Open Joints – Common Home Inspection Findings

Properly filling open joints can save a homeowner thousands of dollars in costly concrete or pavement repairs.  The joint, where the concrete or paved driveway meets the concrete garage apron or floor, should be properly filled to prevent or reduce water from seeping through the joint.  Joints also exist where a concrete step or stoop meets the concrete walkway, where a concrete patio meets the foundation, etc.  Typically the joints are filled with a foam or fiber type filler.  In some instances, the filler that was originally installed in the joint may have deteriorate or fallen below the surface of the joint.

Stoop - Open Joints Garage Floor - Open Joints

If the grade of the concrete or pavement slopes toward the home, excess rain water can seep through the open joint.  Homes lacking gutters or plagued with clogged gutters may have excess rain water falling in the vicinity of the open joints.  In general, rain or surface water seeping through joints poses a problem.

If rain water or melt water containing salts from snow melting off cars in the garage seeps through the joint it may cause the soil below to become saturated and settle.  The settled soil may leave a void below the garage floor slab and/or the driveway surface.  When a heavy vehicle passes over, the concrete may crack and settle, leaving the homeowner with uneven concrete.  Saturated soil that freezes and thaws may increase the possibility of concrete or paved surfaces cracking, heaving, and settling, causing uneven surfaces and tripping hazards.

Cracked Concrete Garage Floor

The salt water from snow melting off cars combined with additional rain water may cause increased deterioration of concrete block foundation below the surface of the garage floor.

Homeowners can fill open joints with foam backer rod and the proper concrete caulk or sealant.  These materials can be purchased at hardware stores.  If the homeowner is not a do it yourselfer, then consider hiring a qualified contractor to complete the repair.

Laundry Area, Common Home Inspection Findings

Three of the most common findings in the laundry area are unsecured laundry sink legs, disconnected dryer vents, and plastic, vinyl or light-weight venting material.


If a laundry sink sits on top of legs, it should be securely fastened to the floor.  Without proper fasteners securing legs to the floor, the laundry sink may move.  Movement may cause laundry sink drain pipe connections to loosen, resulting in leaks.  Movement may also cause laundry sink water supply line components to loosen, resulting in leaks.  Many laundry area leaks can be avoided by securing laundry sink legs to the floor.

Landry Sink - Laundry Area

Dryer vents may disconnect during installation or when dryers are moved.  Disconnected dryer vents cause lint to accumulate on surfaces of a room and cause issues associated with excess moisture or humidity in a home.  Check dryer vents to make sure they are properly fastened or secured at joints and connections.

Disconnected Dryer Vent - Laundry Area

Using metal dryer vent material is important in the laundry area.  It may be easier to install flexible vinyl, flexible plastic or other light weight dryer vent materials, but the materials increase the potential for lint clogging the vent; lint accumulating and catching fire or combusting; holes forming in the material, allowing lint and moist air to escape; and the vent becoming compressed or restricted and decreasing the efficiency of the dryer or causing the dryer to overheat.

Light Weight Dryer Vent Material Light Weight Dryer Vent Material, Restricted Dryer Vent Bent/Restricted Dryer Vent - Laundry Area

Aluminum, steel, or other metallic dryer vent materials that are smooth on the inside and typically semi-rigid are available at hardware stores.

The Attic – Common Home Inspection Findings

Most homeowners rarely enter the attic.  The access is typically located in a difficult to reach closet ceiling, garage ceiling or wall.  The door/hatch/panel is often small.  Many access points are surrounded by insulation, the walking space or crawl space is low.  Navigating through the space is tricky because one has to find framing components to walk across.  In some instances, navigating an attic is impossible due to the depth of insulation.

The most common home inspection findings in an attic are displaced insulation, low level of insulation, and vents that terminate in an attic.

No Insulation - The Attic. Low Level of Insulation - The Attic

When HVAC, tv antenna, venting, or other electrical work is performed in an attic, insulation must often be moved for installation or repair.  In some instances, insulation is not returned to the original position, leaving an area above the ceiling with very little insulation cover.  The low level of insulation cover reduces the R value of the insulation and the energy efficiency of the home.  Homeowners, who find that insulation has been displaced, can add new insulation or return displaced insulation to the area.  If the displaced insulation is in an area of recessed lighting, Bvents, or exhaust vents, contact a qualified insulation contractor to determine whether insulation should be added to the area.  These components often require adequate clearance from insulation to avoid potential fire hazards.

In the past, a few inches of insulation may have been sufficient in an attic when the home was built.  As the demand for energy efficiency of homes and the desire of homeowners to decrease utility bills increase, the recommended depth of insulation for attics increases.  Four to six inches of insulation above a living space is a low level of insulation that has very low R value and energy efficiency.  The R value and depth of insulation recommended to achieve desired R value and energy efficiency varies among brands and types of insulation.   Most homes are insulated with loose fill insulation in the form of fiberglass or cellulose.  Some homes are insulated with fiberglass batt insulation.  Combinations of insulation brands and types are also often found in attics.  Homeowners should contact a qualified insulation contractor to evaluate an attic with a low level of insulation to determine the type and amount of insulation needed to adequately insulate an attic space.

Inserting oven/range venting through a ceiling, attic, and roof is common.  Inserting bathroom venting through a ceiling, attic, and roof is also common.  Either oven/range venting or bathroom venting that terminates in the attic rather than passing through and above the roof can cause serious damage to an attic space.  Some terminated vents may have been installed by homeowners or installers that were unaware of the damage it could cause.  Some terminated vents are the result of couplings or other components of the venting coming loose or detaching, resulting in pipes or venting falling into the attic insulation.

Disconnected Vent - The Attic abandoned vent

Is is critical that vents pass through and above the roof and discharge warm, moist air to the exterior of the home.  Vents that terminate in the attic, discharge warm, moist air.  Moisture condenses on trusses, rafters, OSB sheeting, plywood sheeting, other faming components, and insulation.  Moisture condensing on wood can cause the wood components to deteriorate, compromising the utility of the framing materials.  Excess moisture can also cause mold to grow.


Forced Air – Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning – HVAC Systems – Common Home Inspection Findings

Air flow to the air conditioner condenser, the air conditioning unit located outside of the home, should not be restricted by particulate accumulation on the condenser coils/fins. Excess particulate accumulation leads to inefficient operation of the air conditioning system.  Homeowners should routinely check the condenser unit and clean it as directed in the owners’ manual.

dirty condenser coil - HVAC systems dirty condenser unit - HVAC systems

HVAC forced air system filters should be checked every month or every other month during operation.  Keeping the HVAC systems operating efficiently is important for energy savings, comfort and air quality.  Furnace and air conditioning duct work typically contain a filter located within a couple inches of the furnace.  This air filter typically should be changed every month to two months during operation.

dirty filters - HVAC systems dirty filters - HVAC systems

Forced air HVAC systems often include a humidifier.  The humidifier typically contains a water panel that needs to be changed at the beginning of the heating season.  The water panel may also need to be changed during the season.  Refer to the owners’ manual or search the model number of the humidifier online to become familiar with operations and maintenance of the humidifier system.

Some forced air systems include an ERV/HRV (Energy Recovery System or Heat Recovery System).  These systems are designed to exchange air inside the home with air outside the home.  Filters within the systems need to be routinely checked and changed as directed.  Most ERV/HRV systems contain a set of maintenance directions inside the unit.  Refer to the owners’ manual or search the model number of the system online to become familiar with operations and maintenance.

Evidence of a leak from the evaporator coil of the air conditioning unit (portion of the air conditioning system inside the home), should be evaluated by a qualified HVAC technician as soon as possible.  Leaks may be caused by a clogged condensate line, a frozen evaporator coil, a cracked drain pan, a hole in the refrigerant line, or other issues.  If a leak is allowed to continue, more significant and costly damage to the HVAC systems can occur.



Electrical Systems – Common Home Inspection Findings

Inexpensive cover plates, that a homeowner can install, on switches, receptacles (outlets), and junction boxes enclose energized components of electrical systems.  Installing cover plates is critical to ensure safe operation of electrical systems and prevent shock or electrocution, yet, It is common to find one or several cover plates either missing or damaged.

missing cover plate - electrical systems

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters GFCI’s are receptacles designed to prevent a person from receiving an electrical shock. GFCIs are commonly installed in electrical systems near sources of water, including, but not limited to, the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, garage and the exterior.  To be effective, the GFCI’s must trip when tested, and reset.  GFCIs should be evaluated, repaired or replaced by a qualified electrician.

malfunctioning GFCI

Knockouts are removable sections of an electrical panel.  The knockouts can be removed for the installation of breakers, conduit, and wires.  If knockouts are removed and the holes are not properly filled with breakers, conduit, wires, and fasteners or covered properly, an individual gaining access to the electrical panel without knowledge of the components inside of the panel could receive a fatal shock.  Missing knockouts also provide an entrance for mice and other insects.  Rodents and insects could cause major problems inside the electrical panel.  Missing knockouts should be repaired or replaced by a qualified electrician.

missing knockout - electrical systems

Following the manufacturer’s specifications and installation instructions ensures electrical systems will operate correctly.  Panels and breakers are often labeled as being able to be connected to one or two circuits or conductors.  Panels or breakers specified by the manufacturer as only being designed to accommodate one circuit or conductor should only be connected to one wire or conductor.  Adding additional conductors increases the potential for an arcing, tripping, overloading, or overheating. Double tapped breakers should be evaluated, repaired or replaced by a qualified electrician.

double tapped breaker - electrical systems

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