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 It’s also a good idea to replace old, outdated surge protectors with new ones periodically.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Outdated electrical wiring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.

 

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.

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!