TLC Home Inspections

Common Inspection Issues

A home inspection is just a "snapshot" of the condition of the home at that point in time. I don't comment on the condition of furniture, paint, window treatments, small holes in walls from normal use, or other cosmetic items. If it is a window or a door it needs to open/close properly and be in good working condition. If it is a light it needs to work. Some of these things may seem minor, but they are components of the home and need to function as intended and be without damage. You are not "standing at attention" for the inspection but your home should be and by addressing some of these common issues now can make the inspection process go smoother to get your home sold. Even if you are not selling right away, by following some of these items, you can protect your home and be more comfortable in it:

  • Exterior Wood

    - No deteriorated paint or caulking as bare wood items act as a sponge and soak up water causing rot. Use a pointed tool and moderately push it into the wood. Soft wood and rot needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • Back Door

    - I have seen a lot of rotted door frames and floors here. The rear doors do not have a covered porch or deck area as with the front door and blowing rain is usually directed at them. Doors and decks at same height need to be particularly watched. Early signs of water intrusion under a door is discolored vinyl flooring (starting at door corners) and soft spots. Take your foot and step down hard at the back door. If you can push down or it feels soft, you have rot at your subfloor and possibly with floor/rim joists. Get this taken care of to prevent more significant damage.
  • Electrical Panel

    - Homes built up to the early 70's may have unsafe electrical panels. Federal Pacific (FPE), Zinsco, and Bulldog (Pushmatic) will be mentioned in an inspection report as such. If you have one of these, contact an electrician to have it looked at and plan to have it replaced asap.
  • Grading

    - This is a frequent occurrence. The ground should slope away from your home's foundation in all directions (approx. 1/2" per foot for the first 6-10 feet) to drain rainwater away. Rain that collects next to the home, as it soaks into the ground, pressure from the ground pushes it through the foundation. Look for a white powdery substance or white stains inside the crawlspace or basement walls or wetness. I usually recommend to people to go outside during a heavy rain and watch where the water goes. Water is good for your yard but that is all.
  • Crawlspace

    - There is almost always something in the report about the crawlspace and this is usually what scares a buyer the most. Rarely does a person crawl under the home to check things out but so many things can happen down there and identifying issues quickly can save you a lot of money and make your home healthier to live in. Moisture in the crawlspace leads to mold/fungus growing on the wooden floor structure, and increased humidity in the living areas above, Look for mud tunnels (like veins) growing against the foundation or piers. These are likely termites and need to be taken care of now. Termites are prevalent in this region and thrive in dark/wet areas. Pull back the insulation around your tub and toilet drains to observe blackened wood or wetness around them. Water is seeping from your toilet/tub and is beginning to damage the floor. There should be a plastic vapor retarder over the dirt "floor" which should cover it completely to keep moisture from accumulating in this space. There should not be any wood items in the crawlspace and the floor insulation should not have gaps and be against the bottom of the subfloor.
  • Bathtubs/Showers

    - Deteriorated or just no caulking around the these places allows water to soak into the drywall at the joints and damage it. Usually there is some type of moulding right at the floor below the tub/shower and water is usually running down and getting behind the moulding and soaking into the floor. Again, discolored vinyl is an indicator. Kitchens and bathrooms are "wet" areas and need to be well protected from water (once again great for the grass but not in the home).
  • Windows

    - Older single pane windows usually have deteriorated glazing around the panes and peeling paint. They are also frequently painted shut. They should move up-and-down fully and relatively smoothly. Screens should be free of holes and frames should not be bent. Remember that these also serve a purpose as a secondary means of escaping from a burning home. Windows that are in poor condition sometimes can be replaced cheaper than repairing them.
  • Doors

    - Entry doors into the home should not have torn weather stripping, rub against the frame when opening/closing (usually from sagging because the long screws supplied with new doors to secure the upper hinges in the "stud" framing get thrown away), and no visible light around the door when closed (those little wedges at the bottom corners push the weather stripping out and always seem to get thrown away). The "deadbolt" needs to engage properly and the door should not put a lot of pressure on the latch assembly when it is closed (this will cause early failure of the latch). Interior doors also need to open/close without rubbing and need to latch and stay closed. Rubbing against the frame usually occurs in the summer as doors will swell some with higher levels of humidity. The bottoms of these doors should not drag across the carpet either as they can wear-it-out quickly and creates unbalanced air-flow of your HVAC system.
  • Lights

    - They should work (no burned-out bulbs) and be free from damage. Motion lights outside frequently have broken covers over the sensor. All lights should have the glass globe or cover in place. I find that most fluorescent lights have blackened ends indicating that they will be failing soon. This puts strain on the ballast needlessly.
  • Cabinets and Vanities

    - Doors should close and stay closed ("sprung" hinges) and not hit against each other. Drawers should glide smoothly and not fall-out when pulled-out. No missing handles or knobs either. I usually find the bottoms of cabinets are water damaged from leaking sinks and sometimes there is mold/mildew growing in them from being wet.
  • Roof

    - This area has frequent storms and hail. Worn shingles have frayed edges and the individual tabs break-off from the tar strip underneath wearing. Winds will lift the shingle up and then they go back down after. Repeated times forms a crack across the top and the next time they blow-off. If your roof is over ten years, it would be a good idea to have a roofing contractor look at them. Chances are there is storm/wind damage to them and may be covered by your homeowner/s insurance.
  • HVAC Systems

    - Keep your filters clean and have them regularly serviced. I would keep all of your service receipts in a folder (and for everything else as well) showing all potential buyers that you have been maintaining an expensive piece of equipment. Most ducts in the crawlspace are flexible ("flex duct") and should be straight with no sagging which causes resistance of the airflow. Install fabric webbing to support them as needed.
  • Toilets

    - toilets should be tight to the floor with no "rocking". Worn parts can cause leaking of water which wastes money. You can hear the toilets periodically filling even though they have not been used when it is quiet in the home.
  • Countertops

    - These should not have any damage to them and should be caulked around the walls. Caulking separates over time and should be re-caulked as needed.
  • Gutters and Downspouts

    - Gutters are frequently filled with leaves or debris and over time it may cause them to sag. The ends of the downspouts ("elbows") should be in place and have at a minimum a splash block underneath them. I recommend installing the black corrugated pipe (not perforated) which is readily available at the local hardware stores. These are inexpensive and can be cut to length as needed. This pipe does an excellent job of keeping the rain water that is coming off of the roof away from the home's foundation which eventually ends up in the crawlspace.
  • Sinks Tubs and Faucets

    - There should be no "drips" or slow draining.

These are some of the things that I find repeatedly and I will try to incorporate pictures with these in the future to clearly describe the comments. I hope this information is helpful.

Because every house needs a little TLC