Environmental FAQ'S

RADON
Radon is a byproduct of the breakdown uranium found predominately in granite type rocks in the Colorado Springs area. When granite breaks down, it releases a molecule called Radon. Homes built on granite bearing soils can have radon gas problems. Radon is a colorless, odorless “heavier than air” gas that can enter homes though the gaps and openings in the concrete slabs and foundations. When radon is breathed into the lungs, UV rays from the sun can cause the molecule to break apart which in turn releases an “alpha” particle. If the alpha particle strikes a living cell then the particle can damage the cell’s DNA and cause the cell to grow out of control, which can be cancerous. Mitigation for radon, normally includes installing a fan, to a system of pipes around the foundation of the home, which operates continuously putting a negative pressure under the home. The fan exhausts the radon into the exterior atmosphere, typically above the homes soffit line. The typical acceptable radon levels before recommended mitigation, set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in Colorado, is 4 pCi/L. (picocuries per Liter)


LEAD PAINT
House Check recommends home built before 1978 have a lead based paint test. Lead based paints can be a health hazard if inhaled or consumed. More information concerning lead based paint can be obtained by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ASBESTOS
House Check evaluates every home for asbestos materials. Asbestos was used in many applications from insulation, piping, siding and floor tiles in older homes prior to the 1980's. If removal of asbestos is anticipated, special precautions may be necessary when handling and disposing of the material. Asbestos containing material can only be verified by laboratory analysis which is beyond the scope of the normal home inspection. Further guidance is available from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

MOLD
House Check is concerned about mold and mildews in every structure. Molds can cause allergies and illnesses. Mold in Colorado is normally seen in bathrooms however any area which moisture intrudes can be subject to mold growth. Molds can only be verified by laboratory analysis which is beyond the scope of the normal home inspection. For further guidance visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for more information concerning mold.

PLUMBING ISSUES
Waste Lines

Colorado Springs has various types of sewer piping from the home to the street ranging from wood, clay, cast iron and plastic. The wood, clay and cast iron sewer lines are older types of piping that may be prone to unexpected problems. House Check recommends the waste line from the home to the street be scanned and cleaned prior to purchase of any home older than 1980 to avoid future problems. A Google search can be performed to find a qualified professional to examine the waste lines leading to the home.

Water Supply Piping

House Check keeps a keen eye out for Polybutylene supply piping. Polybutylene water supply piping came on the scene in the 1980's. This type of water supply piping has a history of failure problems at the connecting joints and deterioration from the inside due to chlorine in the drinking water. The pipes and connecting areas must be monitored for leaking. The seller should be consulted for information on any prior problems or leaking to date. Polybutylene supply piping while not inadequate in capacity, does have a propensity for pipe bursts and leaking at connections. Polybutylene supply piping was subject to a class action legal suit, nationwide, in the past which has subsequently expired. We recommend a professional pipe refitting company evaluate and replace this type of piping if needed. For more information regarding Polybutylene water supply piping can be found here: http://www.polybutylene.com/poly.html and http://www.replumb.com.

ELECTRICAL ISSUES
Federal Pacific Electric "Stab-Lok" Service Panels

House Check looks for Federal Pacific Electric "Stab-Lok" service panels. Federal Pacific Electric "Stab-Lok" service panels are a potential safety hazard. The circuit breakers Federal Pacific Electric "Stab-Lok" service panels have been known to fail to disconnect the current or fail to trip in response to an over current or a short circuit. Failure of a Federal Pacific Electric "Stab-Lok" service panel circuit breaker to disconnect the current or trip can result in a fire, property damage, or personal injury. A Federal Pacific Electric "Stab-Lok" service panel circuit breaker that may not trip does not afford the protection that is intended and required. Simply replacing the circuit breakers is not a reliable repair. We highly recommends the Federal Pacific Electric "Stab-Lok" service panel be evaluated by a qualified electrical contractor and replaced as needed. Additional information on can be obtained at Federal Pacific Electric "Stab-Lok" service panels.

Aluminum Wiring

House Check evaluates a home for aluminum solid-conductor branch circuit wiring used in the 1970's which can be a potential fire hazard. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (US CPSC) recommends that solid-conductor aluminum wiring should either be replaced with solid-copper conductor wiring throughout the building or every aluminum-wire connection should be “pigtailed to copper wires” using special connectors (AMP Corporation's COPALUM connectors) to ensure safe operation of these circuits. Because of the properties of lower grade aluminum used in the wiring, damage can result to the wire inside the casting which may not be detected that can cause corrosion and arcing. Aluminum wire connections can overheat sufficiently to ignite a fire without ever drawing enough current to trip a circuit breaker or blow a fuse. See http://inspectapedia.com/aluminum/Aluminum_Wiring.htm for detailed information including the CPSC recommendations.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
Inspections conducted by House Check, Inc. in areas east of Colorado Springs and in the mountain areas near Colorado Springs many times have well and septic systems. Both well and septic systems should be evaluated by a qualified well/septic specialist to ensure the proper performance. We do have knowledge of septic systems and explain their operation to the investor.



WELL SYSTEMS
 
Testing for bacteriological contamination is available through House Check, Inc or you can purchase a kit from El Paso County Health Dept. Be sure to do your research and choose a respectable well service corporation such as Barnhart Pumps. For more information on well systems this is a good guide: Water Wells.


Illustration of a basic well system

SEPTIC SYSTEMS
House Check, Inc. is not licensed to evaluate the septic system. Septic system evaluations should be performed by a licensed professional due to the nature of the system. Septic system requires specific care and maintenance only a professional can provide, however; House Check, Inc. does have considerable knowledge about septic system from our work with the Entech Engineering. We found a number of respectable professionals that conduct septic system evaluations. For more information on septic systems this is a good guide: Home Owners Guide to Septic Systems.
Illustration of a basic well system
Illustration of a basic well system