The FOUR letter Word

Do you live in Madison, Brandon, Flowood or Jackson and have a concern about mold in your home? Here's a quick blog for you.

Mold for most people is a four letter word! It has become something many people fear. Let's see if we can remove some of the fear. First, yes, there is mold around you, in reality it can be found most everywhere. What you need to know, isn't if it is there but what type of mold is it and can it harm you.

Many home inspectors, including us, have taken classes about mold and fungal growths. What we cannot become through these classes is true experts on the subject. We aren't microbiologists and only have limited knowledge. While sometimes knowing a little can be dangerous, if you recognize your limitations and align yourself with true experts you can still bring useful information to your clients. That is exactly what we have done.

By keeping our prices reasonable and aligning ourselves with a great lab (also priced reasonably) you can get the information you need without paying unrealistic fees. In all areas of our business we strive to provide services at fair, affordable prices.

We understand we are not microbiologists and never want to act as if we know more about the subject than we truly know. For several years we have done mold testing. The testing isn't hard and with the right equipment almost anyone can do it. For mold you can see it is easy to take a sample and send it to the lab. For air born particles the right equipment is needed and two samples are taken, one indoors and the other outdoors. These two are sent to the lab, allowing the experts to compare and see if there is anything in the home which could cause you harm. The challenge over the years was to find a laboratory that not only were excellent in their assessment but also customer friendly. Someone who would take the time to talk to people and someone who produced a report that was easy to read and understand.

Last year we found our laboratory. We are now sending all our samples to Hayes Microbial Consulting. They do a fantastic job allowing us to do a fantastic job for you.

If you are concerned about the possibility of mold in your home, give us a call and we can take the necessary samples and get you the information you need. We also know a remediation company that can take care of you should there be a need.

Not all CO detectors keep you safe – Does yours?

Our office CO detector battery didn’t quite make it to the time change this year. Maybe we forgot in the spring? The dogs were the first to notice the beeping. Apparently, it sounds just like the warning beep on the e-collar. But the battery is now changed that detector is good for another six months. We will still change out the others and the carbon monoxide detectors in a couple weeks.
So, are you protected? Most people have an alarm that meets the UL-2034 standards:
• at 30ppm CO, the alarm must not activate for at least 8 hours
• at 70ppm CO, the alarm must not activate before 60 minutes but must
activate before 240 minutes
• at 150ppm CO, the alarm must not activate before 10 minutes but must
activate before 50 minutes
• at 400ppm CO, the alarm must not activate before 4 minutes but must activate before 15 minutes
Carbon monoxide is a danger because it accumulates in the blood, depleting the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. For a healthy adult carbon monoxide becomes toxic at 35 ppm when exposed over an 8 hour period. A mild exposure over several hours can produce flu-like symptoms. Medium exposure (200 ppm – 800 ppm) will produce symptoms within as little as 1 hour.
If the level in your home reached 65 ppm an UL-2034 standard alarm would not sound for 8 hours. Most adults would be symptomatic long before 8 hours.
If you have children or anyone with a respiratory problem in your home, the levels can cause adverse effects sooner and with more severity.
When purchasing a CO detector look for one with a low level indicator, especially if you have anyone with compromised health in your family or if you have children or elderly people in your home.


Anti-Tip Bracket, small but important

Imagine Thanksgiving Day, the turkey is in the oven, there are pots on every burner of the stove and hungry family members are waiting for the signal to come eat. Grandma heads to the oven and says the turkey is done. As she pulls the turkey out it is heavy (there is a lot of you there) and she has to set it on the door of the oven to get a better grip. But, because the anti-tip bracket wasn't installed, the whole range begins to tilt forward. Hot pans slide toward the front, the turkey is sliding. Reflexes kick in and everyone reaches to stop the range from falling but there is nothing to grab that isn't hot. We'll let our story end well with Grandma using her oven mitts to stop it. Unfortunately, not all stories have a good ending. Sometimes children decide to use an oven door as a step to reach the counter or teenagers decide to balance between the counter and the range (I saw the video - remember, their brains aren't fully developed yet). The weight of a range falling on a child is obviously life threatening.

How can we prevent ranges from tipping over? Of course not using them as a step or setting 20 pound turkeys on the door is important but the manufactures, knowing people are people and unexpected things happen, include an anti-tip bracket with each range. Installed this bracket prevents a range from being pulled over or tipping.

Here at Alpha we inspect the ranges to see if the anti-tip bracket has been installed. It is very easy to do (you can go test your own range now) by simply putting a hand on the back of the range and gently trying to tip the range. It doesn't take much force and obviously you don't want to actually tip it over. However, if it rocks forward you will know the bracket hasn't been installed. If it hasn't, we recommend either ordering and installing it yourself or hiring a handyman to do it for you. It isn't hard! Give us a call if you have questions. Watch the video Charlie did a couple years ago. I've also loaded one on Youtube Allen did recently. This isn't an unusual find.

Unique Insulation

Madison MS Home Inspection Insulation Find

Insulation, what is the best way to insulate your home? There are so many thoughts and options and there isn’t only one “best” way. A lot will depend on the home, what is already there, and of course, how deep your pocket book happens to be.

Some things to consider before you begin are:

Where do you want to install it?

Do you want to do the work yourself or hire a professional? While doing it yourself may limit your selections some there are still several to choose from. Be sure if you decide to do it yourself that you follow all the manufacturer’s guidelines and check for any safety, fire or other building codes.

Places you might want to install insulation.

Unfinished walls, existing (closed) walls, floors or ceilings are the most common areas. Different types of insulation work for different applications.

The most common form of insulation is the blanket or rolls. These are commonly inexpensive and the easiest to install. They work well for unfinished walls or in your attic (ceiling).

Another possible do-it-yourself insulation is the reflective system type. Again, it is good for unfinished walls, ceilings and floors. This is some type of foil or other paper which is fitted into the empty space between studs and joints. This is great for areas that aren’t uniform in spacing and design.

If you are having a professional do the installation they might suggest something like concrete block insulation (especially good for new construction or large renovations), foam board, loose fill or blown in insulation (great for adding insulation to finished areas), or sprayed foam to name a few.

In the following video Charlie shows an icing type of insulation used in an attic of a home he inspected. It has some great characteristics and is still relatively new. See what you think.

If you are considering adding insulation to your home, give us a call and we will be happy to talk to you about your options and even help you find a professional for installation.

Is It Cosmetic?

Home inspectors aren’t there to comment on cosmetics! As a Madison, MS home inspection company we hear this at times. And, it is a true statement. A home inspection is to provide information about the current structural aspects of the home and how they will affect the home in the future.

For example, if the grading of the site is directing water towards the foundation of the home movement may have already occurred or is likely to occur in the future.

Some things that appear cosmetic can also have a negative effect on a home. An example is a stained, wood entrance door which is not adequately sealed. The UV rays from the sun shining on this door will begin to wear the finish away and often within two to three years the finish is faded and could even allow the UV rays to damage the wood.

Another example is outside wood that has not been primed or painted. This is most often seen in new construction. While it is a cosmetic finish, paint also protects the wood from rot. Without the correct paint finishes the wood rots.

During home inspections in Madison and Central Mississippi we are not looking at the cosmetics. But while some things appear to be only cosmetic, in the right circumstances they can relate to and cause structural damage.


What are they and do you need one?

As a home inspector in Brandon and Madison, Mississippi our goal is to know you are peaceful and happy in your new home. The inspection is designed to educate you on your home and provide information on items in the home the need attention for safety or financial reasons. The goal is for you, as a home owner, to move in and not find any ugly surprises.
Sometimes after an inspection the seller will agree to repair a few things found during the inspection. This is not required and depends greatly on the circumstances of the transaction. However, IF things have been agreed upon and repairs have been done, this is when you want a re-inspection or a review of the repairs.
Stories always make things easier to understand. So here are a couple of stories.
Story 1: Several years ago Sandy’s parents were still living in Florida. While visiting we noticed the A/C wasn’t cooling well. Dad said someone had just come and repaired all the duct work under the house but it still didn’t seem to be doing well. The contractor had said he might need a new unit. Charlie crawled up under the house and took pictures of the old, not repaired, duct work. The contractor had not done anything and might have thought an 80+ man wouldn’t go up under the house.
Story 2: While having lunch with a real estate broker he mentioned the need for re-inspections. He had spoken to a client about it and the client didn’t think it was necessary. He trusted the seller to do what had been agreed upon. During the final walk through the client asked the agent if he was going to check the things that had been repaired. The agent said “No, that isn’t something I can do. I don’t have the knowledge or expertise necessary. We do have copies of the receipts stating the work was done.” As they proceeded through the house they came upon something on the list that obviously wasn’t done. The buyer asked again if the agent would go in the attic and around the house checking. The agent again stated it wasn’t possible and that is why a re-inspection had been suggested. The agent is not responsible to check the workmanship or completion of items on the inspection list. They would be accepting liability for something outside what their license allows.
Story 3: We were asked to complete a re-inspection on a home and given a list of the agreed upon items. Of the items on the list, two-thirds were done correctly and well. The other third had been missed or done incorrectly. The home owner/seller spoke to the contractor, whom they had paid to make the repairs, and had them come back and make the remaining repairs correctly.
As a new home owner, you don’t want to move in and days, weeks or even months later find out something negotiated to be repaired was now your responsibility because it was not addressed correctly or at all. Most sellers have paid to have things repaired and believe them to be done. They don’t need the surprise down the road either that something was missed.
Most buyers find a re-inspection brings additional peace of mind and can even save them money in the long run.

Another Oven Tipping Story

If it is in the inspection report - fix it!

This was a headline in November 2017. A toddler apparently stepped on an oven door and the appliance tipped over. The mother tried to help and even ran next door to find someone to help her. As a parent and now grandparent, I can imagine the panic and emotions she experienced.

Why are we putting this sad event in a blog? Because there is a simple safety measure that can be taken to prevent an accident like this from happening. Ranges come with an anti-tip bracket that is often left off during installation. During an inspection we will check to be sure it has been installed. This is one item, which is very inexpensive, that should always be corrected.

Why Do We Walk The Roof?

Why Do You WANT Us To?

Home Inspectors in Mississippi are not required to walk the roof. They are required to observe the roof and state just how they observed it. Several different options seem to be common; walking the roof, looking at the roof from a ladder, looking at the roof from the ground – sometimes with binoculars, or even drones. All allow the inspector to see some aspects of the roof.
As an inspector for homes in Madison and Brandon Mississippi our goal is to provide our clients with the most thorough and comprehensive information possible within the boundaries set by the home and time. To give our clients the best information on a roof we prefer to walk the roof. Occasionally circumstances will not allow this and then we place a ladder in several locations to gain as much information as possible.
What can an inspector see at roof level that can’t be seen from the ground or a drone? First, when the inspector is able to touch the roof, to actually put his hands on the shingles, he can identify more details and possibly defects than by simply looking.
Recently we had a new roof put on our home. Prior to signing off and paying we inspected the work (image that!) and it was done incorrectly. It LOOKED beautiful but the joy of a new roof would have been short lived. When the contractor was shown he was most upset with his workers – they knew how to do it correctly but had taken short cuts. He had them return and do it correctly.
In this 2 – 3 minute video Lee shows some common installations errors and how they can affect your roof.
When you are buying a home in Madison, Brandon, Jackson, Canton, Clinton, Flowood and surrounding areas, be sure your inspector will place his hands on your roof – sure we have drones (they are fun and can be useful) but we want to see how those shingles were installed and know you are protected from present or future problems.