Providing "No Surprises Inspections" in the GTA since 1995
In every aspect of life, insurance companies play an important role. Owning a home is no different. Your inspector will discuss these issues in depth if they apply to your home, but you may have to shop around for insurers who are more understanding of older homes.
Many insurance companies are wary of older electrical installations. Of particular concern are
knob and tube wiring
60 amp electrical services
Since these items are older designs, they are less suited to modern electrical needs. In particular, some insurers are requiring upgrades and/or replacement.
Any oil tank older than 25 years has to be replaced. Buried oil tanks may or may not be found, and would have to be removed at great expense.
Wood Burning Stoves
If a solid fuel burning appliance exists, your insurer will likely send out an inspector to ensure that the
chimney conforms to modern standards
appliance is far enough away from combustible surfaces
appliance has been rated for use in Ontario
The insurer may retroactively force you to bring it up to code or you can choose to have it removed. Only a certified technician for your area can assure you that your installation is acceptable.
Basement seepage is the most common concern of homeowners. At Blueprint Building Inspections, we recommend a layered approach.
First ensure that exterior water management is well suited to drain water away from the foundation. Downspouts should extend at least 3 feet away from the house. The ideal ground level surface is a hard seamless surface that is sloped at a minimum rate of 1" every foot away from the foundation, although this situation is rarely found. 99% of homes need some improvements to their exterior water management.
If basement dampness still exists, then professional consultation is recommended, as each home is unique. The next step might be a sump pump to lower the level of any water that may be accumulating below the basement floor. This requires a relatively modest outlay of monies.
Interior work can be less expensive than exterior installation of weeping tiles. Certain products, like UGL's Dry-Lok paint, actually bond with a cementitious foundation and become impervious to moisture (10 year warranty). Proper surface preparation is vital.
In some cases, a weeping tile is installed inside the interior perimeter of the foundation to drain into the sump. Also, an air gap membrane (dimpled plastic sheeting sometimes known as Delta sheeting) may be installed below a plywood sub-floor and behind basement walls to keep humidity under control. The air gaps also help the humidity dry out.
The final approach is quite expensive. It involves digging out around the exterior of the foundation, installing weeping tile (plastic half-perforated O-ring encased in cloth), parging the exterior of the wall, or even installing the aforementioned air-gap membrane on the outside of the foundation to prevent moisture from exerting hydrostatic pressure on the wall.
Keep in mind that a basement is essentially a hole in the ground, and water will always try to get in. A dehumidifier may help keep things relatively dry, but they do not deal with the root causes of basement humidity. Statistics from various builders' organizations indicate that moisture will show up at least once in over 75% of homes, new or old. Dealing with basement dampness as a strong possibility, as opposed to a remote instance, can help the homeowner minimize the damaging effects of water penetration.
(excerpts from Associated Press & MSNBC)
Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.Molds have the potential to cause a variety of health problems. Molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions, such as hay fever symptoms, in some sensitive people. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Certain molds — best known is stachybotrys — have the potential to produce extremely potent toxins that can cause problems ranging from sinus infections to lung hemorrhage to brain damage.
Once you have discovered the source of mold, size it up. If you have more than a square foot of mold growth you should seek professional advice on how to perform the cleanup. Otherwise, the experts offer these tips:
Correct the source of the water and fix all roof or plumbing leaks.
Clean all moldy surfaces with a mixture of household bleach (like Clorox) and water, using 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water.
Add a little dish soap to the bleach water to cut dirt and oil on the wall that can hold mold.
With good ventilation, apply the bleach water mix to the surface with a sponge, let it sit for 15 minutes, then thoroughly dry the surface.
Be sure to wear a dust mask, rubber gloves and open lots of windows.
If you have a bad mold problem, you may need to replace tiles, wet carpets, sheet rock and floorboards — and clean out crawl spaces.
No one with any respiratory ailments or chronic allergies should conduct the cleanup.
Call your city or regional health department if you have questions or need assistance.