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Types of Inspections a Home May Need

There are many types of inspections a home may need. It is wise to inspect any system before you operate it. Home owners are not always forth-telling and sometimes there is just no way to know how well a home is maintained. Many people will do surface cleaning and cover-ups just before the sale of the home. As a home inspector there is only so much of a home we can visually inspect.

The services listed are inspections that are outside the scope of a home inspection.

  • Radon Measurement Test
  • Wood Destroying Insect Inspection
  • Chimney Inspection
  • Septic Inspection
  • Tank Inspection
  • Mold Inspection
  • Lead and Lead Paint Inspection
  • Asbestos Inspection

Radon Measurement Test:
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas. It occurs naturally, coming from the radioactive decay of Radium, which in turn comes from the radioactive decay of Uranium.These chemical elements are found in the soil in many parts of the country.

As Radon itself decays, it produces its own family of radioactive decay products. These decay products are heavy metals - Polonium, Bismuth and Lead. Radon is chemically inert and does not stick to the lungs when it is ingested. The metallic decay products (which may in some cases be electrically charged) do adhere to the lung surface and when they decay they produce damage to the lung tissue.

Because Radon is a gas, it finds its way easily from the soil gas containing it into the basements of homes. The most common pathways including utility openings, sumps, drains, cracks in the floors, foundations, hollow cement and cinder block foundation walls.

Radon penetration into homes is unpredictable. One house may have very high levels and the neighbor can have little or none. It all has to do with details of the underlying formation and geological detail including fault lines. Radon testing is the only way to know if your house is safe. Get more information from the
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Radon Program.

Wood Destroying Insect Inspection:
Wood destroying insects include termites, carpenter ants, powder post beetles and carpenter bees. Termites, carpenter ants and powder post beetles can cause significant structural damage to a home, whereas carpenter bees are more a nuisance pest.

Some neighborhoods in our area have a high incidence of termites with as many as one out of five houses having active or previous infestations. Termites are difficult to find since they live in the soil and only enter the structure to feed. These insects do not like to be exposed to light or dry air so they eat within the wood and rarely break the surface, making them all the more difficult to spot. In most homes the owners are not aware of their presence.

Carpenter ants can occur in any home and are generally drawn in by favorable conditions such as damp, decayed wood.

Powder post beetles are primarily a pest of older homes but will infest newer homes if damp wood is available.

All of these insects prefer damp habitats. Therefore your best protection against wood destroying insects is to keep your framing clean and dry. Eliminating basement and crawlspace moisture is critical as well as maintaining leak proof roof flashings. In addition eliminating wood/.soil contact at such places as basement window frames and where planters are installed against the side of the house is necessary. Taking precautions such as these, along with monitoring for insect activity will help to guard your house against insect damage.

Chimney Inspection:
The internal elements of the chimney fall outside the scope of a visual home inspection. A damaged and/or defective chimney lining is considered both a fire and/or health hazard.

The only way to effectively evaluate the internal elements of a chimney is to conduct an internal video scan using specialized equipment. The camera is the only way to locate problems like deteriorated linings and open cavities/separations that invite creosote and/or oil residue buildup. These conditions create a dangerous environment and increase the risk of a fire and/or carbon-monoxide leakage.

National Fire Safety Standard - NFPA 211 - Disclosure. A Level 2 chimney inspection is required when changes are made to the system. Changes can include a change in the fuel type, change to the shape of or material in the flue (I.E. re-lining), or the replacement or addition of an appliance of a dissimilar type, input rating or efficiency. Additionally, a Level 2 internal inspection is required upon the sale and/or transfer of a property or after an operating malfunction or external event that is likely to have caused damage to the chimney. Building fires, chimney fires, seismic events as well as weather events are all indicators that this level of inspection is warranted. A Level 2 inspection is a more in-depth inspection than a Level 1 inspection.

Since most defects are considered structural and may have serious safety consequences, the cost to re-line the chimney may be negotiable with the seller. In any event, an internal chimney inspection must be conducted to help ensure the safety of your family.

Septic Inspection:
Septic systems are an important part of any home or building and should be tested by a septic inspector trained under association septic inspection standards. A common misconception by home buyers ordering septic inspections is that septic tanks treat sewage; they do not. Septic tanks merely remove some solids and condition the sanitary flow so that it can be safely disposed of to a subsurface facility such as a tile field, leaching pools, or buried sand filter. A complete septic inspection will test the working components of the septic system. Additionally, the organic solids retained in the tank undergo a process of liquefaction and anaerobic decomposition by bacterial organisms. The clarified septic tank effluent is highly odorous, contains finely divided solids, and may contain enteric pathogenic organisms. The small amounts of gases produced by the anaerobic bacterial action are usually vented and dispersed to the atmosphere without noticeable odor or ill effects.

The most complete inspections use a digital camera in conjunction with a dye test. A septic inspection is not complete unless the inspection is performed by an experienced and certified inspector. In addition, a complete inspection should include pumping the system, which should be performed at the time of inspection.

Tank Inspection:
Why should you have the oil tank tested before you purchase your new home? You will be unable to insure your underground oil tank without a passing certificate from a licensed testing company. Without insurance, you run the risk of being liable for the environmental cleanup which could cost in excess of $100,000.00 should your tank leak.

In addition, should the tank fail the test, the current homeowner, will be responsible, not the home buyer. If you take ownership of the home before testing the tank, and the tank is proven to be faulty, you will be responsible for cleanup.

Mold Inspection:
What is mold and where is it found? Molds (fungi) are present everywhere indoors and outdoors. They serve an important, positive role by helping to break down organic matter. There are more than 100,000 species of mold. At least 1,000 species are common in the U.S. Some of the most common molds found are species of cladosporium, penicillium, and aspergillus. Mold is most likely to grow where there is water or dampness, such as bathrooms and basements.

How can molds affect your health? The most common types of mold are generally not hazardous to healthy individuals. However, infants, people with asthma, hay fever or other allergies, or those who have weakened immune systems are more likely to react to mold.

Common reactions to mold include runny nose, eye irritations, cough, congestion and aggravation of asthma. A small percentage of the population can develop more serious effects, such as fevers and breathing difficulties. In rare instances, some types of mold can cause more serious health problems.
For more information about mold.

Lead and Lead Paint Inspection:
In general, the older your home, the more likely it has lead-based paint. Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978. Some states stopped its use even earlier.

Lead can be found; in homes in the city, country, or suburbs. In apartments, single-family homes, and both private and public housing. Inside and outside of the house. In soil around a home. (Soil can pick up lead from exterior paint, or other sources such as past use of leaded gas in cars). Household dust. (Dust can pick up lead from deteriorating lead-based paint or from soil tracked into a home).

Lead could be in drinking water. Your home might have plumbing with lead or lead solder. Call your local health department or water supplier to find out about testing your water. You cannot see, smell, or taste lead, and boiling your water will not get rid of lead. If you think your plumbing might have lead in it: Use only cold water for drinking and cooking. Run water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if you have not used your water for a few hours.

We may come in contact with lead in many ways: If you work with lead, you could bring it home on your hands or clothes. Shower and change clothes before coming home. Launder your work clothes separately from the rest of your family's clothes. Old painted toys and furniture. Food and liquids stored in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain. Lead smelters or other industries that release lead into the air. Hobbies that use lead, such as making pottery or stained glass, or refinishing furniture. Folk remedies that contain lead, such as "greta" and "azarcon" used to treat an upset stomach.
For more information about lead.

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John Valentino Jr. New Jersey Home Inspector License Number 24GI00083500
New Jersey Radon Measurement Technician Certification Number MET12443