens… adhesives holding the sheathing together end up dissolving. If you’ve ever walked on roof decking that seemed warped, saggy or even “spongy,” you know that’s not a good thing. Overall, this weakens the roof such that it cannot bear heavy loads as intended.

Poor roof ventilation can also be discovered if and when an inspector notices shingles that seem to be cracking or curling. He or she may look for the loss of granules on the shingles, too.

Have you ever left a car window open in the winter while the car was outside overnight? The next day you discovered that frost had formed inside the car. Imagine that happening inside your attic. When the frost melts there, where does the water go? It ends up dripping into your ceiling– not good. An inspector would want to look for places where wet, cold air could seep into a home. Maybe something as simple as a cracked attic window has been letting in “the weather outside.”

Finally, an inspector looks for ice dams. These form at the edge of the roof creating a barrier preventing water from running off the roof. Ice damming is typically the result of poor roof ventilation.

If you’re wondering if your roof is properly vented, call First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 to make an appointment for an inspection.

Should You Have an Inspection Done on a Brand New Home?

New Home Inspections If you buy a brand new home, should you have an inspection done before you buy it and/or move in? The answer is yes. Even if the builder claims the inspection might void their insurance policy or says they’re afraid someone might get hurt during the inspection, you should still have an objective third party inspect it. If you are serious about protecting your investment and taking care of the home you’re going to assume ownership of, a fresh set of eyes should take a discerning look at what has been constructed. You want to know that what you’re buying is in great condition.

No home builder is perfect. People make mistakes. Even new homes can have defects. As such, it never hurts to have another set of eyes take care a look to make sure everything is on point.

Hiring a professional inspector from First Choice Inspectors is a good idea at three key times before you buy a brand new house. First, the site should be checked prior to the pouring of the foundation. Next, it should be checked prior to the installation of insulation and drywall. Finally, it should be checked prior to the final walk-through.

Don’t be afraid to tell your builder that you want the right to have an inspector of your choice do these inspections– put it in writing as part of the sales contract so it’s clear.

A house is probably the most expensive thing you’ll ever buy, so it needs more attention than other purchases. It’s best to have First Choice Inspectors provide a watchful eye over its proper construction than to find out later that the builder cut corners to the point where pipes are leaking, the basement is flooding, and there are cracks in the walls and ceilings.

The Importance of Inspecting a Home’s Plumbing System Before Making an Offer

Plumbing SystemsBefore you buy a home you should have First Choice Inspectors check out the home’s plumbing system. After all, you’re spending the most money you’ve ever spent in your life to make the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. It’s important to check to make sure you’re getting a home in good working order, and the plumbing drains and pipes are intrinsic to that!

In general, a plumbing system is not something the average person thinks about, unless it’s not working, right? However, a plumbing inspector thinks about the plumbing system in great detail and then investigates it. For example, how does it connect to the main sewer? Can a camera be inserted along the lines to see if there are any clogs that need cleaning out? How old are the home’s pipes? Are they all connected properly?

Water heaters play an important role in daily life, providing hot showers and more. An inspector will examine your new home’s water heater to see if it’s in need of replacement or functioning just fine. Where is it located in the house? If it leaks, will it ruin your stuff? Is it the right size for your needs? Will you need a bigger one if you plan to install a giant tub, or a smaller one if you prefer taking quick showers?

Then, of course, there are the home’s toilets. Try going a day without a working toilet and you’ll know how bad that situation gets! A professional inspector checks toilets at their base to look for any leaks. You’re not likely to know if your new toilets have bad seals or aren’t properly secured to the flange, but your inspector will.

First Choice Inspectors can and will examine the physical components of your potential new home’s plumbing system. They’ll look for outdated materials that should be replaced as well as any leaks that need fixing before you take ownership of the place. Call 773-429-9711 to schedule an inspection.

Common Issues Found in Basements

Basement IssuesBasements can be great spots to hang out for movie nights, store seasonal equipment, clothing and more. However, basements can also be a little tricky to deal with when you’re a homeowner. Here are some common basement problems that you may encounter with your home.

Moisture

Moisture loves to accumulate in basements, and according to Energy Star, moisture in your basement is typically caused by either a leak or humidity. Leaks can cause localized moisture that comes and goes depending on the weather or the state of a pipe in your home, but humidity can cause moisture to form all over your basement. Long-term issues associated with moisture include structural damage, rot, mold (see below), and myriad other issues.

Cracks

Foundation cracks could be caused by poor construction, but sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to avoid cracking foundation. If you live in an area that experiences earthquakes, for example, you may deal with foundation cracks in your home at some point. Drought, hurricane, and the soil type that your home is built on can lead to foundation cracks; unfortunately, these issues are unavoidable! Soil that moves, either expansive or consolidating soil, shifts when there is moisture added to or taken away from the soil. Homes that are built on these types of soil sometimes are built to handle a bit of shifting, but extreme cases of expanding and consolidating soil are a different story.

Mold

Mold is perhaps the most dangerous and potentially hazardous issue that you could experience in your basement. If you have moisture, like we mention above, mold is likely not far behind. According to The Home Depot, mold and mildew need moisture, organic material and a cool, dark space in order to grow. Does that sound like your basement? If you start to notice a musty smell, you might be dealing with some mold growth. If people living in the home have respiratory problems, mold can seriously exacerbate their symptoms. And after a while, if it goes untreated, mold can damage the health of anyone in your home.

These three issues are common basement problems that plenty of homeowners deal with each year. The good news is, most of these issues, including foundation cracks, can be prevented by having your basement inspected regularly.

Contact us at First Choice Inspectors today to get a quote and schedule your basement inspection today!