Friday, September 5, 2008

Home-inspection Checklist Helps Prevent Problems

When people buy a home, it is advisable to have it inspected by a professional home inspector to ensure there are no major issues with the home before buying it, and to help determine which items might need repair or regular maintenance.

But once people have lived in their homes for a few years, they usually don't bother about putting many of the same items on a home-inspection checklist to ensure there are no developing problems.

It's smart to use regular-home inspections to ensure your home is properly maintained. Certainly having a professional home inspector perform an annual inspection of your home is a great idea, but you can do your own inspections and save a lot of money.

While I wouldn't advise you to crawl into your attic or up on your roof if you don't feel comfortable doing that, there are plenty of other items you can check and repair if needed.

The weather at this time of year is ideal for doing an exterior inspection of your home. When that's done, check the interior as well so you can fix things before additional problems occur.

When doing your home inspection, focus on these key areas that many professional home inspectors find most often are in need of maintenance:

• Gutters and downspouts. Make sure gutters are clear of debris and aligned properly so they can do what they were made to do -- keep rain water from seeping into your basement and causing potential flooding or structural problems. While you are inspecting your gutters, look for leaks in the seams that can be repaired with silicon caulk. If you pull on the gutters and they give way, your fascia boards may be rotting and need replacing.

• Improper grading around the home. Besides leaky gutters, one of the other common reasons people have basement leaks is because the grading is sloping toward the home, rather than away from it. If you have an area of your yard that slopes toward your home, re-grade it with topsoil.

• Shingles and chimney flashing. Loose or missing shingles are a sure sign your roof may be wearing or is damaged. The safest way to do a sight inspection of your roof is to use a pair of binoculars. Look for worn, curling, or discolored shingles, and check the valleys (where rooflines come together).

Cracks in the valleys can lead to leaks in the attic. They need to be sealed immediately. Then, check the flashings around your chimney to see if they need to be caulked or repaired. This will also help prevent water from leaking into your home.

• Exterior caulking and weather stripping. Lack of proper caulking or weather stripping around door and window exteriors can cause air to seep into and out of the home, which increases heating and cooling bills. Replace hardened or cracked caulk and window putty. Make sure all openings where pipes and wires enter the home are sealed and the caulk is still flexible.

• Gas leaks at valves on appliances. Gas valves on appliances, such as dryers, stoves, or hot-water tanks, can begin to leak over time. There have been many incidents where a gas leak in a home resulted in an explosion.

By doing the simple smell test, you can ensure this catastrophe won't happen to you. If you smell gas, call the gas company immediately.

• Dryer vent systems. Every year, thousands of families experience home fires that are caused by cheap or clogged dryer vents. Unfortunately, many homeowners use vinyl tubing rather than hard metal for the dryer vent, or they don't clean the vents regularly. Both can lead to dryer fires.

If your clothes dyer has a vinyl or foil dryer vent, replace it with a solid-metal vent. And make sure you clean your dryer vent at least twice a year.

• Inoperative smoke detectors. Most people have smoke detectors in their home, but don't clean them or change the battery regularly. I recommend cleaning smoke detectors and replacing the batteries twice a year -- on Memorial Day and on Labor Day. Remember, a smoke detector's life span is 10 years.

Building your own home inspection routine into your annual maintenance schedule is a cost-effective way to protect one of the biggest investments of your life.

Also consider getting a professional home inspector to perform an in-depth inspection every five to ten years to help you determine if you have been missing items that need repair and get a home warranty to cover regular maintenance costs.

It is always more economical to repair or upgrade according to your schedule rather than having to repair or replace on an emergency basis. The more carefully you inspect your home, the less you'll have to worry about in the future.

By: Glenn Haege
Detroit News; August 30, 2008

1 comment:

Jaqlene Klum said...

That checklist really covers some of the important steps of home inspection and would be really helpful to the newbies like me
Los Angeles certified home inspector