Home Concerns

Our inspections cover many areas of your home. Click on each item to learn more.
Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber. It was originally added into building material to add fire retardant and thermal insulation properties. As of July 12, 1989 the E.P.A banned the use of most asbestos materials used in homes. If you do find asbestos in your home it is not of major concern as long as this asbestos does not become friable (airborne). If asbestos is not friable it is not harmful. The most cost effective way to ensure that asbestos does not become friable is to have a certified asbestos contractor evaluate and contain the area with an E.P.A approved sealant.
Heating Systems
The most common basic heating systems are, Forced Hot Air, Fin Tube, Radiant, Electrical Baseboard, and Steam Heating. What do all of these systems have in common? They all are means of distributing heat throughout your home. Any of the five heating systems listed below is most likely found in any home in the United States.

A Forced Hot Air System takes the air from inside your home through a duct system, passes through a heat exchanger and cycles back into your home. This is one of the more rapid ways of heating a home. It is important to check your filtration system. A dirty filter can decrease efficiency.

Fin Tube is one of the most common forms of heating that uses hydronics (water), which is typically heated from a boiler that circulates water through zones sections much like the heat in our bodies.

Radiant Heat is similar to baseboard heat is commonly found beneath the floor. Although the heating process is much slower, and installation price is higher, it is considered to be much more efficient than baseboard heating. This is because radiant heating systems are most often not exposed and cover larger areas. Extra precaution should be used when running this system. Due to the system being unexposed, years of leakage and damage could be occurring behind walls and above ceilings.

With the rising costs of home heating fuel, electrical heating systems are a growing trend. However, just like any other electrical appliance, proper installation and wiring is a must and should be checked. Another advantage to electrical heating is the ability to add multiple zones without incurring high costs. Thermostats can be placed in each area that is to be heated. This will allow the user to much more easily regulate temperature in multiple areas.

Steam Heating Systems are most commonly found in older homes. This system uses heated steam flowing through a series of pipes that runs to a radiator system, which in turn heats the home. Although steam heating systems use more energy than conventional heating systems, installed properly, it is a long lasting and very durable system.
Hot Water Tanks
The general life expectancy of a hot water tank is between 10 - 15 years. This isn't to say that there aren't 30-year-old hot water tanks that work perfectly well. Proper maintenance and care is the key to ensuring the longevity of your tank. Here are some basic maintenance tips:

  • Sediment should be drained from the bottom of the tank as per manufacturer recommendation. This will prevent corrosion and ensure cleaner water.
  • Proper ventilation is important with gas and oil fired hot water tanks. Carbon Monoxide is a deadly gas (carbon monoxide testing is included in every home inspection). It is important to keep your vents clean and/or maintained with a service contractor.
  • Small gas leaks can be present due to old or poorly installed piping (gas leak detection is also included in every home inspection). Look for any extensive damage or wear around the burner. This may impede on efficiency or may even be damaging your system.
  • If present, the flue pipe should be clear of any soot or debris. The damper should be operable. * The pressure/temperature relief valve should not show any signs of corrosion or water damage.
  • Any signs of gas leaks, flame damage, or carbon monoxide poses a safety and health risk and should be dealt with immediately.
Electrical Systems
This is a broad area and very controversial to many inspectors and contractors. What you should know is:
  • Is my home properly grounded?
  • What is the age of the electrical wiring in my home? Remember that there is no Grandfathering Clause with electrical systems.
  • Is my breaker panel overloaded?
  • Is there knob and tube wiring?
  • Do I have aluminum branch wiring?
  • Are my counter and bathroom outlets G.F.C.I.s? (Ground Fault Current Interrupter testing is included with every home inspection).
  • Is there water or signs of rust in the electrical panel?
  • Is there any loose or exposed wiring?
These are just some of the basic things to ask yourself and look at when evaluating your home or prospective home.
Wood Destroying Insects
The most common wood-destroying insect is the termite. At Mark's Inspections, we provide a complimentary analysis and termite certificate with each full service inspection. Sample Certificate

Termites typically feed on dead plants and wood. This is why your home is ideal food for them. Termites will generally enter at the sill plate or door bucks of a home. There are four different types of termites in a colony. These include Kings, Queens, Workers, and Swarmers. The average colony will eat approximately one foot per year. This is why it is imperative to identify and treat the problem as soon as possible.

Different Types of Termites
Radon Gas
Radon is an odorless, radioactive, noble gas found most commonly in homes above bedrock, and also in almost every home in the northeast. The decomposing of granite in the earth causes radon gas. Scientists estimate that approximately 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths occur each year due to radon related exposure. Radon detection is inexpensive and results can be received in 3 - 5 business days. The E.P.A denotes that a 4.0 pCi/L in the home is a high amount and it is strongly recommended that it be mitigated. Considering the deadly effects that radon can have among people, it is very affordable to obtain a radon gas mitigation system for your home. The cost averages from $800 - $2,500, depending on the logistics and size of your home.
Septic Systems
Like most things in your home a septic systems require regular maintenance and should be serviced by a professional. Neglecting to maintain your septic system can cause blockages entering back into your home or percolating above ground causing raw sewage to run off into neighboring areas. Because a septic system is below ground (minus the cesspool) we cannot see the functionality of the system without invasive analysis. This is why at Mark's Inspections we recommend our septic dye testing, which will allow us to see the areas that may be blocked causing percolation above the ground.

Table I. Septic Tank Pumping Frequency in Years
Household size - Number of Occupants
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Tank-Gallons Septic Tank Pumping Frequency in Years
500* 5.8 2.6 1.5 1.0 0.7 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 --
750* 9.1 4.2 2.6 1.8 1.3 1.0 0.7 0.6 0.4 0.3
900 11.0 5.2 3.3 2.3 1.7 1.3 1.0 0.8 0.7 0.5
1000 12.4 5.9 3.7 2.6 2.0 1.5 1.2 1.0 0.8 0.7
1250 15.6 7.5 4.8 3.4 2.6 2.0 1.7 1.4 1.2 1.0
1500 18.9 9.1 5.9 4.2 3.3 2.6 2.1 1.8 1.5 1.3
1750 22.1 10.7 6.9 5.0 3.9 3.1 2.6 2.2 1.9 1.6
2000 25.4 12.4 8.0 5.9 4.5 3.7 3.1 2.6 2.2 2.0
2250 28.6 14.0 9.1 6.7 5.2 4.2 3.5 3.0 2.6 2.3
2500 30.9 15.6 10.2 7.5 5.9 4.8 4.0 3.5 3.0 2.6

* These septic tank sizes are below the minimum size allowed in Pennsylvania and other jurisdictions. Florida septic tank pumping rules and Ohio septic tank cleaning rules may be more demanding.

. If not available on the site drawings your local health department may be able to tell you the size of your tank.

Underground Oil Tanks
Not all underground oil tanks are a hazard. Some of the newer tanks are corrosion protected and environmentally sound and designed to meet current codes and regulations for being stored underground (i.e., dual wall tanks). If your oil tank is not newer than 10 years and/or you do not possess any paperwork or records, your tank is at a higher risk for possible failure. Your current underground oil tank may not be leaking yet, however, we strongly suggest that you have it tested by an independent certified professional. A prolonged and untreated, faulty or leaking oil tank can cause problems with the Department of Environmental Conservation (D.E.C.) (http://www.dec.ny.gov/) and the Department of Health (D.O.H.) (http://www.health.state.ny.us/), which could lead to fines and severe contamination. Not all leaks are detrimental. Most often a leak can be treated by removing the contaminated soils to a certified offsite location. To put you at further ease, a majority of underground home oil tanks can be removed for less than many think. A typical removal will range anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the size and logistics of the system. If you suspect a spill, you may contact the D.E.P.'s hotline at 1-800-457-7362.
Basic Water Profile
There are many things to test for in water so we have created a basic water profile test for our clients. You may test for one or more. (Ask about additional water tests.)

Note: Westchester County has a more extensive requirement for well water testing, click here to learn more.

Total Coliform: Coliform bacteria levels indicate the sanitary quality of drinking water. The presence of coliform organisms in drinking water would usually suggest that surface waters are getting into the well water or the aquifer and creating unsanitary conditions. Once coliform levels become detectable in 100 milliliters of sample anyone using the water for drinking increases their chances of becoming ill.

Conductivity: A measure of the ability of water to carry an electric current. This ability depends on the presence of ions; on their concentration, mobility, and valence; and on the temperatures of measurement. Solutions of most inorganic compounds are relatively good conductors. Conversely, molecules of organic compounds that do not dissociate in water conduct a current very poorly. Potable water has a conductivity value from 50 to 1,500 umho/cm. Conductivity is an indirect measurement of the general amount of mineral content in water. High conductivity values may indicate large quantities of minerals, which could lead to blockage of pipes, and may indicate possible contamination from sources such as road salts (used to melt ice and snow) or inorganic fertilizers.

TDS (Total Dissolved Solids): TDS is a direct measurement of chemicals dissolved in water. Water with high dissolved solids generally is of inferior palatability and induces an unfavorable physiological reaction in the transient consumer. For these reasons, a limit of 500 mg/L is desirable for drinking water.

pH: The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14. The measurement of pH is one of the important and frequently used tests in water chemistry. Water with a low pH might be corrosive to metal pipes and fixtures. The normal range prescribed for pH is 6.5 to 8.5.

Hardness: Total hardness is defined as the sum of the calcium and magnesium concentration, both expressed as calcium carbonate, in mg/L. The hardness may range from zero to hundreds of mg/L, depending on the source and what treatment the water may be subject to.

Soft Water 0-70 mg/L
Moderately Hard Water 70-140 mg/L
Hard Water 149-300 mg/L
Very Hard Water above 300 mg/L
Mg/L= milligram per liter (1 grain/gallon= 17.2 mg/L)

Lead: The action level for lead is 15ppb (0.015 mg/L)

Copper: The MCL (maximum contaminant level) for copper is 1.0 mg/L

Iron: The MCL for iron is 0.3 mg/L. Treatment for water high in iron would be through the use of iron filters or a water conditioner.
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Mark's Inspections
34 Ellis pl Ossining, NY 10562
(914) 774-5025
Licensed in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut
Licensed and Insured
Member of the American Society of Home Inspectors
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