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.

Cracked Foundation

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.

House Settling

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.

Home Inspections are a Must

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.

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 will be here before we know it. 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

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.

Indoor Air Handler Unit

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.

Make Sure the A/C Unit Works When Turning it On

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.

Don’t Forget These 5 Essential Spring Maintenance Items

5 Essential Spring Maintenance ItemsLong winters can subject your home to some serious wear and tear. Snowmelt can reveal all sorts of issues of varying severity that went unnoticed throughout the cold season. It’s important to take care of these maintenance items quickly in order to protect your home from further damage. The spring is the perfect time to get out and tackle these molehills before they become mountains. In this entry, we’ll look at a few simple steps you can take to protect and preserve your home this spring.

Clean Your Gutters

Your gutters serve an important purpose – directing rainwater safely away from your home. Clogged gutters can cause water to pool and pour down the exterior surface of a house, which can eventually lead to mold, mildew, and even rot. If you notice vegetation blocking your gutters, you’ll want to clean them sooner rather than later.

Get a Termite Inspection

Moisture from snowmelt can cause the wood around the base of your home to decay, creating an ideal feeding ground for termites. Often called “silent destroyers,” termites can wreak havoc on the wood framing in a home. If you notice any rot around the foundation of your home, a termite inspection should be a high priority on your spring to-do list.

Clear Dryer Vents

Clogged dryer vents not only reduce the efficiency of your dryer; they also constitute a fire hazard. Be sure to clear any lint from the inside of your dryer vent as soon as you are able to do so.

Inspect Your Washing Machine Fill Hose

While you’re cleaning your dryer vent, you may as well check the fill hose on your washing machine for any signs of wear as well. A broken fill hose can flood your laundry room with water in minutes. If you see any cracks in the hose, pick up a new one from your local hardware store.

Touch Up Paint

In addition to serving an aesthetic purpose, paint also helps to seal and protect your home from moisture damage. If you notice any paint peeling, be sure to touch it up with a fresh coat.

Concerned about the condition of your home this spring? Give us a call today for a consultation.

Beware of These Common Household Electrical Hazards

Electrical FireMany electrical devices and appliances are invaluable household tools, but they can also constitute dangerous safety hazards if you’re not careful. The first step toward preventing electrical hazards is educating yourself about them! Today we’ll address a few of the most common fire hazards to keep an eye out for in your home.

Overloaded power strips

Surge protectors are designed to prevent dangerous electrical surges, but they can still be overloaded with too many appliances. This is why you should never create chains of power strips by plugging them into one another. It’s also a good idea to replace old, outdated surge protectors with new ones periodically.

Appliances placed too close to water sources

You’re probably well aware of the fact that water and electricity don’t mix, but that doesn’t stop some people from using devices like blow dryers and radios in wet bathrooms. These hazards are also quite common in kitchens, where plumbing issues can cause electrical appliances to short out and generate sparks. Clean up liquid spills as soon as you notice them, and be especially careful about standing on wet floors while using handheld electrical appliances.

Outdated electrical wiring

If the electrical wiring in your home hasn’t been updated in several decades, it could be more prone to fire hazards than modern wiring. Worn-out insulation can leave wires exposed to moisture, for example. If you’re not sure about the condition of your home’s wiring, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional to make sure it’s safe and up to code.

Do you have some lingering questions or concerns about the electrical system in your home? Feel free to give us a call or contact us online to request an inspection today!

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.