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Common Issues with Older Homes

As home inspectors, we see a ton of these issues all the time and today, we’d like to talk through some of them so that you can be better informed on which areas of your home might need a little more attention.

A historic home

Roofing and Furnaces Last About 25 Years

If your home was built in the late 80’s or early 90’s, then it’s possible that your roof might need to be replaced. Though replacing your roof is probably not something you ever thought you would do, experiencing roof failure is definitely something you don’t want to do. Like roofs, furnaces can also encounter serious wear around the 25 year mark. As the winter kicks in and the temperature drops, you’re not going to want to weather the season without your furnace!

We’ve Changed the Way We Build Houses

Much in the same way we don’t use asbestos, there are many other materials that we no longer use in houses. For example, we no longer use aluminum for our electrical wiring and if your home still has some within its walls, it will almost certainly pose a serious fire hazard. Similarly, we stopped using Polybutylene plumbing pipes in 1995 following a class action lawsuit. This type of pipe is known to fail prematurely and if the piping is within your home, this can spell disaster. Steel yard lines that bring the water into your house should also be replaced, as they are likely at the end of their lifespan.

Poorly Finished Basements are a Big Problem

Sometimes, homeowners will renovate parts of their home before they sell. One renovation that people like to do is to finish the basement. In some cases, to save a few extra dollars, homeowners will opt to perform the renovation themselves. The problem with this is that most homeowners are not licensed contractors, which means that the basement may not be up to code. Worse than that, their various parts can fail, which can result in serious damages down the line.

Get Your Home Inspected and Rest Easy

If you’re not sure about the integrity of your home, then have it inspected. We’ll take a look at all of the important components of your home, consider their age, and advise you on how to avoid disaster. For more information, check us out on Youtube or contact us today to schedule an appointment for your home inspection.

Is Your Heat Pump Performing Properly?

Cold weather has finally arrived and that means that it’s about time to turn on the heat. To heat your home, it’s time for your heat pump to get to work if you have an all-electric house. However, once the temperature dips lower than 30°, your heat pump will run into some trouble keeping your house warm.

To learn a little bit more about your heat pump, read on and check out our video. 

A heat pump outside of a house

Check #1: The Thermostat

Make sure your system is calling for heat properly by setting the thermostat to a higher temperature than it is currently set to. If you do not hear the heating system kick on within a few minutes, there might be an issue with your heating system. If the thermostat doesn’t seem to be calling for heat, it might need new batteries. You can also check the circuit breaker to make sure it hasn’t been tripped.

Check #2: The Filter

A clogged air filter in your HVAC system can greatly decrease the heating efficiency and if not replaced can cause further damage to your heat pump. Your filter should be inspected once a month and changed no less than 4 times a year. If you notice your filter getting dirty often, it’s advisable to switch to a new filter once a month. Having pets who shed can cause this.

Check #3: The Unit Itself

There’s a very simple way to check in on your heat pump and make sure that it’s running properly. Head on outside and take a look at the unit itself. When you approach the outdoor unit, you’ll see a pipe that leads into your home easily identified with black insulation. Pull that insulation back and touch the copper pipe. If the heat pump is functioning properly, the pipe will be almost too hot to touch. If this is not the case, then it’s time to call in a professional to address the problem.

Neglecting to address your heat pump can lead to expensive bills come the Spring. It’s far better to avoid those surprise bill spikes by taking care of the issue now.

Winter Energy Efficiency Tips

  • Draw curtains and shades away from sun-facing windows during the day to bring in small amounts of heat that natural sunlight provides.
  • Check windows and doors for drafts and re-seal or re-insulate problem areas.
  • Upgrade to a programmable thermostat that allows you to give the heating system a break when no one is home.
  • Have your heating system inspected by a professional before the weather gets cold to ensure your heating system is running efficiently and is in great shape to keep you and your loved ones warm all winter long!

Looking to buy or sell a home and in need of a Maryland Home Inspection? Contact the professionals at Highland Homes Inspections today!

Pre-Listing Home Inspections

Are you considering selling your home? Before you list it, it’s important to get a pre-listing home inspection. Let’s learn about what this inspection checks for and why you need it!

The buyer of your home will have an inspection done before closing to determine if there are any problems with the home’s interior or exterior. The quantity and severity of these issues can affect both the price they are willing to pay for the home and the quickness with which they move into the home. You as the seller have a helpful advantage – you can have a pre-listing inspection done before your house even goes on the market.

Pre-sale home inspections

Your pre-listing home inspection helps you detect issues with your home early so that you can proactively address them before the buyer’s inspector does their own analysis of the home. Included in the pre-listing home inspection are checks for:

 

 

Outdoor

  • No standing water, drainage away from house
  • No septic system leaks
  • Landscaping, trees, walkways and yard in good condition
  • No bushes touching the home or branches overhanging the roof
  • No evidence of rot or infestation
  • Secure and adequate railings
  • Driveway, patio and sidewalks in good condition
  • No rot or decay of wood shingles on roof
  • No curling of or damaged/missing shingles

Structural

  • No cracking, rot or decay in siding
  • No large cracks in stucco
  • No wood-to-earth contact in siding

Interior

  • Sufficient insulation and ventilation in attic
  • No open electrical splices
  • No stains on floors, walls, ceilings
  • Floors, walls, and ceilings straight and level
  • Electrical outlets operate properly
  • No damage to fireplace
  • Adequate water flow in sinks
  • Plumbing fixtures in good condition
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors working properly
  • HVAC operational and in good condition

Having the pre-listing inspection conducted makes you aware of any of these issues you may have well in advance and allows you to make any necessary fixes to both the inside and outside of your home. This way, when the buyer’s inspector comes to take a look, you’re less likely to have big problems holding your buyer back from closing the deal and your home sale will go a lot quicker and smoother.

Are You Ready for Your Pre-Listing Home Inspection?

Highland Homes Inspections is a Maryland home inspector dedicated to helping make your home as safe as possible. Contact us to learn more about our inspection services or to schedule your pre-listing home inspection today!

Is Your House a Home for Mold?

Not only does mold degrade the integrity of your home’s walls, floors, and ceilings, it can also cause major health problems. Depending on the type of mold in the home extreme measures may need to be taken to eradicate it and restore your possessions. Let’s look more closely at the different types of mold that may pose a threat in your home, and at some ways to check for mold on a regular basis.

Types of Mold to Look Out For

There are four main types of household mold, some being more dangerous than others. It may be difficult to determine which type of mold you are dealing with, so it is always important to have to checked by a professional, such as a . Let’s first look at mold that is a nuisance, but not deadly.

The most common type of mold you’ll find in any home is the type that grows on things that are decaying, such as old food, unclean dishes, dead plants, etc, called Cladosporium. This type of mold is found quite commonly in the kitchen on food that has been left in the fridge too long, or on dishes that have sat in the sink too long. Cladosporium also easily grows on dead plants so even fresh cut flowers can begin to grow this mold around their stems over time. And while Cladosporium can certainly be gross, it’s not likely to cause major damage to your home in the long run.

Another common type of mold is Aspergillus Penicillium. This mold most commonly finds its home in your home’s air conditioning unit and vent system. Because it thrives in cool, dusty environments it can quickly grow in the AC vents and then be spread throughout the air in your home when the unit is running. Aspergillus Penicillium can cause major problems in people with allergies or asthma because it travels through the air.

Black mold is a serious problem in the home because it thrives in damp areas and can quickly grow in drywall and on the wood framing of your home. Toxic black mold is different that regular black mold, and can be deadly. Toxic black mold spreads onto large surfaces and can not only destroy structural components of your home, it can also cause a host of illnesses including cancer, and other chronic illness. If you’re not sure which type is in your home, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Look for Signs of Mold

To look for signs of mold in your home there are several things you can do. In many cases mold becomes visible, growing on drywall or other home structures.

If you see mold in your home, there is likely a lot more you aren’t able to see growing underneath it. If you have recently had a leak, floor, or burst pipe in the home make sure to check frequently for signs of mold, as early detection could save you in the long run.

In addition to physical signs of mold, your own health may alert you that there may be an issue. Do you seem to have worsening allergies? Frequent headaches? Uncontrollable cough for no apparent reason? All of these things can point to a mold problem in your home.

If you have found evidence of mold in your home, or you suspect mold may be behind your unexplained health problems, call a Maryland home inspector today to set up a meeting. At Highland Homes Inspections we can inspect your home and let you know if there is an underlying issue you need to be aware of. Give us a call today to get started!