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Nestled in the heart of New England, Massachusetts boasts a rich tapestry of history, evident in its diverse architectural styles, from colonial relics to modern masterpieces. In such an environment, the home inspection process is not merely transactional. For buyers, it offers a lens into the integrity and character of a potential new home, revealing both its charms and challenges. Sellers, in contrast, can use this process to transparently showcase their property’s value and address any concerns head-on.
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Understanding how appliances and systems work in your home is vital for maintenance and longevity. When it comes to your furnace and the winter months you want to ensure that the furnace is maintained properly. Ensuring that you have heat in your home is very important for your comfort and safety. One of the areas of maintenance that can be done by a homeowner is changing out the furnace filter. Where is the furnace filter located? Typically they are located near the floor of the furnace. In a compartment with a side door that opens.
Let’s take a look below at more details regarding where your furnace filter is located.
What Is A Furnace
Getting to know your furnace is important for your family’s safety during the winter months. A furnace is what will heat your home during cold days and nights. You will typically find your furnace in the basement, center of the home, or even in a utility closet. Depending on when the home was built and how it was designed will likely determine where it is installed. In some cases, a furnace is installed in an attic space or crawl space.
Where Is My Furnace Filter
Identifying where your furnace filter is located is important for proper maintenance. Furnace filters are installed in the blower of your furnace unit. Where the blower location is, depends on how the furnace was installed. Let’s take a look at where the furnace filter might be located.
Horizontal HVAC unit – the furnace filter is located at the intake side of the unit and slides right into the rack.
Vertical HVAC unit with air moving downwards – the furnace filter is located at the top door where the upper blower is located. You will notice two air filters for the furnace or AC unit.
Vertical HVAC unit with air moving upwards – this furnace filter is located at the bottom door of the furnace. Since the blower is located at the bottom of the door, the filter will be there. Simply open up the door to replace the filter.
What If I Don’t Change The Filter
When it comes to appliances in your home, the HVAC system which includes your furnace is no different. Making sure that the furnace is well maintained ensures that you have an operational unit when the time is needed. Let’s take a look at what happens if you do not change the filter.
Frozen cooling coil – without airflow in the HVAC unit, your cooling coils will freeze up.
The furnace can overheat – when airflow is not steady, the temperature of the furnace can increase. Since your furnace has a safety switch built-in the system will shut itself off if overheating occurs.
HVAC stops working – limited airflow due to a clogged furnace filter will trigger the safety switch to shut off and the system will stop running.
Short cycling will occur in the HVAC system – if the system has to work too hard to cool or heat the home, you will notice short cycling. This will cause the system to start and stop too often and you will lose energy efficiency.
How Much Does It Cost
Replacing a furnace filter could be rather pricey. Comparatively speaking to a simple air filter, the furnace filter might be a bit more. Additionally, the price range will depend on the type of furnace, and the size of the furnace. You can count on a range of $10 to $50 per furnace filter.
Other Recommended Maintenance
Now that you know about the location of the furnace filter, there are other areas to maintain. One of those is if you notice the furnace is leaking water. If you see this happening, it could be due to a clogged line or a clogged part that keeps condensation from building up.
Next, since it is winter, you will probably be using your fireplace quite a bit to stay warm. Thus, you will want to make sure your chimney has a cap so that it protects against the outside elements. However, if you are missing a chimney cap, you will need to contact a fireplace installation company.
Lastly, you will want to make sure your stone fireplace is clean and you have protective gear, a bucket, a scrubbing sponge or brush, and a liquid solution. These are the first items that you need to accomplish this task.
When Do I Call A Professional
When there is an issue with your furnace or HVAC system, immediately call a professional. Most homeowners are not capable of repairing their furnaces or HVAC systems due to various code requirements. If you aren’t sure who to call, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can inspect your HVAC system and furnace during a complete home inspection. Also, they can refer you to a reputable furnace or HVAC service technician.
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Owning a home requires a lot of maintenance and attention to detail. When it comes to your air conditioning, keeping up with the maintenance is a must. Consequently, you should consider reading up on the exact make and model of air conditioning that is associated with your home. This allows you to understand how to control the moisture conditions in your home. Does humidity affect air conditioning? Yes, if you have high humidity in your home, the air conditioner has to work harder.
Let’s take a look below at some more details regarding high humidity in your home.
What Causes High Humidity
Just like any other working appliance that uses electricity, humidity can definitely affect the way your air conditioning works. Let’s take look at how high humidity is caused in your air conditioner.
The Fan is left on – when the fan is left on, the air is still circulated even if the ac unit is off. Humidity levels will increase because the fan will actually be blowing all of the moisture that was just removed by your air conditioner back into the home.
Single speed – look to invest in an AC unit that offers variable speeds. When the system only has an on-and-off variable, the unit isn’t working as efficiently to remove humidity from the home. A set temperature controls the unit and tells it when to turn it on and off. This back and forth of on and off does not allow the system to properly remove the humidity.
Oversized unit – if the system is too big, it cannot balance controlling temperatures and humidity levels. The compressor turns on and off way too often. When this occurs the system never operates long enough to remove the excess moisture from the air. Installing a smaller ac unit will solve this issue.
Negative Air Pressure – negative air pressure is a result of poor ventilation. If the system is not set up properly, the negative air pressure will bring in more outside air. When your temperatures outside get into the more humid levels, your air conditioner will suck in the muggier air. At this point, changing the ventilation system is needed.
The other main reason for the high humidity is the unit is too old. As parts start to grow old they wear down. This prevents the unit from working as efficiently as possible. Maintain your system on a regular schedule so that this does not occur. Also, if you notice that temperatures and cooling have not been consistent, it might be time to repair or replace your ac unit.
How Does High Humidity Affect It
Believe it or not, high humidity can affect your air conditioner. If the humidity levels are excessive, the air conditioner will need to work harder. Keep in mind that if your air conditioner has to work extra hard, it does not have the capability of keeping up with your home’s cooling capacity needs. Also, if this occurs, you will likely never feel a cooler temperature in your home. Let’s take look at the common signs of high humidity inside the home.
Musty smells – too much humidity increases moisture and dampness in your home. Having dampness in the home will increase the possibility of mildew and mold growth.
Clammy or Moist air – your skin could feel clammy due to the increased moisture in the air.
Foggy windows – your windows could look like condensation is building up on them and creating a foggy look. When humidity becomes bottled up, it has nowhere to go but to stick to the walls and windows.
Other Recommended Maintenance
Now that you have an understanding of high humidity and how it can affect your air conditioner, you can create a solution to keep your system working properly. The main area that you should consider is what maintenance is needed to keep your system working correctly.
Next, if you are really concerned about moisture or humidity buildup, you might want to have your chimney cap checked out. If you have a fireplace and your chimney cap is damaged, wind and rain can enter your fireplace. This would create a larger moisture issue in your home. Also, if water gets into your chimney it could increase the dampness and humidity in your home.
Lastly, read up on when you can replace your HVAC system. If you are having major humidity issues with your air conditioner, it might be time to replace the HVAC unit. Make sure that you understand when it is time to replace, rather than repair your air conditioner.
When Do I Call A Professional
The moment that you are having an issue with your air conditioner, you will want to call on a professional. Hiring a professional HVAC service technician is key. Consequently, working on an air conditioner is not for homeowners. You must have a professional license in order to work on any HVAC equipment.
Also, if you aren’t sure who to call, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can inspect the entire HVAC system which includes the air conditioning. Additionally, they can recommend a reputable HVAC service technician.
Anytime that your air conditioner is having issues there could be a variety of reasons why. Hiring a professional HVAC service technician can help you determine what issues you might be having. Conducting proper maintenance on your air conditioning unit can save you a lot of money.
When home buyers are searching for their dream home, amenities are really what they want. The more amenities that a home buyer can grab with a new home, the more apt they are to buy the home. Additionally, many home buyers have a pre-set list already made with regard to their amenity needs. Flooring is always at the top of the list for home buyers. Carpet in the main living areas is phasing out over the past ten-plus years. Oftentimes you will see hardwood or ceramic tile flooring as the top choice in a home. Both styles come with a misnomer that your home will be cooler if you have tile or hardwood flooring. Do hardwood floors make your house colder? They absorb heat better than a carpet does. So, no, hardwood floors do not make your house colder.
Let’s take a look below as to why hardwood floors might feel cold but are really good at trapping heat and circulating air.
How Does It Work
When it comes to wood floors, most people feel the coolness when they touch the floor. Homeowners will often put down area rugs, wear socks, or even use a space heater in their homes to keep the cold feeling away. However, wood flooring can actually trap heat longer than carpet can. Let’s take a look at why this is possible.
Wood floors and other solid structures in your home are known to trap heat.
Reduce temperature changes by storing heat
High thermal mass materials will assist you in reducing your electric bill
Depending on the type of hardwood floors will determine its ability to retain heat. Also, it will determine the energy-efficient rating.
What Can I Do To Feel Warmer
Just because wood flooring is a great insulator that keeps the heat in and circulates it more continuously through your home, does not mean your feet don’t feel cold on the floor. Let’s take a look at some ways to protect our feet from being cold.
Area rugs – it is a great idea to strategically place area rugs under the furniture in whatever room you will spend a lot of time in.
Space heater – if you choose to use a space heater to warm up in your home, make sure to keep an eye on it.
Curtains – installing curtains will help trap heat in your home. They can insulate your window and keep the cold air out and the warm air in.
Radiant heat system – installing a radiant system to help make your floors feel warm on a regular basis is a possibility. This is a type of floor heating system that will increase your home’s heat by keeping your floors warm at all times.
Basement insulation – the basement is always cold as it is beneath the earth’s surface. The concrete walls trap cold air and create a damp environment. Consider insulating the walls, windows, and ceiling of the basement. This will reduce the cold and drafty cold temps.
Wear coverings – putting on socks or wearing slippers might be the simplest solution to keeping your feet warm on a cold floor. Remember, just because a hardwood floor is cold to the feet, does not mean it isn’t helping your electrical bill.
Other Recommended Maintenance
Now that you understand what hardwood floors can do for your home, it is a good idea to also read up on the maintenance of hardwood floors. In some instances, homeowners find themselves in an unfortunate situation as they are freshening up their paint. If you happen to spill paint onto your hardwood floors, do not freak out. It is possible to get the paint off the hardwood floor.
Next, be sure to explore other ways to save on your electric bill and keep the heat in during the winter months. Winterizing various parts of your home could end up saving you a lot of money. If you happen to have sliding doors and windows that are drafty, read up on how to insulate your sliding door and windows.
Lastly, if you have a fireplace and chimney you will want to ensure that you have a chimney cap in place. A chimney cap will keep cold and drafty air from rushing down your chimney and into your living area. No hardwood floor could possibly absorb enough heat to combat a cold blast of winter air.
When Do I Call A Professional
Anytime you have a question regarding your flooring, you should seek the advice of a professional contractor that specializes in flooring. Seeking advice from professionals allows you to make an informed decision and not waste your money. If you aren’t sure who to call or if there is no flooring store in your area, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can inspect your current floors and recommend which flooring would make sense for your home. Keeping your investment intact and looking aesthetically pleasing is key. Also, they can refer you to a reputable flooring contractor before you go wasting your money.
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Having a fireplace in your home can be a very fun amenity. Not only does it provide an aesthetic value to the home, but it also adds to the functionality of your home. When purchasing a home with a fireplace, keep in mind that there are many working parts to a fireplace. The chimney, chimney flue, openings in the top and bottom, fireplace tools, and chimney cap are just a few of the working parts of a fireplace. Just like many other items in your home, a fireplace and its chimney will need maintenance. Having your chimney cap replaced or regularly maintained is very important for protecting your home from a fire. Do roofers install chimney caps? You will want to call on a professional fireplace installation company to properly install a chimney cap.
Let’s take a look below at more details regarding a chimney cap.
What Is A Chimney Cap
Most homeowners are used to seeing a chimney cap, but really had no idea of what it was called. Chimney caps sit on top of the chimney, much like a crown sits on top of a person’s head. They are made of a metal material and placed on top of the chimney opening. This creates a barrier from the outside elements to the inside of the chimney. They will protect your chimney flue from rain and snow, as well as, critters and other flying debris.
Why Would I Need One
Chimney caps are great at protecting your fireplace. Installing a chimney cap can ensure that you have reduced the risk of debris being built up in your fireplace chimney. In turn, this reduces the chance of a house fire or smoke bellowing into your home. Let’s take a look at some more specifics as to why you need a chimney cap.
Money saver – chimney caps will protect your home from down drafts and winds on a cold or snowy night. So, if you aren’t using the fireplace, you will not feel the cold air bursting through the opened chimney top. Additionally, the chimney cap will prevent dirt, debris, smoke, and embers from being blown into the home while you are using the fireplace.
Fire prevention – a chimney cap can help prevent a fire in your home while keeping the possibility of a spark from occurring. Embers do not have a chance to be blown around inside the chimney or even into the home and onto your furniture to flooring. Also, the chimney cap keeps embers from being blown up and out of the chimney and onto your roof, which would cause a roof fire.
Moisture reduction – having a chimney cap keeps the rain and snow out. Keeping the moisture out of your fireplace will reduce the amount of moisture in your home. Additionally, if moisture gets into your chimney, it can damage the mortar joints, dampers, and flue inside the chimney. This could also cause mold and mildew to grow, which would create a huge health issue for your family.
Keeps the Critters Out – by capping the chimney, raccoons, squirrels, birds, and other critters lose the opportunity to nest inside your chimney. Additionally, a chimney cap will keep the critters from getting trapped and eventually expiring in your chimney. This would create a foul odor and require immediate cleaning attention.
Protects the Chimney liner – chimney liners are made of clay, metal, or ceramic material and have the purpose of protecting the inner walls of the chimney. Also, they limit the amount of heat that is being transferred, which reduces the chance of a fire. Chimney caps protect the chimney liner by preventing debris and excess water from getting into the chimney.
How Many Types Are There
Believe it or not, there are a variety of choices when it comes to selecting a chimney cap. In order to make the right selection of chimney caps, you must first know what type of chimney you have. Let’s take a look.
Masonry – this type of chimney has an exterior brick face. This style of chimney can accommodate many types of chimney cap styles.
Prefabricated – this style of chimney is most often found in homes that were built in the mid to late 1980s. They look very fake compared to a traditional brick-and-mortar chimney. In this case, you will want to use a chimney cap that is used by the manufacturer of your prefabricated chimney.
Now that you have determined the type of chimney that you have, you can select a chimney cap. Let’s look at our options.
Aluminum – is very inexpensive and has one of the lower price points. However, this material is not very durable or sturdy. Since aluminum is a soft metal and very lightweight, it could become damaged a lot quicker than other metal materials.
Galvanized – typically painted black. Very inexpensive to purchase. Unfortunately, they will rust, and cause your roof to look dirty and degraded. They are also not very sturdy and can be blown off in high winds.
Stainless steel – this chimney cap must be installed by a professional. This is to protect the lifetime warranty that they come with. You will notice stainless steel as it comes in silver.
Copper – this is one of the more expensive chimney caps. Typically, a copper chimney cap is three times the amount of a stainless steel chimney cap. Copper chimney caps will usually last a lifetime and they add great aesthetic value to the home.
Also, keep in mind that you can have any chimney cap custom-made out of any of the materials listed above.
How Much Do They Cost
Having a new chimney cap installed can be relatively inexpensive. It really comes down to the size, style, and type of material that you have chosen to purchase. You can count on the following price ranges for each style of a chimney cap.
Aluminum – this cap can cost between $50 and $180.
Galvanize steel – this cap can cost between $25 and $300.
Stainless steel – this cap can cost between $50 and $500.
Copper – this cap can cost between $200 and $1,500.
Non-metal cap – this chimney cap can cost between $350 and $500.
Other Recommended Maintenance
Now that you know about chimney caps, let’s take a look at other areas of maintenance. One of those is removing snow from the roof. Winter will be here soon and it is important to know that your roof can hold up to 20 pounds of snow per square foot. In fact, the snow will usually slide off the roof on its own. If it doesn’t, you can use a snow rake, heating cables, or a snow guard.
Next, making sure your roof vent is covered is a good idea. The roof vent cover helps keep birds and other animals out. Sometimes this vent gets clogged and you will know if the toilet gurgles, a slow drain, a dry P-trap, or a build-up of leaves and debris.
Lastly, if you find out you need a new roof, the time it takes to replace it will vary. It takes a day to remove the old materials and a day to have the team get started on the installation. Asphalt shingles take one day, while concrete tile can take up to two weeks.
When Do I Call A Professional
Call on a professional to assist you with the installation of a chimney cap. You will want to get this right, or you can risk having a house fire. Also, hiring a professional will allow you to have your chimney swept while you are getting a new chimney cap installed. If you aren’t sure who to use in your area, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can inspect the entire fireplace, as well as refer you to a reputable fireplace technician.
When it comes to covering a roof vent pipe, it will depend on the type of vent pipe you are looking at. Homeowners will often look to cap a plumbing vent pipe with the idea that this keeps debris from the plumbing system. However, this could end up causing the homeowner more issues with their plumbing systems’ functionality. Should a roof vent pipe be covered? Keeping a vent pipe covered is meant to keep birds from nesting and other debris out of the pipe.
Let’s take a look below at some more details regarding the covering of a roof vent pipe.
What Is A Vent Boot
In some cases, a vent boot is needed on your vent pipe. A vent boot is a rubber vent cap cover that helps seal the pipe and protect the pipe from dirt and debris. Since a vent boot is made of rubber, it can expand and contract in various weather conditions.
The moment that you begin to notice dirt and water damage in your home, it is potentially due to a worn vent boot. Vent boots can break down over time due to extreme weather conditions. Let’s take a look at some warning signs that our vent boot has broken down.
You will begin to notice water marks on your ceiling or walls
If you have wallpaper, it will start to peel.
Painted walls will begin to crack.
You will also notice that the shingles around the vent pipes are damaged.
How Many Types Of Pipes Are On My Roof
Believe it or not, there can be a variety of vent pipes on your roof. Depending on where you live, determine the building code requirements for considering whether should roof vent pipe be covered. Let’s take a look at the main vent pipes.
Attic fan – if you have an attic, then you are likely going to have a fan installed. The fan’s job is to pull hot air from the attic and keep it dry. More often you will see an attic fan in a southern home vs a northern home.
HVAC vent stack – this is needed to release any fuel or gases that are created by a fireplace, burner, water heater, or boiler.
Small vent box – this is connected to your bathroom fan and acts as an exhaust system to pull moisture out of the air. There are protective screens over these vent boxes to keep rodents and birds from nesting in them. You might also have your dryer vent for your clothes dryer attached to the roof. It will have a small vent box.
Plumbing vent stack – these allow gases to be released from the plumbing lines and also create pressure to flush your toilets.
What If It Gets Clogged
In the event that a roof vent pipe gets clogged, you will notice a few signs regarding this issue. These are the reasons why homeowners aren’t sure if roof vent pipes should be covered. Let’s take a look.
The toilet gurgles – this will occur if the plumbing roof vent pipe is clogged. This occurs when you flush the toilet and the water has to compete against the pressure in the pipes. If the air build-up is not allowed to escape, then the water is essentially slow draining as it pushes back against the air in the lines.
Slow drain in your sink or bathtub – clogs in the sink drain or bathtub can be caused by many things. However, the moment you have the line free and clear and still notice an issue, it is likely the vent pipe.
A dry P-trap – if the P-trap is dry or missing from your plumbing then the issue of methane gas getting into the home becomes a problem. These sewer gases are hazardous to your health. Double-check the P-traps under your sink and the shower drain to make sure they are working properly. If your bathroom smells like sewage check all vent pipes and P-traps.
Leaves and Debris build-up – rodents, birds, and other scenarios could cause debris to get into your vent pipes. If this happens, make sure to have your roofing contractor remove all leaves and debris from your vent pipes.
Other Recommended Maintenance
Now that you know about the vent pipe, let’s take a look at other areas of maintenance on the roof. If you are noticing your roof tiles are looking dull, you can paint them to make them shiny. However, if they are terra cotta material, then you cannot. This is because terra cotta is made of clay and is porous so a good cleaning will help the color.
When it comes to anything related to your roof, you should call a professionally licensed roofing contractor. They could explain to you what each pipe is associated with that is on your roof. If you aren’t sure who to use, call on your local home inspection team. They can inspect the roof for any damage and recommend a reputable roofing contractor.
Always know that roof pipes are vital to the functionality of your home. Your roof pipes’ purposes are to keep your home clear of bad gases. If you notice an issue with your roof pipes you will need to get them fixed right away.
Mold…one of the last things you want to see in your home and something you don’t want to see when you move into a new place. Unfortunately, mold grows in homes that have high humidity or damp areas and can be visible or not. When you have a home inspection, do home inspectors check for mold? Yes, they do a visual inspection and will hopefully see it but if they don’t have a mold testing service then they will miss the mold that might be hiding.
Let’s take a look.
What Is Mold
Mold is a fungus that can be seen in many colors and shapes. These include green, gray, black, and white. There are many molds that can be seen and even have a smell, while there are others that may be more hidden. The hiding places may be in the ceilings, under floors, basements, attic, and between walls.
Mold’s most favorite places to grow are materials that are soaked with water such as ceiling tiles, paint, wallboard, paneling, and carpet to name a few. However, mold can also grow in areas where there is high humidity and it is hot.
Where Does Mold Grow
There are many places where mold can grow. It is a good idea to take a look around the following areas in a home:
Pipes, windows, or roofs- check to see if they are leaking as the water helps start the mold spores.
Flooded areas – basements or other areas that have seen water and did not dry
Buildings that are tightly sealed – can trap moisture inside the home
Poor ventilation – homes that have this or plants that have too much water or dampness throughout the home can be a good place for mold to grow.
Water intrusion can cause black mold and it can be found on furniture, drywall, carpets, or dust. This type of mold is called Stachybotrys chartarum.
Order a Home Inspection
Home inspections are not included in the sale of a home so ordering one is important. Some people skip the home inspection and this is not wise at all. When you are looking for a home inspection company, look for one that does mold inspections as well. This is because if mold is found during the inspection, the same company can test for mold. Not every company offers this service so choosing a company that does is essential.
Also, don’t choose a cheap home inspector. There are reasons why they are cheap and you want to make sure the company you choose has certification and experience, they write a well-detailed report, make sure they have insurance, and ask a realtor for recommendations.
During the Home Inspection
The home inspector will look for mold or water damage if it is obvious. If the inspector finds water damage, there will be more of a reason to inspect more for mold. You will want to ask the inspector if there were any signs of mold or possible mold and have it added to the report.
In some states, mold disclosure from the seller is required but in other states, it is not. You can also ask if there has been any flooding or any pipes that have burst in the home. If there are things that are found and you don’t want to negotiate with the seller or vice versa, you can walk away.
Testing for Mold
If the inspection shows that there is mold, the inspector, or mold tester, will have a few types of equipment to use. This will include:
A machine that is like a small vacuum – It sucks in the air and then there is a part that will capture the mold spores that are in the air.
Moisture meter – to look at the moisture levels in the home.
Humidity reader – In order to know the amount of water in the air
A thermometer – to check the temperature in the home.
Thermography camera – if the company has this service, they will look at the different temperatures in the home.
A camera and a flashlight
Black mold is a common area of concern when it comes to mold. This type of spore is caused by a water intrusion and can grow on drywall, dust, carpets, and all types of furniture. The technical name of Black Mold is Stachybotrys chartarum.
If mold is found in the home, the home inspection company will do mold remediation. The amount of remediation will depend on the extent of the mold growth, the color, and also the size of the area. This process can take 48 hours up to a few weeks.
Now that you know that the home inspector will look for visible mold, you can see if the same company does mold testing. Here are some other areas to pay attention to.
Another area is the humidifier in your home. While these are great for adding moisture to a home that is very dry, it is important to make sure you keep the basin clean. The basin of the humidifier can grow mold because of the dampness so keeping this area clean is important.
As mentioned above, hiring a home inspection company that also checks for mold in not only visible places, but hidden places is a good idea. You don’t want to move into a home that has a lot of issues or mold issues. A licensed and insured company can help make sure the home you want to buy is safe for you and your family.
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When it comes to owning a home, there are many projects that homeowners must remember. However, testing your home for various elements in the air is not typically one that homeowners remember. It isn’t often that homeowners even consider testing anything in their homes. Additionally, testing is necessary for your home when you buy, sell, or live in the home. The great thing is that there are licensed contractors and home inspection teams that can conduct these various tests for you. For example, testing for Radon in your home is a fairly common necessity. Radon gas comes from the earth and can enter your home fairly easily if the correct options are presented. Are Radon levels higher in the basement? The assumption is based on a basement having many accessible entry points.
Let’s take a look below at what Radon is and where it comes from.
What Is Radon
A radioactive gas that is a product of decaying uranium and is naturally occurring in the soils on earth is Radon. The gas rises and as it makes its way through the soil it releases into the air. Radon gas can enter your home through cracks and crevices in your walls and the home’s foundation or basement. Radon gas can also be found coming from well water.
Where Does It Come From
There are many places Radon gas is known to come from. Since it is a naturally occurring gas that is released from our soil, we have zero control over it. Are Radon levels higher in the basement? Let’s take a look below at where Radon gas is known to come from.
Radon is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. It comes from the rocks and soil around us. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one out of fifteen homes contains elevated levels of radon in the U.S. Radon gas is known to increase the chances of developing lung cancer.
Radon can access your home through cracks in the foundation, construction joints, cracks in your basement walls, holes in the sump pump, cracks in your slab, non-encapsulated crawl space, and unsealed plumbing areas.
As uranium decays it becomes radium. Radium then releases its gas into our soil, water, and rock formations. This is a naturally occurring event that cannot be controlled or stopped. We can only learn to protect our health and safety from it.
Air pressure in a home is lower than in its outside areas. As the gas leaves the home through the exhaust fans, radon gas is sucked into the home as it replaces the escaped gas. During the colder months, the hot air rises and escapes, and new air moves into the home. The new gases are sucked in from the surrounding areas to replace the air that has left the home. Changes in the air pressure, are what create this vacuum-type action.
Radon can enter any home that is in contact with the ground. Testing for radon every two years is highly recommended. Also, consider installing a radon mitigation system.
Why The Basement
Believe it or not, the basement is not the only place Radon gas can enter a home. However, the Radon gas levels in a basement are likely to be higher, as basements have many possible entry points. Let’s take a look at some of those entry points.
Holes or gaps around your plumbing as it enters the foundation
Crawl space that isn’t encapsulated
Sump pump pit in the flooring
Cracks and holes in your concrete slab and walls
Floor-to-wall joints that aren’t sealed
Floor drains that are exposed and not sealed.
Also, keep in mind that Radon gas can pass through a concrete slab regardless of how sealed up cracks and crevices are.
How Is It Detected
Most homeowners are not aware that there are a variety of ways to test for radon. There are systems available called Radon mitigation systems, that detect and alert you of the Radon levels in your basement and in the home. They provide great functionality in protecting your family’s health and safety. Let’s take a look below at the various ways a professional service can test for radon.
Short-term Radon testing – these tests are activated charcoal-based or electric ions. They can measure your radon gas levels between 2-7 days. Next, you will mail your test measurements to the local lab for review.
Continuous Radon testing – these can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet. This technology will test every second that it is plugged into a power source. As air moves through your home, it is sampled and measured for any potentially harmful issues.
How Much Does It Cost
Getting a Radon mitigation system installed in your home could cost you between $750 and $5,000. This cost variation is dependent upon how big your home is. If you are simply looking to have your home tested for radon, the national average cost for a Radon test is $150 to $350. This is a great investment into your family’s health and safety. Also, keep in mind that if you get a full home inspection conducted, you could get an add-on radon test for a cheaper rate.
Other Recommended Maintenance
While you are on the topic of inspections and testing. It is also a great idea to get a wind mitigation inspection completed. Your local home inspection team can conduct a wind mitigation inspection at the same time as they conduct your Radon gas test. It is always a great idea to have multiple inspections or tests done on your home at the same time, to save money.
Additionally, you should not forget to have a mold inspection conducted on the home. A great way to prevent any major damage and health issues in your home is by taking the extra step and having a mold inspection completed. Your local home inspection team can complete this at the same time as they conduct their Radon gas test.
Lastly, make sure that your mold inspection is thorough. Just like how Radon gas can travel up and out of the home, mold spores can also travel up from the basement and into the main living space. Any basement that is damp and dark and has high moisture immediately becomes a breeding ground for mold production. Be sure to have your basement thoroughly inspected for mold.
When Do I Call A Professional
Hiring a Radon mitigation team to conduct a test for radon levels in your home is a great idea. Taking an aggressive approach to monitoring and testing various gases in the air will only help preserve your health and safety. As a homeowner, it is imperative to conduct a Radon mitigation test approximately every two years. Reach out to your local home inspection team and they can conduct the test for you.
No matter where you live, it is a great idea to conduct a radon mitigation test every two years. In order to protect your family’s health and safety, you will want to test your home for various gases such as radon and carbon monoxide. Because these gases are odorless, tasteless, and colorless, you have no idea of the levels in your home. Testing of the home should be done regardless of if you are buying, selling, or living in the home. Call on your local home inspection team to get your Radon gas test conducted today. Reach out to Warren Inspections in Eastern and Central Massachusetts for a radon test and all of your home inspection needs.
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Warren Home Inspections is dedicated to providing the highest quality service to all our clients. We thoroughly inspect all major components of your property to expose unknown defects and advise you about future maintenance about your home once the purchase is complete. You can trust Warren Home Inspections to do the job right.
We perform inspections in Worcester County, Middlesex County, Essex County, Suffolk County, Norfolk County, Bristol County and Plymouth County.