Blog

Air Sampling & Mold Inspections

Erich Kelter - Thursday, March 05, 2015

What’s that smell? You smell “something” but you’re not quite sure what it is? It may be described as musty, earthy, damp etc...Usually the telltale sign that you may have a mould growth problem in your home. Is it time for a mold inspection?

3 Things Needed for Mould Inspection To Occur

  • First is temperature, anything above freezing essentially, but room temperature in a house is perfect.
  • Second we need food, pretty much 90% of residential building materials qualify as food for mould.
  • Third, we need water, maybe not physical to the touch, but moisture or high humidity will get the job done.

If you have all three things combined at the same place, you are likely to have mould growth.

Most mould problems in homes are caused by water presence and contact with building materials, be it from a leaking foundation, a plumbing leak or excessive condensation around a window frame. This is why it is very important to dry off any building materials in a home that get wet as soon as possible. Mould growth can start as quickly as 24-48 hrs if conditions are correct.

Sometimes if you have a plumbing leak or foundation leakage problem you may not be aware of, mould growth can accumulate slowly over long periods of time. The mould may not present itself immediately therefore growing unimpeded and creating a possible health situation. Usually the first sign that you may have a hidden mould problem is the smell. A smell may have developed over time even though no physical signs of mould growth or leakage are present. In this situation here, air sampling for mould growth may be your best bet before you go tearing down all of the finishing in a home.

Having a mold inspection and air sampling performed can give you a pretty good picture as to what may be going on within your home. It may also be the first stop in your defense or remediation strategy when trying to troubleshoot or deal with a mould problem.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. offers mould inspections and air sampling to help you identify any possible mould growth problems in your home. Our mold inspection report will provide you with professional lab analysis and data to help you move forward with any mold problems or mold growth you may have.

About WETT Certification

Erich Kelter - Monday, February 23, 2015

As the old saying goes “if I got a nickel for...I’d be rich!” Well if I received a nickel for every time a client called and asked to have their woodstove, chimney or fireplace “WETT certified” I’d probably be rich!

Quite often the term “WETT Certification” gets thrown around and used incorrectly.  The fact of the matter is nobody, including a WETT certified professional, can “WETT Certify” or “Certify” your fireplace, chimney, woodstove or other wood burning appliance.  Same goes for the term “WETT Certificate”, there really is no such thing. The correct term would be “WETT inspection report”, not “certificate”.

When a WETT inspection is performed, the person performing it is supposed to supply a WETT inspection report to their client. Within the WETT Inspection report several items are referenced or checked to ensure the wood burning device is installed correctly, meets current codes and or manufacturers specifications, and lastly they ensure the unit is safe to use.  In no way does the WETT Inspector, “certify” any installation or appliance.

WETT Certification Process

The fact of the matter is only a handful of firms are able to “certify” an appliance. The certification process happens through controlled lab testing to several different specifications depending on the type or model of wood burning device. Organizations such as Warnock-Hersey, OTL, ULC and CSA have this ability. Furthermore the CSA sets the written standards and installation codes for wood burning appliances across Canada (CCAN/CSA B365).

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. has been performing WETT inspections for several years in the Simcoe County area. We provide WETT inspections in Barrie, Alliston, Collingwood, Orillia and Innisfil on all types of wood burning appliances.  For a professional WETT inspection and report, please contact Above Grade Home Inspections Inc.

Infrared Thermal Imaging & Your Home Inspection

Erich Kelter - Thursday, July 11, 2013

Infrared Thermal Imaging is a fantastic tool that can be utilized to your advantage if you are purchasing a home and plan on having a home inspection performed. It can also be used to help current home owners detect or solve certain problems, many of which are not visible to the naked eye. However like any service it does have some limitations that home buyers should be aware of.  

Why go for Thermal Imaging Home Inspection?

With the recent surge in popularity of specific cameras manufactured for use in residential housing, it has been no surprise that many home inspectors now offer Thermal Imaging as a service for home buyers & home owners alike. This fantastic technology with its roots being traced back to military applications has trickled down into many industries including the residential home inspection industry.

Several issues including but not limited to, missing insulation, plumbing leaks, heating and cooling losses, overheating electrical components and foundation leakage can be detected with the use of a Thermal Imaging camera during a residential home inspection. However with the recent pricing decrease of certain cameras intended for use in the home inspection industry, we have noticed an alarming trend regarding this service.

Choosing the right Thermal Imaging service provider

Many inspectors (mostly newbie’s from our experience) appear to be offering a Thermal Imaging service included with their standard home inspection. It comes as no surprise that these same inspectors do not appear to carry the minimum level one thermography certification conforming to the ASNT SNT-TC-1A guidelines. Anyone offering any type of service employing the use of an infrared camera should have at least a level one thermography certificate, and not just any certificate, a certificate that references the guidelines referenced above. Beware of so called “Infrared Certified” Inspectors that take a weekend course and claim to have all of the knowledge and expertise required to fully utilize their IR camera in a professional manner.

In recent times it has also been brought to our attention that many inspectors are giving their clients a false sense of security by offering this service during periods where Thermal Imaging may not be effective at all. An example here would be using the Thermal Imaging camera to scan the exterior walls looking for missing insulation when the indoor temperature of the home is 21 degrees Celsius and the outside temperature is 23 degrees Celsius. In general a delta T (differential) of approximately 10 degrees Celsius is the norm that is required if perform an effective scan on a home (a few other key items come into play here as well depending on the desired type or scope of inspection to be performed).

We have had several people shocked to hear that we were not willing to offer our service during certain periods because we felt the conditions were not correct or optimal for conducting a Thermal Imaging scan, meanwhile they just got off the phone with a competitor that claimed Thermal Imaging (included in their inspection) would allow them to “see through walls” and find any hidden defect! Bottom line regarding Thermal Imaging and your Home Inspection is a little education can go a long way and save you trouble in the long run.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. has employed the use of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections for several years now. We have the training, education and practical experience to know how to effectively use the Infrared Thermal Imaging camera in real world situations and how to protect our clients from a false sense of security that other inexperienced inspectors may try to use as a marketing gimmick.

Is Your Wood Burning Appliance Certified?

Erich Kelter - Thursday, July 11, 2013

A common source of confusion for homeowners regarding WETT inspections is whether their appliance is a certified or uncertified unit. Many clients assume (see our previous article) that the WETT inspector will “certify” their appliance. Not true.

Wood burning appliances fall into two distinct categories. Uncertified appliances are typically older units that pre-date appliance certification and newer installation codes, or units manufactured by a small fabrication or manufacturing company. Certified appliances are typically newer units built by larger companies that have had their products lab tested by one of the few capable firms that actually certify wood burning appliances, i.e. CSA, ULC, OTL or Warnock-Hersey.

What’s the difference? While the function of the wood burning appliances may not differ greatly from a certified to an uncertified appliance, the installation of said units can vary tremendously. Certified appliances are lab tested in order to test, determine and validate safe and acceptable installation practices. Therefore, the clearance to combustible materials for a certified appliance is much smaller than that required for an uncertified appliance. This makes installation much easier to deal with in many cases, especially where space is at a premium. Uncertified units do not get any testing performed on them, so the window for spacing of the unit to combustible materials is much greater due to the unknown heat radiating characteristics among many other things that would get checked on a certified unit.

If you are purchasing a home equipped with a wood burning device, it is very important to have a WETT inspection performed to determine whether the unit is installed correctly and is safe to use. Over the last several years we have inspected many units which were completely unsafe to use. On one such visit we found an uncertified appliance located within 4 inches of an unshielded combustible wall. Luckily this unit had just been installed by a DIY homeowner, and his wife insisted on having a WETT inspection performed prior to lighting the first fire! Needless to say the husband was upset with our recommendation of moving the stove out further away from the wall (44 inches to be exact), but his wife was happy to know that moving forward they would be using the stove in the safest manner possible once corrections were made.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs WETT inspections across Simcoe County on all types of wood burning appliances.

Key Items to Look For In a Home Inspector

Erich Kelter - Friday, July 05, 2013

So, you’ve finally signed the paperwork to purchase a home, now what? Time to find a good Home Inspector, right? Certainly! Here are some key things to consider when looking for a Home Inspector.

Choosing a Home Inspector can be stressful and somewhat time consuming, all during a time that for many home buyers will be filled with stress and anxiety. First off, relax! It doesn’t need to be a crazy time; you should be filled with excitement and joy rather than stress and anxiety. Following these few tips below can really make this time easier for you.

Research and pick your Home Inspector

Do your homework! Many Realtors will provide you with a few names of reputable (hopefully) inspectors that they know and trust. While this may appear to be a borderline conflict of interest, most agents work in good faith and would only pass along the names of inspectors they’ve come to know very well and trust. Most agents out there are indeed good people and want to ensure you are protected during your home purchase. Despite fear mongering and other media scare tactics, most Realtors are not in collusion with their recommended Home Inspectors. However, you should still interview your potential Home Inspector, regardless of whether they are referred to you, or you choose to research and pick your own Home Inspector yourself.

Questions to ask your Home Inspector

One of the first things that is usually asked by a potential client is “how much?” This should actually be the LAST question you ask your potential home inspector! Before finding out the Home Inspection fee, you should be asking questions like, “How long have you been in business?” or “How many inspections have your performed, and to what standard do you follow?” What type of background, training and experience does the Home Inspector have? Ideally a professional Home Inspector will have some type of construction, trades, architectural or engineering background & experience. A high quality training program (such as the Carson Dunlop course) should also have been successfully completed. Watch for so called “Certified Home Inspectors” that earned their certification by taking a two hour online course.

Is the Home Inspector insured?

Ideally a professional Home Inspector will carry professional Errors & Omissions as well as General Liability insurance. Does the Home Inspector provide a handwritten checklist report, or a computer generated report with photos? A typical Home Inspection generally takes about 2-3 hours to complete, if the Inspector you are interviewing says it takes one hour; it’s time to move on. Is it ok if you accompany the Inspector? Do they have any other industry recognized credentials, i.e. WETT certification or a Thermography certificate referencing the ASNT SNT-TC-1A guideline if offering Thermal Imaging? Do they perform home inspections on a full time basis, or is this just a weekend job for them? These are just some of the key things to ask for while looking for a Home Inspector. If there is any doubt regarding these items, it’s time to move along.

Ask for the Fee

Once the interview process is completed, now ask for the fee. Typically you’ll find the full time, properly trained, insured and experienced Home Inspector may be a little more money than the part timer that only works on weekends to supplement income with no real vested interest in their business. Bottom line is you get what you pay for! Is it really worth trying to save $50 when dealing with the largest investment of your life? Some things are worth shopping around for to save a few bucks, your Home Inspector isn’t one of those things.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs professional and through Home Inspections in Barrie, Orillia, Alliston, Collingwood and all of Simcoe County.

New Homes Don’t Require A Home Inspection? Right?

Erich Kelter - Friday, July 05, 2013

Wrong! As much as I would love to say yes, the fact of the matter is that new housing today, for the most part, is strictly about production. The faster it gets built, the sooner the deal closes and the sooner the builder gets paid. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the world we live in today regarding many things we purchase, including our largest investment ever, our home.

Are you a first time home buyer?

While there are many good quality home builders in Ontario today, there are just as many, perhaps even more builders that allow poorly built homes to be sold to unsuspecting buyers, many of whom are first time home buyers that feel if they purchase a new home they will be free of any problems and be covered under a new home warranty. All one needs to do is a Google search on Tarion and they’ll soon find out how much of a joke the new home warranty is. The best way to circumvent potential issues with a new home is to have a professional home inspector perform an inspection and present any defects or potential problems to the new home owners, prior to finalizing their deal.

How important is a PDI Inspection?

Having a representative from the builder perform your PDI inspection is a requirement, however their “inspection” can’t even begin to compare to the items a professional and third party inspector will check. New homeowners should seriously look at having a third party inspector perform a more thorough and detailed inspection to better protect themselves. If problems are observed and noted in a professional report, these items can be brought forth to the builder for remediation. The builder is less likely to contest the report of a professional inspector, plus these items can be documented for future use if problems occur due to negligence on the part of the builder or if Tarion is difficult in providing warranty coverage in disputed matters.

Why is professional home inspection mandatory?

Our experience over the years has usually been fairly good with most new home builders, and we do not want to try and scare the public into believing all new homes are poorly built, however as with any industry, there can be poor quality product. Considering the fact that for most of us middle class working folk, a home is our largest one time purchase, we highly recommend a professional home inspection to better protect all home buyers, including purchases of brand new homes. Items such as improperly vented furnaces, leaking roofs, missing wall and attic insulation, sub-par plumbing and serious framing issues are just some of the defects we’ve found in brand new homes over the years.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs new home PDI as well as one year warranty expiration inspections on new homes to ensure buyers are protected. Inspections are performed on homes across Simcoe County in Barrie, Alliston, Orillia and Collingwood.

How often should you have a WETT Inspection performed?

Erich Kelter - Thursday, May 30, 2013

Have you had your wood burning appliance inspected by a WETT certified professional this heating season? That’s a question that any homeowner that uses a wood burning appliance should ask themselves (once a year to be exact! J)

One of the most popular questions asked by our clients over the years is “how often should I have a WETT inspection performed on my wood burning appliance?” The answer to this question could be debated to a certain degree based on appliance usage; however in most cases having a WETT inspection performed on a yearly basis is the safest and most prudent thing to abide by. From our experience it appears that many insurance companies are now also starting to adopt this frequency as the norm.

Benefits of regular WETT Inspections

Having a WETT inspection performed on a regular basis can help save you time and money, all while maintaining the most important aspect of your wood fired appliance; SAFETY! Through our personal experience over the last number of years as WETT certified professionals, we’ve seen a fair number of wood burning appliances in use that were downright scary! It’s simply not worth the risk to use an unsafe wood burning appliance in your home. Worst case scenarios for using an unsafe wood burning appliance include severe personal injury or property loss and even death.

A typical site basic WETT Inspection takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes with fees ranging from as little as $150 - $200. For such a small amount of time and money is it really worth the risk? Having regular WETT inspections can help keep insurance costs down and prevent expensive claims from being made by preventing house fires. Regular WETT inspections can also catch normal wear and tear items that are just starting to deteriorate and therefore keep repair costs down as opposed to waiting for an item to completely deteriorate or fail which can lead to higher repair or replacement costs.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. provides WETT inspections throughout Simcoe County including Barrie, Orillia, Alliston, Collingwood and surrounding areas. We perform WETT Inspections on all types of wood stoves, fireplaces and other wood burning appliances with reports delivered on-site.

Why Home Inspection is recommended before Buying?

Erich Kelter - Monday, July 30, 2012

A home inspection is something that should happen regularly, especially if you are trying to sell. Home inspections involve having a professional inspector come in and look carefully at a property. The purpose of the inspection is to see if there are any serious problems with the property. Most of the time a buyer will order a home inspection on a property they are considering buying, although today it is becoming more and more common for a seller to order an inspection before placing it on the market so that there are no nasty surprises to negotiate.

Purchasing any home may be one of the most expensive decisions most people make throughout the course of their lives. If you don't know everything there is to know about the construction of your home, you could be making a horrible mistake by purchasing the wrong home. Buying a home on emotion is never a good thing, so a home inspection can help you sort out the emotion and help you make a smart buying decision.

So how does a home inspection play into a real estate transaction? Let's look at the entire transaction to get a basic understanding:

Home Inspection Before Buying
  1. You meet with a real estate agent and give him or her an idea of the size and price of property you want to purchase.
  2. After looking at several properties over several weeks, you locate the home you have always wanted.
  3. You want to put in an offer immediately, especially when you find out that the seller of the house has cut $5,000 off of the asking price. You think immediately that this is the house you have always wanted.
  4. Usually an offer starts off with an inspection period that lasts 5 days, although that is negotiable.
  5. You have the option to purchase a home inspection, although your real estate agent should explain to you why a home inspection is absolutely necessary. Any offer you write, should ALWAYS be subject to a home inspection.
  6. If you skipped the home inspection, then you may discover some big problems with the home just a few weeks after you move in. The property could sustain major damage and you could even lose some of your things if there is something seriously wrong.
  7. On the other hand, if you did have a home inspection done, then you would have discovered some basic things like where the shutoff valve for the water is located, missing insulation, etc.
  8. If you had decided to have the home inspection done, then you also would have learned that there was a big problem with the plumbing in the home. Suddenly there might just be an explanation for that $5,000 off the asking price. And you would have been duped if you had not had the home inspection done.

A complete inspection covers all parts of the home, including the plumbing, electrical, HVAC, foundation, roofing, and every other vital components of the home. Having a third party inspect the property before buying is the only way to keep yourself safe.

Let the experts at Above Grade Home Inspections help you avert disaster in your search for the perfect house or property.

Why Get a Home Inspection Before Selling?

Erich Kelter - Thursday, April 12, 2012

When you decide that it’s time to sell your house, a home inspection is an essential part of the process.  In most cases, the buyer and/or the bank that’s financing the buyer’s mortgage will order a home inspection, so why should you have your own inspection done first?  Here are six reasons you need a home inspection done before you sell:

  1. Avoid any unnecessary surprises.  The fastest way to scare off a potential buyer is for unknown problems to make themselves known at the buyer’s home inspection.  It is much better for you to learn about these problems ahead of time so that you can fix them. 
  2. Fix problems before putting your home on the market.  Homes that have any kind of problem are much more difficult to sell because buyers naturally want something they can move right into.  When something pops up unexpectedly in the home inspection, chances are that you will need to have it fixed before the purchase can go through anyway.  You’ll save everyone involved a whole lot of headaches by simply having an inspection done before putting it on the market so that you can fix problems that could cause a potential buyer to walk away.
  3. Keep the home on the market for the least amount of time possible.  Whenever you have a house to sell, time is of the essence.  The longer that house sits on the market, the more money you lose.  If you wait until there’s a buyer in place, you’re taking a great risk because you don’t have any idea if there is anything seriously wrong with your home.  If the buyer walks away because of something that was found in the home inspection, then it will simply take longer to sell your home.  And if that buyer had a real estate agent, the agent won’t show your home to other clients either because he or she will be aware that there is a problem that hasn’t been taken care of.  All of these factors combine to create a longer and longer length of time during which your home will remain on the market.
  4. Maximize your sale price.  A home that is perfect and ready to move right into sells for much more money than a home that has some problems.  The easiest way to get top dollar for your house is to get any potential problems fixed first.  By having a Pre-Listing home inspection, you’ll know what needs to be done and can make a checklist to take care of the issues while also handling smaller preparatory activities like putting on a fresh coat of paint in some of the rooms.
  5. Reassure any potential buyers that you’ve done everything you can to ensure that your home is a good investment for them.  Make sure that you keep the paperwork from the home inspection handy and show it to buyers.  A home inspection that was done before anyone even came to look at the home shows that you did your homework and that you care about not leaving behind any surprises for the buyer.
  6. Save some time and money.  If you wait until a buyer has ordered a home inspection, you only have a day or two to fix a problem—if it doesn’t cause the buyer to walk away completely.  However, you can have more time and actually be able to shop around for someone to fix the problem at an affordable price rather than paying a rush fee to someone so it can be done in just a day or two.

Above Grade Home Inspections will help you avoid any nasty surprises when it comes time to actually sign on the dotted line and turn your home over to its new owner.  

Why Thermal Imaging is Essential in a Home Inspection

Erich Kelter - Monday, March 12, 2012

When homeowners call in a company to do a home inspection, few realize just how many options they have in the type of inspection they get and that thermal imaging is pretty much an essential these days. No matter what the age of the house is, there is any number of things that can go wrong, and the only way to keep these problems from becoming major crises is to get thermal imaging done.

With this type of inspection, special equipment is used to see behind the walls without even having to remove any drywall. Of course the benefits of getting a thermal inspection done are endless, but here are five of them:

  1. It shows if your home has proper ventilation. One feature of our homes that we don't think much about is the airflow, which has to be operating properly for the health and safety of those inside the home. Of course having the proper ventilation is also a critical part of keeping your home in good shape because it doesn't allow moisture to build up inside the walls where you can't see it. Condensation from the air conditioner can create mold and mildew inside the walls of your home if it does not have proper ventilation.
  2. Thermal inspections reveal any leaks or other moisture problems. Leaking water can cause a lot of damage inside your home. Hundreds, if not thousands of homes are damaged by leaking water every single year. If the leak is in someplace conspicuous, then you might get it fixed rather quickly, but if it's located behind a wall, you might not find out that it exists until it's too late unless it is found with thermal imaging.
  3. Potential problems with the structure of the home may be revealed. If there is a ventilation problem or if it seems like the hot or cold air you're pumping into your home is just disappearing into thin air instead of heating or cooling your home, then the easiest way to find the structural problems that are causing this is to look for them thermally. These problems are certainly not going to be seen with the naked eye, but whenever you are dealing with something that's either hot or cold, it can't hide from the thermal camera.
  4. Electrical hot spots can be located and fixed. Every year thousands of homes are also lost to electrical fires that could have been prevented if the hot spot that caused the fire had been fixed. The problem with these hot spots is that most of the time you don't know that you have them until your home catches fire. A thermal camera can help identify these problems before a fire starts so that you can get them fixed before tragedy strikes.
  5. Inspectors can identify places where energy is being lost. You could be giving away a lot of money each month to your electric company, simply because your home is leaking energy. Thermal cameras will help you conduct an energy audit so that you know where the energy is going and can correct the problem.

Not every company that offers inspections has thermal cameras, but those that don't aren't able to tell you every important thing about your home. All they can tell you is what they can see with their eyes, but there is so much more going on with a home!

Be sure to have an inspection done before buying a new home, putting your current home on the market, and about once a year to make sure that everything is still in good shape. Above Grade Home Inspections offers thermal imaging as an option in their home inspection services.