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!

Signs It Might Be Time For a New Roof

New RoofWhat are some signs you need a new roof? Well, for starters, consider the roof’s age. Most roofs last between 20 and 25 years, so if the roof hasn’t been replaced in several decades, it might be time to call First Choice Inspectors to come take a look and see about a possible replacement.

Have you noticed shingles are missing, darker in some areas, curled or buckling? Shingles aren’t meant to last forever, and they sure do take a beating over time thanks to wind, rain, sunlight, snow and ice. If you’ve noticed any inconsistencies with your shingles, or granules from shingles have become loose and are collecting in your gutters, it might be time for a new roof.

Perhaps the biggest sign that you need a new roof is when there’s a hole in it such that light (and rain) come inside your home. The roof is supposed to protect you from the elements. If there’s a giant hole– or even a small one–then the roof isn’t fulfilling its purpose. Holes in the roof can lead to water damage in the attic and walls of your building. They can also let in birds, insects, rodents and wild animals.

Finally, most neighborhoods have homes that were built around the same time, so if your neighbors are getting roof replacements, chances are you should too.

First Choice Inspectors can check your roof to see if everything is in order, or if there are problems with the chimney flashing, vents, drainage or shingles. First Choice Inspectors can offer a full inspection service complete with a comprehensive report. People in and around Chicago trust First Choice Inspectors to go up on their roofs, examine them, and then climb back down with details about its specific condition. Call First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 to schedule your professional roof inspection today.

 

Why is It Important to Have Our Homes Inspected?

Home inspections come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Now, what we mean by that is that there are several different types of inspections you can have done on your home that will be of great value to you. Owning a home is very rewarding, but it does come with many difficult tasks to tackle. One of the most important things you can do for your home is have everything checked out by a professional home inspector.

Home inspection service

Sometimes We Can’t See the Problem with Our Own Eyes

Sometimes as homeowners, we can miss things around our house that might be a problem. A house can have underlying issues before we even move into them. It’s important that a home inspector inspects it before you buy the home.

Problems can arise without us knowing. Foundation issues, roofing problems, mold, etc. can all be issues that we may not see with our own eyes right away. Home inspections can help discover these issues and solve them by giving clear resolutions that could save you money and save your home.

What is a Home Inspection?

Well, home inspections can be conducted in a general sense, but usually, home inspections cover a variety of things. If you need to cover your entire home, home inspections can consist of:

  • Roof Inspections
  • Structural Inspections
  • Mechanical Inspections
  • Foundation Inspections
  • Asbestos Inspections
  • Mold & Mildew Inspections
  • Radon and Lead Inspections
  • And More!

Energy Audits Help to Save Money

One of the most important things you can have done besides home inspection services is an energy audit. This can help you determine how you’re using your energy.

At First Choice Inspectors, we have the ability to perform a variety of home inspection services for your home. If you’re buying a new home or are in need of an updated home inspection, contact us at 773-429-9711 today or visit us online for more information!

The Importance of an Energy Audit on Your Home

Energy Audit First Choice Inspectors regularly perform energy audits in and around Chicago. An energy audit involves professionals doing a comprehensive examination of a home or building’s thermal performance. In other words, where are the leaks?

Heating and cooling a building costs money, and when there are leaks, the heat or cool air you’re paying for might literally be going right out the leaky window. An energy audit involves checking around windows, skylights, and doors to measure the leakage rate of air to see how well seals are performing– or aren’t. In addition, walls and ceilings and floors are checked for leaks as well. Most people choose to have energy audits done in order to save money on their heating and cooling bills. Leaks can be stopped and therefore energy is no longer wasted.

First Choice Inspectors can provide a written report with photos to show a home or building owner exactly where leaks occur. Thermal imaging overlays can be included when necessary in order to estimate energy use given local climate criteria, thermostat settings, roof overhang and other factors. A home or building owner can get a good idea of how making certain changes could effectively save them money over time.

Specifically, First Choice Inspectors use sophisticated methods such as thermal imaging scanning and videoscopic borescopes to find problem areas.

Common problems an energy audit can find include leaks in the air conditioning duct system, worn-out insulation, and windows/doors in need of sealing and caulking.

Besides talking with home or building owners about their energy bills and energy habits that may be raising their bills, an energy audit from First Choice Inspectors can also include a list of repairs to be done to improve the home’s thermal performance, therefore lowering overall energy bills– oftentimes up to 30%.

Contact First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 today or visit us online for more information!

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.

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.

Benefits of a Home Inspection in the Summer

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.

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.

Signs Your Home Has Structural Issues

Home Inspections Does your home have “issues?” There are some key things to look for regarding signs of structural problems.

First, look at a home from far away. Go across the street, for instance, and take a look to see if you notice any walls leaning or tilting in ways that don’t look normal. How’s the ridge line of the roof and the nearby fascia line? If you see sagging, there could be trouble. Also, do you see any large cracks from your point-of-view? Large cracks are not good.

Inspect Your Home with Your Eyes

Next, get up close to the home and walk around its exterior. Take note of any areas where there is bowing inward or outward. Again, look for cracks. Are parts of the building moving apart from one another? For example, is the chimney coming unattached from the house or do you notice exterior decks coming loose? Over time, grounds shift and when that happens homes may need repairs.

Windows and doors are essentially openings in your home, so they’re also places where you’ll likely find problems. Look for cracked window panes. Check to see if windows and doors open and shut properly.

Indoors, you should pay close attention to the floors under your feet, noticing any soft spots or unusual sloping areas. Are floorboards creaking? Do you notice any loose floor tiles?

Always Contact a Professional like First Choice Inspectors

Structural issues are bound to come up with homes as they age. Just like people, homes need some “fixing up” the older they get.

Call First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 if you’d like your Chicago-area home professionally inspected for structural issues. We will be able to get to the bottom of all of your home’s issues. We want to make sure your home’s structural issues are taken care of, and you can return to living in a safe home for the future.

The Importance of Home Energy Audits Today

A home energy audit is very important in today’s day and age. Energy audits allow a home inspector to give you all the data and information on how you’re using your home’s energy, if there are possible improvements you can make, and if you can replace any old equipment in the home.

Today, your home’s energy use can have a negative impact on the environment. Of course, this was always the case, but more recently, we’re striving to eliminate negative impacts in the environment. It’s important to do your part with this. Plus, it will allow you to cut back on your energy bills.

Home energy audits

Checking for Outdated Equipment

A home energy audit is vital for your home because it can give you info on the updates you may have to make with old equipment. Whether that includes air conditioning, heating, duct work, or appliances, you can figure out where the problem is coming from when you have high energy bills. You can avoid dangerous situations and hazardous events with this by updating your equipment. Your home will thank you.

A home energy audit will point out issues you may not have noticed. Most of the time, a home energy audit will find subtle problems with equipment and energy usage.

Environmental Awareness

Reducing your carbon footprint is very beneficial for the environment. Home energy audits can pinpoint problems and show you where you can make improvements to reduce your carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels.

Make Your Home Comfortable for Living

Your indoor air quality will improve with the recommendations a home inspector makes after the home energy audit. You’ll live more comfortably when you know you’re paying less on energy bills, keeping your home temperatures more stable, and eliminating any air leaks.

At First Choice Inspectors, we can provide you with a home energy audit along with other home inspection services. In need of a home energy audit? Contact First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 today or visit us online for more information!