Do You Have Lead-Based Paint in Your Home?

Depending on where your home is, and how old your home is, you may still have lead-based paint on your walls. Lead-based paint is often found in older homes, built before the 1990’s, but it never hurts to check if your home has the hazardous paint. Sure, it’s glossier and prettier and holds the color better, but it can put you and your loved ones in danger. Before your dream-home inspection, here’s the dangers of lead based paint, how to spot it, and what to do about it.

A wall with chipping lead paint

The Danger

Lead-based paint contains high amounts of lead which can lead lead poisoning. This means development problems for younger children which consists of problems hearing, growth delay, short- and long-term learning difficulties, and behavioral problems. For adults, it can result in sleep problems, kidney dysfunction, numbness, abdominal pain and cramps, and more. More serious side effects may include vomiting and seizures.

Thankfully, it’s not illegal to manufacture lead-based paint. However, you should always get a local home inspector to go around your house before moving in, just to make sure you won’t be subjected to harsh symptoms of lead poising.

How to Spot The Danger

There are many signs of lead-based paint. One sign is a fun little thing called “alligatoring,” which essentially means the paint is peeling like scales. Make sure to check all your closets, along baseboards and basement window sashes, or anywhere painters might have missed a spot.

There’s also a paint testing kit available at local hardware stores that can find lead on your surfaces. There is a solution in this kit that you rub against the surface, and if the solution turns pink, there is lead.

How to Deal With The Danger

There is various health risks involved for you and others that enter your home if you have lead-based paint, so it’s best to get a local home inspector to test for lead as soon as you can. At Highland Home Inspections, we can test everything in your household for lead, and send the report directly back to you.

Don’t put yourself or others at risk any longer, contact us today for more information about our lead-based paint testing services.

How to Turn off Water and Hoses in the Winter

When you live in a place like Highland, MD for as long as we have, you learn how to deal with harsh winters. Part of doing this is ensuring that your home and pipes are prepared for the cold of the winter by contacting a home inspection company.

A house covered in winter snow

Don’t Let Your Pipes Burst

Anyone who has ever dealt with a burst pipe knows exactly how much trouble it can be. The easiest solution to a burst pipe? Prevent it from bursting in the first place.

One usual culprit for wintertime pipe freezing is your hose bib. The hose bib is the outdoor faucet that your garden hose connects to. Even if you shut the bib completely off, there can still be water left in the pipe which can freeze and cause your pipe to burst.

How to Properly Shut Down Your Hose Bib

In order to completely ensure your pipe’s safety, you need to be thorough. In order to help you make sure your pipes are safe, we have put together this step by step list:

  1. Turn the valve off – The first thing you need to do is to make sure your hose bibs are completely turned off. Find the shut off valve within your home and turn it to the off position. Make sure the valve is completely off, or else some water can still get into the pipes.
  2. Pack up your hoses – Your next step is to disconnect all hoses, drain any water from them, and store them indoors in a dry location.
  3. Drain the hose bib – Even though you’ve already shut off the valve, water could still remain within the hose bib itself. To remove this water, you need to turn the faucet on and allow it to drain.
  4. Bleed the shut off valve – After you’ve drained your hose bib it is important to go back to the shut off valve. Once there you need to find what is known as the “bleed valve”, which typically can be found beneath the primary shut off valve. Place a bucket below the valve and allow for any water to drain out.
  5. Leave your bib open – Your last and final step is a minor but important one. You want to ensure you leave your hose bib open in case any water finds its way into the pipes. Once done your pipes should be completely water free.

If you follow these steps then you will greatly decrease the chance of your home’s pipes bursting. However this is not a be all end all set of solutions, and you may still benefit from the services and advice of an experienced Highland, MD home inspection company.

Whether you are preparing to sell or buy a property, contact us at Highland Home Inspections. We can help ensure your pipes remain intact, and can help with any other home inspection needs you may have.

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!