If you are a potential homeowner that is having a home inspected this summer, you can rest easy knowing you’re in the best position. Having a home inspected during the summer allows for a home inspection expert to see if there are any issues that may have been hidden during the colder months. Whatever you are hoping to learn from a summer home inspection, you will surely be given the necessary information you need before deciding on purchasing the home.
The Home’s AC System Can Be Tested
One of the biggest perks of having a home inspected during the summer months is ensuring that the air conditioning system is working correctly. With temperatures being at their peak, you’ll get a good feel for how cool and comfortable the system will be for you. If you were to get the home inspected on a cold and snowy Chicago day, you will not have the luxury of seeing the AC running at peak capacity.
The Deck or Patio Can Be Easily Inspected
As a potential homeowner, you want to make sure all the perks of the home are up to a certain standard. When it comes to things like a finished deck, patio or even a driveway, it may be hard to give them a complete inspection during the winter months. Depending on the date of a winter inspection, the deck or patio can be covered with a layer of deep snow, hiding certain issues.
By having the home inspected during the summer months, your home inspection team will be able to see everything that is right or wrong with these parts of the home. You’ll also get a good feel for what it will be like to hang out on the deck or patio when the sun is shining!
Certain Exposure Issues Can Be Found
Another benefit of having a home inspected during the summer months is being able to see certain exposure issues. A summer home inspection allows an inspection expert to see if there are leaks in the home’s roof caused by ice and heavy snow the previous winter. A summer inspection also shows if there are condensation issues with cold water pipes in the basement due to humidity or the lack of insulation for the piping.
When you are in need of a trusted home inspection team in the Chicago, IL area this summer, we ask that you think of our team at First Choice Inspectors. Call today at 773-429-9711 for an inspection.
Do your energy bills tend to rise with the temperature? With spring here, your A/C might be working overtime soon once the summer hits to keep your house cool. The good news is, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your energy bills even during the hottest months of the year.
Unplug Appliances You Aren’t Using
Did you know that many appliances use power when they’re plugged in, even when you aren’t actively using them? Unplug devices that revert to a “sleep” or “standby” mode with they’re not in use, as well as any plugged-in chargers that aren’t charging anything.
Check Your Home’s Insulation
Make sure that any gaps around windows and doors are caulked or weather-stripped, and inspect the insulation in your attic to make sure it isn’t deteriorating. If you live in an older home and you’re not sure when it was last insulated, consider hiring a professional to assess its thermal performance.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
Air conditioning is probably the single greatest expense on your electric bill during the summer. A modern programmable thermostat can help to optimize your A/C usage so that it’s not running 24/7. Set the temperature no lower than 78 degrees during the summer—each degree you lower it will add another 4 to 8 percent to your energy bill.
Turn on Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans can help minimize your dependence on the A/C by recirculating cool air throughout your home. On average, ceiling fans reduce the temperature in a room by about four degrees.
At First Choice Inspectors, we regularly conduct energy audits that are designed to identify sources of thermal inefficiency and offer suggestions for improvement that can significantly reduce your long-term energy consumption. To get a free quote for your energy audit, give us a call at (773) 429-9711 or contact us online today!
If your home’s foundation is causing you several headaches, it must mean there are major problems with the foundation that need to be fixed right away. It’s essential that your home has a solid foundation, especially when living in colder northern climates that have a stone or concrete foundation and a basement.
Staying on top of house problems will save you money on costly repairs to your basement and foundation.
Causes of Wet Basements
There are plenty of causes to a wet basement, and we want you to be aware of them, so you can find solutions to the problem. If there are heavy rains, the groundwater can seep through floors and foundations.
Your gutters also can factor in if they’re not cleaned out properly. The backup of leaves and other debris will cause gutters to overflow, which means the second-floor gutters will drain into the first-floor gutters.
Landscaping can cause issues if grading is not done right. If water is flowing towards the house, rather than away from it, flooding will occur causing a wet basement and damages.
Mold and Mildew
A basement is a perfect host for mold and mildew if it is damp and contains a large amount of moisture. If you’re having problems with a wet basement, you’ll eventually have more problems when mold and mildew grows from this issue. Adding gutter extensions, repairing footing drains, reshaping the landscaping, cleaning out gutters, and utilizing a dehumidifier will prevent your basement from becoming wet, flooding, and growing mold.
A Home Inspection is Your Best Solution
The number one solution to this issue is obtaining a home inspection from First Choice Inspectors! Part of the general home inspection includes structural components of the house, including the foundation and basement. We check for everything causing your basement to have problems such as cracks and defects, wet basements, and basement mold and mildew.
If you’re in need of professional experience when it comes to foundation inspections and general home inspections, contact First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 today!
Concerned about DIY or outdated electrical work in your home or a home you’re thinking about buying? Faulty wiring can be expensive to replace and pose serious safety risks to homeowners. Today we’ll address a few telltale signs of bad electrical work to look out for.
Although electrical appliances may generate heat when operating, your outlets should never be hot to the touch. The one exception is dimmer switches, which do get warm in the course of normal operation. However, these should never feel uncomfortably hot.
No, it’s not a ghost. Flickering lights are a common sign of a loose electrical connection.
Some new appliances have a noticeable scent when you first plug them in. However, if you notice an odd smell (particularly a burning smell or the smell of ozone) coming from an outlet, immediately unplug all appliances from that outlet and have an electrician check out the problem.
Fuses That Always Blow, or Breakers That Always Trip
Fuses and circuit breakers are designed to prevent overloading by failing when necessary. If you trip a breaker every time you blow dry your hair or turn on the vacuum cleaner, it’s likely the result of inadequate or poorly-installed wiring.
Crackling, Popping or Buzzing From and Outlet
You should never hear noises coming from your outlets. If you do, it could be the result of loose prongs, fraying wire or another electrical issue.
If a fuse box, outlet or breaker panel is sparking, call an electrician ASAP.
A thorough home inspection can help detect faulty electrical work, along with other issues including foundation problems, insulation gaps and more. If you’re in the Chicago area, call First Choice Inspectors at (773) 429-9711 to get your free quote today!
Although there are no hard and fast rules for what constitutes an older home, those built before 1920 fall in the antique category. Since Chicago became a city in the mid-1800s, there is a substantial inventory of older homes in the city and surrounding suburbs. As such, it’s not uncommon for prospective buyers to find an older home on the market. It may have a rustic charm, but buyers should be aware of a few common and costly issues associated with these homes.
Lead and Asbestos
Until the 1970s, construction materials commonly included lead and asbestos. Any older home may have remnants of these hazardous materials leftover from previous decades. Mitigating lead plumbing can mean filtration, replacing a few fittings or replumbing a whole house. Many older homes come with a lead paint warning, and the only way to ensure a house is completely free of lead paint is by investing in professional lead paint abatement, which can be expensive. The same goes for asbestos removal.
Insufficient and Unsafe Electrical Systems
Most houses built in the early 20th century were not wired for the number of electronics, lights and appliances we have these days. While you will need an inspector to fully assess the wiring in a house and a professional electrician to help replace wiring, you can learn some useful things about a house’s electrical condition during an initial walkthrough. Look for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) and grounded, three-prong wall sockets. Count the number of outlets in each room; newer building standards typically include them every few feet. Open the breaker box as well. It should have breakers, not fuses, and the panel should be free of rust and other signs of damage.
Although water heaters, furnaces, and central air can last for decades in some cases, an older home may have equipment that is well past its recommended replacement date. The current owner will probably be unlikely replace these items, but with a little research, you can schedule and prepare for their replacement costs. Don’t forget to account for appliances like refrigerators, ranges, and dishwashers too.
This short list of issues that you may find in an older home is just a start. Home buyers should also be on the lookout for mold and mildew, termite problems, leaky plumbing, poor insulation, outdated windows, roofs in disrepair, radon and foundation problems.
Of course, a professional home inspector will call attention to any of the issues, but it never hurts to have a list of questions ready when it comes time to walk through that classic old house of your dreams.
Before 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!
The Importance of Plumbing Systems
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.
First 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?
How is the Attic?
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.
Mold in the Home
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.
Something Wrong with the Shingles
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.”
Ice Damming on Roof
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.
Before 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.
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.
Avoiding 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.
Are you in the process of searching for a new home? If so, it’s important to keep a close eye out for issues that could require expensive repairs in the future. Some of these issues – like outdated electrical panels or cracks in the foundation—are pretty easy to spot if you know what to look for. Others, however, are more difficult to identify. In some cases, minor cosmetic defects can even be signs of serious structural or mechanical problems.
Water Pressure Issues
Low water pressure might seem like a trivial annoyance, but if the problem is widespread it could mean that the house is in need of a complete plumbing overhaul. Old houses with outdated galvanized steel pipes tend to have bad water pressure, for example. If you notice the faucets in a house are all running slow, be sure to ask about when the plumbing was last updated.
Wall and Ceiling Discoloration
Discoloration might just mean that a home hasn’t been repainted in a while, but it could also be a sign of past water damage. Be especially wary if you notice extensive discoloration on basement walls. Yellow spots on white walls and ceilings are also tell-tale signs of leaks. If you notice a musty odor in conjunction with the discoloration, there’s a good chance the home has mold and moisture issues.
Sagging, Sticking Doors
A single stuck door is probably nothing to worry about, but if all the doors in a home are sagging it could be a sign of an uneven foundation. Fixing an uneven foundation can be extremely costly, and foundation repairs can sometimes necessitate plumbing and electrical replacements as well. If you notice a number of stuck or sagging doors, check the foundation for cracks and other signs of damage.
Is there a noticeable dip or rise in the home’s flooring? Even if the change in elevation seems relatively minor, it could be a sign of a serious issue such as termite damage or a sagging foundation. If any of the flooring in a home appears uneven, you should have it inspected by a structural engineer before you consider making an offer.
Want to make sure the house you’re looking at isn’t going to wind up being a money pit? The team at First Choice Inspectors can conduct a thorough, professional home inspection to identify a variety of potential problems. Give us a call or contact us online to get your quote today!
With the Fall season approaching, it won’t be too long before the colder months are upon us, which 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. Contact First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 today or visit us online for more information!