10 Common Inspection Defects
Inspection defects are usually easy and inexpensive to repair. Here are some of the most common defects that can be resolved for less than $100.00. If the home seller or buyer are handy some can even be done at no cost. Whether you represent the buyer or the seller knowing these 10 common inspection defects may save your client time and money
Torn and rotten plumbing vent seals
A torn plumbing boot can allow water into the attic creating fungal growth, and rotten wood. When we talk about torn plumbing boots the first thought most people have is “will I need a new roof?” The truth is if it’s only a torn rubber boot it can be repaired for between $10 and $15. The new rubber boot slides down over the existing plumbing vent pipe and seals the pipe.
Missing Tip-Over brackets
40,000 injuries could have been prevented with a $15 to $20 bracket that comes with the stove but is rarely installed. New home or existing home we rarely find these properly installed. Such a simple fix but still a common defect. These should be available from any appliance dealer.
Ungrounded Three Prong Receptacles
DIYer’s, flippers, handymen, and some homeowners will install three-prong receptacles on a two-wire circuit. This is commonly done to allow three-prong appliance cords to be used without the three to two adapter. This is dangerous because the end-user expects a grounded circuit that will protect them and it is not there. See solution below
Three prong receptacles with “false” or “bootleg” grounds
In an attempt to make an ungrounded receptacle appear to be grounded, a jumper wire is applied to the neutral screw and the ground screw. This will make a 2 wire ungrounded circuit appear to be grounded
The picture on the left shows how a false ground is applied and in the picture on the right is the standard 3 prong tester most inspectors use. Because this is a serious safety issue Hawley Home Inspections uses a much more expensive and accurate tester shown on the bottom in the picture on the right. The more expensive tester will find false grounds many inspectors can miss. False grounds are a safety issue and must be corrected
The National Electrical Code (NEC) allows for four easy fixes for three-prong receptacles on two-wire circuits:
- replace with two-prong receptacles (this solves nothing because the new owner will probably switch them back)
- Install a GFCI receptacle as the lead receptacle
- Install a GFCI breaker in the panel box for that circuit
- Install a dual purpose AFCI/GFCI breaker
Note: this provides protection against electrical shock but does not supply grounding (false grounds must be removed).
Missing or Inoperative GFCI protection
Another common inspection defect is missing or inoperative GFCI receptacles and/or GFCI breakers. First required by the National Electrical Code (NEC) in 1971 for swimming pools and outdoor receptacles. GFCI receptacles are now required in bathrooms, over kitchen countertops, garages, boathouses and docks, crawlspaces, basements, utility, and laundry rooms also within 6 feet of any sink, Hot tubs, spas, and whirlpool tubs must have GFCI protection. GFCI devices should be checked monthly as recommended by the manufacturer.
Other Inspection Defects
Dedicated circuits are common inspection defects
The NEC no longer allows dedicated circuits in place of GFCI protection for sump pumps, sewer ejectors, and other appliances where GFCI protection is now required We recommend the use of GFCI receptacles with built-in alarms for refrigerators and freezers in garages and basements, these are good insurance for less than $20.00.
High water alarms for sump pumps and sewage ejectors are available for less than $20. For less than $60 you can even buy a power failure plugin that will send you a text message if the power is interrupted to a receptacle.
Open Holes/Slots in Breaker Panels
Other common inspection defects are open holes and missing breakers in panels. Other than the obvious danger to small children open holes allow rodents, insects, and sometimes snakes to enter the breaker /fuse box. This fix is usually less than 50 cents per hole and in addition to keeping kids and critters out it also keeps sparks and possible fires contained to the panel.
This little guy came in through a hole that was not plugged.
ARC Fault Breakers
ARC fault breakers (AFCI) protect against electrical fires and have been required by the NEC in sleeping areas since 2002. Current safety standards now require AFCI protection in all occupied rooms that are not required to be GFCI protected. Additional protection for two-wire circuits can be provided by installing dual-purpose AFCI/GFCI breakers.
Garage door problems are often as simple as adjusting the reversing tension or properly adjusting the electric eyes.
Garage doors can be scary, but most of the common inspection defects we see
are easy to fix. When the door closes it should reverse within 1 ½ inch of the floor. A pressure reverse sensor out of adjustment can be fixed for free. There should be a screw on the backside of the overhead garage door opener that can be adjusted. To test the pressure reverse lay a 2×4 board flat on the floor under the center of the door and close the door. When the overhead door touches it should go up on its own.
While we know that the garage door springs rarely break, they are under tremendous tension, and if they break they can do a lot of harm. Safety cables can be bought for approximately $10-$20 per door. This owner had the right idea he just forgot to run the safety cable through the spring!
Safety eyes for the overhead garage door should be 3-6 inches off the floor not mounted on the ceiling. Replacement eye sensors can be purchased for between $35-$45.
Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters should extend a minimum of 4 feet away from the foundation this is to help keep water from pooling at the foundation. Gutter extensions will run between $5-$15 depending on what kind you choose.
Buried downspout extensions should be solid pipes such as schedule 40 PVC because the corrugated pipes clog easier and are almost impossible to clean if clogged. Gutters should be cleaned yearly and buried extensions must be open to operate properly.
If left alone a loose toilet can lead to very expensive repairs. This is most commonly found on concrete or ceramic tile floors. When a toilet is loose it should be pulled, and a new wax ring installed. While the toilet is pulled inspect the flange and subfloor around it. A new wax ring and toilet bolts will cost approximately $4-$12.
These solutions are general in nature and are not to be considered the only solution. If you are not comfortable with minor home repairs most of these can be successfully completed by a competent handyman.
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