This article was originally designed to give homeowners looking to sell an idea of some of the common problems affecting the mechanical operation of their home. Inspectors doing their jobs cited these common problems to me over the years and I have compiled a list designed to assist homeowners who may want to examine these areas of habitual concern prior to listing their home for sale. Upon further reflection, it seemed important for buyers who will now know areas of concern in homes they are looking at while shopping for a home. This list was compiled by the help of some area inspectors and my years of experience selling homes.
1- Improper surface grading and drainage. This accounts for over 36% of all inspection problems. Many household maladies trace their origins to cracked slabs and water penetration of the footings and crawlspaces. Re-grading the ground area by the house and repairing and installing a gutter or downspout system will provide positive drainage away from the house.
2- Improper and undersized electrical wiring. In newer home developments, remember that the low bidder on each aspect of your home received the contract. This is also true with your electrical box, which creates such situations as insufficient electrical service, aluminum wiring, inadequate overload protection, and improper wiring. Add to this the amateur - do-it-yourselfers with their improper wiring. 20% of inspection problems revolve around electrical issues. It is advised to have a licensed electrician check out your electrical box to proactively address problems.
3- Older and damaged roofs. 9% of inspectors site wooden roofs as their number one inspection problem. Asphalt shingle roofs last between 15-20 years. Leakage caused by old or damaged shingle or improper flashing is an ongoing problem. It is an easy fix and relatively inexpensive to address damaged tiles and shingles and re-caulking issues rather than the cost of reroofing due to delayed repairs.
4- Deficient and older heating systems. Problems include broken or malfunctioning controls, blocked chimneys, unsafe exhaust flues, and cracked heat exchangers. These conditions are more than just inefficient heating. They are a major health and safety concern. Having your heating system serviced annually by a professional will keep the heating systems from being a problem upon resale.
5- Poor overall maintenance. Americans, on average, take better care of their cars than their homes. Inspector’s reports are always full of cracked or peeling paint, crumbling masonry, filters in need of cleaning, makeshift wiring or appliances. These items may seem cosmetic, but it reflects overall lack of care for the home.
6- Structural Problems. As a result of the problems above, many houses sustain some damage to structural components of their homes. The areas commonly cited are: foundation walls, floor joists, rafters, windows, and door headers.
7- Plumbing problems. Plumbing defects and continual maintenance ranks high amongst inspector’s commonly encountered problems. You have moving parts and water so it is only natural that constant attention to your plumbing systems is needed to avoid larger problems. Old or incompatible piping materials, faulty fixtures, (remember low bidder) waste lines, and improperly strapped water heaters are just some of the areas that a vigilant home owner needs to constantly inspect.
8- Exterior lines. Inspectors tell me all the time that proper caulking and weather stripping at a home’s windows and doors are the best line of defense against water and air penetration as they are the most common sources of a cold and drafty home.
9- Poor ventilation. In an attempt to save money, most home owners have “over-sealed” their homes, resulting in excessive interior moisture. This causes rotting and early failure of both structural and non structural elements. Moisture from unvented bathrooms and kitchens can damage the plaster and the accumulation of mold. Excess mold is bad and proper ventilation dries out the areas that get wet on a daily basis.
10- Miscellaneous items. While most homes no longer have lead-based paint or asbestos these are ongoing environmental concerns. Try and avoid having sticky windows or dripping faucets and check the water line to the refrigerator periodically you can’t see it but if it is dripping, you could have mold.
Most of the items in this report are directly related to water. Regardless of the age of your home, protecting it against water is a homeowner’s number one task and challenge. A good inspection prior to purchase and constant vigilance are the best tools to staying proactive on your homes upkeep and preventing larger issues which cost time and money.