A-1 Professional Engineering Inspections
A-1 Professional Engineering Inspections

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Environmental Hazards

 

 


Our job as your professional home inspector is to alert you, to the extent possible, to unknown problems and potential environmental hazards in your current or potential house. Ours is a non-invasive visual inspection of your property. While we may be able to alert you to possible problems, our basic inspections are no substitutes for specialized contaminant testing.

MOLD

  • Airborne mold spores are everywhere both indoors and outdoors. Resident and employee health is at serious risk if there are elevated levels of mold spores indoors, as compared to an outdoor mold control test.
     
  • The most dangerous indoor molds are Alternaria, Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Cladosporium, Fusarium, Mucor, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys. Mold Testing and mold laboratory analysis are required to identify specific mold species.
     
  • Molds spores can cause serious health problems even if the spores are dead or dormant (inactive while waiting for more moisture to resume growth). Even the smell of dead or dormant mold can make some mold-sensitive persons ill.
     
  • It is impossible to get rid of all mold spores indoors. Some mold spores will always be present in house dust and floating in the air.
     
  •  The mold spores will not grow into mold colonies if there is insufficient moisture.  Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If organic materials are wet for more than 24 hours, mold growth can begin.
     
  • Mold grows by eating and destroying organic building materials and other cellulose-based materials such as carpeting, upholstery, and clothing. The longer that mold grows, the more mold damage to the building.
     
  • Cellulose is the main substance in the cell walls of plants (and thus of wood), and it is used in the manufacture of many organic building materials such as drywall, plasterboard, plywood substitutes, and ceiling tiles.
     
  • Mold can grow hidden and undetected inside wall and ceiling cavities; beneath wallpaper, paneling, and carpeting; and inside heating and cooling equipment and ducts, attics, crawl spaces, and basements.
     
  • Mold growth is often the result of a structural or construction defect, or of maintenance neglect, that allows moisture to enter the building.
     
  • The owner or employer must first fix the water problem (roof leak, plumbing leak, high indoor humidity) that enables the mold to grow. Effective Mold remediation requires killing the mold with an EPA-registered fungicide, removing it, and treating the cleaned area with an EPA-registered preventive fungicidal coating.

 

RADON
Radon is a radioactive gaseous element produced in the disintegration of radium, a radioactive metallic element. It cannot be detected by the senses and can be confirmed only by sophisticated instruments and laboratory tests. The gas enters a house through pores and cracks in the concrete or through floorboards of poorly ventilated crawlspaces, especially when wet ground allows the gas to escape easily through the soil and disperse in the atmosphere. Radon is a lung carcinogen: the National Academy of Sciences estimates radon causes some 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths annually. The U.S. Surgeon General and the EPA recommend all houses be tested for radon. Houses with high radon levels can be fixed.

Excerpts from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Indoor Radon”.

For FAQ about radon, click here!

WOOD-DESTROYING ORGANISMS/INSECTS
Termites, which play a positive role in recycling wood and plant material, become a problem when they consume structural lumber. Every year thousands of U.S. housing units require termite treatment. These pests cause serious damage to wooden structures and posts and can also attack stored food, household furniture, and books. Successful termite management requires special skills, including a working knowledge of building construction and an understanding of termite biology and identification. In most cases, it is advisable to hire a professional pest control company for the inspection and control problem.

Wood-boring beetle larvae feed on wood and wood products. Adults of some species bore holes into plaster, plastic, and soft metals. Many species cause problems when emerging from wood in newly constructed buildings because they leave small circular or oval exit holes in the wood. To avoid these problems, infested wood must be kiln-fried before being used for lumber. The species Deathwatch Beetles is primarily found in soft woods (girder, beams, foundation timbers, some types of furniture, with some species attacking books). False Powderpost female beetles bore a tunnel, or egg gallery, into wood or other materials, then deposit eggs in pores or cracks within the tunnel. Adults of some species bore through such soft metal as lead and silver, as well as plaster and other non-wood materials. Affected structural wood should be removed and replaced whenever possible.

Wood Wasps and Horntails
. Wood wasp damage in buildings is likely to be more cosmetic than structurally weakening. Emerging wood wasps can chew through any substance: wallboard or plaster walls, hardwood floors, carpeting, linoleum, non-ceramic floor tiles, and other interior surfaces.

Carpenter Ants. Several species can damage wood in building and other structures. Though ants don’t eat wood, they bore into it to make their nests, sometimes causing serious structural damage. Also, they nest in hollow doors, cracks and crevices, furniture, wall voids, and termite galleries. New building infestation occurs when land-cleaning in the area disturbs existing native colonies.



For More Termite Facts, click here!