Mold and Indoor Air Quality

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In many cases, your home air is more polluted than the air outside, and these pollutants can be harmful to your health and the health of your family and your pets. For those with allergies, asthma and other respiratory concerns, these pollutants can be especially serious. Of these, one of the most dangerous is mold.

What is Mold?

Mold is a living organism that grows on damp surfaces and produces spores. These spores can cause allergic reactions that include sneezing, red eyes, runny nose, and skin rashes, as well as cause asthma attacks. When mold grows inside a house or other building, the spores can negatively affect the air quality of the establishment.

Mold and Sick Building Syndrome

The air we breathe affects the quality of our lives. When a home has mold that stays undetected, it grows, and the spores it releases multiply and result in poor air quality. When people live in homes infested with mold, they are at risk of getting sick due to the mycotoxins that molds produce. Sick building syndrome occurs when people continue to live or work in buildings with contaminated air.

How To Find Mold

Mold needs moisture to thrive. From pipe leaks to water intrusion, and even condensation and humidity, mold can thrive in any damp condition. Look for signs such as water staining, peeling paint, separation or deterioration of building materials, and unfamiliar or unusual colors or substances. These can be indicators of water damage, which is often directly linked with mold.

How To Prevent Mold Growth

Mold spores can enter your home through the windows, vents, and HVAC system of your house. You can even bring them inside on your shoes or clothing. You can’t prevent mold from coming in, but you can prevent it from growing:

  • Monitor humidity levels and keep them low, no higher than 50%. Use a dehumidifier if necessary.
  • Keep your air flowing freely with fans and vents, especially in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Fix any leaks as soon as possible, and ensure they have a chance to dry properly within 48 hours.
  • Use mold-killing products such as a bleach solution when you’re cleaning areas that are frequently wet, such as your bathroom.


If you suspect or know there is mold in your home, don’t risk it. At Sherlock Home Inspectors, we’re happy to provide Mold Testing & Moisture Analysis whenever you need. Book an inspection by calling 712-274-9617.

Taking Action RN (Right Now) to Detect Rn (Radon) in Your Home

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Radon (Rn) is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless radioactive gas responsible for an estimated 21,000 deaths each and every year in the United States. You can’t see it, taste it, or smell it, but it could very well be present in your home. Named by the Environmental Protection Agency as the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, it’s no wonder January has been dubbed National Radon Take Action Month.

Think you’ve got nothing to worry about? Think again! Iowa’s average indoor radon concentration is more than six times that of the national average. It’s time to take action to keep your family healthy and happy in the year ahead. Read on to learn more about this dangerous gas and see what steps you can take to protect your home this January

Where does it come from?

The most common source of radon is right below your feet—soil! As a gas, radon can easily travel up through the soil and be drawn to your home by a difference in air pressure between the two spaces. Radon then typically enters the house through its foundation in one of the following ways

  • Cracks in foundation
  • Gaps in basement flooring
  • Sump pumps
  • Loose fitting pipes, and more.


How does it affect your health?

Breathing in radon gas can cause radioactive particles to become lodged in your lungs. Though it may be years before health problems arise, these trapped particles drastically increase your risk of developing lung cancer over time. Radon levels in your home, the amount of time you spend indoors, whether you burn wood or coal in the home, and your past and present smoking habits all factor in to your risk of developing radon-related lung cancer.


What can you do about it?

There are a number of simple steps you can take to prevent radon from entering your home, such as

  • Sealing cracks and other openings in the foundation
  • Ventilating the home
  • Installing a radon removal system

While these steps can certainly help prevent radon from entering your home, they are not necessarily foolproof. Homes should be checked for radon every 2 years and between all real estate deals.  This also applies to homes that have a mitigation system installed. Call Sherlock Home Inspectors for a radon inspection with a 48 hour monitor to protect your family from the dangers of radon. Book an inspection today to get your home set up for a healthy year ahead!

The 9 Tips of Christmas Electrical Safety

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Christmas is a time of giving; of the coming together of family, friends, and loved ones; of brightly wrapped presents, sparkling Christmas trees, and twinkling lights. We’re here with information on how to keep your holidays bright this year with our 9 Tips of Christmas Electrical Safety!


Tip #1 – Inspect your light strands. It doesn’t matter if they’re exterior or interior strands, if they’re damaged or wiring is exposed, it could cause severe injury or fire.

Tip #2 – Always use certified lights. Dollar store lights may be a tempting way to save a few bucks, but they can end up costing you big in the long run. Electrical products are inspected by UL (Underwriters Laboratories) in the United States, and tag those that pass with their symbol.

Tip #3 – Use the appropriate lights. Outdoor for outdoor, and indoor for indoor. It’s as simple as that. Not sure how to tell which are which? Outdoor strands will be tagged with the UL symbol on a red or silver background with red writing, while indoor strands will either have green UL tags, or silver with green writing. Ensure any extension cords used are appropriate as well.

Tip #4 – Use insulated hooks. When hanging lights, avoid staples, nails, tacks, or screws that can pierce a light strand. Insulated hooks are simple to install, and make hanging lights easier.

Tip #5 – Avoid overload. If an extension cord is overloaded, it will feel hot to the touch. Unplug it immediately to avoid injury or fire, and always follow the pros on how to safely plan your wattage use.

Tip #6 – Replace candles. Unless you’re using open-flame candles for a religious reason, it’s best to switch them out with battery-powered replacements. There are now many styles that give the same look and scent as traditional candles.

Tip #7 – Protect electrical cords. Keep electrical cords close to the wall and away from young children and pets. Do not run cords under area rugs or in high-traffic areas. If running a cord across the floor is unavoidable, there are covers you can purchase to protect the cord and minimize tripping hazards.

Tip #8 – Keep live trees alive. Live trees need a large amount of water to stay healthy. Keep your Christmas tree maintained to avoid dangerous and potentially deadly fires. Also keep your tree and presents at least 3 feet from all heat sources.

Tip #9 – Turn off your lights. Not just your lights, but all decorations that use electricity will need a break from time to time. When no one is home and while you sleep are the best times to switch those controls to off, save some money on electricity, and let those circuits cool down.

Use these tips for decorating this holiday season to ensure you and your family stay safe, merry, and bright. Merry Christmas and happy New Year from everyone at Sherlock Home Inspectors!

Speaking Out on the Silent Killer: Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Your Home

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Halloween has come and gone, but there’s still one seriously scary thing to keep an eye out for in your home this November: carbon monoxide. Known as “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide is tasteless, odorless, and colorless, making it almost undetectable to human senses. Each and every year, unintentional carbon monoxide poisonings seem to go up as the temperatures go down, making right now the perfect time to learn a little more about this dangerous gas.


Sources and Prevention

Most of us don’t give a second thought to warming up our cars or turning on the furnaces, fireplaces, and heaters in our homes, but have you ever stopped to think about how these actions could be hazardous to your health? These and more common fuel-burning appliances are sources of carbon monoxide and should be used with caution in and around the home.

With that being said, what exactly can you do to prevent these appliances from turning dangerous? Proper maintenance, monitoring, mindfulness, and more are just a few ways you can keep your family healthy and happy this winter.


Signs and Symptoms

Carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for approximately 500 deaths and 15,000 hospitalizations in the United States every year. Would you recognize the symptoms? Learning to spot early signs such as headache, nausea, shortness of breath, and more could help save a life. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms in yourself or someone you love, take action to remove the person from the home, seek medical attention, and contact the local fire department as soon as possible.



While learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning is important, it isn’t always foolproof. Equipping your home with a carbon monoxide detector is crucial to keeping your family safe from the silent killer. Detectors work to sense carbon monoxide before its levels reach dangerous heights and should be placed, at a minimum, on each floor of your home and outside all doors of sleeping areas.


With proper monitoring, maintenance, and mindfulness, making your home a safe place to spend time this winter is easy. Make protecting your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning a priority as the days grow colder. For more information or to schedule a home inspection, contact Sherlock Home Inspectors online or by phone at 712-274-9617.

Five Fall Safety Tips to Prevent House Fires

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There’s nothing quite like cozying up next to the glowing warmth of an evening fire, sipping on rich hot chocolate, and diving into a good book. Memories of pumpkin carving, ghost stories, and gift giving circulate when taking in that first sip and reflecting into the flames. While there are many benefits to having an indoor fireplace, there are also some potential dangers. We’ve compiled five important safety points for avoiding a house fire this fall and winter.

Increase Fire Awareness

October has been dubbed National Fire Prevention Month. While fire safety should be a concern all year round, the onset of cooler weather is a great opportunity to brush up on your knowledge. Be proactive! Change the batteries in your fire alarm, set a testing schedule, and don’t forget hardwired detectors. With a few basic steps, you’ll be well on your way to increasing your fire safety awareness.

Take Fireplace Precautions

Curling up near a warm fire is a hallmark of autumn and winter, and while every type of fireplace is warm and cozy, each could be a potential danger to your family. Taking a few extra precautions could save you and your family from a serious emergency. Before you light the first fire of the season, ensure the chimney is in working order and doesn’t have any blockages that prevent smoke from escaping. Clear any additional smoke by keeping a window open when burning a fire, and always know where you keep your fire extinguisher and how to use it in case of emergency.

Maintain Your Home

It’s not all obvious! While candles, fireplaces, and stove tops pose a real threat, less noticeable hazards may be found around the home. Every home’s electrical system keeps the lights on and powers modern conveniences. However, improperly grounded receptacles, overloaded circuit breakers, and damaged insulation could all increase the risk of fire. Schedule a professional inspection if you are unsure of what to look for when searching for these hazards.

Have a Plan

When all else fails, make a plan for the worst-case scenario. Staying ahead of fire hazards is always a good idea, but having a backup strategy in place is essential to your family’s safety. Pick a spot outside where your family could meet in the event of a fire. Having a secondary escape plan is also a good idea. Remember to make it fun for the kids and practice frequently to ensure everyone knows what to do in the case of a real emergency.

Call the Professionals

Securing your home for the cooler seasons takes a lot of work, and keeping you and your family is safe should be your number one priority. Take fire safety seriously this fall. For more information or to schedule a home inspection, call Sherlock Home Inspectors at 712-274-9617.

Private Well Safety: Digging Your Way to Great Water Quality

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August is National Water Quality Month which means it’s time to splash into all the details of water safety at home. Did you know that almost 97% of the world’s water is undrinkable (EPA)? That makes the water we use every day extra special. If your property has a private well, your dedication to healthy, drinkable water is even more important. Having a private well means you have the responsibility to make sure your water is safe to use for you and your family! Curious about how to get started? Check out these tips for preventing contamination at home:


1. Location is Key

Whether you are digging a new well or maintaining an existing one, it’s important to pay attention to its surroundings. Common sources of contamination are septic tanks, livestock yards, silos, petroleum tanks, or manure stacks, among other things (EPA). Make sure the things around your private well do not present a risk to your health.


2. Know What Kind of Well You Have

Did you know that there are three different types of private wells? Knowing what kind of well you have will help you understand what level of risk you are at for contamination. Dug wells are at the highest risk for contamination as they are only 10-30 feet deep. Driven wells are approximately 30-50 feet deep and are still moderately to highly at risk for contamination. Lastly, drilled wells are often 100-400 feet deep. They have the lowest risk of contamination, but even with a 400 foot well, it’s still important to check it regularly for common health threats (EPA).


3. Test for Common Contaminants

Take advantage of your local health department’s simple and effective methods to test the quality of your water. Some of them will test for coliform bacteria, fluoride, iron, hardness, manganese, sulfates, and arsenic (Siouxland District Health). Testing your water for common contaminants is your best defense against health concerns caused by poor water quality.


4. Upkeep your Private Well

After initial testing, your well should be tested again on an annual basis. However, there are times when you should check the levels of your well more often. Unexplained illnesses, a spill of chemicals near your well, or a change to the taste, color, or odor of your water are all reasons to look into the condition of the water in your home (EPA).


When it comes to the quality of your water, proper planning and management of your private well is the best way to ensure the safety of the water you use every day. From finding the perfect location to doing regular testing, it’s up to you to make sure your water is healthy to drink and use in your everyday life. For more answers to all your home inspection questions call Sherlock Home Inspectors at (712) 274-9617 or get in touch through our website!

Sherlock Home Inspectors Inc.

3911 5th Avenue, Sioux City, IA 51106

Office: 712 274-9617