Is Your Dryer Creating a Fire Hazard in Your Home?

Is Your Dryer Creating a Fire Hazard in Your Home?Most Americans who own a home have a washer and dryer tucked away in a laundry room. In the late 1990’s, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that roughly 75 percent of American households had either a gas or electric dryer. A dryer has become an essential appliance for many people, but it can also constitute a fire hazard if it isn’t properly maintained. That same study also found that dryers caused more than 15,000 fires across the U.S. in the sample year 1996, and caused more than 300 injuries and 20 deaths.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent your dryer from becoming a fire hazard.

You can start by making sure you clean out your lint screen or lint trap after every single dryer use. The vent and exhaust duct should be inspected and cleaned periodically as well. Never place any rags or clothing items with gasoline, cooking oil or other volatile organic compounds on them in the dryer. Doing so could be catastrophic.

When moving into a home, be sure to have a home inspector take a look at the dryer to make sure it’s in good condition. If the home inspector has any reservations about the dryer, you should then either work with the home seller to have a new dryer installed, or inquire about what kinds of repairs will need to be made to ensure the dryer is safe and fully functional.

If you’re thinking about buying a new home, the experienced professionals at First Choice Inspectors can conduct a thorough inspection to identify a variety of potential safety issues. Give us a call or contact us online today to learn more.

Health Risks Associated With Asbestos Insulation

Danger Asbestos Removal SignBefore its negative health effects were widely understood, asbestos was a common feature of building materials such as tile and insulation throughout much of the 20th century. Fortunately, when left undisturbed, the health risks associated with asbestos insulation are fairly negligible. If you are buying an older home, however, it’s important to have an asbestos inspection conducted before you do any renovating or remodeling.

There are a number of different health issues associated with asbestos exposure.

If you inhale airborne asbestos fibers, they can land in the lower regions of your lungs and cause asbestosis, which is a fibrotic lung disease that can impact your respiratory function and even lead to death. Asbestos fiber inhalation can also increase your risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Frequent asbestos exposure can even lead to cardiomegaly, a condition in which the heart is enlarged.

Fortunately, there’s a simple step that you can take to avoid asbestos-related health issues.

Prior to moving into an older home, ask your home inspector to conduct a thorough asbestos inspection. If the inspector does find asbestos, you should ask the seller to have it removed completely prior to closing. The last thing you want to do is have to pay for asbestos remediation after you’ve already moved into the home.

At First Choice Inspectors, our professional asbestos inspection services can give you the peace of mind of knowing that your new home is safe and free of asbestos-based building materials. Give us a call or contact us online today to learn more.

Things to Check Before You Turn on Your Furnace This Season

Things to Check Before You Turn on Your Furnace This SeasonIt’s starting to get cold outside, and that means that it won’t be long before you’re depending on your furnace to keep your home’s interior warm and comfortable. Heating a home for several months can put your furnace under quite a bit of stress, so there are a few things you should double check before you turn it on to ensure it functions effectively.

Have you cleared everything away from the furnace?

Over the course of the summer, items can build up on and around your furnace. From cleaning rags to children’s toys and other household items that you don’t have room for elsewhere, it’s easy to allow stuff to pile up near your furnace. Before you turn your furnace on, move these items away and make sure it has plenty of clearance to allow for proper airflow. If left unchecked, these stray items can constitute a fire hazard as well.

Have you replaced your furnace filter?

Your furnace filter cleans the air that circulates through your furnace and HVAC system. This filter can pretty filthy over time, and when it does, it will reduce the efficiency of your furnace. It will also allow dust, germs and other pollutants to become airborne in your home. This can have a detrimental effect on your air quality, and even make you and your family sick. Make sure you have a fresh filter to start the season off right.

Have you had your furnace inspected recently?

If you have a fairly new furnace, you might be able to get away without having a furnace inspection. Generally speaking, however, you should have your furnace inspected at least once a year. This will allow you to deal with any potential technical issues and keep your furnace up and running all winter long.

Buying a New Home? Be Sure to Get a Radon Inspection First!

Buying a New Home? Be Sure to Get a Radon Inspection First!There are plenty of things to check off your to-do list before you buy a new home. One thing that many homebuyers neglect to do, however, is get a radon inspection before they move in. It can be easy to forget, but radon inspections are very important, particularly if you live in an area that’s prone to radon exposure.

Radon is a radioactive gas that forms when the uranium in soil and rock decays naturally over time. It comes up through the soil, and eventually makes its way into the atmosphere. When houses are built on soil with radon content, the gas can permeate the homes’ foundations and cause serious health problems for local residents. In fact, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America. It’s also odorless and colorless, which makes it impossible to detect without a professional inspection.

Before you buy a home, you should ask a home inspector to conduct a radon inspection.

Radon inspections are very simple, but they are also very important to the health of you and your family. If radon is detected, a ventilation system can be installed to divert the gas away from your home. Any cracks in the home’s foundation can also be sealed to prevent radon from permeating the home in the future.  

Are you concerned about the presence of radon in your home? At First Choice Inspectors, we can conduct a comprehensive radon inspection to put your mind at ease. Contact us online or give us a call today to schedule an appointment.

It Time to Replace Your Old Water Heater?

It Time to Replace Your Old Water Heater?If you have a hot water heater that is more than 10 years old, it’s probably time for you to think about replacing it. Your typical tank water heater is only meant to last for about a decade, and while you might get a little bit more life out of it than that, you should be prepared for a water heater replacement once your water heater turns 10. There are also a few other signs that will tell you it’s time to replace your old water heater. Check them out below.

Your water heater is delivering rusty water to your home.

Have you noticed that the hot water in your home has a rusty color to it? This may be the result of galvanized plumbing pipes in your home, but it may also be your water heater kicking up sediment from inside the tank and sending it out into your home. You obviously don’t want to use this water for an extended period of time, so if you start to notice it on a daily basis, you should start checking out new water heaters.

Your water heater is making strange sounds.

The sediment in your old water heater can do more than just cause rusty water. It can also cause loud banging sounds inside the tank. This happens when the sediment is heated up over and over again, which causes it to harden. These sounds are not going to go away, so you should not ignore them. Rather, you should take it as a sign that it’s time to look at new water heaters.

Your water heater is leaking.

When your water heater fails completely, it will usually start leaking all over the place. This is a pretty obvious sign that you will not be able to use your water heater anymore. Even if it’s just a small leak, it means your water heater is on the verge of becoming completely unusable.

If you’re in the process of purchasing a new home, you should have it inspected for potential problems, like an old water heater that will need to be replaced soon. First Choice Inspectors can provide you with a quality home inspection and identify these areas of concern before you buy. Give us a call at (773) 429-9711 today to schedule an inspection.

Here’s Why You Should Have an Inspection Done Before Listing Your Home

When is the last time you had your home inspected? Most likely, it has been a long time since a professional looked it over, and that’s typical. But if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, you should consider having First Choice Inspectors conduct a thorough inspection. Yes, you as the seller should get your home inspected. This is a proactive move on your part that can be used to more effectively market and sell the property. It’s like getting a “seal of approval” from an objective source. Furthermore, it allows you, the seller, to discover any problems that need repairs before they become a bone of contention in the negotiation process.

Potential buyers will feel more at peace about purchasing your home if they know it has been professionally inspected and they can read over the detailed report. The fact that you’re willing to share this information with them helps build trust.

If an inspector finds something in need of repair and you, the seller, are able to have it fixed before putting the home on the market, then you can show the potential buyer you took care of it so they wouldn’t have to– this also makes them feel better about their impending purchase. It’s better to address any problems before trying to sell a house than to have to deal with buyers nitpicking over things later on. Selling a home can be stressful, so whatever you can do to de-stress the process should be done.

Interestingly, the two main things that help sell a property are its price and condition. Therefore, it’s best to make sure the home is in its best condition before putting it up for sale. You won’t truly know how your house is “holding up” until you have a professional home inspector check it.

In the Chicago area, contact First Choice Inspectors to arrange a proper inspection.

What to Expect During Your Home Inspection

Home Inspectiion What can you expect during your home inspection? Typically your home inspector is a professional man who knows a lot about homes. He will give the home you’re interested in a thorough examination, much like a doctor checks a patient.

The inspector typically carries a clipboard with sheets of paper on it. On these pieces of paper are lists of various things found in a typical home, like the appliances in the kitchen, faucets in the bathroom, etc. The inspector goes from room to room in a house looking at things, testing them when needed. For instance, he may put a gadget into the outlet in a wall in the living room and that gadget will tell him if it’s getting electricity as it should. If it’s not, he’ll make a note of it.

Meanwhile, the inspector is likely to examine the “nooks and crannies” of the house– the basement, the attic, etc. Again, he’ll make note of what he sees, if everything is in good working order, and/or what needs fixing or replacing.

The nice thing about having a home inspection done is that you can follow the inspector along and ask questions. See that stain on the ceiling near the fireplace? The inspector can explain to you what he thinks is going on there. If it’s a big deal, you can then ask the seller to have it repaired before you buy the house. That way you’re not stuck paying for the problem!

A home inspector is an examiner who essentially gives your house a report card. Where it’s failing, improvements need to be done. In other areas, it’s fine– all’s well.

In the Chicago area, you can email info@firstchoiceinspectors.com or call 773-429-9711 to have a professional home inspector walk through the home you intend to sell or buy and then give you a detailed report of what he found. This information proves to be invaluable to people.

The Importance of Having an Inspection Done Before Buying a Foreclosed Home

Foreclosed HomesForeclosed homes can typically be bought for a “better” price than a non-foreclosed home. Think about it this way: the home, at one time, was utilized and loved. Now, however, it’s most likely owned by a bank just looking to get rid of it. This could be a very good deal for the right buyer.

Most foreclosed homes end up being unoccupied for quite some time. What happens to homes when no one’s around to maintain them? Things can go wrong. Boarded up homes don’t have air circulating through them. No one’s there to open the doors and windows frequently. Pipes can burst. Toilets can clog. Rodents can chew through wires. Holes in the roof can form, letting in water leading to ceiling damage… and the list goes on and on.

First Choice Inspectors offers a service you might consider when in the process of buying a foreclosed home. First Choice can do a foreclosed home inspection so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into before you’ve made the big purchase. You’ve heard the term “better safe than sorry,” right? This is true in this case, for sure.

Having a foreclosed home properly and professionally inspected allows a buyer to have better peace of mind than just buying the property “as is” and “hoping for the best.” An inspection lets you know if the purchase is truly a worthwhile deal or a money pit that’s not worth the headaches!

First Choice Inspectors, LLC, offers the best property inspection and house inspections in Chicago, Illinois, and its surrounding areas including Hoffman Estates. Email info@firstchoiceinspectors.com for more information about having a foreclosed home inspected before you sign on the dotted line to buy it. It’s better to know any problems with a home before you buy it than to discover them unexpectedly at inopportune times once you’re moved in and are just trying to relax after moving all your boxes and furniture and “stuff” into the new place.

 

Common Problems Caused By Poor Roof Ventilation

Roof VentsFirst Choice Inspectors see a lot of roofs in Chicago and Aurora, Illinois. As inspectors, they look for common problems caused by poor roof ventilation. So, what do they look for?

Inspectors often look at an attic to figure out how the roof ventilation of a house is working well… or not. When a roof is properly vented, the attic allows for airflow such that the air is cooled and moisture is reduced. This is a good thing. Problems occur when the ventilation isn’t working right, and the attic becomes overtly hot and moist. When this occurs, an inspector might notice mold and mildew, saggy or spongy decking, and frost or ice dam formations where they shouldn’t be.

Obviously mold is something no homeowner wants because breathing that stuff in is not good for one’s health. Furthermore, mold messes with the roof sheathing, causing it to wear down. If and when too much moisture ends up in the roof decking, guess what happens… adhesives holding the sheathing together end up dissolving. If you’ve ever walked on roof decking that seemed warped, saggy or even “spongy,” you know that’s not a good thing. Overall, this weakens the roof such that it cannot bear heavy loads as intended.

Poor roof ventilation can also be discovered if and when an inspector notices shingles that seem to be cracking or curling. He or she may look for the loss of granules on the shingles, too.

Have you ever left a car window open in the winter while the car was outside overnight? The next day you discovered that frost had formed inside the car. Imagine that happening inside your attic. When the frost melts there, where does the water go? It ends up dripping into your ceiling– not good. An inspector would want to look for places where wet, cold air could seep into a home. Maybe something as simple as a cracked attic window has been letting in “the weather outside.”

Finally, an inspector looks for ice dams. These form at the edge of the roof creating a barrier preventing water from running off the roof. Ice damming is typically the result of poor roof ventilation.

If you’re wondering if your roof is properly vented, call First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 to make an appointment for an inspection.

The Importance of Inspecting a Home’s Plumbing System Before Making an Offer

Plumbing SystemsBefore you buy a home you should have First Choice Inspectors check out the home’s plumbing system. After all, you’re spending the most money you’ve ever spent in your life to make the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. It’s important to check to make sure you’re getting a home in good working order, and the plumbing drains and pipes are intrinsic to that!

In general, a plumbing system is not something the average person thinks about, unless it’s not working, right? However, a plumbing inspector thinks about the plumbing system in great detail and then investigates it. For example, how does it connect to the main sewer? Can a camera be inserted along the lines to see if there are any clogs that need cleaning out? How old are the home’s pipes? Are they all connected properly?

Water heaters play an important role in daily life, providing hot showers and more. An inspector will examine your new home’s water heater to see if it’s in need of replacement or functioning just fine. Where is it located in the house? If it leaks, will it ruin your stuff? Is it the right size for your needs? Will you need a bigger one if you plan to install a giant tub, or a smaller one if you prefer taking quick showers?

Then, of course, there are the home’s toilets. Try going a day without a working toilet and you’ll know how bad that situation gets! A professional inspector checks toilets at their base to look for any leaks. You’re not likely to know if your new toilets have bad seals or aren’t properly secured to the flange, but your inspector will.

First Choice Inspectors can and will examine the physical components of your potential new home’s plumbing system. They’ll look for outdated materials that should be replaced as well as any leaks that need fixing before you take ownership of the place. Call 773-429-9711 to schedule an inspection.