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Common Defects We Find & Limitations


No house is perfect. Even the best built and best maintained homes will always have a few items in less than perfect condition. Below are some of the items we most commonly find when inspecting a home:

Problems with roofing material are the single most common defect we find caused by aging or improper installation. Usually it doesn't mean the roof needs replaced, simply that it is in need of maintenance or repair. Other problems we find are trees impinging on the roof, causing raking of the roof surface. Flashing that has lifted or separated from the roof line which can cause water penetration. Visable nail heads and staples that may be exposed to the weather which could cause them to rust and create leaks. Gutters that are not properly secured or sloped and free of debris. Damaged or missing shingles. Improper sloping of roofs that will not shed rain water. Missing or improperly secured drip edges.

Evidence of moisture penetration. Inadequate attic space ventilation. Separations at the rafters and ridge caused by foundation settlement. Openings or gaps at the exterior of the roof structure that may allow small animal or insect infestation. Vent screens blocked by insulation or torn allowing insect infestation. Inapproximate depth of insulation.
Ceiling stains
Caused by past or present leaks, ceiling stains are very common. It can be difficult to tell whether the stains are from leaks still present, or were caused by leaks which have since been repaired.
Electrical hazards
Most common in older homes, but often found in newer homes as well. Electrical hazards come in many forms, from lack of shock protection (lack of Ground Fault Circuit-Interrupt devices in appropriate locations), open live junction boxes, and over fused circuits to wiring done incorrectly.

Rotted wood
Caused by being wet for extended periods of time, most commonly found around tubs, showers and toilets inside, or roof eaves and trim outside.

Water heater
Water heaters can often have issues. Problems can include substandard overflow piping, unsafe flue conditions, and faulty gas lines.

Gas furnace
Most gas furnaces seem to be in need of routine maintenance such as new filters or gas company certification at the least. Many have other issues such as faulty operation or inadequate fire clearance as well.

Plumbing defects
Plumbing issues commonly found include dripping faucets, leaking fixtures, slow drains, loose toilets, hot water not at the right faucet etc... Even in brand new homes, it is common to identify minor plumbing defects.

Garages and Parking Facilities
Poorly-adjusted closing force settings on electric garage door operators rival drainage issues in most homes for the designation of "most commonly-found defect(s)." If you've got small children or pets, this is an absolutely critical issue. Less commonly, passage doors and common walls between garages and living spaces are found to lack fire resistance integrity.

The Limitations of a Home Inspection

by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard
The Home Inspection Defined
A general home inspection is a visual inspection for system and major accessible component defects and safety issues. The inspection is not technically exhaustive. A "general home inspection" and a "home inspection" are the same thing.
A home inspection is designed to reflect, as accurately as possible, the visible condition of the home at the time of the inspection. Conditions at a home for sale can change radically in only a day or two, so a home inspection is not meant to guarantee what condition a home will be in when the transaction closes. Itís not uncommon for conditions to change between the time of the inspection and the closing date.

Above: an overloaded outlet with no cover

Itís a Visual Inspection

A ďvisualĒ inspection means that a home inspection report is limited to describing conditions in those parts of a home that an inspector can see during the inspection. Obviously, parts of the home that are permanently hidden by wall, ceiling and floor coverings are excluded, but so are parts of the home that were inaccessible during the inspection for some other reason. Some reasons might include lack of an access point, such as a door or hatch, or a locked access point, or because an occupantís belongings blocked access, or because of dangerous or unsanitary conditions.

There can be many more reasons. The point is that if an inspector canít see a portion of the home, the inspector canít assume responsibility for ensuring that a safe and proper condition exists or that systems are operating properly in that hidden space.


Safety can be a matter of perception. Some conditions, such as exposed electrical wiring, are obviously unsafe. Other conditions, such as the presence of mold, arenít as clear-cut.

In the example of the possible existence of mold, it's difficult to accurately call it out during a general home inspection because mold sometimes grows in places where it canít be readily seen, such as inside walls, making its discovery beyond the scope of the inspection. Also, the dangers to human health are from the inhalation of spores from indoor air. We do not do mold inspections.

Most people with healthy immune systems have little or no problem with inhaling spores. A few people whose immune systems are compromised by lung disease, asthma or allergies can develop serious or even fatal fungal infections from mold spore levels that wouldnít affect most people. Every home has mold and mold colonies can grow very quickly, given the right conditions. Mold can be a safety concern, but it often isnít. The dangers represented by mold are a controversial subject. Other potential safety issues also fall into this category.
System Defects
Although the majority of the inspection is visual, the InterNACHI Standards of Practice do require inspectors to operate space and water heating equipment, and air-conditioning equipment, if it can be done without damaging the equipment.

Inspectors will also examine the major accessible components of certain systems as required by the Standards of Practice. Furnace air filters are one example.

A home inspection is not technically exhaustive, meaning that systems or components will not be disassembled as part of the inspection. For example, an inspector will not partially disassemble a furnace to more accurately check the condition of the heat exchanger. Inspectors typically disclaim heat exchangers.

Hazardous Materials

Asbestos, mold, lead, water purity, and other environmental issues or potential hazards typically require a specialist inspection, are not covered b our inspection, and may additionally require laboratory analysis.

Home Inspectors are Generalists

Home inspectors are not experts in every home system but are generalists trained to recognize evidence of potential problems in the different home systems and their major components. Inspectors need to know when a problem is serious enough to recommend a specialist inspection. Recommendations are often made for a qualified contractor, such as a plumber or electrician, and sometimes for a structural engineer.
Our Home Inspector Specialize's In
Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, Chandler, Tempe, Sun City, Higley, Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, San Tan Valley, Florence, Casa Grande, Maricopa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Entire Phoenix valley