If you ever do research on how to become a home inspector or what makes a great home inspector, you will find lots of information on the benefits of having things like a construction, engineering or trades background or a strong eye for detail. One thing that rarely is discussed is the importance of communication: not only to explain potential issues we find but to put them into the proper context using our skills and knowledge. Here are some examples of statements that are 100% true, yet are very misleading:
Electric Heating is 100% Efficient
No high efficiency furnace or boiler can compete with electric heat, but this ignores the simple fact that electricity is usually produced by generators which are about 30% efficient. Overall, electric heating is the most inefficient and expensive way to heat a home.
Electrical Heating is the Most Inefficient and Expensive Way to Heat a Home
Again, this is correct on the surface but is misleading. There are a few advantages of electric heat: no oil or propane tanks are needed, they are easy and inexpensive to install, and they can be relatively easily added to cold areas of a home. They are also great for distant areas where heat is only needed sparingly, such as in a garage or workshop. In short, all heating sources have advantages and disadvantages and that is why there are so many different examples seen in homes.
Radon is a Deadly, Tasteless, Odourless Gas That is Everywhere and There is No Safe Limit
You can also substitute “Carbon Monoxide” and this statement would again be true but misleading. Every single home has radon and while there is no agreed safe limit the Canadian guideline is 200 becquerels per cubic metre (200 Bq/m3) and no action is recommended unless the long-term levels in your home exceed this. I have discussed this in depth in a previous blog post, but the bottom line is radon can indeed be dangerous but, in many cases, it is not a concern.
Inside Edge Home Inspections Uses a Unlicensed Inspector
Sounds shocking that I would admit this is true until you learn that in Canada ALL inspectors outside of British Columbia and Alberta are unlicensed: a license not only is not required but does not exist. Furthermore, as of 2021, there are absolutely no requirements to anyone calling themselves a home inspector in any of the Atlantic Provinces. Our website demonstrates my impressive credentials and extensive experience, including completing 340 hours and counting of continuing education just in 2021 alone. If licensing becomes available our company will be first in line to sign up.
The reality is we are fully incorporated in Nova Scotia, our company is a certified member of InterNACHI, the world’s largest home inspection organization, and I am a Certified Professional Inspector with InterNACHI. Our passion is providing quality, independent home inspections and we fully support all efforts to raise the standards in our industry.
Radon is a radioactive, invisible, tasteless, and odorless gas created by the breakdown of uranium deep below the Earth’s surface. It is known to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in North America. So, how many homes in Nova Scotia have this dangerous gas in them? All of them! No need to panic though.
The Canadian guideline for the maximum exposure to radon in a home is 200 becquerels per cubic metre (200 Bq/m3). The level of radon varies according to what area of Nova Scotia your home is in and changes from home to home, day to day, and community to community. The only way to know your risk of exposure is to perform a long-term test and therefore I do not offer short term (48 hour) radon testing as they are not reliable.
While all homes in Nova Scotia can potentially have dangerous radon levels, there are a few locations in our service area that generally need extra attention as they are in high risk areas. They include:
Thankfully, libraries in Nova Scotia now offer radon testers on free 6-week loans so you can perform your own testing. I used one in my own home and determined that despite being in a low-risk area, I still had an average of 151 Bq/m3: acceptable but I still wanted to lower it without contacting a Radon mitigation specialist. I have heard mixed opinions on whether Radon can be filtered so I thought I would test it for myself. I replaced the activated carbon filter (the thin black strip seen here) in my heat pumps and checked again a week later.
After only a week, the level of radon detected in my basement dropped significantly, both on a weekly and daily basis. As can be clearly seen below, the average radon level dropped from 151 to 66, with a further drop to 58 Bq/m3 on the final test of my month-long test. While this is not a solution to extremely high radon levels it can be an inexpensive, short term solution for those who have levels nearing the recommended maximum of 200 Bq/m3.
It is highly recommended that all home and property owners use a radon detector for a period of at least 1 and ideally 3-12 months to collect data to determine the next steps. In addition to professional radon mitigation, there are several steps that can not only reduce radon levels but provide a healthier indoor air for you and your family. These include:
With this knowledge you can take the appropriate action to keep radon to a safe level in your home. Health Canada recommends remediation within two years if the radon level is below 600 Bq/m3 and within one year if levels exceed this threshold.