Make the components readily accessible
Please make sure the important areas of your home are accessible. Including components such as air conditioning units, heat pumps, attic access panel(s), furnace, electrical service panel(s), plumbing under sinks, hot water heater and or any other component that may be blocked by shelves, storage or furnishings. Home Inspectors are required to inspect readily accessible areas and do not move furniture, storage, appliances nor do they become invasive with the building components. If an area cannot be accessed the Inspector will write it up as a limitation to the inspection and it may raise questions with the client or purchaser. To find a list of components inspected in a home inspection please see HIABC Scope of Inspection 2016.
Eliminate Clogs in plumbing
Take some time to test your sink drains. If you identify slow drainage at the sinks and basins you can purchase commercial drain cleaners from your local hardware store. For extremely slow draining or completely clogged drains call a plumber to repair prior to the inspection. Same can be done for slow or lower than typical water supply from the fixtures and or faucets in the subject building.
Don’t forget the light bulbs
Check out and test your light fixtures. Ensure they have working light bulbs. Inspectors cannot always determine if the bulb is simply burnt out or if there is a more serious electrical problem. Home Inspections are not technically exhaustive in British Columbia and non-functional electrical components may require further evaluation and or raise questions with the client or purchaser.
Clean filters allow efficient furnace performance
The furnace return air filter should be checked and or replaced if it is expired or dirty. Dirty filters do not just affect the effectiveness of the overall HVAC system, they also indicate neglect, which isn’t a nice impression to leave with an inspector. Typically, it is a good idea to change filters every 4 to 6 weeks in the winter months.
Test your detectors
Ensure your home smoke and or carbon monoxide detectors are functional. Test them before the inspection and ensure the expiration dates have not passed. It is best practice to install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room (or den or family room) or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations. If your home has an attached garage or a combustion source such as a gas fireplace, wood burning appliance it should have carbon monoxide detector(s), preferably near the sleeping area(s).
Observe surface drainage
Check the property grading to see if the earth, sidewalks, decks, slabs slope away from the homes foundation. The Nanaimo, Comox, Campbell River region is situated in a rain forest, improper slopes on exterior components may direct water towards the home providing hydrostatic pressure, wet basements and or crawlspaces. Swales and or grading correction may be required and slopes away from the home is best practice even if the basement/crawlspace is dry.
Check the windows for damage
If the home’s window(s) have non-functional hardware, damaged or cracked window panes you might want to consider fixing them to prevent them from showing up in the home inspection report. Blown seals in windows are primarily cosmetic and replacing them for this reason doesn’t typically improve the energy savings very much.
Wood destroying insects can cause expensive damage
Vegetation should be kept away from the building to help prevent insect infestation. Furthermore, it is best practice is to provide 6-8 inches of clearance from the exterior earth, slabs, gardens to the bottom of the siding. Typically, the foundation should be visible all away around the home. Lack of clearances may allow moisture to wick into the building components. Wood destroying insects may be found in wet wood components and can spread to other areas.
Seal it up and maintain it
Check for openings in the building envelope, eaves and soffit areas that may allow bird, insect, animal or rodent entry. Caulking can be used around some exterior penetrations to help prevent opportunity of water ingress into the building envelope. Unused perimeter drains can be capped to help prevent opportunity of foreign debris entry that may lead to clogging problems. Unused gas lines should be capped even if the valve(s) are isolated. Electrical junction boxes or service panels with openings should have face plates installed by a qualified electrician.
Keep vegetation away from the building
Check the property for overhanging vegetation. Power lines passing through trees should be appropriately trimmed by a qualified contractor. Trees over the roof may reduce the lifespan of the roof covering or clog the roof drainage systems. Wind storms may break branches off and cause mechanical damage to the roof components. Large vegetation may have roots that crack or heave sidewalks, clog perimeter drains, crack foundations or even lift the structure off the foundation!
Prior to 1990 some homes were built with asbestos in the drywall. Prior to 1980 homes may have asbestos in the insulation or interior floor coverings. Prior to 1978 some homes may have lead in the paint. Prior to the 1950’s some homes may have lead in the water supply plumbing. Suspect components may be identified and or further evaluation may be recommended by laboratory analysis if your home falls into this era. You may want to have suspect components analysed by professionals prior to a home inspection to prevent buyers from being scared off.
Typical and non-typical cracks
The components in most homes expand and contract seasonally at different rates depending on the type of material(s). Sometimes, in particular older homes, cracks or joint separation may develop at interior components that may be primarily cosmetic. Large cracks in the foundation or windows, doors that are out of alignment may provide evidence of a structural problem. If you suspect a structural problem, it would be a good idea to get it checked by a structural engineer prior to a home inspection.