Does Your Inspector Use a Combustible Gas Detector?

Does Your Inspector Use a Combustible Gas Detector?

Frank J. Delle Donne & Brian S. Delle Donne

June 14, 2024

 

The New Jersey Home Inspection Statutes and Regulations states that, “All home inspectors and associate home inspectors shall, during the performance of a home inspection, be equipped with the following minimum tools and equipment…11. Combustible gas leak detection equipment…”  We, of course, have always had them in our tool bags. Having them, however, is not good enough. We always use them for homes with natural gas (Or propane) as a fuel type.

 

When in the process of hiring a home inspector, ask them, “Do you ALWAYS use your combustible gas detector?”  We do and you’d be surprised how often we find gas leaks.  In at least 2 brand new houses, gas leaks have been found. More than once there have been hints of gas even before the meter was taken out. A few times outside. If one can smell gas outside it’s a substantial leak.  Once, Frank was going through a crawl space and as I crawled under some pipes the gas odor was detected. The meter then confirmed the leak. But most of the times the gas detector finds the leak.

Here are a few videos that have been taken to document the issue. If I went through my archives there would be dozens of leaks identified. The video links are often included in the report. If I was to guess I’d say that maybe 1 in 10 or so homes inspected have a gas leak somewhere.

 

https://youtu.be/k80rycnAt9A

 

https://youtu.be/C3ZcISNkniE

 

https://youtu.be/do7weE2GlaQ

 

https://youtu.be/0AfZSfCAKxE

 

Home Inspection 120 Day Warranty*

Adding A Home Inspection 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, or our Home Inspection Warranty, 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)

Home Inspection Including A 120 Day Warranty

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.

Certified to Test for Radon in Schools and Large Buildings!

Radon Testing Radon Measurement Servicesradon inspector brick ocean county nj
Brick Ocean County NJ

NJ DEP Certification MET13186

Effective December 3, 2022, the NJ DEP’s Radon Division adopted new laws for Radon Measurement Technicians that conduct tests to determine the level of radon in the air. The protocols for conducting the measurement of radon in the air follow the standards for measurement set forth by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) in their manual, Protocol for Conducting Measurements of Radon and Radon Decay Products in Schools and Large Buildings.

Homes Radon Inspector | Buildings Radon Inspector 

Frank J. Delle Donne of Regal Home Inspections, LLC is certified by the NJ DEP to conduct radon measurements in Single Family Homes (A separate AARST protocol than the one noted above) and for Large Buildings and Schools; Preschools, childcare centers, early learning centers. He’s ready to conduct your, important radon measurements.

Why is this important? First, it’s the law. Additionally, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and there are some links between radon and pediatric leukemia.  Radon is predicted to cause over 21000 lung cancer deaths per year.

New Jersey law, Title 30 Section 30:5B-5.2 addresses Radon testing in childcare centers. It requires that the, “…owner of any building in which a child care center…is located shall test or cause to be tested the space in the building in which the childcare center is located for the presence of radon gas and radon progeny. The test shall be conducted at least once every five years.”

Get A Free Quote For Radon Testing | Free Radon Measurement

For a free evaluation of your facility and a free quote to conduct the measurements (Following the AARST protocols) please call. The evaluation of your facility will require a walk-through of the building including any levels below such as basements.

In Monmouth County, for example, there are a number of townships and/or boroughs classified by the NJ DEP as being, “High Radon Potential” areas. These include Little Silver, Shrewsbury Borough, Holmdel, Marlboro, Freehold and Colts Neck for instance. It’s the law that all daycare centers be tested and should not be delayed, particularly in high radon areas.

Frank can be reached at 908 902 2590 or via email at frank07722@gmail.com

It’s a good idea to have your home tested for radon as well.

 

Radon Testing Monmouth County NJ

 

Rarely Considered Health Effects of Radon

 

 

 

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 For Mold

July 24, 2023

Introduction: CO2 Levels Inside A Home

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. We will, however, evaluate the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels inside a home as a clue for mold. More on this below.

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 Levels Inside A Home

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.

 

 

Can Radon Levels Fluctuate Inside A NJ House?

Do Radon Levels Fluctuate Inside A Typical NJ Home? | Radon Inspector Brick NJ

January 15, 2023

As part of a home inspection done on a home in Red Bank, NJ, Regal Home Inspections, LLC performed a radon test. This occurred about 4 years ago. Following the protocols for the placement of the radon test, it was conducted over a 2, 3 or 4 day period. I don’t recall the exact interval but I know, 100%, that it was done following the testing requirements. Those requirements have a minimum exposure time of 48 hours and as many as 144 hours (e.g. the equivalent of 6 full days). The test came back below the NJ DEP’s, “Action level” of 4.0 pico Curries per liter of air (pCI/L) so there was no further action that needed to be taken. Case closed. A couple of years later I received a call from the young lady that hired us for the Red Bank inspection and radon test because they had decided to sell that home and when the new buyer did their radon test it came back ABOVE 4.0. She asked can that happen and I said, “Yes” it’s possible. That radon levels can fluctuate inside a NJ home.

In 2022, we did another home inspection including a radon test and this time, the test we did in association with the home inspection came back ABOVE 4.0pCi/L. The seller disagreed, hired someone else to do a test and the second test came back below 4.0.  The seller complained but didn’t understand that radon levels can change. She complained that I had done something that made the test come back high.  In my response I stated that, “It’s not like I carry a spray can of radon with me!”  Additionally, I called one of the labs we’re affiliated with to ask a lab specialist if it’s possible for someone to fake a high result. His response was basically if the radon canister was opened, placed upside down on the basement’s concrete floor over a crack in the floor it’s nearly impossible to fake a high reading.  Now please remember that A) Radon is one of the elements on the Periodic Table of the Elements. Just as is Oxygen, Helium, Iron, Gold, Uranium, etc. B) It’s a radioactive element so unless one wants to expose themselves to Alpha radiation, Beta radiation or Gamma radiation, it’s not a good idea to mess around with this stuff.  It’s not like I can sprinkle some radon pixie dust on the test device to fake a high reading. C) The test device has to be placed following recognized protocols which we ALWAYS do.

Dealing With Radon In The NJ Home

Those are two anecdotes that give a little background. For over 31 years my family and I have lived in an area identified by the NJ DEP as a Tier 1 or “High radon potential” area.  During the 10 years or so that I’ve been a home inspector and certified to conduct radon testing I’ve tested my home (In the basement) about 5 times. The results have always been between 2.4 and 2.7pCI/L. Late, last winter (2022) I purchased an active radon monitor. It hangs on the wall like a thermostat. It has an app to by smartphone and constantly measured for radon. Here’s an actual photo of the monitor. It’s manufactu-red by a company called AirThings

Radon Levels | Radon Inspector Brick NJ
AirThings Monitor in my basement.
radon levels app | radon inspector brick nj
Screenshot of the app on my phone on 1/15/2023.

and I urge everyone to have one in your home. Their website is…  Airthings | check it out for the leading radon and indoor air quality monitors. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and 2nd only to cigarettes in causing lung cancer. Estimates are that 21,000 people die each year from radon caused lung cancer.

Again, the AirThings monitor was installed in the late winter of 2022. Everything looked good and the monitor read, as I was expecting, in the 2.5pCi/L range. Then Spring arrived. What do many of us do when spring arrives and the outside temperature rises to the mid 60s or 70s? We open all the windows as we did.  About 2 days later the AirThings app on my phone issued an alarm of sorts. MUCH to my surprise, it notified me that the radon level in my basement rose above 4.0!!!  The radon training requires that the test be done while maintaining, “Closed House Conditions.”  That means no open windows, refrain from using the fireplace, etc. Why, because as I experienced 1st hand, opening the windows and airing out the house can cause negative pressure inside the house. Naturally the house wants to equalize the pressure which, in my case, led to drawing radon into the basement.

To rectify the situation, I opened a couple of windows in my basement. Just a crack, mind you, but enough to get some fresh air in. That seemed to do the trick. The average radon level dropped to below 2.0 and often close to 1.0pCi/L.

Then…I turned on a portable heater in my basement. There is some heat from the forced hot air heating system but I was working on a project and painting some cabinet doors that had been removed and placed on a couple of tables in the basement. With the intention of increasing the temperature of the basement to aid in the paint drying a little quicker, I turned on a portable, electric heater and closed the windows.  It did the job I wanted it to do and the basement was nice and warm. However, warm air rises. I believe what happened is that as the warm air rose from the basement it, again, created negative pressure inside the basement. The way the house equalized the pressure was to draw air into the basement from the perimeter drain, etc. That caused the radon to spike to 3.0pCi/L. My project is done. The heater is off and the window is open again and the radon levels are going down.

Key Takeaways | Dealing With Radon In The NJ Home

So, what are the key take aways from this story?

  • Radon levels change. Do not ASSUME that if it tests low once that it will always be low.
  • Test regularly if that’s possible.
  • And test at different times of the year. Since your home’s conditions may change seasonally, test seasonally until you get a good indication how the radon potential changes year-round.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your specific situation, please call either Brian or Frank at Regal Home Inspections, LLC. We’re both licensed by the NJ DEP to test for radon.  Regal Home Inspections, LLC is licensed to test for radon in single family homes, townhouses, duplex homes, single unit condominiums. Frank is also licensed to perform radon testing in commercial buildings, large and small and schools including preschools and child care centers. Commercial buildings, large and small and schools including preschools and child care centers require a great deal of pre-testing analysis, coordination and fact finding and then strict adherence to the rules set forth by the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST).

Call – Brian @ 732 740 8365 or Frank @ 908 902 2590.

Evolution of Residential Lighting

Regal Home Inspections, LLC recently did an inspection in Matawan, NJ.  The house was over 100 years old and it’s a time capsule for the evolution of residential illumination (Lighting).  In this home were at least 3 distinct technologies seen.  Assuming that they never used candles, the original illumination in the house was gas lights. Pipes were installed that delivered gas to the wall fixture. An open flame illuminated the area. There’s a movie, Gas Light where someone uses a gas light to try to convince another that they’re crazy. The phrase was popularized in 2022 making, “Gaslight” one of the words of the year.

An old gas light fixture. Estimate to be Pre-1920s.

 

This was in the attic of this Matawan house.  Also in the house was Knob & Tube wiring.

Knob and Tube wiring being tested with a voltage detector. The circuit was energized.

The next iteration of residential wiring was knob and tube. Knob and Tube (KnT) wiring was the state-of-the-art around the 1920’s and 1930’s. We’ve found a lot of knob and tube wiring during the nearly 4000 inspections over the years.  In addition to KnT being old, insurance companies don’t like the added risk that it causes. KnT circuits are usually ungrounded. There is no ground wire. That wasn’t much of an issue in the 1930s but 21st century electronics (Computers, modern TVs, etc.) all must be grounded.

KnT circuits have, knobs (Seen in all three photos starting with the one immediately to the left and the two following). The knobs are ceramic and secure the individual wires.

The tubes are also ceramic and are used when the wires have to be installed through wood joists or rafters. If you’re considering buying a home built in the 1940s and earlier, MAKE SURE to have an inspection and use an inspector, like Regal Home Inspections, LLC, that knows what to look for in determining if KnT is or may be present.  If KnT is present, a licensed electrician must evaluate and replace all KnT wiring.

KnT was also seen in the attic. Modern electrical cable has the hot wire, neutral wire and ground inside one jacket (aka casing). KnT, as seen here, has two separate conductors.
KnT is often buried in insulation which is also bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circa the 1940s & 50s, cloth sheathed cables and conductors were used. The wire, in many cases, was tinned-copper. That is a solid copper conductor with a very thin, tin coating.  There’s still a lot of this type & era cable in service. Except for the fact that the insulating materials on the wires can become brittle and break, it’s not an issue like KnT and the aluminum (Next topic).  If there are indications of the insulating materials deteriorating, a licensed electrician must evaluate and repair.

Around the early 1960s more common Non Metallic (NM) cables were used. Key among this era of cables is that all** the conductors were copper. These are still available and the predominant type of electrical cables used. One brand name is ROMEX and the entire category of NM cables are often generically referred to as, “Romex”.  We also see some metal, armor jacketed cables commonly called, “BX”.  BX is still available today and commonly used. Some jurisdictions, such as New York City/Manhattan, still requires BX or metal, armor jacketed cables today.  The NM and BX cables described in this paragraph are STILL the state of the art.  **However, there was a brief period when The Great Garden State allowed solid aluminum conductors in NM cables. From what I’ve been told, toward the end of the Vietnam War some jurisdictions (Including NJ) allowed solid conductor aluminum to be used. From about 1967 through about 1974 it was an option for builders and electricians. My home, built in 1972, had nearly all solid conductor aluminum wire when we moved into it in 1991. If you’re planning to purchase a home build 1967 – 1974, make sure to select an inspector that is aware of the use of aluminum in that era. For a few reasons, aluminum was known to cause fires. Insurance companies don’t like it and it’s expensive to replace.  A technique called, “Pig-tailing” is often used to mitigate the issues with aluminum.  For my home, I decided to replace it all with solid copper, BX cable which is superior to the electrical code for NJ. There is a little, modern, copper, NM cable but the vast majority is copper conductor, BX.

Photo of Frank and Brian Delle Donne | Father And Son Home Inspector Team Brick, NJ | Taken August 5 at the conclusion of an inspection in Belmar, NJ.

Working Hard For Our Clients | Home Inspector Monmouth County NJ

Selecting the right inspector for your needs.

There are probably near 1000 licensed and active home inspectors in New Jersey. I started Regal Home Inspections, LLC in late 2013 after 33+ years in the telecommunications industry. While in the telecom industry I learned the vital importance of the customer. In that industry a client was usually a repeat customer so it’s not like a car salesman that sees someone once or perhaps once every 3 or 4 years.

While the home inspection business requires a sales effort, it’s usually not a repeat sale.  The vast majority of times we do an inspection once for a buyer, they move in then usually that’s the last we hear of them.  I’ve never counted but there are some repeat customers. Maybe the first house didn’t work out and they keep looking. Sometimes it’s the inspection report that scares someone away but sometimes it’s financial such as the house not appraising as high as it was priced for. We’ve done inspections for people and then a few years later when they move again, into a bigger home or nicer neighborhood and call us again. And frequently, while not a repeat customer, we get referrals from past customers for children, family members or friends. One of the things that I’m proud of is that I’ve received calls from attorneys and their statement is usually along these lines; “You did an inspection for my client, and I liked the report and the thorough job you did. My child (Or friend or they) are buying a house and can you do that inspection?”

Closing attorneys see lots of inspection reports and having them ask me to do an inspection for them or an acquaintance is special.

I received an email on March 28, 2022. This is a quote from that email. “You did the home inspection for the buyer of my home located at ### Hayes Court and although I wanted to choke you at the time, I thought it was a very good inspection and was wondering what the cost is as I need one done for a home I’m purchasing in…”

I’m proud of that statement. We mean no harm or inconvenience to the seller but we’re there for the buyer, following of course, the Standards of Practice set forth in the NJ Home Inspection Administrative Code. I’d like to apologize for the grief we caused when he was playing the role of the seller (Back in February).  He did hire us and I think he was happy with the thorough inspection we did for him, this time, as the buyer and client.

Big or small we’d appreciate an opportunity to conduct your inspection. When considering inspectors please ask for a copy or sample report. We are proud of the work product of the inspection, our report.  Since my 1st inspection on October 4, 2013, my son and business partner and/or I have conducted over 3000 inspections. We’d appreciate an opportunity to provide you with a quote for an inspection and, conduct your home inspection.

Other Services | Certified Home Inspector Monmouth County NJ

home inspector monmouth county njRegal Home Inspections, LLC is thermal imaging certified and 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 908-902-2590 for your free quote or if you have any questions!

Frank Delle Donne Certified Home Inspector Monmouth County NJ

Seller’s Inspection – 2022 – Radon Test Included at no additional cost!

Sellers Home Inspection Inspection Opportunity

 

home inspector monmouth county njHave your house ready to sell in 2022! Boy-oh-boy!  What a difference a couple of years make in the Real Estate industry.  In 2020 and 2021, a homeowner could put a for sale sign in the yard and have multiple offers after the 1st weekend and probably sell for higher than asking price. In 2022, with a slowing economy (LGB), interest rates going up slightly (But still historically low) and a pandemic that doesn’t want to go away, this year it may be more difficult to sell and therefore, sellers may have to work a little harder to sell their home.  Have you considered a “Seller’s Home Inspection”?

 

In my experience as a home inspector (With 3000 inspections completed) there’s nothing that can spoil a seller’s plan than an inspection that the buyers pay for (After Attorney review) that identifies issues that often times can be deal breakers.  So you’ve spent a few weeks or a couple of months with your house on the market. You’ve had open houses. Endured 6 or more families re-visiting once or twice and you’ve considered an offer or two or three, accepted one offer and completed Attorney review. Now it’s time for the buyer’s inspector to come in and do an inspection. An issue, two or three arise from the inspection and all of a sudden that, “Done deal” is now in jeopardy!  Why?  Maybe there are issues that you’ve never noticed or ignored. Termite damage, a structural crack in the foundation, electrical issues, a worn, damaged or old roof, asbestos siding or Heaven forbid a microbial growth that may be mold or, which is all too common in NJ, radon.

Be aware:

  • Homes built prior to approximately 1975 may have asbestos siding, floor tiles or insulation on pipes or heating ducts. The older the home the higher the potential that one or more of these exist.
  • Homes built between approximately 1967 and 1974 may have aluminum, solid strand, branch circuit wiring. The home that my wife and I bought in 1991 was built in 1972.  It had aluminum wiring. I spent the better part of 8 months to a year re-wiring the entire house. Every foot of working, aluminum, solid strand, branch circuit wiring was removed and replaced with copper wire.
  • If you live in Monmouth or Middlesex Counties or north of I-287/I-78 you may have a potential for radon. In fact, every township, borough or city in NJ has the, “Potential” for radon and the NJ DEP classifies every township, borough or city as either, “Low Radon Potential”, “Moderate  Radon Potential” or “HIGH Radon Potential”.  In Monmouth and Middlesex Counties there are some, “HIGH Radon Potential” areas. To name a few – Holmdel, Colts Neck, Little Silver, Freehold Twp and Boro, Marlboro (Including Morganville) and North Brunswick and Piscataway in Middlesex.  Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and 2nd behind cigarette smoking overall.
  • Microbial growths, which may include mold, can be found in basements, interior room ceilings, in attics and we often see growths in vanities just to name a few. It’s important to note that looking for mold is outside the scope of the NJ Home Inspection Standards of Practice as detailed in the NJ Administrative Code that directs and guides the New Jersey home inspection industry.

But any of these items, for example (There are other items too), can end a home sale transaction faster than you can say “House for sale”.

Not only is it inconvenient for the seller, it may require the seller to lower the price and who knows how the market is when you’re back to square one!

In preparation for putting your home on the market you’ll probably clean it.  De-clutter as they say to make it less your style and more neutral. Remove stuff, clear the basement and garage, etc.  You may even paint inside, replace some old, worn carpeting, fix some dents and dings in the walls and finally, fix the dishwasher.

We urge you to consider hiring Regal Home Inspections, LLC, to conduct a Seller’s Home Inspection. We follow the same Standards of Practice as we do for the Buyer’s inspection but it’s giving you some insight as to what you may want to address before you put the house on the market or disclose to potential buyers so you’re not back to the negotiating table a week before you were hoping to close.  By the way, once you pay for the Inspection Report, you own it! Put it out during open houses. Be up front with the few issues or items that might come up a month or two later when the seller’s inspector comes in.  Identify those items that can terminate a deal or delay a closing like finding out that there’s a high radon reading.

In 2021 we at Regal Home Inspections, LLC performed about 10 seller’s inspections.  One, just done in November 2021 is sanitized to remove the client’s name and the exact address but it shows some of the things that we can identify for the seller. Identified in a timeframe that allows them to address them (Fix) or disclose them in a Seller’s Disclosure document. For this home there were a number of items as you can see in the attached Property Inspection Report but, in my opinion, the most significant finding was a high radon reading.  For radon testing, the, “Action Level” is 4.0 pico Curries per liter of air.  “Pico Curries” are the measurement of radioactivity.  For a home sale, a measurement at 4.0 or higher (The Action Level or above) requires mitigation. This particular home was high. Now a high radon level might scare a potential buyer away, particularly because most people don’t know or haven’t learned that it can be mitigated (Reduced) to a very low level (Often well below 4.0). But it could be a kiss-of-death for the sale of a home if identified at the last moment.

By hiring Regal Home Inspections, LLC and learning about all of these items, we can help prevent those items from being deal-breaking issues and help the sale go through.

In preparation for the 2022 Spring, home sale season, Regal Home Inspections, LLC is offering free radon tests when it’s part of a Seller’s home inspection.  This offer is valid through June 20, 2022. Please be sure to say that you want the Spring Seller’s Inspection Special to get the radon test included for free.

 

Radon Report

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Other Services | Certified Home Inspector Monmouth County NJ

Regal Home Inspections, LLC is thermal imaging certified and 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 908-902-2590 for your free quote or if you have any questions!

Be Aware! Part 1. Termites and Structural Issues (Horizontal cracks in the foundation wall)

Termites and Structural Issues | Home Inspections Colts Neck NJ

Be Aware!  As a homeowner look for things that don’t look right. Often people comment that my son and inspection partner Brian and I are, “very thorough” or words to that effect.  Well, it’s our job to be thorough.  We’re not only looking for things that appear to be wrong but we’re also, “Looking” for things that aren’t there. This is the first in what hopefully will be a series of posts that point things out to homeowners and prospective buyers that will help you either see things (For the owner) that may require some immediate attention and for a buyer, may help you notice things when you look at a prospective home to buy that will require attention.  On a side note, I am appreciative when someone calls for an inspection and says, “I noticed… (Fill in the blank)… when we visited the house. Can you take a look when you do the inspection?”

 

Termites

We did an inspection this week. From the outside it looked like a nice house, well kept and it appeared to be well maintained. However, when inside the basement there were text book termite mud tubes. It’s easy for me to say now but a homeowner must be aware of their surroundings.  If these tubes were there from the start then shame on the termite inspector for not seeing them. However, if they occurred over the years that the current occupant lived in the house then shame on them.  I don’t understand how someone doesn’t see this and then not investigate what it is followed by asking, what do I do next?  Often termite tubes or termite damage are hard to find. As a termite inspector, there may not be any outward signs but when the wood is probed, the wood shreds because the termites have destroyed the wood internally with very few outward signs.  If you see things like I’ve shown below, call a pesticide company.  If you’re not sure, call a home inspector and ask for just a termite inspection.

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Not until the wood was hit with a probe did the termite damage become apparent.

 

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Termite tubes are hanging down from the joists like stalactites seen in caves.

 

 

 

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Termite mud tube seen growing from the floor joist along the plywood sub floor.

 

 

 

 

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Termite mud tubes seen at the corner of the floor joist and the plywood sub-floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horizontal Foundation Cracks

Home inspectors, at least we at Regal Home Inspections, don’t like to be the bearers of bad news. It’s our job to find these issues and matters and we’re are thankful when we find them because it’s usually very important information for the clients. Horizontal cracks in foundation walls are one such example.  The follow up for some findings in an inspection report are easy; For example, call and electrician to replace an outlet. Others are much more difficult and the next steps to fully evaluate a horizontal foundation wall crack are not easy and costly but are required. In accordance with the NJ Home Inspection laws and standards of practice, an inspector is required to: A) Identify material defects. B) Explain why the material defect finding is important and then C) What the client must do next.  For a horizontal crack (It’s been identified) it’s B) important because the foundation wall is structural and a horizontal crack indicated that the foundation wall has moved inward. From an inspection perspective, the next steps C) Should include further evaluation by a structural engineer and then repair as that professional deems necessary.

 

The engineer may recommend that the crack be, “Patched and monitored” if it’s hairline. An engineer may specify repair. Often, the repair is intended to strengthen the wall to prevent additional movement. This may be done by having a qualified contractor install “I beams” vertically against the wall.

If your house has exposed, foundation walls, look at them. Notice their condition. Notice any changes that you may see over time.  Ask yourself, “Why is that different now than how it was before?”  This applies to all areas, not just foundation walls and termite tubes.  I’ll try to cover other items at a later date.

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The gray colored, vertical I-beam can be seen here. It was installed to provide additional support to the foundation wall that has cracked.
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Horizontal crack. Here and the next 2 photos are from another house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A horizontal crack through the buttress.
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The buttress is moving away from the top of the wall because the inward movement of the foundation wall, evidenced by the horizontal crack, is creating a gap at the top between the buttress and the foundation wall. A clear indication of foundation wall movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Services | Home Inspections Monmouth County NJ

Regal Home Inspections, LLC is thermal imaging certified and 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 908-902-2590 for your free quote or if you have any questions!

Structural Issues – Don’t waive your NJ home inspection part 2

Structural Issues – Don’t waive your NJ home inspection part 2

Let’s start with the overarching purpose of the home inspection in the great, Garden State.  Identifying “Material Defects”.  By law here in NJ a material defect is defined (Paraphrasing for brevity) as a condition of a structural system or component that’s, “Readily ascertainable” (aka visible) and, “Substantially effects” the value, habitability or safety.

In my experience, most of the material defects are for safety reasons and most (I haven’t actually counted) are electrical in nature.  And the majority of the electrical issues are relatively easy for a licensed electrician to fix. They may include a GFCI outlet in a bathroom that doesn’t work, an incorrectly wired outlet, loose wires, etc. Some are very serious but most are not.

This piece however is intended to look at some structural issues that are often, material defects as well.  That could be due to the fact that the structural matter jeopardizes the structural integrity of the home or because it also effects the value requiring significant cost to repair to restore the intended structural integrity.  As with all material defects, the inspector’s job is to A) Identify the problem. B) Tell you why it’s important and C) Give you a recommendation of what needs to be done next to address the matter.

Here are a few structural matters seen recently in different home inspections.

Horizontal cracks and foundation wall issues. Vertical cracks may or may not be a structural issue. Horizontal cracks are usually of significance. Horizontal cracks seen from inside a basement are almost always caused by an exterior force pushing against the foundation wall. It could be a tree root, water pressure, frozen soil and is occasionally due to the force of landscaping installed outside.

A buttress is an integral part of a foundation wall and is often there to provide additional, structural support against lateral (aka side-ways) movement. When the buttress is cracked or the foundation wall’s movement shifts the buttress, those are some significant forces at play.

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Crack through the buttress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

home inspections colts neck nj
Gap at the top of the buttress.

 

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Horizontal crack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This next problem is all too frequent. Other trades people, in this case a plumber, needs to place a pipe exactly where there’s a joist.  Joists are important because the joists hold the floor up (And the ceiling but we’re talking about floor joists here). Joists usually rest on the perimeter foundation wall at one end and often a beam in the middle of the floor.

Occasionally, the joists are run from foundation wall to foundation wall

without a beam in the middle.  The structural issue seen here is that a plumber cut a joist in half to place their pipe. Now, not only is this joist NOT supporting the floor above, it’s actually the floor above that’s holding the joist up! Another joist issue is termite damage that has eaten the joist rendering this, structural element, irrelevant.

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Severed joist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The end of the joist was eaten by termites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the interest of brevity, the next issue, all too often found in older homes and in crawl spaces are poorly constructed columns. The columns support beams and the beams support the joists, etc. If one domino fails, the others that are relying on the 1st one also, may fail.

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The post/column is one issue. Another is that the beam sections are not the same height. And the beam ends should be supported.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Substandard support column.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the difficult parts of this job is going through crawl spaces. They are usually very dirty, filled with cob webs and other insects, often wet and occasionally they’re filled with mold.  But it’s part of the inspection job.  NJ home inspection law does not require inspectors go into spaces that in the opinion of the inspector may jeopardize their safety. Also, NJ home inspection laws don’t require inspectors to climb through hatches that are too small.  It’s important to make the effort but safety, my safety is paramount. On that note, as important as it is that the inspector do what the law requires, it’s equally important the inspector tell you what they’re supposed to do but couldn’t do and why.  Safety is a justifiable reason not to climb on a roof, open an electrical panel (If there’s a puddle of water on the floor in front of the pane for example) or go into a crawl space that, in the inspector’s opinion jeopardizes their safety.

 

Other Services | Home Inspections Monmouth County NJ

Regal Home Inspections, LLC is thermal imaging certified and 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 908-902-2590 for your free quote or if you have any questions!