LINKS

Below are some links that can take you to more information about elements
that are sometimes found in homes. Your home inspection may or may not include
these inspections or testing. It is recommended that you review your contract
with our company to determine what additional services (if any) were
performed.


HOME GUIDE

Lowes spring season guide for homeowners:

Here's what they recommend:

Attic/crawlspace

As a general rule, if a home has less than 11 to 12 inches of insulation in the attic or crawlspace, it could probably use more. Use batt or blown insulation for best results. Check with a Lowe's expert to determine the proper R-value of insulation for your home.

Water heater and hot water pipes

Conserve heat and energy by swaddling your water heater with an insulation blanket kit or faced
fiberglass insulation. Insulate hot water pipes with preformed foam pipe insulation sleeves if they pass through an unheated area or run under your
home. Seal leaks, cracks, openings in the home

Windows

Remove screens and install storm windows.

Fireplace

Make sure the damper closes as tightly as possible when a fire is not burning to minimize heat loss.

Draft-prone areas

Zip up your home's winter coat by caulking, sealing and weatherstripping around all seams, cracks and openings.

Pay special attention around windows and where siding or bricks and wood trim meet. Seal areas near electrical boxes and plumbing penetrations as
well.

Ductwork

Look for cracks or air leaks in ductwork and use duct tape to seal them. Improve indoor air quality

Furnace Filters

Change forced air heating system air filters monthly. Make a clean break into winter with a fresh filter instead of using last year's used goods. Air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators - Regularly dusting off these heat sources will improve the energy efficiency of your
home.

Ceiling fans

To save energy during colder weather, activate the reverse setting on your ceiling fans to circulate hot air that rises to the ceiling and blow it back down.

Maintain your lawn and garden

Cool-season grasses

Fertilize grasses such as ryegrass, fescue, and bluegrass in or before early November.

Bulbs

Plant hardy bulbs in milder climates in the earlier part of November.

Vegetable and perennial beds

Clean and prepare beds for next season's planting.

Leaves

Rake and remove leaves left on the lawn to discourage disease.

Push mower, outdoor power equipment

Perform annual maintenance before storing.

Lawn and garden equipment, patio furniture

Store to avoid harsh winter elements.

Hoses, outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems

Drain before season's first freeze.

Bird feeders

Regularly clean and refill feeders for winter's feathered friends

MOLD INFORMATION

Introduction to Molds

Molds produce tiny spores to reproduce. Mold spores waft through the indoor and outdoor air continually. When mold spores land on a damp spot indoors, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on in order to survive. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods. When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or un-addressed. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.

Basic Mold Cleanup

The key to mold control is moisture control. It is important to dry water damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. If mold is a problem in your home, clean up the mold and get rid of the excess water or moisture. Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. Wash mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Absorbent materials (such as ceiling tiles & carpet) that become moldy may have to be replaced.

Ten Things You Should Know About Mold

  • Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
  • There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
  • If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
  • Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
  • Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60% ) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
  • Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  • Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
  • Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces(i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
  • In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
  • Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.

If you have IAQ and mold issues in your school, you should get a copy of the IAQ Tools for Schools Kit. Mold is covered in the IAQ Coordinator's Guide under Appendix H - Mold and Moisture .

Asthma and Mold

EPA's Mold page from Asthma web site

  • Allergy & Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics (AAN/MA): (800) 878-4403; www.aanma.org
  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI); www.aaaai.org
  • American Lung Association: 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872); www.lungusa.org
  • Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America: (800) 7ASTHMA; www.aafa.org
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; www.niaid.nih.gov
  • National Jewish Medical and Research Center: (800) 222-LUNG (5864); www.njc.org

Health and Mold

How do molds affect people?

Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skinirritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.

EPA's publication, Indoor Air Pollution: An Introduction for Health Professionals , assists health professionals (especially the primary care physician) in diagnosis of patient symptoms that could be related to an indoor air pollution problem. It addresses the health problems that may be caused by contaminants encountered daily in the home and office. Organized according to pollutant or pollutant groups such as environmental tobacco smoke, VOCs, biological pollutants, and sick building syndrome, this booklet lists key signs and symptoms from exposure to these pollutants, provides a diagnostic checklist and quick reference summary, and includes suggestions for remedial action. Also includes references for information contained in each section. This booklet was developed by the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the EPA. EPA Document Reference Number 402-R-94-007, 1994.

Allergic Reactions - excerpted from Indoor Air

Pollution: An Introduction for Health Professionals section on: Animal Dander, Molds, Dust Mites, Other Biologicals .

"A major concern associated with exposure to biological pollutants is allergic reactions, which range from rhinitis, nasal congestion, conjunctival inflammation, and urticaria to asthma. Notable triggers for these diseases are allergens derived from house dust mites; other arthropods, including cockroaches; pets (cats, dogs, birds, rodents); molds; and protein-containing furnishings, including feathers, kapok, etc. In occupational settings, more unusual allergens (e.g., bacterial enzymes, algae) have caused asthma epidemics. Probably most proteins of non-human origin can cause asthma in a subset of any appropriately exposed population.

Consult the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website

  • CDC's National Center for EnvironmentalHealth (NCEH) has a toll-free telephone number for information and FAXs including a list of publications: NCEH Health Line 1-888-232-6789.
  • CDC's "Molds in the Environment Factsheet"

Stachybotrys or Stachybotrys atra (chartarum) and health effects

  • CDC's "Questions and Answers on Stachybotrys chartarum and other molds"

Homes and Molds

The EPA publication, "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home" , is available here in HTML and PDF formats. This Guide provides information and guidance for homeowners and renters on how to clean up residential mold problems and how to prevent mold growth. A printed version will be available soon.

Biological Pollutants in Your Home

This document explains indoor biological pollution, health effects of biological pollutants, and how to control their growth and buildup. One third to one half of all structures have damp conditions that may encourage development of pollutants such as molds and bacteria, which can cause allergic reactions - including asthma - and spread infectious diseases. Describes corrective measures for achieving moisture control and cleanliness. This brochure was prepared by the American Lung Association and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. EPA Document Reference Number 402-F-90-102, January 1990. Moisture control is the key to mold control, the Moisture Control Section from Biological Pollutants in Your Home follows:

Moisture Control

Water in your home can come from many sources. Water can enter your home by leaking or by seeping through basement floors. Showers or even cooking can add moisture to the air in your home. The amount of moisture that the air in your home can hold depends on the temperature of the air. As the temperature goes down, the air is able to hold less moisture. This is why, in cold weather, moisture condenses on cold surfaces (for example, drops of water form on the inside of a window). This moisture can encourage biological pollutants to grow.

There are many ways to control moisture in your home:

  • Fix leaks and seepage. If water is entering the house from the outside, your options range from simple landscaping to extensive excavation and waterproofing.(The ground should slope away from the house.) Water in the basement can result from the lack of gutters or a water flow toward the house. Water leaks in pipes or around tubs and sinks can provide a place for biological pollutants to grow.
  • Put a plastic cover over dirt in crawlspaces to prevent moisture from coming in from the ground. Be sure crawlspaces are well-ventilated.
  • Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture to the outside(not into the attic). Vent your clothes dryer to the outside.
  • Turn off certain appliances (such as humidifiers or kerosene heaters) if you notice moisture on windows and other surfaces.
  • Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners, especially in hot, humid climates, to reduce moisture in the air, but be sure that the appliances themselves don't become sources of biological pollutants.
  • Raise the temperature of cold surfaces where moisture condenses. Use insulation or storm windows. (A storm window installed on the inside works better than one installed on the outside.) Open doors between rooms (especially doors to closets which may be colder than the rooms) to increase circulation.Circulation carries heat to the cold surfaces. Increase air circulation by using fans and by moving furniture from wall corners to promote air and heat circulation. Be sure that your house has a source of fresh air and can expel excessive moisture from the home.
  • Pay special attention to carpet on concrete floors. Carpet can absorb moisture and serve as a place for biological pollutants to grow. Use area rugs which can be taken up and washed often. In certain climates, if carpet is to be installed over a concrete floor, it may be necessary to use a vapor barrier(plastic sheeting) over the concrete and cover that with sub-flooring(insulation covered with plywood) to prevent a moisture problem.
  • Moisture problems and their solutions differ from one climate to another.The Northeast is cold and wet; the Southwest is hot and dry; the South is hot and wet; and the Western Mountain states are cold and dry. All of these regions can have moisture problems. For example, evaporative coolers used in theSouthwest can encourage the growth of biological pollutants. In other hot regions, the use of air conditioners which cool the air too quickly may prevent the air conditioners from running long enough to remove excess moisture from the air. The types of construction and weatherization for the different climates can lead to different problems and solutions.

Moisture On Windows

Your humidistat is set too high if excessive moisture collects on windows and other cold surfaces. Excess humidity for a prolonged time can damage walls
especially when outdoor air temperatures are very low. Excess moisture condenses on window glass because the glass is cold. Other sources of excess moisture besides overuse of a humidifier may be long showers, running water for other uses, boiling or steaming in cooking, plants, and drying clothes indoors. A tight, energy efficient house holds more moisture inside; you may need to run a kitchen or bath ventilating fan sometimes, or open a window briefly. Storm windows and caulking around windows keep the interior glass warmer and reduce condensation of moisture there. Humidifiers are not recommended for use in buildings without proper vapor barriers because of potential damage from moisture buildup. Consult a building contractor to determine the adequacy of the vapor barrier in your house. Use a humidity indicator to measure the relative humidity in your house. The American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends these maximum indoor humidity levels.

Outdoor Recommended Indoor Temperature Relative Humidity:

+20 F. 35%
+10 F. 30%
0 F. 25%
-10 F. 20%
-20 F. 15%

Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus, with reference from the Association for Home Appliance Manufacturers ( www.aham.org ).
"Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?"
- excerpt on duct cleaning and mold follows, please review the entire document for additional information on duct cleaning and mold.

You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:

There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:

  • There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system.
  • Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so ask the service provider to show you any mold they say exists.
  • You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation. For about $50, some microbiology laboratories can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky household tape is mold or simply a substance that resembles it.
  • If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
  • If the conditions causing the mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will recur.

Radon Information

Radon is a carcinogenic gas that is hazardous to inhale. Build-up of radon in homes is a health concern and many lung cancer cases are attributed to radon exposure each year. About 12% of lung cancers and more than 20,000 Americans die of radon-related lung cancer each year. The Surgeon General of the United States has issued a Health Advisory warning Americans about the health risk from exposure to radon in indoor air. Dr. Carmona, the Nation's Chief Physician urged Americans to test their homes to find out how much radon they might be breathing. He also stressed the need to remedy the problem as soon as possible.

You cannot see, smell, or taste radon.

You cannot see, smell, or taste radon. But it still may be a problem in your home. When you breathe air containing radon, you increase your risk of getting lung cancer. In fact, the Surgeon General of the United States has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.

Testing is the only way to find out your home's radon levels. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. If you find that you have high radon levels, there are ways to fix a radon problem. Even very high levels can be reduced to acceptable levels. Radon has been found in homes all over the United States. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Radon can also enter your home through well water. Your home can trap radon inside.

Any home can have a radon problem.

his means new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements. In fact, you and your family are most likely to get your greatest radiation exposure at home. That is where you spend most of your time. Nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States is estimated to have an elevated radon level. Elevated levels of radon gas have been found in homes in your state.

EPA's Radon Testing Check List:

  • Notify the occupants of the importance of proper testing conditions. Give the occupants written instructions or a copy of this Guide and explain the directions carefully.
  • Conduct the radon test for a minimum of 48 hours; some test devices have a minimum exposure time greater than 48 hours.
  • When doing a short-term test ranging from 2-4 days, it is important to maintain closed-house conditions for at least 12 hours before the beginning of the test and during the entire test period.
  • When doing a short-term test ranging from 4-7 days, EPA recommends that closed-house conditions be maintained.
  • If you hire someone to do the test, hire only a qualified individual. Some states issue photo identification (ID) cards; ask to see it. The tester’s ID number, if available, should be included or noted in the test report.
  • The test should include method(s) to prevent or detect interference with testing conditions or with the testing device itself.
  • If the house has an active radon-reduction system, make sure the vent fan is operating properly. If the fan is not operating properly, have it (or ask to have it) repaired and then test.

If your home has not yet been tested for Radon have a test taken as soon as possible. If you can, test your home before putting it on the market. You should test in the lowest level of the home which is suitable for occupancy. This means testing in the lowest level that you currently live in or a lower level not currently used, but which a buyer could use for living space without renovations.


The radon test result is important information about your home’s radon level. Some states require radon measurement testers to follow a specific testing protocol. If you do the test yourself, you should carefully follow the testing protocol for your area or EPA’s Radon Testing Checklist. If you hire a contractor to test your residence, protect yourself by hiring a qualified individual or company.


Many states require radon professionals to be licensed, certified, or registered. Most states can provide you with a list of knowledgeable radon service providers doing business in the state. In states that don’t regulate radon services, ask the contractor if they hold a professional proficiency or certification credential. Such programs usually provide members with a photo-ID card, which indicates their qualification(s) and its expiration date. If in doubt, you should check with their credentialing organization. Alternatively, ask the contractor if they’ve successfully completed formal training appropriate for testing or mitigation, e.g., a course in radon measurement or radon mitigation.


If you are thinking of selling your home and you have already tested your home for radon, review the Radon Testing Checklist to make sure that the test was done correctly. If so, provide your test results to the buyer.

No matter what kind of test you took, a potential buyer may ask for a new test especially if:

  • The Radon Testing Checklist items were not met;
  • The last test is not recent, e.g., within two years;
  • You have renovated or altered your home since you tested; or
  • The buyer plans to live in a lower level of the house than was tested, such as a basement suitable for occupancy but not currently lived in.

A buyer may also ask for a new test if your state or local government requires disclosure of radon information to buyers.


Radon Myths and Facts

MYTH:

Scientists are not sure that radon really is a problem.

FACT:

Although some scientists dispute the precise number of deaths due to radon, all the major health organizations (like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Lung Association and the American Medical Association) agree with estimates that radon causes thousands of preventable lung cancer deaths every year. This is especially true among smokers, since the risk to smokers is much greater than to non-smokers.

MYTH:

Radon testing is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

FACT:

Radon testing is easy and inexpensive.

MYTH:

Radon testing devices are not reliable and are difficult to find.

FACT:

Reliable testing devices are available from qualified radon testers and companies.

MYTH:

Homes with radon problems can't be fixed.

FACT:

There are simple solutions to radon problems in homes. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners have already fixed radon problems in their homes. Radon levels can be readily lowered for $800 to $2,500 (with an average cost of $1,200)..

MYTH:

Radon affects only certain kinds of homes.

FACT:

House construction can affect radon levels. However, radon can be a problem in homes of all types: old homes, new homes, drafty homes, insulated homes, homes with basements, and homes without basements. Local geology, construction materials, and how the home was built are among the factors that can affect radon levels in homes.

MYTH:

Radon is only a problem in certain parts of the country.

FACT:

High radon levels have been found in every state. Radon problems do vary from area to area, but the only way to know your radon level is to test.

MYTH:

A neighbor's test result is a good indication of whether your home has a problem.

FACT:

It's not. Radon levels can vary greatly from home to home. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it.

MYTH:

It's difficult to sell homes where radon problems have been discovered.

FACT:

Where radon problems have been fixed, home sales have not been blocked or frustrated. The added protection is some times a good selling point.

MYTH:

I've lived in my home for so long, it doesn't make sense to take action now.

FACT:

You will reduce your risk of lung cancer when you reduce radon levels, even if you've lived with a radon problem for a long time.

MYTH:

Short-term tests can't be used for making a decision about whether to fix your home.

FACT:

A short-term test, followed by a second short-term test* can be used to decide whether to fix your home. However, the closer the average of your two short-term tests is to 4 pCi/L, the less certain you can be about whether your year-round average is above or below that level. Keep in mind that radon levels below 4 pCi/L still pose some risk. Radon levels can be reduced in most homes to 2 pCi/L or below.