Probably, most of the homes you inspect will be sound, secure and healthy within reason. But every once in a while, you’ll inspect a house with lurking hazards. Home buyers and other customers will hire you to tell it to them straight. If there’s a problem, they’ll want to know about it. While you look out for their safety, pay attention to your own. Stay safe and healthy and you’ll have a better chance at a longer career.
ASHI Reporter urges every certified home inspector to take charge of good health. Here’s what they recommend watching for and how to avoid accidents, injuries, and illnesses.
Watch for Water Where it Shouldn’t Be
Water is the fountain of life. It also harbors and support lots of unhealthy things that you can and can’t see. Standing water, leaks and damp surfaces degrade through rust and other corrosion as well as rot. In the right conditions, they can also become feeding and breeding grounds for these and other hazards:
- Mosquitoes and other insects
- Pests such as mice and rats
Water, where it shouldn’t be, can put your health at risk through bites, stings, allergic reactions and illnesses. Evaluate soggy surfaces with care.
Use Personal Protective Gear to Limit Invisible Airborne Toxin Exposure
A best-case scenario would place toxin inspections ahead of home inspections. That way, inspectors like you would know what they’re walking into. More often, the general home inspection happens first, and that puts you at risk of breathing in dangerous particles and gases. Exposure in one home might be nothing to worry about. But exposure can build up over many houses through the years.
HUD explains that ordinary personal protective gear, such as particulate filtering respirators, help control exposure to particulates as well as some harmful gases, but not many home inspectors wear one as a general practice. Consider making PPE a part of your regular routine to limit your exposure.
Learn to Spot Broken or Loose Asbestos
Asbestos is easier to spot than particulates and gases in the air. If you’re not sure, Inspectapedia has a wealth of information as well as photos. Asbestos exposure can cause certain cancers, but it’s considered safe as long as the material isn’t friable or airborne.
Some ceiling tiles, floor tiles, home siding, roofing, and insulation contain asbestos. If solid materials are sealed with paint or another sealant and unbroken, they’re not hazardous to work around. Broken or loose asbestos, such as Vermiculite insulation, are never safe and always require protective gear such as a respirator and disposable PPE including coveralls, gloves and shoe covers. You never want to carry asbestos home on your clothes.
Keep Chemical-Resistant Gloves on Hand for Unsanitary Conditions
Not everyone is Martha Stewart when it comes to keeping a clean and tidy home. You might enter a house that’s unsanitary from poor housekeeping, neglect or from animal and insect infestation. To keep bacteria and other unhealthy things at bay, keep a box of disposable, chemical-resistant gloves in your vehicle.
Ordinary disposable gloves are sufficient for grabbing a dirty faucet or touching surfaces that haven’t seen disinfectant in years. But some materials can degrade gloves quickly. Chemical-resistant disposables are thin enough to let you feel your work but tough and stretchy enough to resist breakdown and breakthrough.
Never Trust Rickety Surfaces
In nearly every home inspector’s life, a rickety floor or staircase will one day arrive. Before bounding up the stairs or stepping off the ladder onto the roof, do a visual scan for obvious damage and tread carefully if you decide to move ahead.
Here are a few clues to look for:
- Loose or missing fasteners
- Water damage
- Broken boards
- Loose or missing handrails
- Missing or damaged roofing
- Damage from termites or other wood-boring insects
- Obvious metal corrosion or wood rot
- General poor workmanship
Unless you’re employed by a home inspection company, you’re in charge of your own safety. Wear a hardhat and invest in strong, safety-rated, non-skid shoes. Cover your eyes with safety glasses and never touch a suspicious surface without donning gloves. There’s protective gear for almost every situation. Pair it with a keen eye for trouble and you’ll suffer fewer accidents in your career.
Home inspecting carries risks like any other job that’s related to the construction industry. If you’re ready to take on the responsibility and want a career where you’re in charge, enroll now with ICA School and get started today.