Safety Issues and the Home Inspection
When inspecting a home there will always be issues to report as deficiencies (the term designated by the Texas Real Estate Commission.) Often these issues are minor and do not affect the function of the house. To make these repairs or ask the seller to make these repairs is a decision that must be weighed and measured against the asking price and estimated value of the home. Sometimes there are major issues that will cost big dollars to repair, i.e.., the foundation, roof, HVAC equipment, etc. Again, these are considered in light of the value and the asking price.
Many times an inspection will reveal safety issues that should be addressed regardless of the cost. Some of these safety issues are simple inexpensive fixes that many homeowners can repair by themselves. Some are more technically complicated and requires a qualified technician to repair. I would like to list a few (certainly not a full list) of these issues I routinely find in my inspections.
GFCI protection – GFCI protection is required in the following locations: Bathrooms, kitchens, garages, outside outlets, utility room appliances, and dishwasher and disposal. Basically if it is near a water source it should be GFCI protected.
Smoke detectors and CO2 monitors. Here is a sample of the language I use in my inspection reports.
Note: Since January 1, 2008, the absence of carbon monoxide detectors in residential dwellings
has been considered a deficiency by the State of Texas. It is recommended that one be installed
according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
CHAPTER 766. CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS AND SMOKE DETECTORS IN CERTAIN
RESIDENTIAL DWELLINGS?Sec. 766.001. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
(1) “Carbon monoxide alarm” means a device that detects and sounds an alarm to indicate the
presence of a harmful level of carbon monoxide gas.
(2) “Commission” means the Health and Human Services Commission.
(3) “Fossil fuel” includes coal, kerosene, oil, wood, fuel gases, and other petroleum or
(4) “One-family or two-family dwelling” means a structure that has one or two residential units
occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence by individuals.
(5) “Smoke detector” has the meaning assigned by Section 792.001.
Sec. 766.002. CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM REQUIRED. (a) Each one-family or two-family
dwelling that has a household appliance or heating system that burns a fossil fuel must have a
working carbon monoxide alarm installed in the dwelling in accordance with commission rules if
construction on the dwelling commences on or after January 1, 2008.
Gas flues improperly venting. Gas furnaces and water heaters must have proper venting. A flue that is not properly installed can discharge a poisonous gas (CO2) into your home.
Tripping hazards. Carpet, broken tile, and cracked sidewalks and floors can be a source for tripping.
Temperature Pressure Relief Valve (TPR). The valve is located on your water heater. If this is not functioning properly or is incorrectly installed it can be a serious safety concern.
Corrugated Stainless Steel piping (CSST). This product is a known hazard. In 1990 this product hit the market in the US. If it is not properly bonded it can be vulnerable to lightening strikes and fire. It is beyond the scope of a home inspector to determine whether or not CSST is properly installed and bonded. For this reason it is known as a danger and recommended to have it further evaluated by a licensed electrician.
Garage door opener safety features. The sensors on a garage door opener prevent the door from crashing a small child. These should be mounted within six inches of the floor and reverse the downward traveling door when the an object passes through the door opening. The door should also reverse if adequate opposing force is applied to prevent a child from getting trapped under the door.
Handrails and staircases. Thousands of accidents happen each year on staircases. Loose handrails, uneven trades, loose carpet, etc., are some of the items we see during home inspections.
Recessed can lights. Many recessed can lights are installed in contact with insulation. These must be rated for this installation or it presents a fire hazard.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. I am sure you can add many items. These are a few of the items I find often on homes I inspect.
Never, NEVER, NEVER ignore safety issues in a home.