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Silent Home Threats: An Interview with Michael Riese of Check First Home Inspections

Please tell us a little bit about your business.

I am a single inspector operation, and generally cover west-central NH and east-central VT, although I often travel outside my core area, especially for repeat clients. I perform 5-6 inspections per week, and generate the client's detailed written report the same day. While a pre-purchase home inspection is not required by a lender, it does provide one more opportunity to observe the home's condition prior to Closing, as well as for learning about important systems in the home. I also perform pre-sale inspections for owners preparing to sell their home, where we attempt to identify repair/maintenance concerns in advance of a sale, which should eliminate large "surprises" and provide for a smoother transaction.

The home inspection process in most states (including NH) is dictated by Standards of Practice that licensed inspectors follow. In laymen terms, it is an outside to inside, room by room, system by system look at a house. It is a visual inspection of conditions, (not technically exhaustive) aimed at identifying major repair and maintenance concerns, some of which may require further evaluation by a qualified contractor or technician.

Starting the inspection business a few years ago was initially a "retirement" project for me, but very quickly became a full-time commitment.

What various services do you offer?

I provide residential home inspections, as well as water and air sampling. I can also provide a pest inspection report, required by some lenders, and I have an Infrared Camera for thermal imaging, which can be helpful in identifying moisture and insulation concerns.


Mold spores are everywhere in nature, including inside homes. Mold spores need a food source (organic matter), temperature and moisture. However, the mold in homes can be controlled by eliminating source moisture (ex: a leaking roof, basement walls/floors, poorly ventilated interior spaces). Most healthy people are unaffected by mold spores, but the presence of mold inside a home indicates a condition that needs improvement. Roof coverings, flashings, penetrations, foundation cracks, doors, windows, tiled bath/shower enclosures, plumbing fixtures should all be monitored periodically. Effective bath, kitchen, laundry and attic ventilation are all critical in removing moisture from a home.


Lead exposure in a home built prior to 1978 is primarily from paint. Unattended children under age 6 or so, ingesting paint chips and paint dust are most at risk. Windows and doors that rub in their frames are commonly the source of chips and paint dust that an infant might transfer to their mouth. Doors, window sills and floors should all be wet-mopped regularly. Other sources of lead in a home include copper pipe solder used prior to 1986, some brass plumbing fixtures, some imported food packaged in metal containers, imported toys, etc. People with homes built before 1978 can have their home tested by a certified lead inspector.


Asbestos is a mineral fiber and was used in various building products, including attic and pipe insulation, roof shingles, floor tiles, wood stove pads, exterior siding and some textured ceiling paint/patching. Asbestos was used because it is a good insulator, improved performances of materials and was cost-effective. It can only be positively identified under microscope by certified labs. However, there are many images available on the internet a homeowner could review for a preliminary discovery. The EPA and CSPA both state that asbestos is considered safe if undisturbed (the health risk is from exposure to loose fibers). Lightly damaged asbestos can be encapsulated. Removal of heavily damaged asbestos materials is recommended, but only by an experienced contractor. Any material suspected of containing asbestos should be treated as if it does (Ie: leave alone, do not disturb).

Carbon Monoxide:

Carbon monoxide accumulation inside a home is caused by combustion of oil or gas (for heat or cooking). Blocked chimneys, poorly vented appliances, fumes from an attached garage, a cracked heat exchanger in a hot-air furnace and back-drafting of vented appliances in a "tight" home are the main causes. Regular professional service/inspection of appliances and installation of a CO detector on EVERY level of the home is critical in preventing a CO tragedy.

What is the best way for people to get in contact with you?

People can reach me through my website,, by phone at 508-769-8455 or email

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