Five home inspections you would rather not flunk

By Davison Cheney

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Feb. 24 2012 10:26 p.m. MST

Vintage homes, ones built before 1978, will have lead-based paint. Whether on interior or exterior surfaces, it's not harmful unless the paint is ingested, but those eating walls or chewing on window sills are generally children.

The danger is when cured lead paint flakes, peels or is chewed off of outside surfaces, where particles can be ingested or contaminate a vegetable garden. The interior paint has probably been painted over more than a few times and is well encapsulated in a Latex-based product.

When remodeling, contractors generally prefer to simply remove lead paint-covered exteriors rather than attempting to strip layers of lead.

A simple paint chip can reveal the nature of the paint.

No. 4: Asbestos is fourth. Asbestos was commonly used as insulation for boilers, furnaces, and water pipes leading from radiators. It was also used in vinyl flooring, cement-and-fiber siding, and composite roofing materials.

The health threat from Asbestos comes from the softer form found in insulation. When it is disturbed, it sends up a cloud of dust that is toxic when inhaled. When you see a white cloth covering ductwork, it is safe to assume that it's asbestos and is not safe to remove without a licensed professional. A quick check of the home's construction and a talk with neighbors can help you confirm the presence of Asbestos, and a realtor worth his/her salt can as well.

No. 5: Thermal inspections dramatically illustrate the differences between electrical wiring in a new home and an older home by use of colorful photos. Older home wiring was not typically grounded — easy to tell as older meant two prongs and newer means three.

Also, the electrical box in you grandpa's house, or an older one you are wishing to purchase had either 60 or 100 amps, where modern homes have 200 — the new standard.

Grandpa's house was probably not fitted with a Ground Fault Interrupter circuit, which is responsible for cutting the power if anything plugged into the current contacts water — important for bathrooms and kitchens.

A simple infrared scan can point out hotspots where the power is overloaded before anyone gets burned.

More information for the state of Utah can be found at www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region8.html.

Davidson Cheney writes, often humorously, at davisoncheneymegadad.blogspot.com

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