3 Easy Ways to Protect Your Family from House Fires This Fall

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When it comes to household fires, homeowners are doing everything they can to protect their homes year-round. But did you know that household fires are more common in the fall and winter seasons?

Here’s a quick look at some of the simple ways homeowners can help prevent fires in their homes this fall.

Check All Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are your number one line of defense again fires, warning you, your family, and potentially a fire department of any fire or smoke-related emergency while you’re in the home and away. 

Take a few minutes to go around and check the batteries in each of your alarms and ensure it’s operating properly. It’s an easy test to do, but it’s no stretch to say it could save your life.

Move All Debris Away from Heating Systems

As spring turns to summer and our need for a warm house starts to vanish, it can be easy to totally forget about your heating ducts when doing some spring cleaning and reorganizing your home.

Be sure to move all electronics and flammable substances at least a foot away from your heat registers. This reduces the risk of these products overheating and causing a fire when the fall comes and you turn up your thermostat.

Rake and Remove All Dead Leaves

Piles of dead leaves are one of the classic images of fall and are plenty of fun for kids, but these piles of crunching leaves can be a dangerous tinderbox if a random spark flies.

Even if you’re not planning on having any evening bonfires this fall, be sure to quickly clean up all the fallen leaves on your property, as this will stop any potential fires from raging out of control.

Fires can spring up at a moment’s notice, but preparing your home for the fall season can help prevent major fires and isolate small instances to manageable spaces. To make sure your home is full-proof this fall, give the experts at Sherlock Home Inspectors a call today at 712-274-9617 or visit us online and see how our staff can help you spot all the clues of a potential fire hazard.

4 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Winter-Ready

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Autumn is just around the corner, which means it’s time to head back to school and back to routine. While there’s still a few weeks of balmy weather left to enjoy on the patio, this time is actually critical for making sure your home is safe and secure against the forces of nature that are coming this winter. 

Here are 4 easy things you can do to prepare your home for Old Man Winter this fall.

Clear Your Eavestroughs and Downspouts

Clearing your eavestroughs may seem like a chore, but it’s important to keep them clear in the winter. That’s because blockages in the draining system can cause meltwater to build up and form ice dams, which can leak into your attic and cause damage to your home.

Seal any Cracks or Damage on the Sides of Your Home

Tiny cracks in your foundation are bound to form as your house expands and contracts over the years. Unfortunately, even the tiniest of cracks can be open gates and welcome insects and critters into the walls and crawl spaces of your home. 

Make Sure All Outside Pipes are Turned Off

Standing water is a problem in any home, but standing water in your pipes can be an absolute disaster in the winter. Water that is left standing in pipes can freeze, expand, and explode, causing basement flooding or stopping water from reaching your home. 

As the summer ends and the fall begins, be sure to stretch out and empty all of your garden hoses and give each faucet an extra twist shut.

Trim Your Hedges and Remove Dead Limbs from Trees

Hedges and trees are a sight to see during the hot days of summer, but they can become a dangerous hazard in the when winter rolls around. Keep your hedges and trees trimmed to prevent them from tangling up your power lines or worse, being torn off by dangerous winds and falling on your home.

Winter may still be a few months away, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare while the sun is out and the weather is nice. Give our home inspection experts a call today at 712-274-9617 or visit us online to see how we can give your home the top-to-bottom inspection you need for peace of mind.

The Ultimate Checklist to Buying a New House

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You’ve bought a new house and the adventure is about to begin! Now what? Moving into your new home can be an exciting experience but it can also feel overwhelming. There are often a ton of little tasks that can be forgotten if you’re not prepared. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Thank Your Realtor

First, give a huge thanks to your real estate agent. They carefully listened and devoted time into helping you find a home that suits the needs of you and your family. A simple thank you goes a long way. If you have the time, leave them a review so that other potential home owners can have the same breezy experience that you enjoyed.

Get a Home Inspection

After the seller accepts your offer, you have about 10 days to get a home inspection. It is not mandatory, but highly encouraged and it’s your opportunity to ask questions about the house regarding its infrastructure. It can also detect safety issues like radon, carbon monoxide, and mold, and presents an opportunity to request a price reduction for repairs if needed.

Check All Major Appliances

During your final walk through, check all appliances, turn on all faucets, flush toilets, test outlets, heat, air conditioning, and smoke detectors. During this time, your realtor will help you ensure that everything included with the contract is left in the house and in good working condition.

Hire a Trusted Moving Company

Alongside changing addresses and updating billing information, worrying about moving your stuff can be daunting. By hiring a moving company of trusted professionals, you can rest assured that they are trained to be fast and effective. You shouldn’t need to take time off work or injure yourself by taking on more than you can handle. By delegating this big job, you’ll free up more time for other important moving day tasks.

The day will arrive before you know it. By following our few simple tips, you’ll be surprised at how easy moving day can seem! Book your home inspection online today or give us a call at 712-274-9617!

5 Signs That Termites are Infesting Your Property

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As homeowners, we try to stay vigilant to any threats that our homes may face. However, some threats, like termites, are inside the very walls of our house and stay out of sight, so it takes certain signs and clues to pick up on their presence.

Here are just a few of the signs that your house is experiencing a termite infestation.

Cracks in Your Paint

Termites may not feed on paint, but one thing they do require is plenty of moisture. Cracks in your paint job are a clear sign of excess moisture inside of your walls, usually from a burst pipe or leak. If your water system is doing fine, then chances are the excessive moisture is being caused by termites.

Clicking Sounds In Your Walls

You may not always see the dangers of termites, but if you put your ear up to the wall, you might be able to hear them. As they pass through the inside of your home, worker termites can be heard loudly munching away at your support beams and framework.

Discarded Wings

Most people may imagine termites to be creepy-crawly creatures, but termites actually grow wings when forming new colonies. Once the termites have settled in a location, they will shed their wings into large piles. If you come across a collection of wispy wings in your house, that’s a sign that termites have moved in.

Your Floor Are Sagging

It’s no secret that termites like to burrow their way through wood, and that burrowing can severely impact the strength of your floor supports. To find out if there is sagging in your floor, place a marble down and watch if it rolls. If it stays put and you can hear chewing sounds where it rests, that’s where the termites are feasting.

Termite Frass

While subterranean termites may use their droppings to secure their tunnels, drywood termites expel frass out of their tunnels and into the open instead. These droppings, or frass, usually appear as black marks or powder, and will instantly tell you that termites are on the premises.

If your house is showing all or most of these signs, then termites are likely already in your home. That doesn’t mean it’s too late to stop them or get rid of them though. Give the pest control experts at Sherlock Home Inspectors a call at 712-274-9617 or visit us online today to get your home back to normal as soon as possible.

Spring in the Season With Your Home Maintenance Checklist

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It’s that time of year again: birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and your home needs some serious TLC after the winter! We all know how important it is to complete our spring cleaning but don’t let that distract you from the maintenance needed as well.

Our spring home maintenance checklist is back to make sure you don’t miss a single important step for your spring refresh.

AC and Furnace

Your furnace worked overtime throughout the winter so it’s ready for your attention. You should also check on your AC to make sure it’s ready to keep you cool when the summer arrives. Change your filters, check your connections, and clean off any dirt and debris!


Your attic may have become home to some critters staying warm in the colder months, so check for these unwelcome roommates. Make sure your insulation is in good shape and check for leaks, water damage, or mold throughout the attic.

Fireplace and Chimney

Your fireplace and chimney are probably due for a good cleaning, especially if you used them to keep warm last season. Make sure you clean them properly to avoid fire hazards in the future.

Basement and Foundation

Check your basement for moisture from the spring melt and if you find any, inspect for mold as well. Examine your basement inside and your foundation outside for any cracks in the floors, walls, or ceilings. Make sure your sump pump is ready for the melt as well to ensure you don’t come home to a wet surprise in the basement.

Roof and Gutters

Winter weather gives your roof a beating so be sure to check for any lasting damage. You’ll also want to clean out anything that has accumulated in your gutters.


Inspect the weather seal on your windows to make sure there are no leaks that will let the cool air out during the warmer months. A quick way to check for a leak is to hold a candle up to your closed window—if the flame flickers, you’ve got a leak.


Your sprinklers will be working hard soon so check them for leaks, exposed lines, or malfunctioning heads so they can keep your lawn fresh and green all summer long.

Many of these items can be completed by you, the homeowner. However, there could be some issues you can miss so contact us at 712-274-9617 or visit us online if you’d like to schedule a more comprehensive home inspection. You and your home deserve the best!

How Sump Pumps Work And Why You Need A Backup System

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Spring has officially sprung, and you know what that means: the snow is melting, the April showers are starting, and basements are flooding!

Here’s how a sump pump and a backup system can help prevent an unexpected wet mess in your basement this season:

What is a Sump Pump?

If your home falls below the water table, it’s likely that you already have a sump pump in the basement or in the crawl space of your home. Typically, they are installed below the floor and collect groundwater before it can accumulate. It then pushes the water out and away from your home, preventing an overflow of fluids in your basement.

Why do I Need a Backup System?

Just like any other appliance, sump pumps are susceptible to power outages or other electrical shortages. So, if a strong storm with lightning and heavy rain rolls through and causes your home to be without electricity, your basement has no defense against an accumulation of water.

Similarly, if the pump is the wrong size and cannot accommodate a large influx of water, it may run more frequently. In turn, this causes the parts or the motor in an inexpensive pump to wear out more quickly.

The last thing you want is to count on an unreliable sump pump, which if it fails, could cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home.

What are my Options?

When it comes to sump pump backup systems, you have three good options:

  • Battery Backup: Add a battery-run pump to your sump pit so that when the water level rises, the second pump will start removing water as needed. The best part is that it will use the same discharge line as your other sump pump, so you won’t have to install any extra pipes.
  • Generator: Even a small, portable generator can power a sump pump; however, it will run continuously just in case the sump pump needs power. You might be better off investing in a larger generator that can fuel your lights, refrigerator, and your pump as needed.
  • Water-Powered Pump: With a professional installation, this option will use municipal water pressure to pump out the pit. It doesn’t require electricity, but it is a bit more challenging to install.

If you haven’t already invested in a sump pump and a backup system, we strongly recommend it. We are always happy to offer you plenty of helpful information to keep your home in tip top shape. For more helpful information, take a look at our other blogs or give us a shout at 712-274-9617.

How to Find the Right Home Inspector

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Whether you’re buying a house or are simply making sure everything is safe, finding the right home inspector is key to your peace of mind. Picking one professional out of an industry may seem like a tough decision, so here are just a few ways you can find the right home inspector for you and your property.

Find an Inspector with a Good Work History

Before searching online, ask your friends and family about any inspectors they have worked with. These reviews from people you trust can provide a lot of valuable information, such as professionalism, depth of the inspection, and pricing.

Once you have their recommendation, contact the American Society of Home Inspectors for lists and reviews of all certified home inspectors in your area. The American Society of Home Inspectors places a high value on education, experience, and professionalism, so you know you are getting the best information possible.  If the online reviews are just as positive, take a look at your calendar and give them a call.

Find an Inspector Who Wants to Educate You

Some homeowners might not consider it, but doing the walkthrough alongside the inspector is one of the best ways to maintain your home. Being present means that you can see any issues with your own eyes and ask the inspector any questions you may have.

Because of this, make sure the inspector you hire is comfortable with you joining them, as the best inspectors will want to teach you about home safety and show you the areas in need of repairs.

Find an Inspector Who Is Understanding, but Objective

Hiring a home inspector can be an uncomfortable task, as you are giving an outsider free access to search and scrutinize your treasured space. Home inspectors understand this and respect it, but they also know that sugar-coating the truth can be more damaging in the long run.

Find an inspector who has gained a reputation for being upfront. These kinds of inspectors are important when you’re looking to buy a house because they will not tell you whether or not to buy the property. They will only give you the necessary information so that you can make an informed decision.

Finding the right home inspector can be a long process with many complications, but it can also promise a safer house and a more peaceful mind. Give the home safety experts at Sherlock Home Inspectors a call today at 712-274-9617 or visit us online for our client testimonials and services.

Preventing Mold Growth in Your Home

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In our previous blogs, we’ve discussed how homeowners are constantly searching for damage and ways to prevent expensive repairs. Unfortunately, some threats that escape our vigilance can be the most hazardous. When moisture sits for as little as 24 hours, your home can develop one of the most frightening and dangerous household problems: mold.

The Malevolence of Mold

Mold is a microscopic fungus that comes in a variety of colors and can do serious harm to you and your home. Damp and warm surfaces promote mold growth and once formed, the harmful spores expelled can cause health problems for you and your family, such as increasing the likelihood of asthma-related illnesses by almost 50%.

If left unattended, areas of the home can develop large colonies of mold, leading to expensive repairs and plenty of stress.

Let the Cleanup Commence!

While it is impossible to completely remove mold from your home due to its microscopic spores, it is possible to clear out the vast majority of the mold and prevent its negative impact on the health of your family.

The first step to removing mold is to remove the factors that allow it to grow, specifically moisture. The EPA recommends indoor humidity levels reach no higher than 60%, so it’s essential to properly ventilate damp areas, like bathrooms and kitchens, with dehumidifiers or by opening up windows for better air circulation. Wipe down shower walls with a towel after each use to prevent the walls and curtains from trapping in moisture.

Fabrics, like towels and bedding, can also be ideal incubators for mold. Be sure to hang them out to dry in fresh air or sanitize them with a mix of hot water and chlorine bleach if possible.

Don’t be caught off guard by a hidden cache of mold colonies—call Sherlock Home Inspectors for a top-to-bottom inspection today at 712-274-9617 or check us out online for more ‘elementary’ tips on protecting your home.

Securing Your New Home from the Dangers of Radon

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When buying a new home, especially for the first time, many people can be balancing dozens of different plans and concerns. Between your extensive plans for the backyard and your intentions of renovating the basement, there is a common but serious threat living in the walls of your house: radon.

The Risks of Radon

Radon is a gas that is formed when uranium breaks down in soils. All rocks on Earth contain a tiny supply of uranium, and are usually not harmful, but as time goes on, uranium slowly decays into other elements and expels radon particles as the process continues. It is extremely dangerous, as it cannot be seen, smelt, or tasted. According to the EPA, radon poisoning is the second leading cause of lung cancer and lung cancer deaths in America, with it being the leading cause among non-smokers. Although the average level of radon in a home is about 1.3 pCi/L, this number can still cause a cancer rate of 2% amongst those smokers exposed to it. Some houses, if left unchecked, can rise as high as 20 pCi/L, with the dangers increasing just as drastically.

What To Do

Radon gas primarily enters the household through cracks or holes in the exterior near to the ground, so the first thing you should do is seal all cracks and openings in the building. Proper ventilation of your home and of the soil beneath it can prevent future radon leaks, so be sure to circulate the air between all the levels of your home. Finally, consider investing in a sub-slab decompression system, as the system works to gather up the radon beneath your home and expel it safely outside.

If you are a new home owner and are looking to secure your friends and family from potential radon poisoning, give our certified home inspectors a call today at (712) 274-9617 or email us at sherlockhome@cableone.net regarding regular radon tests and disbursement!

Electrical Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year again! At Sherlock Home Inspectors, we love Christmas, but we love your safety even more. Here are some electrical safety tips for the holiday season:

Home Fires

Before we dive into electrical safety tips for the holiday season, it’s essential to analyze a few statistics to understand the severity of the problem. Between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 200 home fires caused by Christmas tree per year. In the same period, these fires accounted for $14.8 million in property damage annually.

The Christmas tree is not the only culprit, though. Other types of decoration caused an average of 860 home fires per year between 2009 and 2014. In some of these cases, these accidents resulted in severe injuries or deaths. Ultimately, adopting a few basic electrical safety measures is crucial to prevent home fires throughout the holiday season.

Christmas Tree

When decorating your Christmas tree, don’t forget to run a quick electrical inspection first. Look for cracked or damaged sockets, and check if your electrical decorations are in good shape. If you notice that they’re damaged, throw them away.

Are you using an extension cord to plug in your Christmas tree lights? Check to see if your extension cord is labeled for indoor or outdoor use. Many people don’t pay attention to that, which is concerning because indoor extension cords shouldn’t be used in cold or wet environments.

Finally, if you’re buying an artificial Christmas tree, opt for one that is fire resistant as it lowers the risk of home fires.  

Other Electrical Safety Tips

The Christmas tree should be your #1 concern, but not the only one. Here are other electrical safety tips to protect you and your loved ones during the festive season:

We hope these tips help you stay safe throughout the holiday season. If you need a hand, our experienced home inspectors can ensure that your family won’t be exposed to any hazards. Contact us through our website or by giving us a call at (712) 274-9617 to book a home inspection.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

Sherlock Home Inspectors Inc.

3911 5th Avenue, Sioux City, IA 51106

Office: 712 274-9617

Email: sherlockhome@cableone.net