inspection

What is Radon and Why do we Test for it?

Radon testing is one of the key components of a home inspection, but what exactly is radon? And why is testing for its presence in your home so important? Let’s find out!

What is Radon and Why do we Test for it?

What is Radon?

Radon is a type of gas that was discovered in 1899. It is odorless, colorless, and radioactive. It’s known to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the USA, and the number one cause of this type of cancer in non-smokers. Radon is not commercially produced, as it occurs naturally during the breakdown (radioactive decay) of uranium.

Traces of this gas are found most commonly in igneous rock, soil, and well water. Radon levels fluctuate over time, which is why it’s so important to have a reliable radon monitoring system or detector in your home. When you are selling your home or purchasing a new one, it’s essential to have a professional test for radon gas to ensure the health and safety of you and your family.

Here’s a recent video we put together to help explain Radon, what dangers it can cause in the human body, and why we strongly advise clients to perform radon testing in Maryland.

How Does Radon Enter a Home?

If you have radon in your home, it is likely that it came in through the basement. The gas is exhausted from rock that is far beneath the ground and moves through the soil surrounding your home’s lowest level. Radon gas slips easily through holes and gaps in your basement walls or floors. Even more discreetly, it can seep through pores in concrete. Additional ways radon can enter the home are through:

  • The spaces around pipes that enter the foundation
  • Warm indoor air rising
  • Fireplaces and furnaces
  • Well water
  • Open areas inside your walls

How Can I Reduce Radon Levels in my Home?

  1. Install a radon removal system. This allows for the immediate venting of radon gas from the inside of your home to the outside. These devices are commonly known as Soil-Suction Radon Reduction Systems.
  2. Seal open spaces in floors and walls. Sealing cracks in the foundation, walls, and floors of your lower level will give radon gas less points of entry into your home.
  3. Install a heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system. These systems are designed to increase ventilation in your home and are most effective against radon when installed only in the basement.

Highland Homes Inspections is a Maryland home inspector with over 27 years of experience in the industry. To learn more about radon testing, or to have your home tested for radon gas, contact us today!

5 Common Issues with Town Homes

Townhouses and row homes are convenient for those who are looking to downsize from a large single-family home or expand their space from a cramped condo. Because of the way town homes are built, there are some inspection points you need to look out for when purchasing.

As Maryland home inspectors, we see plenty of issues with townhouses and row homes that buyers commonly overlook:

5 Common Issues with Town Homes

Issue #1 – Decks

In many townhome communities, neighboring decks are built so that they are connected to one another. It is all too common to overlook rot or other deck damage on the areas where your deck joins your neighbors’.

It’s important to have these spots checked thoroughly by your inspector so you know what parts of the deck may need repairs before you purchase the home.

Issue #2 – Roofs

Townhouses and row homes share a common roof with neighboring units, which can cause problems for new homeowners who are unaware of the condition of the roofs connected to their own.

Although your roof’s inspection can have positive results, a mildew-ridden or pest-infested neighboring roof can easily spread these problems to yours.

Issue #3 – Exterior Maintenance

It’s easy to keep your yard in great shape when neighbors take good care of their yards consistently as well.

However, if your neighbor’s yard is overrun with weeds, there is little you can do to prevent them from spreading to your own yard. This can add a lot of extra lawn maintenance to your weekly chore list.

Issue #4 – Attics

Sharing walls with neighboring homes also means that the attics are right next to one another. Attics are inviting to insects, birds, and rodents looking for a dark, warm place to call home.

If there are pests living in your neighbor’s attic, they can easily chew and claw their way through the walls or insulation into your attic as well.

Issue #5 – Foundation

The foundation of your townhome may also be shared with neighboring units, making it yet another key inspection point before you purchase. If you are not able to inspect the foundation of the neighboring homes, speak with the HOA to determine when the foundation was last inspected and get a report of the condition it was found to be in.

Highland Home Inspections Can Help With Townhouses.

Looking to purchase a new townhome? The professionals at Highland Home Inspections have been leaders in home inspection since 1989 and are well educated on all the red flags to look out for when inspecting homes for potential buyers.

Contact us today to schedule an inspection or to learn more about the services we offer.

Inspecting Your Home Five Years Later

A lot can happen in five years. You’ve had five Christmases, five Thanksgivings, and twenty seasons worth of weather. In all of that hustle and bustle, what has happened to your home?

Have strong winds affected the roof? Has the basement flooded? Have the pipes frozen? All this to say a home can change a lot in five years and a fresh home inspection may be prudent.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you should have someone periodically re-inspect your home.

5 year home inspection

Roof-Related Issues Can Crop Up Over Time.

A roof can be challenging to keep an eye on. After all, it’s probably not something you see every day or even every month. Things like leaks can clue you in to a roof problem, but without a Maryland home inspection, you may not be aware to developing issues.

Due to the high cost of roof replacement, catching problems early can make a big difference to a thrifty home owner.

HVAC Systems Can Become Costly When They Become Inefficient.

One item that we take a look at when we do a home inspection is the HVAC system and all that goes along with it. We want to make sure that it is still performing its best, even after five years.

Poor Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance Can Be Dangerous.

Fireplaces and Chimneys are wonderful additions to any home, but without the proper maintenance they can become quite dangerous.

When we tackle a home inspection, we always take a look at these features to ensure they are performing safely.

What Should You Expect When You Schedule a Home Inspection?

When you call on us to perform a home inspection, you can expect a thorough walk through. Not only do we inspect all we’ve mentioned above, we go far beyond as well. And we give you a thorough understanding of what we’re seeing with common sense documentation.

We will take about two and a half to four hours to survey your home. Then we will talk you through what we’ve found.

Within 24 hours of this inspection, we will also send you a detailed report on what you need to take a look at. To see what this looks like, check out our sample homes inspection report.

Stay Up to Date on Your Home’s Status and Needs with a Home Inspection.

Don’t let small maintenance items go undiscovered in your home. Schedule a home inspection with us today to ensure all is right with your home. You can contact us by phone at 301-854-3634 or by filling out the contact form on our website.

Flooring Fail – Why You Should Always Inspect Renovated Homes

I was recently inspecting an older townhouse in Columbia with our newest inspector, Dan Floyd.  The house had received a nice makeover: new kitchen, paint, hardwood flooring and carpeting.  It looked beautiful!  However, upon closer inspection, it seemed odd that there was no floor outlet along the long wall separating the neighboring unit.  This townhouse was built during a time when electricians were prohibited from putting outlets in the partition wall; for that reason, the outlets were in the floors in rooms abutting the neighboring house.  This was to prevent fires sparking between neighbors.

In the upper level, where new carpeting had been installed, one bedroom had a floor outlet but the other did not.  Again, that was odd until we pulled back the carpet where we guessed an outlet should be, only to find that the contractor had carpeted right over the outlet!  Maybe the same contractor put the hardwood flooring in the living room, but locating that outlet was a job we left for someone else.

carpet-over-outlet-new-flooring-dangerous-missing-where-maryland-home-inspector-inspection-company

 

This is one example (of many!) showing why you should always get new construction / renovations inspected! Never assume that because it looks good, it is good. Book an inspection with us today!  And make sure you check out our referrals page for great contractors in Maryland.

Coming soon: An awesome guide to maintaining your home to make it look great next time it’s inspected.  We love inspecting well-maintained houses.  Be on the lookout!