Thursday, November 12, 2009

Welcome to my blog site...Massachusetts Home Inspections

I decided to create this blog in order to keep home Buyers and Sellers informed, regarding the present condition of their home. My name is David Valley and I am the owner and founder of Massachusetts Home Inspections,LLC. I have performed over 3,000 home inspections throughout the East Coast. I enjoy assisting home owners in determining the present condition of their home. The first thing I would like to do is to sell myself to all homeowners. I will then utilize this blog to periodically post information concerning your home. Please enjoy my Blog. If you hhave any questions, whatsoever...Please email me.

When your making a financial commitment of purchasing or selling your Massachusetts home, your best judgment is to rely on the analysis of a skilled professional Home Inspector. I can afford you that expert opinion. I have the trained eye and experience needed to look for visual signs of defects within any home. I'm also committed to providing you with the highest level of professional service in the home inspection industry.

My standards are always among the highest in the industry and meet or exceed every standard set by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and iNACHI (International Association of Certified Home Inspectors). I have the training and experience to accurately assess the condition of any home, and possess the communication skills to clearly describe the inspection results to you. Through my commitment, experience, and expertise I will establish and personalize a business relationship with every one of my clients that will last for as long as you own your home.

I will slowly and methodically walk you through your home and fully educate you on all of its features to help you understand your property. I will assess those areas where upgrades or replacements may be necessary and screen for those costly defects and safety issues that could lead to problems in your future living conditions. I'll locate those areas that need attention now and at the same time you'll have the opportunity to ask me questions while we view and consider the object of your investment together.

As an added Bonus; along with every Home Inspection report, I will include a complimentary 64 page home information & maintenance manual "Know Your Home" that I have personally written for all my clients. This guide contains invaluable information that will explain in detail almost every concern that you may have pertaining to your new property. This comprehensive manual has all the answers and is a must for every homeowner.

Before you invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a Massachusetts Home Inspection; be sure you hire Massachusetts Home Inspections, LLC to verify that your home does not contain major defects that could cost you thousands of dollars after you move in. I am State licensed; Nationally Certified and Fully Insured. I can and will reduce the risk of any major or expensive surprises that may happen after you take ownership of your new home.

Please browse my site for all the information you'll ever need concerning your upcoming Massachusetts Home Inspection.

Purchasing a home with lead paint

Lead has been mined, smelted, and compounded for thousands of years. Lead is a neurotoxin metallic element that was historically used in paint, gasoline and plumbing materials for many years. Lead was easy to work with for a variety of purposes, which is why mining and smelting of lead has caused millions of tons to be spread into our environment. Lead poisoning occurs only when too much lead accumulates in the body.
Generally, lead poisoning occurs slowly, resulting from the gradual accumulation of lead in bone and tissue after repeated exposure. However, it is important to note that young children absorb 50% of a lead ingestion while adults absorb only 10%. Pregnant women should be especially cautious of lead exposure. The presence of lead dust can cause difficulties during pregnancy. Lead enters the bloodstream and can pass the placental barrier from the mother to the unborn child. The fetus can then be poisoned before birth.
Lead is very dangerous for children under the age of six because it is absorbed more readily into their blood and stored more easily in their bones and internal organs. Lead can be absorbed by the body, primarily through the lungs and stomach. If a child is overexposed to lead it can cause disastrous consequences including the possibility of irreversible brain and nervous system damage. Lead poisoned infants, children, and fetuses can suffer from permanent learning disabilities, behavioral problems, hearing problems, developmental delays, reduced hand-eye coordination and other serious health conditions. Even children who appear healthy can have lead poisoning. If you think your child or other family members may be at risk, contact your physician or local health department for testing, immediately.

DRINKING WATER - is a potential source of lead. This is usually from lead in solder, fixtures and lead piping in the home. Some water pipes in homes built before the 1930's were made of lead, especially the main water pipe that penetrates the foundation. In both old and new homes, lead solder was also used in copper piping. Both of these can be a source of lead in your drinking water. I will be inspecting all visible piping within the building and any lead piping that is found, will absolutely be noted and highlighted in the PLUMBING section of your inspection report.
A variety of lead pipes

HOUSE PAINTS - Most houses built prior to World War II had lead-based paint applied to the interior or exterior surfaces. It was used until 1978, when it was banned. Some of these paints still remain inside older homes and may be particularly hazardous if in poor condition (chipped or peeling) or if disturbed by sanding or abrasion (creating lead dust).
Lead was used in paint because it lasted forever in the environment and never broke down into a harmless substance. The amount of lead in paint was reduced in 1950 and further reduced again in 1978. Houses built before 1950 are very likely to contain lead paint while houses built after 1950 will have less lead in the paint. House paints sold today have very low levels of lead.

Lead paint that needs immediate attention

Lead dust is released from chipping and peeling paint; home renovation projects that disturb lead paint; and lead paint ground up by friction, such as on window sashes, porch floors, etc. Because children naturally engage in hand-to-mouth activities, they are more likely to accidentally ingest lead.Over many years, painted surfaces usually crumble into household dust. This dust clings to toys, fingers and other objects that children normally put into their mouths. This is the most common way lead gets into your child's system.

Children also get dangerous lead levels into their bodies by chewing on lead painted surfaces. Some young children even eat paint chips that are peeling or chipping. The taste is what makes them come back for more. Believe it or not, Lead paint taste sweet, so children and pets are attracted to the taste of lead paint. In accordance with Massachusetts law, any unit or single family home with an occupant who is less than six years old must be deleaded.

To determine the presence of lead in paint, dust, water, and soil is best done by trained professionals. Massachusetts requires all lead inspectors to be state-certified.
Professional testing companies use three basic methods to measure lead in paint:
1) X-ray fluorescence (XRF) uses portable detectors that X-ray a painted surface to measure the amount of lead in all the layers of paint. This type of testing is done in the home and disturbs little, if any, paint.
2)Laboratory testing of paint samples involves removing samples of paint from each surface to be tested, usually from an area of about two square inches. Samples are sent to laboratories for analysis. This method leaves a bare spot on each surface tested.
3)Spot checks are performed with swabs. Swabs do not tell you how much lead is present and their reliability at detecting low levels of lead has not been determined. Professional testing for lead in paint is highly recommended. If you are seeking a professional lead inspection in order to obtain a Certificate stating that a specific home is free of Lead paint, I do not issue lead Certificates. You must contact a Lead Abatement company from your area.

Despite efforts to reduce lead in the average American home, the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that as of December 2004, 38 million homes in the United States still contained lead paint to some degree. HUD also figures that 25% of the country's residential buildings contain significant lead-based paint hazards. That's about 24 million homes with either deteriorating lead-based paint or lead-contaminated dust.
In 1992, the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act required disclosure of known lead hazards at the time a house is sold or leased, if that home was built before 1978. (Houses built before 1960 are classed as high risk and are almost certain to have at least some lead-based paint.
Problems with the 1992 act stem from the lack of testing in many older homes. If you purchase an older home, the interior and exterior need to be tested thoroughly for the presence of lead-based paint before you can occupy the home safely.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Termites and how to monitor your home


Click the computer screen

Requires Windows Media Player


Requires Real Player

Of all Wood Boring insects, Termites are definitely the most damaging wood destroying insects out there. Did you know that the average single-family home has as many as three to four termite colonies beneath it (and each colony contains as many as 1 million winged residents). It's very important to prevent these colonies from attacking your home and causing extensive structural damage.

Termites must remain in moist areas in order to survive (which I will get into more detail next). Once they arrive into an open space they build mud tunnels in order to remain in a moist environment. The smallest of cracks in your foundation -- usually a basement or concrete slab -- is enough for those sneaky little termites to gain entry into your home. They will utilize the cracks to gain access to the wood framing because it's much easier for them to use naturally occuring cracks than to build mud tunnels to protect themselves from the dry environment. Once they're inside your home, anything made of wood -- from framing within the structure (especially sills), window and door frames to subfloors to furniture -- is fair game. You're not able to visibly see termites because they feed undetected. Termite workers attack the wood in your home from the inside out and infestations can go undiscovered until the wood is almost completely destroyed, which could take many years.

As if this scenario weren't bad enough, after they feast on your structure, termites leave behind a chemical trail that sends signals to other termites that food is near. Once started, this trail of destruction is impossible to stop without the services of a professional exterminator who is skilled at locating the hidden regions of your home where these termites take up residence. Wood-boring insects are difficult to control by homeowners once an infestation has begun. Treating insects is not a do-it-yourself project. If you have signs of Termite activity, do yourself a favor, hire a professional exterminator for full treatment.

It's Moisture. It's extremely difficult to ward off moisture throughout your home, and especially underneath it, where termites gain initial entry to your property. It's impossible to dry out areas under your home. The good news is that in many cases, the problem starts in areas you can reach (outside and around your home), where wood products are exposed to the elements and thus trap moisture. Prevention is the best management method.

Above all, schedule an annual termite inspection and watch for mud tunnels over exposed exterior surfaces of your home (especially the foundation) and monitor for swarming termites in April and May.
Trim all shrubs, bushes, vines and other dense greenery away from the foundation and the siding of your home. Any vegetation touching your home will give Termites easy access to the structure. They simply make their trail behind the vines and vegetation to protect them from sunlight.
So many homeowners collect big piles of firewood outside their homes come wintertime. But some of us who don't use the entire pile let it sit throughout the rest of the year. This does you no good for many reasons. First, the firewood begins to rot as it's exposed to changes in the weather; second, it's ultimately useless because it becomes wet with moisture; and third (and most important), it's a magnet for termites seeking a home. You'll obviously need to store some firewood outdoors during the winter months -- particularly if you light fires often -- so your best bet is to keep the pile raised off the ground and away from the side of your house. Also, try to keep it protected from rain.
Consistent with the reasoning of the above-listed point, remove all lumber, tree stumps and any other variety of wood from the parameters of your home. If you're saving some wood for that home-improvement project you're planning to tackle on a rainy day, store it in your garage in a high and dry area. No wood should be touching the ground around your house, period. Including all exterior finishes (the siding) of your home. These areas should be 6 to 8 inches above grading.
This includes removal and replacement of any wood posts or stair stringers that penetrate concrete floors or rest on dirt on the exterior of the home or in the basement or crawl space. These penetrations will only invite Termites and provide avenues for their passage to more appetizing segments of the structure.
If you've got leaky pipes or any accumulation of water underneath your home, call a professional (or tackle the job yourself if you're capable). If you've been putting off the job, don't stall any longer. You may already have attracted termites to the water. By the same token, if you find standing water anywhere -- inside or outside your home -- remedy the problem and get rid of the moisture immediately. (Please read "Wet Basements" for more detailed information).
Clean all your gutters and downspouts regularly. Clogs and other obstructions will cause the gutters to overflow resulting in moist grading around your foundation which will attract termite populations. Inspect your gutters regularly for signs of disrepair. Inspect your home's crawl space you have one. It may be in your best interest to determine if the space is properly protected in order to stave off Termites. Moisture and humidity in crawl spaces can be reduced by installing a 4-6 mil polyethylene sheeting over the soil surface. This cover will act as a vapor barrier to reduce evaporation from the soil and condensation of moisture on floor joists and sub flooring. (Please read "Your Crawl Space" for more detailed information).
Since Termites can prey on the outside of your home, inspect your home regularly for any foundation cracks. If you find cracks inside or outside, seal them immediately. Ensure that your home receives continual maintenance to keep its exterior paint in good condition. Chipping, peeling paint can increase the likelihood of termite infestation due to moisture accumulation on unprotected wood.
As a homeowner, you can never prevent termite infestation with 100 percent certainty. However, you can take these various measures to decrease the probability of an infestation in your home. Considering both the cost of damage and inspection/extermination, you have absolutely nothing to lose by attempting to perform every one of these precautions. Yes, it is true that Termites may find a meal at your house eventually, but they are not the only pests ready to eat your house. Remember...there are two types of homes out there, homes that have been infested with Termites and homes that have not been infested with Termites...YET.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Infrared (Thermal) Imaging in Massachusetts

There are many building envelope issues that can generate significant heat loss, which causes energy dollars to be wasted in a not-so-tight home. And with the rising costs of heating fuels today, keeping a not-so-tight home comfortably warm can be very costly. Homeowners now have the opportunity to reduce their exorbitant monthly heating bills caused from our New England freezing winter months. A good place to start would be a professional Infrared (thermal) Home-Energy Efficiency Inspection.

An Infrared Home-Energy Efficiency Inspection is the use of an infrared (thermal) imaging camera that can actually "see" and "measure" thermal energy emitted from the walls, ceilings and floors of a home. It’s simply a non-invasive tool that is used to see what’s actually going on inside many living area walls, ceilings and floors. If there’s cold air infiltrating into a warm room, my infrared camera will sense this temperature difference that is transferring to the most inner surface of a living area and it will display these readings in a color and temperature format on my IR camera screen. I will then interpret the IR readings directly to my client (the homeowner). I will literally show them the real-time colorful images of the anomalies within their walls and ceilings. I will then advise them on how to properly insulate these inefficiencies that are uncovered throughout their home. Infrared imaging is becoming the number one tool being utilized today to locate those concealed un-insulated wall and ceiling cavities. While scanning a home for inefficiencies, I am also able to locate other hidden defects that may be lurking within the walls, ceilings and floors of a building. These anomalies include faulty electrical wiring (whether it is in the wall or exposed), to the presence of concealed Termites. Even a Mold build-up will affect the surrounding temperature of a surface and this moist area will be detected during a thermal scan.

A typical Energy Efficiency scan (on 2000 sq. ft. home) takes approximately 1 hour. This includes the actual thermal scan, obtaining both... the IR and digital images, then carefully interpreting and explaining my findings to my client. Once I finalize the infrared scan on-site, my findings will then be compiled into a professional report (at my office) and emailed to you in .PDF format within 24 hours. The fee on this particular IR scan will be $375.00. Pricing will always be based on the hourly scan, time of reporting and the distance that I have traveled.

Every homeowner craves the opportunity to stop their hard earned energy dollars from slipping right through the cracks of their home, and I’m going to show them how it be accomplished with a little effort on their part. The costs of the infrared scan and upgrading an inefficient home will be recouped from the monthly heat savings alone. Not only will homeowners pay less on their heating bills, they’ll be enjoying the comforts of a warm home and alleviating those bothersome cold spots within the home.

For those home owners who live in newly constructed homes and homes that have already been professionally insulated, and feel that their home is perfect, I’ve got some surprising news for you. I’ve been contracted by many (new home) builders who are curious as to how efficient their walls really were and I easily located inefficiencies throughout the entire home. I’ve also been contracted by homeowners who recently had their home professionally insulated and they simply wanted to know how tight the insulation was. To this day, I have failed to locate an insulation company that has filled every last cavity in a home. There will be imperfections in every home and IR imaging will detect these insulation voids within minutes. There is no home perfect home out there and infrared imaging will prove that.

You will be hiring an expert who has a solid understanding of heat transfer laws, thermal dynamics and properties of why objects are hot or not or appear to be hot or not. My infrared camera allows me to identify hidden problem areas much faster and (in most cases) can even avoid building owners from using invasive and destructive measures in order to pinpoint problem areas behind the finished surfaces of their building.

If you have any questions, please feel free to visit my website at or you can call me direct at 978-683-4984.


  • New home, old doesn't matter.
I will guarantee you that insulation defects will be located within your home with my IR camera. Whether these voids are minor or excessive, the results will always surprise you.

Things You'll Need

Massachusetts Home Inspections