light plugged in with extension cord in attic

Kendall "aka Renos"

Founder, Lead Instructor of Renos 4 Pros and Joes and Bathroom Update Guide


Common Repairs Needed After a Home Inspection

Whether you are a buyer, a seller, an owner, an agent or investor; no one really looks forward to home inspections. I think of a home or property inspection kind of like a dental check-up and a physical rolled into one- BUT for your property.

So if you are a seller, that has not been as diligent with your home maintenance, you may be feeling some anxiety leading up to the inspection. This is pretty normal. On the flip side, if you are a buyer, you may be hoping to learn as much as you possibly can about the house, while at the same time hoping that there isn’t anything seriously wrong.

 

As a real estate agent, I have had the experience of dealing with home inspections from both the buyer and seller side. As a general contractor, I’ve also worked with home inspections from the evaluation and performance side, as frequently home inspection reports contain a recurring phrase in the notes section of every questionable finding in the document that goes something like this, “recommend further evaluation by a licensed contractor.”  

 

I’ve compiled a short list of some of the most common property repairs that I come across. The repairs are in no particular order. Let’s jump into the list.

 

GARBAGE DISPOSAL 

One household item that commonly needs attention is the garbage disposal. If your disposal is working fine then you should not have a problem with inspection. However, if it doesn’t work, or it barely works, you have some decisions to make. First, be aware that there is typically a reset button on the bottom of the disposal that will sometimes bring the unit back to life.

A lot of people don’t know that this button exists because it’s not visible. You have to just know that it’s there and stick your hand down there and look for it. Another easy solution is using the key that comes with the disposal. The key kind of looks like an Allen wrench that has been straightened.

It’s designed to fit in a slot on the bottom side of the disposal. The slot is not visible from above or the side. Just like the reset button you just have to know that it’s there. Or you can get down low and perhaps use a flashlight and you will be able to see them both. This key/wrench will allow you to turn the teeth of the disposal manually, which can free the teeth from being caught on debris inside that may have been preventing the gears from turning.

 

Now if you have tried both of these things and you still have no luck, then you probably have an old garbage disposal. It usually makes sense to just replace old disposals because of their low price point.  An entry level garbage disposal is going to run you around $100, not including any parts you may need.

If you pay a technician to come and try to fix it, the service charge is likely going to be in the range of the cost of a new garbage disposal. That labor could have been better spent on installation, rather than troubleshooting. If you have some plumbing experience, and some electrical experience, changing the disposal out shouldn’t be too big of a problem. However, if you don’t have the experience, confidence or time to do it yourself, just call a professional.

 

GFCI OUTLETS

GFCI is short for ground fault circuit interrupter. This is a special type of outlet that turns itself off from the power source when it experiences a ground fault. It’s designed to prevent the user from being shocked by acting as a circuit breaker for the outlet. GFCI’s are used in areas where there is moisture-kitchen countertops, bathrooms, home exteriors, and unfinished spaces like basements.

GFCI’s can go bad over time. GFCI outlets are most commonly recognized for having a test and reset button on the front of the outlet. When they stop working properly they may not reset. Other times they may not kick out and shut off as designed.

Another common problem with GFCI’s has nothing to do with it being old at all. The problem that I am referring to is incorrect wiring. If the polarity on the GFCI is reversed the outlet tester tool will detect it.

The problem of incorrect wiring is not limited to GFCI outlets and is common with regular outlets as well.  Also note that just because an outlet provides power, does not mean that it is correctly wired. These incorrectly wired outlets need to have the wires correctly installed at the outlet.

All GFCIs don’t look exactly the same. Some light up with a green light when they are energized and show red when they are tripped. While others GFCI’s don’t have lights on them at all.

Also, be aware that some outlets are protected by a GFCI breaker located in the Electrical panel. These outlets usually don’t have test and reset buttons. But they should have the small stickers that indicated that they are GFCI protected.

 

ROOF PLUMBING BOOTS

This one catches many homeowners by surprise. Old and worn-out plumbing boots often are not detectable without going on the roof or into the Attic. the plumbing system in your house has to be able to take on Fresh Air to prevent the pipes from getting water locked. For this reason, you have vents that go through your roof.

Depending on the age of your home in the region of the country that you live in your plumbing vent pipes may be cast iron or PVC or some other material.  the roof has to have a hole cut in it for the pipe to pass through to the exterior. The plumbing boot fits over the pipe and at least partially under the roof shingles which creates a watertight seal which prevents rain snow and moisture entering into the house.

If you are able to go into the attic of the home and look up and see daylight around the plumbing vent pipes it’s time to replace the plumbing boot. water stains on the underside of the roof decking can also be an indicator that your plumbing boot is leaking or the seal around your plumbing boot is broken. 

Ceiling water stains can also be a sign of leaking Plumbing boots. the water can run down the plumbing vent pipe through the insulation and on to the back side of the drywall or plaster. Over time the drywall or plaster will become saturated with water and you may observe staining on the ceiling inside of the home.

Replacing Plumbing vent boots is typically not a DIY project. regardless of whether you’re a buyer or seller you want to hire a professional to do this repair. you don’t want it to leak after the work is complete and you don’t want to mess up anything else while you’re up there and you don’t want to get injured in the process of completing the work.

 

RODENTS IN ATTIC

this is a fun one.  often when you see photographs of home inspectors online they’re either in an attic or crawl space because these are areas where most homeowners don’t like to go. and for this reason, this is also an area is where issues tend to go undetected. rodents in an attic may be an exception to the rule depending on the severity of a scenario.

Whether you’ve got squirrels raccoons rats or some other type of vermin they usually tend to make a lot of noise once they start living in your attic. many homeowners don’t know where to start when it comes to trying to get rid rodents in the Attic. While others may see it as a low priority maintenance issue.

The reality is rodents in your attic is an issue that is better to deal with sooner than later. in some situations, rodents may live in your attic and not cause you any problems. While in other situations the rodents May destroys on everything.

And when I say everything I mean the framing in the Attic the electrical wiring the cable wiring, the attic insulation the heating and air ductwork. and don’t forget that when they’re living up there that means they poop and pee up there too. this is another repair that is best left to the professionals. Particularly if you have a multi-story home and or you cannot easily determine how the rodents are entering into the home.

 

A/C and FURNACE

this one is simple and easy. just call door Heating and Air company and have them tune up your system and change out your filters. they may also need to charge the freon in your AC unit if you have one. if you heating and air equipment ancient what still functions properly you MAY  still be in the clear.

 

DECK REPAIRS

these repairs often catch homeowners off-guard as well.  decks and porches have gained popularity over the years. but one thing that many homeowners may not be aware of is that there is a right way to build a deck. and while there may be more than one right way there are a countless number of wrong ways.

So depending on who built your deck and when it was built you may be in for some surprises. The older the deck the more likely it will have issues. And it’s not just because of the old age of the wood. Over the last 15 + years as Dex have got more popular cities and municipalities happy come more stringent with the requirements for building a deck due to safety concerns and the well-being of the General Public.

in my region of the country Atlanta Georgia it’s common to see at least a couple of Stories on the news each spring and summer where someone’s deck has come a loose and falling off of their house during deer parties.

if you have a newer deck while you’re fortunate enough to not have any major structural issues with your deck you still may have some deferred maintenance issues that may come up on your inspection report. This could be anything from replacing or repairing broken or loose tickets in floorboards 2 stabilizing handrails and guardrails.

 

WATER HEATERS

There usually isn’t that much to inspect as it pertains to a water heater. home inspectors are likely to check to make sure that the elements inside of the water heater are functioning properly and that you were getting adequate hot water temperatures. if you have an expansion tank Meijer water heater date May inspect it to make sure that it does not need to be replaced.

If you do not have an expansion tank they may recommend installing one. The same can also be said for a water heater pan if your water heater is inside finished space. The pan should also be accompanied by a drain to the exterior when feasible to do so. if you have a gas water heater the inspector will check to ensure that the event on top of the water heater is properly positioned as in good condition and is made from the appropriate type of metal.

If your water heater is able to pass all these tests you are almost out of the woods.  1 detail about a water heater that will always be noted in the inspection report will be the age of the water heater. this is true regardless of how new it is.

I have personally read inspection reports where the home inspector insisted that the water heater was beyond its normal life expectancy of 10 years even when the water heater was brand-spanking-new.

The moral of this story is to keep your paperwork and document the serial numbers and codes on the water heater. the serial number on a water heater indicates its age.

 

ROOF LEAKS/ROOF REPLACEMENT

Major roof leaks are usually easy to notice but smaller more localized roof leaks may be hard to detect for many of the same reasons as the plumbing pipe boot mentioned just above. rough skin leaked for any number of reasons from a nail backing out all the way to old age.

The best you can hope for is that the leak has been caused by some isolated incident. if it’s leaking because it’s old or the materials are defective then you friend have some decisions to make about how to proceed.

RUNNING TOILETS

When the toilet is flushed the bowl should immediately fill back up with water, and then you should no longer hear water running and the toilet should be silent. When the components inside the toilet get old, they don’t work as well, and over time they eventually have to be replaced. If a toilet is loose or can move or the floor, this may also be noted on a home inspection.

 

CLEAN OUT GUTTERS

this is a straightforward one. Home Maintenance 101:  clean your gutters. if you can stand on the ground and see leaves and straw sticking out of the gutter that’s not a good thing.  in other instances, your gutters may be full of it though you can’t see anything sticking out. If this comes up on a home inspection, the solution is straightforward.

 

CEMENT SIDING 

Some people don’t realize that fiber cement siding still requires maintenance. The siding itself needs to be painted and repainted. There is a huge range in how long the siding can go in between coats. 5-15 years.

Over the years, some nails may back out or become loose. Also, siding boards can chip or get broken over time. And please don’t forget the caulked joints. The caulk can fail over time and if this happens, it needs to be re-caulked to prevent moisture.

attic light

VAPOR BARRIER IN CRAWLSPACE

Crawlspaces are typically damp locations. Installing a plastic vapor barrier can help minimize the amount of ground moisture that your home is directly exposed to.

 

GUTTER SPLASH BLOCKS

This one is super easy. Make Sure that your gutters have plastic Splash blocks at a minimum. Also, make sure that your gutter downspouts have the elbow attached at the bottom. Correcting these two small issues can do a lot to prevent soil erosion. The is another one with a very straightforward solution.

 

OVERGROWN TREE LIMBS

Home inspections often note tree limbs entries that are in close proximity to the house especially if the trees have Limbs and branches that extend over the home.

 

OVERGROWN BUSHES

it’s also common to see large shrubs noted on the home inspection. Ideally, there should be space between the shrubs and the exterior walls of the house.

Now that was a quick list. There are basically unlimited possibilities of what COULD come up on the home inspection. These are just a list of some of the most common issues. Don’t stress out over the home inspection, unless it’s warranted.

Most of the things that I’ve covered on this list are easy fixes regardless of price. And believe it or not, that’s nearly half the battle. If your home has issues that are less straightforward or more problematic then discovering the solution may require more time and further nvestigation.  

light bulb in attic