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Energy Efficient Homes Home Energy Audit Home Inspection Uncategorized

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!

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Home Inspection How to Select a Home Inspector New Home Inspection Uncategorized

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!

 

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Asbestos Asbestos in Old Homes Asbestos Removal Home Inspection Uncategorized

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!

 

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Basement Inspections Home Inspection Radon Uncategorized

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.

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Clogged Gutters Home Inspection Roof Inspections Uncategorized

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.

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Basement Inspections Foundation Inspections Home Inspection Uncategorized

Avoiding a Wet Basement Can Save You Money in the Future

If your home’s foundation is causing you several headaches, it must mean there are major problems with the foundation that need to be fixed right away. It’s essential that your home has a solid foundation, especially when living in colder northern climates that have a stone or concrete foundation and a basement.

Staying on top of house problems will save you money on costly repairs to your basement and foundation.

Wet basement cartoonCauses of Wet Basements

There are plenty of causes to a wet basement, and we want you to be aware of them, so you can find solutions to the problem. If there are heavy rains, the groundwater can seep through floors and foundations.

Your gutters also can factor in if they’re not cleaned out properly. The backup of leaves and other debris will cause gutters to overflow, which means the second-floor gutters will drain into the first-floor gutters.

Landscaping can cause issues if grading is not done right. If water is flowing towards the house, rather than away from it, flooding will occur causing a wet basement and damages.

Mold and Mildew

A basement is a perfect host for mold and mildew if it is damp and contains a large amount of moisture. If you’re having problems with a wet basement, you’ll eventually have more problems when mold and mildew grows from this issue. Adding gutter extensions, repairing footing drains, reshaping the landscaping, cleaning out gutters, and utilizing a dehumidifier will prevent your basement from becoming wet, flooding, and growing mold.

A Home Inspection is Your Best Solution

The number one solution to this issue is obtaining a home inspection from First Choice Inspectors!  Part of the general home inspection includes structural components of the house, including the foundation and basement. We check for everything causing your basement to have problems such as cracks and defects, wet basements, and basement mold and mildew.

If you’re in need of professional experience when it comes to foundation inspections and general home inspections, contact First Choice Inspectors at 773-429-9711 today!

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Home Inspection

What Is Knob and Tube Wiring and Why Is it a Safety Hazard?

Knob and Tube WiringIf you’re thinking about buying an older home, be sure to keep an eye out for knob and tube wiring. This outdated style of wiring, commonly used in homes built between 1880 and 1950, is considered obsolete and may constitute a safety hazard. Here’s what you need to know:

How Does It Work?

Knob and tube wiring utilizes copper conductors that are protected and insulated by porcelain tubes. Along their length, the tubes are supported by porcelain knobs that are nailed to nearby studs and joists. When the wires enter a wall or switch, they are protected by a “loom.” The loom is made of flexible cloth or rubber insulation. Note that knob and tube wiring cannot support three-pronged appliances because it lacks a ground wire.

Is It Dangerous?

Knob and tube wiring is not inherently unsafe. Rather, it can become hazardous due to age, improper modifications and situations where building insulation envelops its wires. Because it has no grounding conductor, knob and tube wiring is also more vulnerable to fires than modern electrical wiring.

Is It Legal?

While knob and tube wiring is not permitted in any new construction, there is no safety code that mandates its complete removal.

Should You Have It Removed

Ultimately, this may depend on your budget. It’s expensive to completely rewire a house, but damaged or improperly modified knob and tube wiring is a serious fire hazard. It’s always best to have a professional electrician evaluate the situation.

A thorough home inspection can help uncover knob and tube wiring, along with other issues that affect older homes, such as faulty insulation, foundation issues and more. If you’re in the Chicago area, call First Choice Inspectors at (773) 429-9711 to get your free quote today.

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Home Inspection

Warning Signs of Faulty Electrical Wiring

Scorched OutletConcerned about DIY or outdated electrical work in your home or a home you’re thinking about buying? Faulty wiring can be expensive to replace and pose serious safety risks to homeowners. Today we’ll address a few telltale signs of bad electrical work to look out for.

Hot Outlets

Although electrical appliances may generate heat when operating, your outlets should never be hot to the touch. The one exception is dimmer switches, which do get warm in the course of normal operation. However, these should never feel uncomfortably hot.

Flickering Lights

No, it’s not a ghost. Flickering lights are a common sign of a loose electrical connection.

Strange Odors

Some new appliances have a noticeable scent when you first plug them in. However, if you notice an odd smell (particularly a burning smell or the smell of ozone) coming from an outlet, immediately unplug all appliances from that outlet and have an electrician check out the problem.

Fuses That Always Blow, or Breakers That Always Trip

Fuses and circuit breakers are designed to prevent overloading by failing when necessary. If you trip a breaker every time you blow dry your hair or turn on the vacuum cleaner, it’s likely the result of inadequate or poorly-installed wiring.

Crackling, Popping or Buzzing From and Outlet

You should never hear noises coming from your outlets. If you do, it could be the result of loose prongs, fraying wire or another electrical issue.

Sparking

If a fuse box, outlet or breaker panel is sparking, call an electrician ASAP.

A thorough home inspection can help detect faulty electrical work, along with other issues including foundation problems, insulation gaps and more. If you’re in the Chicago area, call First Choice Inspectors at (773) 429-9711 to get your free quote today!

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Home Inspection

Keep an Eye out for These Common Issues in Old Homes

Old HomeSpringtime is home buying season. With good weather on the horizon, realtors and sellers alike are readying homes, making repairs and preparing for open houses. The last few years have been a sellers’ market, and 2019 is expected to continue this trend. With this in mind, many buyers may be expanding their searches to include older homes.

Although there are no hard and fast rules for what constitutes an older home, those built before 1920 fall in the antique category. Since Chicago became a city in the mid-1800s, there is a substantial inventory of older homes in the city and surrounding suburbs. As such, it’s not uncommon for prospective buyers to find an older home on the market. It may have a rustic charm, but buyers should be aware of a few common and costly issues associated with these homes.

Lead and Asbestos

Until the 1970s, construction materials commonly included lead and asbestos. Any older home may have remnants of these hazardous materials leftover from previous decades. Mitigating lead plumbing can mean filtration, replacing a few fittings or replumbing a whole house. Many older homes come with a lead paint warning, and the only way to ensure a house is completely free of lead paint is by investing in professional lead paint abatement, which can be expensive. The same goes for asbestos removal.

Insufficient and Unsafe Electrical Systems

Most houses built in the early 20th century were not wired for the number of electronics, lights and appliances we have these days. While you will need an inspector to fully assess the wiring in a house and a professional electrician to help replace wiring, you can learn some useful things about a house’s electrical condition during an initial walkthrough. Look for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) and grounded, three-prong wall sockets. Count the number of outlets in each room; newer building standards typically include them every few feet. Open the breaker box as well. It should have breakers, not fuses, and the panel should be free of rust and other signs of damage.

Aging Mechanicals

Although water heaters, furnaces, and central air can last for decades in some cases, an older home may have equipment that is well past its recommended replacement date. The current owner will probably be unlikely replace these items, but with a little research, you can schedule and prepare for their replacement costs. Don’t forget to account for appliances like refrigerators, ranges, and dishwashers too.

This short list of issues that you may find in an older home is just a start. Home buyers should also be on the lookout for mold and mildew, termite problems, leaky plumbing, poor insulation, outdated windows, roofs in disrepair, radon and foundation problems.

Of course, a professional home inspector will call attention to any of the issues, but it never hurts to have a list of questions ready when it comes time to walk through that classic old house of your dreams.

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Home Inspection

Chicago Named the Second-Most Affordable City for Home Buyers

Chicago SkylineThinking about buying a home in the Windy City? Chicago’s housing market may be experiencing a period of slow growth, but it’s also one of the most affordable markets in the nation, according to a recent report published in Crain’s.

This report found that, of the 20 largest cities in the U.S., only St. Louis has a housing market more affordable than Chicago. Furthermore, while other major cities such as New York, Seattle and Philadelphia are expected to see an increase in housing prices over the next few years, the report estimates that Chicago’s market will continue to remain affordable through late 2021.

Rather than comparing cities to one another, this affordability index compared individual cities to their own price histories, taking into account variables such as employment growth, incomes and home prices. Based on this data, the report found that monthly payments on median-priced Chicago homes account for 23 to 24 percent of the median household income. In contrast, during the most recent housing boom, housing costs in Chicago were as high as 35 percent of the median household income.

These unique market conditions have made it a particularly good time to buy a home in Chicago.

Whether you’re buying your first home or shopping for investment properties, the team at First Choice Inspectors can work with you to make sure you’re making an informed decision. We offer a diverse selection of home inspection services, including new home inspections, energy audits, radon inspections and more.

Give us a call or contact us online to schedule your next inspection today!