Home Inspection Tips – Getting Reliable Radon Test Results

You can’t see or smell radon, but it could be in the home you’re buying, selling or building, and it poses a threat to your health. Therefore, it’s important to have a home inspector or other qualified professional test the home for radon levels to determine if repairs are needed that will reduce those levels.

How can you be sure to get reliable test results? First, the testing should be done on the lowest level of the home which is regularly occupied, such as a basement, play area, or area that may be used as a workshop. It’s also important to decide how long the test should take and when it will be done. A short term test requires a minimum of 48 hours. Interference to the testing should be kept to a minimum as well.

Special equipment is needed for radon testing. Your home inspector or other qualified professional radon tester will have equipment suitable for your particular situation. The office that deals with radon issues in the state where you live should have the latest information about the best equipment and methods for testing.

There are passive and active devices for radon testing. Passive devices do not need electricity. Such devices include charcoal canisters, alpha-track detectors, charcoal liquid scintillation devices, and electret ion chamber detectors. Each device must be exposed to the air in the home for a specified period of time, depending on the device’s requirements. They’re then sent to a lab for analysis.

Passive devices can be used for short term or long term testing. They’re generally inexpensive. They may also have features to help deter interference that could adversely affect test results.

Active testing devices require electricity to function. They include continuous radon monitors and continuous working level monitors, which measure and record the amount of radon or its decay products in the air over a period of time. Many of these devices provide a report that will reveal any unusual or abnormal swings in the radon level during the test period. A qualified tester can explain this report to you.

Some of these active devices are specifically designed to deter and detect test interference. There are some technically advanced active devices that offer anti-interference features. Although these tests may cost more, they may give you a more reliable result.

How can test interference be prevented? First, use a test device that frequently records radon or decay product levels to detect unusual swings. Use a motion detector to determine whether the test device has been moved or testing conditions have changed. Use a proximity detector to reveal whether people are in the room, since that could affect the results.

It’s also a good idea to Record the barometric pressure to identify weather conditions which may have affected the test. Also, record the temperature to help determine if doors or windows were opened. Your tester may apply tamper-proof seals to windows to ensure closed house conditions.

It would be a good idea to have the home seller or occupant to sign a non-interference agreement.

Your inspector or qualified radon tester should be knowledgeable about these and any other necessary precautions to make sure your radon test results are reliable.

Tips On What A Home Inspection Report Should Provide

Before interviewing a Home Inspector, it’s important for homebuyers to know what types of questions to ask. Looking at a few sample home inspections can help homebuyers and sellers understand home inspection terminology as well as what is and is not covered in a home inspection report. Many insurance companies require an inspection before insuring a homeowner, in order to protect the buyer. For sellers, knowing the condition of your home can help set an asking price.

Here are a few questions to ask your home inspector:
• Are you licensed?
• How long have you been working in this industry?
• May I speak with previous clients?
• What are my payment options? Some smaller companies only take cash or check.
• How long before I receive my inspection report?

Home inspectors should not give recommendations as to professionals that can fix problems that are found. They should only recommend a specialist be called in. This prevents inspectors from taking a kickback on referrals. When receiving a bid for home inspections, expect a ballpark figure, as a variety of factors can affect the final outcome.

As far as the home inspection report, here’s what you can expect:
• A photograph of the property
• A breakdown of the following:
o Exterior condition
o Grounds condition
o Patio Covers (if applicable)
o Grading/Drainage/Landscaping Conditions
o Plumbing Condition
o Electrical Component Conditions
o Heating System Conditions
o Kitchen Conditions
o Building Interior General Condition
o Garage/Carport Condition
o Supplemental Photographs where needed to demonstrate damage or location of shutoffs and other key components of the property.
• Detailed description of potential problems with these components.
• Recommendations for resolution of problems.

Any number of problems can be detected with a thorough home inspection report from window leakage, drainage issues, uneven walkways, heating system problems, poor insulation and the list goes on. The purpose of these reports is to assess potential problems as well as the cost to have problems fixed, which should come off of the price of the home.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than making an investment in a property that looks goods but turns out to have hidden flaws that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to fix. Most inspections uncover flaws not visible to the untrained eye. Many professionals now use thermal imaging equipment in order to detect water and air leaks that would not be apparent without it.

Feel free to contact several professionals before making a final decision. You should be able to trust your home inspector. Your investment is in their hands.

Home Inspection Tip 2 – Checking the Interior of A Home

You should know the basics of screening out the wrong houses. Some inspectors are not as meticulous as you would like them to be. So here are some pointers in checking the structure of the interior of a house that you want to purchase so you will get the best deal at house closing:

– Having entrance foyer in a home is desirable as it helps in conserving heat in winter and coolness in summer days. Having a large closet near the doorway is great.

– The kitchen should be located near the dining area, living room and the garage. Also, see to it that there are lots of storage space and area for a dining nook. The counter length should be at least two feet. The exhaust fan should be placed above the stove. The stove, refrigerator, and sink should be near one another so it will be easier for you to move if you will prepare food in the kitchen.

– A bathroom should be on the same floor as the kitchen, and there should be one and a half bathrooms for every two bedrooms. Ideally, a bathroom will be off the main bedroom.

– Flush all toilets to check them, and lift the cover off the tank to inspect whether the workings inside are working properly. Visit the highest bathroom in the house, turn all the faucets, and flush the toilet, to see if the water flows very slowly. Interior baths are better than those that have an outside wall, but they should have exhaust fans. Moreover, do not forget to check the ceilings below bathrooms for water stains.

– The fireplace should have an ash box, for ease of cleaning. Fireplace flooring should extend 18 inches in front, then one foot beyond each side of the fireplace. Check whether the damper is in good condition.

– The garage should slant down toward the outside, and it should have a window, along with a door besides the main door. An electrical outlet should also be available.

– Check the walls of the basement for cracks. Any crack one-third of an inch wide is not a good indication that the house is structurally well-built. A horizontal crack is worse than a vertical crack; it may signify that the wall is buckling.

– Look at the nails in the floorboards of the basement to see if they are rusty that can be a possible sign of flooding. And see whether the floor tiles have white stains at the joints, another sign of water damage. Freshly painted baseboard or basement walls could be a sign that the seller is trying to hide a water problem. Poke wood with a screwdriver; if it is soft, there may be termite damage.

– You should not have to walk through one bedroom to get to another. Any bedroom should have windows on two different walls for cross ventilation. Closets should have four feet of rod space per family member.

– In the attic, look for watermarks on the ceiling. A window or louvers should give ventilation. Six inches of insulation are desirable in the attic.