120 Day Warranty*

*  120-Day Brochure

January, 2024

Regal Home Inspections, LC strives to provide our home buying clients with the best value, detailed and thorough inspection and comprehensive written report. Between Frank & Brian, the father-son inspection team, we hold 4 different New Jersey State licenses. Both Frank & Brian are, of course, licensed to conduct your home inspection.  Both are also licensed as Radon Measurement Technicians and regularly conduct radon tests as an added service of the home inspection and as a stand-alone test for clients that want to screen their existing home. Frank also holds a NJ DEP Pesticide Applicator license that, technically, would allow him to apply pesticides as a commercial service but he does not. The Pesticide license also allows him to conduct termite (aka Wood Destroying Insect) inspections and prepare the industry recognized, “Termite Report” (aka NPMA-33). Brian is also licensed to conduct Lead Paint testing. This is a specialized license.  Occasionally Brian conducts lead paint testing and evaluations associated with a home inspection but most of the inspections he conducts are the landlord required lead paint testing.  Landlords are required to have rental homes and apartments inspected for lead. Brian is licensed to do so.

Effective February 1, 2024, Regal Home Inspections, LLC is adding an appliance warranty to our full home inspection offering at no additional cost to the client. This is through Complete Appliance Protection, Inc. Their brochure is attached and here’s a link to their web site. Complete Appliance Protection: Best Home Warranty Company (completehomewarranty.com)

 

When you call for an inspection, we’ll give you a competitive price for the services you need from us. For projects that include a home inspection the price will also include the Complete Protection ® warranty. *Please be sure to read and understand all the Terms and Conditions on Page 2 of the attached brochure (Above).

For first-time buyers this could be the very thing that they rely on to move forward.

Please feel free to call Brian 732-740-8365 or Frank 908-902-2590 to ask about the warranty, inspections, radon tests, termite inspections or lead paint testing/evaluations.

Using Carbon Dioxide (CO2) As An Indicator Of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Issues

Evaluating The Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Levels Inside a Home as a Clue That May Indicate Mold

July 24, 2023

Introduction

Regal Home Inspections, LLC has always been as diligent as possible with regard to meeting and often exceeding the letter and spirit of the NJ Home Inspection Standards of Practice (The Law). We’ve received many compliments on the comprehensive nature of our inspections and quality of our reports.  The Law states what must be done, what is excluded and leaves open to individual inspection companies to expand into ancillary services. As an example, both of the home inspection team at Regal Home Inspections is, of course, licensed in NJ to conduct the home inspection. They are also both certified by the NJ DEP as Radon Measurement Technicians. Frank is also licensed by the NJ DEP as a Pesticide Applicator which allows him to conduct termite inspections and prepare the industry recognized Termite Report (NPMA-33).  Brian is also licensed by various State entities to perform lead paint evaluations (Lead Safe inspections) and collect dust samples to check for lead paint dust.

As of this writing, New Jersey does not have any license requirements for mold testing, sewer scopes, oil tank sweeps, etc. and we opt to allow others address those.

A conversation about, “Looking for mold” often takes place with prospective clients and we’re very consistent to say, “We don’t look for mold”.  Mold can be in dozens of places inside a home; Under carpets, inside walls, behind bathroom vanities, etc.  We feel that if you tell someone that, “Yes, we look for mold” then if you look in 100 places and don’t see any it’s possible that after the client moves in and changes the carpets and there’s mold under the padding for a carpet they may complain because you said, “Yes, we look for mold” (Which of course we do not).

Taking air samples for mold is one way of determining if high levels of mold exist inside a home but it’s costly. A special vacuum pump is used to collect air samples. Multiple air samples are taken then sent to a lab for evaluation. The lab’s evaluation includes identifying the types of mold spores collected and the amount. Some mold is expected. Elevated levels are not. Again, each air sample costs the consumer about $125.00 and usually, at least 3 are needed (One of which is a control sample taken outside the home being tested). There may be as many as 6 or more in many instances and the cost can easily approach $1000 just to, see if there’s mold.

Solution

CO2 meter in calibration mode.
CO2 detector mounted on a tripod. Indoor measurement is 796ppm. Like many homes, the windows and doors have been kept closed for weeks while the AC has been running. Same room after the windows were opened measured CO2 @ 554ppm.“See” if there’s mold.

We have recently learned about another, less expensive way to predict if a home has mold.  In researching the new methodology we learned that it has been in use with the US Department of Agriculture for years (Since about 2009).

For the home buyer, it’s predictive.  If this new methodology provides normal results then the research indicates that there aren’t elevated levels of mold growth inside a home.  However, if the methodology has different results, that indicates that high levels of mold exist THEN, further evaluation is required by a mold specialist.

The predictive methodology is measuring the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the air inside a house, room, basement, etc.  Research that we’ve reviewed state that normal outside CO2 levels are about 400 parts per million (ppm). If the levels of CO2 spike, 3000 or more ppm, this is a red flag that there may be high levels of mold in the house. You see, according to a USDA researcher, ”monitoring CO2 levels might provide more accurate results to detect if mold is growing.  Monitoring mold by measuring CO2 : USDA ARS

The researcher says that,As mold grows it gives off carbon dioxide. Therefore, if there is a CO2 spike, there is likely an increase of mold activity.”

From Facts About Indoor Mold – RadGreen

“Seeing a spike in CO2 levels could show severe mold growth. Standard carbon dioxide runs about 400 parts per million (ppm), and if the sensor reads more than 10,000 ppm, that could mean severe mold activity, and then 2,000 to 3,000 ppm could mean some mold activity.”

“Indoor mold is the mold that causes problems. Mold growth can cause damage to buildings and furnishings. To reduce mold growth in an indoor space, controlling the humidity levels is very important. Keeping humidity levels between 30-60% can reduce the amount of moisture in the air to keep mold growth low.(2) Ventilating the space is another way to reduce mold growth in indoor spaces. Inspecting your indoor space is vital to ensure that the indoor environment stays healthy. Responding quickly to leaks and spills and cleaning them is essential to prevent growth in those areas.”

Regal Home Inspections, LLC, is undergoing the implementation of the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) detectors during the course of our home inspections. Training for Indoor Air Quality was just completed. Just like the termite inspection, radon test or lead paint, it will be another ancillary service allowed by the home inspection Law.  During the course of a home inspection a CO2 detector will be used in different areas of the house. For example, we’ll check the CO2 levels in the basement, kitchen area and bedroom area. If the CO2 is in the 600ppm range then, as the reference material indicates, that’s a level that is expected inside. If it’s elevated from that and spikes to 2000ppm – 10,000ppm then the client will be advised to get a mold specialist for further testing. This service will be offered in conjunction with our standard home inspections at a reasonable price. It will also be offered as a standalone service.

“Seeing a spike in CO2 levels could show severe mold growth. Standard carbon dioxide runs about 400 parts per million (ppm) [outside], and if the sensor reads more than 10,000 ppm, that could mean severe mold activity, and then 2,000 to 3,000 ppm could mean some mold activity.”

“Indoor mold is the mold that causes problems. Mold growth can cause damage to buildings and furnishings. To reduce mold growth in an indoor space, controlling the humidity levels is very important. Keeping humidity levels between 30-60% (20% – 50% is a tighter range which is beneficial) can reduce the amount of moisture in the air to keep mold growth low.  Ventilating the space is another way to reduce mold growth in indoor spaces. Inspecting your indoor space is vital to ensure that the indoor environment stays healthy. Responding quickly to leaks and spills and cleaning them is essential to prevent growth in those areas.”

Regal Home Inspections, LLC, is undergoing the implementation of the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) detectors during the course of our home inspections. Just like the termite inspection, radon test or lead paint, it will be another ancillary service allowed by the home inspection Law.  During the course of a home inspection the CO2 detector will be used in different areas of the house. For example, we’ll check the CO2 levels in the basement, kitchen area and bedroom area. If the CO2 is in the 500ppm to 600ppm range then, as the reference material indicates, that’s a level that is expected. If it’s elevated from that and spikes then the client will be advised to get a mold specialist for further testing. This service will be offered in conjunction with our standard home inspections at a reasonable price. It will also be offered as a standalone service.

 

Pricing:                                                       With a Home Inspection         Stand-alone

Radon                                                          $50 – $100                             Minimum $175

Termite                                                         $50 – $100                            Minimum $195

Lead Paint                                                     Varies*                                 Varies*

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)  Measurement         $150                                       $350+

 

*- Different municipalities have different requirements. Some allow a visual, “Lead Safe” inspection and others require swabs be taken in every area where children are likely to spend time; Bedrooms, playrooms, Living rooms, etc.

 

 

Inspecting Older Homes (100+ years old) In NJ

What To Expect When Inspecting Older* Homes In NJ

*We’re are defining, “old” as 100 year old and older.

February 1, 2023

Inspecting Older Homes Bick Ocean County NJ
The white, left side of this home was built in the 1800s. The right-side (Stone wall section) dates back to 1740.

By Brian S. Delle Donne & Frank J. Delle Donne

This is Regal Home Inspections’ 10th year in operation. Over these years we’ve inspected new homes and many homes built in the 1900s. We’ve also had the challenge of inspecting older homes built in the 1800s and even a handful built in the 1700s. The first old home I inspected was on Queen Rd. in Stockton, NJ. It was inspected on January 5, 2015. There were two sections in the home. The, “newer” section was built in the 1800s. The original home was built in 1740. Can you imagine, that’s 36 years BEFORE the signing of the Declaration of Independence!!!  In 2019 we inspected a house in Middletown, NJ that was built circa 1765. We’ve seen some pretty interesting things. For example, since the beams and timber used to build the house were made from trees cut down on the property or nearby, you can still see the chisel marks from the people that shaped the wood over 200 years earlier. In 2 houses that we’ve inspected, and clearly visible in the attic, the roof rafters had Roman numerals chiseled into them. So the two raters that meet at the ridge of the house each have the Roman numerals I, II, III, IV, etc. My prediction is, and I’m very confident that this is correct, because they used mortise and tenon construction, those rafters were shaped on the ground and then like puzzle pieces, carried or lifted to the roof area and constructed. I goes with I. IV matches to IV, etc. Pretty neat I think.

But what inspired me to write this piece today was an inspection that Brian and I did this past weekend. Literally, within the past 11 days we inspected 2 houses built in 1910. One in Matawan and one in Wall Township. We also inspected a house built in 1927 in Carteret over the past week.  If you’re thinking about purchasing an old house, be sure to have it inspected. This applies for newer homes as well but NEVER waive your inspection on an older home.  This blog points out a few findings that are often seen in older homes and as a buyer, you must be aware of going into the deal.  Now I know the saying is that the 3 most important things in a home purchase are location, location and location, but the older the home the bigger the potential for it to be a money pit. If you have the tolerance for that going in and you have the money for some things you may not have considered then great, go for it. But if you’re extending yourself a little further than you’d like and may not have a large amount of cash to reverse some of the issues that may exist, be aware, get an inspection from a reputable company and one that’s familiar with these things.

  • In older homes (200+ YO) if you’re lucky the foundation exists and maybe it’s stones. Stones that were sourced from the area and used to build the foundation. Sometimes the issue isn’t the stones themselves but the mortar that holds them together. In older homes (Even those built up to the early 1900s), the mortar that holds the stones (And brick in 100 YO homes) turns to sand. Think of the mortar as the glue that holds the stones, brick or more modern concrete blocks together. If the mortar loses its adhesive properties, the stones or brick will become loose. This can cause the foundation walls to move and often bow inward due to the pressure from the dirt outside.
    inspecting older homes foundation in middletown nj
    200+ year old stone foundation. Middletown, NJ.
    inspecting older homes foundation middletown nj
    200+ year old stone foundation. Middletown, NJ.

     

  • The structure also includes the wood; Beams and joists are what are visible in the basement. Rafters are seen in the attic. Beams and joists may be held together with mortise and tenon joints. This is where they cut a tab into the end of the joist and a corresponding hole in the beam. The tab is set into the hole. But as the house ages and may shift, the mortise and tenon joints may separate. With respect to the wood, beams will sag over the decades and cause floors above to not be level. This is very common. Also, 100+ year old wood may have been infested with powder post beetle larvae. These insects hatch and bore small holes in the wood. The way I describe the powder post beetle damage to people is as follows: You know how good wood has fibers in it. The fibers help give the wood strength. Power post beetles change the structure of the wood so it has a composition kind-of similar to chalk. When you break a piece of chalk it just snaps.  The powder post beetle damaged wood may not snap but the intended structure of the wood no longer exists.
inspecting older homes joist nj
This joist is splitting at the tenon. The tenon creates a weak part in the joist. Similar cracks seen in a few of the other photos.
inspecting older homes beams nj
The tenon is pulling away from the mortise that was cut in the beam to support the joist.
inspecting older homes studs nj
This appears to be a stud that goes vertically, up above the floor above. There’s a mortise and tenon as well as a peg that holds the stud in place instead of nails.
inspecting older homes wood cracks foundation nj
Cracks in the wood at the tenon.
inspecting older homes wood foundation nj
Poorly supported mortise and tenon connection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

inspecting older homes Powder post beetle exit holes nj
Powder post beetle exit holes can be seen here. The holes are about the size of a pin head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tree trunks being used as structure in a home. A column seen here.
An original, circa 1765, joist seen here. The tree trunk joist has since been reenforced with modern joists. The tree trunk column in the previous photo still stands strong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a view of the joists above the 1st floor of the house in the cover photo. From the 1740 section. It’s not an optical illusion. The joists are sagging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here and the next photo, chisel marks can be seen in joists in the 1740 home. Can you picture the men chiseling the wood into shape to use to build this house? I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you see the Roman numerals cut into these 2 pieces of wood? This is from an exposed wall in a building in Holmdel, NJ. I also saw similar markings on roof rafters in a very old home in Keyport, NJ. Maybe the same builder?

 

  • Electrical and Lighting. This is a big thing in older homes. 125+ years ago houses may have been illuminated with gas lamps. Pipes were installed in the walls and throughout the house the pipes came out of the wall with a little valve and one could literally light an open gas flame to provide illumination at night. Not a big deal now because they aren’t used but I find it interesting enough to mention.

The real issue with the older home is the wiring circa 1930s called Knob and Tube (KnT). This was found in the house inspected this past weekend. Built 1910 and wired with KnT in that era. This may have been the first house in the neighborhood with electric lighting. Pretty impressive for 1910 but today, insurance companies frown upon KnT. We advise buyers that it must all be removed by a licensed electrician. Obtaining homeowner’s insurance with reasonable premiums may be difficult. As I tell people, insurance companies don’t like risk or you’ll pay for the risky lifestyle; Smokers, parachute jumpers, waterfront/oceanfront properties, etc. Reduce risk and you can reduce costs.

Examples of Knob and Tube wiring seen here and the next photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Hazardous materials. Also seen on the 1910 built house this past weekend was asbestos. A known carcinogen. Not only was residual asbestos seen on the steam boiler pipes, small pieces of asbestos (Like duct) were on just about every flat surface in the basement’s utility area. Luckily I carry facemasks (Covid) so I put one on and continued. However, from a home purchase perspective, I’m not sure how expensive it will be to remove all of the asbestos but we all know, “It ain’t (sic) going to the cheap!”
  • Not seen at this past weekend’s house but seen on many others is galvanized steel pipe. Galvanized steel is known for corroding from the inside. It often looks OK from the outside but inside it corrodes and as the rust builds up it reduces the diameter inside the pipe. Flow is restricted. It’s often seen on the water supply pipes as well as drain pipes. If the service pipe from the street is visible and it’s galvanized steel, replacement is a requirement for buyers. Which party pays (Buyers or sellers) is not up to the inspection company to decide but from an inspection perspective…replace it.

These are but a few of the things that we’re highly aware of in older homes.  If you’re considering buying an old home, Regal Home Inspections, LLC is a great option for you. With our formal training and experience with 4 centuries of homes inspected, we’ll provide you with a thorough inspection and comprehensive and informative report.

You can reach either Brian or Frank to ask questions and schedule an inspection.

Brian – 732-740-8365

Frank – 908 902 2590

Rarely Considered Health Effects of Radon

Radon – It may be more of a health issue than previously thought.

As we’ve known since about 1986, radon is a residential health issue. In 1986, a worker at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania was setting off the radiation detectors on his way into work.  It was determined that the source of his radiation was coming from the radon in his house, not from the nuclear power plant. The federal government bought his house and it has been used as a residential radon lab and study center since. Subsequent to that it was determined that radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer for non smokers. At some training in March 2021, the instructor pointed out that being in an environment with a radon level of 1pCi/L for 24 hours is equivalent to smoking 2 packs a day.

First, let’s review what is radon and why is it a cause of cancer?  First, radon is a naturally occurring gas, in fact an element. If you remember from High School Chemistry, the Periodic Table of the Elements, radon is an element.  Oxygen, gold, silver, iron are elements as well. However, radon is a radioactive gas. Its origins begin with Uranium 238 in the bedrock in the soil.  A radioactive element spontaneously releases protons, neutrons or electrons. As they do they change their state. Eventually, due to many spontaneous changes and over many, many years, the Uranium 238 eventually becomes radium, another natural element and from Uranium to radium they’ve all been solids stuck in the bedrock.  When radium decays (aka spontaneously changes) it becomes radon which is a gas. For the next 3.8 days, the radon gas rises from the soil and can enter homes or any other building (Schools, businesses, etc.) that have contact with the soil. When radon decays, it A) Releases alpha radiation and B) Turns back into a solid so it basically stops moving. It’s the radiation that is harmful. Radiation in large doses can cause cancer. Any radiation (From the Sun for example causing skin cancer) is dangerous. When you get an X-Ray, for example, there’s some exposure to radiation but since most of us don’t get X-Rays on a regular basis, it’s not harmful. It’s the exposure to radiation that results in the Dental Technician to place the lead lined apron over you so the exposure to the radiation is focused on the area it’s needed.

Second, when radon enters a home it can enter homes with basement, concrete slabs and crawl spaces. While I have not personally done a test resulting in a high radon reading in a house with a crawl space, I have had high radon readings in homes with basements, of course, and with slabs (No basements).

Third, when we inhale radon gas (Red sphere in the diagram below), if it’s not expelled in the next breath, it’s possible that it will go through its radioactive decay while the radon is in our lungs.  Now, just like the sun exposure to our skin, inside our lungs the radon elements are releasing atomic levels of energy in the form of alpha radiation. When it does, it spontaneously changes to lead (Pb), a solid (All following elements are also solids) with a radioactive half life of 26.8 minutes then bam! Another punch of energy but this time it’s beta radiation. Beta radiation is more powerful than alpha radiation and the Pb atom changes to an element called Bismuth (Bi).  In 20 minutes, the Bi spontaneously changes and becomes a nasty element called Polonium (Po). From the site, Polonium-210: Effects, symptoms, and diagnosis (medicalnewstoday.com) there are 25 variations of Po.  Also noted at this site, “Polonium-210 is the deadly poison that was used to kill the former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, in London in 2006. He died of radiation sickness.”

In the radon radio-active-decay process, we see three varieties of Po (Green spheres in the illustration below). Po-218 initially, then Po-214 and eventually Po-210.

All of these characteristics are why the potential to get cancer from radon exists!

That information alone should motivate you to conduct annual radon tests!  But more information was learned at some 2022 training the I attended for my current NJ DEP Radon Measurement Technician licensing. That new information is that there are studies that point to not only lung cancer from radon by childhood leukemia.  Here are a couple of links below that shed some light on that issue.

Environmental radon exposure and childhood leukemia – PubMed (nih.gov)

From the above link, “Among 12 ecological studies, 11 reported a positive association between radon levels and elevated frequency of childhood leukemia, with 8 being significant. In conjunction with ecological studies, several case-control studies on indoor radon exposure and childhood leukemia were examined, and most investigations indicated a weak association with only a few showing significance.”

Childhood leukaemia in areas with different radon levels: a spatial and temporal analysis using GIS | Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health (bmj.com)

For the health and safety of your family, what should you do?

  • Test for radon annually. Conducting short term tests are what’s used for real estate transactions. By radon testing protocols, a real estate, short term test is at a minimum of 48 hours long and up to 6 days. Even if you’ve been in your home for years, test annually.
  • Know your “Radon potential”. The NJ DEP classifies every Borough, Township and City in the state as either, “High Radon Potential”, “Moderate Radon Potential” or “Low Radon Potential”. The classification has to do with the percentage of homes tested vs the probability of having a radon test above 4.0pCI/L. 4.0 is the recognized, “Action Level”. In a real estate transaction, a radon level of 4.0 or higher requires mitigation. 3.9 or below and no further action is required for the sale of the home.

Anecdotally, I live in a NJ DEP classified, “High radon potential” area.  When we moved in radon tests were not common. When I became a home inspector and licensed for radon, I became aware and tested my home. I’ve conducted about 6 tests in my home over the past 9 years and they’ve always come back at around 2.5pCi/l in the basement. We don’t live in the basement but we do exercise there.  I recently purchased a radon detector from a company called Air Things – https://www.airthings.com/

After activating it this past summer, after a week or 10 days of calibration, it provided an reading of that same, 2.3 – 2.7pCI/L range.  About 6 weeks prior to writing this piece, the weather was cool enough to turn off the AC and open windows. After about 10 days of open windows on the floor above the basement, the radon levels in the basement exceeded 4.0pCi/L ! I was shocked but remembered from training over the years that opening windows on the floors above the basement can increase radon levels. Air passing through the house on the 1st level above the basement can cause negative pressure inside the basement. As the pressure inside the basement naturally wants to equalize, it has the potential to draw radon in from the soil and I believe that’s what happened in my home. In addition to not, “airing out” the house, I cracked a few basement windows open (Which I had not previously done).  Our basement is also a walk out so I leave the basement door to the outside open more now than I did before and the radon levels are in the 1.2 – 1.6pCi/L range pretty reliably.

Conclusions:

  • Take radon seriously. For all people, young and old. Help prevent lung cancer and potentially leukemia.
  • Either test for radon regularly or purchase an active radon monitor like the products sold by Air Things.

Final notes: The NJ DEP is implementing new radon measurement protocols effective December 3, 2022. Unfortunately, the new protocols will drive the price of radon testing up.  Currently, a 1200 square foot split level house would require 1 test device in the, “Lowest livable level” (aka basement). The new protocols will require at least four (4) tests in the same house.  If you’d like to have us conduct a radon test for you, prior to December 1, 2022, prices start at $100 (There are other factors that determine the number of tests now but 1 can is often allowable).  After December 1, the prices will definitely be increasing.

Frank J. Delle Donne is a NJ DEP Licensed Radon Measurement Technician. First licensed for radon testing in December 2013. He is co-owner of Regal Home Inspections, LLC along with his son, Brian.

Frank is licensed to do NJ home inspections, NJ DEP Core and 7B termite (Wood destroying insect) inspections and radon testing. Brian is licensed to do NJ home inspections, radon testing and lead paint testing.

 

Flippin’ Flippers

Flippin’ Flippers

by Frank J. Delle Donne  

October, 2022

Flipping houses has become an occupation for some. There are many homes that have been restored and updated by investors and DIYers. Many of them are very nice. However, as home inspectors, we’ve come across a number of flipped houses that fall under the category of what I call “Buyer Beware”. One such example was inspected October, 2022.

Due to some findings at this house, I was motivated to write this article as a word of caution to prospective buyers of flipped houses and a strong word of encouragement to hire a professional, licensed home inspector.  Your due diligence includes the inspection of the house including a termite inspection, sewer scope and tank sweep at least.  Most flipped houses are not occupied when you are thinking of buying it and have been empty for a while. Many flipped homes are old.

The standard, New Jersey home inspection covers structure, roof, electric, plumbing, etc. All very important things. I am also licensed to conduct a termite inspection and both inspectors here at Regal Home Inspections are also licensed to conduct radon tests.  Commencing in the very near future, one inspector at Regal Home Inspections, LLC will also be NJ licensed/certified to perform LEAD PAINT testing as well.

From what I’ve learned, anecdotally, many mortgage companies require a termite inspection. Even if yours does not, it’s very important that you hire a thorough inspector for Wood Destroying Insects (WDI).  WDI usually include termites, carpenter ants and carpenter bees. There are others but these are the three, most common.

While most houses should have a radon test, Monmouth County, for example, has a number of towns that are classified by the NJ DEP as, “High radon potential” areas. A few towns in Middlesex County and Somerset County. No towns in Ocean County are classified as high radon potential areas but we have seen homes with levels of radon that require mitigation. A radon test is important for a home you’re buying and periodic radon tests are important for occupied homes.

Back to the, “Flippin’ Flippers.”

The flip-house we recently did in Monmouth County had a nice looking kitchen and nicely renovated bathrooms and floors, etc. But what exists outside of the obvious is what matters. For this home, the major issues included:

Extensive, structural damage in the basement from termites.

Structural damage due to bad trade-practices in the crawl space and

Very poor implementation of aspects of the roof/plumbing vents and fan venting to the outside.

Termite Damage – Sometimes, termite damage is hard to find. It’s often limited and in a small area. Sometimes the indications are seen outside and sometimes inside. In this case, there was termite damage in a number of floor joists and in the subfloor. The termites rendered a number of joists as worthless for their intended purpose. Consequently, floors were no longer level and the structure of the house was compromised. Of course, following the NJ HI standards of practice, this is a material defect.  I’m going out on a limb and speculate that the flipper didn’t do their own inspection because this would have/should have been found.  In our report to the client we identified the problem, told them why it was important – damages the structure/reduces structural integrity – and advised them on what to do next. In this case it’s getting in an expert to provide a quote to repair and replace all the damaged wood so they can negotiate the purchase price with the flipper and receive some concession.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Structural Damage – While crawl spaces are not places I enjoy going, as I sometimes tell people, “Going into the crawl space was, “worth the price of admission”. In this same, flip-house there were two joists, under a bathroom no less, that had notches and split. These joists are holding up the weight of the tub and toilet and they are now capable of supporting a load that’s only a fraction of the joists’ intended strength.

Joist is poorly notched and now a split is forming from the weak point.
This notch significantly weakens the joist. Furthermore, both of these joists are below a bathroom. There appear to be some sagging in the joist at the notch. That’s understandable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roof issue. This is one for the Hall of Shame in my opinion. A sincere, “Thank you” to the flipper for making it so easy to identify.  From the outside of the house there were two elements of the roof that caught my attention. Now please note, the NJ home inspection laws require inspectors have an 11 foot ladder. Following the ladder’s safety instructions, that means I can’t get on a roof that more than, approximately 8 feet off the ground.  I also carry a 22 foot ladder but for this home, that too was not long enough. So, I use the telephoto lens of my camera and zoom into the roof as close as possible.

The first 2 photos below caused some concern when seen from the outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I went into the attic, I could see what was actually done. To give you an idea, my first reaction was to use a descriptive word for the actions of the flipper such as, “egregious”. A quick Google search for the definition of egregious results in, “outstandingly bad; shocking.”  Yes, that’s how I felt. My inspection partner, Brian, told me to edit that out of the report so I did. I substituted it with, “poor craftsmanship” or something similar.  The conditions still are material defects. The conditions were these…

For the pipe boot seen from the outside (Right photo above), the craftsman, inappropriately left the plumbing vent short and inside the attic and stuffed a bathroom fan’s vent together at the bottom of the pipe boot. The boot is absolutely not intended for that configuration. Someone knew they were doing that work incorrectly and in a substandard manner but did it anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

For the first photo from the roof, someone just stuck the open end of a 4 inch diameter, flexible foil vent duct through the roof! That’s basically a 4 inch diameter hole in the roof.  For both of these things, what were they thinking?

Water will enter the vent and collect at the bottom of the duct inside the attic. The potential exists for either the duct to leak onto the ceiling above or the water accumulate so much that it starts draining out of the ceiling fan in the bathroom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottom line, these matters were found and properly reported back to the client. There were also other findings that require attention; Electrical, safety and maintenance items (Like clogged and loose gutters).

Bottom line, hire a capable inspection company. Although you have to pay for these things, get the inspection, oil tank sweep, sewer scope, termite inspection, radon test and even a lead paint inspection.  There are also other things that may or may not apply such as pool inspections, Level 2 chimney inspections, etc.  If you have any questions please call Brian Delle Donne at 732 740 8365 or Frank at 908 902 2590.

 

radon inspector colts neck nj

Radon Testing Monmouth County NJ

Radon Testing: It’s Someone Else’s Problem, Not Mine. Right?

Originally published in 2014.

Updated March 16, 2023

My name is Frank J. Delle Donne, and I am a NJ Licensed Home Inspector.  I am the co-owner and Inspector at Regal Home Inspections, LLC. My son and co-owner, Brian, works with me and he’s also a licensed home inspector, radon measurement technician and he’s licensed to test for lead paint. I was a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician for over 26 years and was a member (Now retired) of the Colts Neck, NJ Board of Health and was Chairman of that Board for 2008 and 2009. During my studies to become a Home Inspector and earning my NJ Certification to be a Radon Measurement Technician I learned a great deal about Radon and felt compelled to share that information in a manner that is easy to understand and increases awareness.  Every home in New Jersey should be tested for Radon on a regular basis. The, “Action Level” where mitigation is required is 4.0pCi/L. That’s “Pico Curries per liter” of air which is the measurement of radioactivity. I’ve had many above 4.0. Some in the low double digits such as 10+, 20+, 30+ (None in the 40s) but 50+ and even a 317!

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been leading the effort to make citizens aware of radon and closer to home, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJ-DEP) has been following suit.  Please read our earlier post for general information about radon.   This piece is intended to point out that a radon problem may be closer to home than you think.

Radon: The Basics

A few points that I’d like to repeat from the earlier article is that radon is everywhere and it is naturally occurring.  It is a radioactive gas which means that it transforms spontaneously and in that transformation it releases tiny bursts of energy.  When radon is inhaled in your home (living levels, bedrooms or basement) it is these tiny bursts of energy, occurring inside your lungs, that cause harm.

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas.  Radon IS NOT flammable, toxic or noxious.  It is, however, radioactive and it occurs naturally.  This article will look at the radon potential, as identified by the NJ-DEP, in various parts of the Garden State.   As you can see from the map, NJ is divided into 3 classifications of radon potential; Low (Blue), Moderate (Green) and High (Red).  Let’s look closer.certified home inspector monmouth county nj

What Areas of NJ are of Concern and What Types of structures?

New Jersey Administrative Code N.J.A.C. 5:23-10 (2013), among other things, specifies the construction codes, as they relate to radon mitigation in “E” and “R” Use Groups.  “E” stands for educational and “R” is for some Residential.  The International Building Code (New Jersey Edition) identifies educational as a building that houses 6 or more people for educational purposes through grade 12.  Section 305.1 identifies K-12 and Section 305.2 refers to younger facilities (Pre-K and day care) that may have five or more children 2&1/2 years of age or older.  The same source identifies five different residential types, R-1 through R-5.  These include basically any and all residence structures from single family homes to apartments, dormitories, convents and more. Frank and Brian are both certified to conduct radon measurements in Single Family Homes. Currently, Frank is also certified to conduct radon measurements in schools and large, non-residential homes such as commercial buildings of all sizes.

N.J.A.C. also identifies two other very important aspects (among many other good things).  First, Sub Section 5:23-10.4 states the specific construction techniques that must be followed for E and R construction in Tier 1 areas.  Tier 1 are the High Radon Potential areas shown in red in the previous map.  Before I go to that discussion, let’s finish the discussion on the construction.  Among other important elements, for example, the N.J.A.C. states that, “Basement slabs with interior foundation pipe drains installed shall have a solid, three-inch minimum diameter vent pipe installed in conjunction with this drainage system and be connected to an independent vent stack pipe terminating at an approved location on the exterior of the building.”

This accommodation is to allow for the future installation of a vent fan in order to actively draw air from below the basement slab and out of the house before the sub slab gasses have a chance to seep into the house. These are referred to sub-soil depressurization systems.

Therefore, new construction in these Tier 1 areas should have the basics for a radon mitigation system installed right from the start. So then, where are these Tier 1 areas?

NJ Counties and Towns that are Deemed to be Tier 1

As you can see from the map above the Tier 1 areas are nearly in every part of the state. From northern Sussex County to southern Cumberland County, high radon readings are possible in many areas. One thing you might notice is the sandy soils of the areas along the shore and the Pine Barrens are the lowest areas. As written about in other articles, these sandy soil areas don’t have a lot of the bedrock with uranium as some of the other areas. Northern Jersey has granite and shale that are ripe for the presence of Uranium 238 which is at the beginning of the radioactive decay process that results in Radon-222. The N.J.A.C. specifically mentions counties and towns that are Tier 1 areas so if you can’t quite figure out if you live in a red area or a green one, this list should help.

If you live in one of these areas, you live in an area of High Radon Potential. You should get your home checked regularly. Even if you have a radon mitigation system it wouldn’t hurt to check annually. If you do not have a radon mitigation system, you should check quarterly for a period of time. Radon levels can change season to season and month to month. It would be a good idea to have a baseline of seasonal levels. If you have young children and you haven’t checked your home for radon it is something that you should do immediately. When you are dealing with the health of you and your family, the cost to install a mitigation system is reasonable. It’s a lot less costly compared to dealing with the illnesses that can occur from extended and continued exposure to radon.

Testing is easy and relatively inexpensive considering the health hazard that radon is.  

Conclusion | Radon Inspector Colts Neck NJ

Radon is a serious health issue, but it can be minimized. You need to test now and then every 6 months.  Likely, it cannot be 100% eliminated but mitigation can usually get the radon levels very low.  It’s naturally occurring and exists in nature. It’s not man-made nor can we stop it from existing.  We can, however, minimize its pathways into our homes and help ensure a healthy and safe environment.  It is better to know than to hope.

Please call today to schedule your radon test for your family.  Regal Home Inspections, LLC does not mitigate so we are not motivated to find elevated readings so we can clean them up.  We inspect homes and we are both, Frank & Brian, licensed as a Radon Measurement Technicians – MET13186 & MET14070 respectively.

Other Monmouth County NJ Certified Home Inspector Services

Regal Home Inspections, LLC offers Monmouth County NJ certified home inspections, condo inspections, estate inspections, and townhouse inspections.

It’s likely your mortgage company will require a wood-destroying insect inspection. Regal Home Inspections has the NJ DEP Core & 7B Pesticide Applicator license, so we can offer professional termite and wood-destroying insect inspections as well!

Call Frank @ 908-902-2590 or Brian @ 732-740-8365 for your free quote or if you have any questions!