The Importance of a Foundation Inspection

The foundation of the home is extremely important. This is why an inspection for a foundation at your home can save you from problems with your home down the road. If you don’t know what is wrong with your foundation, there are signs to look out for.

Foundation inspection in home for cracks and defects

Here are some of the signs to look out for when it comes to problems with your foundation:

  • Cracks and Defects – The foundation of a home is essential to its function and livability. The foundation can go through normal stresses throughout the life of the home, which means you could see normal cracks in the stone or concrete material. Any defect to whatever your material of the foundation needs not to be overlooked.
  • Wet Basements – If your basement is wet, and by this we mean if it floods each time it rains, it can cause potential problems regarding safety and health, especially if there is an electrical system present.
  • Mold and Mildew – Mold and mildew occur when there is moisture in the air, and a wet basement can cause these problems to occur. You never want to have your foundation or basement be infested with mold or mildew because health issues will arise with people living in the home. Also, your foundation will suffer.

These are the big signs to look out for, but there are also some obvious ones that you may be overlooking in the grand scheme of things. If you have trouble opening and closing windows, there are cracked ceilings, your doors are misaligned, there are growing cracks in the exterior and interior of walls, and a sloping garage floor, your foundation can be defected.

Do Not Be Worried! First Choice Inspectors Can Help.

Your home is going to have issues while you live there. There are some things that cannot be prevented right away, and that is why having a regular home inspection is helpful for you. Also, if you’re seeing signs of a faulty or defected foundation, do not hesitate to reach out to a trusted home inspector like First Choice Home Inspectors. Contact usat 773-429-9711 today or visit us online for more information!

What to Look for in Summer Home Inspections

Your home is a sacred place because it gives you shelter and comfortable living. Keeping up with maintenance and home inspection for your home is essential to making sure that you home is not costing you an incredible amount of money to keep it running.

Here are is a checklist of summer home inspections:

  • Smoke Alarms – When summer arrives, it’s recommended that you make sure your smoke alarms are working properly with full battery power. Check your carbon monoxide detectors as well.
  • Mold and Mildew – Inspect your basement and attic for possible mold or mildew. As the weather changes, humidity rises, mold and mildew can be a big issue, especially in your home and for your health.
  • Windows – washing your windows seems like a mindless chore, but it can be very important when detecting corrosion, mold, and mildew.
  • Plumbing and Electrical Systems – No matter what time of year it is, checking your plumbing and electrical systems is very important for your home’s condition. You never want to avoid checkups because it can cause a variety of problems down the road.

Hire a Home Inspector for the Bigger Issues

If you can’t take care of your maintenance checkups, or you need a professional to help you out, hire First Choice Inspectors. We can deliver home inspections including structural, mechanical, and environmental. Your home needs to be checked regularly in order to avoid problems.


Contact First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 today to get your home inspected this summer.

Why is a Mechanical Inspection Important for Your Home?

The energy we use in our homes can cost us quite a bit of cash if we don’t have them inspected. If they’re working harder than they should, your energy bills can increase. With a mechanical inspection from First Choice Inspectors, we can conduct inspections for electrical, heating and cooling, and plumbing, so that we can find out the problem that’s causing you trouble.

Home Inspections from First Choice

The Benefits of an Inspection for Your Home:

  • Avoid potential safety and fire hazards due to problems with your electrical
  • Discover and leaks in your plumbing system
  • Evaluate the functions of faucets
  • Operation of drains and flush mechanisms

Heating and Cooling Systems

Inspecting coolant leaks and ductwork is important to our job when looking for possible issues with your system. Many systems are different, so we make sure to make a note of what type you have before looking for any issues.

First Choice Inspectors

Whether you have a new home or you need an update, First Choice Inspectors should be your first choice when it comes to inspecting your home. New home inspections, foreclosures, roof inspections, structural, mechanical, foundation, energy audits, asbestos, mold and mildew, and radon & lead inspections.

We recommend getting a home inspection done for the safety of you and your family. It can be beneficial for financial reasons as well.

Contact First Choice Inspections at 773-429-9711 today!  

What Happens When You Have Cracks in the Foundation?

Cracks and defects in a home’s foundation can be a real problem for your home and your health and safety. Cracks in concrete or stone foundation could mean they’re just normal environmental stresses. It’s important to get a foundation inspection done to determine if the cracks and defects are serious foundation defects.

foundation inspection by First Choice Inspectors

Serious Foundation Problems

There are certain types of cracks in the foundation that can cause serious problems to your home. Costly repairs can occur, which leaves homeowners with multiple headaches they have to deal with.

Vertical Cracks are usually the sign of your house settling. These are very common within many foundations of homes. These cracks can be sealed and are usually not too expensive.

Diagonal Cracks can be found along the foundation or basement wall. Usually they are thin cracks, but one end is often large than the other. These cracks are signs of settling in the home’s foundation, but the settling is the result of uneven tension. The cost might be a little more expensive, but the solutions are simple.

Horizontal Cracks are the most serious cracks in a home’s foundation. If the home has a foundation of concrete block or brick, it’s very common to see. This cracking is going to be the most expensive repair to get done, but it’s essential to your foundation’s integrity to get it repaired right away.

What Can Cracks in the Foundation Cause?

Cracks in basement floors can cause radon to seep into the home, which can be extremely dangerous to you and your family’s health. Cracks can also be another way water gets into the home, which can cause mold and mildew to build up in the home, as well as wet basements.

It is extremely important to get a foundation inspection done by First Choice Inspectors if you want to attack the problem with cracks in your home’s foundation.

Contact us today at 773-429-9711!

What’s a Home Energy Audit, and Why Should I Get one?

A home energy audit is something many homeowners desire to have done on their home. A home energy audit is to quantify the building’s overall thermal performance. It also identifies the efficiency of the heating, ventilation, air conditioning equipment, and thermostat.

energy audit from First Choice Inspectors

The Benefits of a Home Energy Audit

A home energy audit can help point out some important energy concerns that you may have from high energy bills and comfort levels with the home.

Here are some of the major benefits to a home energy audit:

  • Shows energy use for a given time period
  • Suggested energy improvements each year
  • Identify cost effective ways to improve comfort and efficiency

With these benefits, it is much needed for homeowners and building owners to consider getting an energy audit by a professional like First Choice Inspectors. We use thermal imaging canning, videoscope borescopes to check for missing or deficient insulation. Our moisture detection tools are used to check moisture levels.

What does this include:

A home energy audit from us will include a written report with photos and thermal imaging overlays. This is necessary to estimate energy use given climate criteria, thermostat settings, roof overhand, and orientation. The audit can also include interviews of the homeowners, so that we can understand your patterns of energy use over time. An energy audit isn’t meant to embarrass the homeowner, it’s meant to help the homeowner understand their energy uses and how to improve them, so that you can save money and the environment.

First Choice Inspectors

At First Choice Inspectors, we specialize in home inspections in the Chicago area. We have the expertise and experience to help you get an energy audit done on your home. If you have concerns for your home’s energy, then we’re the right people to call. Contact us at 773-429-9711!

The Importance of a Home Inspection on a New Home

Looking for a new home is an exciting time, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. Whether the home is old or newly built, it is recommended that every home buyer hires an independent home inspector like First Choice Inspectors to provide a home inspection for the house.

home inspector doing inspection on new home

New Homes Can Have Issues Too

Just because you’re purchasing a new home does not mean you will be fine if you bypass the home inspection. The surprising fact is that sometimes new homes are poorly engineered. Oh no, really? It should not be that surprising, but some people expect the house to be perfect.

First Choice Inspectors checks everything

A new or old home will go through the same inspection. This means that they’re examining the entire home’s integrity.

  • Structural components such as joists, rafters, beams, exposed supporters checked for defects
  • Attic will be checked for water penetration
  • Windows, frames, doors, and automatic garage door checked for safety features and function
  • HVAC system inspection, Duct work, Heat and cooling sources in every room inspected
  • Plumbing and Electrical inspection
  • Foundation inspection

All of these things are incorporated in a new and old home inspection, so that the buyer feels confident in their home. If any of these things are problems and you don’t get a home inspection, you may have to pay for major repairs down the road. This is why we recommend a home inspection for a new home purchase.

Here are the Benefits

Ultimately, as a new buyer, you’ll be saving money on costly repairs when you get a home inspection before purchasing a new home. If there are significant problems, it will help your search for a different home. You’ll also be aware that not every new home is perfectly built.

If you’re in the market to buy a home, whether it is new or old, always get a home inspection done by a professionally independent home inspector like First Choice Inspectors. Contact us at 773-429-9711!


If You Have an Old Home, Asbestos Might Be in It

Many older homes built before 1980 contain asbestos in the floor tiles, ceiling tiles, roof shingles, and other parts of the home. If you’re a new homeowner, you’ll want to make sure your old home that you purchased does not contain asbestos. If it does, you’ll need to have it removed. First Choice Inspectors can help you with inspecting all your home’s components.

Man holding magnifying glass to home

The Health Hazards of Asbestos

Inhaling asbestos can happen without your knowledge and medical issues can happen over a period of decades if exposed to this dangerous substance. Symptoms and conditions may not appear until years later of living in the home.

Friable Asbestos – This means that the asbestos contains materials that are dangerous. Friable asbestos are fibers that can be disturbed. This is what we have to be cautious about. Many materials contain asbestos, but they aren’t harmful because the material is stable. This is what has to be inspected.

Here are some health hazards:

  • Asbestosis (high exposures over a long time) – Breathing becomes much more difficult because of scarring in the lungs.
  • Pleural Disease – Non-cancerous lung condition when plaque and fluid build-up occur around the lungs.
  • Lung Cancer – Malignant tumor that blocks lung’s passages. Smoking tobacco and exposure to asbestos increases chance of lung cancer.
  • Mesothelioma – This is a rare cancer of the membrane that covers the lungs and chest cavity. Signs could appear 30-40 years later after long exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos Removal

This is not conducted by First Choice Inspectors, but we can come in and inspect your home for any disrupted asbestos that may be in your home if it was built before the 1980s. Asbestos can be found in many materials, but it isn’t always harmful.

The cleanup of asbestos is governed by state and federal regulations. It can become tricky because the mechanism of demolition and isolating the fibers for safe removal is a major factor.

Contact First Choice Inspectors for a home inspection of your old home. We can determine if the asbestos in your home is hazardous when considering demolition or renovation. Contact us at 773-429-9711!


Flooding Prevention and Restoration: What Homeowners Need to Know

Whether from a torrential rainstorm, heaps of melting snow, or a leaky dishwasher, flooding can cause massive damage in your home. What’s more, clean-up can be extremely time-consuming and expensive, especially without expert advice. That’s why Redfin rounded up flooding prevention and restoration experts from Bend to Atlanta. Read on to see the best tips for protecting your home against flooding and what to do if you’ve already been affected!

Country house in a storm

First Choice Inspectors: At First Choice Inspectors, LLC, we recommend that all homeowners that have basements or crawl spaces install a drain tile system and sump pump system with a battery backup system which will help to divert water away from the foundation of the house. We also recommend that the grading to the property provide sufficient water runoff so the property is not sitting at the bottom of a hill. After a home floods it’s important to get the pros in and fix the flood damage by installing proper waterproofing materials and make sure that no mold is growing. Proper remediation is very important before restoration!

Valley Home Inspections: 

1. Check all angle stops (shut off valves) at least once a year to make sure they are operational. If you see signs of corrosion, you will want a professional to evaluate. Angle stops are located under all sinks, at the water connections for your toilet (usually behind the toilet) and laundry hose bibs.

2. Check all windows and doors for cracking (including any decorative trim over the window or door), these should be sealed to keep the water out.

3. Take a look at your water heater, do you see dripping or corrosion on a valve? If so, don’t ignore it. We see many water heaters that have been ignored with the water seeping into the areas around it. Addressing early on can save thousands in repairs.

4. Showers and tubs. These are used almost daily. When you see water dripping out a corner, corrosion along the door tracks, or cracks in the surfaces (very common between the tub or shower floor and the surround), take measures to repair immediately. If water gets into these areas it will seep behind the adjacent walls, and given the right environment, it will grow mold.

House to Home Inspections: While it is not possible to fully eliminate the possibility of flooding in the home, there are steps that can be taken to help reduce the chances of experiencing a flood or at the very least to minimize the amount of water that could affect the home. Extend the downspouts at least 4-6 feet away from the foundation or into a subsurface drain that runs out to the edge of the property, preferably downhill. Grade the soil to slope away from the foundation, roughly ½” per foot for at least 10 feet. This will help to direct water away from the foundation. Installation of a French drain system can also help to direct surface water away from the foundation. Proper installation of a sump pump either in the basement or in the crawlspace will also help mitigate water intrusion.

Flood repair and restoration work can be very expensive, costing up to tens of thousands of dollars and while not guaranteed to prevent flooding these simple steps will help to minimize water around the house and improve the overall quality and comfort of the home.

Brick Restoration: After home flooding has occurred, it’s often necessary to replace the framing around the bottom course of the home. If that’s needed, or you want to opt for the extra protection anyway, you can choose to have an Ice and Water Shield waterproof membrane installed around your home between the brick and the framing. Those that are safe from high water might still suffer damage from heavy rains. For this, we recommend having the chimney and brick veneer checked yearly for any cracks or holes in the brick and mortar which can lead to water leaks or more serious damage in the long run.

Ocean Breezes Home Inspections: The most important thing you can do is air everything out immediately. Floodwaters bring in mold spores, and with new construction practices things don’t dry out like days of old. If the water got inside, walls will most likely need to be gutted, inside and out. I’ve been called many times for inspections and testing where a remediation company or contractor did not open up the outer walls. The house wrap holds moisture in – thus allowing for mold even when the inner walls were gutted.

Advanced Look Property Inspections: As Advanced Look Property Inspections, LLC is one of Metro Orlando’s Best Home Inspectors, we know one of the most important systems we inspect and talk to our clients about is the plumbing system, because after “Wind”, non-weather related water damage and flooding is the insurance industries number 1 area of claims due to broken pipes or appliances like washing machines, dishwashers or water heaters having an issue.

A little precaution can go a long way when it comes to maintaining your plumbing and appliances but it is well worth it when you think of all the personal items (pictures, papers …) you’re protecting if you keep everything from a water problem in your home. Nowadays with all the “Smart Items” for your home, you can go one step further and install a Water Sensor System in your House. Some just send out a basic notification that there’s a problem at home through an app, (which I don’t recommend). Others can actually turn the water off to prevent any further leaking/flooding in your house. The latter is sure to increase the value of your home and some insurance companies will give you a discount on your Home Owners Policy for having that protection and they all cost less than your deductible. Sounds like a win win to me : ).

DryFast Property Restoration: Add insulation to outside walls that contain pipes. Exterior walls can get much colder than inside walls. If you have plumbing in outside walls, you may want to add an extra layer of insulation to ensure that your pipes are protected. If you see moisture or mold on the interior wall surface, surface cracks or nail pops, or your walls feel cool to the touch, consider reinsulating to add protection.

Home Inspection Headquarters: Water comes from 2 areas, outside or inside. Efficient lot drainage and water removal systems at the exterior of your home is the best way to keep outside water out. Then you want to protect your interior pipes and get your plumbing system evaluated every year by a professional. Do these things and you’re doing it right!

Reliable Basement Services: There is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to waterproofing and flood prevention. The more information and history you can give a professional waterproofing contractor, the better they should be able to design a complete system for your unique home. Everything – gutters, yard drainage, drain tile systems, sump pumps, catch basins, etc. – should be considered. Do not buy into gimmicks and quick-fixes; all waterproofing and flood prevention is a VERY important long-term investment in your home.

Flood Pros: Keeping water far away from the house is the best advice we can give. Shut off water when you leave the house more than a day, check and test your sump pumps annually ensuring that the drainage pipe is not frozen or clogged, USE downspout extensions – they work great!

Integrity Restoration: Water damage is a progressive condition. While there is almost no mold problem we can’t later resolve, the best mold problem is none at all. If you act within the first 48 hours of materials becoming wet, mold can almost always be prevented by professional assessment and mechanical structural drying (meaning dehumidification, air movement and air filtration for your protection). My best advice is to call a reputable certified professional as soon as you realize that water damage has occurred.

Common Sense Inspections: Proper Drying is Important: What is most important is how fast and how well the flooded areas are dried. If there was a fire you would not let it put itself out. With moisture you must not let it dry itself out. Many times a person will think that moisture was removed, when in fact enough moisture was left behind to allow mold to start growing. If a minor amount of moisture is lingering inside the wall cavities, behind the baseboards, in the carpet, or under the carpet padding it will likely be weeks before it all dries up, by that time the mold starts forming as visible sports on your walls. Many mold remediators and carpet cleaning companies will focus efforts on drying the room that flooded and neglect nearby rooms where water flowed hidden inside wall cavities and under carpet or even tile.

Sacramento Home Inspections: A quick online search will show a wide array of enterprising flood prevention techniques and equipment in action, but the reality is most people are not so proactive or enterprising when it comes to flood prevention. This is one of the reasons why U.S. homeowners who have a mortgage and who live in a “special flood hazard area,” are required to buy flood insurance; whereas if the property is in a moderate-to-low-risk area federal law does not require flood insurance. It is highly recommended, however, because historically about one-in-four flood claims come from these ‘moderate-to-low-risk’ areas. That is worth thinking about, especially when considering the devastating impact a flood will have on a residential building and therefore one’s bank account.

Yellow Hat Inspections: Shingles, Tiles, and Openings are Paths to Intrusion over Time, (STOPIT). We need to stop water intrusion before it becomes a flood! Over time, a small leak can do as much damage as a catastrophic flood so remember STOPIT! Shingles, Tiles, and Openings are Paths to Intrusion over Time, (STOPIT) and we need to stop it before it starts! Water is a devious opponent. We need it but in the right place. Water intrusion through roof shingles or tiles can create paths into our homes. The invasion is often only visible some distance from where it started. You might have a musty smell or a small stain on a wall or ceiling which may indicate a significant problem. You need to pay attention to these little clues!

Craftsman Home Inspections: Floods aren’t always due to actual flooding from Mother Nature or weather. Many home floods come from very preventable sources. At Craftsman Home Inspections LLC in Colorado, we suggest being proactive by self inspecting your water heater on a regular basis – at least every 3 months. Simply look for signs of rust, water-related damage or active leaks, even very slow ones. Look at the TPR valve, and follow the discharge tube. If the discharge tube is warm towards the bottom and it’s wet at the end of the tube/pipe then you should have the TPR valve and water heater serviced by a professional plumber. If rusting is present on the exterior of the water heater, then you should have it serviced to prevent a future leak and the inevitable water damage. Many floods in-home begin at the water heater.

Another way that a homeowner can be proactive in preventing water-related damage is to have a certified or licensed home inspector perform a sewer inspection before you purchase your home. In a professional sewer inspection, the inspector will be able to locate root intrusion (blockage), low spots, or damage and suggest repairs. This can be a big help to protect the home from future backups and flooding. This also allows you to negotiate repairs before you own the home. A professional Home Inspector will also look for signs of past flooding in basements or crawlspaces like stains on base trim or drywall repairs low on the walls.

Armchair Builder: Probably the best way to avoid major flood damage is to detect the water prior to the damage occurring. A simple, ten dollar water alarm placed near the basement sump crock will alert owners with a high pitched sound when water breaches the top of the sump crock and reaches the floor. So if the sump pump stops working or is overwhelmed by large amounts of groundwater, the alarm will notify the occupants that action must be taken immediately to avoid damage to furnaces, water heaters, and owner possessions. And probably the best part about these water alarms…there is absolutely no effort required for installation. Just put the battery in and set the unit on the floor.

Signet Home Inspections: When inspecting a house for potential homebuyers, unless there is an access panel (and there usually is not), most home inspectors will not fill a bathtub to check the overflow for leaks due to it being hidden from view and the possible damage it may cause should it leak. Because of this unseen flooding potential, it may be prudent for the homebuyer to have the seller confirm serviceability by either filling the tub to the overflow level to be sure it does not leak (which can cause damage if it does) or calling a professional plumber to remove and inspect the overflow tube and its rubber gasket which can begin to deteriorate after approximately 10 years. Of course, if you already own the home, the same precaution applies to you the owner.

Timberline Inspections: Central Alabama is always prone to flooding issues regardless of whether the structure rests in a flood zone since we see an average of 54 inches of rain annually, so we have had our share of experience with it. The absolute first thing that needs to be done is the exterior drainage controlled and the source of the moisture eliminated. Even with excess rains, this can typically be solved using a combination of gutters, swales, and landscaping. Every 1000sqf of roof space with 1 inch of rainfall deposits an estimated 600 gallons of water directly next to your home and foundation. Before any repairs start you need to dry the interior once the water is controlled to ensure mold does not set in. Fungal growth will typically start in less than 48 hours so dehumidifiers and air movement are absolutely essential.

Radon Test Before Basement Remodel

It’s time to work on your basement finally. You have a plenty of ideas for what you may want your basement to end up being. It could mean you want an extra bedroom or a comfortable lounging area. You could also make it into a man cave for yourself. The most important thing to do before starting the project is testing for radon.

radon testing for basement remodelImportance of a Radon Test

Radon is an odorless, tasteless gas that happens naturally in some homes. It has radioactive properties that are a health hazard to people and can cause cancer if exposed to it over time. Some areas in the country produce more of this gas than others, so it’s important to test for this.

Radon usually seeps through cracks and gaps in the home, whether that’s in solid floors, walls, service pipes, water supply, etc. In the basement, an uncovered sump pump can release this gas into your home.

Radon can be found in the soil underneath the home. This is how it can seep into cracks in the home. When the radon decays, the radiation is released from the gas, which can cause a plethora of health issues over a long period of time.

Here are some health hazards:

  • Radioactive particles can get trapped in lungs
  • Long-term health issues (cancer)
  • Smoking and radon = higher risk for lung cancer

First Choice Inspectors specialize in home inspection services including radon inspection for your home. If you’re looking to remodel your basement and turn it into a place to hangout with the family, it’s vital for your family’s safety and health to get a radon test done.

First Choice Inspectors

We take pride in our home inspection services for the Chicago area. Our inspectors have been trained and certifies to check your home for many issues, from structural to mechanical, and environmental concerns. Contact First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 today to get a quote on a radon test before you turn your basement into the lounge room you’ve always dreamed of having.

Why It’s Important You Clean Out Your Gutters

Some homeowners don’t realize how important it is to clean out gutters when they get clogged after the fall season with leaves and other debris. It’s extremely important if you don’t want any damage to your house to happen.

If gutters are clogged from debris built up in the fall season, serious problems can happen to your home if not taken care of properly.

Clogged guttersDamages to Your House

Gutter build-up can lead to many different problems including:

  • Roof Damage – if debris is built up in the gutters, water won’t be able to flow as easily away from the house and roof. The excessive water needs to be drained out somewhere, which means if it stays, then it can cause roof damage and water leaks in your home.
  • Broken Gutters and Fascia Damage – gutters clogged with wet leaves, sticks, and other debris can get very heavy after time. The gutters will then break away from the fascia causing more damage to the house and roof.
  • Leaks – clogged gutters can cause roof leaks if they aren’t cleaned out. The standing water will, over time, cause rotting in the roof, which then can cause water leaks inside the house and other damages to occur including mold and mildew build-up in the home.

What should you do to prevent these problems to your home?

The simple solution is to clean out your gutters after a wet, fall season. This will only help you save time and money in the future to your home.

If you suspect damages to your home, it also may be a good idea to get a home inspection done. You may be experiencing problems, but you’re not sure exactly what is causing them.

At First Choice Inspectors, we have the right services to help you identify and solve problems or concerns you have with your home. Contact First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 today, and we can help you get to the bottom of the problem.