month I would like to talk about inspecting appliances and
some lessons I learned the hard way. I know most home inspection
standards of practice do not address built-in appliances,
but it is my experience that most of us inspect them.
are a few lessons I have learned during my 18 years of inspecting.
I am disclosing these in the hope "Inspection Tips"
readers don't make the same mistakes.
1) I was inspecting a house with a whole house fan installed
in the second floor hallway ceiling. The real estate agent
and buyers were sitting in the family room on the first level.
I was upstairs and I turned on the fan for about five seconds
just to be sure it operated. As soon as I turned it off I
heard the agent yell upstairs "Mike, did you just do
something?" I walked downstairs and said "what's
up?" He pointed at the light colored carpet in the family
room and said "the ashes from the fireplace just sucked
out all over the floor." I knew right away what happened.
Of course since it was my fault I had to fix the problem.
I had noticed a vacuum in the garage and grabbed it immediately
and began cleaning up the mess. Of course the seller came
home as I was vacuuming and asked if I was going to do the
entire house. Lesson learned: always open windows before turning
on a whole house fan to avoid depressurizing the house.
2) I was doing my morning inspection and did my usual in the
kitchen checking operation of the built-ins. I got distracted
by an event in the back yard during this part of the inspection
and finished up later. That afternoon while on my second inspection
I could not remember turning off the oven at the first house.
I knew the sellers were on vacation and no one was going to
be at the house. I called the real estate agent and told him
the situation and asked him to meet me at the house to let
me in. Sure enough, the oven had been cranking away for about
six hours at 400 degrees. Lesson learned: never allow yourself
to become distracted. Additionally, I now have a system wherein
I never close the oven door while testing. I only close it
after the testing is done and I have turned off the dial (the
open door reminds me it is on).
3) I inspected the entire kitchen, including the inside of
a dishwasher. Everything looked fine. I started the dishwasher
on a short cycle and went about my business. When I arrived
in the basement I found the discharge hose for the dishwasher
was not connected to the drain and had pumped water all over
the floor. Lesson learned: check all connections before activating.
Another dishwasher story, when I first started in the inspection
profession I was performing my 20th or 30th inspection and
I went to the kitchen and started the dishwasher without looking
inside first. Turns out the occupants did not use the dishwasher
for washing dishes. Instead it was a storage bin for handguns,
cereal and bread. Lesson learned: always look inside any appliance
4) I was inspecting the kitchen and my usual was to test the
garbage disposal by turning on the switch and listening to
the motor sound. I hit the switch and the disposal made an
incredibly loud noise. The seller was standing close by and
said "what did you do?" I explained I was testing
the disposal. I then looked inside the splash guard and noticed
two spoons inside. I pulled them out and the seller said "thanks,
those were my mother's best silver flatware." Of course
I felt bad. Lesson learned: always look inside the disposal
feed with a flashlight before testing.
hope these lessons help us all learn.
talk next month,
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