Visit each room and click the links to see if you recognize some of the common problems found on a typical home inspection. Then learn what you can do to correct those problems with some helpful tips for a healthy, well-maintained, and beautiful home.
The Home Tips Explorer should not be used as a substitute for a home inspection. If you are considering a new home purchase or preparing your home for sale, it is our strong recommendation that you obtain a thorough home inspection by a certified professional.
To get started, please select an area of the home to explore informational tips.
To sweep or not to sweep? Soot and creosote can build up quickly in a chimney, risking carbon monoxide poisoning and posing a fire hazard.
TIP: Have a certified chimney sweep routinely clean and inspect your system to promote its safe operation.
Is storage interfering with your attic? Using the attic for excess storage restricts ventilation and compresses insulation, reducing its effectiveness.
TIP: Remove stored items from the attic to promote ventilation and maintain clearance.
Feeling a chill in the air? Insufficient insulation in the attic can allow excessive heat lose (or gain, depending on the season), and drafts.
TIP: If you suspect a problem, consult a professional to determine if additional insulation is needed and / or advisable.
Shower Head & Taps
Store smart! Using your shower head for hanging storage devices can put stress on the plumbing.
TIP: Store shower accessories on ledges or wall mounts, and maintain the caulking around the showerhead.
Are the caulking and grout up to snuff? Rot and deterioration caused by leaks can destroy drywall and cause significant damage to the wall structure.
TIP: Do a visual check for the integrity of the grout in tiled enclosures - there should be no voids. Test the caulking by gently applying pressure to the bathtub and shower surrounds to check for sponginess, repair or replace as needed.
Are you in for a shock? Today we are using more and more electrical accessories in our bathrooms, kitchens, garages and in our backyards, risking injury due to shock.
TIP: Determine whether or not your bathroom outlets are GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and install as needed.
Is your toilet rocking? A loose toilet can indicate that the seal at the base has failed, allowing water to leak through to the floor below and cause significant damages.
TIP: If your toilet feels loose, have it examined by a professional, and replace the seal as necessary.
On the ledge? Faucets mounted on the counter, rather than the ledge, of a sink can rot the underside wood.
TIP: Maintain the sealant around the faucet assembly of a counter mounted faucet, or upgrade to a ledge mount.
Is your window doing its job? Windows improperly sealed/flashed on the outside can allow moisture, wind, and insects to get inside.
TIP: Have a professional examine the caulking / flashing around windows, and repair or replace as needed.
Is your closet bursting at the seams? Storing too much in closets can restrict ventilation, causing moisture build up and mold. Objects stored too close to lighting fixtures may also pose a fire hazard.
TIP: Try not to fill closets too full, make sure light fixtures have plenty of clearance and, if possible, undercut the door to promote ventilation.
Too many gadgets? Today we use a lot of appliances in our bedrooms and often older homes don't have enough outlets to accommodate all our modern conveniences (computers, stereos, cell phone chargers etc.).
TIP: Avoid using multiadapters or extension cords. Have a licensed electrician install additional outlets to accommodate your lifestyle needs.
Overhead Service Drop
Are you Tripping? Raised paving stones, cracks, and slippery or uneven surfaces pose tripping hazards on walkways.
TIP: Ensure walkways are level, even, and provide traction (in all conditions).
Are your shrubs out of control? Vegetation too close to siding can cause moisture damage and premature wear.
TIP: Trim back vegetation and maintain it away from siding.
Where is the water going? In a lot of homes, downspouts discharge next to walls, causing foundation deterioration and water entry into the basement.
TIP: Redirect downspouts to discharge away from the structure (avoid discharging over walkways, driveways or paths in climates where freeze/thaw conditions exist).
Grades matter! Landscaping that is graded towards the home can cause foundation deterioration and water entry.
TIP: Re-grade landscaping to slope surface water away from the home.
Are you covered? Roofs have a limited life span, some last longer than others.
TIP: When purchasing a home, consult a professional home inspector to determine the condition and typical lifespan of your roof.
How's it hanging? The overhead service drop (at the lowest point in its drop from the pole) should have a specific clearance above driveways, walkways, and away from windows to promote safety.
TIP: Your professional home inspector can provide guidance as to whether you should call the local utility company.
Oven / Range
How are your seals? If seals around sink fixtures and counter penetrations are disintegrating, water may be passing through and causing damage to the countertop or the underlying cabinetry.
TIP: Examine the seals visually, and test to see if the sink or fixtures feel loose. Repair or replace as needed.
What's lurking behind? Dust, heat, and moisture trapped behind the fridge is a breading ground for bacteria.
TIP: Clean regularly, and allow enough room for your fridge mechanicals to ventilate properly.
Are you exhausted? Clogged filters, improper duct connections, or exhausting indoors may become major fire hazards.
TIP: Check filters for built up grease and clean or replace as needed. Have a professional check the connections to determine if the model requires exterior exhaust.
How old is too old? Cracked or broken microwave ovens (or older models) may pose a risk of radiation leaks.
TIP: If you're at all concerned about the age or condition of your microwave, simple and inexpensive test meters can be purchased at most hardware stores. If your microwave is leaking, dispose of it immediately.
Slow draining? Slow draining of a garbage disposal can be caused by a number of problems.
TIP: Never use chemical drain cleaners with a garbage disposal! You will damage the disposal and end up with a sink full of toxic chemicals. Consult a qualified professional to have the disposal cleaned, repaired or replaced.
Don't get blown away!! Under certain conditions, hydrogen gas may be produced in a hotwater system that has not been used for two weeks or more, creating the potential for an explosion when the unit is turned on for the first time!
TIP: If the hot-water system has not been used for two weeks or more, before using the dishwasher, turn on all hot-water faucets and let the water flow.
Need something to lean on? A stairway without a handrail is a serious safety hazard.
TIP: Ensure you have a SECURE, and COMPLETE handrail at all staircases, decks, and landings
Shed some light on the matter. Dark or poorly lit stairwells are extremely hazardous.
TIP: Make sure stairways are properly lit, with a three way light switch (so that lights can be activated from the top or bottom of the stairs).
Avoid hazards. Ripped and torn carpets or other finishing materials can pose a tripping hazard.
TIP: Secure carpeting / finishing materials and keep stairs free of clutter to reduce the risk of accidents.
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