Environmental

When it comes to having a safe and healthy home, sometimes it’s the things you can’t see that are the most concerning. BPG Environmental Services can help provide additional peace of mind.

For your current home or a pending real estate transaction, we’re here to help. Available services may vary by market and are specially priced when bundled with your home inspection or home warranty.

RADON TESTING

Radon is an odorless gas naturally occurring in the soil, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer — behind smoking. BPG adheres to strict protocols and standards for testing, which can usually be combined with a home inspection.

Since radon is here to stay and it is a health risk we, as professionals, want to help our clients understand radon and their options. Radon has existed since the beginning of time and occurs in the ground naturally from the breakdown of uranium in the soil. The colorless, odorless gas  is drawn into our homes through cracks in the foundation and is undetectable to humans. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) high radon can be found in homes in all 50 states.

Click on some of the Frequently Asked Questions listed below to learn more about Radon.

What are the health risks?

According to EPA estimates, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer next to smoking. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. On January 13, 2005, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a national health advisory on radon. To understand if a home is at risk of high radon concentrations we recommend radon testing by a professional.

Which homes need testing?

High radon can be found in homes of all types: old homes, new homes, drafty homes, insulated homes, homes with basements and homes without. Even homes right next door to each other can have different concentrations of radon. According to the EPA, elevated levels of radon– more that 4.0 pCi/L (pico curies per liter) have been found in every state. Recommending a radon test by a professional will protect buyers both from the potential health effects of living in a home with high radon and from the financial impact of paying for a mitigation system should their home test high when they sell it.

How does radon testing work?

A testing device is set in the home to monitor the radon concentration over a period of time (usually 2-5 days). Then, the results are analyzed by a professional. Radon testing is not obtrusive to the homeowner, the testing device is typically placed in an area that won’t impact the current owners. Normal exit and entry to the home is permitted during testing, but the testing professional will advise the homeowner of simple steps to take for “closed house conditions” to ensure the radon test is conducted properly. An expert will evaluate your test and will advise you of the radon level in your home.

What if the Radon Test indicates a high concentration?

The good news is that even if a home has high radon levels, radon mitigation is relatively simple. Qualified radon mitigation contractors can install a radon mitigation system that provides a permanent solution. A typical radon mitigation system includes a suction point that addresses the soil under the structure. A pipe is sealed in the home, which forms a suction point. The pipe is routed out of the structure and terminated about the eave line. A continuously operating fan is placed in the pipe outside the living area. The fan maintains suction on the soil under the structure, thus preventing the structure from drawing the radon indoors. Typical radon mitigation systems can cost between $800 and $2500 depending on your home’s structure and the contractor selected to perform the work.

Handling radon properly may enhance the real estate transaction rather than being a deal killer.

—Ralph Holmen, National Association of Realtors® (NAR)

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WOOD DESTROYING INSECTS

Termites and other wood destroying organisms cost more than $5 billion a year in treatment and damage throughout the United States. In most cases a full WDI report can be obtained as part of our BPG Home Inspection.

Termite Prevention Tips
According to the National Pest Management Association International termites cost $5 billion a year in treatments and damage throughout the United States. While detecting and controlling termites is a job for a professional, there are several simple tips homeowners can follow to help protect their homes from termite damage.

Avoid Moisture
Since termites are attracted to moisture, avoid moisture accumulation near your home’s foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.

Check your Crawl
If your home is on a crawl space make sure your crawl is properly ventilated. Prevent shrubs, vines and other vegetation from growing over and covering vents.

Mind your Mulch
The general consensus among researchers seems to be that mulch creates a favorable termite habitat, and, while most commonly used mulches are low quality termite food sources, termites do consume them to some extent. Although there is no evidence that mulch “attracts” termites, they do create favorable conditions for termites near the home. The most important practice for detecting a termite infestation in one’s home is to leave at least a foot of concrete foundation exposed so that mud termite tunnels can be easily seen during inspection. Keep mulch several inches away from the house foundation. Never allow mulch to cover window sills or to contact house siding. Watch wood chip mulch for signs of activity if termites are present in your area. If you suspect termite activity contact several professional termite control services for inspections and estimates.

 

MOLD INSPECTIONS

Mold has become a high profile issue over the past few years as homeowners and insurance companies wrangle over the veracity of health issues and the responsibility of cleaning up mold problems. In an unusual case in Texas, a jury awarded a homeowner a million dollar settlement for damages from mold found in their home. For obvious reasons, this has gotten the attention of everyone involved in the real estate transaction process. Currently, there is no agreement among health professionals on what levels of mold are acceptable in a home. However, most homeowners acknowledge that the potential risk of mold-related health problems warrant special attention and action.

Excess Moisture is the Primary Cause
Mold requires a food source (building materials like wood or drywall cellulose) and water or moisture. By eliminating the source of moisture (water leaks, excess humidity, condensation, etc.) you can stop mold from growing in your home or building. It’s that simple. Preventative maintenance is the key. However, finding water/moisture entry points and sources can be very complicated.

Thorough Inspections Help Identify Moisture Intrusion Problems
While specifically conducting a mold inspection is outside the standards of practice for a home inspector, a good inspector will examine the property for any signs of moisture or moisture intrusion issues. Any mold issues (observed or potential) should be discussed and clearly stated in the inspection report. Our inspectors are trained to identify moisture-related problems. These problems, if any, are presented in a manner that helps our clients keep things in perspective, yet realize the potential risks of not correcting moisture intrusion issues. In many cases, homeowners can safely clean mold from the building surfaces on their own and make simple repairs to prevent further moisture intrusion. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says: “If the mold area is less than about 10 square feet (roughly a 3 foot by 3 foot patch), you can handle the job yourself.” Remember, it is important to eliminate the cause of mold rather than simply clean or mask the problem.

When is a Specialist Needed?
While mold is an important issue and may be a health concern for certain individuals, it can often be remedied without major expense or inconvenience. When signs of extensive mold are found however, a professional should be consulted for proper remediation. In addition, should a homeowner or potential homeowner have specific health-related concerns mold testing can be conducted to determine the types and quantity of mold spores — although no official standards have been established for unsafe levels. The EPA has guidelines for cleaning mold, but also suggestions about how to prevent the problems in the first place. For more information about mold please reference the EPA website.

You Can Count on BPG
In addition to our thorough inspections, we provide 12 months of our Extended Advice program so our clients always have a direct source for accurate information about their homes. For more information about mold, please call us. We’re working to be your expert — we’re working to earn your business.

If the mold area is less than about 10 square feet (roughly a 3 foot by 3 foot patch), you can handle the job yourself. Remember, it is important to eliminate the cause of mold rather than simply clean or mask the problem.

—Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)