Tuesday, September 19, 2017

School Indoor Air Quality

As our kids (big and small) return back to the hallowed halls of academia, pulling on backpacks and sharpening pencils, the indoor air quality of their learning environment certainly isn’t on their minds. A school both new and old can have harmful indoor air quality that may be affecting your child’s ability to learn as well as their health. Most people know that outdoor air pollution is bad for our health, but in indoor environments, pollutants that affect indoor air quality can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. Since we all spend nearly 90% of our lives indoors, making sure that the indoor air quality of our schools is beneficial to both our children and their teachers.

Poor indoor air quality in school buildings can be caused by many things. Many old schools are plagued by mold growth, which happens when moisture and poor air circulation meet organic materials, like insulation, the grout in bathrooms, or even school books and other paper materials. Mold can be hazardous to indoor air quality and your health because to spread, mold releases airborne spores that are easy to breathe in. Mold spores can irritate children and adults with asthma and other chronic lung conditions, as well as cause itchy watery eyes, nasal congestion, and headaches.

Indoor air quality pollutants like VOCs and other chemicals are often a problem in learning environments as well. These harmful chemicals can come from a variety of sources such as building materials, soft or hard furnishings, or the materials used to clean the building. There is a growing awareness of scent-free environments in the adult workplace, but it’s not a bad idea to consider it for schools as well, as many students are easily affected by scents in their indoor air quality.

In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that approximately 50% of schools have indoor air quality issues. Children are especially at risk because they are still growing and developing, and poor indoor air quality has been shown to make it harder for both children and adults to concentrate and focus. When the indoor air quality environment is poor, cold and flu viruses also spread quickly and affect more people, causing more absenteeism and lost learning experiences.

If you are concerned about the indoor air quality of the school your children attend, or a school where you work, the best way to create change is to get involved. Asking your parent association, school council, or board of directors to run indoor air quality testing to make sure that your school’s indoor environment is safe for everyone can give you peace of mind, especially if you have a child that suffers from chronic illness. indoor air quality issues in a school can require fixes both big and small, but providing a healthier learning environment benefits us all, and can start from small fixes, like changing to scent-free cleaning products, to larger solutions, like upgrading old HVAC and removing old building materials, such as things containing asbestos.

Get in touch with us at INSPECT IT ALL SERVICES if you’re interested in testing the indoor air quality of your school or workplace.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

How are Properties Restored After Fire Damage?

After a fire, properties are in critical condition due to fire, smoke and water damage. The only true way to restore a property after a fire is with the help of a damage restoration company. These companies use specialized equipment and techniques in a step-by-step process to bring back the property to its pre-loss condition. Here are the different stages of the fire damage restoration process:

Assessing the Degree of Damage

The restoration technicians inspect the property and assess the extent of the fire, smoke and soot damage, as well as damage from the water that was used to extinguish the fire. The restoration team will then discover all the visible and hidden damage.

Handling of Contents

After the extent of the damage is determined, the workers will move or remove items from the property. Items can be either restored or discarded, depending on the amount of damage they suffered. Restorable items can be restored on site or at a different location.

Protecting the Property

In a fire damage event, roofs, walls and windows will most likely be damaged. This can compromise the security of the property. The restoration contractor will provide board-up and roof-trap services to the property to secure it from intruders.

Removing Water and Drying

Once the property is secured, the damage restoration continues with removing the excess water that resulted from extinguishing the fire. After the water is removed, the technicians will dry the property completely to prevent further water damage.

Removing Smoke and Soot Residue

When the property is dried, the restoration team will clean the soot from surfaces, such as ceilings, floors, walls and items, using specialized equipment. The contractor will also eliminate biological and chemical pollutants and remove smoke odors using equipment such as foggers, ozone generators, and hydroxyl generators.

Cleaning and sanitization

At this stage in the fire damage restoration process, the remaining dust, debris, smoke and soot residue will be removed from items and surfaces, and the property will be sanitized.

Property restoration

In the final step, the restoration team will work to get the property back to its pre-loss condition. If needed, the property will undergo repairs and reconstruction, such as painting, replacing drywall or carpet, remodeling, or other necessary modifications. Some companies also offer demolition and complete property reconstruction services.

Finding the right fire damage restoration company is a difficult but critical task. The INSPECT IT ALL SERVICES team stands ready to provide professional restoration services to any property affected by fire, water or mold damage.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Safe Flood Clean-up Tips

Before entering a building where flood damage may have occurred, make sure it’s safe: check for electrical hazards and structural damage, and use proper protective gear like boots, gloves and respirators. Before you start any construction or repairs, check for common hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos, which may require help from professional and licenced contractors.

Then, follow these tips:

Act quickly
The severity of damage escalates the longer water sits and building components and contents stay wet, so time is of the essence in the aftermath of a flood. In fact, mold will grow within 48-72 hours, so aim to start removing water and drying the environment within 48 hours. Have a list of professionals on hand to call, and understand your insurance policy, as some only cover mold damage up to a certain amount, while others don’t provide any reimbursement for mold.

Ventilate affected areas to prevent mold growth
Mold loves moisture and organic materials such as paper or particleboard. In order to mitigate or slow damage, open windows if weather permits and place fans inside of them to keep air moving and maintain moderate temperatures. Work toward the fan as you clean to minimize cross contamination.

Assess damage to items and materials
Assess the type of water absorbed by items, such as rainwater, water from broken pipes, contaminated river water or bacteria-filled sewage. There are ways to salvage specialty items but the decision on whether to save or trash an item will vary depending on the dollar and sentimental value to the owner. It may not be worthwhile to salvage drywall, carpets and pads, mattresses, pillows, box springs and particleboard. On the other hand, it might be worthwhile to restore costly Persian rugs, leather couches and antiques or heirlooms. Wet clothing and many household fabrics may be salvageable through machine washing, and a 10-minute soak in detergent and hot water, to remove contamination and stains. The IICRC strongly recommends that in water damages where there are contaminants present (e.g., bacteria, sewage, mold) or where small children or immune-compromised individuals are present that an inspection be conducted by an appropriately trained restorer and remediator.

Expose pockets of saturation
Hidden and concealed pockets of saturation need to be opened for cleaning and drying. Layers between building materials hold water that must be discovered and removed or dried. On walls, find the water line and inspect at least a foot beyond it to make sure all damage, wet materials and mold are discovered. Remove and discard the damaged drywall and wet wall insulation. Wet carpets can usually be dried by professionals with the right equipment, but carpet padding, which is like a big sponge, should be discarded. Wood base trim and hardwood can also be saved with the right equipment if they can be accessed and completely dried on both sides. Remember to investigate concealed cavities such as behind walls, in mechanical spaces, under cabinets and furniture, and in crawl spaces.

Conduct a thorough cleaning
Durable, non-porous or semi-porous materials, such as studs and joists, hardwood flooring and vinyl products, can be cleaned with common cleaning products or specialized products with detergents. During cleaning, take care to protect areas that are unaffected by the water or mold. After a thorough cleaning of salvageable materials, a disinfectant solution may need to be applied in case of harmful bacteria from sewage, river water debris or even standing water that has gone bad. Professionals like water restoration and mold remediation contractors and indoor environmental professionals can help you decide what is best for your situation. Once you’ve cleaned the wet materials, conduct another round of cleaning. If you choose to vacuum, use a HEPA-filter vacuum to remove allergens, fine dust and spores.

Confirm drying before reconstruction
In order to prevent dry rot and structural damage, it’s important not to reconstruct or cover wood and other wet materials until the moisture content has been adequately reduced. A water restoration professional can confirm proper drying before reconstruction.

In most cases its best to call professionals to clean up and tear out the affected materials.  If you need help contact Inspect it All. We can help you with every step!

For emergency services call 306-540-6832 on our 24 hour hotline. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The warning signs of asbestosis

Asbestosis is a debilitating condition that requires immediate medical attention. However, due to the fact that many of the symptoms of asbestosis are associated with other respiratory problems, many sufferers do not receive the urgent medical attention that they need. To help you recognize the warning signs of asbestosis, we have created the following list of warning symptoms, for which you should be on the lookout:

1 – Shortness of breath

This is one of the primary symptoms of asbestosis and occurs as a direct result of inhaling asbestos fibres over a prolonged period of time. These toxic fibres can constrict lung movement and can cause sufferers to become increasingly tired and fatigued.

2 – Swelling

Inhaled asbestos fibres can also induce increased blood pressure and cause sufferers to accumulate fluid around their heart and lungs. These symptoms present themselves as swellings around the neck and face.

3 – Bloated abdomen

Once a person has inhaled asbestos fibres, these toxins can disrupt the natural processes of the body. In turn, these disruptions can lead to fluid developing in the abdomen as well as bloating and tenderness, a loss of appetite and gradual weight loss.

4 – Crackled breathing

The inflammation and scarring of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos fibres can prevent oxygen from efficiently entering the bloodstream. These symptoms can develop into a dry, crackling noise which can be heard as a person inhales.

If you, your friends, family or work colleagues notice any of these symptoms, either on their own or in conjunction with one another, then you should contact a doctor immediately. By seeking immediate medical attention you can receive an accurate diagnosis of your symptoms and receive the appropriate treatment.

Moreover, if you have any further questions about the symptoms of asbestosis, about asbestos removal procedures or if you suspect that there may be asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACMs) lurking within your residential property or commercial facility, do not hesitate to contact Inspect it All today. Our team of asbestos removal specialists will be happy to discuss your concerns, via email or phone.

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

Natural solutions to smelly house issues

No matter how much of a clean freak you tend to be, the stenches and odors of everyday life are unavoidable. But don't let that get you down — there's often an easy, homemade way to dispel stink from every area in your home.  

Here are 15 smelly issues that may occur in your home and solutions we've used or got from our customers over the years!

1. Stinky trash
Wash indoor and outdoor trash cans with hot soapy water to remove smelly bits and debris. Leave a couple of used fabric softener sheets in the bottom of your kitchen trash can and compactor to absorb odors.

2. A burnt-on food spill
If food from a casserole dish bubbles over onto the stove top or oven floor, sprinkle salt on the drips to absorb the burned smell (this will also make it easier to clean up later).

3. A musty freezer
Place a clean sock filled with dry coffee grounds inside to deodorize this pesky spot in your kitchen.

4. A smelly microwave
The awful stench of burnt popcorn seems to hang around forever, but it eventually disperses. To speed up the process, fill a large microwave-safe bowl with 1 1/2 cups water and three or four chopped lemons along with a fragrant spice, like cloves. Bring to a boil in the microwave, and then leave it to steam inside for 15 minutes (until the water cools down and can be removed safely). Leave the door ajar for an hour or so to air the microwave out.

5. A foul dishwasher
Check that the drain hose isn't crimped, and look in the bottom of the machine for bits of food and gunk. Then, pour a gallon of household vinegar in the bottom, let it sit for an hour or so, and run the washer through a full cycle. If the odor is still strong, call a plumber. It could potentially be a hazardous problem that needs to be remedied by a pro.

6. Rancid wooden cutting boards and counters
Scub the wood with a mixture of lemon juice and baking soda or salt. Rinse well and season with mineral oil.

7. A pungent kitchen
While cooking sharp-smelling items, like fish or cabbage, place a small bowl of white vinegar on the stove to absorb the odor. To stop offensive fridge smells, pour baking soda into a plastic margarine tub and poke holes in the lid; change as often as needed. Wipe down fridge walls with white vinegar to get rid of any lingering odors.

8. A sour-smelling garbage disposal
Freshen it by throwing in lemon or lime rinds while it's running, followed by lots of cold water.

9. The toilet
When this frequently used bathroom fixture needs deodorizing, pour 1 cup of household vinegar into the bowl and let it stand for at least 5 minutes. Scrub briskly and flush.

10. Not-so-fresh bathroom air
Dab essential oil (cinnamon or orange) onto cotton balls or clothespins, and place them in a small bowl on a shelf. 

11. Dingy carpeting
To quickly deodorize a smelly rug, sprinkle a box of baking soda over it, and let settle into the fibers for 30 minutes. Then, vacuum it up.

12. A musty mattress
Spray with a disinfectant like Lysol to kill the bacteria that causes odors. In between cleanings, sprinkle some baking soda onto the mattress, wait 15 minutes, and vacuum.

13. A dank basement
Open containers of activated charcoal (look for it at pet stores) absorb moisture, so they help fight mildew smells. If you find mold and mildew is a major problem, look into getting a dehumidifier.

14. A stale closet
Hanging clean socks filled with dry coffee grounds works here, too.

15. A smelly pet
Guests are about to arrive and you suddenly realize your pooch or kitty doesn't smell so pleasant. For a quick fix (until bath time), lightly sprinkle their fur with baking soda, rub it in, and then brush out.

If you're worried about anything and want a qualified expert to inspect your house and take samples then give us a call! We can walk through any issues and provide you with a comprehensive report. Contact Inspect it All today! 1-306-540-6832

Friday, June 23, 2017

Amateur Renovations Could Spell Disaster if Left Unchecked

Some of the most common problems a building inspector might find are the result of amateur renovations. When buying a property that has been renovated the first thing to determine is whether the renovations were done professionally or by an amateur. 

If the work was done with permits the vendor will likely provide proof by presenting the building permit or certificate of completion. City Hall also keeps records of all renovation or building permits and copies of these can be obtained.

Are all non-permitted renovations problematic?

Very often home renovations have been done by the home owner or an amateur contractor without a building permit. Non-permitted renovations mean that no municipal building code inspectors checked the work and some potential, and possibly significant, problems may exist. On the other hand, not all non-permitted renovations are sub-standard. Very often it is the same builders doing permitted and non-permitted work. As home inspectors we find that jobs done without permits tend to lead to short-cuts and these are often where problems originate.

What are the signs of amateur renovations?

Many people attempt electrical and plumbing work and these areas tend to show the most deficiencies. We commonly see:
  • improperly wired outlets,
  • missing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors,
  • missing GFCI (safety) outlets,
  • improperly wired kitchen counter outlets,
  • improper and unsafe wiring in the electrical panel
  • poor plumbing supply and drain line installation.

We also find:
  • Decks and additions that are inadequately framed or under-structured.
  • Insulation and other components inside walls that may not be installed properly.
  • Additions to the existing structure that are frequently a source of leaks and moisture problems.

The probability of building problems surfacing as a result of amateur renovations is much higher than for original built construction. A professional building inspector from a company like Inspect it All Home Inspections will scrutinize renovated areas for structural, electrical, plumbing, moisture and safety issues and help you to know whether the renovated property you are considering is a potential source of problems or of greater comfort, convenience and increased market-value when it comes time to sell.

Book an appointment with our Southern Saskatchewan home inspection team and we can determine whether the renovations were done professionally or not. Protect your investment!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The toxic threat of “Chinese drywall” to homes in Canada

While the risk of asbestos in home construction has been long recognized and action taken to stop it, a less well-known recent threat is the use of an extremely toxic drywall that was imported from China during the U.S. housing boom of 2004-2007 to satisfy the drywall shortage, and in response to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Many thousands of homes in the U.S. have been irreparably damaged by this substance, and the homeowners sickened, leading to extensive lawsuits.

Although there was no similar shortage in Canada, the defective drywall found its way into the country through Vancouver and has reportedly spread to the Prairies and eastward to Toronto. By 2009, many homeowners in British Columbia had reported illnesses linked to its use. The full extent of the toxic drywall crisis in Canada has yet to be revealed.

The effects of “Chinese drywall” are devastating

The devastating effects of this drywall are caused by the toxic sulphide gas it emits. When the gas comes into contact with household humidity, it gives off a noxious odour as it erodes any exposed copper or lead in the home, with the following effects:
  • scorched and blackened wiring behind wall plugs and switchplates
  • corroded coils on air conditioning units
  • malfunctioning of light fixtures and other electrical equipment
  • blackened wiring in cable televisions and converters
  • ruining of personal property such as jewelry and silverware
  • As well, affected homeowners may develop respiratory problems, eye irritation, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sore throat, and nosebleeds. Pets have died from exposure.
No repair is possible

Only a few sheets of the drywall can render homes unsafe and uninhabitable. The contaminated home cannot be repaired. The only possible recourse is to move out, gut the house, and rebuild the interior.

The drywall can be identified by the manufacturing label of KNAUF PLASTERBOARD TIANJIN (KPT). If it is discovered in your home, then promptly seek legal advice to ensure that your right to future financial compensation for your potential losses is protected.

If you are in the Southern Saskatchewan area, contact us to book a home inspection today!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The 6 Most Toxic Household Chemicals

Each year, Canadians spend millions of dollars on household cleaning products. Even though they are a common sight in homes and properties, most household cleaners and chemicals are dangerously toxic. To avoid serious accidents, any chemical product should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions and stored safely, especially if there are children or pets living in the home. 

Here are a number of common household chemicals that can cause severe health problems:

1. Antifreeze

Swallowing antifreeze (ethylene glycol) may cause damage to the heart, brain, kidney and other internal organs. Inhaling antifreeze is not as dangerous, but may cause dizziness.

2. Bleach

Being a strong corrosive substance, bleach can affect the respiratory system if inhaled. Bleach can also irritate or burn the skin and eyes. Ingesting bleach can cause pulmonary edema or vomiting and coma. Wearing rubber gloves and a dust mask when using bleach is strongly recommended.

3. Drain Cleaners

These dangerous substances contain lye and other chemicals known to cause burns to the skin and eyes, and even blindness in severe cases. Swallowing a small amount of drain cleaner can severely affect the throat, stomach and may even cause death.

4. Carpet or Upholstery Cleaners

Carpet cleaners contain naphthalene, which are known to cause cataract formation and liver damage over long exposure. The perchloroethylene in carpet cleaners is carcinogenic, and it may cause dizziness, headaches, kidney dysfunction, neurological damage and other problems from short term exposure.

5. Ammonia

Ammonia produces fumes that can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. People suffering from asthma or heart or lung problems should avoid using ammonia. Mixing ammonia with chlorine products (such as bleach) produces an even more dangerous gas which is potentially fatal.

6. Air fresheners

Air fresheners are known to contain formaldehyde, a strong (possibly carcinogenic) substance that irritates the skin, eyes or throat. They contain other dangerous chemicals which may cause nervous system damage or pulmonary edema in sensitive individuals. Tips to safely keep indoor air fresh are available here.

These are just some of the more damaging household chemicals commonly found in homes. There are many other cleaners which contain potentially dangerous chemicals. To be on the safe side, homeowners should avoid purchasing products marked Danger or Poison on the label.