Your home is your castle, and castles require a good defense. Of course, rather than marauding hordes of pillagers and plunderers, you have to be vigilant against wear and tear leading to system failures. The good news is you can neutralize these risks early if you pay close attention to these five annual home inspection spots.
The most vulnerable area of your electrical system is the line leading into your home. Trees can obstruct it, winds can damage it and time can simply render its connection to your house unstable. You also want to look for signs of excess heat in your breaker boxes—both indoors and out.
All ground fault circuit interrupter-equipped outlets should be tested, as should each of the other electrical outlets and light switches in the home. Address problems right away, as electrical issues can lead to fire or injuries—even deaths.
Inspect your roof for loose coverings, as well as soft spots, mold or mildew where accumulations of leaves have trapped moisture. Clear gutters and downspouts of debris so they can function properly. You also want to ensure they’re firmly attached to the house and one another.
The flashing around your chimney should be intact and its spark-arresting cap in good working order. Bricks should be solidly in place and their mortar in good condition. Windowsills and frames, as well as doors and doorframes should be squared and free of rot. Weather-stripping should be in good shape and windows should be crack-free. Look for imperfections in your siding and paint, as well as soft areas or water stains. The foundation should be resting firmly on the ground, free of cracks and bulges.
Inside the home, look for sags, cracks and water stains in ceilings. Floors should be flat and squeak-free. Doors should open and close freely, without noise or sticking. Attend to loose boards, tiles and damaged floor coverings right away. Look for cracks in walls, as well as evidence of nails or screws pushing out.
If you have an attic, conduct part of the inspection during the day, with the lights turned off. If you see light leaks, you have openings to the outside in need of repair. Next, switch the lights on and take a good look at the insulation to confirm it’s intact and dry. Check your rafters and joists to make sure they’re holding firm.
Examine exposed pipes for leaks and corrosion, particularly where they run through walls and the foundation. Green stains around brass and copper components are signs of trouble.
Run faucets and showers to ensure water pressure is good all over the house. While doing so, observe the drain speed. Flush toilets to confirm they’re eliminating properly, refilling efficiently and are leak free. Check the porcelain for signs of damage.
Drain your water heater to flush out sediment and inspect it for rust. The flame should be blue; if you see any other color you’ve got problems. Check the tile and caulking around sinks, bathtubs and showers to ensure water resistance is in effect. Remove showerheads and faucet screens to clear potential sediments. Inspect washer hoses for wear and signs of aging.
Some problems in this area might escape day-to-day notice. These include the gaskets on the oven door and the dishwasher, leakage under the dishwasher and the accumulation of dust and debris underneath the refrigerator. While you’re at it, conducting a yearly review of your homeowners insurance policy is another way to ensure the security of your most significant asset, both inside (contents) and out (structure). You should also re-examine your policy anytime you make renovations, add significant value or experience a life change.
All vents should be inspected to ensure air flows freely. Also make sure they can be opened and closed easily. Change filters monthly or yearly (as needed). Inspect the furnace to make sure its flame is blue (if gas). You also want to clean soot buildup. Look for signs of rust and inspect all the joints to ensure air stays in the system until it is discharged inside the house.
Staying on top of these five annual home inspection spots will defend your home against time and wear.