Have the confidence that your dream home is as perfect as it should be with a Pre-Purchase (Buyers) Home Inspection. Our team of professional home inspectors will analyze all areas of the home you are interested in purchasing. A home inspection from Blue Guardian covers all areas of the interior and exterior of the home, including roofing, siding, appliances, electrical systems and much more.

 

With advanced technology and industry-leading knowledge, you are guaranteed to have the most accurate home inspection in the Chicagoland metro area. Following the home inspection, you will receive a detailed, digital report explaining the condition of the home as whole, as well individual areas. Our team will draw attention to areas that may need maintenance in the future and those that will need immediate attention.

 

A thorough home inspection is a crucial step in the home buying process. If you are looking to purchase a new home, trust the professionals at Blue Guardian to report the home’s condition accurately.

Any homeowner will agree that homeownership includes a lot of maintenance on a regular basis. If some of these tasks or maintenance items are left unattended too, they can lead to a home system not running as smoothly as intended. One maintenance item that should not be overlooked is changing the filter on your home’s HVAC system. This is a simple and inexpensive task, and should be taken care of at least every three months.

Types of Filters

A majority of HVAC and furnace filters are disposable and are designed to capture or trap as much airborne debris as possible. Filters can typically be purchased in a bulk multi-pack, and there are lots of different types and sizes that will fit the different models of furnace/HVAC units. It’s also very important that the correct type and size filter is purchased for your particular unit. Using the wrong size or type of filter can also create problems as having a dirty filter. Ask your helpful HVAC technician or installer to show you exactly where the filter goes and how to remove and install a new one. You might want to go a step further and have your HVAC technician or yourself write the filter size that your furnace requires on the side of the furnace. Here are just a few of the different types of filters that can be purchased.

Fiberglass Filters – these are the most common types of air filters due to the affordable options on the market.

Pros

  • Price: A fiberglass filter is one of the cheapest options out there.
  • Effective: These filters do a great job when it comes to dust and lint.

Cons

  • Not an air purifier: These aren’t great at capturing smaller particles. This means they don’t do much to clean your air. In short, they just protect your HVAC system.
  • Not the best choice for breathing issues: If a family member has allergies or asthma, you might want to consider a different kind of air filter.
  • Clogged easily: These filters easily become clogged with dirt, dust and debris so it’s important to change these regularly.

Pleated Air Filters – these have more surface area which allow for better filtration and are good at handling things like mold spores and pet dander. These filters tend to be on the more expensive side.

Pros

  • Better filtration: These filters have more surface area which allow for better filtration. Pleated filters are also good at handling things like mold spores and pet dander.
  • Replace less often: They last longer than most fiberglass filters and it’s possible to recycle used filters.

Cons

  • Pricey: They are more expensive.
  • Reduced Airflow: Over time, this may mean your home’s HVAC system loses efficiency.

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters – HEPA filters are those with a MERV rating of 16 or higher. Most homes don’t need this level of production. They can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles, including mold and other allergens as tiny as 0.3 microns.

Pros

  • Effective at cleaning the air: HEPA filters are a great way to clean air indoors. Allowing family members to breathe easier.
  • Cost-effective: It can be years before you need to replace one of these filters

Cons

  • Must be adjusted specifically to your HVAC system: Only recommended for family members with severe breathing problems.
  • Can’t protect against everything: Odors, fumes and gasses are no match for HEPA filters.
  • Expensive upfront investment.

Electrostatic Filters – these use a mixture of fibers to create static electricity. This helps to attract dust and dirt particles. These filters are a great choice for those who need to combat allergens.

Pros

  • Cost-effective: You can cut costs with reusable ones.
  • Effective at improving air quality: These filters can remove most pollutants from your air.

Cons

  • May struggle with large particles: They do great with small pollutants. But when it comes to dust and mold spores, they aren’t as effective. These are not great options for those with breathing problems.

How Often to Change HVAC Filters?

Typically HVAC units will tend to be used year-round. With that said homeowners should change these filters every three months, but possibly more often.

Change your filter once a month if:

  • You run your unit six months a year to year-round.
  • You have pets. Pet dander or hair can become airborne and can get into your home’s ventilation system.
  • You have a large family. The more activity in a home means more dust, dirt and debris.
  • You smoke indoors.
  • Your household suffers from allergies or respiratory problems.
  • You have a fireplace that you use on a regular basis.
  • You live on or near a working farm or ranch.
  • There is construction taking place around or near your home.

Change your filter right away if:

  • You notice the filter is damaged. Damaged filters that have bent fins, collapsed cells or holes will not work as well.
  • If your filter is damp. Filters affected by moisture, condensation or even high indoor humidity can become moldy and can spread those mold spores throughout your home.
  • If you already notice microbial growth or mold on your filter. Mold spores that are circulating inside your home through the HVAC system can pose a health hazard for your family.

Tips on how to Change your Filter

  • Make sure to turn off your unit before changing the filter.
  • Use the right size and type filter for your unit and make sure it is not damaged.
  • Make sure to install the filter properly so that it is not installed backwards.
  • If there are gaps around the filter frame, you may have the wrong size filter.
  • Clean up any dust with a rag before and after you change out the filter.
  • Replace any levels, gaskets or seals.
  • When turning on your unit make sure the filter stays in place.

We hope these maintenance tips came in handy for you and your family. Remember those who take care of these easy tasks can help prevent system downtime and avoidable expenses. Not to mention helping their family breathing comfortably.

What exactly is mold?  Mold is a type of fungus. These tiny little organisms can come in all sorts of colors like black, white, green, orange or purple and can live almost anywhere indoors and outside, given they have a wet environment.  Molds thrive on moisture and spread using lightweight spores that can travel through the air.  Everyone is exposed to mold every day which is usually harmless in small amounts.  But when these spores land on a damp spot in your home, they can start to multiple.

Mold Basics

  • The key to mold control is moisture control
  • If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix any water or moisture problems.
  • It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.

Why is mold growing in my home?  Lets face it, no one wants to see mold growing in there home.  But molds do play a very important role in our natural environment.  As we can see outdoors, molds play a part in breaking down dead organic matter, such as fallen leaves and dead trees.  But of course indoors, we want to avoid mold growth as much as possible.  Mold likes those areas of the home where it is wet or damp, mold thrives in those areas.  One way to avoid mold growth is to keep those trouble areas dry as best as possible.

How do I get rid of mold?  It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors.  Some mold spores can even be found floating through the air and in house dust.  But as stated above mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present.  If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem.  If left untreated, a water problem can turn into an even bigger issue.

Tips and Techniques.  Below you will find helpful remedies for mold removal and cleaning.  Professional cleaners or remediators my use methods or products not listed here.  Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage.  It may not be possible to clean an item to its original appearance.

  • Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible.  Dry all items completely.
  • Scrub mold off of hard surfaces with detergent and water, dry completely.
  •  Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely.
  • Do not paint or caulk over moldy surfaces.  It is always recommended to clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting.  There are also specialty mold killing primers on the market that prevent the growth of mold.

What Is Asbestos? Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral fiber that can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers, all of which are composed of long and thin fibrous crystals.  Each fiber is composed of many microscopic “fibrils” that can be released into the air by abrasion and other means.  What does abrasion mean?  Abrasion is the process of scuffing, scratching, wearing down or rubbing away.  In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance.  However, in todays age, asbestos is a very well-known health and safety hazard.  Breathing in of asbestos fibres can lead to serious lung conditions, including asbestosis and cancer.

How Can Asbestos Affect Human Health? From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards, we know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer in the forms of mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity, and asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.  Even though many steps were taken in its prohibition in mainstream construction we can still see the effects.  Exposure can take decades to arise, at least 100,000 people are thought to die each year from diseases related to asbestos exposure.

Asbestos Do’s and Don’ts for Homeowners.

  • Do: leave undamaged asbestos-containing materials alone.
  • Do: take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos-containing material.
  • Do: have removal and major repair done by qualified licensed asbestos contractor.  It is highly recommended that sampling and minor repair also be done by a trained and accredited asbestos professional.
  • Don’t: dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
  • Don’t: saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in asbestos-containing materials.
  • Don’t: sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing.
  • Don’t: track material that could contain asbestos through the house.  If you cannot avoid walking through the area, have it cleaned with a wet mop.  If the material is from a damaged area or if a large area must be cleaned, call a licensed asbestos professional.

Where Would Asbestos Be Found, and When Can it Be a Problem? Most products made today do not contain asbestos. Those few products made which still contain asbestos that could be inhaled are required to be labeled as such. However, asbestos was widely used during the 20th century until the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos.  Common products that might have contained asbestos in the past, and conditions which may release fibers, include:

  • steam pipes, boilers and furnace ducts insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape. These materials may release asbestos fibers if damaged, repaired, or removed improperly;
  • resilient floor tiles (vinyl asbestos, asphalt and rubber), the backing on vinyl sheet flooring, and adhesives used for installing floor tile. Sanding tiles can release fibers, and so may scraping or sanding the backing of sheet flooring during removal;
  • cement sheet, millboard and paper used as insulation around furnaces and wood-burning stoves. Repairing or removing appliances may release asbestos fibers, and so may cutting, tearing, sanding, drilling, or sawing insulation;
  • door gaskets in furnaces, wood stoves and coal stoves. Worn seals can release asbestos fibers during use;
  • soundproofing or decorative material sprayed on walls and ceilings. Loose, crumbly or water-damaged material may release fibers, and so will sanding, drilling or scraping the material;
  • patching and joint compounds for walls and ceilings, and textured paints. Sanding, scraping, or drilling these surfaces may release asbestos fibers;
  • asbestos cement roofing, shingles and siding. These products are not likely to release asbestos fibers unless sawed, dilled or cut;
  • artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces, and other older household products, such as fireproof gloves, stove-top pads, ironing board covers and certain hairdryers
  • vermiculite has been used in industrial applications and has been used as insulation.  Some deposits of vermiculite have been found to be contaminated with small amounts of asbestos.

What Should Be Done About Asbestos in the Home? If you think asbestos may be in your home, there is no need to panic.  Usually, the best thing to do is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. There is no danger unless the asbestos is disturbed and fibers are released and then inhaled into the lungs. Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don’t touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage, such as tears, abrasions or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow. Sometimes, the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it.  Check with local health, environmental or other appropriate agencies to find out proper handling and disposal procedures.  If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed. Before you have your house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present.

Who Should Remove and Dispose of Asbestos?  In the United States, the EPA governs the removal and disposal of asbestos.  Companies that remove asbestos must comply with EPA licensing.  These companies are called EPA licensed asbestos contractors.  Anytime one of these contractors performs work a test consultant has to conduct strict testing to ensure the asbestos is completely removed.

What Methods to Remove Asbestos?  One method that can be used is asbestos abatement which is a set of procedures designed to control the release of asbestos fibers from asbestos containing materials.  Anytime where asbestos abatement is taking place, occupants of the home are not allowed to enter the area.  Typically, the area of which the asbestos is being removed has to be sealed off in order to prevent contamination to other parts of the home or area.  To seal off an area, materials used are polyethylene film, duct tape and negative air pressure machines which are fitted with HEPA filters.  The main idea is that the contained area is pulling fresh air in as to not let asbestos fibers escape out into the surrounding environment.  It also may be necessary to seal off from the outside atmosphere so that no accessible air is contaminated.