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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Is Your Home Making You Sick?

Home Inspection Toxic Waste Beaufort SC

    As a Home Inspector, I see plenty of safety concerns in many of the homes and properties I inspect that have a potential to be life threatening. However, the safety concern I was recently made aware of is sometimes so subtle that it can go undetected for years before it is revealed, often after it has already left a trail of damages to the physical and mental health of the homeowners.
    So exactly what is this safety concern? Toxic waste is the culprit, and it can take years to rear its ugly head, and sometimes many years to solve the issues.

    Being a Home Inspector in HiltonHead, SC,  I have not encountered any serious issues with toxic waste in our locale. However I recently had a conversation with a homeowner who has lived in a home for 6 years (bought new) and has battled with strong chemical odors that were emitted from the foundation concrete slab. The homeowners have tried replacing flooring, sealing the concrete slab and all to no effect. Well I have certainly joked about the interiors of some foreclosed homes I have inspected as being toxic waste dumps, however this homeowner’s story was a wakeup call for me. I was not involved in an inspection on their home, but felt compelled to offer some help. I recommended they start with a call to a local environmental testing lab.  I am hoping they called and are pursuing the problem further.  I had asked about any health concerns in the family and it was revealed that the family members had frequent headaches. The homeowner had mentioned someone familiar with some of the history of the land in their development seemed to recall some illegal dumping that had occurred in the area where their home was built.

    Understanding that each locale is different, I wondered what Hilton Head, SC had for environmental protection. I was encouraged to find out that in 2013, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s office, Police Department, DHEC and the DNR joined efforts to help control environmental issues. Note that for locals in Beaufort County, SC, you may call Crime Stoppers at 888-274-6372 to report suspected problems (illegal dumping). For additional information, the EPA has a website that will help determine if there are environmental concerns (such as toxic landfills, chemical spills etc,) in your area. The website is:

Another information resource may be found at Toxics Action Center. The website is:

    With land becoming scarcer, builders and developers may often build homes on “Brownfields”, which is another name for a toxic waste site that someone wants to develop. 

    The most common threat to public health from toxic waste is the contamination of water supplies. Toxins in the soil can also seep into structures above, resulting in indoor air quality concerns. Living in a polluted home can result in short term and long term mental and physical problems. The problems can also extend into generations (genetic birth defects).
    I would urge any homeowner or home buyer who suspects a home or property may be near (or built over) a toxic landfill, (or other environmental concerns), to research local information resources as well as those mentioned above. It is all too easy to be swayed by a beautiful home and not pay attention to the unseen things that may leave you wanting to flee your home. Determining such concerns is generally beyond the scope of a normal Home Inspection, although some red flags may lead to discoveries.
JW Home Inspections, Inc. Hilton Head, SC
JW Home Inspections, Inc. Hilton Head, SC
JW Home Inspections, Inc. Hilton Head SC Beaufort, Bluffton, Sun City

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Is Your Clothes Dryer Killing You?

Yes, go ahead and ask yourself if your clothes dryer is plotting against you. Of course it is not, but keep in mind that most people use a clothes dryer on a daily basis and seldom give thought to maintenance unless it quits working. As much as washing machines and clothes dryers have changed our way of life drastically (for the good), clothes dryers are responsible for a significant amount of deaths, damages and injuries every year.  Statistics point to about 15,600 structure fires, 400 personal injuries, and 15 deaths annually as a result of dryer fires.  Some have estimated the cost of such damages is over 100 million dollars. As a Home Inspector, I have performed numerous Home Inspections and can attest to the neglect that clothes dryers (specifically the exhaust systems) suffer. They are simply something most of us take for granted. Please don’t.

The culprit causing the damages is most often the exhaust system for the dryer. It is vital to have the exhaust system inspected periodically. Typically a dryer vent needs cleaning every two to three years. There are numerous companies specializing in cleaning dryer ducts (exhausts), and you should not have a problem finding one in your area. Some heating and cooling companies provide this service also. Frequency of inspection will vary depending on use, length and design of your exhaust system, however I would recommend you have it serviced one year after the initial cleaning and inspection, to help determine how often it needs serviced. If you are still reading this and do not know when your system was last checked, get up and schedule an inspection and cleaning.


There are signs that you can look for to tell you if your exhaust system needs serviced.

Look for the following:

  1. The dryer is producing heat, but takes longer and longer to dry the clothes.
  2. Clothes are still damp after a cycle.
  3. Clothes are noticeable hotter than usual after a cycle.
  4. The outdoor flapper on vent hood is closed or partially closed when the dryer is running.

Also remember to never use devices that allow the heat and moisture to vent back into the home.

Also it is dangerous to install a screen over the dryer exhaust termination (often done to keep pesky rodents from entering).


Please remember that a Solar clothes dryer does not have the above concerns and is a real energy saver. Use an outside clothes line when you can.
JW Home Inspections, Inc. Hilton Head Home Inspector

JW Home Inspections, Inc. Hilton Head Home Inspector

JW Home Inspections, Inc. Hilton Head Home Inspector