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!

Pest Proofing Your Home

Pest Proofing Your HomeSpring is here, which means the critters will start to come around your property and make themselves comfortable. As the weather begins to change, you might start to notice some uninvited critters taking up residence in your home. Most of these pests are just a nuisance, but a few (termites, for example) can do serious damage to your home. This is the perfect time to fortify your home against pests before they find their way into your home. Since many of us like to keep windows open and screen doors open, these pests might desire to join us inside.

Seal Gaps Under Doors

Installing door sweeps under your exterior doors will not only keep pests out, but they’ll also help to insulate your home during the next winter. If you have a garage, make sure the door is fitted with a vinyl or rubber seal to keep critters out as well. To seal sliding doors, simply line the bottom of the track with a bit of foam weatherstripping.

Repair Window Screens

Now that you’ve sealed up the doors in your home, it’s time to address the windows. Check window screens for any rips, tears and holes. You can pick up simple patch kits from your local hardware store for just a few dollars. Be sure to check for gaps around the edges of the screen frames as well.

Seal Utility Openings

Large openings such as dryer vents can be sealed with some steel wool. Smaller openings such as holes for wiring, outdoor faucets and gas meters can be sealed with caulk or pipe putty. Cover attic and crawl space vents with hardware cloth to keep out birds and rodents.

Move Your Wood Pile

Wood piles are bound to attract burrowing insects. If you keep your wood pile next to your home, it won’t take long for those insects to find a way in. Stack wood away from your home instead to create a buffer between you and the insect activity.

Stay tuned for more updates from the home inspection professionals at First Choice Inspectors

Spring Maintenance Inspection Checklist for Your Home

It’s the spring season as we know from the up and down weather stretching across the country. It comes every single year, and it brings us cold and warm weather every other day. The spring season is also the time for spring cleaning, checkups on your home, maintenance, and inspections. A home inspection will ensure your home’s appliances, electric, and mechanical are running smoothly. A home inspection will also determine if there are any problems.

Here are some things to pay attention to in the spring:

Home inspection services during the springtime

Roof Inspections

With the spring season, we’ll be experiencing a good amount of rain and damp weather. It’s always important to make sure your roof is sturdy and durable, so you won’t experience any leaking or flooding from the roof. A roof inspection can identify any weak spots that you may have in the roof.

Gutter Cleaning

Cleaning gutters usually comes around in the Fall season, but it also is important to make sure they are cleaned in the spring. With the amount of rain, as well as severe thunderstorms that can come during the spring season, your gutters have the capability of getting clogged from debris. When heavy rain falls, the gutters will be backed up, which can cause your gutters to be damaged or sagging.

Heating and Cooling

The spring is always a good time to make sure your air conditioner is ready for the heatwave of the summer season. A home inspection focused on the heating and cooling can benefit you greatly. You could also get some cold weather during the spring before the summer rolls around, so always be sure to get your heating inspected to ensure it’s still working properly.

Plumbing Inspection

Since most plumbing lies behind walls, homeowners don’t understand that inspectors can still be able to identify any issues to the pipes if there are any. Another important thing for inspections in the spring is the electrical in your home. Making sure all electrical is working is a headache that is avoided.

If you’re in need of a home inspection for the spring, contact First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 today or visit us online for more information!

Inspection Items That Can Make or Break Your Resale Value

Inspection Items That Can Make or Break Your Resale ValueBefore you put your home on the market, it’s imperative that you have a clear understanding of the underlying issues that might be hiding beneath the surface. Your home might look fine at first glance, but the last thing you want is for a prospective buyer to discover structural issues that can seriously compromise the resale value of your home.  By having your home inspected before you put it on the market, you can give you and your buyers the peace of mind of knowing that your home isn’t in need of serious repairs. In this entry, we’ll look at a few issues that can seriously impact your home’s resale value.

Mold

There’s nothing that can scare away prospective buyers quite like a hidden patch of black mold. Mold is a tell-tale sign that your home has fallen victim to water intrusion, and it is often an indicator of more serious issues such as rot in the frame of your home. Many types of mold are hazardous to human health as well, which is an added concern for house hunters.

Polybutylene Piping

This gray piping which resembles PVC was used to plumb many homes between the 1970’s and 1990’s. Unfortunately, polybutylene piping degrades due to oxidants in water, causing it to leak and break over time.  Polybutylene piping has become a serious concern for home insurance companies in recent years. If you do have polybutylene piping in your home, it’s worth the expense of having it replumbed  before you even try to put it on the market.

Foundation Cracks

While foundation cracks come in many degrees of severity, the most serious ones can cause tens of thousands of dollars to repair. Worst of all, large foundation cracks can also indicate that your foundation is slanted or uneven. Rebuilding a foundation wall is an undertaking that few buyers will want to take on.

Want to find out for sure whether or not your house is ready to sell? Give us a call to schedule an inspection today.