Portland Home Hazards

Portland, like any other city, is home to many hazards for home buyers and sellers. We have flood risks, earthquake risks, mold problems, lead poisoning, radon risks, landslide zones, and more. We believe it is part of our job as top Portland real estate agents to inform our clients of potential home hazards, how to test, how to get more information, and how to mitigate these everyday home hazards.

oregon wood stove removal guide

Portland Home Testing: Wood Stove Removal 2020

August 24, 2020

A 2014 DEQ survey of Portland residents found that more than half of those who burn wood for heat are doing so with uncertified wood stoves. In fact, there may be as many as 80,000 uncertified wood stoves in Oregon!  Why are uncertified wood stoves a problem? They’re one of the biggest sources of air pollution in Portland. According to a Multnomah County report, residential wood smoke accounts for 11% of all cancer-causing air pollutants in the area. In addition to containing particulate matter small enough to enter the body through the lungs, wood smoke can be source of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds.  “Certified” wood stoves control emissions by re-igniting toxic compounds in the smoke before it escapes out...

portland real estate mold home test

How to Test Your Portland Home for Mold: 2020 Update

July 13, 2020

Portland homeowners: Is your home harboring mold?  That was a trick question because mold occurs just about everywhere on the planet, including homes in Portland, Oregon. Invisible, or “ambient” mold spores float on the air waiting for an appropriate place to land and form the green, black and blue colonies we’re all familiar with.  The real question is, not whether there’s mold in your house, but if you have a mold growth problem. If you do, there’s probably an underlying issue that should be addressed. But what about toxic black mold? Thankfully, this strain of mold is not very common, and is rarely found in Portland homes. According to the CDC, “All molds should be treated the same with respect...

portland natural disasters

Portland Natural Disasters: Riskiest Neighborhoods to Buy a Home in 2020

June 5, 2020

We don’t want to scare away potential homebuyers, but mother nature has some potentially powerful disasters to unleash on Portland. Are some neighborhoods safer than others? That depends on which disaster we’re talking about. Before you make a home investment in Portland, get to know what the hazards are, and the best way to be prepared for each.  Risk #1: Portland Landslides Areas to watch out for: West Multnomah County, from downtown Portland to Scappoose as well as parts of Gresham to the east Natural Disaster Risk: Landslides Don’t buy a home here if: The address has a high landslide hazard risk. While there are some mitigation and prevention strategies, rain, mud and gravity can be a deadly mix. Neighborhoods...

radon map portland

Portland Radon Map – 2020 Update, Plus Free Tests (for some)

June 1, 2020

Portland Radon rates change. A perennial hot topic in Portland is the influx of Californians, but it’s really the Montana and Idaho migrants that we should be worried about, according to health officials. Actually, they’re not talking about people, but rocks. “In the Portland metropolitan area, a lot of the rocks and soil underneath the Willamette Valley were carried down from parts of Idaho and Montana,” said an Oregon Health Authority official quoted by OPB. These long-ago geological travelers carry radon, a radioactive gas that is drawn into homes and buildings, leading to cancer and other health issues.  As real estate agents, we do a lot of education about the risks of radon and the importance of testing, and in...

asbestos test portland guide

How to Test for Asbestos – Portland Home Guide

May 11, 2020

Most of us think of our homes a safe space. However, there are multiple toxic hazards that could be present in Portland homes both old and new. These include radon, improperly decommissioned oil tanks, lead and the once-popular fire-resistant building material, asbestos. As Portland real estate agents, we consider it our duty not just to sell homes, but to provide buyers and sellers with accurate and up-to-date information about what hazards they might hold. That’s why we’ve dedicated regular blog posts to discussing how to test for and deal with the hazards common to Portland homes. And asbestos is a big one! Read on for asbestos information and resources before you buy or sell a home in 2020. Asbestos Basics for...

seismic retrofit portland guide

Seismic Retrofit Guide for Portland Homes

April 27, 2020

As more information, scientific warnings and earthquake maps become available to Portland homeowners, more people are asking their real estate agents about seismic retrofitting. Here’s a quick introduction to what it means to seismically retrofit a home, whether your home needs it done, and how to find the right contractor in 2020.  Seismic Retrofit vs Earthquake Preparedness A seismic retrofit is any action taken to prevent structural failure of the home in the event of an earthquake, and it’s recommended (but not yet required) by the City of Portland. Usually, it involves bolting the home to its foundation (more on that in the section below).  It’s important to keep in mind that seismic retrofitting will not “earthquake-proof” your home. There...

portland earthquake map

Portland Earthquake Maps: 2020 Guide

February 24, 2020

Yes, there is a certain amount of earthquake risk in Portland, but the good news is that geologists are getting better and better at understanding, mapping and even predicting seismic activity. Maps can also help us be better prepared for disasters by showing were resources and hazards are. Take a look at these Portland maps before you buy a home.  The Top 5 Portland Earthquake Maps of 2020 1. Latest U.S. Earthquakes Map  (Click the header links to go to the earthquake maps.) For those fascinated by seismic activity, this live US Geological Survey map provides up-to-the-minute information about earthquakes happening around the globe. Earthquakes appear as dots on the map; the colors indicate how long ago they happened. The...

portland flood map

Portland Flood Maps: FEMA 2020 Update

January 27, 2020

Climate change, winter storms, questionable levees — the average home shopper has many good reasons to consider Portland flood risk before they buy. Your buyers’ real estate agent is a great resource, and should have information on hand about what the flood risk is for a home that you’re interested in.  For those who prefer the DIY approach, Portland flood maps available online allow you to check the potential for flooding at any given address. The maps we use most often in our real estate office are the Portland Flood Hazard Map and the FEMA map: Portland Flood Hazard Map The City of Portland has an impressive collection of online maps that allow the average person to find out just...

portland vacant home steps

15 Things you Must-Know Before Leaving your Home Vacant

January 3, 2020

Leaving a vacant home is sometimes a necessary life choice, and not one that homeowners ever feel completely comfortable with. That said, if your situation calls for a home to be vacant for few weeks or even months, there are steps you can take to make it a lot less risky. For the saavy Portland homeowner willing to spend some time and money shoring up a vacant house, the reward is peace of mind.  Top Three Risks for Vacant Homes Everyone has their own nightmare scenario for their vacant home, but the most common problems are these: Deferred maintenance. Weeds crop up in the yard. Cobwebs collect in the eaves. Hinges and locks grow creaky from disuse, and the inside...

oil tank decommission oregon

Portland Oil Tank Decommissioning: 2020 Update Home Hazards

December 16, 2019

If your Portland home has a heating oil tank, even a decommissioned one, you may need to get a new site assessment and/or certification letter from the DEQ before your home sells. This will come as a surprise to many Portland home owners who paid to have their oil tanks decommissioned in the past. No, there hasn’t been a rule change. Decommissioning is still voluntary, and the DEQ hasn’t called for mass recertifications — this is purely based on home buyers’ preferences. Over the past few years, there has been an increase in concern about soil contamination from old oil tanks, even those that had been previously decommissioned, and buyers are testing during their inspection period. If soil contamination is...