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The Top Things Home Inspectors in St. Louis Always Check

ByFreya Parker

Dec 21, 2023
Home Inspectors

Home inspections are an important part of the home-buying process. A thorough home inspection conducted by a qualified home inspector can uncover issues with the home that you may not notice on your own. Home inspections help buyers make informed decisions about major defects, needed repairs, and the overall condition of the home.

If you’re looking to buy a home in St. Louis, here are the top things home inspectors in the area always scrutinize:

The Roof

The roof is one of the most expensive components of a home to replace or repair, so St. Louis home inspectors pay very close attention to its condition. They’ll check for missing, cracked, or loose shingles as well as look for leaks, water damage, or improper drainage that could lead to issues down the road. Lifting shingles to check the roof decking underneath is also standard practice. They also examine flashing around chimneys, vents, and skylights for holes or deterioration. Inspectors also check out the gutters and downspouts for proper water runoff. They’ll make note of any sagging spots in the roof as this could indicate structural issues. Overall, inspectors will be on the lookout for any signs the roof might need repairs or complete replacement in the next 5-10 years.

The Foundation

Since structural issues can be hugely problematic, home inspectors St. Louis area always thoroughly examine the property’s foundation. They’ll check for cracks in the foundation walls, loose mortar, and signs of water intrusion like efflorescence. Inspectors also examine the basement floor for cracks or sinking and use levels to check for shifts or settling issues. Proper drainage around the foundation will also be examined. Significant cracks, shifting, moisture issues, or improper grading around the foundation can allow water to penetrate and cause ongoing structural issues. This is information buyers want to know.

Electrical Systems

Faulty electrical work or systems can lead to fires and other hazards. Home inspectors will always take a close look at the service panel to ensure there’s adequate capacity for the home’s needs. They’ll check for double-tapped breakers, and properly labeled circuits, and look for signs of arcing, rust, water leaks, or other damage. A home’s outlets, switches, and light fixtures will be tested and inspected for functionality, unusual smells, improper wiring, or other defects. Safety features like GFCIs, AFCIs, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors will be examined as well. The electrical work should meet all current code requirements for safety. They’ll also check that outdoor electrical components are in good order. Any electrical repairs needed will be noted.

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Plumbing

Faulty plumbing or leaks can lead to water damage, mold growth, and very costly repairs. Home inspectors always thoroughly examine the home’s plumbing system starting with checking water pressure and drainage. They’ll run all faucets, flush toilets, and run showers to check for leaks, pressure loss, or drainage issues. Water heaters will be examined for leaks, corrosion, faulty temperature/pressure relief valves, and proper venting. Inspectors also check under sinks for leaks, loose pipes, and proper trap setups. Proper installation is checked for laundry, kitchen, bathroom, and outdoor plumbing components. Any signs of water leaks like water spots, mold, or rotted materials will be investigated. Overall inspection determines if the plumbing system is in good order or needs repairs.

Heating and Air Conditioning Systems

The home’s HVAC systems play an important role in comfort and indoor air quality. Home inspectors always examine the heating and cooling equipment to evaluate its age, condition, and how well it’s keeping up with the home’s needs. With the furnace, inspectors will check combustion ventilation, carbon monoxide leaks, flame quality, unusual smells or sounds, and heat exchanger conditions. Ductwork will be examined for leaks, disconnects, or improper routing. The thermostat, blower fan, filters, and other components will be tested as well. Similar examination occurs for central air conditioning units – including refrigerant levels/leaks, coolant lines condition, and overall cooling ability. Local inspectors check that HVAC systems meet codes and manufacturer specifications. Any recommended repairs or replacements to ensure good function for years will be noted.

Major Appliances

While home inspectors don’t test functionality in-depth, they will turn on the major kitchen appliances like the oven, cooktop, and dishwasher to check basic operation. For any included laundry appliances, inspectors will run a test cycle to ensure basic function and check for leaks or other damage. Any issues, needed repairs, or evidence of past leaks will be documented so buyers are aware. The water and gas connections, ventilation, and installation will also be examined for code compliance and safety.

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Overall Condition of the Interior

Inspectors take a close look at the overall condition inside the home – including walls, ceilings, floors, and window/door functionality. Any needed repairs like cracks in walls, water stains, rotted wood, torn flooring, and doors/windows that stick or don’t lock properly will be noted. They’ll check for proper ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms. Excess moisture that could lead to mold issues will be documented as well. Peeling paint, holes, loose railings or trims, and other maintenance needs will also be examined. The general interior condition gives buyers a good idea of how well the home has been maintained.

Insulation and Ventilation

Proper insulation and airflow are important for comfort, indoor air quality, and energy efficiency. Home inspectors examine the insulation levels, installation, and current condition in unfinished attics and basement/crawlspace areas. Blocked soffits or roof vents, bathroom/kitchen exhaust function, and whole house fan setups are all examined as part of ventilation checks. Any evidence of condensation, mold, or moisture issues tied to insufficient insulation or ventilation is also documented. Air sealing needs may also be noted.

Structure

While the foundation is closely examined, inspectors also check the overall structural integrity in other areas. Floor joists, roof rafters, and wall framing materials are examined for water damage, rot, or pest damage. Inspectors check for level floors and make sure load-bearing elements are adequate with no major alterations. Chimneys will be examined for cracking bricks, missing mortar, or damage. Inspectors may probe areas with a moisture meter if water intrusion is suspected. Overall, the goal is to determine that the home’s structure appears in good order with no signs of ongoing damage or excessive repairs needed.

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Grading and Drainage

Inspectors check the exterior grading near the foundation to ensure rain or snowmelt drains away from the home properly without ponding. Downspouts should also direct water away from the foundation walls into proper drainage paths. Flat or negative grading is a defect, as is improperly sloping soil. Recommendations will be made to regrade areas for better moisture runoff, if necessary. Proper drainage helps prevent wet basements, moisture intrusion leading to mold, and other expensive issues – so inspectors pay close attention.

Vegetation and Landscaping Concerns

During exterior checks, inspectors examine how the home’s landscaping affects things. They’ll note trees growing too close to the home that could potentially damage the foundation or roof. Overhanging branches near the roof or siding will also be noted. Inspectors check that planting beds adjacent to the home don’t pile up moisture-retaining mulch or soil against siding for prolonged periods. Overall, inspectors try to spot any vegetation that could retain too much moisture near the home or damage the property itself.

Safety Hazards

Inspectors act as an extra set of eyes to spot potential safety issues on the property. They’ll check walkways/driveways/patios/decks for trip hazards. Loose handrails, loose boards, or improper riser heights will be documented. Garage door safety sensors, auto-reverse mechanisms, and door strength testing help identify common hazards. Items like improperly stored chemicals, combustible materials near ignition sources, and other fire hazards may be noted when spotted as well. Proper strike plate screws, smoke/CO detector function and placement, and GFCI/AFCI safety devices all play a role. Home inspectors call out anything they see as a potential safety issue.

While home inspectors don’t catch every minute issue, they work hard to evaluate all areas like those above to educate buyers on a home’s overall condition. Their inspection reports and repair recommendations help buyers make fully informed purchasing decisions. When buying a home in St. Louis, a quality home inspection is always recommended.

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