Home inspectors check your home to identify any problems areas that may need to be addressed either immediately or in the future. In order to do a complete inspection, professionals really need to start at the top—the attic— and go all the way to the bottom—the basement.
The attic space is easily overlooked and it’s often tricky to get to. However, it is one of the hardest working areas in your home. An attic inspection will reveal potential water damage from a roof leak, fire damage, and poor, missing or damaged insulation. The inspector may also notice signs of possible inhabitants. Squirrels, raccoons, bats and other attic-dwellers may strip electrical wires, creating a fire hazard, or destroy insulation for their nests, so this information is critical to a new homeowner.
Ice dams from poor insulation or poor ventilation can create leaks into the attic space and damage not only the shingles but also the insulation. Wet insulation doesn’t insulate and can grow mold. Attics will also reveal the structure of a house and cracked or rot-damaged joists from poor workmanship in the original build, or too heavy a roof load. An attic inspection will show whether anything is venting into the attic space, such as vents for bathrooms, releasing moisture and methane into the attic.
The basement, or utility room, is another workhorse area of any home. This area houses the furnace, water heater, sump pump, and electrical panel, among others. Obviously, the furnace is a big-ticket item in a home and one that continues to cost money to run, so the efficiency and age are key. Humidifiers, air cleaners and air conditioners connected to the furnace also affect its functioning, so need to be well-cared for and thoroughly checked. The water heater needs to be reviewed for any possibly leaks and both the water heater and the furnace should be emissions checked for carbon monoxide as well.
The electrical panel is usually located in the basement and should be carefully inspected. Unfinished basements will also reveal plumbing and electrical services. Inspectors can look for improper wiring practices and worn or frayed wires. Plumbing too can be checked for lead fittings, leaks, poor workmanship or products. Floors will show any signs of previous flooding or sewer backup.
When you schedule a home inspection for your potential new property, make sure you have it checked from top to bottom.