For most people, a home is one of the largest purchases they will ever make in their lifetime. When choosing a place to live and invest in, prospective homebuyers must get the place inspected before putting in an offer. An otherwise “perfect” dream home could be hiding something potentially dangerous that is expensive to fix.
Home inspection reports typically cover the home’s major systems, such as the heating and cooling system, electrical system, and condition of the roof and foundation. What’s covered in the report will vary from one state to the next. For hopeful home buyers, it’s important to know what’s not included in the report, too. That way, your biggest purchase ever won’t come with a nasty and expensive repair surprise after closing.
What won’t a home inspector look for?
For a lot of homeowners, the home inspection ritual is one of the most stressful parts of the home buying process, and it’s often misunderstood. A home inspection report won’t tell you EVERYTHING that’s wrong (or right) with the house. In general, a home inspection report will give you an overall idea of the home’s relative condition for certain systems. A lot of buyers think that the home inspection is operated under a pass or fail grading system, but that’s not true. A home inspector won’t tell you whether or not to buy the home, either.
Every house and every buyer are unique, and everyone has different resources and repair capabilities for a home. A leaking roof could be a deal-breaker for one buyer, while the next may have the resources to fix the roof as soon as they take possession of the property. A home inspection report goes over the general condition of the house, from the roof to the foundation, at a very specific point in time. A report can give a rough estimate on the rest of a system or appliances lifespan. But it’s not able to tell a homebuyer if a plumbing issue will occur. Or if a family of squirrels will make your new attic their home shortly after you move in.
Below are the areas that aren’t typically covered in your standard home inspection report. For prospective buyers, it’s a good idea to get a certified specialist into the home if they are concerned that the structure may have these issues:
- Lead paint
- Toxic mold
- Problems with swimming pools
Your standard home inspection report goes over visible things. Things like asbestos, lead paint, and radon gas aren’t something that an inspector can see. Also in some older homes, attics have been sealed shut. It’s not possible for a home inspector to access those areas, either.
Buying a house is one of the most significant lifetime purchases someone can make. A home inspection can help protect that investment and keep new homeowners from purchasing a property that has far too many problems than they are capable of handling. But as with any purchase in life, caveat emptor.
How to Test Your AFCI and GFCI Panels
The electricity receptacles in your home are not created equal. This is especially true if your home was built sometime in the 1980s when a change in receptacles started taking off. Chances are you’ve seen the difference among receptacles but maybe aren’t familiar with how they are different.
A Standard Receptacle vs. a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
Electrical outlets are typically looked over during an inspection to ensure they adequately installed and correctly placed. Standard receptacles are usually found in living spaces, bedrooms, hallways, and the like. GFCI receptacles are placed in environments that share electricity and water, such as kitchens and bathrooms.
GFCI outlets (also called GFI) usually look different and have little buttons on them that say “reset” and “test.” This receptacle is designed to keep people from electrical shocks by monitoring the current at the receptacle site. On one side of this outlet, the GFI controls the “hot” wiring against the other side of the outlet considered the “neutral” side. When there is any change in hot vs. neutral current, the outlet will shut off the receptacle.
Where Should GFI Outlets be Installed?
In today’s building codes, outlets that are located near areas that are prone to moisture (kitchens and baths) should be outfitted with a GFI outlet. Here are other places that these receptacles should be installed or may be required by code. Garages, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, laundry rooms, utility closets, bars, kitchenettes, and all exterior sites.
How Should a GFI Outlet be Installed?
Anyone unfamiliar with how electrical work is done should hire a professional electrician to install the outlets. For consumers who have a decent amount of knowledge or experience with electrical work, they may feel comfortable enough to install these on their own. There are plenty of tutorials online; again, these should only be used if you are comfortable with working around electricity. This can be a dangerous project.
How To Check Your GFI Outlets
The easiest way to check your outlets to see if they are working is to plug something simple into one, like a lamp. Turn the lamp on, and press the “test” button. If the light stayed on, your GFI outlet isn’t working, and you should have it looked at by an electrician. Try also hitting the reset button. If the light comes back on, you may just have needed to reset it, and it’s likely working fine.
Faulty electrical distribution systems are the third leading cause of house fires. Your home’s arc AFCIs and GFCIs protect it from electrical fires and electrical shocks. When you hire a home inspector, these issues may be referred to as arc faults and ground faults.
Mostly, you’ll find GFCIs placed in outlets, with AFCIs in the service panel. No matter where they are installed though, it’s critical that homeowners and realtors regularly test their AFCI and GFCI panels once a month. This can prevent dangerous electrical fires, and also prevent the panels from breaking under a home inspection or testing situation. Often, a lack of regular testing can increase the chances of breakage during a home inspection.
Make sure you have both AFCI and GFCI outlets.
AFCI protection is required in laundry rooms and kitchens, and almost every circuit in the house. It’s no wonder since it’s prudent to try and protect the entire electrical system from arc faults. For homeowners, it’s a good idea to install dual AFCI and GFCI protection on every circuit. Homeowners can place dual protection directly in the circuit panel, which protects the structure from arc and ground faults. During testing, if the breakers do not trip, then homeowners need to contact an experienced electrician for replacement.
How to Test AFCI Panels
AFCI panels will protect your electrical system from dangerous arc faults. An arc fault can happen when electrical wiring or electrical devices are damaged, stressed, or overheated. If you don’t test the AFCI panels, they could be broken without your knowledge. An arc fault can then go undetected within the electrical system and start a fire. Here’s what you can do to test AFCI breakers:
- Leave the lights and other electronics on.
- Locate the electrical panel.
- Leave the breaker in the “on” position, and also leave at least one device turned on in the circuit.
- Press the AFCI “test” button.
- What should happen next is the breaker should trip and move the switch to the “off” position, or the middle “trip” position if that’s what is in the panel.
- If it trips after you press the “test” button, then the AFCI is working.
- Next, flip the breaker switch to “off” before you turn it back to the “on” position.
- For every AFCI breaker in the service panel, repeat the previous steps.
- If one of the breakers doesn’t trip, you’ll need to contact an electrician and have it fixed.
How to Test GFCI
GFCIs prevent electrical current leaks. If someone comes across a leak, they can be electrocuted. These interrupters will shut off the power if there is a suspected current leak. While GFCIs mainly protect against electrocution, they can also prevent fires. Here’s how to test them:
- Hit the “reset” button.
- Plug in a lamp.
- The light should go on.
- Press the “test” button.
- The light should go off.
- Press the “reset” button again.
- The light should turn on again.
If pressing the “test” button does not turn the light off, then the GFCI needs fixed or otherwise replaced by a certified electrician. Always be sure to test your AFCI and GFCI panels once a month to prevent electrical fires and breakage.
A Final Note
You might also want to get familiar with your circuit breaker box as these breakers can also have GFIs installed on them for added extra protection. GFIs at this location will protect from overloading as well as the fixture or appliance it serves. You can always have an electrician walk you through your breaker box, so you know how it functions if you’re ever faced with a problem.
Home Inspection Checklist
One of the most important parts of buying a home is having a comprehensive home inspection done. Without one, you could end up buying a money pit and paying thousands of dollars on repairs, or worse – purchasing a house that is unsafe due to foundation issues, water damage, or even asbestos and lead.
In this home inspection checklist, we’ll discuss each element of a home that must be inspected, to give you more insight on the process of a professional home inspection.
The inspector will examine the roof for damaged shingles and flashing, signs of water damage, and overall integrity. Roof repairs and replacements can be quite expensive, so a thorough roof inspection is absolutely essential to avoid surprise costs. The attic is inspected to ensure that it is properly ventilated and insulated. Attic inspections also are a good opportunity to look for water damage that may be caused by roof issues.
Flashing and trim
Any signs of leaks
Your home inspector will examine the foundation for cracking and shifting, and check to make sure that water is draining away properly from the foundation. Foundation issues are extremely expensive to fix, so a comprehensive foundation inspection is crucial to steer clear of any unexpected expenses.
Any visible cracks
Trees near the foundation
The inspector will examine the lot for proper grading and drainage. The inspector will also assess the quality of any walkways and driveways.
- Any soggy areas
Major appliances like refrigerators, ovens, ranges/stoves, dishwashers, and washers/dryers will be tested and verified for proper functionality.
The inspector will examine the construction of visible structural elements and report any evidence of sagging or bowing of the structure, and window alignment.
The entire HVAC system will be tested. The furnace will be examined for integrity, and problems like cracks or wear and tear that may indicate it needs replacement. Air ducts and air conditioning systems will also be examined and tested.
Other heating/cooling systems
The home inspector will make sure that all electrical outlets, switches, and lighting fixtures work. They will also examine the fuse box, wiring systems, and other electrical systems to ensure that they are up to code, and safe.
Meter & base
The functionality of the plumbing systems will be checked, including water pressure, hot and cold water, and functionality of all sinks, bathtubs, showers, and other systems. Pipes, water heaters, and other plumbing systems will be examined for quality, signs of wear, leaks, and other potential issues.
Any unusual noises?
The main elements inspected in your garage include checking for proper ventilation, appropriate framing, and even electrical components to ensure everything is up to code.
Depending on the type of home you’re in and where you live, your inspection may differ from the generic checklist above. You may also choose to opt for additional services like mold and radon testing.
Now that you know all of the specific parts of the home that will be checked, it will be easy for you to be on the same page as your home inspector – before, during, and after the inspection!
This article originally appeared on Spectora
A home inspection isn’t something many potential buyers skip. Here are some tips to make the process smoother.
So, You’re Selling Your Home…
You’ve got an interested buyer, but they’d like to have a home inspector take a look at your property. What should you do to sure that the process goes smoothly? In this guide, we’ll discuss eight of our top tips for sellers before home inspections.
Let’s get started!
1. Think About Curb Appeal
Making that first impression is huge when a buyer arrives. But a different kind of curb appeal can make your home’s inspection a breeze.
- Cut back any vegetation to ensure about a foot of clearance between it and the house.
- Visually inspect the siding and trim, if you see any damage, go ahead and have it repaired beforehand.
- Repair missing caulking and trim and fix any exposed nail heads.
- Check the operation of any exterior doors, locks and deadbolts. If you see a gap, have it filled properly.
2. Check Your Roof & Gutters
Florida receives its fair share of rain and wind, so making sure that your roof and gutters are in good working order is a huge priority for buyers. Make sure to:
- Clean the roof of any debris with a blower or pressure washer.
- Repair any damage and replace any missing elements correctly. Temporary fixes like mastic or caulk will be noted as a defect.
- Clean the gutters thoroughly
- Ensure the downspouts and other drains are free of obstruction and are flowing properly. Also, make sure the run off isn’t pooling next to the house.
3. Get Your Interior Ready
Now that the exterior is taken care of, do a quick run through of the inside and make any necessary repairs or replacements to get it ready for inspection. This includes:
- Testing all interior doors and locks
- Checking for leaks under sinks
- Checking the hot water heater for proper operation
- Changing the filter on an HVAC system
- Inspecting all caulking, trim and seals
- Checking smoke detectors for proper operation
- Testing all fixtures, lights and fans
- Visually inspecting all drywall for cracks and nail pops.
4. Tidy Up As Much As You Can
- Check the exterior of your home, as well as the roof, garage, etc. to make sure that the inspector will have access to all of the systems that they must check.
- Take special care to clear away stuff from major home systems like furnaces, HVAC units, utility closets, and other such areas that the inspector must examine closely.
- While you do this, you can also look for any signs that something may be wrong with your property, and make minor repairs as necessary.
5. Be On Time
If the home inspector says they’ll be there at 9:00 am, they’ll be there at 9:00 am – so make sure you’re dressed, prepared, showered, and ready to greet them in the morning. They’re professionals, and they will be there on time – you don’t want to delay them because you weren’t prepared for their arrival.
6. Provide Access to All Areas
Home inspectors will typically examine all buildings on your property, including garages and other such outbuildings, such as “granny flats” or other detached units, so you’ll need to provide them with keys, garage door openers, or door codes for these units.
In addition, if you have a sprinkler system or other systems that have electrical panel boxes or other utility boxes, leave keys and instructions for unlocking them, to ensure that the inspector has access, and can inspect them.
7. Supply Any Relevant Documents
It’s a good idea to make paperwork regarding remodeling projects available to inspectors, in addition to documentation about major repairs and upgrades such as a new furnace, HVAC system, roof, plumbing, and so forth.
This documentation will aid the inspector when they create their report, and help give the buyer more peace of mind, as they will have a more clear idea of when each major component of the home was last inspected, repaired, or replaced.
8. Get Out of the House
The buyer will usually accompany the home inspector during the examination, and will ask them questions during the process. That means they may be uncomfortable if you’re hanging around your house, so plan to have something to do while the inspection is completed. Head to the gym and get some errands done, go see a movie, schedule a coffee date with a friend – whatever sounds good! Take any pets with you or ensure that they are secured. Stay out for at least three hours. Then, head back once the inspection is complete.
Follow These Tips to Ensure Your Home Inspection Goes Smoothly!
If you follow these tips, the home inspection process is sure to go off without a hitch. If you have other questions – or you’d like to schedule your own home inspection before buyers look at your home, feel free to contact Inside & Out Property Inspectors or schedule an appointment today!
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- See more articles like this on our blog
Home Inspections – What is Thermal Imaging Used for?
Have you heard a professional home inspector talk about “thermal imaging” but are still somewhat unsure about what that really means? Then you have come to the right place. At Inside and Out Property Inspectors we get asked this question often, so let’s talk about what this means and how it can be beneficial to a whole home inspection.
What are Thermal Imaging Cameras?
The naked eye sees visible light in the electromagnetic field, a thermal imaging camera can see other “energy” that is either warmer or colder in nature, not visible to the human eye or standard cameras.
You might be more familiar with thermal cameras from movies or the news, where surveillance images are shown in contrast or negative visuals to show you people’s movement in low light, or smoke-filled spaces.
What do Thermal Images Reveal?
Since these cameras are used to detect temperature and not just “visual” elements, they can capture both significant and insignificant temperature variants. This can reveal things like escaping heat or unwanted cold air getting into a home. This is incredibly helpful for inspectors because these cameras can give homebuyers a look beyond what we can see as inspectors.
If there are water leaks, missing insulation, moisture, overloaded circuit boxes, hot electrical connections or even mechanical equipment that seems to be running too hot; we can detect it with these images. Another feature to these cameras, they can detect pests and insects that could be doing damage to the home typically taking place behind walls or spaces that are visually hard to see into.
Why You Should Consider A Thermal Imaging Inspection
It might already be more clear as to why you may want to consider one of these inspections, but let’s take it a step further. Thermal images give you a look into a home that inspections have never been able to reveal in the past. This means you can see previous damage that may not have been attended to and ask the owner to remedy those before you complete the purchase. Thermal images can also give you some insight into the future of the home. While they certainly can’t predict problems, they can reveal issues that wouldn’t have been able to be detected in a standard home inspection.
For example, If there is faulty electrical work reading “hot” in hard to see areas or behind drywall, an inspector would not be able to alert you to this as they don’t cut holes in the walls during inspections. This kind of knowledge gives homebuyers more purchasing power confidence, more so than they have ever had in the past.
Your future home is an investment, Inside and Out Property Inspectors would like to help you get the best investment for your money. If we can help you with a home inspection, please give us a call today. You can also schedule an inspection online, and we can get to work right away.