Roof Sealant Is Not A Proper Long Term Roof Repair
During a home inspection I often observe roof sealant around areas like the chimney, roof vents, plumbing pipes, and the electric service mast. Roofs and roof problems can be a very costly issue for home owners especially people buying a home who are on a budget. Buying a home without knowing there are some significant roof problems can cause some serious financial hardships and make home ownership difficult.
There are many improper repairs that I see on roofs. One of the most common is the improper use of roof sealant. Roof sealant is not a proper repair for a flashing problem. Covering a problem area that may be leaking or needing repair with roof sealant is the wrong solution to a problem. Replacing the flashing is the proper repair for a flashing problem. Roof flashing should last as long as the shingles when the right materials are used. Often roof sealant is a quick fix done by a homeowner or unskilled roofer who is not trying to repair the roof properly. It's the fix that involves the least work and skill and will not last.
Often home owners will have their roofs replaced but will not have flashing repaired or replaced. Flashing is often susceptible to damage or deterioration and needs replacement occasionally. When roof sealant is used that is usually a clue that there is an active problem with that area of the roof.
Chimneys are a frequent problem found during home inspections. For chimneys a proper flashing is metal flashing that is properly attached to the roof and chimney to prevent water intrusion. Chimney flashing is critical as it can damage the chimney if water intrusion occurs as well as damage interior portions of the home. Using roof sealant for chimney flashing is a temporary fix and will need constant maintenance by a homeowner to ensure that it is not allowing water leaks through the roof. Roof sealant does not last long and can begin to crack or become prone to leaks in a short period of time. Proper flashing material is a long term fix that will last years and will not need maintenance for some time.
Other areas where flashing is critical are roof vents, skylights, and plumbing vents. Skylights are notorious for water leaks and the flashing area around skylights needs to be inspected carefully to ensure that there are no moisture intrusion problems. Flashing can often be improperly installed and this can also lead to leaking issues.
Roof problems can be very expensive and difficult to fix. Have your roof fixed properly by a qualified roofing professional. Not all roofing professionals are created equal. Ensure the roofing professional has good references and reviews. Not all roofing professionals do proper repairs.
Ensure that your roof is inspected properly and inspected by a qualified individual. If your home inspector does not walk roofs they should be using a drone or pole camera in order to get a full view of the roof so that there are no issues that they miss or cannot observe. At Dairyland Home Inspection roof problems are just one of the many home problems we find and check for during a home inspection. We serve Racine, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Waukesha, and Walworth Counties.
Mold Testing In Racine, Kenosha, and Milwaukee, WIsconsin
Home inspectors often found substances that appear to be mold or they smell 'musty' odors in an area of a home. When mold is suspected there can be confusion about mold and how it can affect a home environment.
Mold refers to organisms that can be found outdoors and indoors and are part of the kingdom of Fungi. Mold can be found everywhere and is in the air we breathe. It belongs to a class of living organisms of their own. The role of fungi is to break down "dead" materials. Unlike plants fungi do not make their own food and need other living organisms to survive.
There are many types of fungi which can include mold, mildew, and mushrooms. There are many different types of mold. It is believed there could be as many as 300,000 different varieties of mold. Mold has many different colors and some mold can be harmful to humans. Mold easily travels through the air in microscopic spores and can travel very long distances.
Where mold becomes a problem is indoors in homes. Mold spores will not grow without moisture present. This is why it is critical to prevent moisture intrusion into homes. When mold grows on moisture it can digest whatever it grows on and cause damage. Mold can damage wood and drywall and cause significant structural damage if allowed to grow for long times. It can also damage furniture and other household items.
One of the biggest problems with mold is health problems associated with mold. Some people can be highly sensitive to mold in a home. The problem of health effects and mold is controversial as there is not a lot of data on the specific health effect of mold on humans. Different mold species are considered possible health hazards while some molds are considered harmless.
In addition to being a possible health hazard the smell associated with mold can be very unpleasant and make an area have an odor due to the mold growth. It is also aesthetically unpleasing to observe.
The only way to know what type of mold is present in a home is by doing a mold test. Air sampling and swab sampling are two of the most common methods of mold testing. Air sampling involves taking particles in the air and having them tested for mold spores. Swab sampling usually involves testing visual mold growth. Samples are sent to a lab and tested with a report on the specific mold types reported. During mold testing control samples of the outside air just outside the home should be taken and checked against the indoor air tests to compare the mold amounts and identify potential problems.
Make sure is you have your home tested for mold you use a certified mold testing professional. At Dairyland Home Inspection we are nationally certified to provide mold testing using air sampling or sample testing. We serve Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Walworth Counties.
Backup Sump Pump Systems Can Prevent basement Flooding
As a home inspector one area I often comment on is the sump pump. I often observe sump pumps that are very old and probably well past their service life. Most sump pumps are observed without a battery backup systems that is also a recommendation made to the buyer. Sump pumps are something that most people don't think about until after their basement floods. When water accumulates in the sump pump basin (hole) the sump pump removes the water out to prevent it from overflowing and flooding the basement with water. While most homes with basements have sump pumps many do not. If your home has a sump basin it is critical to make sure this piece of equipment is working properly.
Sump pumps fail for several reasons. One reason is the pump fails and the motor burns out. If your sump pump is older and has had years of use it may be worth replacing in order to prevent it from failing when you need it most. Like any piece of equipment sump pumps have a life span that requires they be replaced. Replacing it before it fails is the key to prevent your basement from having water issues. Just because an old sump pump is working great today doesn't mean it might not fail tomorrow.
They also fail from a power outage. Sump pumps often fail during a storm when really needed. When a storm occurs and the power goes out your sump pump running on electricity will no longer pump water out of the sump pump basin. An electric sump pump motor needs electricity to operate. If that happens and you don't have a battery backup system your basement floods.
Battery backup systems run off battery power up to 24 hours and don't need electricity. They are a separate pump from your main pump and work independently from it. The battery backup system constantly charges and is ready when needed. When the power goes out these pumps are ready to operate and begin working automatically. They cost several hundred dollars, which is a small price to pay to prevent an expensive basement flood. A battery backup system can easily be installed as a do it yourself project by a homeowner.
Another common area where problems are observed relating to sump pumps are the water discharges on the sump pumps. When the water is discharged to the outside it should be directed well away from the house. Water discharge pipes should have back flow prevention so that water that is sent through the pipe and does not reach the outside does not flow back into the sump basing to have to be discharged again. Sump pump discharge pipes often leak and these can be areas where damage can occur to building materials and mold can grow. These are also important areas to check.
At Dairyland Home Inspection sump pumps are just one of the many items we inspect during a home inspection. We serve Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Walworth Counties.
Radon Testing In Wisconsin
Many home owners and home buyers have little knowledge of radon and how it can affect a home. As a home inspector I am often asked about radon and when I explain the facts about radon to home buyers they are often interested in having their home tested for radon. There are still a good percentage of people who don't have their home tested for radon.
In the United States radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer with approximately 21,000 deaths related to radon each year, according to the EPA. Approximately 16% of homes across the United States have an unsafe radon level above 4pCi/L. Some states and areas of the country have significantly higher and lower levels depending on their geology. In southeastern Wisconsin there is a higher than normal level of radon that has been found in homes. As a home inspector I find on average about 60% of homes have a radon level above 4pCi/L.
What is radon? Radon is an odorless gas that is formed from radioactive decay in the soil. It's present everywhere in the environment. The average outside level of radon is below .4pCi/L so it's very low normally outside. Where radon tends to concentrate in higher levels is inside homes and buildings. Radon is a radioactive gas that forms naturally when uranium, thorium, or radium, which are radioactive metals break down in rocks, soil and groundwater.
Radon is a known carcinogen which causes lung cancer. Radon cannot travel through the skin or affect a person unless it is breathed into the lungs. Once it gets into the lungs it can eventually cause cancer depending on the exposure over time. Like any caner causing material not everyone exposed will get cancer but they develop a higher risk for cancer. This is especially true of people who smoke.
There are several methods to obtaining a radon measurement result ranging from charcoal canisters to continuous radon monitors which are the most common. Charcoal canisters are placed out and after a specific period of time are sent into a laboratory for testing. Charcoal testing takes much longer than using a continuous radon monitor as the samples have to be sent in and then there is a waiting period for the results. Continuous radon monitors take an hourly air sample and give an average level of radon based on all the hourly air samples collected. For residential real estate transactions the time period is normally 48 hours but can be longer if needed. The results are instant once the test is complete. They provide a big advantage to charcoal tests because they give an hourly level of radon and there is no waiting period for results. Also continuous radon monitors aren't affected by moisture. In addition, many continuous radon monitors often have security features, which prevent them from being moved without invalidating a test result.
Some states have licensing or certification requirements for residential radon testing. In Wisconsin there are no requirements to have any certification or licensing to conduct residential radon testing. Make sure that whoever you hire that is measuring the radon level in your home is certified to do so by the National Radon Proficiency Program NRPP or another organization that certifies radon testing.
At Dairyland Home Inspection we perform radon measurements in Racine, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Waukesha, and Walworth counties as part of a home inspection or a standalone test.
Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that are composed of thin needle like fibers. Asbestos materials were common in home building prior to 1977. Building materials manufacturers during the 1950's and 1960's promoted the use of asbestos as an excellent fire retarding material and insulating material. Many homes used asbestos materials as they were widely used and promoted as an excellent building material.
Asbestos is an excellent building material except for one big problem. The asbestos fibers can cause lung problems including mesothelioma when breathed in. When the fibers are breathed in over long periods of time they can cause significant lung problems. If not for that problem it would still probably be widely used today in homes.
During a home inspection asbestos building materials are often found in older homes. Common materials in homes that can contain asbestos are flue pipe insulating materials, tile flooring, vermiculite attic insulation, ceiling tiles, asbestos roofing shingles, and asbestos exterior siding to name a few. Most asbestos roofing shingles have since been replaced but they are occasionally found. Exterior siding, tile flooring, ceiling tiles, vermiculite insulation, and flue pipe insulating materials are commonly found in homes.
Asbestos isn't dangerous unless it is disturbed and the fibers become friable. That means the fibers can become airborne and breathed in. When materials are suspected to contain asbestos the only sure way to know they contain asbestos is to have them properly tested. Testing needs to be done by a qualified laboratory that conducts asbestos testing. Removal or remediation of asbestos can be costly and a good deal of the expense is the disposal cost. Asbestos remediation needs to be performed by licensed and qualified contractors to ensure that the asbestos material are completely and safely removed. To prevent possible future health hazard and an expensive remediation costs it is critical to identify possible asbestos materials and have them tested when purchasing a home.
At Dairyland Home Inspection we perform home inspections in Racine, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Waukesha, and Walworth Counties.
Bob Carter is a home inspector in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. He is the owner of Dairyland Home Inspection.