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Kaplan ITA's Monthly Inspection Tips - Free Electronic Newsletter

September, 2005
Inspecting Appliances
Issue #41

This 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.

Here 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.

Lesson 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.

Lesson 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).

Lesson 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 before activating.

Lesson 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.

I hope these lessons help us all learn.

We'll talk next month,

Mike Casey
Kaplan Professional Schools
Now You're Ready For Business!™



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