There are many questions that homebuyers have regarding a property. Below are answers to some of our most asked questions. If you still have questions, please feel free to contact us.
What does an inspection include?
For a new homebuyer or an experienced homebuyer purchasing new construction or existing, an inspection provides peace of mind before you purchase a new property. As you walk through the property with your home inspector, he will provide a visual inspection that provides an independent, unbiased view of any problems and their solutions. Through training and experience, your home inspector will know what to look for and where to find hidden issues that many people would often overlook.
Do you look for environmental hazards?
Our job as your professional home inspector is to alert you, to the extent possible, to unknown problems and potential environmental hazards in your current or potential house. While our visual inspection of your property will alert you to possible problems, we are not a mold inspector. There can be mold that we are unable to see, and do encourage that the property be properly checked for mold.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance.
How can asbestos affect my health?
From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer.
Where can I find asbestos and when can it be a problem?
Most products made today do not contain asbestos. Those few products made which still contain asbestos that could be inhaled are required to be labeled as such. However, until the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos. While we can't always identify asbestos in a home, asbestos could be in insulation, soundproofing, decorative material sprayed on walls and ceilings, hot water and steam pipes, and furnace ducts. We recommend that you consult with a professional should you suspect asbestos in your home.
What should be done about asbestos in the home?
If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't panic! Usually the best thing is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone, since material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers.
If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed.
Asbestos professionals are trained in handling asbestos material. The type of professional will depend on the type of product and what needs to be done to correct the problem. You may hire a general asbestos contractor or, in some cases, a professional trained to handle specific products containing asbestos.
Why is lead in some homes?
Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. In general, the older a home, the more likely it has lead-based paint.
While we do not inspect for lead, the most common sources of household lead are:
Paint- The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978, but homes built before this time may have used lead paint.
Dust- Household dust can be contaminated with lead from paint, as can the soil around a house whose exterior was painted with lead paint.
Drinking water- Your home might have plumbing with lead or lead solder.
Can lead cause health problems?
If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems and headaches.
Lead is also harmful to adults. Adults can suffer from difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain.
Who should do the lead cleanup?
Always hire a person with special training for correcting lead problems -- someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. Certified contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules set by their state or the federal government. Contact the National Lead Information Center for help with locating certified contractors in your area and to see if financial assistance is available.
Why is mold growing in my home?
Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.
Can mold cause health problems?
Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances.
Allergic reactions to mold are common and include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold.
How do I get rid of mold?
It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors, but indoor mold growth can be controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you should consult with a professional mold company and fix any water problems that you may be experiencing.
What is radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soils, rock, and water throughout the U.S. Radon causes lung cancer, and is a threat to health because it tends to collect in homes, sometimes to very high concentrations.
How do I know if there is radon in my home?
You cannot see, feel, smell, or taste radon. Testing your home is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing for radon in all rooms below the third floor.
What can I do to protect myself and my family from radon?
The first step is to test your home for radon, and have it fixed if it is at or above EPA's Action Level of 4 picocuries per liter. You may want to take action if the levels are in the range of 2-4 picocuries per liter. Generally, levels can be brought below 2 pCi/l fairly simply.
The best method for reducing radon in your home will depend on how radon enters your home and the design of your home. For example, sealing cracks in floors and walls may help to reduce radon. There are also systems that remove radon from the crawl space or from beneath the concrete floor or basement slab that are effective at keeping radon from entering your home. These systems are simple and don't require major changes to your home. Other methods may be necessary.
People who have private wells should test their well water to ensure that radon levels meet EPA's newly proposed standard.
The above information is provided as a public service by the Environmental Protection Agency for educational purposes.