Walk Through a Typical Inspection
Step by Step
We inspect every accessible item listed below. We do not usually comment on the cosmetic feel or appearance of anything as that is very subjective and not what I believe we are hired to do. Whenever we find a issue which should be noted we take pictures and record the issue and comments.
Generally we begin by turning on the; heater, ovens, dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer and laundry machines. After a suitable amount of time we record the temperature readings from the various devices and the hot water, checking for issues with each. Then we switch from heat to air conditioning to get that reading.
Particularly with Air Conditioning (cooling) not only the temperature produced is important but also the Split (difference in temperature between the vents and intake) and the actual performance. Performance means, does the Air Conditioner actually cool down the house. The minimum standard for cooling is that the unit should cool down the area at least 3 degrees per hour, most do better. Checking the Split, the difference between incoming and outgoing air temperatures, indicates the general health of the system. The split should be 18-22 degrees. More than that indicates that it is over cooling, which would be sort of like the throttle being stuck on your car. That can be an adjustment problem or could be the result of something being broken. If the split is too low it indicates that the unit isn’t working up to par or air is leaking into or out of the system.
This is usually when we inspect throughout with the Infrared Camera. The infrared camera shows a temperature picture of whatever you are looking at and is critical for finding certain moisture and Air Conditioning problems. If an Air Conditioning Duct is leaking that will show up as an unusually cool area of the wall or ceiling when cooling is on or an unusually hot area when the heating is on. Duct leaks are fairly common to find but are usually not too hard to fix. In most cases they can be sealed up in the attic or under house area or through the vents themselves. On occasion though one does have to open up the wall or ceiling to get to the leak.
Most of the time items that are wet will show up as cold when viewed with the Infrared Camera due to evaporation. It is surprising how often this shows up a leak of some kind that just isn’t visible to the naked eye, often in areas where one did not expect to find water. Another great benefit of the infrared camera is that it often lets us show people what is damp, for example how much of the wall. Even if it can be seen with the naked eye, getting a picture of something and showing the wetness can be very difficult with an ordinary camera.
We check the water heater for its, size, year of manufacture or installation, whether or not it is properly strapped, has a Temperature Pressure Relief Valve and Drain Pipe, if it has a Drain Pan and Pipe if necessary or has any other problems. Throughout the property we look for the type of pipes used as this sometimes varies. When we come to them we inspect the main and sub electric panels for wire type, service amps available and any possible problems or concerns.
As to the rooms, we usually do the kitchen first, beginning with the sink. Is it in good working order, does it need caulking or securing in any way? Does the faucet work properly, is it securely attached, does it leak any where at any time? Do the shutoff valves or supply lines leak or have any other problems? Shutoff valves are not turned on and off because they leak or fail most of the time. Does the sink drain properly and does the drain leak or have any other problems? If there are other devices such as instant water heater or a water filter faucet these are checked similarly. Does the garbage disposal work properly, or does it make noise, leak or have a dangerous electrical connections? If the garbage disposal makes noise we generally try to clean it out as the problem is often a bit of hard debris stuck in the disposal. Sometimes we can repair leaking faucets, drains or supply hoses with a quick return of the wrench while we are there, it can be quicker than reporting the problem and saves us all time and aggravation. Similarly we often tighten various screws etc. and fix minor problems throughout a unit. This is not a service which we promise, how much of this we do is restricted by the time element.
The dishwasher and trash compactor are checked to see if everything appears to function properly such as doors and trays moving in an out and does the unit sound healthy when operated. The ovens are tested to see if they attain the set temperature, they rarely do this exactly but should get within 25-50 degrees of their setting. The stove is tested to see if the burners light properly or if the elements to heat normally. The stove vent fan and light are checked for proper, quiet operation and to make sure that they are vented properly either out of the building or into the kitchen. It’s surprising how many are venting into the cabinet, which is a fire hazard. A microwave oven is tested for heating, lights, latches and leaking of microwave radiation. The refrigerator and freezer are tested for appropriate temperature and settings and of course do the lights work, are the seals, doors, handles etc. in place and secure. Does the ice maker, if any, function? Are the towel bars etc. secure. Are there GFIC outlets in all of the “Wet Locations” and if so do they work.
Lights are checked to see if they all work properly, including do 3 way switches and dimmers function properly. A Tester is plugged into all accessible outlets to check that they are wired properly. Common problems are reversed hot and neutral wires or an open ground wire, both are safety hazards but often are easy to fix. Doors and windows are checked for proper and smooth operation including locks or latches, and any possible water leaking problems. Walls, ceilings, floors and counters are checked for soundness, water or moisture problems, cracks and their causes and necessary repairs if any and as an indication of the soundness of the structure beneath. Cabinets are checked for proper operation of all doors, drawers etc. do they open and close properly and smoothly without interference and do any latches or locks work properly. We often find myself making minor hinge adjustments and tightening knobs etc. on Cabinets and Doors.
Other rooms and items are checked similarly to the above descriptions. Showers are of course very carefully checked, in particular; the soundness of the shower, caulking and or grouting as well as the drain, faucet, shower head and any other items therein. Toilets are checked to make sure that the toilet, toilet seat and tank are all secure, does the toilet leak? We check around all showers, toilets and any other suspect areas with the moisture meter.
On a house we also look at the roof for its apparent condition, although the most telling information about a roof is usually in the ceilings below. Under a house we look at the foundation for its condition, does it have any cracks and if so are they significant or minor? Are the concrete and posts etc. firm and secure? Is the house bolted or otherwise retrofitted? We also look below the house for leaking water pipes, improper electrical or other installations and signs of leaking showers, toilets, or other drains.
Driveways, walkaways, fences etc. are inspected for soundness and condition. Are any cracks minor and insignificant or indications of problems? Is a fence or wall sound and secure or ready to fall over, if so what needs to the done to repair it or does it need replacement? Does pool equipment appear to function properly and quietly, does it have any leaks, broken or missing parts etc.? Is the pool in firm and sound condition or is it beginning to rust through? Does it have any cracks, loose or missing tiles etc.? Do sprinklers function properly, or do they water the house or fences causing damage to those items?
The Pool and Spa equipment should function properly and quietly without any leaks, broken or missing parts, etc.. The pool should be in firm, sound condition with operational lights and jets, and without rust. We also look for any cracks, loose or missing tiles.
Concrete, stucco and plaster are all expected to crack, this is normal. It is important to look at the crackes and related evidence to be sure what is going on. Usually, small cracks of 1/8 inch or less width are considered cosmetic only and do not need repair unless they would let water into the structure. A large crack or a crack combined with offset can be indicative of a structural or other important problem. These items are of course covered in more detail in the report if applicable.
For limitations on the inspection refer to the Sample inspection report page 2 “Inspection Agreement.”