GFCI – GFI protection can save your life

GFCI – GFI Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

A $20 Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI – GFI) could save your life. Don’t

GFCI receptacles and circuit breakers are designed to save lives by interrupting dangerous circuits
GFCI receptacle and circuit breaker

put it off any longer.

One of the most often listed defects found by home inspectors, building code officers and city occupancy officials is the lack off ground fault circuit interrupters or GFCI -GFI outlets and or breakers.

Where should you install GFCI outlets? 

GFCI protection is required for receptacles by the the 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC).  On all kitchen counter tops, in all bathrooms, laundry rooms, crawl spaces and unfinished areas of basements.  Also included are garages, hot tubs, swimming pools, sump pumps and sewage ejectors.  Outside the home they are required for outside receptacles, boat docks and out buildings.  These are just a few of the areas that require GFCI protection.

Owners of older homes can retrofit GFCI receptacles or install GFCI breakers.  The receptacles are about $20 retail and protect all outlets down stream.  GFCI Breakers are about $50 retail and will give protection to an entire circuit.  Portable adapters are available as well as protected extension cords from $20 to $50.

Installing A GFCI could save  your life

GFCI protection could prevent as many as two hundred deaths by electrocution every year.  As well as countless unnecessary burns and fires.  The GFCI was invented in 1961 and incorporated in the NEC starting in 1971.

  • 1971 Swimming pool and exterior receptacles
  • 1975 Bathroom receptacles
  • 1978 Garage receptacles
  • 1981 Spas and Hot Tubs
  • 1987 Kitchens, Hydro Tubs, Unfinished Basements and Boat houses
  • 1990 Crawl Spaces*
  • 1993 With in 6 feet of all Bathroom Sinks, Tubs and Showers
  • 2005 With in 6 feet of Laundry and Utility Sinks
  • 2014 GFCI and AFCI protection required for Kitchen and Laundry areas
  • 2014 Dishwashers*
  • 2017 Garage Door Operators*
  • 2017 Decks Balconies and Porches

*GFCI must be readily accessible: if  you have to move objects or use a ladder to reach the GFCI it is not considered to be readily accessible.  GFI breakers are suggested in these cases,

GFI protection is required around areas that may become wet

GFCI protection is required for receptacles in wet areas or areas that may be expected to become wet.  Prior to 2017 the NEC required GFI protection with in 6 feet of sinks this was changed in 2017 as show above.  Unfortunately a very small current flow can kill a person who is in contact with a grounding source.  Such as a kitchen sink, damp concrete or wet grass.

GFCI’s Trip at a 5 milliamp current leak

A GFI receptacle or breaker checks for a difference in the flow of electricity between the hot and neutral wires 30 to 40 times a second.  They will trip (disconnect) the circuit breaker or fuse if a difference of 5 milli amps (.005) is detected.  GFI’s trip at 5 milli amps, at 10 milli amps you will feel the shock.  At 25 milli amps you will not be able to let go.  Between 50 and 75 milli amps you may be electrocuted.  Therefore because some GFI receptacles or breakers can fail in the energized position it is recommended to test GFCI devices monthly.

Purpose of ground wires

The third wire in a modern residential circuit is the ground wire,  The ground wires purpose is to trip the breaker or fuse if a hot wire comes into contact with the metal housing of appliances or tools.  Grounding has been required since the mid 1960’s to prevent over heating of wiring. Grounding only works in the case of a direct short circuit that carries enough current to trip the breaker or fuse.  In other words GFI protection on the other hand is designed to protect humans from electrical shock by disconnecting at very low current flows.

Older Home Should Be Updated

In conclusion circuits installed in homes before the mid 1960’s probably do not have the protection of a grounding circuit.  The NEC allows the use of GFI protection on these circuits so three prong receptacles can be installed safely.  GFI protection on an older two wire circuit only protects humans from electrical shock.  It does not provide grounding.  Some appliances such as TV’s, computers, washing machines and dryers use the third wire to dissipate static electricity.  You should discuss adding grounded circuits for these items with your electrician.

Electrical work should only be done by qualified electricians.

To learn more about Hawley Home Inspections’ skilled team of professional home inspectors, call or email us today at:  Certified Master Inspector


314- 257-0040

For more useful home maintenance tips and information visit us at:

Vermiculite: A Hidden Health Hazard

Vermiculite: A Hidden Health Hazard

Does Your Attic Insulation Contain Vermiculite Asbestos?


Vermiculite was a popular insulation material that may contain asbestos

Vermiculite is a lightweight, fire-resistant, and odorless crystalline mineral that was popular to use as insulation for attics and walls for most of the twentieth century. These granules resemble a cross between mica and clay cat litter. They expand when heated, so the sizes of vermiculite products range from very fine particles to large, coarse pieces almost an inch long.


Unfortunately, most of the vermiculite used in North American and elsewhere came from the W.R. Grace & Company mine in Libby, Montana. The mine, which operated from 1919 – 1990, had a significant deposit of tremolite, a type of asbestos, and it contaminated the vermiculite. In fact, toxic asbestos dust from the vermiculite mines that helped the town of Libby prosper for decades is blamed for killing hundreds of area residents, and sickening thousands more.


Asbestos minerals tend to separate into microscopic particles that become airborne and are easily inhaled. People exposed to asbestos have developed several types of life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer. Like many airborne contaminants, the longer you are exposed to it, the more likely you will become sick.


Well into the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos. Bans on its use began being instituted in the U.S. in the 1970s and it was banned outright for residential uses in 1989.


Many homes in the Midwest still contain vermiculite insulation, insulating tape, older asphalt shingles, textured wall paint, old floor tiles, and other potential sources of asbestos. These can pose some risk to the indoor air quality of the home.


The good news about contaminated vermiculite is that asbestos fibers must be airborne to cause a health risk, so if you don’t disturb the material, it is unlikely you will be exposed to asbestos fibers from vermiculite insulation according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If you plan to remodel or otherwise use the space where the tainted vermiculite is located, you will need to hire a professional to remove it safely.


Home buyers can have suspicious materials tested for asbestos as part of the home inspection process. Our professional inspectors can safely gather a sample and send it for laboratory analysis, so you’ll know if your new home contains this toxic substance.

To learn more about Hawley Home Inspections’ skilled team of professional home inspectors, call or email us today at:  Certified Master Inspector


314- 257-0040

For more useful home maintenance tips and information visit us at:

Furnace Issues Found During an Inspection

Furnace and Air Conditioner  Issues we find During the Home Inspection 

your furnace is a major appliance and requires regular service
furnace maintenance is much cheaper than replacement

AC and Furnace Issues  Are All Too Common

One of the key systems our inspectors check during the home inspection is the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning system, or HVAC. In the Midwest, most homes are equipped with a forced air heating system fueled by natural gas, propane, or electricity. Though not as common, radiant heating systems, geo-thermal systems, and wood furnaces are also found in this area. The majority of homes in Missouri and Illinois also have central air conditioning.

The home inspection will include a detailed examination of this equipment. The inspector will look at both the installation of the system components and any notable wear. The inspector will use a variety of tools, like digital thermometers and infrared cameras to examine the system, then note simple maintenance items and any potentially serious issues uncovered.

We’ve compiled a list of the most common problems home inspectors encounter when checking the HVAC system in an effort to help you know what to look for before you buy or sell a home.

Here are eight common issues we find in homes with forced air heating systems and central air conditioners:

  1. Dirty Air Filters. It’s one of the simplest and least expensive home maintenance issues to correct, and it’s often the most neglected. A clogged or dirty air filter can seriously hamper the ability of your furnace or air conditioner to heat or cool your home. If the air can’t flow freely through the HVAC system, conditioned air doesn’t circulate into your home efficiently. This can cause the furnace to short cycle. The result may have chilly homeowners turning up the heat in an attempt to keep their homes comfortable in winter or keep the air conditioner unit running non-stop in summer. This puts unnecessary strain on the furnace and AC units and can really skyrocket utility bills. The lifespan of a furnace filter varies depending on filter type and the indoor air quality. Since the filter captures dust particles, pet dander, smoke, pollen, and other indoor air pollutants, factors like having pets and smoking indoors can shorten the filter’s service life. Most disposable filter manufacturers recommend changing them after one to three months.
  1. Duct Work Issues:  The ducts are the conduits that channel the conditioned air from your furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner into the rooms of your home. If the duct or register it leads to is installed improperly or becomes damaged, it can seriously impact your HVAC system’s efficiency. Cracked duct work and broken connections can leak heated or cooled air into the spaces inside your walls, or into unused attics and crawl spaces, making it harder for your system to deliver the right comfort level to interior rooms. And when your furnace or air conditioner has to work harder to keep your rooms comfortable, it costs you more. Ductwork leaks can also create moisture issues in your basement or crawlspace. According to educators at the University of Minnesota Extension, excess moisture can lead to all sorts of air quality issues—everything from growing mold to exploding the dust mite population inside your home. Making sure your conditioned air goes only where you want it to go can make a big difference.
  2. Ventilation Issues. All furnaces that burn
    furnace maintenance starts with a through inspection of flue pipes
    Rusted flue pipe leaking carbon monoxide gas into the home.

    fossil fuels to operate must have adequate ventilation. This is true for forced air systems and radiant heating systems with boilers; if it uses natural gas, propane, heating oil, or solid fuel to operate, the exhaust must be vented outside. That’s because combustion exhaust contains noxious compounds like carbon monoxide (CO), which are hazardous to breath. Vent pipes take this exhaust to the flue or chimney which vents the gasses outside and away from your living space. This vent pipe and flue need to be properly supported, slope upward toward the outdoor vent or chimney, and free of cracks or holes, so exhaust can’t escape indoors. It should also be kept away from any flammable materials.

  3. Heat Exchanger Problems. The heat exchanger is a coil of metal tubing that carries hot combustion fumes to the exhaust system while allowing the heat from those gases to transfer into the duct system where they can be distributed throughout the home. This critically important device keeps the noxious furnace fumes out of your home. A crack in the heat exchanger can cause those gasses, including carbon monoxide, to escape into the air you breathe. This is a potentially life-threatening issue, and an expensive repair.
  4. Dirty or Clogged Condenser Coils. This is of the most common issues causing air conditioners to struggle to cool the home and one of the easiest to fix. Dirty coils Restrict air flow to the outdoor condenser unit leading to poor heat transfer. That means the air conditioner must work harder (and consume more energy) to cool the home. The simplest solution is to keep plants, solid fencing, dog houses, and all other objects at least one foot away from the unit. The surface should be cleaned occasionally with a vacuum or brush.
  5. Uneven Condenser Unit Pad or Brackets. Whether the outdoor air conditioning condenser unit sits on a concrete pad or is mounted to the home with brackets, it needs to be level (within 10 degrees). That’s because the condenser unit relies on lubrication in the tubing to function properly. If it’s sitting too crooked, the lubrication becomes less effective and the refrigerant (coolant) lines are subjected to additional stress. This is one of the fastest ways to wear out your AC condenser prematurely.
  1. Missing Insulation. Your air conditioner has two pipes that carry the refrigerant between the evaporator (inside) and condenser coils (outside). The larger line carries the cooled gas and should be insulated. This keeps the line cool longer, improving efficiency. It also helps keeps the line from sweating indoors which could cause significant water damage and invite mold growth.
  1. Clogged or Damaged Drain Hose. The indoor portion of an air conditioner uses a drain hose to remove the condensation (moisture) that collects during the cooling process. If the drain hose becomes clogged the water can’t escape and will eventually spill out onto the floor. If the hose is damaged, moisture can leak and pool wherever the damage is, even inside a wall or ceiling. Unchecked moisture inside the home is never a healthy development, as it can lead to fungal growth and rot.

This list of potential issues is in no way exhaustive. That’s why it pays to have a professional home inspector evaluate the HVAC system in the home you are buying or selling.

the CMI designation requires an inspector to meet stringent requirements
Have your furnace inspected by a Certified Master Inspector

Make sure your home inspector is a certified professional with the skills you need. All our home inspectors are Certified Master Inspectors. That means they have the training and expertise you need to make sure your home inspection is done right. To learn more about Hawley Home Inspections’ skilled team of professional home inspectors, call or email us today at:


314- 257-0040

For more useful home maintenance tips and information visit us at:










Digital Marketing for Real Estate Agents

A Realtor’s Guide to Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing is imperative if you are to succeed in todays market

Four Steps to Get You Virtually Up and Running

Digital Marketing according to data gathered for the National Association of Realtors Generational Trends Report (March 2020), is the first step most home buyers take in the home search process is to look online for properties. According to NAR, a whopping 84% of home buyers used the internet to search for homes, and that was before a global pandemic sent even more people online.

Thanks to that pandemic and some local restrictions, most of us are unable to interact with customers in our usual way. In person meetings and events are difficult to manage, and flat-out barred in some places. However, we know it’s important that you remain focused and continue to give your real estate business the attention it deserves!

One area of business you can increase your focus on is marketing. The beauty of online marketing is that it’s both effective and convenient. You can execute your plan with nothing other than your computer. Check out some online marketing strategies below!

  1. Digital Marketing Includes Creating a Blog

Reach a larger audience by starting a blog. A blog is a space for you to post and share high-quality content, which will increase your value to any current or potential customers.

When brainstorming content ideas, ask yourself these questions:

  • What areas of real estate are the most confusing?
  • What are the most common questions I get?
  • What do my customers always want to know?

Although you won’t see results overnight, starting a blog has many long-term benefits. A blog allows you to create authority, be viewed as an expert in your industry, and drive traffic to your business website.

  1. Use Facebook Ads

Real Estate Facebook Ads are an effective way to target leads and capture prospects. Facebook Ads even has a category for “Buying a House,” meaning you can explicitly target people who are actively looking to buy or sell a home.

Your Facebook ads should highlight your home listings. Show off the properties with video tours and high-quality pictures. The ads should always include vital information, such as price, location, and square footage.

Maintain a steady presence by advertising year-round but be cognizant of trends in your specific market. Tap into potential leads on Zillow,, and Trulia.

Facebook ads take practice. Most of the time a business will run multiple variations of an ad to see which one works best. It can take some time to find the right one, but that’s okay, and there are many online resources that can help.

  1. Connect with Others on LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups are a great place for you to connect with others in your industry or niche market, both locally and across the country. These groups provide a huge networking opportunity by allowing you to build your online presence.

Search LinkedIn for real estate-related groups you’d like to join, such as niche markets and local trends. If you can’t find your ideal group, start your own! Starting your own group is beneficial because it automatically puts you in a position of leadership.

LinkedIn Groups also give you the opportunity to contact people you might not have mutual connections with. You can message other group members without being connected, which can be extremely beneficial for growing your network.

Instead of using these groups as a place to sell your services, however, add value by contributing to a conversation or discussion board. Stay in the spotlight by contributing regularly, but don’t overshare.

  1. Use Digital Marketing to Optimize Your Website for SEO

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, determines where your website will fall on a search engine page, such as Google. The higher your ranking, the more traffic your site will receive. Including keywords on your webpage can improve your ranking and increase your chances of getting noticed.

Do you have a real estate niche? If so, you’ve already got the perfect keyword. Think of all the results that would come up if you were to google “houses for sale in Miami.” Now, imagine Googling “Miami waterfront homes.” The search results will decrease dramatically. This is SEO in action! You’ll score a higher ranking and drive more traffic to your site.

Always use keywords in your website and online profile. Be specific! Don’t just say you’re a Real Estate Agent if you have an area of specialty. Say that you’re a Real Estate Agent specializing in waterfront homes in Miami, or first-time home buyers in Florissant, or country homes and farms! People want to work with the realtor who specializes in the area they’re interested in.

SEO is a somewhat convoluted concept, and good SEO takes consistent effort overtime. Dedicate the time that would be spent on in-person visits, or other marketing methods that are currently unavailable, to learn the ins and outs of SEO. Your business will thank you!

Implementing these four strategies will serve you and your business long after restrictions on in-person marketing are lifted.

To learn more about Hawley Home Inspections’ skilled team of professional home inspectors, call or email us today at: Our Inspectors are Certified Master Inspectors


314- 257-0040

For more useful home maintenance tips and information visit us at:

Slow Drain How Serious is That?

How Serious Is a Slow Drain?

Is it a simple clog or a collapsed sewer line?


Most of us have encountered a slow drain at some point. It usually a slow drain may end up as clogged drainstarts as very minor occurrence. You might notice it after you wash your hands. You turn the tap off, and it takes a minute for the water at the bottom of the sink to drain out. Often, we ignore the initial signs of a slow drain because it’s not really causing any inconvenience.


But slow drain problems tend to get worse over time. It might have been hardly noticeable last month, but now you turn on the water and the sink begins to fill unexpectedly. Or you’re taking a shower when you notice you’re standing in an inch or two of water. Once you turn the taps off, the water does drain, but it takes its sweet time.


Slow drains can be a simple fix, or the sign of a more serious problem. There are a few things that homeowners can check to get an idea how serious the problem might be. First, determine if you are dealing with one slow drain—a single shower or sink—or is this happening in many or most of your drains?


A single slow drain may be a simple DIY repair. When only one drain is slow or backing up, the issue is often a clogged drain line. In the case of a bathroom sink or shower, this is often the result of hair that’s built up and caught in the line or trap. You may be able to clear the line yourself.


  • Try clearing the line using a plunger. An old-fashion sink plunger can be quite effective at pushing the clog past a bathroom sink p-trap and into the wider sewer line. A power plunger may be more effective for clogged toilets or kitchen sinks which may need the blast of pressurized water it creates to break up or dislodge the blockage and move it down the pipe.
  • Try cleaning the line using a small auger or drain snake. There are several products of different sizes and types available at most hardware stores. Some are simple barbed strips of plastic or metal that can catch on material lodged in the drain and allow you to pull it free. Others can be attached to a power drill and add a little force to the process.
  • Avoid harsh chemical drain cleaners which are toxic and can damage your plumbing. Most commercial chemical drain cleaners use hydrochloric acid as a principal ingredient. These cleaners can cause eye, nose, and skin irritation. It’s also corrosive and can eat away at plumbing pipes. There are products which can be effective on minor clogs but are still mild enough to do no harm. Both Coke and Pepsi have fairly high levels of phosphoric acid, which can break down a minor buildup clogging your drain but isn’t as harsh as commercial drain cleaner. Pour a can of warm soda into the drain and let it sit for 30 minutes, then flush with hot water.
  • If the problem persists or soon recurs, it’s time to call a plumber. A persistent or recurring slow drain can be the sign of a more serious problem and requires a professional with the expertise and equipment to troubleshoot the issue and make appropriate, lasting repairs.



Several fixtures draining slowly may the sign of a more serious problem. Your home has a series of pipes and vents that make up your plumbing drain system. Problems in the vent lines, drainpipes, main sewer line, or septic system can cause drain issues affecting your entire home.  These parts of the plumbing system can be difficult to access, making them harder to use DIY fixes. Left unrepaired, these drain issues can cause serious damage to your plumbing system and create messy backups that damage your home and your belongings.


  • Vent lines allow free air flow that equalizes the pressure in your drainpipes and main sewer line. If a vent line becomes clogged, drainage slows, and more serious problems can arise. In autumn, falling leaves and debris can clog vent pipes. In winter, heavy snow and ice can build up on the roof, blocking the vent. In spring and summer, bird sometimes build nests atop the pipe opening, blocking the vent. One symptom of a blocked vent line is a “gurgling” sound during draining.
  • Drainpipes connect your individual fixtures to your main sewer line. Drainpipes can become clogged by the same materials that can build up in sink traps and other fixtures. Hard water can create problems in galvanized steel drainpipes (found in some homes built before 1980). The limescale deposits inside these drainpipes can seriously restrict water flow over time.
  • The Main Sewer Line carries all the wastewater from your home out to the city sewer system or your septic system. Everything that goes down your drains passes through your main sewer line. So, everything that can clog those drains, can also build up and clog the main sewer line. Your sewer line is also subject to outside issues that can cause slow draining. Crushed or broken pipes, root intrusion, earth movement affecting angle or creating offsets (separations in the line) can all lead to slow draining—and worse yet, they can cause the sewer line to back up into your home. The only way to determine the health of the main sewer line is by having a camera inspection or sewer scope performed by a certified professional sewer inspector. These inspections can often find hidden problems before they create a messy backup inside your home.
  • Septic Systems are underground wastewater treatment structures often found in rural and semi-rural areas. Wastewater from your home is piped to the septic system for basic treatment. Your septic tank is a simple onsite sewage facility for your personal use. Problems with the septic system can cause waste to build up too fast for the system to handle. That waste can then back up into your main sewer line, cause slow drains inside your home. Septic systems are generally the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain, so a regular septic inspections and maintenance is advised.


A single slow drain may be a simple clog, or it may be an early warning of something more serious. Try to clear the drain as soon as you notice an issue to keep the clog from becoming a bigger problem further down the line. If you can’t clear it, don’t ignore it. Call a professional.


Multiple slow drains should never be ignored because they generally indicate a larger, more serious problem. One fairly inexpensive step to take is to have your main sewer line scoped by a certified sewer inspector. Since problems with this line can be some of the most expensive drain system issues a home can have, having yours checked will give you a good idea what you need to do to maintain it and protect your entire sewer system and keep your drains flowing freely.

To learn more about Hawley Home Inspections’ skilled team of professional home inspectors, call or email us today at: Certified Master Inspector


314- 257-0040

For more useful home maintenance tips and information visit us at:

why have a home security system

a home security system can help prevent home burglaries
don’t be a victim of a home burglary

Why have a home security system. The dogdays of summer are here.

Did you know this is also the time of year when most residential burglaries occur?

According to the FBI, there were more than 1.2 million burglaries in the U.S. in 2018 (the last year for which we have complete data). That a burglary every 25 seconds. July and August are the busiest months for burglars.  Statistics show that more than 95 percent of burglaries involve break-in by force, such as by breaking a window or door lock and 59 percent of home burglaries occur during the day while residents are at work or at school. Homes with a lot of cover, like large bushes, trees, fences, and gardens, are more likely to be broken into.

Victims of burglaries suffered an estimated $3.4 billion in property losses in 2018—about $2,700 in property losses per burglary.

And those are just the thieves who get inside. Porch pirates steal about 1.7 million delivered packages every day according to a study by the New York Times. One in three Americans report having at least one package stolen from their front porch or stoop. And nicer neighborhoods see a higher number of these thefts than lower income neighborhoods do according to Nathan Richter, Senior Partner of Wakefield Research.

The U.S. Postal Service reports postal inspectors arrested almost 2,500 suspected package thieves in 2018. But those thefts add up to more than $25 million in stolen items every day—more than $9.1 billion a year, according to C+R Research. Nicer neighborhoods see a higher number of porch pirates than lower income neighborhoods do according to Nathan Richter, Senior Partner of Wakefield Research.

In many cases, a security system could prevent homes from becoming a part of these statistics. The National Council for Home Safety and Security says that homes without alarms are three times as likely to get burglarized. It’s also important to point out that residential burglaries have declined nearly 40% since 2014 according to the FBI, while the number of residential security
systems rose.

Security company window stickers and yard signs can deter crime. A comprehensive five-year study by researchers at the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice found that residential burglar alarm systems decrease crime. According to the study, the presence of a home security system deters burglars from breaking into that home and acted as a deterrent for neighbors’ homes too. And a neighborhood or community with several homes that have security systems installed deterred burglars from the entire area.

The jury is still out as to whether Doorbell cameras stop thieves, but police say they can play a role in solving crimes. St. Louis County Police officer Tracy Panus told KMOV-TV these videos do help. “I think they are a fantastic investigative tool”, she said.  Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp told Government Technology Magazine that doorbell camera videos have helped police investigating crimes including residential burglaries, package thefts, auto break-ins and vandalism.

According to data insights firm Strategy Analytics, global spending on doorbell cameras is expected to triple from $500 million in 2019 to $1.4 billion by 2023. These tiny electronic watchdogs monitor who come and goes. They offer video streaming and let you use your smart phone to chat with visitors, keep an eye on kids coming home from school, and watch for package deliveries. They can be tied to door locks and motion detectors and can be part of a professionally monitored home security system.

Nathan Stroup of Secure 24 specializes in working with new home buyers. Stroup says security systems today are highly customizable and come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges.  Consumers have access to multiple DIY options as well as fully monitored and automated systems that can integrate with all a home’s other systems like heat and lighting. Stroup says it’s important to do a little homework to get the features that fit your needs and your budget, especially if you’re doing it yourself. “There’s just so much available today,” he said.

Working with a full-service security company can be very helpful according to Stroup. “There are dozens of features and hundreds of ways to configure a system,” Stroup said. “ADT clients can get everything from a basic system with motion detectors, door sensors, and doorbell cameras, to complex set ups with indoor and outdoor cameras, and smart home integration, and control it all using virtual assistants like Alexa,” he said.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners can see substantial savings on their insurance by installing anti-theft security systems. Monitored home security systems can lower a homeowner’s insurance premium by as much as 10-20 percent a year. Even adding a
camera doorbell can cut a home insurance policy rate by five percent or more.

Pat Howard at Policy Genius says even with the savings, “you probably shouldn’t get a home security system if the end goal is to make your homeowners insurance cheaper,.” You just don’t save enough to fully cover the costs. “However,” he said, “you should get a home security system if your goal is to make your home a safer place and prevent future theft claims down the


Secure 24 ADT Rep Nathan Stroup talks about evaluating a home’s security needs:

For more useful home maintenance tips and information visit us at:

Thermal Imaging is an Important Tool for Inspectors

Thermal Imaging  – Infrared Inspection

The New Home Inspection Essential


Hiden water leaks often show up with thermal imaging
water leak

Buying a home is be the biggest purchase most people will make in their lifetimes. So, it’s important to invest the process. The home inspection is a critical part of the home buying process. It provides buyers with an impartial, professional, visual assessment of the home they are about to purchase. This gives buyers and their agents a valuable tool for negotiation, so it needs to give them as much information as possible. Enter infrared thermography.


As with most other industries, scientific advancements and new technologies have broadened the scope of a thorough home inspection and improved the inspector’s ability to assess the condition of the home. The development of modern tools like accurate, short term radon testing devices and air quality pumps and cassettes has allowed home inspectors to provide radon testing and airborne mold testing and given buyers valuable insights into the health or health risks of a home. Likewise, thermal imaging or infrared (IR) cameras have given home inspectors a whole new way to evaluate the home that gives buyers and their agents information that was previously unavailable to them.


Thermal imaging or thermography is an advanced, non-invasive technology that uses infrared imaging to take pictures of temperature variances of surfaces. These non-contact tools give the inspector the ability to see things that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Infrared thermography can’t actually see behind walls, but it can detect temperature differences on the surface of walls, often revealing what’s hidden. This technology can help the inspector identify and document issues that may not be apparent in a visual inspection. Using an infrared camera can reveal moisture intrusion, heat and energy loss, unexpected hot spots, and more.


IR cameras can detect moisture intrusion. They can find otherwise hidden plumbing leaks. They can help inspectors locate missing, damaged, or wet insulation. They can reveal unseen leaks before the damage gets serious. According to the US Department of Energy, “because wet insulation conducts heat faster than dry insulation, thermographic scans of roofs can often detect roof leaks.” Thermal imaging can also expose water and moisture intrusion at the foundation, subfloor, and around exterior doors and windows that could lead to structural damage and mold.


Moisture levels may show up in IR pictures when not obvious to the human eye


Thermography is excellent for determining issues of heat loss and air infiltration. These can be revealed in walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and IR may be able to identify electrical problems such as loose or bad connections and over loaded circuitsdoors. This technology can help an inspector find damage in radiant heating systems and determine if something is malfunctioning. Thermal imaging makes air conditioner compressor leaks visible. It can shine a light on structural defects that can lead to energy loss, like under-fastening or missing framing members. An infrared camera can detect broken seals in thermal windows.

Infrared imaging is excellent for finding hidden hot spots. These can be a sign of significant safety or fire hazards. Infrared cameras are effective at locating hotspots caused by circuit breaker defects, overloaded and undersized electric circuits, and overheated electrical equipment. Thermal imaging can find electrical faults before they cause a fire.


Thermal imaging can be used to help determine if appliances are working correctly. Properly operating appliances will exhibit surface temperature differences that can easily be picked up with an infrared camera.


Thermal cameras can’t see behind walls, but by using infrared technology, they can find a lot of problems that might not be obvious upon visual examination. Some of the other things IR cameras can reveal include serious hazards like exhaust flue leaks which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. They can spot heat signatures created by intruders like mice, rats, raccoons, and other pests hiding in the walls or ceilings of the home. They can even help the inspector see termite and ant infestations by revealing points of energy loss through shelter tubes leading outside.


Infrared inspections have their limits. Thermal imaging is not an X-ray or similar technology. An IR camera can’t see through walls. It can only detect conditions that produce a temperature difference at the surface of the evaluated area. The thermal imaging device can’t see behind any obstructions including furniture, pictures or anything that will obscure the surface of the area being evaluated. Specific condition must be present for infrared imaging to find wet building materials, but when those condition are met, the images are telling.


As with any type of inspection, thermography can’t predict future conditions. But it can give your inspector insight into conditions that could predictably worsen. Finding hidden moisture intrusion along the roof line using thermal imaging allows for repairs to be made before it causes serious structural problems.


Our inspectors are Certified Residential Thermographers. That means they are trained and tested professionals. Interpreting the data gathered using infrared thermography is perhaps the most critical aspect of a thermal imaging inspection. Infrared images must be interpreted by an expert who understands the limits of the technology and issues that can cause errors in measurements like dry areas and reflected heat. Professionals understand the limits of surface readings. A qualified interpretation lets buyers know what the findings mean. Is the issue found is of immediate concern, like an overloading circuit breaker, or a home improvement item, like adding insulation to an exterior wall? The distinction is critical. Our certified inspectors have the skills and know-how to accurately interpret infrared images and explain their findings in clear language that puts the issues found in proper perspective.


We expect thermal imaging to rapidly become one of the more indispensable implements in our home inspection toolkit. The IR camera equipment is expensive enough that not every inspector offers this type of inspection. Those who do often charge a hefty ancillary fee. Not us.


At Hawley Home Inspections, we feel the information gathered using infrared imaging is too important to leave out of a complete home inspection, so just like our free WDI/termite inspection, we are making it part of the standard home inspection process. And issues found with IR equipment during the home inspection are included in the free follow-up inspection. This is the only sure way to determine whether the repair work performed has effectively addressed the issues that our thermal imaging inspection uncovered.


Our mission is to set the standard for the home inspection industry in the St. Louis region by providing our clients the most thorough, highest quality professional inspections they can get and to do so at a fair price. Adding infrared thermography to our home inspections without charging extra is part of accomplishing that mission.

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The Facts About Radon Gas in Your Home

The Facts About Radon Gas in Your Home

The Facts About Radon Gas in Your Home

( Radon Gas is an odorless, colorless gas that can build up in your home. It is a known carcinogen and the second leading cause of lung cancer (right behind smoking) according to Radon 222 is an isotope of radon 86the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC reports that Radon induced lung cancer kills about 21,000 people in the US each year—that’s about twice the number the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2018. It’s around six times the number of drowning deaths and eight times the number of people killed in home fires each year. Of those 21,000 lung cancer deaths, about 2,900 occur among people who have never smoked. It is the single leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

How do we know Radon is bad for us?

Scientists first discovered the harmful effects of Radon gas after occupational studies of miners showed those exposed to Radon gas over time had developed higher than normal rates of lung cancer. There was initially some debate about whether the data applied to Radon gas in the home. In 2005, that debate ended after two studies—one in North America and one in Europe—both confirmed the radon health risks predicted by the occupational studies. They found that breathing low levels of radon, like those found in some homes, leads to an increased risk for lung cancer.

(Read more about Radon’s health risks)

Where does Radon gas come from?

Radon gas is radioactive. It is a natural byproduct of mineral breakdown that is all around us. The United States is a mineral rich nation. This is especially true in the Midwest. One of the minerals found in our soil is uranium. It is present in small amounts in many kinds of rock. Over time, uranium breaks down. When it does, it releases radioactive radon gas.

The radon gas moves up through the soil and water, eventually making its way into the atmosphere. That’s not a problem outdoors, where the gas can dissipate into the air, harming no one. The problems occur when radon gas builds up indoors.

There is generally some Radon present in all homes according to the EPA. Prolonged exposure to even moderate levels of radon is a health risk. The EPA strongly urges mitigation when a radon test indicates radon levels at or above 4.0 pCi/L (picocuries per liter). That’s because Radon is a known carcinogen or cancer-causing agent. The harmful effects of radon exposure happen over time. The stronger the concentration of Radon and the longer one is exposed to it, the higher the risk of developing lung cancer.

How can I find out if my home has a Radon problem?

Since Radon gas is odorless, you can’t smell it. It has no color or opacity, so you can’t see it. It has no flavor, so international symbal for radioactive productsyou can’t taste it. The only way to know if there is Radon building up in your home is to test for it. Testing is simple, inexpensive, and can be done as part of the home inspection when you buy your home, or at any time thereafter.

There are various types of radon tests. Some require leaving testing material in place for several months or more. Others can be completed in as little as a few days. Home testing kits are available at your local hardware store. These are inexpensive and fairly easy to use, but they lack tamper-resistance and protection from test interference, so can yield false results. Most real estate transactions rely on professional testing by certified technicians using sophisticated equipment.

What kind of test is used for real estate transactions?

The most popular Radon tests for real estate transactions are performed using machines called Continuous Radon Monitors (CRM). The CRMs are placed in the lowest livable level of the home (generally in the basement if there is one). One CRM must be place over each foundation type, because different foundation types allow differing amounts of Radon to seep inside. One machine can cover an area of up to 2,000 square feet. So, additional CRMs must be placed in larger homes. Readings are taken over a minimum of 48 hours.

Since Radon gas is radioactive, CRMs measure the amount of radioactivity in the atmosphere. The current standard of measure is picocuries per liter (pCi/L). A picocurie is a measure for the intensity of radioactivity contained in a sample of radioactive material. In a Radon test, it’s the air inside the home that is sampled and measured for radiation. The results indicate the average radiation level per liter of air over a 48-hour period. Once the testing time has elapsed, the data can be downloaded and read right away. This quick turn around makes this a very reliable way to get an accurate radon assessment of the home before the sale is complete.

Can any inspector test for Radon gas?

Radon testing using CRMs should be performed by trained radon technicians. Some states, like Illinois, require a licensed radon technician perform the test for real estate purposes. Licensed technicians must take a qualified radon measurement course and pass a state exam. In other states, like Missouri, state licensing isn’t required or offered. Both the primary professional organizations for home inspectors, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) offer certification classes and exams for Radon measurement technicians. So even in states that don’t license radon measurement technicians, a qualified radon inspector should have a certification that shows they are competent to conduct CRM radon tests.

Is it possible to cheat the Radon test?

 People do occasionally try to cheat the test, but a professional Radon inspector knows the signs. CRMs stack effect explainedhave tamper warnings that alert the technician if someone tried to move or adjust the machine. Tampering will invalidate the test. Some will try to manipulate the room conditions to improve the test results. For instance, you can’t just open a window and let it out. That might clear some Radon from the room, but it’s a short-term fix at best and it can even elevate radon levels under the right circumstances. Since Radon seeps in through small gaps and cracks in the foundation, propping open windows and doors can create a stack effect, accelerating the process and sucking more radon gas into the home.

CRM tests require “closed house conditions,” meaning doors and windows can’t be left open during the test; window unit air conditioners that draw air in from outside must be turned off, along with attic and whole house fans. To circumvent would-be cheaters, the test throws out the first few hours of readings. And a trained Radon measurement technician can often spot attempts to circumvent the test by the way the readings change over the course of the test. If it looks suspicious, the inspector can declare the test invalid, and re-test the home.

How much Radon is too much?

According to the EPA a Radon level of 4.0 pCi/L in your home may be equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes a day. That’s what the EPA calls the Radon Action Level. At or above this level, the EPA recommends you take corrective measures to reduce your exposure to Radon gas.

Can you fix a home with a Radon problem?

An elevated Radon test result shouldn’t derail most home sales. Radon can be mitigated from most homes. If the results show elevated levels of radon, a professional can install a system to safely remove the radon in the home through a process called Radon mitigation or abatement. A Radon mitigation system will move the gasses from the soil beneath the home and vent them up into the atmosphere where they will safely disperse. Having a Radon mitigation system installed in most homes in the St. Louis area can cost several hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. It’s a relatively small price to pay to keep your family safe in the home you love.

New homes can be built with Radon resistant features. Homes built in Illinois after 2014 are required to have a passive Radon mitigation system in place—that is, the vent pipes that allow the air to move up and away from the foundation must be built into the home. Missouri does not require passive mitigation system be built into new homes, but many builders do include them in their designs, and most will add them if you request it.

Sometimes a passive Radon mitigation system doesn’t remove enough Radon gas from the soil, and dangerous amounts still build up inside the home. A Radon mitigation professional can strategically place fans inside the system to effectively draw the gas up and away before it has time to seep into your home. These systems are referred to as active Radon mitigation systems. They are generally very effective at keeping Radon gas out of your living space.

Which homes should be tested?

The EPA recommends testing your home for Radon gas every two years. This is especially important if your home has a Radon mitigation system installed. But all We are IA2C, Radon and Mold ceritifiedhomes should be tested periodically, since soil changes over time, and the gasses being released under your home two or three years from now may differ greatly from those released today.

Testing is also recommended after large construction and landscaping projects near your home, as these can disturb the soil enough to change the flow of Radon gas. Many realtors and lenders also advise their clients to have a radon test done with their home inspection. That way, there’s time to address the issue should Radon be a problem in the home. For more information, download the EPA’s guide to Radon for home buyers and sellers.

Remember, your home is where you and your family spend most of your time.

Just as it’s important to protect your investment with a professional home inspection, it’s important to protect your family with a Radon test performed by a licensed and certified Radon measurement technician.

If you are buying a home, Hawley Home Inspections can perform a Radon test alongside your home inspection. We also serve sellers who want to get ahead of any problems the properties they are selling may have, or to check if existing Radon mitigation systems are functioning properly. Even if you’re not planning a move, we can test your present home to make sure you don’t have a Radon problem. We also test small offices and businesses concerned about keeping their employees safe. Call for pricing.


Fireworks an American tradition

Fireworks an American tradition

 Fireworks and How to Have Fun While Staying Safe

( Fireworks on the Fourth of July are an American tradition. It started with the Independence Day celebration in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777. Revelers marked the first anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence with bonfires, bells, and fireworks.

fireworks an american tradition
fireworks an american tradition

Today, they still play a major part in the way we commemorate Independence Day across the nation. Although the coronavirus pandemic has canceled many community activities, including parades, festivals, and public presentations, most Americans will still celebrate in some way with family. For many that will include barbecues and home fireworks displays.

With all that celebrating, it’s important to keep yourself and your family safe. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 9,000 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in 2018, with most of those injuries occurring around the fourth of July. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports they started more than 19,000 fires that year, including 1,900 structure fires and 500 vehicle fires. NFPA says these fires caused five deaths and $105 million in direct property damage. So, fireworks safety should be taken seriously.

If consumer fireworks are legal to buy where you live and you choose to use them, the National Safety Council (NSC) offers the following safety tips:

  • Never allow young children to handle them*
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
  • Never use them while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Anyone using them or standing nearby should wear protective eye-wear
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Never light them indoors
  • Only use them away from people, houses, and flammable material
  • Never point or throw them at another person
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
  • Never use illegal firework

* Note: Sparklers are popular and are not classified as fireworks in some states (including Illinois). Because they burn at 1,200-2,000 degrees, they aren’t a good choice for young children. According to the CPSC, sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries, and they account for nearly half of all fireworks injuries for children under the age of five.

Safer alternatives for young kids include glow sticks, confetti poppers, silly string, snap pops, glow-in-the-dark lawn toys, and glow-in-the-dark bubbles.

safer alternatives

Learn to make your own glow-in-the-dark bubbles

Alternatives to Fireworks

For those who live in areas where fireworks are illegal or impractical, or who just don’t want to take the risks, NFPA offers a shareable pdf with some suggestions for Fourth of July celebrations that don’t include fireworks. You’ll find a few back yard family fun ideas on our website too.

Whatever way you and your family choose to celebrate Independence Day this year, we encourage you to take a minute or two to reflect on why we celebrate and on the impact of the words that declared the birth of our nation on July 4th, 1776:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

Visit the National Archives online to read the entire text of the Declaration of Independence and more documents of America’s founding and growth as a nation.


Termite Inspection Standards for 2020

Termite Inspection Standards for 2020

Understanding the New Rules for Termite Inspection Standards for 2020

( Does it seem like Termite Inspections,  also called wood destroying insect inspections (WDI),  are yielding more recommendations for treatment these days? You are probably right. It’s not that there are more termite you need a termite inspection because termites work day and night to eat you out of house and homeinfestations. It’s more likely the result of the 2020 rules changes. What changes? Read on.

On January 1, 2020, a new standard for the termite inspection and wood destroying insect inspections took effect and the changes are significant. In July 2019, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) released an updated and revised NPMA-33 Wood Destroying Insect Inspection Form. That’s the standardized form that all pest inspectors use for real estate WDI inspections. According to NPMA, all previous editions are now obsolete. That means for real estate transactions, only the current form bearing a revision date of 7/1/2019 should be accepted.

There are a few revisions you need to know about. There are changes in language such as the replacement of the word “defects” with “wood destroying insect damage.” More significantly, the section on page one of the report noting evidence of previous treatment has been eliminated and the page two guidelines regarding when to recommend treatment for termites has changed.

Pest inspectors have always recommended treatment whenever live termites are observed. The new standard says “if no evidence of a previous treatment is documented and evidence of an infestation is found, even if no live termites are observed, treatment or corrective action by a licensed pest control company should be recommended.” The new guidelines call for documentation of treatment, not just evidence like drill holes.

In the past, if a termite inspector found shelter tubes or other evidence of infestation without observing live termites and also found evidence of prior treatment, they generally didn’t recommend treatment in their report. Under the new standards, unless there is documentation of prior treatment, termite inspectors are recommending the property be treated.

evidence of termite activity

Home sellers who have had their homes treated for termites in the past are advised to have the documentation of treatment at the ready. Be advised that the new guidelines also give the pest inspector latitude to recommend treatment if documentation is too old or in some other way inadequate.

Heavy rain and flooding can negatively impact a home’s termite protection system. The NPMA has published a technical update explaining what you need to know. Get it here

click here for a copy of the NMPA TECHNICAL UPDATE:

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