When you hire a home inspector to assess and report on the condition of a property you own or that you’re interested in buying, it’s natural to have some trepidation about what may be uncovered. You just never know what could be wrong with a structure, even one that has been well-maintained.
That said, not every issue found in the course of a home inspection is going to be something catastrophic or outrageously expensive. Sometimes a needed fix could be as simple as adding a five-dollar key to a gas fireplace or replacing the float valve in a toiler.
Major headaches like cracked foundations, termite infestations, and mold colonies aren’t unheard of, but they’re not as common as you might imagine. If you’re wondering about what you’re likely to come up against when you hire a home inspector, here are some of the most common problems found during a home inspection.
Most homeowners understand the importance of an annual home maintenance checklist, which tends to include activities like inspecting the HVAC system and changing filters, flushing the water heater, and cleaning the gutters, just for example. What many homeowners, unfortunately, neglect is having an annual roof inspection. A home inspector may find loose, broken, or missing shingles, deteriorated flashing, or other issues that could lead to leaks if not repaired. Often times small roof issues can lead to larger problems down the road if you don’t get the roof repairs completed in a timely manner.
Most people don’t spare an undue thought for the slope of the land surrounding their home or the drainage in place to funnel water away. Even if the land is properly graded at the time a home is built, settling, soil erosion, and other factors could shift the balance over time, leading to a property where water runs toward the home and pools around it, potentially eating away at the structure or leading to leaks or flooding. This can be addressed by re-grading the land, rerouting drainage, or both.
Funny enough, this is often a side effect of poor grading if water is pooling around the foundations and seeping in through the concrete. It could also have to do with a degraded or damaged vapor barrier, or potentially something more serious like a cracked foundation. However, it could be as simple as finding better ways to funnel water away from your home.
If you live in a home long enough, you might stop noticing issues like slow drainage, dripping faucets, weak water pressure, and other plumbing issues. However, these problems can be indicative of more serious systemic issues and they can worsen over time if not addressed.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to overhaul your plumbing at great expense, though. Often, small fixes like unclogging drains, repairing weak spots where water is leaking, and even replacing the wax rings on toilets can get your plumbing back in good working order.
Electrical problems are especially common in older homes, not only because electrical systems have improved immensely over the years, but also because modern users demand so much electricity to power appliances and electronic devices. Minor fixes and upgrades may do the trick, but if you’re dealing with a home that is decades old, you might need to prepare for a major overhaul if the home is found to feature faulty or outdated wiring. At the very least faulty wiring has been known to lead to damaging appliances. So if you want to avoid costly appliance repairs, that can be a good reason to have a proper inspection of the wiring.
Heating and ventilation issues can be more serious than you might imagine. You may not be especially worried if your HVAC system isn’t terribly effective at heating or cooling your home, even though you waste energy and money in the process.
What if your heating system is leaking carbon monoxide into your home? What if poor ventilation is leading to a buildup of toxic gas? The first step is to install carbon monoxide detectors (every home should have them, just like smoke detectors). However, if a home inspector uncovers issues with your heating, AC, and/or ventilation, you will want to address them right away for health and safety reasons.