We serve the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area
Phone: 816–833–1090

Our job as your professional home inspector is to alert you, to the extent possible, to unknown problems and potential environmental hazards in your current or potential house. Ours is a non-invasive visual inspection of your property. While we may be able to alert you to possible problems, our basic inspection is no substitute for specialized contaminant testing.

 

Mold (fungi) is present everywhere, indoors and outdoors. There are more than 100,000 species of mold, at least 1,000 of which are common in America. Species of Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus are some of the most commonly found species. Mold most likely grows in bathrooms, basements, and anywhere else there is dampness or water. Many types of mold routinely encountered aren’t hazardous to healthy individuals. Too much exposure to mold may cause a worsening of such conditions as asthma, hay fever, or other allergies. Fevers and breathing problems in a vulnerable individual are possible but unusual. When moldy material becomes damaged or disturbed, spores, which are reproductive bodies similar to seeds, can be released into the air. Exposure can occur if people inhale the spores, directly handle moldy material, or accidentally ingest the spores. Since all molds need water to grow, mold can grow almost anywhere where there is high humidity, dampness, or water damage. Most often molds are confined to areas near the water source. Removing the source of moisture through repairs or dehumidification is crucial in preventing mold growth. Correcting underlying water damage and cleaning the affected area is the best way to treat mold. If mold contamination is extensive, a professional abatement company may be needed. Excerpts from The New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, Environmental & Occupational Disease Epidemiology, “Facts About Mold”.

 

Mold Frequently Asked Questions
Why is mold growing in my home?
Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.

 

Can mold cause health problems?
Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances.

Allergic reactions to mold are common and include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold.

How do I get rid of mold?
It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors, but indoor mold growth can be controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and also fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but don’t fix the water problem, the mold problem most likely will return.

Who should do the cleanup?
If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet, you can probably handle the job yourself. However:  If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult the EPA’s Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document is applicable to other building types.

If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations in EPA’s Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, or the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists .

If you suspect that the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system may be contaminated with mold, consult the EPA’s Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? before taking further action. Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold – it could spread mold throughout your home.
If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water.

If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.

For more information, read the EPA’s A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home.

The above information is provided as a public service by the Environmental Protection Agency for educational purposes.

Radon is a radioactive gaseous element produced in the disintegration of radium, a radioactive metallic element. It cannot be detected by the senses and can be confirmed only by sophisticated instruments and laboratory tests. The gas enters a house through pores and cracks in the concrete or through floorboards of poorly ventilated crawlspaces, especially when wet ground allows the gas to escape easily through the soil and disperse in the atmosphere. Radon is a lung carcinogen: the National Academy of Sciences estimates radon causes some 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths annually. The U.S. Surgeon General and the EPA recommend all houses be tested for radon. Houses with high radon levels can be fixed.
Excerpts from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Indoor Radon”.

Radon Map

Radon Frequently Asked Questions
What is radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soils, rock, and water throughout the U.S. Radon causes lung cancer, and is a threat to health because it tends to collect in homes, sometimes to very high concentrations.

How can radon affect people’s health?
Almost all risk from radon comes from breathing air with radon and its decay products. Radon decay products cause lung cancer.
There is no safe level of radon — any exposure poses some risk of cancer. In two 1999 reports, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded after an exhaustive review that radon in indoor air is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after cigarette smoking. The NAS estimated that 15,000-22,000 Americans die every year from radon-related lung cancer.
How do I know if there is radon in my home?
You cannot see, feel, smell, or taste radon. Testing your home is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing for radon in all rooms below the third floor.

Radon testing is inexpensive and easy–it should only take a few minutes of your time. Millions of Americans have already tested their homes for radon. Various low-cost, do-it-yourself test kits are available through the mail and in hardware stores and other retail outlets. You can also hire a trained contractor to do the testing for you.

What can I do to protect myself and my family from radon?
The first step is to test your home for radon, and have it fixed if it is at or above EPA’s Action Level of 4 picocuries per liter. You may want to take action if the levels are in the range of 2-4 picocuries per liter. Generally, levels can be brought below 2 pCi/l fairly simply.

The best method for reducing radon in your home will depend on how radon enters your home and the design of your home. For example, sealing cracks in floors and walls may help to reduce radon. There are also systems that remove radon from the crawl space or from beneath the concrete floor or basement slab that are effective at keeping radon from entering your home. These systems are simple and don’t require major changes to your home. Other methods may be necessary.

People who have private wells should test their well water to ensure that radon levels meet EPA’s newly proposed standard.

For more information, read the EPA’s A Citizen’s Guide to Radon and How to Find a Qualified Radon Service Professional in Your Area

The above information is provided as a public service by the Environmental Protection Agency for educational purposes.

 


Termites, while playing a positive role in recycling wood and plant material, become a problem when they consume structural lumber. Every year thousands of U.S. housing units require termite treatment. These pests cause serious damage to wooden structures and posts and can also attack stored food, household furniture, and books. Successful termite management requires special skills, including a working knowledge of building construction and an understanding of termite biology and identification. In most cases, it is advisable to hire a professional pest control company for the inspection and control problem.

Wood-boring beetle larvae feed on wood and wood products. Adults of some species bore holes into plaster, plastic, and soft metals. Many species cause problems when emerging from wood in newly constructed buildings because they leave small circular or oval exit holes in the wood. To avoid these problems, infested wood must be kiln-fired before being used for lumber. The species Deathwatch Beetle is primarily found in soft woods (girder, beams, foundation timbers, some types of furniture, with some species attacking books). False Powderpost female beetles bore a tunnel, or egg gallery, into wood or other materials, then deposit eggs in pores or cracks within the tunnel. Adults of some species bore through such soft metal as lead and silver, as well as plaster and other non-wood materials. Affected structural wood should be removed and replaced whenever possible.

Wood Wasps and Horntails. Wood wasp damage in buildings is likely to be more cosmetic than structurally weakening. Emerging wood wasps can chew through any substance: wallboard or plaster walls, hardwood floors, carpeting, linoleum, non-ceramic floor tiles, and other interior surfaces.

Carpenter Ants. Several species can damage wood in building and other structures. Though ants don’t eat wood, they bore into it to make their nests, sometimes causing serious structural damage. Also, they nest in hollow doors, cracks and crevices, furniture, wall voids, and termite galleries. New building infestation occurs when land-cleaning in the area disturbs existing native colonies.
Excerpts from University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, UCIPMOnline, “Statewide Pest Management Program”.

Termite Facts
A typical homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover destruction caused by termites, even though they cause over 1 billion dollars in damage to homes throughout the United States each year. It’s important that homeowners understand the threat of termites, and take the necessary steps to protect their homes.

Subterranean termites are extremely destructive. First they build tunnels to wooden structures, and then they burrow into those structures to obtain food. Any wood or cellulose-containing material constitutes termite food, and given time to do so, they’ll eat until nothing is left but a shell. Termites avoid light and air, so they build their colonies where you’re not likely to stumble upon them.

On the off chance you do see them, remember that it’s easy to confuse termites with ants. Fortunately, there are features that distinguish them.

Ants

  • narrow waists
  • bent antennae
  • two sets of wings (one wing is longer than the other)

 

Termites

  • thick waists
  • straight antennae
  • two sets of wings (same size)