Frequently Asked Questions

Should I be worried about toxic molds in my home?

According to the National Center for Disease Control,”the hazards presented by toxic molds (molds that may contain mycotoxins) should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house”.

There are very few case reports that toxic molds inside homes cause unique or rare health conditions; however, it is widely known that large quantities of any kind of mold in a home can cause health problems for many individuals. The common health concerns from molds include hay fever-like allergic symptoms.

Certain individuals with chronic respiratory disease such as asthma may experience difficulty breathing when exposed to mold or mold spores. Individuals with immune suppression also may be at increased risk for infection from molds.

If you think you may have a mold problem, it isn’t the type of mold that is the problem…… its not doing anything about it and letting it grow inside your home! If you have a moisture problem in your home get it fixed immediately and remove or thoroughly disinfect affected materials.

Are Septic Tanks included in a Standard Home Inspection?

In order to inspect and evaluate a septic system with any degree of adequacy and reliability it is necessary to excavate the access cover on the tank and extract the sewage contained therein. This requires the use of a septic disposal truck and pump equipment. The tank is pumped out, flushed and then inspected. For a truly reliable evaluation of your septic system, a qualified, licensed septic contractor needs to be called in. This type of thorough inspection typically costs $ 300 to $ 500.

Buyers should be wary of home inspection companies that claim to include this inspection in their report without reflecting this cost. Purchasing rural property without a professional septic inspection is a gamble and can have costly results. When a septic system stops working, the only thing that goes down the toilet is money.

How do I tell if my home needs a new roof?

All roofs have a life expectancy based on a number of factors:

1. The type of construction of the roof. Some roofs are very complex with many valleys and peaks. Roof leaks typically first occur in the valleys. The more valleys a roof has the higher likelyhood of leaks.

2. The quality of the materials in the roof. If you comparison shop in a roofing contractors showroom, they can point out the differences in quality and cost. Better materials can have significantly longer warranties.

3. The quality of workmanship varries greatly among roofing contractors. The ones that give extra attention to the details in critical areas like the valleys and penetrations separate themselves from the ones trying to make a fast buck.

3. The climate conditions that the roof is subjected to obviously affect its life expectancy. High winds and exposure to moisture and sunlight will deteriorate all roofs.

Opinions vary among inspectors on when they recommend a new roof; however the bottom line is whether it leaks or not! Obviously there are incentives to having a new roof installed by a professional roofing contractor but this option is usually more expensive than repairing one. If the repair costs are small in comparison to the cost of replacement and those repairs will significantly extend the life of the roof, then that may be your best option. If your roof is at or past its normal service life expectancy you should lean towards getting a new roof.

As a rule of thumb: Concrete tile roofs typically last 20 to 30 years if well maintained. Asphalt shingled roofs typically last 20 to 25 years.

Should I test my home for mold?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend testing as a first step to determine if you have a mold problem. The primary reason the CDC does not recommend testing for mold contamination is that there are no available standards for judging what is an acceptable quantity of mold.

In all locations throughout this country, there is some level of surface and airborne mold particles. If sampling is carried out in a home or building, an outdoor air sample also must be collected at the same time as the indoor air samples to provide a baseline measurement. However, this type of test is not as useful as one might think because individual susceptibility varies greatly and sampling cannot determine if there is an unacceptable amount of mold in either the outside or inside air samples.

Another good reason not to start with testing is the expense. Individual samples can cost $ 100 per sample and many samples are usually taken to cover large areas. One can spend a lot of money and not get any real useful information.

Some Home Inspectors offer mold testing for additional fees. The money might be better spent by hiring another inspector or general contractor to evaluate your concerns and offer solutions that will find and eliminate moisture problems and contaminated materials.

The best way to deal with a suspicion of mold contamination within a home is:

1. Look for any signs of chronic moisture problems like: leaking roofs, plumbing or air conditioning units. Water stains on walls, ceilings or roof sheathing in the attic are signs of past or active moisture problems.

2. If you can smell mold, you likely have a problem and should take immediate steps to locate and remediate the problem. Poorly maintained air conditioning equipment can support mold growth on the evaporator coil. The air handler can distribute mold particles throughout the home.

3. Mold growth is likely to recur unless the source of moisture that is allowing mold to grow is removed and the contaminated area is cleaned.

4. The main elements of the Clean-up Procedures are:

a. Identify and eliminate sources of moisture

b. Identify and assess the magnitude and area of mold contamination

c. Clean and dry moldy areas. Dispose of all material that may have moldy residues

After you have done all of the above you will have eliminated the problem and the need for testing.

Shouldn’t a Home Inspector always walk a roof to fully inspect it?

Home inspectors typically want to inspect a roof by walking on the surface, as this is a good way to observe and evaluate the age and condition of a roof. However, there are six common conditions that would keep an inspector off the roof:

1. The surface is too steep to provide safe footing

2. The surface is too high for access with a normal length ladder

3. The roofing is so deteriorated that foot traffic would cause further damage

4. Surface conditions such as moisture or fungi films make the roof too slippery

5. The roofing consists of fragile tiles that might break under foot pressure

6. The sellers have ordered the inspector to stay off the roof

For sections of roofs that cannot be accessed for any of the above reasons an alternative method is to inspect the exterior surfaces of the roof from the ground or edge of the roof.

However, the most important visual perspective one can obtain is from under the roof. An inspector should always try to view the sheathing under the roof (in the attic areas). This is where leaks are typically first noticed.

It usually takes a period of time for roof leaks to eventually show up in the ceilings of a home. Often roofs leak for months or years before the occupants see a stain in the walls or ceilings.

What is Dry Rot?

The actual term is “wood rot”. When wood is subjected to repeated exposure to water and is not adequately painted or sealed to prevent water absorption, fungus invades the moistened wood and breaks it down. Over a period of time the fungus attack makes the wood appear to be dried out and cracked. Fungus is a wood destroying organism (WDO) and it can destroy the value of a home just like termites can. Keeping a good coat of paint on your home?s wood trim will help keep the moisture out and prevent wood rot. Also make sure that you irrigation sprinklers (or your neighbor’s) don’t hit your home.

What is the difference between drywood and subterranean termites?

Drywood termites live and nest in dry wood (inside the home) while subterranean termites live and nest in colonies much like ants do… underground. Subterranean termite nests can contain many thousands of termites that leave the nest to forage for food (wood).

Drywood termites usually do not destroy a home nearly as quickly as subterranean termites can. It may take years for drywood termites to destroy a single board of wood; however, large nests of subterranean termites can destroy the structural integrity of an entire roof or wall in a home in a matter of six months.

Treatment for subterranean termites involves poisoning the soil around the perimeter of the home or installing canisters of poisoned bait around the home. The most reliable treatment for drywood termites is to tent the house and fill the house with a gas called Vikane. The gas will kill all insects in the house. This process takes a couple of days and you and your pets need to stay out of the home during this treatment.

What kinds of electrical problems are of concern for hot tubs?

Typical safety concerns for hot tubs include checking for overfused and double-tapped electric circuits; substandard electrical grounding; exposed and unprotected romex wires; and worst of all, lack of ground fault protection, a condition which can expose hot tub users to fatal electric shock.