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:

this is what they look like


Your roof keeps you and your family safe

Roof Coverings: Balancing Aesthetics with Performance

does your roof look like one of these
is this your roof

( How is your roof? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), during storms, your roof does a lot to protect your home. Besides keeping you and your family safe from rain, lightning, sleet, hail, and windblown debris, it keeps the inside of your home dry and can even act as a structural diaphragm in certain situations, keeping your home from falling down around you. In order to protect the home, your roof must resist both high and low temperature extremes, rain, high winds, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, snow, ice formation, and hail.

Of all the hazards your roof faces, wind is the most problematic according to FEMA. Living in the Midwest, you already know extreme weather with high winds or tornadoes can devastate a home. Even an average Midwestern thunderstorm can wreak havoc on a home’s roof. When wind force is greater than the roof system can handle, it can be disastrous. Wind can tear roof coverings from roof decks. It can separate roof decks from framing. And roof punctures from windblown debris can seriously impact the roof’s integrity.

Repeated exposure to wind events can wear down a roof’s first line of defense, the roof covering. Choosing the right roof covering for your home can make a big difference in how it weathers the storm. Homeowners have a lot to consider when balancing style and budget with performance.

Three Popular Options for Flat Roofs

Built Up Roofing (BUR): Hot-mopped built-up roofing (BUR) is one of the oldest types of roof coverings for flat roofs. They’re installed using several layers of roofing felt impregnated with asphalt and hot mopped with a low-grade crude oil called bitumen.

Hot-applied coal tar pitch blends with the bitumen-soaked felt creating a fused roof membrane generally two to four layers thick. Finely crushed stone granules may be applied to the top layer of tar to give the roof additional protection from the elements. A BUR roof is relatively in expensive. If well maintained, it can last 20 to 30 years.

Torch Down Roofing: Sometimes called “torch on” roofing, it requires an open-flame propane torch for installation. Torch down roofing is the most common type of roofing used on flat or very slightly pitched roofs. It’s a two- or three-layer roofing product consisting of a tough membrane of bitumen modified with rubber or plastic and embedded in a thick layer of asphalt. Torch down roofing can tolerate changing temperatures well and expands and contracts without melting or cracking. It’s usually a little more expensive than BUR roofing, but it also tends to be more resistant to punctures and UV rays.

Membrane Roofing (Rubber Roofing): Single layer membrane roofing is the most popular for commercial buildings, but it’s being used in residential roofing too. EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber roofing is perhaps the most synthetic rubber is the most common single-ply membrane roof material in both residential and commercial use. It’s also one of the more durable option for homes with flat roofs. Installed as thin sheets and being made of rubber or polymer, they’re flexible, elastic, and can handle temperature changes better than built up roofs (BURs). It also costs a little more with a similar lifespan.

Several Popular Options for Pitched Roofs

 Asphalt Shingles: Widely considered the best choice for most homes. They are relatively light, inexpensive, and easy to install. Sheets of roofing are layered to give the illusion of more expensive single shingles, like cedar or slate, that are installed one shingle at a time. This means the asphalt shingles take less time to install. An asphalt shingle roof typically has a lifespan of 12 to 30 years.

Metal Roofing: Metal roof covers are an Eco-friendly choice that’s highly recyclable and energy efficient. It’s also wind and fire resistant. The most common type of metal roof is the standing seam roof. It’s made up of aluminum or steel roofing panels with interlocking raised seams. Installation is generally faster than most other roof covering types. For those who want the longevity and fire resistance of metal, but don’t like the look of standing seam roofs, metal shingles fill the bill. These steel or aluminum shingles or shakes can mimic asphalt, wood, or slate shingles, or even clay tiles. Metal roofs can last 30-50 years or more, but typically cost four to five times as much as asphalt shingles.

Clay Tile: This is a traditional choice that offers an exceptional aesthetic appeal. They can be left as unglazed red clay tiles or glazed and fired to become ceramic roofing tiles. Clay tiles have been used to cover roofs for centuries. They’re particularly good at resisting salt and heat damage, making them a popular choice in desert and coastal areas. They are a rather expensive choice, costing as much as $30 per square foot. But since a properly maintained clay tile roof can last more than a century, they are a one-and-done solution.

Concrete Tile: If you love clay tile but just can’t bring yourself to pay the price, concrete tile presents a similar looking, but less expensive option. Unlike clay, concrete tiles can be dyed to taste. Because it is molded, concrete tiles can be shaped to mimic rolled clay tiles or low-profile roofing like wood shakes. Concrete tile is a very heavy roofing material, making it a good choice in high-wind regions. It’s also fire resistant, last up to 50 years and is little as half the price of clay tiles.

Wood Shake and shingles: Wood shingles are precision sawed, thin slabs used to cover the roof. Wood shakes are hand-cut, making them thicker and more durable than machine-made wood shingles. Wood is a good insulator, and hand-cut shake shingles can last up to 40 years in a relatively dry climate with proper maintenance. But wood is not very fire resistant and moisture can shorten the lifespan of a wood roof considerably. They are one of the more expensive options, but also considered one of the most attractive roof covers on the market today.

Slate: Very popular for historic buildings, slate roofing is very long-lasting and durable. Slate shingles are thin sheets of real stone. This traditional choice combines beauty with enhanced protection, making it one of the most desired roof coverings available. It’s pricier than most other options, costing double or triple the price of even clay tiles. A slate roof represents a compromise between cost and near-permanence since slate roofs have been known to last centuries.

Synthetic Slate: Love the look of slate shingles, but not the price? Enter synthetic slate shingles, also called rubber slate. These engineered shingles look surprisingly similar to natural slate from the ground. Made from engineered polymers and recycled plastic and rubber, synthetic slate is a lightweight alternative that makes it an option for houses that can’t support natural slate’s the heavy weight. The rubber slate shingles are not as durable as slate but can last 50 years or more. They’re also priced closer to the cost of wood shake or metal shingles, making them much more affordable than real stone.

With all the roof covering choices available to homeowners, there really is something just right for everyone. Just as each type brings a unique style and benefit to the task, it also brings its own shortcomings and wear issues.

A Certified Roof Inspector is well versed in the positives and negatives of each roof covering type. They have the specialized training to properly gage the condition of the roof covering, spot installation issues, weather damage, and wear issues that could compromise your roof’s integrity. Since the roof covering is your roof’s first line of defense against the elements, it’s important that your home inspector has the expertise needed to properly inspect the roof. Protect your investment. Insist on a certified roof inspector.


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


Why have a roof inspection

Why have a roof inspection

Why have a roof Inspection?

( Why should I have a roof inspection?   Most of us take for granted that our roof will protect ourOur Inspectors are InterNACHI Certified to do roof inspection home and everyone in it. We don’t give it much thought until there’s a leak. By then, you might be facing serious and expensive issues including structural damage, saturated insulation, ruined family treasures, and even mold.

The life expectancy of a home’s roof is 15-30 years, depending on the roof type, materials used, climate and other factors. Small amounts of damage from wind or hail can build up over time, compromising the roof’s integrity. Inadequate maintenance and poor drainage can allow moisture infiltration and accelerate deterioration, drastically shortening the roof’s life.

A proper home inspection includes a complete roof inspection by a certified roof inspector who has the trained eye necessary to pinpoint areas of weakness, leaks, and other issues that compromise your roof’s integrity. It’s an inexpensive, visual examination that provides valuable information you can use to protect your investment and help avoid expensive repairs later.

The roof is your home’s first line of defense against the elements. All other systems in the home rely on the efficacy of the roof system to protect them. If the roof fails, it puts all the other system in the home at risk, along with your personal belongings and family treasures. That’s why roof age and condition are the first thing most insurance companies and mortgage lenders ask us about the home.

When inspecting the roof, a certified roof inspector will make a visual assessment of the whole roof system from outside and inside the home. This requires a thorough understanding of the various types of roofs, the components that comprise the roof system, how each function and how they relate to each other. They must also have the ability to spot deficiencies in the roof system and know how to explain them in clear and concise language, so that home buyers and their agents know exactly what the issues are. It’s a critical part of the home inspection.

Some of the key elements a certified roof inspector will check during a home inspection include:

  • Type and pitch of roof
  • Presence and condition of ventilation systems
  • Type and condition of covering (shingles, tiles, rubber, metal, etc.)
  • Type and condition of flashing around skylights, chimneys, parapets, etc.
  • Condition of vent pipes and boots
  • Condition of chimney exterior
  • Structure of roof support system (inside and outside)
  • Signs of moisture intrusion and more

Roof styles generally include angled or pitched roofs, as well as flat roofs. Each type has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Other structures like eaves, soffits, abutments, valleys, hips, rakes, parapets, and ridges can all affect the way a roof performs. A thorough understanding of how each element works as part of the roofing system is essential to finding any weaknesses that exist.

A roof can be covered in a variety of materials. Besides traditional composite or asphalt shingles, other popular covering materials include slate shingles, wood shakes, tile, rubber rolled roofing materials, metal, and even thatching. Knowing the differences between them, the strengths and weaknesses, appropriate applications, and typical wear issues for each type is essential to determining the condition of the roof.

Your home’s roof is exposed to the direct impacts of weather, and proper maintenance is required for it to do its job of shielding your family and your belongings from the elements. Weather can cause small problems to elements of your roof. If neglected, these can easily turn into very big problems later. When buying a new home, you have no way to know whether the previous owners performed routine roof maintenance or if they simply left it up to chance.

Your certified roof inspector knows what to look for. The roof inspection will start with a visual observation of the exterior roof condition. The inspector will look for issues like loose, curled, or missing shingles; raised nail heads; signs of pitting, blistering, or hail damage; appropriate flashing and caulking around vent pipes, skylights, chimneys, etc.

The inspector will walk on the roof where possible. Once on the roof, the inspector will check for soft spots, which may indicate structural issues or rotten decking (often from current or prior water intrusion). Very steep roofs, icy roofs, and those with metal roof coverings are not accessible for safety and structural reasons. In those cases, a camera inspection of the roof will be performed using special equipment that allows the roof inspector to get a very close look at the roof elements without actually getting onto the roof.

If accessible, the inspector will enter the attic space and check the underside of the roof structure. They’ll note signs of current or prior water intrusion, whether roof ventilation is appropriate, as well as inadequate or damaged support beams and trusses.

Ventilation isn’t something most of us think about when it comes to our roofs. It seems counter intuitive that we would want air to be able to move in and out of the attic area. But proper ventilation keeps warm air from building up in your attic. In winter, this warm air build-up can lead to ice dams on the roof which damage roof shingles and tiles, and can cause water intrusion into the home. In summer, without an escape route, the heat that builds up can damage your shingles from the inside out and make your air conditioning unit work a lot harder to keep the home cool. An evenly vented roof will allow the hot air to escape, keeping your roof and attic cooler.

Attic vents are the mushroom-shaped circulating fans on your roof, and/or the openings you see on the side of your house near your roof line. These vents need to be kept clear to function properly. They can become blocked by leaves, bird’s nests, and even attic insulation. A certified roof inspector is very familiar with the various types of roof ventilation and can assess the appropriateness and functionality of the ventilation in your new home.

Organic matter can wreak havoc on your roof. Another issue your certified roof inspector will look for is the existence of moss, algae, and lichen (a type of fungus that grows with algae) on your roof structures. Lichens grow slowly, but they can penetrate deep into shingles and actually feed off their organic oil base. Foreign bodies growing on your roof are often a sign of another problem, including moisture build up, issues with ice damming during winter, and a history of poor maintenance. It is important to remove lichen, moss, and algae from your roof to prevent damage and to prolong the lifespan of your shingles.

Moisture intrusion is a critical issue when it comes to roofs. Your certified roof inspector will look for signs of water intrusion both inside and outside the home. A lot of roofing issues can lead to water intrusion. Some common issues include worn roofing materials, curled or missing shingles, roofing nails that have backed out of the roof—leaving holes, damaged or poorly installed ridge vents and flashing, among other things.

Flashing is the thin layer of metal used where the roof is penetrated by other structures like chimneys and parapets. Its job is to shunt water away from the joint, so it doesn’t get under the roof covering or inside the home. Another place where flashing is used is where different sections of roof come together. Multiple roof lines mean there will be a number of places where the roof lines intersect. Where they intersect, they are covered with flashing. Over time (or if it was not properly installed), the flashing can loosen up and allow water to seep in where the two sections of roofing meet.

Few characteristics are as important to roof performance as roof slope and drainage. Water standing on a roof increases the likelihood of leaks and moisture infiltration many-fold. Poor drainage also accelerates deterioration of roofing materials, leading to a shorter life of the entire roof assembly. In winter, water build up combined with poor ventilation can cause ice dams to form, pushing water under the roof shingles.

Since moisture infiltration is one of the most serious issues a roof can have, a certified roof inspector will check the ceilings inside the home, as well as the joint where the wall meets the roof, looking for signs of past or present moisture. Any discoloration warrants a check with a moisture meter and should be noted in your home inspection report.

Despite your inspector’s best efforts, it is still possible for a roof to leak in places where there are no visible defects or signs of a current leak at the time of the inspection. Sometimes this is because an issue is seasonal, and your inspection did not take place during the time of year when the problem occurs. Sometimes an issue was repaired inadequately and concealed by fresh paint or other coverings, hiding the defect. An inadequate repair concealed this way may allow a prior leak to redevelop over time. Although such attempts to hide known issues is unethical, some people will still try it. A certified roof inspector’s training gives them the skills needed to spot shoddy workmanship and cosmetic cover-ups most of the time. A professional roof inspection by a certified roof inspector is not a warranty against future problems, but it is still your best bet to assess the roof’s condition and head off most major issues. Protect your investment. Insist on a home inspector who is a certified roof inspector.


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


How to Clean Your Washing Machine

How to Clean Your Washing Machine

How to Clean Your Washing Machine

beleave it or not you need to clean your washing machine
You should clean your washing machine regularly

( Have you neglected to clean your washing machine? It can seem counter-intuitive at first—this is the machine
that CLEANS things, so shouldn’t it, by definition, be clean?
Nope. Dirt and grime from all those dirty clothes don’t wash away entirely and eventually builds up in your machine, as well as hard water minerals and possibly
mold and mildew. So, then you are essentially washing clothes in dirty water. Yuck!

The good news is there is a cheap and easy fix. All you need is some white vinegar, bleach and your washers hot
water cycle. Exactly which way to approach the task depends on what type of machine you have.

Front Loading Washing Machines:

Run your machine on a hot cycle using about two cups of vinegar (add vinegar to the detergent dispenser or right in the tub). Vinegar is great for cleaning grime and soap scum.

Once the vinegar wash cycle is complete, do the same thing again using two cups of chlorine bleach and the hottest water setting. This time, when the wash cycle is done, run an extra rinse cycle to make sure all the bleach has been washed away.

Don’t forget to clean the rubber seal around the door! Wipe it down using a solution of ¼ cup bleach and about a quart of warm water.

Wipe it down using a clean cloth as thoroughly as possible, then dry it with an absorbent cloth.

Top Loading Washing Machines:

Run the bleach clean first using about a quart of bleach. Fill with hot water and bleach, then let it soak for an hour or so to kill all the mold, mildew, and germs. Again, run a complete wash on the hottest water setting you have. No need to double rinse. Next, fill the washer with hot water and about a quart of vinegar. Again, let it soak for an hour. Then run it again using the hottest water setting.
Next Steps:

All machines will benefit from a simple wipe down with vinegar water. Be sure to get into the nooks and crannies, and don’t forget the inside of the door or lid!
If you can remove the soap, bleach and fabric softener dispensers, soak them in a sink or pail of soapy water for a few minutes. Clean each piece with a rag or brush. Rinse and dry them and put
them back.

Be sure to wipe down the outside of the machine with a damp cloth. Ta-da!  Your washer is sparkling!

Check out these tips for how to clean your dryer vent from Ace Hardware.

Keeping your laundry area clear of clutter


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.