10 Top Problems Found by Home Inspectors

The 10 Most Common Home Concerns Found by Home Inspectors

Home Inspections show that most homes’ defects are strikingly similar. There are ten common home defects that inspectors can typically identify:

  1. 1.Poor drainage: Inspectors will review whether water moves away from the house properly and whether the roof needs new gutters and downspouts or if ground-level drainage systems have been properly graded.
  2. 2.Faulty electrical wiring: If electrical wiring hasn’t been properly installed or grounded, a home may be vulnerable to fire and inhabitants may risk electrical shock. Older homes often need electrical upgrades, including new wiring and circuit breaker panels which replace old-fashioned fuse boxes.
  3. 3.A leaking roof: Leaking roofs result from poor flashing (intersections where parts of the roof are joined) or aging shingles and roofing materials. If the roof has leaked, repairs could range from minor (replacing shingles) to extensive (replacing an entire roof).
  4. 4.An aging or defective heating system: Older heating systems require maintenance and may be energy-inefficient. Non-electrical heating systems also run the risk of emitting carbon monoxide fumes.
  5. 5.Poor maintenance: A do-it-yourself seller’s band-aid fixes to plumbing, electrical or other problems can sometimes do more harm than good.
  6. 6.Structural damage: A leaking roof or settling foundation may mean doorways, walls and support beams are off-kilter. You’ll need to fix these problems to remain safe.
  7. 7.Plumbing problems: Inspectors look for faulty pipes and fixtures, and also look at whether plumbing parts are made of compatible materials. Leak-prone polybutylene (PB) plumbing pipes, popular in the 1970s till the mid-1990s, may have to be replaced.
  8. 8.Water seepage through windows and doors: If there’s evidence of water damage or intrusion, then re-caulking windows and doors, adding weather-stripping or other more extensive repairs may be necessary.
  9. 9.Poor ventilation:  If moisture has accumulated in a home, it may be most obvious in bathrooms. Installing ventilation fans and keeping windows open can help, but buyers may find they need to replace walls or other structural aspects of a home.
  10. 10.Hazardous materials: Older homes may contain lead-based paint and asbestos materials. Depending on structure and climate, homes may also contain unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide, radon gas, or toxic molds. 

Get prepared for your Home Inspection

On inspection day, the home should be clean, pets should be removed or crated. The National Association of Home Inspectors provides the following list of low cost items to get the house primed for inspection:

  • Remove grade or mulch from contact with siding. Six or more inches of clearance is preferred.
  • Clean out dirty gutters or debris from the roof.
  • Divert all water away from the house; i.e. downspouts, condensation drains, etc. Grade should slope away from the structure.
  • Trim trees, roots and bushes back from the foundation, roof, siding and chimney.
  • Paint all weathered exterior wood and caulk around the trim, chimney, windows and doors.
  • Seal or point up masonry chimney caps. Install metal chimney cover.
  • Clean or replace HVAC filter. Clean dirty air returns and plenum.
  • Point up any failing mortar joints in brick or block.
  • Test all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in safe working condition.
  • Update attic ventilation and insulation if none is present.
  • Have the chimney cleaned and provide the buyer with a copy of the cleaning record.
  • Don’t do quick cheap repairs. You may raise questions that will unfairly cause great concern to buyers and inspectors.
  • Ensure that all doors and windows are in proper operating condition, including repairing or replacing any cracked window panes.
  • Ensure that all plumbing fixtures (toilet, tub, shower, and sinks) are in proper working conditions. Check for and fix any leaks. Caulk around fixtures if necessary.
  • Install GFCI receptacles near all water sources. Test all present GFCI receptacles for proper operation.
  • Replace any burned out light bulbs.
  • Remove rotting wood and/or firewood from contact with the house.
  • Ensure that proper grading is followed under a deck.
  • Caulk all exterior wall penetrations.
  • Check to ensure that the crawlspace is dry and install a proper vapor barrier if necessary. Remove any visible moisture from a crawlspace. Moisture levels in wood should be below 18% to deter rot and mildew.
  • Check that bath vents are properly vented and in working condition.
  • Have clear access to attic, crawlspace, heating system, garage and other areas that will need to be inspected.
  • If the house is vacant, make sure that all utilities are turned on, including water, electric, water heater, furnace, air conditioner and breakers in the electrical panel.