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What home inspectors do

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Feature title

Chimneys: Chimneys should be inspected for loose or deteriorated bricks or mortar. If covered with stucco or parging, look for cracks or loose sections. Chimney caps should be inspected for loose or broken sections as should the protruding clay chimney liners. Chimney flashings should be inspected for leakage. Efflorescence (a white salt build-up on the chimney) indicates moisture within the chimney and further investigation is required. Metal chimneys should be checked for rust, missing rain caps and loose braces.

Shingle Roofs : Roofing should be inspected for damaged, loose or missing shingles. Special attention should be paid to high wear areas such as areas where there is significant foot traffic or areas where downspouts from upper roofs discharge onto lower roofs. Flashings at dormers, plumbing stacks, valleys, et cetera, should be carefully inspected. Supports for television antennas or satellite dishes should be checked. Electric cables (eave protection) should be well secured and properly powered. Tree branches should be kept cut back to avoid damaging the roof surface.

Flat Roofs: Flat roofs should be inspected for blisters, bubbles, and flashing details. Tar and gravel roofs should be inspected for areas of gravel erosion. Tree branches should not contact the roof surface.

Gutters and Downspouts: Gutters and downspouts should be checked for blockage, leakage (from rust holes or leaking joints) and areas requiring re-securing or re-sloping. Paint deterioration should also be noted. Downspout seams should be checked for splitting (the seam is usually against the wall). A split downspout is often plugged with debris. Water accumulates in the downspout, freezes and splits it open.

Eaves: Soffits and fascia should be inspected for loose and rotted areas as well as areas damaged by vermin. Paint condition should be noted.

Walls: Masonry walls should be checked for deteriorated brick and mortar. Stucco walls should be inspected for cracking and separating. Wood walls should be checked for rot, loose or damaged boards, caulking, and wood/ soil contact. If paint deterioration is the result of blistering or bubbling, the cause should be determined. It may be due to outward moisture migration from the interior of the house, indicating more serious problems.

Metal and vinyl sidings, insulbrick and shingle sidings should be inspected for mechanical damage and loose or missing components. All walls should be checked for indications of settling. Vines should be monitored to determine whether damage to the wall surface is occurring. Deciduous vines are best checked during winter months, when there are no leaves. Vines should be kept cut back from wood trim (windows, doors, eaves, etc) and from gutters.

Exposed Foundation Walls: Foundation walls should be inspected for deteriorated brick, block, mortar or parging. Cracking due to settlement should also be noted and monitored.

Retaining Walls and Fences: Wooden retaining walls and fences should be checked for rot and insect infestation. Retaining walls should be checked for evidence of movement.

Grading: The grading immediately adjacent to the house should be checked to ensure a slope of one inch per foot for the first six feet away from the house (where practical). Catch basins should be cleaned and tested.

Doors and Windows: Caulking and weather-stripping should be checked. Broken or cracked panes of glass should be replaced. Storms should be installed in the fall and screens in the spring. The finishes should be checked for paint deterioration and rot (particularly sills). Window wells should be cleaned.

Porches and Decks: Wooden components should be checked for rot and insect infestation. Wood should be painted or stained as required. Steps and railings should be secure.

Driveways and Sidewalks: Driveways and sidewalks should be checked for cracks and deterioration. Settling which will result in surface water run off towards the house should be corrected as should uneven sections which pose a safety hazard to pedestrians.

Trees, Shrubs and Vines: Limbs overhanging the house should be cut back. Dead limbs should be removed. Vines should be trimmed back from all wood surfaces.

Scope of the inspection

The home inspector will provide a visual inspection by looking at the home's various exterior components. The inspector will check exterior components including roofing, chimneys, gutters, downspouts, wall surfaces, and the grading around it.
Note that if the inspection takes place in the winter, the roof and the foundation may not be fully visible for inspection if they are covered with snow and ice. For safety and insurance reasons, the home inspector is not required to climb up on a roof to look at it but will make all possible efforts to do so. However, the home inspector will inspect the roof from the ground. This also applies to the chimney and downspouts. If problems or symptoms beyond the scope of the inspection are found, the home inspector may recommend further evaluation.

A home inspection is not intended to provide warranties or guarantees. A home inspection is intended to help you make an informed decision about buying your home. A home inspection is not to be mistaken as a warranty on the house.


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