3 radon myths debunked

One of the most important parts of a home inspection is radon testing.

Radon is an colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that can seep into the home through cracks in the foundation, pipes and construction joints. The only way to know if a home has been compromised by radon is to specifically test for it.

Radon is dangerous, and a home left untreated can result in serious health issues and even death. Keep the following three myths in mind when handling radon in your home.

Myth 1: Radon testing is difficult, expensive and time consuming. Radon testing is inexpensive when compared to the numerous health costs and home damage that can occur if left untreated. Although it can be tested by homeowners, calling in a professional is the best choice.

Myth 2: Radon only affects older homes. Radon can seep into any home, drafty, sealed, old or new. Local geology, construction materials and home type are only a few factors that may cause radon.

Myth 3: If your neighbor doesn't have radon, you won't either. Radon varies home to home and can happen in your home without affecting those around you.

The importance of home water testing [Video]

Why do homeowners or those who are selling their property decide to invest in water testing? 

The answer can depend on several factors including proximity of the water to a septic system, composition of plumbing materials, as well as any issues with color, taste, smell or staining properties.

Two major reasons to definitely invest in water testing is the possibility of lead and a consideration for a home water treatment unit.

At Alban, we believe that water quality is an important part of your family’s overall safety in the home. In addition to their health, other water factors such as a private well or an older home are also issues to consider.

Over time, a private well can become defective and should be inspected. Common testing on wells include bacteria, nitrates, nitrites and lead. 

The EPA, University of Maryland Water Experts and the American Ground Water Trust recommend annual testing of private wells. 

Alban inspectors are accredited to collect water in all local states and our laboratories are nationally accredited. 

3 ways to prepare your home for sale [Video]

Preparing your home for a sale may seem like a daunting process, but with the right information in mind, it doesn’t have to be.

One of the most difficult aspects often associated with selling a home is viewing it through the eyes of potential buyers. 

Keep these three simple tips in mind when developing your sales plan.

For starters, do a deep clean. Be sure to get into all the corners, behind appliances and inside closets. In addition, keep up with cleaning throughout the selling process, especially if the home is on the market for an extended amount of time.

Make minor repairs, such as a leaking faucet or cracks in the paint. These smaller issues may cause the buyer to think the home is hiding even bigger problems elsewhere. 

Finally, spend some time on the outside of the home. Consider planting shrubbery, painting over visible marks or decorating the front door. Curb appeal is one of the most important aspects of the sale.

To learn more, or to schedule a home inspection, visit our website.

Is there lead paint in your home?

Ninety-five percent of housing units built in Maryland before 1978 contain lead paint, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Is your home one of the many?

Maryland law requires all multi-family and single-family rental dwellings built before 1978 to be tested for lead paint. In addition, federal law requires the disclosure of lead-based paint in all properties sold or leased.

Lead cannot be seen or smelt. Despite this, it can create a range of serious health issues if left untreated in the home including lethargy, frequent headaches, delayed mental and physical developments, and abdominal pain.

Lead paint is most hazardous when it is deteriorating, such as chipping, flaking or chalking. It can also be dangerous when maintenance or remodeling causes lead dust or debris to surface.

Alban Inspections is lead paint inspection qualified, accredited in lead dust pre-occupancy testing, visual compliance inspections and lead risk assessments.

Schedule an assessment today to learn more.

3 ways to prevent mold exposure in your home

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, molds can be found in virtually any environment, both indoor and outdoor, year round. Although not all molds are toxic, many can have adverse effects on your health, causing upper respiratory issues and aggravating the symptoms of those who are already sick.

Prevent mold growth in your home with the following three tips.

First, be aware of any changes in the home. If you smell a musty, damp odor, it could be mold. In addition, suffering from asthma or allergy-like symptoms can be a sign as well.

Keep humidity levels as low as possible, and use an air conditioner or dehumidifier during the steamier months. As the temperature fluctuates throughout the day, be sure to check the home routinely for any changes in condensation buildup.

Clean areas of the home that get wet regularly, such as the bathroom and laundry room. In addition, immediately remove or replace any furniture or carpets that become wet.

If mold is found in your home, take action quickly. Be sure to check back here for more tips this summer.


Benefits of a home inspection for buyers and sellers

Whether you're a homebuyer, a home seller or just the resident, a home inspection can save you money in ways you never realized. Home inspections can alert you to structural issues, dangerous hidden mold and areas where your energy consumption can improve. It can also tell you key selling points of your home or what to really look for when you're attempting to find a new place to live. 

Home sellers:

  • Assess your home value with a pre-market inspection. This can also help when agreeing on closing costs and other contract expenses.
  • Gain foresight into potential issues down the road. Knowing what needs to be fixed now can save you a future headache as well as possible increasing costs.
  • Learn what home modifications and add-ons are most popular at the moment to better understand the current home market as well as increase your chances of a quick sale. 

Homebuyers:

  • Feel confident in your purchase. Seeing the house inside and out through the eyes of an inspector can give you the peace of mind you need to close a deal.
  • Invest in an educated purchase. A home inspection can let you see what areas of a home need work or time and money put into them. Knowing this beforehand may make you rethink a purchase or offer less money.
  • Plan ahead. Understanding areas of the home that need to change can help homeowners focus their money and plan on what they will tackle first after they move in. 

To schedule a home inspection with qualified, experienced inspectors, visit our website or call us today. Alban inspectors are trained in the areas of energy efficiency, lead paint inspection and testing for mold, among many others.   

Home insulation could be the next step in energy efficiency within your home

Proper home insulation can provide resistance to heat flow, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The more heat flow resistance your insulation has, the lower your heating and cooling costs will be. 

Heat can flow in three different ways: conduction, convection and radiation. The most common insulation materials slow conductive heat flow and possibly convective heat flow as well. 

There are numerous types of insulation available to protect against heat loss and keep your air conditioner from attempting to cool your home for long periods of time. Your choice of home insulation should be based on the following factors:

  • If the home is already built versus it currently being built
  • R-value you hope to achieve
  • Whether you are adding or installing insulation
  • Whether you are hiring a professional or installing it yourself.

Heat flow is measured in thermal resistance or R-value, meaning the higher the R-value, the better the insulation in your home.

Choosing a type of insulation to put in your home should be based on where you are planning on installing it and the recommended R-value areas you want to insulate.

There are numerous types of insulation materials that can be used in homes including:

  • Blanket bats and rolls such as fiberglass and minerals
  • Concrete block insulation
  • Foam boards such as polystyrene
  • Insulating concrete forms 
  • Loose-fill and blown-in such as cellulose 
  • Reflective system such as plastic
  • Rigid or fibrous such as fiberglass
  • Sprayed foam such as Polyurethane.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homeowners can reduce their bills between 10 and 50 percent by increasing the amount of thermal insulation. Saving money on these bills by implementing more insulation can also depend on other factors including your local climate, the structure, size and shape of your house as well as your family's living habits.

Ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible with a home inspection by Alban inspectors. Home energy efficiency begins with heating and insulation changes.

4 things every homeowner should know about mold

Most of us know that mold can be bad for our homes and our health, but how much else do you know about this common household plague? Education is key to reducing both your level of worry and the risks associated with living in a home with mold, so here are a few things you should know:

  • The basic facts. Mold is a fungus that is crucial in nature for the decomposition of dead matter — it's just bad luck and humans' intrusion on the natural environment that have caused molds to take up residence in our homes. Molds reproduce by the spread of spores through the air, which are invisible to the naked eye and cause many of the respiratory problems that are associated with living in a home with mold.
  • Moisture is key. Essentially, in order to get a foothold in your home, mold needs a dank, warm, moist place to grow. To prevent these from forming, you should make sure that your house is well-ventilated and that the air humidity level is kept between 30 and 60 percent. If you live in a particularly humid area, a dehumidifier will help you to keep the moisture level in your home unappealing to mold.
  • Molds can grow anywhere. Don't rule out the possibility of mold taking root on basically any surface in your home. Molds have been found living on wood, paper, fabric, other synthetic home surfaces, and of course on food. 
  • Once you can see mold growth, it's a problem. If you see even a few visible splotches of mold on your walls, chances are there's a larger problem going on underneath the surface. Consult with a professional as soon as you notice any visible mold in your home.

If you think your home might have mold, schedule a home inspection with Alban Inspections today. 

3 New Year’s resolutions for homeowners

We all want to maintain our homes as best we can, but sometimes home maintenance can get forgotten amidst all our other activities and responsibilities. This year, bring your home maintenance goals to the forefront of your mind with these 3 smart resolutions for homeowners:

  • Clear the air. If your home suffers from a lack of good ventilation, this could cause all kinds of problems, from moisture accumulation to health problems due to poor air quality. Make sure your home is well-ventilated going into the new year. And while we're on the subject of clean air, regularly testing your home for deadly radon gas and carbon monoxide is just good common sense.
  • Create a home improvement budget. For many people, home improvements are difficult to schedule because they can be relatively expensive compared to other purchases, so oftentimes there just isn't enough room in the monthly budget to accommodate necessary repairs. Creating a budget for anticipated repairs and improvements throughout the year, rather than scrambling to find the money as problems arise, will ensure you have a stress-free year in your home.
  • Get efficient. As we have often emphasized on this blog, replacing your home appliances with energy- and water-efficient devices can help you save substantially on bills while making your home more eco-friendly. Look for the EPA-certified ENERGY STAR and WaterSense labels on any products you plan to install to ensure they meet national guidelines for energy and water efficiency. 

Going into the new year is a great time to schedule a home inspection with Alban Inspections. Let us help you make sure that your home is safe, functioning and ready for the year to come. 

3 reasons other than energy savings to use green appliances

If you've been following this blog, you probably know that replacing old appliances in your home with more energy efficient models can save you a substantial amount of money. However, the focus on saving money can overwhelm the many other tangible benefits that come with energy-efficient appliances. Here are three ways living in a green home can improve your life that go beyond the energy and financial savings:

  • Increased comfort. If you're trying to skimp on your energy use for economic reasons, you're probably keeping your home slightly too cold in the winter and slightly too hot in the summer. Switching to energy-efficient heating and cooling systems will allow you to easily keep your home at a comfortable temperature no matter the season.
  • Increased home value. Buyers these days are extremely positive about energy-efficient technologies, so having them in your home will prove to be an advantage if you're considering putting it up for sale. You can often access rebates through various energy-savings programs, so you don't even have to invest much at the beginning to reap the rewards later.
  • More control over your utilities. Sometimes your utility bill can surprise you, jumping dramatically for reasons you don't understand. Green technologies like smart thermostats allow you to keep track of your energy use from your devices, and if you install solar, wind or geothermal systems, you will actually have complete control over the production and use of energy and water in your home.

If you're thinking about making the switch to green appliances in your home, contact Alban for a home energy audit today. Our experienced home inspectors will evaluate your home for potential energy improvements, then walk you through the steps of installing green appliances and accessing rebates through the programs we partner with.