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!

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!

Sherlock Home Inspectors Inc.

3911 5th Avenue, Sioux City, IA 51106

Office: 712 274-9617

Email: sherlockhome@cableone.net