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!

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Symptoms and Prevention

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,244 deaths associated with unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning were registered between 2010 and 2015 in the United States. Carbon monoxide is very dangerous because it reduces your body’s ability to transport oxygen, which is essential for proper bodily function. Most of these deaths (36%) occur in the winter months of December, January, and February, which is why prevention is very important this time of the year.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Because carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, a person can get poisoned without noticing it. Also, carbon monoxide and flu share similar symptoms, such as weakness, dizziness, and nausea. Unfortunately, these similarities may lead to confusion, and confusion leads to tragedies.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the symptoms caused by carbon monoxide poisoning largely depend on two factors: gas concentration, which is measured in parts per million (ppm), and time of exposure. For example, while 200 ppm could cause mild headache after 2 hours of exposure, a concentration of 3,200 ppm might lead to unconsciousness after 30 minutes of exposure.

Prevention Tips

Now that you know some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, consider these tips to prevent it:

We hope these tips help protect you and your loved ones from carbon monoxide poisoning. As a final recommendation, we encourage you to book a home inspection to ensure that your family won’t be exposed to any hazards. When it comes to home inspections, you won’t find more qualified professionals than the ones here at Sherlock Home Inspectors. Contact us through our website or by giving us a call at (712) 274-9617.

Home Fire Prevention Tips for the Fall Season

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According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were 1,800 fatal fires and 7,000 fires that resulted in injuries in residential buildings in 2016. While these numbers are terrifying, most residential fires can be preventable if we follow basic safety tips. October is National Fire Prevention Month, so let’s use this opportunity to review some of these preventive measures for residential fires:

Fire in the Kitchen

Cooking is the main cause of residential fire injuries—in 2016, it accounted for 33,7% of the cases. Regardless of how experienced at cooking you are, an unsupervised kitchen screams “danger!”

One of the most common mistakes that people make is leaving the kitchen without turning off the stove. Even if you’ll only be absent for a short period of time—while you take a shower or answer the phone, for example—you have to turn it off. Also, make sure to keep combustible items at a safe distance from those heat sources and position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings.

Fireplace Safety

As temperatures start to drop in the fall, it’s only natural that you want to use your fireplace to get cozied up at home. While fireplaces are warm and cozy, they can also be a potential danger to your family. It’s very important to clean your chimney before you light the first fire of the season to ensure it doesn’t have any blockages that would prevent smoke from escaping.

Always ensure that the fire is out before going to bed or leaving your home. Another good tip is to use a fireplace screen that is heavy enough to stop rolling logs. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends keeping anything that can burn at least three feet away from fireplaces, wood stoves, portable heaters, and radiators.

Fire Safety Checklist

You can find a fire safety checklist on the U.S. Fire Administration website. Here are some of the tips you might find useful:

  • Turn heaters off or unplug them when you go to bed.
  • Don’t use electrical cords that are frayed or broken.
  • Install smoke alarms inside and outside your home.
  • Have a home fire escape plan.
  • Inspect your furnace and chimney every winter.

At Sherlock Homes Inspectors, our experienced and skilled professionals can help you mitigate fire hazards in your home. Contact us through our website or by calling (712) 274-9617 to book a home inspection.

Fall Maintenance Tips for Your Home

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Summertime is coming to a close, which means that it’s an ideal time to get your home ready for autumn and winter weather. Doing some basic maintenance now could help you identify any issues or prevent problems in the future. These home maintenance tips can be done on your own, or you can choose a local service provider to give you a hand.

Check Your Furnace

Even if you are still using the air conditioner, now is the perfect time to check your furnace. Replace old air filters or clean reusable units every month. If you have a heat pump, it uses the same air filter as the air conditioner, so be sure to turn off the air conditioner before changing out the air filter. This is a good time to schedule an appointment for a professional furnace service too!

Seal Air Leaks

Check your home for air leaks. Some common spots that can let air leak out are found around door and window frames, entry points for plumbing and furnace flues and electrical outlets. Air leaks could waste a lot of the heated air in your home and can cost you on your heating bill. Take the time to seal leaks with the appropriate type of caulk for the surface. Weather stripping is a good choice for stopping leaks around door frames as well.

Look for Cracks

During the autumn, people are not the only creatures looking to stay warm. This is also the time of the year when rodents try to find their way into your home to make a nest for the winter. Take a look for tiny gaps and cracks because mice and others pests can squeeze in through very small holes. Cover the holes with metal strips, caulk, cement, or steel wool, and clear any debris away from your home’s foundation. The debris is attractive to pests and can hide their entry points.

Seal Old Windows

Old windows are a magnet for air drafts. Some old windows even get a coating of condensation or frost on cold autumn mornings. Consider using thermal or plastic tape around drafty windows or utlizing insulated curtains to keep the draft out. You could also consider window replacement if your budget allows it. A thorough home inspection with our team at Sherlock Home Inspectors, Inc., can help you identify drafty windows.

Consider using all of these tips to get your home ready for the upcoming cooler weather. Check out our website to learn more about how we can help you do just that!

Why You Should Test Your Water Well

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August is National Water Quality Month, and we’ll take this opportunity to talk about water wells. In the United States, many families rely on groundwater for their primary drinking water supply. If you own a private well, these tips will help you ensure that your water is safe for drinking and domestic use.

Test Your Water Well

While drinking water is vital for good health, you can’t take water quality for granted. Biological, physical, and radiological conditions play a role in affecting water quality.

If there is too much calcium or magnesium dissolved in your water, these minerals can form a build-up and clog your pipes, leading to a costly repair. The presence of coliform bacteria in your water won’t do any harm to your home, but will potentially cause gastrointestinal illnesses.

According to the National Ground Water Association, you should test your water well on a yearly basis. It’s strongly recommended that you hire a certified or licensed contractor to inspect your private well. These professionals are familiar with water quality standards, so they can help you address any issues.

Poor Water Quality Signs

You don’t have to wait a year to get your water quality examined if you suspect that something is wrong. The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends that private well owners keep an eye out for signs that your water isn’t safe to drink anymore:

  • If your water tastes or smells strange, test it for hydrogen sulfide, corrosion, and metals.
  • If your water looks cloudy, frothy, or colored, test it for detergents.
  • If you notice rapid wear on your water treatment equipment, it might be caused by corrosion or inadequate pH control.
  • If you live in an area with intensive agriculture, it’s important to test water for nitrate, pesticides, and coliform bacteria.
  • If your water is tasting salty, test it for chloride, total dissolved solids, and sodium.

When was the last time you inspected your private water well? Whether you’re experiencing poor water quality symptoms or not, water is too important in our lives to be overlooked. Our team can help you determine if your water is contaminated or safe. Contact Sherlock Home Inspectors, Inc online or call 712-274-9617 to book an inspection today.

Tips for a Smoother Move

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A new start in a new home—what could be better? But before you get settled in, you have to actually move in, and moving can be a chaotic and time-consuming process.

It’s crucial to plan ahead to make your move go more smoothly. Luckily, we’ve assembled some spectacular tips on planning your move, so that you can get to the point where you enjoy your new home faster.

Moving Tips to Settle In Faster

  • Get organized early on by establishing a timeline and moving checklist. Arrange your packing and moving tasks by weeks in order to get the important things out of the way first and not leave yourself with tons to do with only days left before your move.
  • Seize the opportunity to purge your belongings of everything you don’t need, want, or use anymore. You’ll have less to move, and your new home will feel even better for being clutter-free.
  • Keep related items together as you pack. Extension cords should stick with the appliances that use them, books with bookends, remotes with televisions, and so forth.
  • If you’re not making use of professional movers, ensure that you pack safely and label everything  before friends show up to help you move. Consider packing delicate items with lots of padding, so that your amateur mover friends don’t break them.
  • If you are hiring professional movers, communicate with them about any delicate furniture, unwieldy appliances, and other challenging conditions.
  • The day before you move, be sure to defrost and drain your fridge and freezer.
  • Pack the items you’ll need first in easily-accessible overnight bags and clear plastic bins, so you don’t have to dig through boxes for clothing, toiletries, and tools before you unpack.
  • Pre-clean the kitchen and bathroom in your new home before you unpack. That way, these spaces will feel more organized, and you’ll feel more at home as a result.
  • Plan a home inspection before you move in! The last thing you want is to get settled into your new home just to be uprooted while you solve a mold problem, install new plumbing, repair a structural problem, or some other issue.

While it can be difficult to keep things straight while you move, following these tips can help you and your family to stay organized on track through one of the biggest household tasks you’ll have to face. As well, getting a comprehensive inspection of your new home before your move will help you move in with confidence and settle in more quickly. To find out more and to schedule an inspection of your new home, contact Sherlock Home Inspectors today by calling 712-274-9617!

Telltale Signs of Termites (and What to Do About Them)

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Did you know that termites cause approximately $5 billion in damage every year? When so much is at stake for your home or building, don’t procrastinate on an inspection. Termites can damage structures such as supports, windows, door frames, insulation, baseboards, and more. They can even tear through your collection of books!

So, how do you know if you have an infestation of uninvited guests? These are some telltale signs and solutions.


Unusual Sounds

If you can’t hear the termites, that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Termites leave hollow structures in their path because they eat wood from the inside out. If a structure sounds hollow or papery when you knock or tap on it, you likely have a termite problem.


Visual Signs

If you see one termite, you have termites: there’s never just one. Evidence of swarmers (which can look a lot like flying ants) can be a sure sign of an infestation. Look for flaws in your structure, as well: visible wood damage, bubbling paint, piles of coarse grains, mud tubes, sagging flooring, sticking windows and doors, and unexplained cracks in your walls are all signs you should thoroughly investigate.


Termite Solutions

When you notice the signs of a termite infestation, book an inspection right away. Termites hide deep inside your walls, so leave it to the professionals to deal with them.

The best solution, however, is prevention! Regular inspections can detect early signs of infestation before it becomes a problem. To keep termites from swarming into your home, fill in any cracks in your foundation, concrete, and roof. Make sure there’s no wood near the foundation of your house, including wood piles and chippings, and that none of the wood on your home directly contacts the soil. Termites don’t need much encouragement to enter your home, so don’t give them any invitations!


Sherlock Home Inspectors, Inc. is a Certified Termite Inspector (Iowa License #16369) and is the only inspector in Sioux City, IA that offers termite inspections during home inspections. Contact us online or by calling 712-274-9617 to book an inspection.


April Showers, May Maintenance: Your Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

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While spring cleaning may be the first thing we think about when the weather turns warmer, be sure to save some energy for spring home maintenance. The following is a short checklist of tasks that every homeowner should complete once the buds start blooming!


AC and Furnace

After a long winter, your furnace probably needs some attention. The same goes for your AC (even though it was likely off all winter). Check all connections, change the furnace filter, and clear any debris that may have collected around the vent. Clear off any ice and debris around the AC before you turn it on for the summer. If necessary, have both inspected and serviced.



Winter can be especially hard on the out of sight, out of mind areas of our homes. Check your attic for leaks or water damage caused by freezing and expansion, assess the condition of your insulation, and keep an eye out for any animal nests or points of entry for pests.


Clean Out the Fireplace and Chimney

If your home has a fireplace, and especially if you’ve used it over the winter, make sure it’s clean and safe come springtime. Professional help can provide a thorough inspection.



Inspect your basement for cracks in the floors, walls, and foundation, and watch for moisture (especially around windows and existing cracks) during the spring melt. If you notice moisture, take the time to inspect for mold as well. Check the sump pump before the spring melt puts it to work.


Roof and Gutters

With wind, sleet and snow, and freezing and expanding, a roof takes serious abuse over the winter. Each spring, check your roof for damage to the shingles (curling, buckling, or tearing) and flashing, and inspect for obvious leaks. As for the gutters, clear out any accumulated leaves, asphalt granules, and debris from both the gutters and downspouts to prevent pooling water and leaks.



Inspect for cracks in foundation walls, or grades in the landscaping that drain water toward and against the foundation.



Check your lawn’s sprinkler system for exposed lines, leaking valves, or malfunctioning sprinkler heads. Watch for areas where water pools or soil becomes overly saturated when you run the sprinklers.


Most of these tasks can be accomplished by any homeowner, but some signs of damage can remain hidden—which is where professional inspections can save homeowners time, money, and energy. Sherlock Home Inspectors offer comprehensive home inspections from top to bottom, including the surrounding areas of your home. For a healthier home and greater peace of mind, contact us today at 712-274-9617 or visit us online to find out more!

How Sump Pumps Work And Why You Need A Backup System

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Floods are one of the most dangerous natural disasters for your home. If you live in a region characterized by abundant or heavy rains, it’s extremely advisable to ensure that your sump pit is in good condition and your sump pump is running smoothly. However, even when everything looks fine, it might be a good idea to acquire and install a backup system.

First, if you have no idea of what we’re talking about, the sump pit is designed to protect your house’s main structure from water damage. It consists of a hole with a gravel base, usually located in the lowest part of your basement or crawlspace. As water enters your home, it stays in this hole because, well… because that’s how gravity works, right? It’s the same idea as when you take a shower and the water goes down the drain instead of flooding your bathroom.

However, storms can produce a significant amount of water and if the soil doesn’t absorb it quickly, your sump pit will need an extra bit of help. The equipment responsible for avoiding overflow is called a sump pump. It sits inside the sump pit and is activated by sensors when the water starts to fill the hole. As a result, it pumps the water out of the pit and away from your home, keeping your space dry and safe.

The problem, though, is that sump pumps are not foolproof. Electrical power outages, wrong size, improper installation, and lack of maintenance are among the most common causes of sump pump failure. How will you know it failed if you’re sleeping or enjoying your vacation away from home?

You don’t. That’s why you need a backup system to serve as a plan B. In this article, you can understand the pros and cons of three different types of backup systems: battery-powered, water-powered, and generator-powered.

So, when was the last time you inspected your basement and sump pit? For a quality home inspection from roof to sump pit, trust only the best at Sherlock Home Inspectors, Inc.. Contact us online or call 712-274-9617 to book an inspection today.

How To Choose A Qualified Home Inspector

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Whether you’re planning to buy or sell a property, a home inspection can help you avoid hassle. For buyers, it’s an opportunity to identify problems prior to the purchase, which gives them more power to negotiate a lower price. They might also decide not to buy the house anymore or even demand a solution for the issues. For sellers, home inspections offer a chance to become aware of property conditions and address them before putting up a “for sale” sign. Now that you understand the benefits, the question is: How do you choose a qualified home inspector?

While there are many professionals out there, not necessarily all of them have the proper skills, qualifications, and resources to do a good job. If you live in Sioux City and region, Sherlock Home Inspectors can definitely help you! Even if you don’t live in our area, we still want the best for you and your home, so make sure to check out these tips for when you’re looking for a home inspector.

Hire Someone Impartial and Skilled

First, you should verify whether the home inspector is unbiased and independent. In other words, it can’t be someone who will favor either the buyer or the seller. Always be wary of realtors who only give you one option and want you to stick to it.

Another very important tip: Home inspectors are quite different from electricians and plumbers. Instead of focusing on specific areas, they need to act as detectives, opening all the doors, testing the windows, and literally inspecting each spot in a house. Home inspection requires a variety of certificates and training.

Last, but not least, excellent communication skills are essential. When you have questions at the end of the process, you want clear answers.

How to Assess Experience

You will neither be the first nor the last person in the world to need a home inspector. If any of your friends have ever had a similar experience, ask them! Are there reviews about your home inspector on Google or Facebook? Take some time to read them.

Another way to evaluate the competence of the professional you have chosen is by requesting a sample report. Most qualified home inspectors will send one to you.  A sample report will give you a better picture of what is included in the inspection, which allows you to compare services. Experienced professionals should be able to spot issues that aren’t obvious.

Also, it’s worth checking if your home inspector is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors or another organization in your region. Use their Code of Ethics as a reference.

That’s it! We hope our tips will help you find a qualified home inspector. Sherlock Home Inspectors serves Sioux City and region with whole house inspections,radon inspections, and mold and moisture inspections. Our team is highly trained and will provide an impartial report. Contact us online or call 712-274-9617 to book an inspection today.

Sherlock Home Inspectors Inc.

3911 5th Avenue, Sioux City, IA 51106

Office: 712 274-9617

Email: sherlockhome@cableone.net