HOME GUIDE

IF ONLY YOU HAD KNOWN!

The weakest element of you your plumbing system is the rubber hoses that connect your washing machine to the hot and cold water. These can develop a weak spot and rupture. You awake to find the house flooded or come home from vacation to find water running out from under the front door. You have a huge water bill and a massive claim to file on your insurance. You will probably have to move out while the remediation and repair work is done. Using braided steel hoses that cannot rupture can prevent this. These are only about $20.00 for a pair and the peace of mind is free.

It is good idea to turn the water off to the house when you will be away for an extended time. This can be done at the water meter. If you do this be sure to turn off the water heater. If you have a sprinkler system or automatic pool fill device that should function while you are away this may be a little trickier and require the help of a plumber.

That water dripping out of the pipe under eave is not normal. That is the secondary condensate line off the AC unit in the attic. This indicates the primary condensate line is clogged. If the secondary line clogs you will have water damage to the ceiling. It is time to call a HVAC company to service these lines.

Many homeowners have a freezer in the garage. These should not be plugged into a ground fault protected outlet as these are much more likely to trip off. Unless you catch this the first day the contents of the freezer and the freezer are a loss. If this does happen and you see flies buzzing around the freezer DO NOT open the door. The stench will be like a biological weapon. If you are compelled to open the door, move the freezer outside first and be prepared to explain the odor to your neighbors down wind. To lesson the possibility of this the freezer should be plugged into a dedicated outlet. This would be a single outlet on a breaker by itself.

Inspection check list for home seller

1. All utilities (gas, water and electric) should be on.

2. The pilots should be lit on all gas appliances.

3. If any appliances are known not to work or have not been used recently place notes on them. For instance, if the dishwasher leaks leave a note so the inspector does not try to run it. If the inspector does not know this he/she will attempt to run the dishwasher as a normal part of the inspection. If you have not used the dishwasher recently you should run it through a cycle before the inspection or leave a note that it has not been used recently.

4. There should be clear access to and working space in front of the breaker box, water heater, furnace, attic access, crawl space access and lawn sprinkler control box. This may require doing things such as: moving a car from under the attic access in the garage, moving a freezer from in front of the breaker box, clearing out a closet so the crawl space in the floor or attic access in the ceiling can be accessed or moving stored items in the attic blocking access to the furnace.

4. You should move breakables from the top of the toilet tanks and on window sills as the inspector will need to lift the toilet tank lids and test the operation of the windows. Anything blocking interior and exterior doors should be moved so they can be opened and closed.

5. All light fixtures should have working bulbs. Any switches that operate a light, outlet, fan, etc. that are not apparent from the location of the switch should be labeled.

6. A dirty filter on the heat or air unit can cause it to perform poorly so change it if you have not done so recently.

7. If you have a pier and beam foundation, when you clear the access to the crawl space get a flashlight and look under the floor. If it is muddy or there is standing water you might as well get a plumber because the inspector will have to write it up as a problem and as not accessible.

8. If there are any patches or old stains on the ceilings or walls leave a note explaining what caused them and what was done to correct it. This could be a stain on the bed room closet ceiling that was caused by a roof leak before the shingles were replaced.

9. You should have your heat and air unit serviced yearly. If you have, leave a copy of the most recent work order/invoice from the company for the inspector to see. If you have not then have it done before the inspection, especially if it is an older unit.

10. If you can, look at the water meter and check the flow indicator. If it is moving while all the plumbing fixtures are off you need to locate the cause. It could be as simple as a dripping faucet or as serious as a leak in a water line under the foundation. Most inspectors will check the water meter and note if it is moving with no observable cause. The flow indicator will be a small colored triangle or a little silver gear shape usually in the middle of the dial face.

11. If you have doors that don’t fit like they used to or cracks in the brick mortar or sheet rock wider than 1/8 inch or a number of smaller cracks, you may want to have a Structural Engineer give you a written evaluation. Often they will only recommend proper watering around the foundation and or improvements in the soil drainage around the house. Many inspectors will recommend a structural engineer if they see any signs of foundation movement. If you already have an engineers report the delay in getting one and concerns the issue can cause the buyers are avoided and will not cause delays or jeopardize the sale.

12. Most inspectors don’t mind if you observe the inspection as long as you just observe. If they have a question they will ask. It is best to observe from several feet away as they move and change directions frequently and suddenly. Imagine you are observing a 200 pound butterfly. Pets and toddlers may need your supervision. Children learn by imitation. If they see the inspector using an outlet tester they may look for something to stick in the outlets. It is helpful if there is a clear surface on the kitchen counter or dining table so the inspector can write the report and set his equipment bag out of the reach of curious children.

NOTE: This is not intended to list every thing an inspector might note. This is intended to help you prepare so the inspection will go quickly and smoothly and possibly avoid some major issues by addressing them before the inspection. If yours is an older home there will items the inspector is required to note that relate to changes in the building code. An example would be ground fault protected outlets in the plumbing areas and outside. These were not required 20 years ago but the State requires the inspector to note it if you do not have them.

This is provided as general information only and not intended as legal advice or to be exhaustive.

What is that smell!!?

It’s moving day and you can finally sit down. There is still a lot to do but it has been a long day. You go into the kitchen, find the wine glasses and rinse one out. A foul odor wafts over you. If the house has been vacant for some time it could be sewer gas from the sink drain. The trap under the sink (that “U” shape pipe) may have dried out. The purpose of the trap is to hold water to create a seal that blocks sewer gas from entering the house. Just running some water in the sink to re fill the seal will cure the problem. The other possibility is the garbage disposer. There is often old food debris on the bottom side of the rubber splash guard. This will take a brush, some spray on cleaner and some rubber gloves followed by some hot water. Just general nastiest in the disposer can be knocked loose with some ice cubes while it is running followed with hot water. Grinding orange peels helps too. There are different disposer cleaners sold in the grocery store. I have never tried them myself. Dish washers usually drain into the disposer leaving food particles. Run the disposer with a flush of water after running the dishwasher to prevent a compost pile from developing. If your sinks have over flow drains they can accumulate nasty odors also. Depending on the size of the opening different approaches will be effetive to clean these. If your toilets are not calked to the floor at the base moisture from spills or mopping can be hidden under there and become foul smelling. A rotten egg odor when running hot water indicates a possible issue with the water heater. This is similar to the odor of a natural gas leak so be sure the hot water is the source. If you have had a roof replaced one of the sewer vent pipes could have come loose in the attic allowing sewer gases to seep into the house. A sewer vent could be clogged or blocked causing sewer gases to backup into the house. If you recently patched holes in the eave, soffit or gable you may have sealed a pest in the attic that died and is rotting. I have had a call back over a foul odor that was caused by mice on sticky traps in the attic the client had forgotten to check. These critters sometimes just die of natural causes under your refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, couch, in the wall, anywhere you can imagine. There are many other sources of unpleasant odors. Too many to even guess but this should give you an idea of where to start looking.

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