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No Mold is “Good” Mold

One of the biggest questions about Mold is,

“Do I have the bad Mold?”

The answer is, “No Mold is good Mold”.

Mold is, “Toxigenic“, which means it may not always be producing toxins into your environment. However, for no explainable reason the same Mold that was not producing toxins yesterday, may indeed today begin to produce toxic spores. You must remember Mold is a living breathing orginism, best described as half animal and half plant. This is why it has been classified into its own,”Kingdom“, the Kingdom of “Fungi”.
 
Mold does not have to be black to make you sick. Simply the terms “Black Mold”, or “Toxic Mold”, have been sensationalized by the news media, these terms are actually not correct.

Mold Sickness and related illnesses from Mold Exposure are REAL. Mold has been linked to Lung Damage, Brain Damage, Cancer and even Death. The latest discovery of Mold Fine Particulates  in our environment coupled with the associated medical documentation; prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, sickness and disease from mold exposure and exposure to Mold Fine Particulates are very real.

If Mold spores are inhaled or ingested you can become seriously ill. The longer you go undiagnosed, and untreated, the Mold will continue to grow inside your body, making you sicker with each passing day. As Mold continues to grow inside your body it produces poisons called “Mycotoxins”, these poisons leach into your body day after day. Each day it is left untreated the colonies of Mold grow larger producing and releasing larger amounts of toxins into your body.

Different spicies of Mold produce different toxins and people will suffer a wide range of different symptoms. Mold Sickness will affect many people in many different ways and produce a variety of symptoms.

Because the variety of symptoms from mold exposure are so wide in range many physicians deem their patients to have psychological problems.

Below are the symptoms of Mold Sickness.

Level – I Common Symptoms of Mold Exposure
  • Sneezing
  • Itching Skin
  • Redness and skin irritation
  • Watery Eyes
  • Itching Eyes
  • Headache

Level – II Advanced Symptoms of Mold Exposure

The following symptoms of Mold exposure have been reported generally as a result from persons being in a Mold contaminate environment on and off for an extended period of time. Symptoms are reported to have become more severe and longer lasting directly in proportion to the length of exposure time. Their reported symptoms are as follows:
  •  Constant Headaches
  • Nose Bleeds
  • Feelings of Constant Fatigue
  • Breathing Disorders
  • Coughing up Blood or Black looking Debris
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Hair loss
  • Skin Rashes
  • Open Sores on the Skin
  • Memory Loss “Short Term”
  • Neurological & Nervous Disorders
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Swollen Glands in the Neck Area and under the Armpit
  • Sudden Asthma Attacks or Breathing Disorders
  • Ear Infections and Pain
  • Chronic Sinus Infections
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Pain in the Joints and Muscles

While it seems Mold can cause many symptoms one must remember that there are thousands of species of Mold. Different species of Mold can have a wide variety of reactions within different people.

Level – III Late Stage Symptoms of Mold Exposure

 

The following Mold exposure symptoms are the most severe and are attributed to high levels of exposure:

  • Blindness
  • Brain Damage
  • Memory Loss “Long term”
  • Bleeding Lungs
  • Cancer
  • Death

 What does all of this mean for you?  It’s simple, Mold can destroy your health, your property, and if not treated correctly the first time, it can grow back and keep destroying your health and your property.

  

There are many things that need to be addressed when you have Mold. At HIP we strive to educate our clients rather than alarm them.  Knowing what you’re dealing with and how to handle it properly is the first step.  Facts about mold… no hype, just the real life stuff about Mold, identifying it, removing it, and preventing it and protecting your investment.
 

If You Would Like to Speak to Someone About Your Mold Problem,  We Understand and are here to help.  

Contact us today!         

 

New Study: Diseases caused by Mold Fine Particulates” Mold Fine Particulates” The largest  major medical breakthrough in diseases caused by mold.
Please visit http://www.moldsymptoms.org/ for more details.


A Typical Inspection

It’s beautiful, close to work, great schools; it’s the neighborhood you wanted…You’ve found “IT”… Your dream home!  With the open kitchen and that beautiful tile in the bathroom, and the price…well, it is what it is and you’re okay with that.  A few decorating touches and its perfect. 

You’re excited about this one.  You’re completely captivated with your new abode.  Most houses sell on looks. The open kitchen and fresh new paint do wonders for sales appeal and you’re already placing furniture in your mind. You know you should get a home inspection just in case, so you talk to your friends about who they used, search the web, check qualifications, affiliations, testimonials, and fees for the various inspectors, call up a few and go with the one you feel most comfortable with.

It’s the day of the inspection.  You’ve met the inspector, signed the contract and they’re ready to go.  The inspector starts his procedure and you’re following him around the house step by step with a nervous and joyous anxiety.  Then it happens, that first comment…”The roof appears to be at the end of its life and you should anticipate replacing it in the near future.” You think, hmmm… I didn’t notice that but I can deal with it. He checks some areas around the window trim with a screwdriver and finds that some moisture damaged wood had been painted over and several sills will need eventual replacing.  It’s only been a few minutes. You start to wonder what else he’ll find. 

He’s making notes on his laptop as he checks various items on the outside of the house.  Curiosity is getting the better of you and you realize this is not going to be a day at the beach, this is serious business and everything he is saying is translating into dollars and cents. He explains that there are no perfect houses, they all have problems, and that you should try to take things in one step at a time.  You’re grateful you choose this inspector and calm down, even if just a tiny bit. 

You were wondering if there was something structurally wrong with the house. The inspector says you have some typical cracks in the foundation and they are not a structural concern, but they should be sealed up to prevent moisture entry and termite entry and recommends getting it addressed by a professional.  You feel a little better though because you remember seeing those cracks and you had a major concern about them. The cracks were the reason you thought you should have an inspection in the first place.

 

The inspector points out a few other concerns on the exterior, namely a set of stairs with no railing and some offsets in the concrete walkway that he calls a trip hazard. He says both conditions are unsafe and should be corrected and you’re thinking this guy is too much of a perfectionist. He goes on to talk about  trips and falls being the number one health and safety hazard in a home. You realize again that he appears to really know what he’s talking about and you’re happy about that.

You’re now moving on to the garage, then the basement.  You noticed as he tests an exterior outlet. He does this again at the garage outlet and states that the GFCI receptacle is inoperative, a safety hazard, and needs repair by an electrician. He explains that a GFCI is a safety device that can actually save your life in certain instances, and should be present at all areas where electricity and water are in close contact, such as exteriors, garage outlets, kitchen counters, bathrooms, and unfinished basements. Since you have an older house, he is expecting that you have some in a few places. He says he may also recommend additional GFCI outlets be added as a safety upgrade. He also tests the garage door and states that the auto-reverse mechanism is inoperative and needs to be adjusted or repaired.

On to the basement. He checks the framing at the perimeter of the house with a three foot long probe and states everything seems OK, looks at the rest of the basement framing, makes a few checks, and its on to plumbing. He checks the main line, the supply lines, the gas lines, the drain lines. Everything is going much better now. At the new water heater he pauses, checks the label and states the water heater may be at the end of its service life. You’re thinking, “but it looks brand new…” He explains that the tank appears to be about 10 years old as indicated by the serial number on the nameplate, which is beyond the normal life expectancy of a water heater and you should plan on replacing it before it becomes a problem. Okay – deep breath, that’s just a trip to Home Depot.

On to electrical. The inspector unscrews the service panel door, looks inside for a while and states that there are a few double tapped circuits that should be separated by using “skinny” breakers and that labeling could be improved. Not so bad. He also notes a few uncovered junction boxes that need covers and an open splice, where two wires are connected with tape, important fire safety hazards that need correction.  It all sounds like Greek at first, but he does a fantastic job of explaining what is there and what needs to be done and why.

He checks the gas heater and gives it a clean bill of health. It’s a ten year old cast iron boiler that he says should last a long time.  Whew…

He says the worst is over now and you follow him upstairs. The upstairs inspection seems to move much faster. The inspector checks the kitchen, no real problems except some dings in the vinyl floor. The toilet in the bathroom needs a new wax seal, a sink needs a new faucet, small stuff in comparison. He moves through the dining room, living room, and bedrooms, checking electrical outlets and windows, looking at the ceiling, walls, and what he can see of the floor. He also checks the heat in each room with a cool little laser thermometer as he cruises from room to room. A few things come up, nothing major. He has been shutting all the windows in the house as he goes for the radon test.

Last place he goes is the attic. He gets up in the scuttle hole and disappears from view, but you hear him walking around above you. He says that the framing is okay but you could use more insulation for energy savings and you will also need some extra attic ventilation as well. The bathroom ventilator terminates in the attic and can cause condensation problems, he says. He recommends rerouting it to the outside. You’re nearly done!

He places radon canisters in the basement and you discuss the protocol of the test and when to pick up the test canisters.

He completes his final notes and asks if you have any questions.  Reminding you that you’ll get your fainl report via email, he notes a few remaining things on this laptop.  He reminds you to read it carefully and to call if you have any concerns or questions.  You pay the man and he’s on his way. 

And that’s it.  You’re adding up estimates in your head of the items he’s mentioned during the inspection.  Quick math and then considering the current price of the house – Its up to you to decide if it’s worth the current price or if you’d like to negotiate.  You’re impressed with the inspector’s Non-Alarming approach and his way explaining that this is not a Pass or Fail scenario.  This is an education of what condition your dream home is and what you need to anticipate in the immediate and not so immediate future.  The point is that almost all homes need repairs and some of these may be major. You must decide whether the house is worth it, whether you’d like to negotiate a lower price, or whether you’ll walk away due to unanticipated major repairs.

Your not exactly overjoyed, there is a lot to consider and you have a little more homework than you bargained for, but you’re glad you hired that home inspector!

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

Time for Spring Cleaning?  How about Spring Home Maintenance – What does your house need during this season?  Protect your investment with a few simple checks and maintenance.  Check out our Spring Home Maintenance Checklist for more details. 

Spring Checklist

Termite Infestation

How Do I Know If My House Is Infested?

Large carton nests in trees, attics, wall voids, etc., are obvious signs of an infestation. Sometimes the damage caused by Formosan subterranean termites is not so obvious. Soft spots, damp or moist patches, bulges, and blistered paint or wallpaper in walls, doors, floors, and other areas may indicate termite activity underneath. Probing these areas with a screwdriver may reveal damaged wood, soil, carton, and live termites. Formosan subterranean termite infestations are recognized by the presence of lots of soldiers.

Subterranean termites crawling above ground build mud shelter tubes because they do not like being exposed in the open to light and air. The tubes keep the termites from drying out and shield them from predators, such as ants, and natural enemies. Shelter tubes are often found on walls coming up from the ground or floor. They may also be found sticking out or dropping down to the ground in crawl spaces, under porches or stairways, etc. Tubes and carton may be in places where they are difficult to see such as stucco or plaster cracks, tree holes, tree crotches, etc. You can break the tubes open to check for termites.

Remember that Formosan subterranean termites swarm during the evening from April through July. Keep in mind that swarmers outside around your home could be emerging and flying in from somewhere else. Check carefully around the premises to see if they are coming from your property.

What Should I Do If I Have Formosan Subterranean Termites?

The best thing to do is to have the infestation professionally treated. There are two types of control available: soil termiticides and baits. The treatment used depends largely on the type and size of the infestation, and which one the homeowner is most comfortable with.

Soil Termiticides

Pre-treatment. Treating soil with a liquid termiticide creates a chemical barrier beneath the structure. Depending on the chemical, the termites will either avoid tunneling through treated soil or die soon after they come in contact with it. Soil termiticides have been the standard preventive treatment for subterranean termites up until the mid-1990s. Termiticides are applied before the foundation slab of a structure is poured. Under ideal conditions, protection should last from 5 to 7 years; but under less than ideal conditions or because of improper application it can be much less. The slightest break in the protective barrier is all that is needed for termites to reach a structure. They can tunnel through areas in the soil where no termiticide is present. Expansion joints, cracks, and utility and plumbing lines are common termite entry points through a concrete slab. Termiticide breakdown, soil erosion, improper application, and careless construction practices (such as leaving wooden grade stakes in the slab or disturbing treated soil) are several ways that the chemical barrier can be broken.

Post-construction treatment. When infestations occur after a structure has been built, termiticides are applied by one of three methods: rodding, drilling, or trenching. In the first, termiticide is injected directly into the soil at specific intervals around the perimeter of the house and beneath the slab with a rodder, an injection tool with a long, hollow, metal rod with an open tip. Drilling involves making holes through concrete slabs, walkways, patios, walls, and floors in order to treat the soil beneath the slab or inside wall voids. Trenching involves digging a shallow trench (about 6 X 6 inches) around the base of the home, applying termiticide to the trench and the backfill and then refilling the trench.

Baits

Baiting systems provide an alternative to liquid termiticides. Developed in the early 1990s, they are also effective against the Formosan subterranean termite. Baiting involves placing bait stations in the soil around the outside of the house. The stations contain small pieces of wood (in some products the stations are installed with both wood and bait) and are checked regularly for termites. When termites are found in a station, the wood is removed and replaced with the bait. The bait is either a paper- or cardboard-like material or textured cellulose that contains a substance that slowly kills the termites. The idea behind baiting is that the termites feed on the bait and get a dose of the active ingredient. Although this does not kill the termites immediately, it gives them enough time to feed the other termites in the colony. Eventually, all the members of the colony are affected. The termites begin dying and the population of the colony is severely reduced or eliminated.

Several different baiting systems are now being used by pest management professionals or are commercially available. Some have insect growth regulators (known as IGRs) as their active ingredient (AI). These are chemical compounds that act like termite hormones and keep the termites from developing normally. Other AIs prevent the termites from getting energy from their food.

Aboveground bait stations are also available and are used when termites are found in walls, doors, posts, flooring, etc. The stations are placed directly on areas where termites are present so that they can begin feeding immediately on the bait.

Advantages of baiting are:

  • It is non-invasive (the baits are odorless and no liquid is involved so the soil remains pesticide-free).
  • Technicians usually do not need to enter the house (unless in-ground stations are needed indoors).
  • Drilling through floors and walls is usually not required.
  • There is no exposure to the active ingredient because it is self-contained within the bait station.
  • Only a small amount of an active ingredient (sometimes less than 1/20 oz.) is used for an entire treatment.
  • The active ingredients are relatively harmless to humans and so little is used it makes it even safer.

The main disadvantage is that control is not immediate. It may take from several months to over a year to rid the home of termites.

How Can I Keep My Home From Being Infested?

There are numerous ways you can reduce the chance of your home being infested by Formosan and other subterranean termites:

  • Remove any wood or cellulose-containing material (such as cardboard) that is in direct contact with bare ground.
  • Carefully inspect wooden items, especially railroad ties, for termites before buying them.
  • Do not leave wooden items such as planters, tubs, trellises, railroad ties, firewood, and stakes on top of or in bare ground.
  • Anchor wooden posts for fences, decks, porches, sheds, etc. in cement so that no wood is contacting bare ground.
  • Structural wood at or near ground level should be pressure-treated with a wood preservative. Preservatives mainly protect against wood-decaying fungi but are also effective against termites.
  • Maintain a zone of at least one foot around the outside of your home that is clear of plants and other landscaping materials. This reduces soil moisture and makes it easier to inspect for shelter tubes coming up from the ground.
  • Install rain gutters to prevent water from dripping down around the perimeter of your home.
  • Keep rain gutters clear so that water drains quickly and does not accumulate and soak the upper walls and roof of your home.
  • Fix or replace leaky outdoor faucets and water lines.
  • Gutter downspouts and air conditioner condensate lines should empty out at least one foot away from the base of the home.
  • The ground next to your home should slope away so that water does not pool next to it.
  • Keep sprinklers from wetting the walls of your home.
  • Fix leaks in the basement, roof, water heater, appliances, and other sources inside your home. These leaks moisten wood and create damp environments that Formosan and other subterranean termites like to live in.
  • Remove all wooden grade stakes, form boards, supports, and scrap wood after finishing construction or remodeling.
  • Remove dead trees and plants including the roots and stumps, if possible, from your yard.
  • Eliminate or reduce the use of mulch and wood chips around the foundation of your home. This eliminates cooler and moist soil conditions favored by Formosan and other subterranean termites.

Intersted in learning more about ways you can improve your property and avoid Insect Infestations?  Call us today!

Termite Facts & Myths

The Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, is one of the most destructive termite species in the world today. In the United States it causes tremendous property damage resulting in enormous treatment and repair costs. It is sometimes referred to as the “Super Termite” because:

  • It has large colonies.
  • The territory of a single colony can be up to 300 feet.
  • It infests a wide variety of structures (including boats and high-rise condominiums).
  • It eats wood at a rapid rate.

Do Formosan Subterranean Termites Eat Anything Else Besides Wood?

Although they feed mostly on wood, they will eat other cellulose-containing materials such as cardboard and paper. However, they are known to chew through foam insulation boards, thin lead and copper sheeting, plaster, asphalt, and some plastics.

Is It True They Eat Concrete?

Contrary to popular myth, FORMOSAN SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES DO NOT EAT CONCRETE nor can the soldier’s defensive fluid dissolve holes in concrete. These rumors continue because Formosan subterranean termites are always digging through the soil. Because of this continuous activity, they are likely to find cracks and crevices in concrete or mortar and gain entry to a structure. This can fool someone into thinking that Formosan subterranean termites can eat through solid concrete.

Where Do They Live?

Subterranean termite species, such as the Formosan termite, generally live underground. They tunnel through the soil in search of food. Unlike native subterranean termites, Formosan termites build large nests. These are made of carton, a hard material the workers make from soil, chewed wood or plant matter, and their own saliva and feces. Carton nests are quite impressive – a large, rock-like mass constructed by hundreds of thousands or millions of termites.

Although nesting mostly below ground, some Formosan termite colonies will build above-ground nests that are not connected to the soil. Nests can be made in structures where the temperature does not get too hot or cold and there is plenty of moisture. Sources of moisture include:

  • plumbing, water heater, and roof leaks
  • condensation from air conditioning units
  • poor drainage from gutters and flat roofs
  • seepage and rainfall on boats and ships
  • porches, balconies, rooftops, etc. with plants or landscaping that are frequently watered

How Can I Get Them Identified?

If you are not sure if the termites you have are Formosan, you can send or bring soldiers and alates to your County Extension office for identification. Here are some tips for sending or bringing your samples:

  • Preserve the termites in rubbing alcohol and keep them in a small, non-breakable container with a tight-fitting, leak-proof cap or lid.
  • Termites mailed in envelopes or sandwich bags dry out, get crushed, and break apart if they are not first put into a sturdy container. This often makes identification difficult.
  • Do not stick termites on tape or tape them to paper. This makes identification difficult.
  • Be sure to include the wings if you have alates.

Remember, the better the condition your samples are in, the easier it will be to identify them.

Concerned about Termites in your property?  Call us today for an inspection!

Spring Thaw Maintenance Top 5

Can you feel it?  That’s right, that slight anxious feeling when we see the mercury rise ABOVE freezing!  We’re all itching for spring!

However, with the warmer temperatures and eventual  thaw (I promise, it will eventually); there are things to be done.  Time to start on the dreaded Spring Cleaning.  Here at HIP, we’re kicking things off with a Spring Thaw Checklist.  Don’t let those home inspection and maintenance tasks get you down. Here are the top 5 items to help you target the areas that need your attention first and out enjoying the warmer weather when it finally arrives.

  1. Caulking
    • Inspect and refresh any caulking around windows and doors.  Start by brushing along the area where the window meets the wall to remove any dust or debris that will hinder your visual inspection. Examine the entire caulked area and look for cracks or caulk that has pulled away from the surface of the wall or the window frame.  While looking for worn caulk, push gently with an unsharpened pencil or wooden dowel and note if the caulk returns to its original shape after the pencil or dowel is removed. The dowel is used to check that the caulking still has its elasticity. Elasticity is the ability of the caulk to stretch and not break the seal from around the window. If excessive cracking is observed or the caulk has lost its elasticity, the window will need to be re-caulked.
    • If the caulking needs to be replaced, the old caulking will need to be removed first. Even though it may seem appealing to simply apply new caulk over the worn caulking, don’t do it because it will be impossible to ensure a proper seal.
      To remove the caulking from around the window you will need to have a utility knife, a putty knife or a painter’s 5-in-1 tool.  On painted wooden framed windows, lightly score the line between the paint and the caulk to eliminate paint damage while removing the caulk. Slide the putty knife into the caulking, tilt the putty knife so the blade is at an angle and pull the putty knife along the caulked seam. When the caulking gives way and you can grab it with your fingers, pull gently on the caulk. The majority of the caulking will pull easily away from the window frame. If the piece breaks off, re-insert the putty knife and restart the process.  Any caulking that remains after the initial removal can be scraped away with either the putty knife or the utility knife. 
    • To reapply window caulking, the first step is to make a 45-degree cut across the nozzle of the caulking tube. The hollow nozzle has a taper that is smaller at the top and grows larger as it reaches the caulk tube. Make the cut so that the hollow opening matches the size of the caulk bead required to fill the gap around the window. Start by cutting up high and make additional cuts until the nozzle hole diameter is the appropriate size. Then place the caulking tube into a caulking gun.  Gently squeeze the handle of the caulking gun, while the nozzle is pointed at the gap, about 1/8th inch away from the window gap. Next, drag the caulk gun along the entire length of the seam. After all seams have been caulked, use a wet finger or a Popsicle stick to smooth out and finish the caulk.
    • And Hey, while you’re already working with the caulk gun, why not inspect the bathroom areas as well.  Note this may require a different type or style of caulk.
  2. Furnace/Humidifier
    • Furnace Filters were originally designed to remove airborne particulate and dust that could harm your furnace’s internal components.  Today, consumers can choose from filters of many materials designed to improve air quality and even the scent!  Furnace filters should be examined monthly and replaced immediately as necessary. 
    • Be sure to buy the proper type and size filter for your home and furnace.  Periodic maintenance and occasionally installing a new furnace filter will keep your home’s heating system working at its best and enhancing indoor air quality.
  3. Gutters
    • Depending on the surroundings of your home, gutters should be cleaned twice each year.  Keeping gutters clear of debris will help to ensure that water does pour into or down areas you don’t want it.
    • The easiest way to clean gutters is to have someone do it professionally!  This generally costs around $100.  If you’re a do it yourself sort of person, you can save yourself some money. 
    • Start by removing debris from the gutters.  This can be done by hand or using a garden hose and spray nozzle or a leaf blower.  Be sure to use protective gear when using these methods. 
    • Lastly, inspect the downspouts to be sure they are free of anything that will block the flow of water. 
    • Gutter guards do not always prevent debris from entering the gutters or downspouts.  When purchasing, be sure they are removable for necessary cleaning.
  4. Roof
    • Roof repairs can be quite costly.  A quick but thorough look around your roof can help you catch would be problems before they cause significant damage.   Inspect your roof for missing, damaged or loose shingles.  Curling, Cracks or Tears, even loss of Texture are all signs of wear.
    • Carefully examine areas of flashing such as a chimney to be sure all pieces are properly connected and complete.
    • Examine Gutters, vents and overhangs.  Looking for rotted areas or signs of open joints.
    • Note any areas of the roof that may appear to be sagging or growing moss.
  5. Attic
    • Your attic might be one of the places within your home that you never visit.  However, it can be the one place that easily tells you the condition of your roof.
      1. Now that you’ve inspected the roof thoroughly, take a look at it from the inside.  Again, look closely around areas of chimney, skylights, or valleys. 
      2. From the attic, look for any evidence of leaks.  Dark stains can indicate areas where water has been leaking.  Assess any dark areas.  Dry, firm wood indicates an old leak that may have been repaired or remedied.  Damp, wet or soft wood, may have already begun rotting.  Assess again during heavy rain.
      3. Check for sagging areas between rafters as well as the rafters themselves for sagging or cracking.

As always, when in doubt, it’s best to contact a professional.  Your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make and one that you’ll use every day.  Best to keep it in tip-top shape and be sure to give it the attention and maintenance it needs.

Help! I Found Asbestos In My Home – What Should I do?

What Should I Do if I Find Asbestos In My 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.  Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers.
Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don’t touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow.
Sometimes the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it. Discard damaged or worn asbestos gloves, stove-top pads, or ironing board covers. Check with local health, environmental, or other appropriate officials to find out proper handling and disposal procedures.
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. Before you have your house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present.

How Can I Manage an Asbestos Problem?  If the asbestos material is in good shape and will not be disturbed, do nothing! If it is a problem, there are two types of corrections: repair and removal.
Repair usually involves either sealing or covering asbestos material.

  • Sealing (encapsulation) involves treating the material with a sealant that either binds the asbestos fibers together or coats the material so fibers are not released. Pipe, furnace and boiler insulation can sometimes be repaired this way. This should be done only by a professional trained to handle asbestos safely.
  • Covering (enclosure) involves placing something over or around the material that contains asbestos to prevent release of fibers. Exposed insulated piping may be covered with a protective wrap or jacket.

With any type of repair, the asbestos remains in place. Repair is usually cheaper than removal, but it may make later removal of asbestos, if necessary, more difficult and costly. Repairs can either be major or minor.

 Asbestos Do’s and Don’ts for the Homeowner:

  • Do keep activities to a minimum in any areas having damaged material that may contain asbestos.
  • Do take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos material.
  • Do have removal and major repair done by people trained and qualified in handling asbestos. It is highly recommended that sampling and minor repair also be done by asbestos professionals.
  • Don’t dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
  • Don’t saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in asbestos materials.
  • Don’t use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring. Never use a power stripper on a dry floor.
  • Don’t sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing. When asbestos flooring needs replacing, install new floor covering over it, if possible.
  • Don’t track material that could contain asbestos through the house. If you cannot avoid walking through the area, have it cleaned with a wet mop. If the material is from a damaged area, or if a large area must be cleaned, call an asbestos professional.

Major repairs must be done only by a professional trained in methods for safely handling asbestos.
Minor repairs should also be done by professionals since there is always a risk of exposure to fibers when asbestos is disturbed.
Doing minor repairs yourself is not recommended since improper handling of asbestos materials can create a hazard where none existed.
Removal is usually the most expensive method and, unless required by state or local regulations, should be the last option considered in most situations. This is because removal poses the greatest risk of fiber release. However, removal may be required when remodeling or making major changes to your home that will disturb asbestos material. Also, removal may be called for if asbestos material is damaged extensively and cannot be otherwise repaired. Removal is complex and must be done only by a contractor with special training. Improper removal may actually increase the health risks to you and your family.

Asbestos Professionals: Who Are They and What Can They Do?  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.
Asbestos professionals can conduct home inspections, take samples of suspected material, assess its condition, and advise about what corrections are needed and who is qualified to make these corrections. Once again, material in good condition need not be sampled unless it is likely to be disturbed. Professional correction or abatement contractors repair or remove asbestos materials.

Click here for more information on Asbestos and here for more information on Inspecting your Home for Asbestos.

If, at any time, you are concerned about your home and would like an Asbestos Inspection done by Home Inspection Professionals, please contact us anytime at 1-800-HIP-3200 or click here to Request an Inspection via the web.

What is Asbestos and is it Harmful to My Health?

What is Asbestos?  Asbestos is a mineral fiber that, in the past, was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. It can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope.

 Can Asbestos Affect My Health?  From studies, it has been found that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of:

  • lung cancer;
  • mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity; and
  • Asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.

The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increases with the number of fibers inhaled. The risk of lung cancer from inhaling asbestos fibers is also greater if you smoke. People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.

Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard.

Click here for more information on Inspecting your Home for Asbestos and here for What to Do If You Find Asbestos in your Home.

If, at any time, you are concerned about your home and would like an Asbestos Inspection done by Home Inspection Professionals, please contact us anytime at 1-800-HIP-3200 or click here to Request an Inspection via the web.

Additional information can be found by visiting http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/ashome.html

Is Asbestos in My Home?

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. Common products that might have contained asbestos in the past, and conditions which may release fibers, include:

  • STEAM PIPES, BOILERS, and FURNACE DUCTS insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape. These materials may release asbestos fibers if damaged, repaired, or removed improperly.
  • RESILIENT FLOOR TILES (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber), the backing on VINYL SHEET FLOORING, and ADHESIVES used for installing floor tile. Sanding tiles can release fibers. So may scraping or sanding the backing of sheet flooring during removal.
  • CEMENT SHEET, MILLBOARD, and PAPER used as insulation around furnaces and woodburning stoves. Repairing or removing appliances may release asbestos fibers. So may cutting, tearing, sanding, drilling or sawing insulation.
  • DOOR GASKETS in furnaces, wood stoves, and coal stoves. Worn seals can release asbestos fibers during use.
  • SOUNDPROOFING OR DECORATIVE MATERIAL sprayed on walls and ceilings. Loose, crumbly, or water-damaged material may release fibers. So will sanding, drilling or scraping the material.
  • PATCHING AND JOINT COMPOUNDS for walls and ceilings, and TEXTURED PAINTS. Sanding, scraping, or drilling these surfaces may release asbestos.
  • ASBESTOS CEMENT ROOFING, SHINGLES, and SIDING. These products are not likely to release asbestos fibers unless sawed, drilled or cut.
  • ARTIFICIAL ASHES AND EMBERS sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces. Also, other older household products such as FIREPROOF GLOVES, STOVE-TOP PADS, IRONING BOARD COVERS, and certain HAIRDRYERS.
  • AUTOMOBILE BRAKE PADS AND LININGS, CLUTCH FACINGS, and GASKETS.

 Where Can I Find Asbestos Hazards in My Home?

  • Some roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement.
  • Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation.
  • Attic and wall insulation produced using vermiculite ore, particularly ore that originated from a Libby, Montana mine, may contain asbestos fibers. Vermiculite was mined in Libby, Montana between 1923 and 1990. Prior to its close in 1990, much of the world’s supply of vermiculite came from the Libby mine. This mine had a natural deposit of asbestos which resulted in the vermiculite being contaminated with asbestos.
  • Asbestos may be present in textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints. Their use was banned in 1977.
  • Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces may contain asbestos.
  • Older products such as stove-top pads may have some asbestos compounds.
  • Walls and floors around woodburning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
  • Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
  • Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape.
  • Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation.

How Can I Identify Materials that Contain Asbestos?  You can’t tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos or have it sampled and analyzed by a qualified professional. A professional should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples yourself is not recommended. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone. Only material that is damaged or will be disturbed should be sampled.

Click here for more information on Asbestos and here for What to Do If You Find Asbestos in your Home.

If, at any time, you are concerned about your home and would like an Asbestos Inspection done by Home Inspection Professionals, please contact us anytime at 1-800-HIP-3200 or click here to Request an Inspection via the web.

Spring Home Maintenance

Spring is here! That nice bright sun and warm fresh air are a welcome relief from the long, dark winter. Unfortunately, springs arrival means that your home is in need of a little spring cleaning.

Over time the value of your home appreciates, so you should treat it with as much care as possible. Homes change and move over the seasons. After the winter everything from the roof to your sump pump will need to be examined. Spring is the best time to give our home the “tune- up” it needs.

Here is a checklist to help you target the areas that need maintenance so you can get those chores done quickly. Following these simple tips will get you outside and in that warm spring sunshine in no time.

  • Inspect brickwork and stucco. Check for chipping, deteriorated mortar and unsightly deposits.

– Spalling is a chipping or popping away of a brick’s face, leaving the brick’s interior susceptible to moisture and crumbling. Any deteriorated mortar should be assessed immediately before more damage occurs.

– Efflorescence is a plaguing of the brick resulting in unsightly white deposits caused by soluble salts left behind during water evaporation. If efflorescence is found, removal is best recommended by dry brushing in warm dry weather.

– If you discover water penetration in the brick, consider sealing the brick surface with an appropriate sealant.

  • Replace rotting siding and trim; paint as needed. Hire a professional to tackle siding maintenance.

– Brighten up your home with a good power washing. This will give your home a fresh look and may also show damaged areas that were hidden behind the grime of winter weather.

– If painting is needed, be sure to tackle the whole project. Don’t treat sections and move on. Leaving  any wood exposed could lead to the surface rotting. Make sure the whole surface is done to ensure proper resurfacing and color consistency to your home. Be sure to sand the surface and prime any bare wood before painting with a high quality  product.

  • Clean gutters and downspouts. Multiple freezes and thaws can result in sags and dips.

– Make sure gutters and downspouts direct water away from the home. improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. They should point at least two to two and a half feet away from any foundation wall.

– Check that they are flush to the roof with no sags or dips.

– If you live in a two story home, a professional cleaning is recommended. Do-it-yourselfers will be safer cleaning a ranch style home.

– Consider installing gutter guards to protect them from environmental debris.

  • Inspect your roof. Check for damaged shingles, which can make your roof susceptible to leaks.

– Shingles that curl up (turn up) and claw (turn down) can make your roof inefficient and susceptible to leaks.

– Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced.

– Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.

– Pooling or ponds of water that fail to drain from flat roofs may indicate low areas of inadequate drainage.

– Call a minimum of three roofers before committing to one for repairs. You will educate yourself in the process and end up with a better deal in the end.

  • Get a chimney check- up. Hire a pro that can quickly check for cracks or leaks.

– Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep. This includes any active or decorative chimney.

– A professional should also check the chimney flue and cap for cracks or leaking.

  • Prune landscaping and create good drainage. Maintain your plants and shrubs to prevent soil erosion.

– Landscaping helps against soil erosion, but should be planted to form a negative grade, which means wiater will flow away from the house.

– Trim overgrown trees and hedges away from your home to discourage the growth of mildew and moisture. Branches should be a minimum of seven feet away from the exterior of your home to prolong the life of your siding and roof.

– Remove out of control vines,as they can help crack siding and allow moisture and pests entry into your home.

– Check for low areas in the yard or next to the foundation. If any are present they should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage.

  • Give concrete a little TLC. Seal your driveway, power wash your patio and have a professional service your pool.

– Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs, with the exception of pool decks, should drain away from the home’s foundation.

– Seal and inspect asphalt or concrete driveways. This is usually done in the fall, but spring is an ideal time to seal them.

– Power wash concrete patios; inspect decks for rotting wood and secure railings. Seal if necessary.

  • Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage.  Take a peek at your home plumbing.

– Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely that the pipe inside  the home is damaged and will need to be replaced.

– Check any garden hoses for dry rot, replace if necessary.

– Anything dripping in your home is a bad sign. Check for leaking faucets or sweating pipes, clogged drains and faulty water drainage systems.

– Look at washing machine hoses for bulges, cracks or dampness.

– Check under the kitchen sink for leaks, and make note of wetness around the dishwasher.

– Check the shutoff valve at each plumbing fixture to make sure they are functioning properly. Know the location of all valves and what equipment and water lines they serve. Teach all  members of the household of their locations.

  • Inspect the water heater.

– If you have a gas- fired water heater, make sure it is venting properly. Light a match next to the vent and wave it out (don’t blow it out). See if the smoke is pulled up into the vent. If it isn’t, have a professional inspect and repair it. Otherwise, carbon monoxide and other combustibles can build up in your home.

– Check around the base of your water heater for evidence of leaks. If your water heater is over five years old, it should be checked monthly for any leakage or rusting at the bottom. If evidence of a leakage or rust is found, the water heater should be replaced.

  • Don’t overlook your attic. Check for proper ventilation, obstructions and leaks.

– Check your attic fro proper ventilation and birds nests.

– Look for obstructions over vents, damaged soffit panels, roof flashing leaks and wet spots on insulation.

– Be sure to wear long sleeves and gloves to protect yourself from insulation when checking the attic.

  • Check out your heat/ air unit; change batteries in detectors. Change filters and clean the air purifier, but leave the rest to the pros.

– Have your ducts professionally cleaned. It will make your indoor air quality healthier and your furnace more efficient.

– Have a professional clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. An efficient air conditioner removes moisture and humidity from your home, which in excess, can damage its foundation.

– Change air filters on a monthly basis. Some are reusable and are supposed to be taken out, washed with a hose and re- inserted. A unit free of dust and dirt runs more efficiently, saving you time and money on your energy bill.

– Check the hose connections for leaks and any algae blockage. Make sure the drain pans are draining freely. If you suspect a problem, contact a certified technician.

– Clean the outside condensing unit screen of leaves.

– Listen for any unusual noises. This may be your first indication of a problem.

  • Check your electrical system. Only a qualified electrician should remove the front panel cover.

– Look for burn marks at the main electrical panel; they can be a sign of arcing inside the panel, which can easily lead to a fire.

– Trip and reset the circuit breakers regularly.

– Remove any combustible materials such as paper boxes or flammable liquids from the area near the main electrical panel. Sparks caused by arching can ignite any material stored nearby.

– Check all electrical outlets for loose- fitting plugs. This is an indication of worn out receptacles, and should be replaced as they cause overheating and fires.

– Check all electrical outlet switches to be sure they are working properly. If there are any that are not working properly, have a qualified electrician determine the problem and fix it to avoid any fires inside the walls of your home.

– Install safety covers to help protect children from electrical shock.

– Unplug any appliance or tool that gives off even the slightest shock. Take to a qualified electrician or repair shop to be checked.

  • Clean the kitchen exhaust hood and air filter.

– Keeping this clean of cooking grease will help keep a stovetop fire from spreading.

  • Tackle those kitchen/ bathroom tiles.

– Pay attention to the grout between floor tiles in the bathroom or kitchen. A small crack in the grout or caulk can lead to an expensive repair in the future.

– Get in the habit of wiping down the shower walls and tub after each use to eliminate soap and scum build- up.

  • Don’t forget about the sump pump.

– Make sure the sump pump is operating correctly. To ensure that it is always in proper working order, install a battery back up pump. If your sump pump does fail, you will not know until it is too late. If your sump pump fails, an alarm goes off, letting you know the backup is working. A few hundred dollars now will save you from thousands later, especially if you have a finished basement.

Preventive maintenance is crucial to the value of your home. Keep your place in tip- top shape with regular check- ups to save you the headache and cost of emergency repairs. It’s the inspections you make in between that really matter.