12 Most Common Defects Found During Home Inspections
- Roofing defects, caused by aging or improper installation are likely to be found on most buildings. This does not mean that most roofs need replacement, but that many are in need of maintenance and repair.
- Ceiling stains in many homes indicate past or current leaks. The challenge is to determine if the leak was repaired or will recur during the next rain. Discovery is not always possible.
- Faulty ground drainage often causes water intrusion beneath buildings. Such problems can be pervasive, difficult to resolve, and may cause damage to building components.
- Electrical safety violations, either few or many, are to be found in the majority of homes. Examples are ungrounded outlets, lack of shock protection, amateur wiring improvements, and other conditions too numerous to name.
- Rotted wood is common where components remain wet for long periods. Exterior locations are trim, eaves, and decks. Problems also occur at walls and floors in bathrooms.
- Code violations are common where additions and alterations are built without permits. Sellers often boast that, “We added the garage without a permit, but it was all done to code”… This is a red flag to most home inspectors.
- Fireplaces and chimneys are often unsafe. Common causes are amateur installation of hardware and fixtures, exterior rust damage, or simple failure to call a chimney sweep.
- Water heaters are seldom in total compliance with code requirements. Violations include inadequate strapping, substandard overflow piping, missing or faulty TPRV drain lines.
- Air handlers often harbor defects. These range from missing or dirty filters, obstructed or poor airflow, or even air supply ducts that are disconnected. Leaky, plugged primary or even secondary condensate lines, leaking refrigerant lines and so on.
- Faulty firewalls are common in garages. Violations include, holes, unprotected attic accesses, doors not fire rated, drywall that is too thin, and exposed wood framing.
- Plumbing defects are commonly found, including loose toilets, dripping faucets, slow drains, leaking drains, hot water at the right faucet, and so on.
- Failed seals are routinely found at dual pane windows, resulting in fogging. This is most common with windows manufacturer during the 1980’s.
This is one of the most common problems found by home inspectors. To improve drainage, you may have to install a new system of roof gutters and downspouts or have the lot re-graded to better channel water away from the house. Often times an underground drainage system must be installed to carry run-off water to storm drains.
The House Has Faulty Wiring
An insufficient or out-of-date electrical system is a common problem, especially in older homes. This is a potentially hazardous defect and not to be taken lightly if identified by a certified home inspector. You may have to replace the entire electrical system, or at least part of it, to bring this home up to code or to make it safe.
The Roof Leaks
If the roof has water damage, it may be caused by old or damaged shingles, or improper flashing. It’s cheap and relatively easy to repair shingles and small amounts of flashing, but if the roof is old, you may face a larger expense to replace it.
Unsafe Cooling/Heating System
An older system or one that has been poorly maintained can be a serious health and safety hazard. This is a very common problem found by certified home inspectors. You may have to repair or replace the old units. This can be a major expense, but new systems are more energy-efficient, which will probably save you money down the line. If your heating system is anything but electrical, install carbon monoxide detectors in a couple of locations in the house.
The Whole House Has Been Poorly Maintained
Examples of poor maintenance include cracked or peeling paint, crumbling masonry, broken fixtures or shoddy wiring or plumbing. You can easily repaint a wall, replace a fixture or repair a brick wall, but makeshift electrical or plumbing situations are serious and potentially dangerous problems. Replace any such wires or pipes.
The House Has Minor Structural Damage
Minor structural damage means the house is not likely to fall down, but you should deal with the problem before it becomes more serious. Such damage is usually caused by water seepage into the foundation, floor joists, rafters or window and door headers. If any of these types of problems are found, you first need to fix the cause of the problem (a leaky roof, for example), then repair or replace any damaged pieces. The more extensive the damage, the more expensive it will be to repair.
The most common plumbing defects found by our certified home inspectors include old or incompatible piping materials and faulty fixtures or waste lines. These may require simple repairs, such as replacing a fixture, or more expensive measures, such as replacing the plumbing itself.
The House’s Exterior Lets In Water and Air Around Windows and Doors
This usually does not indicate a structural problem, rather poor caulking and weather stripping that require relatively simple and inexpensive repairs around windows and doors.
The House is Inadequately Ventilated
Poor ventilation can result in too much moisture that wreaks havoc on interior walls and structural elements. It can also exacerbate allergic reactions. Install ventilation fans in every bathroom if there are no windows, and regularly open all the windows in your home. To repair damage caused by poor ventilation, you may only have to replace drywall and other inexpensive pieces. If you have to replace a structural element, it will be more expensive.
Environmental problems are a new and growing area of home defects. They include lead-based paint (common in homes built before 1978), asbestos, formaldehyde, contaminated drinking water, radon and mold. You usually need to arrange a special inspection to determine environmental problems, and they’re usually expensive to fix.