If you are selling your home, chances are a home buyer is going to have a professional home inspection done. Here are 10 ways you can uncover potential problems and fix them before you put your home on the market.
Before the Inspection:
The first thing you should do is make sure the home inspector has access to all the areas of the home. Remove clutter from the basement and garage that could restrict access to crawlspaces, utility meters, and fixtures. Make sure the electrical panel is accessible, and clear under kitchen and bathroom cabinet areas so the inspector can check plumbing fixtures.
Be sure to address some of the minor maintenance issues you may see before the home inspection. For instance, repair or replace broken, damaged, or missing items like door knobs, broken window glass, or damaged window screens. Replace burned out bulbs. Clean rain gutters and make sure downspouts are properly attached and draining away from foundation.
1. Repair Roof Problems
One of the most common problems found in home inspections is roof leakage caused by old or damaged shingles. Inspectors will look for missing or broken shingles, damaged flashing, and any signs of rot. The inspection will also include identifying the roof drainage system and evidence of previous or current leaks. Inspect your ceilings for stains, which could indicate a roof or plumbing leak. Repair damaged tiles and shingles, re-caulk the roof penetrations, and fix or replace broken flashings.
2. Have an Electrician Update Inadequate Wiring & Electrical
Inadequate or outdated electrical wiring is another common problem found by home inspections. Inspectors will identify such things as the type of wiring (i.e., armored cable, knob and tube wiring, flat cable), the location of the service panels and whether they are easily accessible, and ground fault protection issues. Home inspectors will look for potential problems such as rust in the electric service panel, burned wiring, and too many circuits in the panel. A fire hazard is created when more amperage is drawn on the circuit than was intended. 15 amp circuits are the most common in a typical home, with larger service for large appliances such as stoves and dryers. Many problems encountered by home inspectors are due to “do it yourself” repairs, so it’s best to hire a licensed electrician to address any electrical issues.
3. Fix Plumbing Problems
Plumbing defects are another common problem discovered in home inspections. Inspectors will look out for old or incompatible piping materials, faulty fixtures and waste lines and improperly strapped hot water heaters. They will look for evidence of leaking, and will gauge water pressure by turning on all faucets in the highest bathroom and then flushing the toilet. Fix dripping faucets and running toilets. For major problems such as weak water pressure or damaged pipes, consult a professional plumber.
4. Dry Out Your Damp or Wet Basement
The American Society of Home Inspectors estimates 60% of U.S. homes have wet basements. Inspectors can see evidence of improper grading and drainage in cracked slabs and water penetration in the basement or crawlspace. The most effective remedies for bad drainage include re-grading the ground around the house, repairing or installing a gutter and downspout system and providing positive drainage away from the foundation.
5. Fix Deficient Heating & Cooling Systems
Home inspectors will look for any problems with broken or malfunctioning controls, blocked chimneys, unsafe exhaust flues and cracked heat exchangers which can be major health and safety hazard. Heating systems should be serviced and maintained annually by a professional heating serviceman according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For a forced air gas system, a heat exchanger will come under particular scrutiny since one that is cracked can emit deadly carbon monoxide into the home. These heat exchangers must be replaced if damaged – they cannot be repaired. Although expensive, the newer more efficient central heating systems will help to recoup your investment by reducing heating and cooling costs.
6. Check Damp or Unsafe Attic Spaces
Problems with ventilation, insulation and vapor barriers can cause water, moisture, mold and mildew to form in the attic. This can lead to premature wear of the roof, structure and building materials. The inspector will examine structural components where deterioration is suspected. He will look at the exposed insulation and will also look out for obstructions, and unsafe access to the attic. Look out for holes in the roof for the source of a leak and have them fixed. Look for animal activity in the attic which can cause structural damage. If necessary have a pest control professional address the problem. Have an electrician address frayed or loose wiring.
7. Address Poor Ventilation Issues
Rotting wood can occur in many places in the home including door or window frames, trim, siding, decks and fences. The building inspector will sometimes probe the wood to see if this is present – especially when wood has been freshly painted. Due to overly ambitious efforts to save energy, many home owners have “over-sealed” their homes, resulting in excessive interior moisture. This can cause rotting and premature failure of both structural and nonstructural elements. Moisture from unvented bathrooms and kitchens can damage plaster and may also lead to the accumulation of mold, which often causes allergic reactions. Make sure your home is properly ventilated.
8. Improve Overall Home Maintenance
Many home inspectors come across cracked, peeling or dirty painted surfaces, crumbling masonry, make-shift wiring or plumbing and broken fixtures or appliances which reflect an overall lack of care for the home. Home inspectors will operate all entryway doors and representative number of windows and report their condition and need of repair. An inspector will operate garage doors (if the garage is attached to the main dwelling), manually or by using permanently installed controls of any garage door operator so make sure they work properly. Window maintenance is also often overlooked or neglected. Gaps in siding allows water to enter the home which results in rot, mold, or insect damage. Fix loose damaged or missing siding. Repair damaged wood and paint surfaces where needed.
9. Update Security Features
More than a purchased security system, an inspector will look for the basic safety features that will protect your home such as proper locks on windows and patio doors, dead bolts on the doors, smoke and even carbon monoxide detectors in every bedroom and on every level. Replace batteries in smoke detectors where needed and make sure locks and bolts are all in working order.
10. Address Structural or Foundation Problems
Many houses sustain some damage to structural components such as foundation walls, floor joists, rafters or window and door headers. A home inspector will evaluate the home structure components including the foundation and framing, entryways, garage doors, decks, balconies, driveways, walkways, and retaining walls, if any. While problems with these may occur more often in older homes, even owners of newer homes should examine these for potential problems.