Health Risks Associated With Asbestos Insulation

Health Risks Associated With Asbestos InsulationBefore its negative health effects were widely understood, asbestos was a common feature of building materials such as tile and insulation throughout much of the 20th century. Fortunately, when left undisturbed, the health risks associated with asbestos insulation are fairly negligible. If you are buying an older home, however, it’s important to have an asbestos inspection conducted before you do any renovating or remodeling.

There are a number of different health issues associated with asbestos exposure.

If you inhale airborne asbestos fibers, they can land in the lower regions of your lungs and cause asbestosis, which is a fibrotic lung disease that can impact your respiratory function and even lead to death. Asbestos fiber inhalation can also increase your risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Frequent asbestos exposure can even lead to cardiomegaly, a condition in which the heart is enlarged.

Fortunately, there’s a simple step that you can take to avoid asbestos-related health issues.

Prior to moving into an older home, ask your home inspector to conduct a thorough asbestos inspection. If the inspector does find asbestos, you should ask the seller to have it removed completely prior to closing. The last thing you want to do is have to pay for asbestos remediation after you’ve already moved into the home.

At First Choice Inspectors, our professional asbestos inspection services can give you the peace of mind of knowing that your new home is safe and free of asbestos-based building materials. Give us a call or contact us online today to learn more.

Things to Check Before You Turn on Your Furnace This Season

Things to Check Before You Turn on Your Furnace This SeasonIt’s starting to get cold outside, and that means that it won’t be long before you’re depending on your furnace to keep your home’s interior warm and comfortable. Heating a home for several months can put your furnace under quite a bit of stress, so there are a few things you should double check before you turn it on to ensure it functions effectively.

Have you cleared everything away from the furnace?

Over the course of the summer, items can build up on and around your furnace. From cleaning rags to children’s toys and other household items that you don’t have room for elsewhere, it’s easy to allow stuff to pile up near your furnace. Before you turn your furnace on, move these items away and make sure it has plenty of clearance to allow for proper airflow. If left unchecked, these stray items can constitute a fire hazard as well.

Have you replaced your furnace filter?

Your furnace filter cleans the air that circulates through your furnace and HVAC system. This filter can pretty filthy over time, and when it does, it will reduce the efficiency of your furnace. It will also allow dust, germs and other pollutants to become airborne in your home. This can have a detrimental effect on your air quality, and even make you and your family sick. Make sure you have a fresh filter to start the season off right.

Have you had your furnace inspected recently?

If you have a fairly new furnace, you might be able to get away without having a furnace inspection. Generally speaking, however, you should have your furnace inspected at least once a year. This will allow you to deal with any potential technical issues and keep your furnace up and running all winter long.

Buying a New Home? Be Sure to Get a Radon Inspection First!

Buying a New Home? Be Sure to Get a Radon Inspection First!There are plenty of things to check off your to-do list before you buy a new home. One thing that many homebuyers neglect to do, however, is get a radon inspection before they move in. It can be easy to forget, but radon inspections are very important, particularly if you live in an area that’s prone to radon exposure.

Radon is a radioactive gas that forms when the uranium in soil and rock decays naturally over time. It comes up through the soil, and eventually makes its way into the atmosphere. When houses are built on soil with radon content, the gas can permeate the homes’ foundations and cause serious health problems for local residents. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America. It’s also odorless and colorless, which makes it impossible to detect without a professional inspection.

Before you buy a home, you should ask a home inspector to conduct a radon inspection.

Radon inspections are very simple, but they are also very important to the health of you and your family. If radon is detected, a ventilation system can be installed to divert the gas away from your home. Any cracks in the home’s foundation can also be sealed to prevent radon from permeating the home in the future.  

Are you concerned about the presence of radon in your home? At First Choice Inspectors, we can conduct a comprehensive radon inspection to put your mind at ease. Contact us online or give us a call today to schedule an appointment.

Common Sources of Asbestos in Old Homes

Common Sources of Asbestos in Old Homes Owning a home is a great responsibility. From purchasing to reconstruction, you have total control over the home-owning process. One thing you don’t have control over, unfortunately, is where asbestos might be hiding in your home, especially if it was constructed before 1975. Here are four areas where you might find asbestos in an old home.

Look Up

Asbestos was a common feature of old ceiling tiles and roof shingles, so look up! Asbestos becomes a safety hazard when it’s made airborne, and ceiling fans may move asbestos dust around without your knowledge. If your ceilings are in rough shape, asbestos fibers can come loose and contaminate the air in your home.

Check Your Pipes

Asbestos dust can also become airborne when old asbestos insulation around boilers and pipes begins to break down. Transite pipes, which were used extensively in water distribution systems during the mid-1900s, also contain asbestos cement. If these pipes aren’t replaced before the cement starts to break down, they may release asbestos fibers into your drinking water.

Tread Lightly

Are you thinking about replacing old floor tiles? Try to find out when the tiles were installed first. Asbestos tiling was extremely popular from the 1920 to the 1960s, and you can even find them in homes built as recently as the 1980s. If you suspect you might have asbestos floor tiles in your home, consult a professional home inspector before replacing them.

Walls

Before you decide to tear that ghastly 70s-style kitchen wall out, find out what it’s made of. Many older homes were constructed with fire-resistant sheets, which, when drilled or demolished, can release asbestos into your home.

 

The only way to know for certain whether your old home contains asbestos material is to have it examined by a professional home inspector. Give yourself some peace of mind, and schedule an inspection with one of our certified and trustworthy professionals today. 

Health Risks Associated With Household Mold

Health Risks Associated With Household Mold

If you have mold in your home, especially certain types of black mold, it’s important to have it removed as soon as possible to avoid potential adverse health effects. Mold can grow on walls, in carpeting, inside of insulation and on floors that have been exposed to moisture. A mold colony can start to grow within just days of exposure to moisture, and if you don’t catch it early, it can spread very quickly and create problems for you and your family.

While everyone reacts to mold exposure a little bit differently, most people will, at the very least, show some signs of mold-related symptoms when they are exposed to it. These symptoms often include nasal blockage, coughing, itchy eyes, wheezing and irritation to the skin in some cases. But there are also more severe reactions that can affect people with mold allergies and certain lung diseases. These people can end up with severe lung infections if the ongoing mold exposure goes unchecked.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can prevent mold from growing in your home by keeping humidity levels as low as possible. You can also reduce the likelihood of mold growth by fixing leaky plumbing fixtures and cleaning up immediately in the aftermath of a flooded basement, bathroom or kitchen. Additionally, proper ventilation in your home and attic can prevent excessive moisture buildup which often leads to mold growth. It only takes a small amount of mold to cause adverse health effects, so treating your home for mold as soon as you spot it is of the utmost importance.

In some cases, it can be difficult for homeowners to detect the presence of mold. If you’re planning on buying or selling a home, or if you suspect that you might have mold in your current home, First Choice Inspections can find out for sure. We offer mold and mildew inspections, and if we do find mold growth we can direct you to a mold remediation service to help you get rid of it once and for all.

Give us a call at (773) 429-9711 today to learn more.

It Time to Replace Your Old Water Heater?

It Time to Replace Your Old Water Heater?If you have a hot water heater that is more than 10 years old, it’s probably time for you to think about replacing it. Your typical tank water heater is only meant to last for about a decade, and while you might get a little bit more life out of it than that, you should be prepared for a water heater replacement once your water heater turns 10. There are also a few other signs that will tell you it’s time to replace your old water heater. Check them out below.

Your water heater is delivering rusty water to your home.

Have you noticed that the hot water in your home has a rusty color to it? This may be the result of galvanized plumbing pipes in your home, but it may also be your water heater kicking up sediment from inside the tank and sending it out into your home. You obviously don’t want to use this water for an extended period of time, so if you start to notice it on a daily basis, you should start checking out new water heaters.

Your water heater is making strange sounds.

The sediment in your old water heater can do more than just cause rusty water. It can also cause loud banging sounds inside the tank. This happens when the sediment is heated up over and over again, which causes it to harden. These sounds are not going to go away, so you should not ignore them. Rather, you should take it as a sign that it’s time to look at new water heaters.

Your water heater is leaking.

When your water heater fails completely, it will usually start leaking all over the place. This is a pretty obvious sign that you will not be able to use your water heater anymore. Even if it’s just a small leak, it means your water heater is on the verge of becoming completely unusable.

If you’re in the process of purchasing a new home, you should have it inspected for potential problems, like an old water heater that will need to be replaced soon. First Choice Inspectors can provide you with a quality home inspection and identify these areas of concern before you buy. Give us a call at (773) 429-9711 today to schedule an inspection.

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.