• About Radon Gas

    Radon Gas

    Radon gas is created as part of the process when uranium in the soil decays. The gas then seeps through any access point into a home. Common entry points are cracks in the foundation, poorly sealed pipes, drainage or any other loose point. Once in the home, the gas can collect in certain areas especially basements and other low lying, closed areas. The Environmental Protection Agency of the US Government has a recommended action level of 4.0 pico curies per liter (pCi/L) as a safe level based on a life time of exposure at 18 hours a day. Since Radon gas is considered radioactive, long term exposure increases your risk of lung cancer.

    How widespread is the problem? Radon has been found in homes in all 50 states, no location is immune. Concentrations of radon causing materials in the soil can vary in the same neighborhood. The only way to tell for sure is to have a home tested. Tests can be taken incorrectly, so you should have a certified measurement technician take your test.

    Testing for radon comes in two forms: active and passive. Active devises constantly measure the levels of radon in a portion of the home and display those results. Passive devices collect samples over a period of time and then are taken away and analyzed. Either method can help you determine your level of risk. Over a period of days (minimum of 2), the device is left in the lowest level of the home which could be occupied if you live in the home. The test should be conducted in the lowest level that would be suitable for use when you are buying a home. Most every time this would be the basement. This eliminates crawl spaces under the house, but includes finished or unfinished basements. Then the results are analyzed and sent to you with comments.

    If high concentrations of radon are found in your home, you have several options. Since radon is only a problem when it is concentrated in high volume, it may be necessary to limit the amount of radon getting into the home by sealing or otherwise obstructing the access points. Once again, a professional should be engaged to ensure that the radon is effectively blocked. Typical radon mitigation systems can cost between $800 and $1500. The cost will depend on access to install components, additional work to seal the basement and how aggressive a system you need to correctly reduce your level.

    If you're buying or selling a home, radon can be a significant issue. Buyers should be aware of the radon risk and determine whether a radon test is desirable. When in doubt, the EPA always recommends testing. If test results already exist, make sure they are recent or that the home has not been significantly renovated since the test was performed. If in doubt, get a new test done. If you're selling a home, having a recent radon test is a great idea. By being proactive, you can assure potential buyers that there is no risk and avoid the issue from the start.

    A few common misconceptions

    It is NOT alright to leave windows open in the house when testing. Even if the test is taken in the basement with the door closed. EPA requires that ALL windows in the house must be closed to stabilize the home for a proper test. Opening a window on the second floor can change the pressure of the house and invalidate the test.

    Living on sandy soil does NOT mean you are less likely to have a Radon problem. The very opposite can be true. Radon is a gas. If it is locked in a hugh chunk of rock, it is likely not going anywhere and will decay in that rock. However if Radon gas was in sand or soil, it has an easier path to work it's way up into a home.

    There IS a difference in testing protocols when you live in a home or if you are buying a home. EPA went through the trouble of putting out two different booklets just for that reason. The two main differences that are common are where to place the test and what to do after you get the results. When you live in the home, placement depends on how you presently use the home. When buying a home, you test in the lowest area since you may use that area later. When you live in the home you have more time to take a second long term reading if the results are between 4.0 to 8.0 pCi/L or higher. When you are buying a home you don't have much time to take a second reading and you have to make a choice about what is acceptable to you. 

  • Asbestos

    Asbestos Information

    Asbestos is a tiny fiber that was used in the past primarily as insulation. It was also added to some building materials to provide added strength and flame resistance. The problem with asbestos is that it has been shown to cause lung cancer and mesothelioma in individuals that were exposed to large amounts of free floating asbestos fibers in the air. These conditions typically did not become apparent until around 30 years after the exposure. Because of the health hazards of asbestos fibers, its use in insulation and paint was banned in the 1970’s. You can also go to the following web site for additional health information www.pleuralmesothelioma.com

    What you need to know about asbestos

    Asbestos was thought to have been banned in the late 1970's. However it was overturned without much announcement. It is still legal to use Asbestos and it is present in many more building products than you would think. Even as recent as the early 2000's, the EPA has found Asbestos in several products.

    Renovations or demolitions of materials containing asbestos can release the fibers into the air. Therefore, the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) requires the owner of any property containing asbestos building materials to get an asbestos inspection prior to any demolitions or renovations of that property.

    How can asbestos be removed?
    Homeowners are permitted to remove Asbestos from their homes. However they can not dispose of it. It must be placed in marked containers and collected by a certified company. And there are other limits, such as not being permitted to remove Asbestos 6 months before selling a home. Or transferring Asbestos to another location, even if you own both. Please review the State of NH requirements before attempting to remove Asbestos on your own. Even then, it is only suggested if you are removing small amounts still left behind. Due to health risks, larger projects should still be done by professionals.

    How do I know if my home contains asbestos?
    Asbestos can only be detected by a special microscope. This requires a sample to be taken to a lab. However very often old components such as steam heat insulation, air duct wraps, exterior siding, roofing shingles and even floor tiles are known to have asbestos.

    In most cases I can clearly identify those components. As with any remodeling, repair or construction project in an older home (I can't believe I am saying a 70's home is an older home), be careful and use a mask, protective eye wear and clothing.

  • Maintaining Well Systems

    Maintaining your well system


    Although a properly constructed private well should require little routine maintenance, these tips will help protect your well system and keep it in good working order for years to come:

    • Get an annual well maintenance check, including a bacterial test.

    • Your well should be checked any time there is a change in taste, odor or appearance, or anytime a water supply system is serviced.

    • Periodically check the well cap and casing to make sure they are in good working order. A damaged casing could cause your water to become contaminated.

    • Maintain a clean zone of at least 50 feet between your well and any kennels or livestock operations.

    • Do not treat the area around the well with pesticides or fertilizer.

    • Keep the top of your well at least one foot above the ground. Slope the ground away from your well to allow proper drainage.

    • Don't pile snow, leaves, or other materials around your well.

    • Always keep your well records in a safe place.

  • Module Positions

    This template is built using the Zen Grid Framework and contains 52 module positions for you to use to create flexible page layouts. For a full understanding of how the module positions work in framework compatible templates please visit the Zen Grid Framework documentation.

    The screenshot below highlights the modules available in this template. For a run down on how we created the demo site for this template please visit the setup menu item and review the documentation available there.

  • Most Common Defects

    Common Defects

    No house is perfect. Even the best built and best maintained homes will always have a few items in less than perfect condition. Below are some of the items I most commonly find when inspecting a home:

    Roofing
    Roofing Problems with roofing material are common. Usually it doesn't mean the roof needs replacement, simply that it is in need of maintenance or repair. In many cases it is what's going on in the attic and mother nature that can stress roofing material.

    Ceiling stains
    Caused by past or present leaks, ceiling stains are very common. It can be difficult to tell whether the stains are from leaks still present, or were caused by leaks which have since been repaired. The use of a moisture meter can determine if it is active at the time of the inspection. This is one reason why a rainy day is a good day for an inspection.

    Electrical hazards
    Most common in older homes, but often found in newer homes as well. Electrical hazards come in many forms, from ungrounded outlets to wiring done incorrectly by the homeowner.

    Rotted wood
    Caused by being wet for extended periods of time, most commonly found in basement and crawl spaces, siding and trim outside, window sills and locations where two components meet such as decks.

    Heating systems
    Most furnaces or boilers seem to be in need of routine maintenance such as new filters or cleaning service at the least. Many have other issues such as faulty operation, inadequate venting or are simply nearing the end of their design life.

    Plumbing defects
    Plumbing issues commonly found include dripping faucets, leaking fixtures, slow drains etc... Even in brand newer homes, it is common to identify minor plumbing defects.

    Venting issues
    A common mistake in homes, even newer ones, is to have the bathroom exhaust fan venting into the attic. It is common to see the vent line droped over the soffit vent. The problem is the soffit vent is designed to pull air in and will pull that moisture back into the attic. I have many photos to show this. Nothing should be venting into the attic. Ideally all exhaust fans should discharge directly to the exterior.

  • RADON INFORMATION

    Radon Gas

    Radon gas is created as part of the process when uranium in the soil decays. The gas then seeps through any access point into a home. Common entry points are cracks in the foundation, poorly sealed pipes, drainage or any other loose point. Once in the home, the gas can collect in certain areas especially basements and other low lying, closed areas. The Environmental Protection Agency of the US Government has a recommended action level of 4.0 pico curies per liter (pCi/L) as a safe level based on a life time of exposure at 18 hours a day. Since Radon gas is considered radioactive, long term exposure increases your risk of lung cancer.

    How widespread is the problem? Radon has been found in homes in all 50 states, no location is immune. Concentrations of radon causing materials in the soil can vary in the same neighborhood. The only way to tell for sure is to have a home tested. Tests can be taken incorrectly, so you should have a certified measurement technician take your test.

    Testing for radon comes in two forms: active and passive. Active devises constantly measure the levels of radon in a portion of the home and display those results. Passive devices collect samples over a period of time and then are taken away and analyzed. Either method can help you determine your level of risk. Over a period of days (minimum of 2), the device is left in the lowest level of the home which could be occupied if you live in the home. The test should be conducted in the lowest level that would be suitable for use when you are buying a home. Most every time this would be the basement. This eliminates crawl spaces under the house, but includes finished or unfinished basements. Then the results are analyzed and sent to you with comments.

    If high concentrations of radon are found in your home, you have several options. Since radon is only a problem when it is concentrated in high volume, it may be necessary to limit the amount of radon getting into the home by sealing or otherwise obstructing the access points. Once again, a professional should be engaged to ensure that the radon is effectively blocked. Typical radon mitigation systems can cost between $800 and $1500. The cost will depend on access to install components, additional work to seal the basement and how aggressive a system you need to correctly reduce your level.

    If you're buying or selling a home, radon can be a significant issue. Buyers should be aware of the radon risk and determine whether a radon test is desirable. When in doubt, the EPA always recommends testing. If test results already exist, make sure they are recent or that the home has not been significantly renovated since the test was performed. If in doubt, get a new test done. If you're selling a home, having a recent radon test is a great idea. By being proactive, you can assure potential buyers that there is no risk and avoid the issue from the start.

    A few common misconceptions

    It is NOT alright to leave windows open in the house when testing. Even if the test is taken in the basement with the door closed. EPA requires that ALL windows in the house must be closed to stabilize the home for a proper test. Opening a window on the second floor can change the pressure of the house and invalidate the test.

    Living on sandy soil does NOT mean you are less likely to have a Radon problem. The very opposite can be true. Radon is a gas. If it is locked in a hugh chunk of rock, it is likely not going anywhere and will decay in that rock. However if Radon gas was in sand or soil, it has an easier path to work it's way up into a home.

    There IS a difference in testing protocols when you live in a home or if you are buying a home. EPA went through the trouble of putting out two different booklets just for that reason. The two main differences that are common are where to place the test and what to do after you get the results. When you live in the home, placement depends on how you presently use the home. When buying a home, you test in the lowest area since you may use that area later. When you live in the home you have more time to take a second long term reading if the results are between 4.0 to 8.0 pCi/L or higher. When you are buying a home you don't have much time to take a second reading and you have to make a choice about what is acceptable to you. 

  • Radon Testing

    Drougas Inspections follows EPA guide lines for conducting Radon air and water testing. I have been certified to do Radon testing and analysis for over 10 years by the National Environmental Health Association National Radon Proficiency Program.

    These qualifications are not required by the State of New Hampshire, just by me. We follow certified level testing requirements by having the equipment calibrated every year. We also send in 4 Radon canisters every 100 tests, or 3 times a year for Spiking Tests. This is where a known level of Radon is exposed, to ensure I am calculating the same results. We are the only ones who place and collect the canisters, which then go directly to our lab. There is no one else handling the equipment. I ensure that the proper protocols are followed for the test site. In addition, I closely follow and subscribe to multiple avenues of Radon proficiency and awareness information through newsletters, emails and web sites.

  • Roofing Issues

    Roofing Issues

    Of all the problems you can encounter around the house, roofing problems are by far the sneakiest. Leaks can develop unnoticed for years causing rot, mold, warping and other expensive damage.

    Experts recommend that you go into your attic or crawlspace at least once a year after a rainstorm to check for leaks and water damage. Special attention should be paid to areas where you have flashing (the metal or plastic weather stripping that will be around chimneys, pipes, vents, roof planes and eves) because this is typically the most likely area to develop leaks. It is also recommended that you visit the surface of your roof yearly – during good weather – to look for any loose, missing, eroded, warped or otherwise damaged shingles and to check the overall condition of your roof.

    You should also clean rain gutters and downspouts of leaves and other debris regularly, preferably in the fall once the trees are bare. While doing this, check for mineral deposits which could indicate the erosion of asphalt shingles.

    Many people would prefer not to inspect their roofs themselves. Roofs can be pitched at very steep angles and pose quite a challenge to those leery of heights. Inspecting the roof from an attic or crawlspace full of spiders and other creepy inhabitants may not be too attractive either. Another issue is most people are unsure of what to look for. Leaks can be hard to track – water travels downward and the damage can be far from the actual leak. Because of this, hiring an expert to inspect the roof for you is something you should consider.

    I offer unbiased roof inspections, as part of the Home Inspection. You will be provided with a detailed report of my findings complete with recommended maintenance and repair suggestions.