Whether you’re buying or selling a home, that home needs to be inspected by a professional home inspector. It’s his job to find problems that need to be dealt with. Whether they’re safety and health hazards or just annoyances, if he doesn’t find them, somebody else will, and there will be trouble down the road later. Many times the problems found can be solved easily before they become major.
Home inspectors commonly find plumbing problems. For example, there may be leaks around any pipes or fixtures. How is the laundry connection to the washing machine? Is water pressure adequate throughout the house? Does the toilet flush properly? Are there any leaks around the toilet, and is it secure around the base? Does everything in the kitchen, bathroom, or other water sources drain properly? If the home was built in the 1970’s or ’80’s, does it have polybutylene pipes? If so, they may fail and are a red flag for a home inspector.
Electrical problems are found regularly. Outlets may be loose or don’t work. The home buyer certainly wants these to work and doesn’t want to be concerned with a fire hazard. More than 40,000 fires occur each year because of faulty electrical systems.
Are plugs in the kitchen, bathroom and other key areas GFCI circuits? That is, are they ground fault circuit interrupters that will shut down when there’s a surge in current. Do appliances work properly? While checking this may not be a state or local requirement, it’s worth looking into.
Many breaker boxes are improperly wired with breakers that aren’t the right size or don’t fit. Having the correct wire gauge is essential as well. Such problems arise in older homes that haven’t been updated. Greater electricity demand from computers and other appliances makes this a very important issue. A breaker box must be able to handle the capacity required of it.
Home inspectors also find problems in the heating or central air system. Changing air filters regularly isn’t enough. Has the unit been properly serviced and maintained by a professional? Does the furnace burner work as it should? Are any gas leaks evident? It’s important to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
If the home has a fireplace, has it been properly maintained? Does it vent properly? Smoke and embers are both unwelcome and hazardous. It may be necessary to have a qualified professional inspect and clean the chimney. Also, in what condition is the fireplace’s masonry?
Problems on the roof and in the attic are also commonly found. Considering it costs an average of $1,000 or more a year to heat a house, this requires careful attention. An attic may not have enough insulation, or there may be gaps that let heat escape. That means in a sense dollars escape, too. Keep in mind that good insulation keeps air conditioned air in during the summer as well. Insulation requirements vary from state to state, and your home inspector knows what the home needs.
On the roof, torn and missing shingles are common. There may also be problems with flashing that hasn’t been installed properly, allowing water to seep into the house.
Windows can also pose problems. They may leak moisture if they’re not correctly installed or don’t open and shut as they should.
Water is a real “no no.” There are places where it shouldn’t be. Whether it’s found leaking from plumbing, spills from gutters where it shouldn’t, comes in windows, or is found in the basement, it’s an indicator and cause of serious problems. Many gutter systems don’t carry water far enough away from the house. That could cause water to seep into the foundation, a problem gutters should prevent. If grading around the home doesn’t carry water away, the water could pool against the foundation and seep in.
Any water in the basement can kill the deal for a prospective home buyer. Moisture in the house can also cause mold, which is a serious health issue that must be taken care of.
Another common problem is radon, an odorless, colorless gas found in many homes. It comes up through the ground and is a leading cause of lung cancer. Your home inspector should have the necessary instruments to detect it, especially if testing is required in your state. Incidentally, one option for dealing with radon may consist of a fan and pipe system that takes the radon from under the basement floor and vents it outside.
The presence of asbestos could be a problem in older homes. For example, it may be found in material that insulates water heater pipes. Your home inspector will know how serious the problem is and should be able to suggest how the asbestos can be removed or adequately contained.
Are there any potential safety concerns, such as missing hand railing on staircases? Is lead paint in an older home a problem? Are floors and structures sound? Has settling of the house created any problems that need attention?
Remember, by finding and dealing with unpleasant surprises now, you can prevent headaches and unnecessary expenditures for yourself or a prospective home buyer later on. If your home inspector gives you bad news, he’s doing you a favor. Don’t feel insulted. Take it in stride and, if you own the home, promptly correct anything that can be corrected.
Here’s hoping you get plenty of good news from your home inspection.
Choose a home inspection company as carefully as you have selected the home you are buying. Author Gary Monfeli provides professional home inspection in Chicago. Click now to view frequently asked questions about Illinois home inspection [http://www.homeinspectionman.com/faqs.asp].