Home Inspection Tips

Spring Time and Your Air Conditioning Maintenance

Spring Time and Your Air Conditioning Maintenance

Spring is here and summer is right around the corner! When you’re spring cleaning, don’t forget to add cleaning your Air Conditioning System (Central Air) to your to do list. While inspecting sometimes I see this neglected.

Some quick tips for you “do it yourself”ers:

– Replace your filters

– Spray out your condenser coils and fins using a garden hose but be careful not to damage the fins. (Always disconnect your power first)

– If your fins are bent, you are able to purchase fin combs though a local distributor to straighten them out. Bent combs will affect the efficiency of your unit and can cause the unit to become unoperational.

– If you suspect Freon issues, contact an HVAC professional. It’s important to ensure no harmful gases are leaked into the atmosphere

– If you don’t have time or patience, call a professional HVAC technician

 

What is Radon?

What is radon?

Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs when radium in soil and rock breaks down. It is an invisible, odourless and tasteless gas that can accumulate to unnaturally high and dangerous levels in our homes.

Radon gas in Canada

Western Canada contains some of the highest radon-generating soils on our planet. Although it arises naturally from our geology, radon gas is often drawn up inside modern buildings and concentrated to hazardous levels not seen in nature – thus, high radon exposure is a manmade problem. Canada contains many radon-generating regions, and Canadians have constructed towns and cities across almost all of them. This does not mean, however, that all of our buildings contain high radon. There are three factors needed to incur hazardous radon exposure:

  1. Geologic source and pathway (upwards) for radon into a property
  2. Building metrics that actively draw up and concentrate radon
  3. Human behaviour that enables higher exposure

Why is radon gas harmful?

Radon is radioactive and unstable. In a very short period of time it decays and emits alpha particle radiation, which severely damages our DNA in such a way that is almost impossible for our bodies to repair without introducing genetic errors (mutations). These errors trigger a worsening cycle of DNA mutation that drives cancer formation. Hence, radon is listed as a category 1 carcinogen (cancer causing agent), meaning that it is absolutely known to cause cancer in humans. As radon is inhaled into our lungs, it primarily triggers the formation of lung cancer – the number one cause of cancer death in Canada – even in folks who have never smoked. Younger people, especially children, are the most at risk from the DNA damage caused by radon exposure. The risk of cancer goes up with greater radon levels, and prolonged exposure over a life.

How is radon gas measured?

Radiation from radon is measured in a unit called the Becquerel (Bq) that represents one alpha particle being emitted per second. When measuring radon, the Bq is monitored per cubic meter of the air in your home (Bq/m3). A 16% increase in your relative risk of lung cancer is measurable per 100 Bq/m3 of chronic radon inhalation. In Canada, 200 Bq/m3 is considered maximum allowable by Health Canada, with advice being to strive for as low as reasonably achievable. We have observed some homes in Western Canada with radon as high as 10,000 Bq/m3, which is the equivalent of 60,000 dental x-ray equivalents of radiation each year according to the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

How do I test my home for radon gas?

Testing your home for radon is cheap, easy and effective. To figure out the amount of radon in your home, all you have to do is purchase a radon testing device through us. One of the most effective and simplest of tests is called an “alpha track” device, which, over a 90+ day period, will register the Bq/m3of the indoor air of your home. It requires no electricity and is about the same size as a small hockey puck. Place the device in the lowest level of your home that you or someone spends about 4+ hours a day. This could be your basement, or perhaps the main floor. Do not place the radon test in kitchens, bathrooms, near open windows or other areas with fans or strong air flow. Areas of the home that no-one spends time in (crawl spaces, furnace room, etc.) are also not ideal. Radon testing should only occur between the beginning of November to the end of April, as testing in spring, summer and early fall gives inaccurate readings. After your 90+ days are complete, you just ship your device to a lab using the provided shipping label, and within 2-3 weeks you should receive your confidential reading.

What happens if my home contains high levels of radon gas?

Radon can be easily prevented from entering into most properties. This is usually quick (1-2 days’ work) and, even for the most drastic (but effective) of interventions, it still only costs about the same as replacing a few windows. The important thing to recognize is that determining if your home has high radon will not devalue your property, as it is so easily solved. Homes that have been ‘mitigated’ for high radon tend to have the lowest achievable levels – and have amongst the healthiest of indoor air. In other parts of the world, a radon mitigation device is seen even as a selling feature. When considering a mitigation, always find someone with C-NRPP (Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program) certification. C-NRPP certification is approved of by Health Canada.

Should I have my home mitigated?

Any level above 100 Bq/m3 represents a statistically significant increase in the lifetime relative risk of lung cancer for those being exposed chronically to it. Indeed, the WHO deferred to the amount of radon where a statistically observable increasing in lifetime risk of lung cancer is clear and significant – this is 100 Bq/m3Health Canada set our “maximum exposure limit” reference level at twice this value, with the view that double where we start to see an increase in risk is truly unacceptable. To ensure that you are protected to where there is no significant increase in risk (as science and medicine understands radon), aim to get your home, school and work environment below 100 Bq/m3. It is important to remember that the 200 Bq/m3 level is set by Health Canada as a maximum acceptable reference level. Health Canada’s advice is to aim for as low as reasonably achievable. Your body cannot distinguish between 199, 200 and 201 Bq/m3 of radon, and being slightly under or over that number is meaningless to your long term health. Our advice if your home is at or near 200 Bq/m3 is to evaluate your relative risk and exposure by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Are their babies, kids or teens in the home? If yes, consider mitigating, as young people are at a much higher risk from the negative impact of radon compared to those of older ages (65+).
  2. Does anyone work from home or spend most of their days at home? If yes, then consider mitigating, as those individuals are breathing the home’s air for a lot longer than a person leaving for large parts of the day for school or work.
  3. Does anyone in the home have a family history of cancer? If yes, consider mitigating, as some families carry altered genes that make them more susceptible to cancer following exposure to radiation.
  4. Is anyone in the home a current or former smoker? If yes, consider mitigating. The risk of lung cancer from radon is ‘synergistic’ with the risk from smoking. For example, ‘1 unit’ of risk from smoking plus ‘1 unit’ of risk from radon does not equal 2, rather it is a case of 1+1=17. Smokers (current or former) are much more at risk from radon, and so should protect themselves from radon even if still actively smoking to reduce their chances of cancer in the future.
  5. Is anyone in the home exposed to other lung cancer risk factors? If yes, consider mitigating. In addition to smoking (described above), folks who work with or who are exposed often to metal dust (metallurgists, jewelers, machinists, blacksmithery, etc.), leather dust, gasoline or diesel fumes (mechanics, firefighters, etc.), asbestos and heavy air pollution should also aim to reduce their exposure to radon as much as possible

How do I test my home?

STEP 1

Order

Order a radon test through the Evict Radon website. Every radon test bought assists in field research.

STEP 2

Register

Once you receive your device make sure you register it on our website: radonova.com/evictradon/with the supplied commission number and password.

STEP 3

Place

Test the air you are breathing on the lowest level of your home.

STEP 4

Wait

Leave the radon test device in place for 90+ days allowing the device to measure radon levels over time for an accurate reading.

STEP 5

Send

Log back into radonova.com/evictradon/ and enter the end date. Collect your radon test device and send it to the location specified on the test kit package.

STEP 6

Review

You will receive your results within a few weeks. Be sure to review them and ensure your home’s radon levels are safe.

What do I do once I receive my results?

The Canadian guideline established by Health Canada for the maximum exposure limit of radon in your home is 200 Bq/m3. A bit more information about why this is the maximum acceptable limit:

RADON LEVELS

0 Bq/m3

200 Bq/m3

Breathe Easy

Phew! Your radon test results are within the safe range for your home. You can now breathe easy knowing, in this house, you and your family are safe. Please note: Health Canada recommends retesting every few years, or if a major home renovation takes place. Encourage a neighbour or friend to test their home for radon.

Tell a neighbour/friend

Mitigation Recommended

Uh oh! Your radon test results are over the maximum exposure limit for Canada. At this level you, your family, and especially your children are at risk of future radon-induced lung cancer. Our team and Health Canada highly recommend that you have your home mitigated by a C-NRPP professional. Don’t worry, in Western Canada, radon mitigation techniques are very effective.

Find a mitigation professional

 

*This post is an excerpt from evictradon.ca

KJ HOME INSPECTIONS – Our Preferred Home Inspection Agency

Why get a home inspection? Home inspections are a critical step in the home buying process with single family homes, acreages, duplexes, townhomes and condominiums. Having a home inspection on a house is like having a mechanical completed on a car you want to buy. In this way, you know that all the systems are working properly, have been maintained and you will not be surprised by expensive repairs, safety concerns and renovations. In a home inspection, the inspector evaluates the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), Roofing, Exterior, Electrical, Plumbing, Insulation/Venting, Interior, Attic, Attached or Detached Garage, Deck/Patio, Grading/Drainage, Eavestroughs/Downspouts, and much more… You need a person to evaluate these parts of the home who are experienced and formally educated in all these systems.

 

Why get a KJ Home Inspection? Kerry Palyga, CPI is a Certified Professional Home Inspector. Licensed by the Province of Alberta, bonded, insured and accredited by The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), subscribing to the high expectations of their Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Kerry has been involved in all aspects of residential construction and renovation since 1995 with single family homes, townhouses, acreages, manufactured homes and condominiums of all sizes and ages. Having been involved in the restoration and repair of almost everything that can go wrong with a home, he is well qualified to evaluate any home for pre-purchase, pre-listing or end of first year new-home warranty. He brings a keen eye for detail, a thorough investigative background, construction, renovation and safety experience. Coupled with the Industries Best Home Inspection Training and Continuing Education Program, a KJ Home Inspection will give you the peace of mind to proceed with your purchase or selling decision.

To learn more about KJ Home Inspections, please visit our website at:

http://www.kjhomeinspections.ca/

See what a KJ Home Inspection looks like in this video:

http://www.kjhomeinspections.ca/video.html

 

Flood Cleanup: Check for Accredited Tradespeople

 

Flood Cleanup: Check for Accredited Tradespeople

When crisis hits, we’ll take help from just about anywhere. But in the wake of the floods in recent years in and around our city, City of Calgary officials are urging Calgarians to take caution when hiring tradespeople to help rebuild homes. Several reports of many unaccredited tradespeople doing work on destroyed homes were submitted. Be sure what to look for, or more damage could be done.

  • Check references
    • Ensure the contractor has liability insurance
    • Ensure the contractor has Workers’ Compensation
    • Check if they have a warranty
    • Get everything written in a contract to protect yourself

Some other tips to protect yourself:

  • Don’t accept door-to-door deals from contractors
    • Check if they are RenoMark or BBB certified

Your First Step after Flooding – A Water-Damage Restoration Company

Your First Step after Flooding – A Water-Damage Restoration Company

With all those the flooding that has occurred recently in Calgary and surrounding areas,  there were  a lot of people that returned to damaged basements. Before calling in a basement renovator, you’ll need to make sure that your home is safe to live in. In most cases after severe flooding has occurred, you’ll need to call in a water damage restoration company in Calgary to get the area dried out as fast as possible.

These companies have high speed fans that can quickly dry out walls and furniture. They also have powerful vacuums that can pull out the majority of the water from your carpeting before fans are placed on it. Usually water damaged rugs and carpeting can be saved but the restoration company will let you know for sure whether they are salvageable once they arrive.

Most of these companies are open 24 hours a day and respond well in emergencies. Time can be your biggest enemy when it comes to flood damage since it doesn’t take long for mold and mildew to start breeding.

Some of the services offered by these water restoration crews include:

  • Water extraction
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Structural drying
  • Dehumidifying
  • Deodorizing and disinfecting

Some companies also provide complete reconstruction after the area has been dried out.

If you’re in need of a water damage restoration company and have to wait awhile for their arrival, you can get things started by opening the windows in your home to let the fresh air through. You should only set up your own fans in the basement if you are completely sure that it is safe to do so.

Renovations to a water damaged basement should never be started before the area has been completely dried out. If the damage looks bad, your best bet is to call in a restoration crew to get things dried out professionally so that you can move onto the next phase of renovations asap.

 

 

Moving and Need to Clean? Where to start and what needs to be done?

Moving and Need to Clean? Where to start and what needs to be done?

Although not everyone will do a thorough cleaning of their property when they move out, it is always beneficial to do as much as you can. You could use this list as a move out or move in cleaning list. You want to make sure that you or the person leaving thoroughly clean any property that you are moving into. Here is a guideline of what to clean to ensure your home is move in ready. Typically you would save more time if you start “up” and work your way down to the flooring.

> Clean the light fixtures / ceiling fans

> Wipe down all blinds

> Clean the windows, window tracks and ledges

> Wash walls down

> Wipe down/ sanitize the light switches and outlets

> Wash down baseboards

> Clean glass on french doors

> Vacuum inside closets and wash closet shelves

> Vacuum carpets

> Sanitize washrooms – tubs/showers/sinks/toilets

>Vacuum out the exhaust fan

> Clean the fridge

> Clean the stove & oven out

> Clean the built in microwave – put a bowl of water with some lemon juice in the microwave and turn it on high for several minutes. Let cool and wipe out with a sponge.

> Vacuum / wash out all cupboards and drawers

> Wash down counter tops

> Run a load through the dishwasher to sanitize the inside

> Wipe down all pantry shelving

> Wash the flooring – Start from the furthest point and work your way to the door

 

If your property has a yard outside:

> Cut the Grass

> Pull out any weeds

> Remove all of your belongings and that includes items  that might be stuck in the ground, hanging from the trees or on the fence.

> Sweep out any storage sheds or garages

> If your stairs are grass stained, you could scrub them to remove the stains and make your stairs look a million times better

 

Tips –

OR – You could splurge on a cleaner and forget about doing any of these tasks! If you are getting a damage deposit back – you could set aside that money to pay your cleaners.

 

If you are purchasing a brand new home – it is always a good idea to have your furnace professionally cleaned before the first winter in your home. Some builders will do this prior to your possession so you need to ask your Builder if they do.

Why it is so important to get a Home Inspection Done

Why You Absolutely, Positively Have To Get a Home Inspection

When you look at the price of getting a home inspection, it’s one of the best values you’ll ever get in your entire lifetime. When you are purchasing a home you are taking thousands of dollars and putting them towards a down payment and then committing to pay thousands of dollars in the future in mortgage payments. With this amount of money on the line you should not be taking any chances with it. A home inspection takes all the guesswork out of your buying decision and gives you the security of knowing that your home is in good shape and will last for years.

You wouldn’t buy a Porsche without test driving it first

That would just be silly. Before buying this type of high-end car you’d be sure to take it out for a test drive, kick the tires and look under the hood first. If you’re buying a second-hand Porsche you would take it to a mechanic first to get it checked out to make sure that nothing was majorly wrong with the car.

It’s the same way with a house. You need to give it a full inspection no matter how good it looks on the surface. There are just too many things that could be hiding underneath that could spell disaster. Structural damage, for example, can leave you with repair bills that you simply can’t afford in the future and in some cases the damage can be so bad that you’ll lose the house completely.

Home inspections can also show minor damage in areas that could be potentially problematic in the future. At the same time as the inspection the inspector can suggest solutions that are low-cost and practical so that you know exactly what you’re stepping into. You’ll be provided with a full report showing all of the findings and in most cases this will handle any of the lingering doubt you may have about setting pen to paper to finalize the deal.

When you hire a home inspector before purchasing a residence you’ll be protecting your investment and yourself while providing some peace of mind to the whole real estate transaction. The price of an inspection is really minimal when you consider everything it provides. This is value for the money and everyone should take advantage of an inspection before buying any type of property.