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The following information is taken from the EPA’s website. For more information visit their website: http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/hmbyguid.html#1.a.
If you are concerned about Radon and would like to have your home tested please give us a call. 615-481-7293. If you mention this blog you will receive $25 off!
Radon Has Been Found In Homes All Over the U.S.
Radon is a radioactive gas that has been found in homes all over the United States. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Radon can also enter your home through well water. Your home can trap radon inside.
Any home can have a radon problem. This means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. In fact, you and your family are most likely to get your greatest radiation exposure at home. That is where you spend most of your time.
Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have an elevated radon level (4 pCi/L or more). Elevated levels of radon gas have been found in homes in your state. Contact your state radon office for information about radon in your area.
b. EPA and the Surgeon General Recommend That You Test Your Home
Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.
You cannot predict radon levels based on state, local, and neighborhood radon measurements. Do not rely on radon test results taken in other homes in the neighborhood to estimate the radon level in your home. Homes which are next to each other can have different radon levels. Testing is the only way to find out what your home’s radon level is.
In some areas, companies may offer different types of radon service agreements. Some agreements let you pay a one-time fee that covers both testing and radon mitigation, if needed. Contact your state radon office to find out if these are available in your state.
U.S. Surgeon General Health Advisory
“Indoor radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to families all over the country. It’s important to know that this threat is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established venting techniques.” January 2005
There is a lot of talk about financial security and security on the internet but what about home security? We highly recommend a security system but beyond that there are things you can do to gain some peace of mind and we are going to share those with you.
1. Make the home look occupied by leaving some lights on or having your lights on a timer.
2. Keep a car parked in your driveway. If you are going to be away for a few days have a neighbor park there or a relative leave their car there.
3. Never leave notes on your door indicating you are away and have someone collect your mail when you are away.
4. Keep landscaping trimmed just below the window to avoid creating a hiding space for burgerlers.
5. All exterior doors should have a dead bolt and you should use them.
6. Make sure to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year!
7. Make sure to not leave things out lying around that could be used for access into your home such as tools, ladders, or extra keys.
8. Install flood lights at all corners of the house. Motion detector lights would also work.
9. If you have an alarm system that is not currently being monitored it will still work as a deterrent when the alarm sounds.
10. Get to know your neighbors! Exchange contact information and keep an eye out on each others house. Or better yet, start a neighborhood watch group.
To find out more about home safety go to: http://www.usaonwatch.org/
Some condominium owners have questioned the necessity of having a unit inspection before they make a purchase. But upon closer examination, the question might be asked instead, “why not?” Buying a condo requires capital expenditure that can be as high or higher than that of a house. With such a sizable investment at stake, it makes sense to fully understand the condition of the property being considered for purchase.
If a condo purchase is being considered, the inside structure is accessible and can be inspected thoroughly. An inspector can evaluate the major mechanical systems including the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. As in a home inspection, the inspector will evlauate the distribution of electrical outlets, to ensure adequate power distribution. Gas appliances including gas stoves, gas dryers, and gas fire places will be checked for proper operating condition and leaks. The rooms in which water usage will be required, such as bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry area will be checked for adequate water pressure, proper hot and cold water distribution and drainage. Faucets a handles will also be checked. While in the kitchen, a home inspector will examine the condition of the cabinets and counter-tops as well.
Floors, walls, and ceilings need to be checked to determine their condition and whether they are free of holes, cracks, or water stains. Water damage (if any) from above-unit leaks may be determined at this time.
Windows and doors will be checked to make sure they fit properly and open and close properly. A similar inspection is done to the steps, stairways, balcony, and railings, to make sure maintenance and safety issues have been addressed. During an inspection, findings of unsafe practices, pest infestations, or mold growth, among others are documented.
Some condos units are self contained, and house individual heating and air conditioning units, hot water heater and washer and dryer. In these instances, the condo provides the inspector with easy access to this equipment, allowing the inspector to perform a thorough investigation of the these appliances.
In some cases, however, the condo inspector may only be able to ascertain the condition of some of these systems with access to the condo common areas. In other cases, the inspector may have limited or no access to these areas, as well as determining the condition of the roof or the other common structure.
In cases in which an inspector has no access to certain systems within the complex, condo inspectors suggest a detailed review of the condo association meeting and minutes and budget information. These documents may reveal a great deal of information regarding the past association expenditures and provide a prediction of repairs looming. Thus prospective buyers can budget for current condo cost, as well as the possibility of any special assessments that are anticipated in the futures.
Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, and here at InterNACHI, we want to change that. Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want their homes to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy-efficiency, InterNACHI energy auditors can perform in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home.
Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons:
- Federal, state, utility and local jurisdictions’ financial incentives, such as tax breaks, are very advantageous in most parts of the U.S.
- It saves money. It costs less to power a home that has been converted to be more energy-efficient.
- It increases indoor comfort levels.
- It reduces our impact on climate change. Many scientists now believe that excessive energy consumption contributes significantly to global warming.
- It reduces pollution. Conventional power production introduces pollutants that find their way into the air, soil and water supplies.
1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house.
As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:
- Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used in place of air conditioners, which require a large amount of energy.
- Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters.
- Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. Specifically, they should be turned down at night and when no one is home. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours each day. Turning down the thermostat from 75° F to 70°F, for example, saves about 10% on heating costs.
- Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by allowing heating and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times that no one is home and at night. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and, in some climate zones, can save up to $150 per year in energy costs.
- Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces.
- At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate the room.
2. Install a tankless water heater.
Demand water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don’t produce the standby energy losses associated with storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Demand water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. Therefore, they avoid the standby heat losses required by traditional storage water heaters. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.
3. Replace incandescent lights.
The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), can reduce energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:
- CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
- LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy.
- LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.
4. Seal and insulate your home.
Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy efficient -– and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can be hired to assess envelope leakage and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.
The following are some common places where leakage may occur:
- electrical outlets;
- mail slots;
- around pipes and wires;
- wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;
- attic hatches;
- fireplace dampers;
- weatherstripping around doors;
- window frames; and
- switch plates.
Because hot air rises, air leaks are most likely to occur in the attic. Homeowners can perform a variety of repairs and maintenance to their attics that save them money on cooling and heating, such as:
- Plug the large holes. Locations in the attic where leakage is most likely to be the greatest are where walls meet the attic floor, behind and under attic knee walls, and in dropped-ceiling areas.
- Seal the small holes. You can easily do this by looking for areas where the insulation is darkened. Darkened insulation is a result of dusty interior air being filtered by insulation before leaking through small holes in the building envelope. In cold weather, you may see frosty areas in the insulation caused by warm, moist air condensing and then freezing as it hits the cold attic air. In warmer weather, you’ll find water staining in these same areas. Use expanding foam or caulk to seal the openings around plumbing vent pipes and electrical wires. Cover the areas with insulation after the caulk is dry.
- Seal up the attic access panel with weatherstripping. You can cut a piece of fiberglass or rigid foam board insulation the same size as the attic hatch and glue it to the back of the attic access panel. If you have pull-down attic stairs or an attic door, these should be sealed in a similar manner.
5. Install efficient shower heads and toilets.
The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:
- low-flow shower heads. They are available in different flow rates, and some have a pause button which shuts off the water while the bather lathers up;
- low-flow toilets. Toilets consume 30% to 40% of the total water used in homes, making them the biggest water users. Replacing an older 3.5-gallon toilet with a modern, low-flow 1.6-gallon toilet can reduce usage an average of two gallons-per-flush (GPF), saving 12,000 gallons of water per year. Low-flow toilets usually have “1.6 GPF” marked on the bowl behind the seat or inside the tank;
- vacuum-assist toilets. These types of toilets have a vacuum chamber which uses a siphon action to suck air from the trap beneath the bowl, allowing it to quickly fill with water to clear waste. Vacuum toilets are relatively quiet; and
- dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush toilets have been used in Europe and Australia for years, and are now gaining in popularity in the U.S. Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water consumption by an additional 30%.
6. Use appliances and electronics responsibly.
Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances:
- Refrigerators and freezers should not be located near the stove, dishwasher or heat vents, or exposed to direct sunlight. Exposure to warm areas will force them to use more energy to remain cool.
- Computers should be shut off when not in use. If unattended computers must be left on, their monitors should be shut off. According to some studies, computers account for approximately 3% of all energy consumption in the United States.
- Use efficient “Energy Star”-rated appliances and electronics. These devices, approved by the DOE and the EPA’s Energy Star Program, include TVs, home theater systems, DVD players, CD players, receivers, speakers and more. According to the EPA, if just 10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1.7 million acres of trees.
- Chargers, such as those for laptops and cell phones, consume energy when they are plugged in. When they are not connected to electronics, chargers should be unplugged.
- Laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than desktop computers.
7. Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.
Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home’s interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches:
- skylights. It’s important that they be double-pane or they may not be cost-effective. Flashing skylights correctly is key to avoiding leaks;
- lightshelves. Light shelves are passive devices designed to bounce light deep into a building. They may be interior or exterior. Light shelves can introduce light into a space up to 2½ times the distance from the floor to the top of the window, and advanced light shelves may introduce four times that amount;
- clerestory windows. Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set high on the wall. Protected from the summer sun by the roof overhang, they allow winter sun to shine through for natural lighting and warmth; and
- light tubes. Light tubes use a special lens designed to amplify low-level light and reduce light intensity from the midday sun. Sunlight is channeled through a tube coated with a highly reflective material, then enters the living space through a diffuser designed to distribute light evenly.
8. Insulate windows and doors.
About one-third of the home’s total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:
- Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option.
- Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, weatherstrip around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors, if they aren’t already in place.
- Install storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
- If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don’t work, they should be repaired or replaced.
9. Cook smart.
An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking:
- Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens. They use fans to force hot air to circulate more evenly, thereby allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Convection ovens use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
- Microwave ovens consume approximately 80% less energy than conventional ovens.
- Pans should be placed on the correctly-sized heating element or flame.
- Lids make food heat more quickly than pans that do not have lids.
- Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically.
- When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster.
10. Change the way you wash your clothes.
- Do not use the “half load” setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the “half load” setting saves less than half of the water and energy.
- Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not that dirty. Water that is 140 degrees uses far more energy than 103 degrees for a “warm” setting, but 140 degrees isn’t that much better for washing purposes.
- Clean the lint trap before you use the dryer, every time. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
- If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks.
- Spin-dry or wring clothes out before putting them into a dryer.
May 1st and 2nd are days that will be long remembered in the Middle Tennessee area. The lingering effects of that day will also be with us for a while. Families are finally being allowed back into their homes to collect what they can and to begin the cleanup process. We are seeing nightly on the news street curbs lined with the soggy contents of the house. Unfortunately a lot of these homes had water filling the entire first floor or more that took days to recede. Upon returning the families are finding the full scope of destruction of that saturation. Sheetrock and insulation has to be removed and the house is being demoed to the bare stud walls. Another damaging thing that will be creeping on the scene of these homes in the next fee weeks will be MOLD! We are including some information on what MOLD is, what it needs to grow, and some of the health effects. We do mold testing and try and offer piece of mind as you rebuild. Please call us if you would like to know more.
WHAT IS MOLD?
Molds are fungi. Molds grow throughout the natural and built environment. Tiny particles of mold are present in indoor and outdoor air. In nature, molds help break down dead materials and can be found growing on soil, foods, plant matter, and other items. Molds produce microscopic cells called “spores” which are very tiny and spread easily through the air. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) when they find the right conditions.
WHAT DOES MOLD NEED TO GROW?
Mold only needs a few simple things to grow and multiply:
Suitable place to grow
Of these, controlling excess moisture is the key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth.
SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT MOLD IN MY HOME?
Mold should not be permitted to grow and multiply indoors. When this happens, health problems can occur and building materials, goods and furnishings may be damaged.
Can mold make me and my family sick?
Mold can affect the health of people who are exposed to it. People are mainly exposed to mold by breathing spores or other tiny fragments. People can also be exposed through skin contact with mold contaminants (for example, by touching moldy surfaces) and by swallowing it.
The type and severity of health effects that mold may produce are usually difficult to predict. The risks can vary greatly from one location to another, over time, and from person to person.
What symptoms might I see?
The most common health problems caused by indoor mold are allergy symptoms. Although other and more serious problems can occur, people exposed to mold commonly report problems such as:
Nasal and sinus congestion
Skin and eye irritation
Upper respiratory infections (including sinus)
Are the risks greater for some people?
There is wide variability in how different people are affected by indoor mold. However, the long term presence of indoor mold growth may eventually become unhealthy for anyone. The following types of people may be affected more severely and sooner than others:
Infants and children
Individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as allergies and asthma
Persons having weakened immune systems (for example, people with HIV infection, chemotherapy patients, organ transplant recipients)
Those with special health concerns should consult a medical professional if they feel their health is affected by indoor mold.
Are some molds more hazardous than others?
Some types of mold can produce chemical compounds (called mycotoxins) although they do not always do so. Molds that are able to produce toxins are common. In some circumstances, the toxins produced by indoor mold may cause health problems. However, all indoor mold growth is potentially harmful and should be removed promptly, no matter what types of mold is present or whether it can produce toxins.
How do I tell if I have a mold problem?
The most practical way to find a mold problem is by using your eyes to look for mold growth and by using your nose to locate the source of a suspicious odor. If you see mold or if there is an earthy or musty smell, you should assume a mold problem exists. Other clues are signs of excess moisture or the worsening of allergy-like symptoms.
• Look for visible mold growth (may appear cottony, velvety, granular, or leathery and have varied colors of white, gray, brown, black, yellow, green). Mold often appears as discoloration, staining, or fuzzy growth on the surface of building materials or furnishings.
• Search areas with noticeable mold odors.
• Look for signs of excess moisture or water damage. Look for water leaks, standing water, water stains, condensation problems. For example, do you see any watermarks or discoloration on walls, ceilings, carpet, woodwork or other building materials?
• Search behind and underneath materials (carpet and pad, wallpaper, vinyl flooring, sink cabinets), furniture, or stored items (especially things placed near outside walls or on cold floors). Sometimes destructive techniques may be needed to inspect and clean enclosed spaces where mold and moisture are hidden; for example, opening up a wall cavity.
It is hard to believe that we are staring May in the face. Temps are slowly rising and it is beginning to feel like spring/summer might actually show up. It won’t be long before we are cranking up the AC and looking forward to fall for some relief. In the meantime there are some things that a home owner can do to improve the quality and life of their HVAC.
One of the things that people are concerned about when buying a home and expect to be tested in a home inspection is the homes’ HVAC unit. Our good friends at Old Republic Home Protection (home warranty) has provided a list of things a home owner can do themselves to help maintain their air conditioner:
- Ensure the filter is clean and/or replaced regularly. Disposable filters are inexpensive and should be replaced once per month during periods of high usage.
- Trim back plants so there is at least one foot of clearance around the A/C unit – this will allow proper air flow and prevent motor strain.
- Sand and other debris can get sucked into the condenser coils. To clean the coils, first disconnect the power to the A/C and then use a garden hose to spray the coils.
- Have an annual maintenance inspection performed by a professional HVAC Technician.
Whether you are buyer or selling or just want an inspection to give you a list of things that need attention give us a call. We can give you peace of mind. Be Advised, Not Surprised!
1. MYTH: Scientists are not sure that radon really is a problem.
FACT: Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all the major health organizations (like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association) agree with estimates that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year. This is especially true among smokers, since the risk to smokers is much greater than to non-smokers.
2. MYTH: Radon testing is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.
FACT: Radon testing is easy. You can test your home yourself or hire a qualified radon test company. Either approach takes only a small amount of time and effort.
3. MYTH: Homes with radon problems can’t be fixed.
FACT: There are simple solutions to radon problems in homes. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners have already fixed radon problems in their homes. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs; check with one or more qualified mitigators. Call your state radon office for help in identifying qualified mitigation contractors.
4. MYTH: Radon affects only certain kinds of homes.
FACT: House construction can affect radon levels. However, radon can be a problem in homes of all types: old homes, new homes, drafty homes, insulated homes, homes with basements, and homes without basements. Local geology, construction materials, and how the home was built are among the factors that can affect radon levels in homes.
5. MYTH: Radon is only a problem in certain parts of the country.
FACT: High radon levels have been found in every state. Radon problems do vary from area to area, but the only way to know your radon level is to test.
6. MYTH: A neighbor’s test result is a good indication of whether your home has a problem.
FACT: It’s not. Radon levels can vary greatly from home to home. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it.
7. MYTH: Everyone should test their water for radon.
FACT: Although radon gets into some homes through water, it is important to first test the air in the home for radon. If your water comes from a public water supply that uses ground water, call your water supplier. If high radon levels are found and the home has a private well, call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1 800-426-4791 for information on testing your water.
8. MYTH: It’s difficult to sell homes where radon problems have been discovered.
FACT: Where radon problems have been fixed, home sales have not been blocked or frustrated. The added protection is some times a good selling point.
9. MYTH: I’ve lived in my home for so long, it doesn’t make sense to take action now.
FACT: You will reduce your risk of lung cancer when you reduce radon levels, even if you’ve lived with a radon problem for a long time.
10. MYTH: Short-term tests can’t be used for making a decision about whether to fix your home.
FACT: A short-term test, followed by a second short-term test* can be used to decide whether to fix your home. However, the closer the average of your two short-term tests is to 4 pCi/L, the less certain you can be about whether your year-round average is above or below that level. Keep in mind that radon levels below 4 pCi/L still pose some risk. Radon levels can be reduced in most homes to 2 pCi/L or below.
* If the radon test is part of a real estate transaction, the result of two short-term tests can be used in deciding whether to mitigate.
For more information, see EPA’s “Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon”.
For Further Information http://www.epa.gov/radon EPA’s main radon page. Includes links to publications, Hotlines, private radon proficiency programs and more.
Premier Home Inspection, LLC is pleased to announce the addition of Eric Steward to our team! Eric is originally from San Diego but has lived in Middle TN for 13 years and has an extensive background in the construction industry in and around Middle Tennessee. We are excited to have him join our team and feel that he will be a great asset. With the addition of Eric to the Premier team we are able to continue to offer the great services and convenience that you have come to know in Premier Home Inspection.
Thank you for choosing us to help give you peace of mind in the home
buying process. And as we always say: “Be advised, Not surprised!”
“April’s showers bring May flowers” or so the saying goes. Around PHI we say “Spring showers brings water in the crawl space” Water in crawlspaces or basements can cause major damage.
Many homes have water problems and the solutions can range significantly in cost to remedy, but you always should start with the simple and cheapest solutions.
Gutters and Downspouts
Everyone should walk around their homes in the worst weather, at least a few times a year and look to see how the gutters and downspouts are working. Moss, leaves or other debris can easily clog downspouts and gutters will overflow, possibly causing damage to roofs, fascia and soffits as well as flooding areas below grade.
Keep then cleaned and maintained, make sure all downspouts are discharging away from the building. If the water puddles next to the foundation, it is likely to end up in the basement of crawlspace. Make sure mounts are tight and there are no low spots along gutter runs. Clean them at least once a year, usually after the leaves have dropped in fall.
Buying a new home is probably the biggest investment you’ll ever make. There is always considerable risk involved when making such a large purchase decision. A professional inspection will significantly reduce your risk and help make the entire home buying process easier and less stressful. The inspector will point out area that need attention and explain them to you. The inspector will show you the good points of the house as well. We will also explain what routine maintenance is needed to keep the house in top condition. You’ll get a comprehensive report the same day that is easy to understand. Everything identified during the inspection will be included in the report. Armed with the information our report will provide, you can make your home buying decision with confidence.