So you bought a house, possibly even your first one. Now comes the chore of maintaining it. Even new homes need maintenance, but older ones need much more.
Deferred maintenance items are a large portion of our write-ups when performing home inspections for buyers and sellers in southern Wisconsin. Whether it be peeling paint, or separated caulking around windows. Protecting the largest investment of your life is a daunting task. Here are a few tips on keeping it in tip top shape.
1.) Regularly replace your furnace filter. Experts say that installation and maintenance are the two largest factors in longevity of HVAC equipment. An annual service contract is also a great idea.
2.) Inspect the exterior of your home on an annual basis. Re-caulking and painting any wooden surfaces will likely be necessary. We find rotten window sills and door thresholds on a regular basis. Keeping these surfaces sealed will prevent moisture intrusion and the potential for mold growth within the building envelope.
3.) Inspect the roof on an annual basis. While I don’t regularly tell people to walk their roof due to safety concerns (viewing from a ladder at the eave may be a better alternative), examining shingle condition and flashings at any roof steps or penetrations is recommended. I also regularly find cracked plumbing vent boot flashings and improperly installed chimney flashings while on inspections. Keeping gutters and downspouts free from debris is also needed. Controlling water runoff is the single most important factor in a dry basement.
On many occasions when we are discussing our findings with clients, I hear sellers say that they had no idea of moisture related problems within their home. We regularly find plumbing leakage, failed toilet wax seals, chimney flashing leakage, etc. Sellers are many times surprised at this. Our pre-sale inspection would avoid such uncertainty during the real estate transaction. Info on that program can be found here. I encounter this so much that I decided to offer a new service to homeowners that just look to know more about the home their in.
Mold/Moisture Intrusion Inspections
Our new service offering specifically targets areas of moisture intrusion, moisture damage, indoor moisture levels, etc. During the examination your inspector will examine the entire structure for moisture related issues, weather tightness, areas prone to moisture leakage and conditions conducive to mold growth. Specifically, the grounds at the perimeter of the home are checked for negative slope, gutters, downspouts, and leaders are checked for obstruction and proper installation. The roof and any roof transitions and penetrations are checked for leakage, both on the roof and in the attic space, (provided there is access to both).
Once inside, humidity readings are taken in the basement. High humidity can lead to surface mold forming on building materials. The plumbing supply and drain piping is examined for leakage as well as the forming of condensation on supply lines. A complete building thermal imaging scan is conducted to identify areas of moisture intrusion or inadequate insulation. Of course a proper Delta T is needed for the thermal imaging scan to be effective. The Delta T is the difference in indoor and outdoor temperature. 15 degrees difference is ideal, this can usually be manipulated with the HVAC system. All areas of concern are double checked with a moisture meter to verify if moisture is present.
Lastly, mold testing/sampling is performed. Air tests are conducted at the HVAC system
as well as in an area of concern. All visible mold is sampled via a surface sample. Lab analysis is then provided. Maintaining good indoor air quality is essential to a healthy and comfortable home. Controlling moisture, and humidity levels is the key to maintaining a comfortable home.
To summarize, maintaining your investment is important not only to maintain the value of your home, but also to ensure that your home isn’t making you ill. For more information with regards to mold inspections, Thermal Imaging, etc. please visit: Thermal Imaging and Mold Inspections. And as always, if you have any questions, or need advice on something specific, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll help any way I can. See contact info below.
Aaron M. Zuehlke is the owner and inspector at Zuehlke Inspection Service, LLC, a full-service home inspection company serving Southern Wisconsin. Specializing in Home inspection, Radon Testing, and Residential Thermal Imaging.
If you have a home inspection or home maintenance related topic you’d like to read about please send your suggestion to me via email at Aaron@ZuehlkeInspections.com