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We are in the process of updating our website.
If you need to reach us, please call (417) 894-1782.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was once used in a host of different building materials to strengthen a product or make it fire retardant. If left undisturbed, asbestos poses little health risk; however, if the fibers become airborne where it can be inhaled, then there are several health risks associated with asbestos.
If you suspect asbestos and the material is crumbling; powdery; scratched, cut or damaged in anyway that exposes fibers- STAY AWAY! Call an expert to prevent possible contamination of yourself or your family. An expert is trained in such a way as to be able to collect a sample with little risk of exposure.
Asbestos can only be positively identified using a special microscope. That being said, we will have to collect bulk material to send to our lab for analysis. The EPA probably has the best sources of information available so we’ll refer you to their site for additional information and provide you with additional resources for your convenience.
Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used in a variety of building materials for many years. Lead may cause a range of health issues, ranging from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures, difficulty during pregnancy and even death. Young children under 6 years of age are most at risk because the bodies are growing quickly and children tend to put their hands in their mouths quite often without washing them.
Research suggests that the primary sources of Lead exposure for most children are:
If you suspect Lead paint or Lead soil contamination, it is highly recommend to get the material tested. We contract with a lab that performs bulk material testing as well as a wipe that can roughly screen for Lead. Again, the EPA has probably the best sources of information available so we’ll refer you to their site for additional information and provide you with additional resources for your convenience.
MOLD… literally, is a growing concern. National media attention has alerted the public to the destructive and possibly toxic dangers of hidden mold spores that could affect their family’s health and their homes. EPA studies indicate that air levels of indoor pollutants may be two to three times higher than outdoor levels. Mold, the most dangerous offender of all, often goes undetected because of its invisibility. Most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors and are not aware of the health hazards created by this pollutant. You owe it to yourself to minimize your exposure to mold spores in your indoor environment, test for mold today!
There are several ways you can become exposed to mold:
Mold has the potential to cause health problems and even make a home uninhabitable. However, everyone is affected differently when in contact with mold. The mold that may not bother the seller may severely affect the buyer. Some mold can produce allergens, irritants and, in some cases, potentially toxic chemical substances known as mycotoxins. People who are sensitive and exposed to mycotoxins can become ill.
Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. People diagnosed with allergies and asthma may be very sensitive to mold. Mold can cause asthma attacks. Others at risk might include: infants, children, the elderly, patients who have a deficient immune system, pregnant women and individuals with existing respiratory conditions.
With exposure, even in small amounts, mold may cause:
Mold can be found in several areas in the home environment. It appears most often in moist areas as little black circles or thread-like white objects. It is usually accompanied with a musty-type odor. Outdoors, mold plays a natural part in the environment by breaking down dead organic matter such as dead trees or fallen leaves.
Mold reproduces by means of microscopic spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through the indoor and outdoor air. Mold begins to grow indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet or damp. Mold will not grow without water or moisture. Therefore, it is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Some examples of places where mold can be found inside the home include:
There are several methods used today to test for mold. Two of the most common are direct culture and air spore sampling. With direct culture, a sample is collected using a swab and sent to a lab for analysis. The swab is then plated on media that elicits growth. When the mold has matured sufficiently, lab personnel are then able to identify it. This is the preferred method when there is visible mold present. The draw back to this method is that it can take up to 14 days to grow and identify the type of mold, if any.
With direct sampling, a device used to capture mold spores is attached to an aspiration device (pump). The pump sucks the air through the device for a specific amount of time and a specific volume of air. The device is then sent to the lab for analysis. The lab personnel count each type of mold spore and a quantitative comparison is done between indoor and outdoor sample. This is the preferred method when timing is important and if it is unclear whether or not mold is present. The drawback to this method is that it takes a minimum of two samples, an indoor and outdoor sample, which can be expensive.
It is impossible to completely eliminate all mold and mold spores indoors. Mold will always be found floating in the air and in house dust. Indoor mold growth can be prevented by controlling water and moisture indoors. The following may prevent or reduce indoor mold growth:
*Information partially transcribed from Pro Labs Mold brochure
Radon is a colorless, odorless, inert radioactive gas. You can’t see it, smell it or feel it but it is always present in the air we breath- approximately 0.35 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) in normal outside air. Radon comes from the natural radioactive decay of radium and uranium found in the soil. Radon levels in the soil can range from a few hundred to a several thousand pCi/L.
The amount of radon required to cause health issue is a hotly debated topic. The EPA states that levels >4 pCi/L can impose a health risk. This debated level varies greatly when attributed to a persons life style habits, for example: Smoking, family history of cancer, young children, etc. The EPA radon map of Missouri lists southwest Missouri area in a moderate risk category, on average, between 2 and 4 pCi/L.
We need to understand that if our radon levels are greater than this, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are in immediate danger. However, careful study of our life style risks in comparison to the actual radon levels should be evaluated.
A really good article that we found was an article by G. Thomas Martin entitled, “Understanding Radon”. This article covered most all of the specifics of radon at an understandable level and can be found at:http://www.discoverit.com/at/phi/article.html.
There are two basic types of anaerobic (without Oxygen) on lot systems; those with gravity distribution systems and those with pressure distribution systems. In both types, there are three major components:
Sewage flows to the septic tank, where the primary treatment process takes place. In the tank, the heaviest matter settles to the bottom (forming sludge) and the lighter matter (scum) floats on top of a somewhat clear liquid called effluent. While the sludge and scum must be pumped out regularly, the clear liquid flows out of the tank to a distribution box or dosing tank, and is then directed to the absorption area by gravity flow or through pressurized pipes. Within the absorption area, this effluent exits through pipes into a layer of gravel and then percolates through the soil for additional treatment. The bacterium in the soil neutralizes many of the contaminants in the wastewater.
A load and dye test is the most common test requested; however, it is a limited method of testing the septic system. The septic tank must be accessible for the evaluation for a thorough inspection. The seller is responsible for locating and uncovering the septic tank according to the standard real estate contracts.
The best designed and properly installed on lot sewage disposal system will still malfunction if the homeowner does not properly operate and maintain the system. In addition to requiring costly repairs, malfunctioning systems can contaminate surface and groundwater, cause various health problems and spread disease as well as create unsightly messes and foul odors when raw sewage surfaces or backs up into the home.
Signs of an on lot system in trouble include:
Homeowners can help prevent malfunctions and ensure the long-term use of their on lot system by doing the following:
On lot systems not only treat and dispose of domestic sewage from toilets, they also receive wastewater from various other household fixtures, including baths, showers, kitchen sinks, garbage disposals, automatic dishwaters and laundries. Conserving water and reducing the amount of waste flow from household activities is an important step to ensuring long-term use. The more water-using devices in a household, the greater the burden is on the on lot system. Following are some helpful water conservation tips and a comparison of water usage between conventional fixtures versus water-saving fixtures.
A septic tank accumulates solids (sludge) and scum which should be pumped out at least every three to five years. The frequency of pumping depends upon tank size and household size. Larger households generally require more frequent pumping (every one or two years). In Missouri, specific tank sizes are generally based on the number of bedrooms in the home because the number of bedrooms is an indicator of household size. For example, a home with three bedrooms must have a 900 gallon or larger septic tank- The more bedrooms, the larger the septic tank. For more information on the recommended frequency of pumping, contact your local agency (normally your local township) Sewage Enforcement Officer or the Department of Environmental Protection.
Trillions of living, beneficial bacteria constantly treat and decompose raw sewage in a septic system. The effectiveness of these bacteria can be impaired if harmful substances and chemicals are put into the septic system. Harmful substances/chemicals include:
Remember, what goes into your toilet and drains many eventually end up back in your drinking water. So instead of using caustic toilet bowl cleaners or bleach, try mild detergent or baking soda or one half cup of borax per gallon of water. Also NEVER flush bulky, hard to decompose items such a sanitary napkins, diapers, paper towels, cigarette filters, plastics, eggshells, bones or coffee grounds down the toilet because they can clog the system.
Termites are the number one cause of home damage in the United States. They do more damage each year than fires, floods, tornados and hurricanes combined. Termites are the best-organized enemy you’ll ever face. They are tough, determined and highly efficient. Chances are that you won’t see evidence of their work until structural damage has been done. There can be as many as 13 to 14 subterranean termite colonies per acre. Each colony can contain as many as one million termites and they are able to travel up to 130 feet from the colony.
The presence of swarmer termites or alates, which resemble flying ants, is a strong indication that termites are infesting a structure and it should be inspected immediately. Subterranean termites are quite common in most of the U.S. with increasing activity and abundance in the southern states and warmer climates. Termite infestation is no reason to panic, modern control techniques are quite safe and effective and termites work relatively slowly.
Subterranean termites, which are the most common in Missouri, need constant moisture and protection from the elements and predators. Termites may tunnel through softer surfaces such as drywall, paint and carpet padding even though they are not edible. Termites spend most of their time underground in their colony or foraging for food. Whenever termites come above ground, they build “shelter tubes” or “mud tubes” made from bits of mud, saliva and feces. Termite shelter tubes may be visible on infested wood or traversing impervious surfaces between the soil and wood such as concrete foundations, pipes and drywall. These termite shelter tubes keep the moisture inside the tunnel system and provide protection from predators. Termite shelter tubes can sometimes be seen going up concrete foundation walls in basements and crawlspaces, up exterior foundation walls, in cracks behind door jambs, along floor joists or in the hollow voids of concrete blocks.
Because termite evidence is often hidden for many years before it is detected, behind insulation, boxes, stored items, vegetation, fixed walls, ceiling areas and drywall; it sometimes takes a well trained eye to spot termite activity. We recommend a professional termite inspection at least once a year.
Concrete slab homes and homes with additions are often the places where termites are overlooked because of the lack of unfinished areas. Often significant damage can be done before termites are detected. Sometimes termites are not detected until small bits if mud or shelter tubes are seen protruding through drywall, wallpaper or ceilings.
In most cases the buyer of the property is responsible for arranging the termite inspection, paying for the report and choosing the inspecting company. Should treatment be needed it is generally the responsibility of the owner to arrange for treatment by the company of their choice and pay for treatment. Homes bought with cash, at auction or under other circumstances may not require a termite inspection; however, it is still highly recommended as it may prevent further damage if there is activity or just to provide piece of mind that there is no infestation.
Real estate termite inspections are inspections that should be performed by an experienced, licensed termite inspector. These termite reports are often required by lending institutions such as banks, mortgage companies and refinance companies. Sometimes called a termite report, a WDI (Wood Destroying Insect), WDO (Wood Destroying Organism) or other real estate inspection report; it should also reveal infestations of any wood destroying organism in the structure. You may also hear these reports called termite letters or certification letters. These are not the same as “free” termite inspections which are often undocumented. In Missouri, a termite report is usually done on standard NPMA-33 termite report form. A-Pro Home Inspection Services offers VA, FHA, and conventional termite reports according to current NPMA standards. We’ll do a thorough inspection for past or present signs of wood destroying insects such as subterranean termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and wood destroying beetles as well as provide recommendations for treatment. Even if you’ve already had a termite report done, our low cost wood destroying insect reports allow you to get a “second opinion” to ensure that the findings are accurate.
For subterranean termite activity, a thorough inspection should be done of the foundation. This usually starts with a check of the outside foundation for termite shelter tubes or wood that may shows signs of termite infestation. The basement or crawlspace should be checked, examining the sill plate, band board, and floor joists for weak spots, termite damage, or termite shelter tubes. Any insulation blocking view of the wood members will hinder the inspection however it can usually be moved aside. The other floors should also be checked for termite shelter tubes on baseboards, door and window frames, and walls. If possible the attic should be checked, occasionally subterranean termites may work they way to the attic without any visible signs in other areas.
Although Dry Wood Termites can not survive in Missouri for any length of time, they may be imported from different states and require a different procedure. Dry wood termites don’t require contact with the soil and can exist in wall studs, ceilings, furniture, and other wood. Other possible infestations include carpenter ants, carpenter bees, various wood infesting beetles and wood destroying fungus.
A wood destroying organism infestation report usually covers only readily accessible areas. Areas where evidence or damage is hidden are not included in the report and inaccessible areas should be described on the report. Inaccessible areas may include crawlspaces or parts of crawlspaces that may be too low for access, crawlspaces with no access point, blocked or sealed crawlspace and attic openings, areas behind fixed wall and ceiling coverings and areas obscured by dense vegetation. If you are buying a property, you should consider being present when the termite report is being done and make sure that there is access to crawlspaces for inspection.
Types of termite treatment may include conventional liquid soil treatment, termite bait and monitoring systems and fumigation or “tenting”(Dry Wood Termites) performed by a professional pest control company. The subterranean termite found in the U.S. can be controlled in a number of ways. Chemical barrier treatment is still the most common way to treat subterranean termite infestations. A trained technician will apply either a repellent or non-repellent termiticide formula to the foundation of the structure. The idea is to place the chemical in all areas that termites could enter the structure. Not all treatment options are available for all structure types or conditions.
Another termite treatment option is termite bait and monitoring systems. These systems use bait stations baited with small pieces of wood. These stations are inspected periodically and when activity is found, the wood is replaced with slow acting bait designed to reduce the number of the termites in the colony or eliminate the colony all together. A termite inspection will allow the termite control professional to determine the best treatment method for each situation.
We’ve assembled these guidelines as suggestions and helpful hints for your convenience. They are not meant to be all encompassing or even a complete list of every possible scenario, only general guidelines.
While it may not be politically correct to say this, it is true- Women are the initial decision makers when a couple is buying a home. If she doesn’t like your home, guess what- their not buying it! That being said, the single most effective thing you can do is to make sure your home is clean, organized and cosmetically appealing. Debris, trash, dishes, clothes, etc. should be cleaned up and put away. While showing your home, have something baking. Nothing says home like the smell of fresh baked bread or cookies!
Often, home sellers are unaware of defects or situations that exist in their home. After all, it’s always been that way or you’ve never noticed it before. Every home has deficiencies as well as positive attributes. Don’t be discouraged when items are identified as defective or in need of repair. REMEMBER: There is no such thing as a perfect home!
If you’re going to have an inspection:
NEVER attempt to perform any repair that you’re not COMPLETELY comfortable with, especially when it comes to electrical or other safety issues such as roof repairs (height- danger of falling). Let’s break down each section individually for your convenience.
REMEMBER: The first impression is usually a lasting impression!
REMEMBER: A little paint goes a long way towards the appeal of the home. Home buyers often make mental checklists as to how much they have to do to make the home livable in their eyes.
When performing any roof repairs- SAFETY FIRST! If you do not have a safe way to perform these actions, DO NOT ATTEMPT! Call a repairman/handyman.
The purchase of a home is probably the largest single investment you will ever make. You should learn as much as you can about the condition of the property and the need for any major repairs before you buy, so that you can minimize unpleasant surprises and difficulties afterwards.
Of course, a home inspection also points out the positive aspects of a home, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property you are about to purchase.
If you are already a homeowner, a home inspection may be used to identify problems in the making, and to learn preventive measures that might avoid costly future repairs. If you are planning to sell your home, you may wish to have an inspection prior to placing your home on the market. This will give you a better understanding of conditions which may be discovered by the buyer’s inspector, and an opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.
Inspectors typically do not provide warranties or guarantees with their inspections and reports. Buyers should therefore not rely on the inspection as any form of insurance policy against any latent, hidden, concealed or future defects and deficiencies.
The standard home inspector’s report will review the condition of the home’s heating system, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement, and visible structure.
The following are also some key items that buyers should remember and consider when reviewing their inspection reports:
The inspection fee for a typical one-family house varies geographically, as does the cost of housing. Similarly, within a given area, the inspection fee may vary depending upon the size of the house, particular features of the house, its age, and possible additional services, such as septic, well, or radon testing. It is a good idea to check local prices on your own.
However, do not let cost be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a home inspection, or in the selection of your home inspector. The knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the cost, and the lowest-priced inspector is not necessarily a bargain. The inspector’s qualifications, including his experience, training, and professional affiliations, should be the most important consideration.
Choose a home inspection company with top credentials. You have a goal, you want to be well informed, and you want to make a wise investment. Choose a home inspection company that understands your needs and will work with you to help you meet your goals.
Be sure that your home inspection report will be a detailed written report, not a handwritten checklist that is given to you at the conclusion of the home inspection. A checklist may be void of details and may not provide all of the information advice you need.
Don’t be confused by home inspector “certifications” offered by, or sold by trade societies or companies, or obtained via home inspection home study courses, certifications are available to anybody, a high school diploma is not a requirement and certifications can be readily purchased. Choose an ISHI Certified member that follows strict Operating Principles and Inspector Standards.
Be sure to attend the home inspection; the inspection should take about two hours. One picture is worth a thousand words, and this is a unique opportunity to learn about your new home and its systems.
The home inspector should be fully equipped with necessary tools including electrical testers, a fuel gas and carbon monoxide detector, moisture meter, ladder, inspection mirror, flashlight, level, and other home inspection tools.
“Location, Location, Location.” You’ve heard that often enough when looking for a home. But once you find the home that’s right for you, there’s nothing more important than Foundation!
You need to know that the home you are purchasing is properly leveled (that’s an important reason for retaining the services of a home inspection company an ISHI-Certified PhI Member).
The physical, plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and electrical systems should be thoroughly inspected and evaluated. The home inspector should look for aluminum electrical distribution wires, electrical systems that are not adequate for modern usage, lead and galvanized steel water supply pipes, aged and inefficient heating and air-conditioning systems, etc.
The home inspector should be able to include an inspection for wood-destroying insects that will be accepted by your mortgage lender. Let the inspector know up front so that he can bring along a qualified specialist.
If the home has a well and/or septic system, these systems should also be able to be evaluated. Please let the inspector know up front so that he can bring along a qualified specialist.
Where applicable, testing underground storage tanks, testing paint for lead, testing drinking water for lead, testing well supplied drinking water for bacteria, testing for radon gas in air, testing for urea formaldehyde foam insulation, etc. Please let the inspector know up front so that he can bring along a qualified specialist.
The home inspection report should be available the next working day after the home inspection but a full verbal report should be obtained at the conclusion of the home inspection.
You Should Know:
You Should Expect:
You Should Not Expect: