Home Inspection Tools

Home Inspection Equipment


All-Pro Home Inspection Tools Nashville TNHome inspectors are actually required to use only a few types of equipment. In theory, an inspector could perform an inspection that complies with the InterNACHI Standards of Practice using only two pieces of equipment: a flashlight and an electrical tester capable of testing ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) devices.

However, there is equipment an inspector needs in order to perform inspections safely.

Inspectors should have a respirator for the times when they must enter areas containing materials that may introduce particulates into the air that are potentially hazardous if inhaled. Dust masks are inadequate. Respirators must be equipped to filter out both particulates that represent biological hazards, such as viral, bacterial and fungal organisms, and hazards caused by material lodging in the respiratory system, as with asbestos and other carcinogens. Other particulates that are small enough to become airborne may not be carcinogens but may cause other types of respiratory illness. Gloves and safety glasses used when working around exposed electrical components are other common safety items.

Inspectors use many other types of equipment because their use allows the inspector to offer an inspection of enhanced value. Moisture meters and infrared cameras are good examples. Both of these pieces of equipment allow inspectors to identify unacceptable conditions that can not be identified visually. Although not required by the Standards of Practice, inspectors sometimes feel that offering inspections using these tools will allow them to provide a more valuable inspection, giving them an advantage in the competitive inspection business.

Some types of equipment are used because they make the home inspection process easier or faster for the inspector. Telescoping ladders are a good example. They can be collapsed and carried through a home with less risk of bumping into walls and furniture. Infrared thermometers allow inspectors to check the temperature of heating and cooling system registers located in inaccessible places, such as under beds and other large, heavy furniture.

Inspectors are free to use whatever equipment they choose, as long as their inspections comply with the InterNACHI Standards of Practice. Here are examples of some of the equipment used by home inspectors.

This photo shows an example of the equipment typically used by an inspector. Equipment is taken to the inspection in two cases. Inspectors may use a bag, a bucket or a general-purpose toolbox.

Electrical Testers.

Inspectors use a variety of electrical testers according to their preference and how much they are willing or can afford to pay. Generally, the more expensive testers identify a wider range of defects than less expensive testers.

Electrical tester: This type of tester is widely used but indicates only the more common defects. The button is for testing GFCI devices and the three colored lights indicate various defects. It does not test for defective AFCI devices that are often required in certain rooms in new homes. It tests 120-volt electrical receptacles but not 240-volt receptacles. Almost every inspector has one and many inspectors use only this tester when checking electrical components. The photo also shows one mounted on a retractable key chain for easy use and costs between $10 and $15.

AFCI/GFCI tester: This type of electrical tester checks for proper operation of both arc-fault and ground-fault circuit interrupter devices. It is used by some inspectors. This is the SureTest Ideal 61-059 tester and costs about $170.

AFCI/GFCI tester for arc-fault and ground-fault circuit interrupters: This circuit tester tests arc fault- and ground fault-protected electrical circuits to confirm that protection devices are working properly. It is used by some inspectors. This SureTest Ideal 61-164 tester costs about $260.

Voltage indicator: This very simple device is used to determine whether voltage is present in a device or in wiring. It has limited accuracy and may give positive readings where no house current is present but levels of generally harmless static electricity are present. The cost is about $10.

Electrical tester: This tester tests for the presence of both 120-volt and 240-volt electrical current. It is useful for testing electrical receptacles for dryers when no dryer is installed in the home at the time of the inspection.

Other Equipment.

Flashlights: Home inspectors are always searching for the perfect flashlight. Powerful flashlights are good for seeing in dark areas where access is difficult or impossible but the strong reflection can make taking photos difficult. Most inspectors own several types. Inspectors should always carry a small spare for safety. Losing the main light unexpectedly can leave an inspector in a dangerous situation if they have no back-up light.

Half-face and full-face respirators are good for respiratory protection but not very comfortable, especially in the heat. Many inspectors may own them but may not actually use them on a regular basis. They are important to have available because some areas are dangerous to enter without respiratory protection. Some types of organisms can even enter the human body through the mucus membranes around the eyes.

A combustible-gas detector detects small amounts of combustible gases. Most inspectors use their noses since the most common combustible gases– natural gas and propane– have odors that are easy to detect. This Bacharach brand costs $350.

Moisture meters come in two types: search and measure. Using the meter in search mode, inspectors can find elevated moisture levels hidden behind a variety of materials, such as tile and vinyl. This feature helps locate plumbing leaks hidden beneath shower and bathroom floors. Using the meter in search mode allows inspectors to find areas with elevated moisture levels but does not provide a measurement of those levels. Using the meter in measure mode allows inspectors to actually measure levels in materials by touching the material with the two pins. Some moisture meters have both search and measure features. Most meters have either one or the other. Used by most inspectors, they cost between $350 and $550.

Carbon monoxide analyzer: Carbon monoxide (CO) is a tasteless, odorless, toxic gas produced by combustion appliances, such as water heaters, furnaces and boilers. CO can accumulate in the human body over time to a point at which it can be fatal. Excessive levels can be produced when combustion appliances operate inefficiently and need servicing or when they are improperly vented. Analyzers measure CO levels and give results in parts per million (PPM). Used by some inspectors, they cost between $250 and $500.

The digital readout on an infrared thermometer tells the temperature of whatever you point it at using an infrared beam. It’s used for checking the temperature of heating and cooling equipment, including registers, hot water, etc., and the temperature of electrical equipment, such as circuit breakers. Infrared thermometers are also convenient for checking the temperature of items that are difficult to reach. Most home inspectors use these and they cost up to $100.

Continuous radon monitors test for the radon. Radon testing is an ancillary inspection for which clients pay an additional fee. Radon levels in homes vary by area. Some areas have little or no radon, and some can have high levels. Continuous radon monitors sample the air once an hour. At the end of the 48-hour minimum test period, the monitor gives a result that is the average of all samples. This model costs about $550.

Infrared (IR) cameras form images using infrared radiation in a manner similar to the way a conventional camera forms images using visible light. Different colors correspond to different temperatures, so an inspector is able to identify areas that are abnormally hot or cold. The image above shows cold areas at the top of the walls caused by settling of the insulation. The ability to offer it as an ancillary inspection varies among inspectors.

Microwave testers confirm that the magnetron that powers microwave ovens is working. It does not read microwave levels. Some inspectors use them. They cost less than $10.

Telescoping magnets make it easier to retrieve dropped items, such as screws from the main electrical panel cover. They are used by some inspectors and cost about $10.

Telescoping adjustable mirrors are easy to carry and useful for looking into areas where accessibility is limited, such as behind siding and stucco to confirm the presence of housewrap.

The wick of a smoke pen produces smoke that shows the movement of air. A smoke pen can be used to check combustion appliances for back-drafting that can pull toxic exhaust gases out of an exhaust flue and into the living space. It might also be used to show that return-air vents are operating properly. They are used by some inspectors and cost about $15.

A compass is used to determine the home’s directional orientation, which can be helpful if the home has energy-efficient features or if the client requests that the home’s elevation be described by the direction it faces. Some inspectors carry them and they cost less than $10.

Safety glasses are good protection for situations in which inspectors may find their eyes or vision at risk. Crawlspaces and attics have protruding wires and fasteners. Electrical panels may give off sparks or debris during short circuits. They are used by some inspectors and owned by most, and cost about $10.

Electrical gloves should have high dielectrical and physical strength. They typically consist of liner gloves under rubber insulating gloves, with protective leather gloves worn over these. InterNACHI recommends that all home inspectors wear electrical gloves that meet ASTM D-120/ EIC903 specifications. Their cost is around $170.

High-traction roof boots with replaceable soles make it easier for inspectors to walk roofs without slipping. They run about $80. When the soles become worn, they can be changed out.

Toolkits: Although inspectors are not required by InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice to disassemble anything, sometimes the removal of a few screws can allow easier inspection of various items, such as furnaces. They cost about $10 each.

Telescoping ladders are easy to carry through homes without bumping into walls and can be carried in the trunk of a car. They can be more dangerous than other types of ladders because it can not be visually confirmed that the locking mechanisms are fully engaged. They are used by some inspectors and cost about $170.

Articulating ladders can be used as both step ladders and extension ladders and will fit in the trunk of many cars. They are used by many inspectors and cost about $300.

Tool vest: Inspectors need to carry a variety of tools while they inspect a home. Flashlights, a moisture meter, infrared thermometer, electrical testers, cell phone, and a mirror are just some of the equipment they commonly carry. A vest allows inspectors to work hands-free and gives them quick access to their equipment. They are used by some inspectors and cost between $60 and $140.

Spectoscope: Safely inspect and photograph roofs. This 38′ tall telescoping pole camera allows you to safely take high quality pictures of the roofs of homes from the ground. Simply connect the Samsung ST150F wireless camera to your Apple iOS or Android enabled smartphone or tablet, extend the pole, and start capturing photos. You can also order the Spectoscope without a camera and use your own wireless camera. Available through www.InspectorOutlet.com.

This list represents equipment commonly used by inspectors. The specific items inspectors use may vary with climate zone, the type of inspections they offer, the type of home being inspected, and personal preference.

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Home Inspection Company

What To Look For In A Home Inspection Company


All-Pro Home Inspection Company Nashville TNHiring a company to conduct a home inspection is about more than simply being given a report on your property, it is a very personal experience; and in order to make sure that you get not only the most efficient inspection but top service and support in addition, it is important to take certain precautions in choosing the right home inspection company. With a little research you can compile the information you need in order to choose the best home inspector for you.

There are several practical requirements that all good home inspection companies should provide; and then there are the extras that exceptional companies will offer in addition to those basics. In the first instance, make sure that the companies you are considering provide all of the following as part of their service:

  1. A full, detailed, thorough inspection of all structural components, including the foundation and basement, the interior and exterior walls, roof, windows, doors and chimney if you have one.
  2. A thorough inspection of appliances, electrical and plumbing systems as well as your heating and air conditioning systems.
  3. A full, detailed report on the findings of the inspection as well as repairs recommendations and any other information that is relevant.

Check that the companies you are considering are certified, and that they are well established with an excellent track record. Finding a company that will act in your best interests, providing investment protection and exceptional customer service apart from thorough and efficient inspections will give you the best possible value and security. A good home inspection company will offer you on-site reporting for the fastest and most efficient service, enabling you to take any action you need to take as soon as you need to take it.

For the best experience with a home inspection service, it is important to choose a company that is known for their client interaction. Good communication and being kept fully updated throughout the process is essential for your peace of mind and to make sure you get the most out of the service. You should expect a warm, friendly, supportive service as well as a professional inspection from a good home inspection company.

In order to make sure you are getting the best service, it is wise to conduct a little online research on each company you are considering in order to check that they live up to all of these expectations. Start by visiting their websites, and making sure that the information on their site confirms what it included in their service. Check any testimonials to get an idea of feedback from previous clients.

Although it is good to read through the testimonials, it is important to recognize that they will naturally include only positive feedback on their own site; so it is a good idea to do a quick search online for any posts on forums or in social media for a more balanced view of their service. Taking the time to conduct this little bit of research can save you a lot of time, money and frustration in the long run. A good home inspection needs to be reliable and thorough, and their customer service should make you feel secure, supported and well looked-after.

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Pre-Listing Home Inspection

Are you planning to sell your home this spring or summer? You should consider a Pre-Listing Home Inspection which can help ensure the transaction will go smoothly and with less hassle. This type of inspection provides valuable information as to the current condition of the property and could uncover any concerns that might compromise a sale. This information allows the seller to make repairs without being pressured by time.

Home Inspection Walkthrough

Hot Spots According to Home Inspectors


All-Pro Home Inspection Walkthrough Nashville TNAre you selling a home? If so, be reminded that home buyers are naturally wise and practical enough to hire home inspectors before closing any acquisition. The idea is to take a closer look at the house before buying so that they can be sure the home is in good condition. Who in his right mind would want to buy a house that is condemned?

You could speed the process up and you could avoid potential problems that may affect or hinder your sale. That is if you hire a qualified home inspector so you could make the necessary repairs long before you put the house up for sale. The home inspector is supposed to cover a number of important systems in the home. However, there are hot spots or usual areas of the house that most buyers worry about.

First, mildew stains with accompanying odors almost always scare prospective home buyers. Mold and mildew presence poses health risks because the fungi may be carried by ventilation and the air to be breathed by those in the home. Mildew odors almost always point to a very moist basement. Take note that constant moisture deteriorates materials in buildings which attracts insects. Moisture may also lead to suspicions about the drainage system, the roofing, the water flow, and mostly, to possible foundation problems.

Roofs and chimneys are also main concerns. Roofs function as natural protection against harsh sunlight and torrential rains. Home inspectors naturally inspect the roofing system because doing it is very important. As for the chimneys, the base’s flashing system should be watertight. The bricks and mortar should also be in excellent condition.

The plumbing system is an important area because no home buyer would want to deal with any problems in it. The home inspector would have to check water pressure through flushing toilets and turning on different faucets at the same time. Some inspectors may go as far as checking the septic system. However, on occasion, septic and sewerage inspections would have to be referred to specialists who know more about them.

Electrical systems can be a cause of alarm. Home fires can occur because of faulty electrical wires. Inspectors should be able to identify such faulty and troublesome wiring. Circuit breakers and panels should be configured correctly to run and cater to the needs of the home. There is also a need to check the quality and safety of the receptacles, outlets, lighting systems, and electrical box. Professional electricians are needed to do a more thorough and accurate electrical system check.

Other hot spots include cooling and heating systems, foundation and structure, and appliances. Security alarms like smoke and burglar detectors should also be in great and functioning condition. Overall, you should hire a home inspector with the aim to make necessary repair and maintenance so your home sells easily. Home inspections should never be tampered with no matter how hard you try.

Home buyers always have the option to buy their own home inspection so that they could identify potential problems in the home that may have been missed and overlooked by your inspection.

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Home Inspection Report

Home Inspection: What’s In A Home Inspection Report?


All-Pro Home Inspection Report Nashville THome inspection seems intimidating at first glance– but, honestly, it’s not an intimidating prospect to behold. Home inspection is a ‘necessary evil,’ as they would say. If you’re preparing your home for sale, a home inspection service will provide you with all the information you’ll need to know if your home is ready for the market.

The home inspection report is narrative account of a home inspector’s findings– as in, the findings related to the home that they’ve inspected. These reports provide the details necessary to inform clients about the true condition of their home, giving them the knowledge they need to properly assess their home before potentially selling the property.

Some people might be intimidated by the prospect of a home inspection report. Well, in this article, let’s take a brief look about what goes into a home inspection report.

What Goes Into A Home Inspection Report

Home inspectors perform a routine visual inspection of an entire property, including all of its main systems. Home inspectors are required by law to provide their clients with two specific documents that pertain to the inspection itself: the home inspector contract and the home inspection report.

The Home Inspection Report: What’s Included

Home inspection reports contain detailed information about the inspection of a property.

Inspection reports have to clearly identify the property’s components and its systems, as observed by the inspector themselves. Most inspectors will provide reports containing several pages of information, including photos.

Many home inspection reports cover the following:

  • A property’s structural components, including the foundation and framing.
  • A property’s exterior features, such as its siding, walkways and porches.
  • A property’s roofing system.
  • A property’s electrical system.
  • A property’s plumbing system, such as its drains, pipes and water heating equipment.
  • A property’s heating and cooling system, including ventilation, energy sources and other associated equipment.
  • A property’s interior features, such as its walls, floors, windows, doors and stairs.
  • A property’s insulation and ventilation, including those in the attic (if it has one) and other spaces around the home.
  • A property’s fireplaces, vents and chimneys.

Just in case you’re curious: a home inspection report generally doesn’t include anything that your home inspector can’t see. That means they won’t be taking apart or disassembling any part of your home just to perform an inspection.

Many inspectors will provide your properties complete inspection report on the day of the inspection. The report is often written to be easy to understand and as concise as possible, providing you with as much home inspection information you need about the condition of your property.

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Home Inspection Certification

Home Inspection: What Makes A Home Inspector– Home Inspection Certification


All-Pro Home Inspection Certification Nashville TNHome inspection seems intimidating at first glance– but, honestly, it’s not an intimidating prospect to behold. Home inspection is a ‘necessary evil,’ as they would say. If you’re preparing your home for sale, a home inspection service will provide you with all the information you’ll need to know if your home is ready for the market.

What makes a good home inspector? Well, the best home inspectors in your local market have the qualifications to perform an incredible and accurate job. After all, you don’t just want anyone to inspect your home. In this article, we’re going to take a brief look at why home inspector certification is important.

What Makes a Home Inspector– Home Inspection Certification

The best home inspectors are professionals, as they say. However, you’re not going to find the best inspectors by just picking any old company in your phone book or in an online listing.

Home inspector licensing

You can tell whether a home inspector holds all the proper home inspection certification if they are licensed to operate in their state. The actual licensing of home inspectors does vary on a state by state basis.

All licensed home inspectors also hold some form of insurance, whether private or employer-provided. This insurance generally covers your inspector if there’s an overlooked problem or if they make an error in the inspection.

Professional credentials

Many professional home inspectors belong to professional associations, such as the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) or the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

While these details ‘technically’ don’t matter to the average consumer, you’ll know if a home inspector takes their career seriously if they belong to any organization. All credible home inspectors follow the guidelines as provided by the organization they belong, as these organizations have standards and practices they expect members to adhere to when examining a home for clients. Whether an inspector follows those guidelines or not is what separates a bad inspector from a truly good one.

Selecting Your Inspector

Before you select a home inspector, always research choice prospects online. Several websites provide reviews about home inspectors or even general information about home inspectors. The aforementioned organizations have websites that serve as a great starting point for most.

If you’re unsure about local prospects, take time to read the local reviews– you might learn a lot. Much like anything that you shop around for, home inspector review help you learn more about who takes their home inspection seriously and who doesn’t.

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Home Inspection

What Is Included In A Home Inspection?


All-Pro What is Included in Home Inspection Nashville TNWhen a home is sold, it has a significant impact on both parties, so it is important that the process go as smoothly as possible. One aspect of that is having a home inspection done. The results of the inspection can have a significant impact on the finalization of the transaction.

Buyers generally pay for the home inspection though they may successfully negotiate this point with the seller on this point. In some cases, the seller may have taken the initiative and had one done. There are times this can be beneficial for the seller.

When a seller has assumed responsibility prior to having a potential buyer, it provides them the opportunity to know about any needed repairs without a sale hanging in the balance. Because these types of expenses and delays often result in the buyer attempting to renegotiate the price or even change their minds, these repairs can cost the seller even more. Fixing the problems without a sale on the line allows the seller time to get them fixed at a reasonable rate.

However, not all sellers do this. In most instances the buyer pays for the inspection. For them, it allows them peace of mind that all needed repairs have been done. In many cases, the bank or lender will require an inspection. Once a buyer is seriously interested in purchasing a particular home, having a home inspection is the next logical step.

There are several aspects of the home that are inspected in order to ensure that the space is safe and livable. The official report will list any damage to these areas. This data can be used for the seller to make repairs. In some instances, the negotiations may include a reduced rate on the property in exchange for the buyer making the repairs themselves.

The roof is one of the most important aspects of a home inspection. Damaged roofs can lead to many problems and should be repaired immediately. The general structure of the building is also a part of the home inspection. This can include the walls and foundation.

The exterior and interior of the building are included in the inspection. Signs of damage including the materials and the paint are noted. Wood rot or other signs of neglect will be added to the final inspection.

The home inspector will also check the utilities. The electrical system and the general plumbing will be examined for signs of danger. Poor wiring or leaky fixtures will need to be addressed. The heating and cooling systems of a home are generally part of an inspection as well. Proper functioning, including duct and vent operations will be examined thoroughly during the examination.

For buyers and sellers, having a home inspection is vital to the entire home inspection process. It can provide both peace of mind in the transaction. When it is done and who pays for it depends upon a variety of factors. Either way, the required inspection allows everyone to walk away a winner.

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Home Inspection Process

Important Benefits of the Home Inspection Process

home and commercial inspection of All-Pro Home Inspection Process Nashville TNHome inspection is an important process in purchasing a home. Even though it is an added expense on the buyer, it is mandatory for important reasons. The process is usually implemented at the request of the buyer. The buyer will usually hire a professional home inspector to assess the property for pest or structural damages. The result of the inspection will influence the buying decision in a big way.

As a seller, you will have a good chance of selling your property if you hire a home inspector to determine flaws in your property before it is listed on the market. The process will help you to discover certain conditions in your home that can have a negative influence on the sale. When the inspection process is completed before making the property open for buyer’s evaluation, the seller is able to avoid any disputations and unnecessary arguments with the buyer. It will definitely help to close the sale to the advantage of the seller.

The home inspection process is helpful to the buyer and the seller alike. A home-buyer or seller can obtain the services of a professional and licensed home inspector in their area. A basic home inspection will cost between $250-500 depending on the size of your property. A licensed home inspector will perform an extensive visual examination for numerous defects in the property. They may use appropriate tools to check for structural and other damages to the building. A home inspector will examine the foundation, plumbing systems, roofing & attic, framework systems, electrical systems, garage structure, appliances & fixtures, walls, doors, windows, cooling, heating and ventilation contraptions during the inspection process.

There are numerous benefits of a home inspection. It will benefit both the buyer as well as the seller. The buyer can save thousands of dollars on repair just by spending a few hundred dollars on the home inspection process. The buyer is able to identify beforehand any health risks and safety hazards within the property. Home-buyers can have great grounds for negotiating the deal with a home inspection before purchasing the property. Defects that are hidden, covered or concealed within the property will be revealed through the home inspection process. This will save the buyer thousands of dollars and offer peace of mind in the long run.

See Home Buyer’s Inspection.

The seller will have better control over the negotiation and sales process with a prearranged home inspection. They can affect necessary repairs and maintenance that are to their financial advantage. The seller can have the assessment from their own home inspector rather than having to depend on the buyer’s home inspection report. Such a report can provide security if the buyer decides to sue the seller for not mentioning any defects in the property. These are some of the major advantages the seller would receive through a home inspection.

In conclusion, a home inspection report is mandatory to all buyers and sellers before buying or selling a home. A professional home inspector will issue the report after a thorough inspection for pest and structural damages of the property. It will definitely save thousands of dollars and offer peace of mind to the buyer as well as the seller in the long run.

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Home Inspection Information

Important Things You Need to Know

All-Pro Inspection both Home and Commercial Nashville TN

If you plan to protect your home investment, there are some important things you must know. Don’t ignore the fact that a home inspection is an important factor that can help you ensure and protect your investment, whether it’s a new house or not.

Here are some very important concerns you may try to consider:

What exactly is the home inspection process?

Generally, it is the visual examination of a house’s physical structure and utility systems, which starts from the roof down to the foundation and the structural integrity.

How does a home inspector go about the examination process?

A standard home inspection report provides an overview of the condition of the home’s internal and external set-up, ranging from the interior plumbing, the electrical and heating system, central air conditioning system, roof and attic, and visible insulation.

The inspection also includes walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors as well as the foundation structure that includes the basement and structural components.

In most states, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) regularly publishes the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics that outlines and provides guidelines as to what should be expected during a home inspection and what should constitute an ideal report.

Why is it important to have a home inspection prior to selling or buying a house?

Purchasing a house can indeed be the biggest and largest single investment one can ever make and the importance of a home inspection is simply to recognize and fix any unpleasant and unexpected surprises or difficulties. Surely, who wouldn’t want to know everything that there is to know and be aware of in a newly constructed or existing house.

It is during the inspection process that an owner gets to know the degree of upgrades or repairs that a home may need to make, as well as identify the need for major repairs or the need to correct builder oversights, if any.

It is important to know the need for maintenance to keep the home in tip top shape.

Even if you do not plan to sell or buy a house, a home inspection can also help identify problems that could arise with your existing home and suggest preventive measures that can surely help prevent costly repairs that could occur in the future.

And if you are planning to sell your home, the home inspection can also give you an idea of whether the home may need repairs and to ensure that it is in a good selling condition before it is put on the market.

How much does a home inspection usually cost?

The fee varies, with basic considerations as to the geography, distance, territory, and the type of inspection required.

There are a number of factors to also consider, like the size, age and materials of the home, as well as the value. Added or optional services like radon, moisture or septic testing are generally extra.

But the cost should not deter you from getting a home inspection, since it is the best way to prevent you from spending thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs.

So these are some of the many important questions that people may ask about home inspections and it is also good to be aware that you are preparing to make a positive investment when you get your home inspected.

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Acid Rain And Inspectors: Buildings At Risk

acid rain

Acid rain,” like “global warming,” is a phenomenon whose very existence is disputed by some. In fact, evidence of acid rain has been observed in industrialized cities around the world since the mid-1800s. “Acid rain” describes the mixture of wet and dry deposits from the atmosphere which contain high amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids that result from both natural and man-made emissions. Its effects on structures and homes are very real. Inspectors can learn more about acid rain and its destructive signs on metal and stone components of the exteriors of homes.        

Acid rain is formed when the chemical precursors of nitric and sulfuric acids — sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx), respectively — combine with natural sources of acidic particles, such as volcanoes and decaying vegetation. When this mixture reacts with oxygen, water and other chemicals (including pollutants such as carbon dioxide), the result is acid rain, which can be carried by rain, and even snow, frost, fog and mist, which, in turn, runs off into soil and groundwater.stone statue

According to the EPA, about two-thirds of all SO2 and one-quarter of the NOx emissions in the atmosphere in the U.S. result from power plants that burn fossil fuels (primarily coal), as well as vehicles and agricultural equipment that rely on gasoline.

It is fair to say that any industrialized region with power plants that burn fossil fuels will show some wear on its surrounding structures from acid rain. But buildings in arid regions are at greater risk because of dry deposition, in which acidic pollutants are present in gases, smoke and dust, which tend to stick to buildings, cars and other structures. When it rains or snows, the subsequent wet deposition of nitric and sulfuric acids becomes even more acidic, which then washes into the soil and aquifers.

The more obvious impacts of acid rain can be seen on particular types of stone, such as limestone and marble buildings, monuments, statues and headstones. The weathering pits and canyons can obliterate the lettering and features of such structures to a brutal degree, depending on the type of stone and other environmental conditions.

Acid rain can also corrode bronze and other metals, such as nickel, zinc, copper, and carbon-steel, as evidenced by streaks and discoloration on bridges and other metal structures, such as many commercial buildings.

Not all buildings or structures suffer the effects of acid rain. How big of a threat it is can be determined by the chemical makeup and interactions of a building’s materials. Limestone and marble, which, historically, were used widely because of their availability and workability by artisans, are especially susceptible because they are composed of calcite, or calcium carbonate, which acidic chemicals can dissolve easily. To observe this first-hand, drop a piece of blackboard chalk into a glass of vinegar. Drop another piece of chalk into a glass of water. The next morning, you’ll see the alarming difference.

Modern buildings tend to use granite, which is composed of silicate minerals, such as quartz and feldspar. Silicate minerals resist acidic attacks from the atmosphere. Sandstone, another silica material, is also resistant. Stainless steel and aluminum tend to hold up better. But all minerals, including those found in paint and road overlay, are affected, to some degree.roman ruin

Because of the switchover in the use of certain building materials in the post-Industrial Era, historic buildings, more so than modern ones, tend to show the destructive outcome of acid rain since we first began burning fossil fuels for energy. London’s Westminster Abbey, the Colosseum in Rome, and India’s Taj Mahal all show signs of degradation brought on by atmospheric nitric and sulfuric acids.

Plant life and wildlife are also affected. The pH — or alkalinity and acidity — of lake water, for example, tends to re-stabilize and maintain equilibrium when contaminated by acid rain. However, soil and trees can become irreparably harmed when their pH is disturbed to the extent that their natural abilities to compensate for chemical fluctuations in the environment are thwarted. Soil contains naturally occurring mercury and aluminum, which are normally poisonous for plant life. But plants can survive when the nutrient base of the soil remains healthy, giving them a strong buffering capacity. Acid rain, however, destroys the environmental balance, and these naturally occurring chemical threats suddenly become fatal. The plants’ “immune systems,” made stronger by the surrounding soil, become compromised. The plants and trees may die a slow death due to nutrient starvation, oxygen deprivation, injured leaves that cannot recover, and/or their bark will become damaged and vulnerable to mold, fungi and wood-destroying insects.

When the environment is under continual attack by the deadly effects of acid rain, the odds of survival for other resident plant, animal and insect species diminish as the ecosystem is thrown out of its natural balance.

On the flipside, NASA researchers recently discovered that one species of swampland bacteria’s ability to produce methane — a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming — is actually inhibited by acid rain.

The EPA’s Acid Rain Program got underway in 1995 (after being enacted by Congress in 1990), which continues to seek to reduce SO2 and NOx emissions to below 1980 pollution levels. The program originally targeted coal-burning electricity plants, and has expanded to include other types of industry that burn coal, oil and gas, too. While the EPA touts some success in bringing down some polluters’ output by 40%, critics charge that because the program permits emission “allowance trading” among its participants, the larger industrial polluters simply pay the $2,000-per-ton fine for exceeding SO2 and NOx limits. The EPA, however, has embraced a market-friendly approach while shooting for overall target reductions.leaves

The primary problem with acid rain, of course, is that there is no way to contain it. It blows with the wind and is captured and carried by localized weather systems. Although the deterioration which acid rain causes may be slow, it is persistent. And until we shift our reliance on fossil fuels by using various types of green energy (wind, solar, etc.), we will continue to witness the destructive consequences in all aspects of our environment, both natural and man-made, for decades to come.

Homeowners can mitigate the environmental effects of acid rain by modifying their purchasing and traveling habits, and by using building materials that are better able to withstand the corrosive effects of this modern scourge. Inspectors can become more familiar with the problems posed by acid rain by investigating the types of building materials used, and by contacting their local EPA representative for up-to-date statistics on pollution levels for their specific area.

Get your home inspected for wear and tear that may have been caused by acid rain or other environmental causes such as wind or flood damage.

Contact InterNACHI certified home inspectors, All-Pro Home Inspections at (615) 338-8277 or schedule online right here on our website.

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 Article by Nick Gromicko and Kate Tarasenko