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15 Things Home Inspectors Wish You Knew

These things home inspectors wish you knew can help sellers prepare for a home sale and make buyers aware of maintenance issues that affect how your home ages.

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Check Your Water Heater

There should be a drain line connected to the TPR valve on your water heater according to James Porter of Access Home Inspections. “If the water heater overheats, the valve will open and drain the water, otherwise the water heater can blow up,” notes Porter. “The drain tube should be visible within six inches of the floor.”

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Check for Water Near Your Foundation

Porter says experts recommend six-foot downspout extensions to move water away from the foundation. No matter if you have a slab, basement or crawl space, water near your foundation is bad news for you and your home.

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Keep Your Rain Gutters Clean

High above your head, you can easily forget to check your rain gutters for debris. Your gutters control the flow of water from your roof and protect not only your foundation, roof, insulation and walls, but also your lawn.

Damage from gutters that aren’t properly functioning can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to repair.

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Kitchen Range Safety

According to Porter, anti-tip brackets can prevent your range from tipping over if weight is put on the door — a dangerous situation. Although required from appliance manufacturers since 1991, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have one installed. Check your range for this important safety feature.

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Double Check Your Dishwasher

“Although new dishwashers come from the manufacturer with the drain looped up at the side of the dishwasher, every installation manual still requires this high loop underneath the sink,” explains Porter. “Your dishwasher drain tube should go up above the bottom of the sink and down into the drain or garbage disposal.”

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Cover Your Electrical Wires, Outlets and Switch Boxes

According to Porter, “Any electrical wiring that is not a factory-installed cord less than seven feet long should either be inside a wall or encased in conduit.” This is the same for outlets and switch boxes. They have to be covered. It doesn’t just look better, it’s required.

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Watch Out for Condensation

Whether on your chimney, your ceiling, around an air vent or on windows, this is likely the sign of a larger issue. Try to determine the reason for the excess moisture and remedy it, or call in a professional to diagnose and solve the problem.

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Look for Leaks

In general, you should regularly check your plumbing for leaks. Staying on top of plumbing issues can save you time and money when it comes time for a home inspection.

It’s a good idea to do your own walk through before your inspector comes so that you’re not surprised by any repairs that are needed.

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Check Stair Handrails

According to Porter, a handrail is required if you have more than four steps — indoors and outside. Make sure existing handrails are securely fastened.

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Check Your Dryer Vent

Checking and cleaning your dryer vent should be on everyone’s regular maintenance list — even if you aren’t prepping for a home inspection.

Dryers cause about 7,000 fires every year in the U.S. Check the tube for tears and obstructions, and make sure everything is up to code. Reduce risk by upgrading your dryer vent.

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Store Wood Properly

Although you might not think of a wood pile as a threat to your home, Porter notes that wood for a fireplace or wood-burning stove must be stored a minimum of three feet from your house. “Your firewood can attract wood-destroying insects such as termites and carpenter ants,” he says.

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Get a Once-Over

This may seem obvious, but there are things a home inspector will check that you may not have actually used in a long time. “Check all of your windows, doors, the garage door sensor lights, etc.,” says Porter. Remember, your buyer will expect everything in the home to work.

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Home Inspection: Not the Same as an Appraisal

A home inspector checks on the safety of a home and identifies potential issues; they do not determine its market value. Here’s what you need to watch with a home appraisal.

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Don’t Look for Advice

A home inspector acts as an impartial authority on the state of a home and its safety. Therefore, you can’t ask home inspectors whether they’d buy the house you’re looking at.

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Home Inspectors Aren’t Your Agent

Once again home inspectors only report on the condition of the house. Once they present their documentation, their job is complete. They can’t help the buyer with negotiations.  Instead, get their report to your real-estate agent and they should know what to do.

Julia K. Porter
Dr. Julia Porter has worked in Higher Education since 2008, following a career as a High School teacher in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a PhD in Global Leadership from Indiana Tech, an MA in English Literature from Brooklyn College, and a BS in English Education from Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI). She lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and rambunctious Australian Shepherd.

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