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:

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:










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.

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

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.


Home Wizard Appliance Recall Service

Home Wizard Appliance Recall Service

Introducing our Home Wizard

sign up for our free Home Wizard service
Home Wizard and Recall Check

( At Hawley Home Inspections, we are always working to find ways to add value to the home inspection experience.  And our FREE Home Wizard is one of our most popular bonus offerings.  It’s a customized newsletter, and a whole lot more! It’s FREE to all our home inspection clients and offers something special for the realtors who represent them.

Our Home Wizard includes a FREE Appliance Recall Service that keeps homeowners up to date on recall notices issued for their appliances.  They can add any appliances they want tracked and add more or swap them out when they buy new ones.

The monthly Interactive e Newsletter includes personalized home care recommendations, tips, and home improvement ideas based on the homeowner’s individual goals and priorities.  They fill out a short questionnaire about their home and their goals.  Then, the Home Wizards builds a personalized e Newsletter filled with helpful articles and videos geared to maintaining their specific home.

The Personal Home Manager makes it easier for individuals to take care of their homes with helpful tips and seasonal tasks customized just for them. Recommendations and articles are based on:

  • The type of home (single family, townhouse, high rise condo, duplex, or vacation cabin, etc.)
  • The type of heating and cooling systems
  • Local climate
  • The homeowner’s personal goals like saving energy, lowering repair costs, maintaining home value—even allergy management and child proofing!
  • The homeowner’s personal knowledge level (to determine how basic or advanced the tips should be)
  • The homeowner’s priorities. Tasks and tips are prioritized on a scale of one to five stars. Those with the most stars have the highest benefits relative to their costs. Each reader chooses the priority of the tips they want to see.
  • Choose how to be notified about recommended tips and tasks. Home Wizard can send monthly alerts via email, or readers can use their own calendar app (Google calendar, Remember the Milk, Reminder Fox, etc.) to get their alerts.

There’s also a FREE Home Care Library at your fingertips! The constantly growing library includes scores of articles, how-to instructions, and frequently asked questions about everything from furnace systems and sump pumps to outdoor lighting and solar energy. Want to know when and where to look for signs of mice infiltration or how to keep leather furniture looking good? The Home Care Library has it covered.

All the personalized home care recommendations, appliance recall service, articles, and home care library can be accessed online using a computer browser or download our free Home Wizard app for access on mobile devices.

There’s a special value-added feature for realtors—when we send our interactive e Newsletters to clients you have referred to us, we send these e Newsletters co-branded with your name, email address, phone number, photo, company name, and company logo.

We’ll give you a Co-Branding Dashboard where you can customize your branding, preview the e Newsletters, add subscribers, and more! In addition to all the great home maintenance tips and ideas, you’ll also have access to specialized articles focused on helping you market and grow your real estate business.

We hope you and your clients find our Home Care Wizard useful, and that it makes it easier for you to take care of your home, your clients, and your business. This free service is our way of saying ‘thanks’ to our valued customers and to show you how much we value our relationship with you, their realtor. Thank you.



Covid-19 update on Home Inspections

An Update from us on Covid-19

We are fighting the Virus

( As we begin to reopen our communities while still dealing with Covid-19 in our communities, we are again reviewing and revising our policies and procedures. We want to keep you up to date on changes in our practices aimed at protecting our clients, employees, realtors, sellers, and others involved in the home inspection process.

One significant change in our policy: we are again allowing buyers to attend inspections in vacant homes. (We are still asking buyers to refrain from attending home inspections in occupied homes.)

All buyers, whether in attendance or not, receive a full, written report, complete with pictures. When buyers and agents are not present during the inspection, our inspectors are arranging to go over their findings with them by phone and answer any questions they may have. (You can always call and get your home inspection questions answered. We’ve always been here for you and remain so.)

Other safety measures we’re still using include:

  • Protective gear: Our inspectors are wearing booties over their shoes and boots any time they are inside a home. They’re also donning protective gloves and masks when appropriate.
  • Frequent hand washing: Our inspectors are washing their hands when they enter a home and before leaving. If it’s not possible to do so, they are using hand sanitizer.
  • Keeping equipment sanitized: Our inspectors wipe down all their equipment with sanitizing wipes between inspections, so everything they bring into a home is clean.
  • Certified Covid-19 safety training: All our inspectors have completed the Covid-19 Safety Guidelines course through the InterNACHI School, a home inspector college accredited by the US Department of Education.
  • Maintaining social distancing: We are asking buyers who attend home inspections to maintain proper social distancing and to wear masks when indoors. We are asking buyers not to attend home inspections in occupied homes as a courtesy to the people living there. Anything we can do remotely and by phone helps to keep everyone safer.
  • We’re here for you: Our inspectors and staff are happy to answer any questions you may have about our safety protocols and any other aspects of our home inspection process. As always, we’re here for you.

All of us at Hawley Home Inspections value our relationship with our clients and with you, their agents, and we appreciate your referrals. Please know that if there is anything we can do for you, we encourage you to let us know. We are here for you.

Visit Coronavirus Monitor on www.STL.News


Back Yard Family Fun

Back Yard Family Fun

( We’re all spending a lot more time at home with family this summer.  Make the most of all that together time by planning some fun and creative family activities.

Let’s face it, in this world of iPads, video games, cable TV, and smart phones, sometimes it’s hard to get kids and teens to even go outside.  Sometimes, you just run out of ideas for family fun.  So, here are a few suggestions that can be scaled up or down to engage the whole family.

Glow-in-the-dark bowling

You’ll need:

Back Yard Family Fun

  • 6-10 empty ½ liter water bottles or 20-ounce
  • soda bottles with caps
  • 6-10 glow sticks
  • A softball, bocce ball, tennis ball, or similar ball
    that can be palmed and rolled with one hand.
  • Chalk, string, or something to mark the ground

How to set up:

Insert the glowing glow sticks in the bottles.  Fill with water (may fill bottom ¼ with sand or pea gravel, if desired).  Put the caps on.

Set the bottles up in rows, with one in front, followed by rows of two bottles, three bottles, and finally four bottles in the back row.  Make a mark on the ground 10-15 feet in front of the bottles.   Chalk on a patio or walkway works well for this.  A piece of ribbon or string will also work, especially if playing on the grass.

How to play:

Stand behind the mark and “bowl” the ball at the pins to knock them down.  Each player gets two tries to knock down all the pins.  You can keep score, or just have fun taking turns.  Both Apple and Google offer free bowling score sheet apps, or you can print this one to use: (attach pdf)

Flashlight tag

This game combines the games “hide and seek” and “tag,” but it’s played in the dark!  The person who is “it “covers their eyes and counts to a high number while everyone else hides.  Then, armed with a flashlight, this person searches for the others who may switch hiding spots to make it more interesting.  This game can be played indoors or outdoors.

What you’ll need:

A flashlight

How to play

  1. Find a spot outdoors that isn’t well-lit.  Make sure that there are a lot of hiding spots and that it’s a safe place to run around, like a fenced back yard.
  2. Gather a group of people.
  3. Choose who will be “it.”
  4. Everyone hides while the person who is “it” closes their eyes and counts to 10, 20, or whatever number you decide!
  5. Seek!  The person who is “it” uses the flashlight to find the hidden players.  Players can change hiding places during the game.  Once they’re found, they’re out.
  6. Play until everyone is out.
  7. Restart the game…the first person caught becomes “it.”

Variation: As soon as the first person is found, pass the flashlight to them, and they become & “it”, passing the flashlight to the next person they find, and so on.

Frisbee Tic-Tac-Toe

There are several ways to create your game grid.  If you have a large patio or driveway and some sidewalk chalk, you can simply draw the grid.  Make it about 6’ x 6’ with three rows of three squares each.  It doesn’t need to be perfect.  If you don’t have a hard surface, you can measure and cut four pieces of twine, yarn, or ribbon into 6’ lengths and lay them out on the lawn so they make three rows of three squares.  For a reusable grid, use an old bed sheet or shower curtain and mark off the squares with painter’s tape (or colored markers).

If you have 6 frisbees, then you’re all set. If not, you can make them out of cardboard.  Get the directions here: (

Players should stand behind a designated line and see if they can get three in a row. (Move the line closer for younger players, move it back for the athletes in your family!

Alternatively, you could create a bullseye target on the ground using the same materials as above and see who can get the most bullseyes.  Or use bean bags if you don’t have much space, or you’re not up to tossing a frisbee!

Make Homemade Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk chalk can be one of the most versatile toys for outdoor creative fun. But it’s one of those things that gets used up and must be replenished.  Sure, you can buy pre-made chalk, but making your own can be a fun activity for your family.  And, it only takes three ingredients, something to mold it in, and a little patience.

Supplies you’ll need:

½ cup Plaster of Paris (dry)
2-3 tablespoons Tempera Paint (powdered pigment)
¼ cup warm water


  • Silicon molds (like used for making candy), plastic or silicon Ice Cube Trays, or empty
  • Toilet Paper Roll tubes cut into thirds (cover one end of each tube with duct tape or masking tape and line the sides with strips of wax paper)
  • Disposable cups (or non-porous bowls or cups, like coffee mugs)
  • Plastic spoons or wooden stir sticks

Combine warm water with the Plaster of Paris in a bowl or cup, stirring until there are no lumps.  If you’re making more than one color, divide the mixture into three to four cups.

Mix in the tempera paint. If you’re only making one color, use two to three tablespoons.  For three to four colors, use about a tablespoon of each color.  For brighter colors, use more paint.  For softer colors, use a little less.

Once the colors are thoroughly mixed and there are no streaks, transfer the mixtures into the silicon molds, ice cube trays, or toilet paper rolls.  Be sure to wipe any drips off the ice cube trays before it hardens.  Tap the sides of toilet paper rolls the release any air bubbles.

Let it dry completely. For smaller molds or ice cube trays, that’s usually about 24 hours. Larger molds will take longer.  Toilet paper roll molds can take up to three days to dry.

*Try using glow in the dark tempera paint.

Don’t have a sidewalk or concrete patio in your yard?

Make a simple chalkboard with a piece of plywood, a little sandpaper, a coat of wood primer and some chalkboard paint!  Lightly sand the plywood.  Then give it a coat of wood primer. Let it dry completely.  Then follow up with two coats of chalk board paint (spray or brush on), drying completely between coats.  Voila!  You have created a chalkboard!

Your chalk board can be attached to a wooden fence or shed wall, leaned against the garage, or add legs and make it a table!   Backyard Scavenger Hunt
This can be a science lesson, a game or contest with prizes, or a treat hunt.

Make a list of items your kids are likely to find in your yard, like a gray rock, a green clover, or yellow flower.  Or you can plant small items in the yard for them to find—things that don’t belong in the back yard, like a bottle cap, small toys, colored water balloons, or treats like hard candy or gum.  Give your kids a list and bag to collect their finds in. If it’s a contest, give younger kids a little head start, or a simpler list.  Maybe the first one to find all the items on their list wins!  If you have your kids hunting treats, you might have them pour out their bags into a single bowl and divvy up the loot, so everyone gets some!

We’re all spending a lot more time at home this year. And some of us are finding our homes are little snug to meet our needs with our new at-home lifestyles.  If you decide it’s time to upgrade, remember to have your new home thoroughly inspected by a licensed and certified professional home inspector.

The Hawley Home Inspections team of ASHI and InterNACHI certified, Illinois licensed home inspectors can take care of your family’s needs with home inspections, free termite inspections, radon testing, sewer scopes, septic inspections (metro-east only), mold and air quality testing, vermiculite and asbestos testing, pool inspections, and well water testing.  We offer discounts to veterans and first responders.  To learn more, call today!

Score Sheet PDF


Mold is a common problem

Mold is a common problem

Protect your home & family from mold

mold is a major health problem for some people
mold is a natural part of our life

( Protecting your home & family from mold and other contaminants can be a daunting job.  Indoor air quality is a major concern as we spend a lot more time inside our homes these days. Even before pandemic worries had us all staying home, people in the U.S. spent about 70% of their lives inside their homes. This suggests that the condition of your home is a primary factor in your overall health. If your home has problems, your health may be suffering, too.

Of the 137 million homes in the United States, 12 million have problems with water leaks and four million have experienced mold problems within the last year.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency molds are part of the natural environment and can be found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. The EPA says it isn’t generally a problem unless it begins growing indoors. Unchecked, indoors it can damage a home’s structure, causing wood rot and ruined drywall. It can also cause significant health problems.

High indoor levels are associated with a wide range of health issues, including respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation to the eyes, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, rashes, chronic fatigue, and persistent headaches can all be symptomatic of black mold exposure or black mold poisoning. The condition of a person’s housing is an important influence on their health.

It can be hard to identify mold problems because the source is often in isolated areas—behind walls, and in attics and crawl spaces. An indoor Air Quality Test can identify  these issues and allows us to make recommendations that will guard your family’s health and your home’s safety.

A professional test starts with a thorough inspection of your property. We will investigate any signs of past or present water intrusion which can promote mold growth. Testing allows us to record an accurate comparison. Swab testing is also available for visible microbial growth. Our inspectors are IAC2 Certified. That means they’re air quality experts.

If our inspectors do find mold in your home, there are ways to clean it up. The US EPA ( has plenty of helpful information on mold clean up, including when to do it yourself and when to call in professionals.


Home Inspection COVID-19 Update

Home Inspection COVID-19 Update

Home Inspections COVID-19 Update

We are changing our approach to home inspections and COVID-19.  As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe and in our communities, we are constantly re-evaluating our policies and procedures. We want to keep you up to date on changes in our practices aimed at protecting our clients, employees, realtors, sellers, and others involved in the home inspection process.

To that end,

we are asking buyers to refrain from attending home inspections, even in vacant homes. They will still receive a full report, complete with pictures, and our inspectors are happy to go over their findings with the buyers (and their agents) by phone and answer any questions they may have.

Home Inspections COVID-19 safety measures we’ve instituted include:

  • Protective gear: Our inspectors are wearing booties over their shoes and boots any time they are inside a home. They’re also donning protective gloves before entering the home.
  • Keeping equipment sanitized: Our inspectors wipe down all their equipment with sanitizing wipes between inspections, so everything they bring into a home is clean.
  • Certified COVID-19 safety training: All of our inspectors have completed the COVID-19 Safety Guidelines course through the InterNACHI School, a home inspector college accredited by the US Department of Education.
  • Maintaining social distancing: We’ve asked buyers not to attend home inspections. On those rare occasions when they do still meet with our inspectors in person, our team members are maintaining the CDC’s six feet of separation guidelines and all meetings will take place outdoors at the end of the inspection. Anything we can do remotely and by phone helps to keep everyone safer.
  • We’re here for you: Our inspectors and staff are happy to answer any questions you may have about our new safety protocols and any other aspects of our home inspection process. As always, we’re here for you.

here is a link to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on the COVID -19 virus

and a link to our general manager as he explains our position on home inspections

to learn more about Hawley Home Inspections LLC visit our home page

I want you to know all of us at Hawley Home Inspections value our relationship with our clients and their agents, and we appreciate your referrals. Please know that you and your families are in our thoughts and prayers, and together, we will get through these challenges.



Matthew C. Hawley

General Manager

Hawley Home Inspections

(314) 257-0400 in Missouri

(618) 593-9631 in Illinois


corona virus pandemic

corona virus pandemic

( Together, we are facing a truly unprecedented situation. The global corona virus pandemic is affecting all our families, our communities, and our businesses. During this challenging time, I wanted to reach out to you and update you on how we are approaching the situation.

At Hawley Home Inspections, the safety and well-being of our employees, customers, and realtors are always our priority. I wanted to take this opportunity to assure you that Hawley Home Inspections is still here for you. We have put rigorous policies in place to limit exposure and protect the safety and health of our employees and clients, so we can continue to provide the quality services and support you expect. Our inspectors are wearing gloves during all inspections as well as sanitizing all their equipment after each inspection.

In order to protect all parties, we are asking that clients and agents refrain from attending home inspections if they have any cold or flu-like symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath), if they have traveled recently, or have been exposed to anyone suspected of having corona virus. We are also asking that buyers not attend inspections in occupied homes in order to protect all parties. Arrangements can be made to share all inspection details with clients and their agents remotely if needed. Likewise, we ask that listing agents inform us if any occupants of a home we are scheduled to inspect have any symptoms of the virus or have been asked to self-isolate or quarantine.

As always, our inspectors are available by phone to answer any questions you may have regarding the home inspection.

I want you to know all of us at Hawley Home Inspections value our relationship with our clients and their agents, and we appreciate your referrals. During these challenging times, please know that you and your families are in our thoughts and prayers. Kindness, patience, and partnership will get us through this, and we are here for you.

For more information here is a link to the Center for Disease Control

For more information about us

Best wishes,


Matthew C. Hawley

General Manager

Hawley Home Inspections LLC