Updated: Jan 3
Every home inspection is different. Even houses built by the same builder in a cookie cutter neighborhood will be different. How well a home is maintained is the biggest factor in the amount and importance of the issues found in an inspection. Here are the most common issues found in home inspections in the Mountains of North Georgia and Western North Carolina (from my experience):
Gutters not draining away from the foundation of a home. While gutters are not usually top of mind in someones purchase of a home, they provide an important function. They take water that runs off of a roof and takes it to the ground. Water is your home's biggest threat in usual circumstances. It is vital to route the rainwater away from the foundation of the home. Over the years water can undermine the foundation so making sure the rainwater flows away from the house is critical.
Decks not being secured to the home's ledger board. This sounds scary and in some cases it can be. For many years decks were built and it was satisfactory to nail the deck header to the ledger board of the house. Currently, the deck needs to be bolted to the house. How they should be bolted to the house is beyond the scope of this blog post. There are screws that are approved as well, however you should consult with a contractor to make sure you use the correct screws if you want to do it your self. Most homes built more than 15 or so years ago are lacking these bolts or screws if the original deck is still in place. Heavy loads could potentially cause a deck collapse without the proper connection.
Faulty outlets. Almost every house has an outlet that isn't working properly. Whether that is a missing GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) in a garage or kitchen, or open ground in a bedroom there is likely something not right. Often times these outlets have been installed or adjusted by a home owner or handyman, and they didn't quite hit the mark. These are serious issues that should be addressed.
S- traps. Once again older homes were equipped with S-traps. One key component in indoor plumbing are traps. Every sink and toilet in your home is (or should) equipped with a trap. The trap is there to hold water (or trap it) to prevent sewer gases from seeping up into the home. If you have ever been in a home that has been vacant for a while you may notice that it has a funky smell in the bathroom. The likely cause of that is that the traps have dried up and you have a direct connection to the sewer lines or septic system. Older homes were equipped with S- traps and the better type of trap is the "P-trap". The S-trap actually functions as a syphon for the trap so the water gets pulled out. This allows those smelly gases come out into your home.
Temperature Relief Valve not installed properly. A TPR valve is a critical safety component on your hot water heater. If something goes wrong in the hot water heater the TPR can prevent a catastrophic event. Hot water heaters can explode if the water heats up beyond the temperature it is set to and if that over heated water (steam) has no place to escape to. That is what the TPR valve does. If the water over heats and creates steam it builds pressure and once it reaches a certain pressure the valve will open and allow the pressure to remain at a safe level in the tank. The most common issue I see is that the valve is not plumbed properly. It should be plumbed to terminate no more than 6 inches from the floor into a tank or container. It should not be plumbed into another drain line or have a shutoff valve installed.
R-22 refrigerant. This is one that most homeowners know nothing about. In older HVAC systems the coolant liquid in them is called R-22. In 2010 the EPA banned R-22 for its negative environmental impacts. In 2021 the ban was completed and R-22 can no longer be produced or sold. So older units that require R-22 coolant will be difficult to repair or maintain. The good thing is that units that are 2010 or older are usually needing to be replaced anyways. If a home you are purchasing has R-22 coolant this will be something you will need to consider as it means you have an older unit that will not be able to be maintained as well.
Carpenter Bee Damage. Here in the mountains there are many log homes and wood sided homes. That means a buffet for carpenter bees. These bees burrow in the wood and if left unchecked can cause some serious damage to the exterior wood of the home. There are things you can do to prevent the bees, but sometimes you just have to fill the holes with puddy and paint over it. Regular maintenance will help mitigate the damage.
Loose or leaky toilets. Toilets are a high used fixture in a home. It's not something most people talk about, but depending on how many people live in a home and how careful they are when they do business, toilets can become loose and/or leak. A toilet is just a fixture that water flows into and out of. It consists of a tank and a seat. The tank is held to the seat by 2 bolts and has a connection point that the water flows out of. If that connection point or the bolts are loose the tank could leak. The seat is held in place by 2 bolts to the floor and has a connection point where the water flows into the drain line in the floor. That connection point has a wax ring that keeps it water tight. If the bolts become loose the wax ring can fail causing a leak. Leaks at the toilet can undermine the floor of the entire area if left unchecked.
Foundation cracks. Most foundation cracks are minor. If you see a crack that follows the mortar joint and looks like a staircase, this is a settlement crack. The size of the crack will help determine the severity of the cause. If there is a horizontal crack in a wall, like a basement wall, that could show that the hydro-static pressure of the ground below grade is pushing the wall in. These cracks should be monitored and evaluated by a contractor. The main point on foundation cracks is that there is a good chance there will be some, some are worse than others, all should be evaluated and monitored.
Smoke detectors. Smoke detectors are one of the most critical safety components in a home and they are often the most disregarded item in a home. When walls get painted the smoke detectors get moved or painted over. Or at 2 am they start chirping and get thrown into the yard. Either way a home should have an operational smoke detector on each level of a home and in each bedroom. If there is a gas burning appliance in the home there should also be a CO2 detector on each floor.
All of these issues have something in common. They are easy and relatively cheap to fix. If you are a handy homeowner you can do fix most of these issues your self. If you are not you can get a contractor to fix them and it won't cost you an arm and a leg.
Getting a licensed and certified inspector to evaluate your home before you sell or buy is essential. To schedule an inspection click here!