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Common Home Conditions

It would be rare to find a house without any problems. During your home inspection, the home will be judged by comparable homes of its age, construction and vicinity. Every home needs maintenance and it is wise for homeowners to budget at least 1% of the homes value for maintenance and unforeseen repairs each year. Finding problems during a home inspection does not mean you should not buy the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect. There are hundreds of potential problems, and in truth, no inspector has encountered every possible situation. However, some problems are more prevalent than others. Listed below are some of the more common conditions that we encounter each week during typical home inspections.

Roofing Defects
Leaky Basements
Furnace Conditions
Electrical Hazards
Missing Handrails and/or Guardrails
Gas-Proofing in attached garages
Rotten Wood
Poor Attic Venting
Unsafe Fireplace and chimney conditions
Exposed Ridged Foam Insulation
Code Violations and Amateur Work

Roofing Defects
Material aging, wear, flashing issues, improper installation, roof penetrations, exposed fasteners and nailheads, patches, clogged, loose or ineffective gutters, are common roof problems. This does not mean that most roofs are in need of replacement, but that most are in need of some repair or maintenance. In some ways, minor leaks can be worse than major ones. A major leak is quickly identified and repaired. Minor leaks can persist for many years undetected and can cause extensive damage before it is noticed.

Leaky Basements
There is the possibility that leaks can develop in a basement at any time. Exterior conditions such as ground water, poor surface grading, faulty or clogged eaves, inadequate downspout extensions, and patios or walkways that slope toward the house are all contributing factors. Such problems can sometimes be difficult and expensive to resolve. Most basement leaks can be corrected or greatly reduced without excavation or expensive weeping tile replacement.

Furnace Conditions
Heating systems need to be maintained, serviced and cleaned each year. Air filters need to be changed regularly. Furnaces that are not maintained generally have a shorter life than would be expected and will cost more to operate. Electronic filters should be cleaned monthly. Leaky, low cost humidifiers are often poorly understood and neglected, creating rust and other problems at the furnace.

Electrical Hazards
Electrical safety hazards, either few or many, are often found in homes. Examples include faulty wiring, panel problems, over fusing, abandoned wires, amateur work, lack of GFI receptacles, missing cover plates, extension cords being used as permanent wire, and so on. These common conditions are a high priority for repair and can often be easily resolved by having an electrical cleanup by a qualified electrician.

Missing Handrails and/or Guardrails
People need Handrails to hold onto going down stairs and Guardrails prevent people from falling off decks and stairs. If your stairs or deck rise is more than 24" or have 3 or more steps, then they require properly installed Handrails and/or Guardrails.

Gas-proofing in attached garages
In Canada, Gas-proofing is called for on the walls and ceilings of garages attached to homes. You do not want any air or fumes from a garage entering your home through cracks or holes. As well, man doors between the house and garage require a self closer, should be tight fitting and weather stripped.

Rotten Wood
Rotted wood on home exteriors such as roof eaves, exterior trim, siding and decks can be all to common. Especially on older homes. Wood siding, for example should be eight inches above grade. Indoors, wood rots where it stays wet for long periods of time, such as around leaky tubs, showers, under sinks or below loose toilets. When left unchecked, damage can become quite extensive.

Poor Attic Venting
The goal here is to have the attic temperature as close to the outdoor temperature as possible both during the summer and winter. To achieve this, the attic requires adequate ventilation and insulation. This prevents heat buildup in summer and condensation, rot, ice-damming and other conditions in the winter. Poorly vented attics often result in the premature aging of roofing materials and rot of the roof structure. Bathroom and kitchen fans often vent directly into attics. It is important that this be corrected so that the bathroom and kitchen fan vent to the outside.

Unsafe Fireplace and Chimney Conditions
Many chimneys are rarely cleaned or checked for problems. This should be done yearly. Combustible clearance, loose mortar, chimney cap conditions, wood stove issues, and concealed attic conditions are very common and are a major concern. Long, slow burning fires create high levels of creosote in the chimney. Creosote is a flammable by product of the incomplete combustion of wood and can create a chimney fire. When you move into your new resale home with a fireplace it would be unwise to have a roaring fire before a visit from a professional chimney sweep.

Exposed Rigid Foam Insulation
It is easy to work with and it doesn't itch, and it is all to common a problem when found exposed and not properly covered with drywall. Often found exposed in basements and garages, rigid foam insulation is a highly combustible and severe fire hazard. The smoke produced from foam insulation is very toxic. Usually it is pink, light blue or white. Exposed foam insulation should be removed immediately or properly covered with drywall.

Code Violations and Amateur Work
Poor quality workmanship and safety issues are often revealed during home inspections that are a result of do-it-yourself homeowners or contractors that do work without permits. In these cases home inspections often reveal safety hazards, inappropriate materials and poor workmanship.