Monday, July 24, 2017

Why does condensation form on the outside of some windows and not others in the morning?

The dew point is the temperature at which moisture in the air will condense on a surface. It fluctuates with the outdoor temperature and relative humidity, which have an inverse relationship to each other. 

Because cold air can hold less moisture than warm air, as the temperature falls the relative humidity rises and, when the temperature of a surface falls enough, it reaches the dew point—which is 100% relative humidity—and condensation forms. The window glass of an air conditioned home will be cooler than the outdoor air on a warm morning and reaches the dew point temperature before other outdoor surfaces. 

Occasionally, we get asked the question “Why do I have condensation when my windows are insulated?” An insulated window still has some heat/cold transmission, and the exterior glass surface will still be slightly cooler because of the chilled indoor air.

Trying to determine why one window has condensate on it and a nearby one does not can get complicated due the variables at the different locations. Here’s few things that can affect the formation of condensation:

  • The direction the window is facing.
  • The level of shade from an overhang or tree.
  • Minor leakage of the gas between the panes of an insulated window will deteriorate its performance and allow the outside  surface to be slight cooler than an adjacent window with no leakage.
  • Moisture is constantly rising out of the ground and, if a window is over damp soil, the higher humidity above the soil may cause condensation sooner than a window on a screen porch on the same wall. 
  • The indoor temperature of one room of the house may be slightly cooler than another room and decrease the temperature of the glass.
  • Any combination of these variables.
If you suspect that the condensation is due to the loss of the inert gas between the panes of an insulated window, eventually the problem will show itself as a cloudiness on the glass. It forms on the surfaces of the panes of glass that face the inert gas space, so the haze cannot not be cleaned away.

If you want your windows inspected then call us! We are home inspection experts! We can inspect your windows and give you a report on the condition and advise on replacement or repair. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Buying a Century Home

Living in a century home is a romantic proposition: The high ceilings, hardwood trim, large fireplaces, plaster walls, and decorative ceilings are all features that are rare in a more modern home.  Anyone who appreciates antiques or old cars knows that there is something special about the old designs. 

These homes are also commonly located near the downtown areas and are in very established neighborhoods with large trees and expansive parks. Who wouldn’t want to live in an old home? Century homes certainly have their charm, but it is not all roses owning one. Before you purchase a century home it is important to have the right expectations.

Common Deficiencies

Older homes come with older mechanical systems, much of which will be at its end of life. 100+ year old plumbing and electrical have served its time and may need to be updated. These types of projects are potentially expensive and invasive in order to retrofit an older home to modern standards. If the electrical and plumbing has already been updated, was it completed by a qualified professional, or was it done by an unskilled homeowner. It is common for home inspectors to find that the electrical and plumbing was only partially or poorly updated, and the more costly undertakings are not completed.

It is also normal for older masonry walls and stone foundations to need some repairs. Masonry, like all building materials, needs maintenance and is commonly ignored as it does not typically affect the homeowners’ daily routine. The mortar is the glue that holds the structure together and ignoring it too long can weaken the building and result in more expensive repairs.

A large percentage of century home basements leak. There was no foundation damp proofing, no drainage membrane, or weeping tiles when it was built. They relied on being built on high ground which may have changed over time.  Many of the homes have damp musty basements and in some circumstances the structure has wood rot if the moisture problems were ignored over long periods of time. Controlling the dampness can be as simple as fixing grading and installing a dehumidifier or as complicated as damp proofing the foundation.

Rotted wood sills, lintels, windows, and structure can be found in particularly poorly maintained century homes. Wood rot can be problematic as you will not be able to understand the full scope and cost of the repairs until everything is pulled apart.

Living in a century home is not always as comfortable as a modern home. In the past 50 years there have been great advancements in energy efficiency. For older homes this means significantly higher heating and cooling costs. For example, it is typical for century homes to lack a second floor furnace return as it was not necessary before air conditioners were invented.  This can create an awfully warm second floor in the summer.

Are older homes better built?

It is common to hear someone profess ‘they don’t build them like they use too’.  While there is a kernel of truth in this statement, it is mostly based on nostalgia. Some century homes are very well built and have stood the test of time, while others were poorly built by unskilled homeowners. Remember, there was no building code a 100 years ago, anyone could build what they could afford.  Typically the nicer more solidly built century homes were in affluent neighborhoods.

Insurance Challenges

It has become increasingly difficult to find insurance companies that will cover homes with knob & tube wiring, fuse panels, 60 amp electrical service, galvanized plumbing etc. Many people are surprised to find out they will be required to make repairs or replace systems on their insurance companies timeline to obtain coverage.

Insurance on century homes can be more expensive than a modern home due to the increased costs in repairs and higher risk. It is highly recommended to consult with your insurance provider prior to looking at century homes and then again after your home inspection to assure you can obtain the coverage you need.

Environmental Concerns

There are a number of building materials in older homes which are known to have health concerns. Most notably is asbestos. The likelihood of a century home containing asbestos is fairly high as it was potentially used in almost all materials that are not metal, glass, or wood. Some of these materials are considered low risk if left undisturbed. It is important to note since most home improvements involve some demolition, additional costs may be incurred where asbestos containing materials are suspected due to the necessary remediation.

Lead pipe was used in many houses up to the 1950s as the water service line from the street. Lead was also a component of solder for copper pipes until the 1980s. To a lesser extent, lead can also be found in some plumbing fixtures.

For the typical homeowner, the highest risk of exposure to lead is from paint. Lead was used extensively for pigmentation and as a drying agent in oil-based paints until the early 1950s.

It is important to understand the potential concerns with these materials prior to buying a century home. Both Health Canada and the Environmental Protection Agency have good articles on the subject.

First time home buyers

The underlying concern for first time homeowners is that they are not financially prepared for the additional costs associated with owning a century home. It is normal for a first time homeowner to sink all of their savings into the down payment. If the home inspection uncovers one or two major repairs, there isn’t the reserve funds to cover the costs. You should have substantial emergency funds in addition to your down payment to consider purchasing a century home. If you are still set on purchasing a old home I highly recommend using an online calculator to determine if the costs of ownership are within your budget.  Remember that the cost of repairs, heating & cooling, and insurance are all higher in an older home.

After reading this you may think that we dislike century homes. In fact, we love old homes! Inspecting a 100 year old building is like a walk through history. Each one telling its own story. While it is important to have the right expectations when considering a century home, they can be a joy to live in for the right owner.

Mike Cornford is a Certified Inspector with over 20 years experience in construction.Inspect it All Home Services provides professional home inspections in the Southern Saskatchewan Area. Call us today!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Indoor Air Quality In Cars

We often wonder about the indoor air quality in our homes, But has it actually crossed your mind that the air you are breathing in your car could be even more toxic than the air you breath at home? 

Is The Air You Breathe Inside Your Car Toxic?

It is true we all require clean indoor air quality in our homes, but have you thought about the effect of the air quality you breathe in your car.Lungs in our bodies are the primary filters we have. When they become filled, our health suffers. Most of the people in North America drive 100km a day between home and office, then add to that, driving to after school activities for the kids and then our own after hour activities, and you could easily be spending 2 to 4 hours inside your car.

Many cars, trucks, and especially RV’s also have tiny leaks that allow moisture to get into the vehicle, which allows sinus infection causing agents to thrive. RV’s are troublesome as they tend to have more seams that leak, which allows mold to grow, creates that mildew smell, and if you spend time there, allows a sinus infection to happen. RV air conditioners often promote mold and bacteria growth because they are seldom cleaned, and the condensation provides the necessary moisture.

Sorry to say, but latest and continuing surveys show that air inside your car is twice or five times more polluted than that of your house or your place of work. After all, the car is just a smaller version and more enclosed space than your house or workplace and is more susceptible to allergies related to fungus and symptoms similar to sick building syndrome. Fungi can penetrate the air through air streams and aeration systems, spreading virulent allergens and microorganisms. Every passenger in your car and that includes you is inhaling particles of dust, greenhouse gasses, and car exhaust fumes – in addition to formaldehyde, other numerous irritants in the car from pet dander, spoiled food to cigarette stains.

According to Anders Lofvendahl, project manager at Volvo, “In hot climates, volatile hydrocarbons evaporate from plastics and textiles.” All of these factors can exacerbate asthma and allergies and create a toxic environment for you and your family. Also, the study done by The International Center for Technology Assessment showed that in the 23 independent methodical experiments carried out, it revealed that air pollution levels in cars often reach concentrations that may endanger human health. The study continues to assert that air inside vehicles contains more deadly chemicals (the likes of carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene), fine particle matter, and nitrogen oxides than ambient air as shown on the outcome in nearby monitoring stations utilized to calculate government air quality statistics.

Think about it – every car and truck on the road are inhaling and exhaling toxic air – and that air is in your car. The whole time that you are on the road that is the air that gets into your lungs and breathes while you remain inside that enclosed, polluted space.

So here are a few suggestions on how to battle the toxic air in your vehicle;

Air Filters;

Changing the air filter in your car is as vital as changing the furnace`s filter, The air filter in your car is the first defense against air pollution before your lungs! Try to change the air filter regularly, And never go for the cheaper air filters.This is not something you would want to cheap out!

Plug-in Air Purifiers:

A few suggestions are to plug in an air purifier (in the cigarette lighter plug in – better use for it anyway) that uses negative ions to remove contaminants from the air, air filtration systems for the car, or air freshener ionizers. The outer opening is shut while the windows are kept up. The only thing is – your dog won’t be able to hang his head out the window!

Don`t Smoke in Your Vehicle:

Smoking in cars is as bad as smoking indoors.

Aside from the health hazards on your lungs, Cigarette smoke will deteriorate the indoor air quality in your car, Some people tend to believe that airing out the vehicle with diminish the harmful effects in terms of the vehicle`s indoor air quality but that could not be further from truth!

Try To Air Out the Car by Opening the windows as much as possible:

Rolling down your car windows will always allow fresh air in while letting the toxins out, It has been recommended to roll windows down 30 seconds for every 5 minutes of driving. (Depending on weather/traffic) conditions.

Try to Avoid Driving During The Rush Hour as Much as Possible:

In this day and age it might sound almost impossible to avoid driving in rush hours completely but keep in mind that vehicles emit emission gasses, Regardless of their age nor brand, What exits from other cars exhaust will get sucked into your vehicle.

Get Your Car Steam Cleaned:

Whether the interior of your car is made out of cloth, Or leather, It is good to know that there will always be bacteria and toxins in your car`s carpet or seats, The same principal with carpets at home, Try to get the interior of your car steam cleaned at least once a year.

Be Mindful of the Air Freshener You are Purchasing for your Car:

The Air Freshener industry is not regulated! Click here to read the blog post regarding air
fresheners, If most of them are hazardous to your health, The same rule applies to car air fresheners.

Try something natural like lavender, Lavender will freshen up your car without leaving any harmful effects on your car`s indoor air quality.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Home Inspections AFTER PURCHASE are now a thing!

You have bought your dream home, BUT you had to by-pass the home inspection so you could make an offer without conditions just to get it!  Although it is not a good idea, unfortunately in today’s market this is what is happening. The good thing for you is, it's not too late!  You can still get that home inspection after the sale has gone through.  

No, it won’t change the fact that you are the new owner of the home and any problems are now your responsibility… will give you a heads up as to what potential problems you may encounter.  If you are aware of what may arise, at least you will be able to budget for the repair and plan ahead.  Knowledge is power and knowing if you are going to have problems will definitely give you the upper hand.

There is no difference between the home inspection that will be done after the purchase compared to before.  The professional you hire to do your inspection will review and check everything the same way.  Since there is no pressure to get your home inspection done immediately, you now have the opportunity to take your time and make sure you are having a reputable company do your inspection.

Keep in mind the following when choosing the company:
  • They are certified to perform quality home, property and building inspections
  • They have experience in performing inspections
  • They are licensed (mandatory in some Provinces)
  • They carry Liability Insurance
  • They have professional training and participate in ongoing training
  • They provide thorough and detailed reporting at the time of the inspection
  • They are welcoming, professional and courteous
A full inspection should include:
  • roof, vents, flashings, and trim;
  • gutters and downspouts;
  • skylight, chimney and other roof penetrations;
  • decks, stoops, porches, walkways, and railings;
  • eaves, soffit and fascia;
  • grading and drainage;
  • basement, foundation and crawlspace;
  • water penetration and foundation movement;
  • heating systems;
  • cooling systems;
  • main water shut-off valves;
  • water heating system;
  • interior plumbing fixtures and faucets;
  • drainage sump pumps with accessible floats;
  • electrical service line and meter box;
  • main disconnect and service amperage;
  • electrical panels, breakers and fuses;
  • grounding and bonding;
  • GFCIs and AFCIs;
  • insulation and ventilation;
  • garage doors, safety sensors, and openers;
  • and much more.

Your home is a major investment, the more information you have about your new purchase the better.

Mike Cornford is a Certified Inspector with over 20 years experience in construction. Inspect it All Home Services provides professional home inspections in the Saskatchewan Area. Call us today!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Forest Fire Smoke and Your Health

Forest fire smoke can affect your health. Persons with respiratory or heart conditions, such as asthma, can experience worsened symptoms during minor and severe smoke events. During severe smoke events even healthy individuals can be affected and may experience irritation of the eyes, throat and possibly shortness of breath.
Everyone – and in particular those with pre‐existing respiratory or heart conditions – should monitor their symptoms and seek medical care if symptoms worsen.

Who is at risk?
Those with pre‐existing heart and respiratory conditions such as asthma are most at risk; however, everyone can be at risk during a severe smoke event and should monitor their symptoms. Take appropriate precautionary measures and seek medical care if symptoms worsen.

How do I protect myself?

During a severe smoke event:

  • Reduce or avoid strenuous outdoor activities – especially if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation. Children, the elderly and those with pre‐existing medical conditions, such as heart and respiratory disease,should be especially cautious.
  • Do not rely on dust masks, bandanas, and cloths (even if wet), since they are designed to trap large
  • particles and not designed to protect lungs from smoke.
  • Reduce or eliminate exposure to outside air when inside (e.g.) close windows and close ventilation
  • systems that bring outdoor air indoors.
  • Stay inside and turn on your air conditioner (check to make sure it does not bring outdoor air indoors). Or, go to an air‐conditioned public space (mall, library, church) to reduce exposure to outdoor air.
  • If you have an HEPA air cleaner that will reduce levels of small particles in indoor air, use it and stay in the room where it is located.
  • Avoid tobacco smoke exposure ‐ smoking puts added stress on your lungs and those around you.

Where can I go for more information?

  • Current air quality conditions and the air quality index (AQI) can be accessed from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment
  • Visit HealthLine Online at for advice on symptoms and precautions.
  • HealthLine is available 24/7 across Saskatchewan at 811.
  • Alberta Wildfires
  • Alberta Ministry of Environment
  • BC Air Quality Advisories