Home Owner Tips Can Save You Money!

Prevention is the best way for any Home Owner to save money and benefit from a nicer looking home.  Paint and Caulking for example can save expensive repairs such as window replacement or rotting door frames.  Check your home for needed repairs.

Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging is now considered part of the professional home inspectors regular service.

A professional home inspector, equipped with a thermal imaging camera and properly Thermal Imaging Screentrained and certified in its use, can find problems with a house that a normal home inspectors cannot.  These problems include the following:

– Water intrusion through the houses exterior covering, whether the house has brick, stone, stucco or siding.

– Improperly installed or settled insulation.

– Water leaks around windows and doors.

– Plumbing leaks inside the house, including leaking pipes, improperly seated toilets, leaky shower pans and bathtubs and water pipe condensation.

– Improperly insulated HVAC ducting that have not been properly sealed or that cause condensation dripping in attics and crawlspaces.

– Improperly installed or insufficient insulation in ceilings and walls.

– Leaking roofs, skylights, roof vent piping and roof vents.

Infrared thermal imaging scans can easily verify insulation inside walls and ceilings. The camera will reveal where there is missing, settled, or wet and damaged insulation. Cold air sources at doors and windows are also identified.

Some of the items that could be identified with the use of a Thermal Imaging Camera:

  • Energy loss and efficiency
  • Unknown plumbing leaks
  • Hidden roof leaks, before they cause serious damage
  • Electrical faults before they cause a fire
  • Overloaded and undersized circuits
  • Circuit breakers in need of immediate replacement
  • Missing, damaged, and/or wet insulation
  • Heat loss and air infiltration in walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors
  • Water and moisture intrusion that could lead to mold
  • Possible rodent or pest infestation
  • Air conditioner compressor leaks
  • Under fastening and/or missing framing members
  • Structural defects
  • Broken seals in double pane windows
  • Dangerous fluid leaks
  • Damaged and/or malfunctioning radiant heating systems
  • Overheated equipment

Mould in Your Home

Mould in Your Home – Information for home owners brought to you by the Orillia Home Inspector.

What is mould?

Moulds are microscopic fungi; a group of organisms which also includes mushrooms and yeasts. Mould is a fungi that lives on plant and animal matter. It thrives in damp and poorly ventilated areas and reproduces by making spores.. There are over 270 species of mould have been identified as living in Canadian homes.

When is Mould a Problem?

Mould needs moisture, heat and protein to grow. Water leaks in your home can provide moisture from outside the home, through the floor, walls or roof; or from plumbing leaks. . Water enters the building when there is a penetration or failure in the structure. Moisture accumulates within the home when there is not enough ventilation or fresh air to remove moisture. Mould can be any colour, some common colours are black, white, red, orange, yellow or blue. Damage to materials is one concern of having mould – i.e. stains or discolouration; however, continued mould growth can be indicative of moisture conditions that are conducive for growth of fungi that cause wood rot and structural damage. If mould like this is growing inside your home, there could be health concerns. If you are in contact with mould you are more likely to have respiratory problems, allergies or asthma. Mould can also affect the immune system.

How to tell if you have a mould problem?

Two simple ways to determine if there is mould in your home is Discolouration or Mouldy Smell. If you see stains on a carpet that you think is mould, place a drop of household bleach onto a suspected area. If the stain loses its colour or disappears, it is possible that it is mould. If there is no change, it is probably not mould. Mould can often be hidden from view and your only indication maybe a musty or earthy smell.  Not all moulds give off a noticeable odour.

Dealing with minor mould problems

Clean-up Methods

You can clean small areas of mold yourself using an unscented detergent and water. The mold area is considered “small” if there are fewer than three patches, each patch smaller than one (1) square meter. If you have more than three patches or the areas are larger, you need a trained professional to assess your house. You may also need a trained contractor to clean extensive areas of mold.

When cleaning:Mould Remediation

  • use household rubber gloves or similar protection;
  • use a face mask, rated N95, capable of filtering fine particles;
  • use protective glasses or goggles;
  • rinse well with a clean material and dispose of immediately after use;
  • dry area completely.

Moldy ceiling tiles and carpets should be removed and discarded. Drywall that remains stained after cleaning with detergent and water may need to be removed. Try washing fabrics. If the mold odour or stain persists, discard.

The proper cleaning procedure involves removing the mold. Chemicals, such as bleach and fungicides are not recommended. It is important to remove all mold residues as they can cause allergies or illness.

Dealing with larger mould problems

Workplace health and safety organizations often employ a similar, sized-based Mould Hazardclassification system that classifies mould as Level I (< 1 m²), Level II (1-3 m²), Level III (3 – 10 m²) or Level IV (> 10 m²). For each level, there are recommended procedures to protect the health of clean-up personnel and people working nearby during the remediation. Some mould inspection and remediation companies may employ these classification systems when dealing with mould problems in homes.

Cleanup and Biocides

Biocides are substances that can destroy living organisms. The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup. There may be instances, however, when professional judgment may indicate its use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain – these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved. If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never mix chlorine bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.

Mould Inspection Tip

When deciding to hire a professional to test for mould, consider hiring a company that also does remediation.  This way you will ensure you get the best value for your money.  While anyone with a kit can detect mould, it is always better to invest your money in a company that just specializes with detecting mould and its removal.

The Orillia Home Inspector always recommends you use a third party for mould  inspections.  Although many individuals may have the capability to test for mould it is in your best interest to hire a company that has the expertise to remove or repair problem.

Read about Pex Plumbing in your home.

Septic Tank Inspections

Septic tank inspections are an often overlooked item when purchasing a rural property. typical septic system layoutTypically the seller pumps the tank prior to closing but rarely is the system itself inspected. The majority of purchasers pay too little attention to their septic tank and are most likely unaware of the possible costs of a replacement system.

When I am hired to inspect a rural property with a septic system I always advise my clients to hire a Certified Septic Tank Installer to pump their tank, which is being done by seller anyway, and get a written report on condition of system.   Certified installers are  registered with the MMAH and possess a Building Code Identification Number (BCIN#) as certified On-Site Sewage System Installer/Inspectors and have experience in defect recognition, investigation of malfunctioning systems, and detailed knowledge of the Ontario Building Code (OBC) relating to on-site wastewater treatment (septic) systems.

Beware of inspectors who have an online certificate for septic inspections and are not registered and insured to perform septic inspections in Ontario.

The primary function of the septic tank is to settle out solids from the wastewater. Solidsseptic tank levels are allowed to settle out by holding the sewage in a quiet environment within the tank. Typically, 24 to 48 hours of settling is required. A four-bedroom home might have a daily flow of 480 gallons per day (assuming 120 gallons per bedroom per day). In a 1,000-gallon tank, this provides two days for solids to settle. But as the solids build up, there is less room in the tank for the liquid and thus less settling time. The accepted maximum level of
solids in the tank is 1/3 of the liquid depth. Once the 1/3 level is reached the tank should be pumped.

In the USA over half of the inspected septic systems inspected under new EPA testing regime have failed the test.  Some of the common reasons for failure are: tanks need to be de-sludged, ineffective operation and maintenance of tank; rainwater entering tank and leakage from tanks.

Maintaining your septic tank

The lack of septic tank maintenance can cause sewage to back up into your house or solids to overflow to the drainfield. Once solids overflow and leave through the tank outlet, they can quickly clog a drain field to the point that a new one is required. Most septic tanks need to be pumped every three to five years, depending on the tank size and the amount and type of solids entering the tank. The inspection of the sludge and scum levels is the only way to determine when a tank needs to be pumped. This is not necessarily a pleasant task, but can be done relatively easily. Septic tank pumping firms are available to perform the inspection.

WETT Inspections in Orillia

Purchasing a Century Home

Don't Buy a Money PitPurchasing a Century Home requires doing your homework.  When buying an older home you are usually buying a home with built in character which has withstood the test of time and is hopefully still in living condition. There are some common issues that you might discover when purchasing an older home. Having your home inspected by someone with years of experience is paramount to ensure you invest your money wisely.  I have listed some of basic problems encountered over the years..

Your century homes foundation is probably constructed of cement and rock. Older homes do not have exterior waterproofing and there will be no weeping tile draining into sump. This inspection area is one of the most important and expensive to repair if faulty.  Many century homes will have little trenches in concrete around perimeter that drain into a dug drain hole.

Knob and tube wiring was typically installed in older homes when electricity became available. You have to have a home inspector or electrician check to ensure all the knob and tube wiring was replaced, many times I have found live Knob and Tube in service chases or in attics. Even if knob and tube was upgraded, the installed cable may not have a ground wire attached.  Some homes have upgraded outlets but no ground is not available.

Asbestos was installed in most older homes as it was the insulation of choice back in theold boiler - asbestos removed day.  Many older homes had hot water boilers with cast iron radiators. This systems were typically insulated with asbestos insulation. Many times during an inspection I find the basement asbestos has been removed but the heat ducts passing through the home still have asbestos insulation attached.  Asbestos requires professional removal which is very expensive.

Lead plumbing pipes and galvanized plumbing lines can be very expensive to replace and were used on most older homes. Most insurance companies in Ontario will not insure a home with galvanized plumbing pipes. Galvanized pipes are past their life expectancy and there is the possibility of water contamination from corroding pipes.

Older homes may have many layers of lead paint which has built up over the years. Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children and can also affect adults. In children, lead poisoning can cause irreversible brain damage and can impair mental functioning. It can retard mental and physical development and reduce attention span. It can also retard fetal development even at extremely low levels of lead. Thus, young children, fetuses, infants, and adults with high blood pressure are the most vulnerable to the effects of lead.

Your house is old and gorgeous but how is it heated.  During inspections I have had clientsOil Tank Costs who were quite surprised to learn that the only heat on second floor were some grilles in the floor.  So much for privacy or toasty warm beds.  Also older homes sometimes buried their oil tanks which is no longer permitted.  Removing a buried oil tank can easily cost upwards of $20,000.00 and if it has leaked, the sky’s the limit on costs.

The Orillia Home Inspector has over ten years of experience in inspecting Century Homes and is also a Certified Building Code Official with the Ontario Building Officials Association.

Inspecting Century Homes

Poor Foundation Support Footing

Today’s home buyers cannot seem to get enough old fashioned Century Homes. Many times when inspecting a well maintained century home there was multiple offers on property and often a “bidding war”. Century homes can require a lot of time and money to restore to their former splendour. Century homes can sometimes be either a money pit or a beautiful example of restoration, and sometimes it is hard for the home buyer to recognize the difference. Any home that has stood the test of time has most likely had many renovations over the years and at least some of them may have been “do it yourself” projects. It takes a professionally trained eye to spot the differences in workmanship but the end result could make a difference in thousands of dollars in repairs if deficiencies are not identified.

There are some common deficiencies that maybe an issue with century homes and if the seller have not properly dealt with them the new owners will most likely be dismayed to discover the amount of work and costs they could be facing. Some of the more standard issues found are structural, asbestos, knob and tube wiring, 60 amp service and galvanized plumbing. Building materials and construction methods have changed dramatically over the years. Materials once used in normal practice are now considered toxic and may require expensive remediation.

Stone Foundation is Failing

Foundations on a century home were typically different on every home. There were no enforced building codes years ago and everyones home was constructed differently although basic concepts remained the same. Most foundations are supported on rock and cement walls. Most of these old style foundations will still be standing long after we have gone. Water issues can affect the integrity of mortar between rocks and if you have signs of movement you may have to bring in a structural engineer for guidance. If your mortar is failing or deteriorating you can remove loose bits and re-point the stones and even give it a coat of white wash for more appealing look. If your wall is bowing or showing other signs of significant movement there may be an issue with expansive soils causing pressure on your foundation wall. This will require the services of a an experienced foundation contractor and will most likely be an expensive repair. Some foundations may require a sister wall to be poured to strengthen the existing foundation, this also is a job for an experienced contractor. Many older homes have a concrete base poured around the existing foundation to add to stability and prevent movement.

We deliver a narrative style report which includes pictures of every deficiency.  Our report is broken down into individual sections which make it easy to comprehend and digest the detailed information provided.  Industry standard maintenance suggestions are provided for the individual defects noted.  A handy PDF copy of report is also included which maybe emailed to contractors or used in negotiations.

When contemplating the purchase of  an older home, call Roger at 705-795-8255 to Book your Century Home Inspection