The inspection of the electrical system is a visual observation of the various components of this system. Electrical panels will be inspected externally and internally and all light switches, unused receptacles, and fixtures will be tested. Faceplates on receptacles, switches and others are not required to be removed unless aluminum wiring is noted. If any item is deemed unsafe for testing, it is reported as such and is typically recommended for further review by a licensed electrician.
GFCI and AFCI
Per Texas Real Estate Commission Standards, we are required to point out the current requirements for GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) and AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) protection, even if a house predates the newest electrical requirements. As a result, comments concerning this protection will typically show up on all reports.
GFCI protection is required at all wet/damp areas or where contact with water is likely (i.e. kitchen countertops, exterior, garage, bathrooms, near sinks, etc). This protection when present results in a reduced likelihood of electrical shock to the user. AFCI protection is now required in most living spaces on the inside of the house where GFCI protection is not required or the circuit is dedicated for an appliance. AFCI type breakers protect against conditions which are likely to produce an arcing of current (spark) from a hot conductor to neutral or ground or damage to a hot conductor itself.
Common electrical items of interest:
- Aluminum wiring
- Older (out of date) electrical panels and wiring
- Unsafe wiring practice
- Lack of grounding/bonding of the system and metal components
- Potential fire hazards.
The inspection of the plumbing system includes a visual observation of the various components as well as an operating test of all fixtures. Water heater installation will be observed and tested, whether it is a gas model or electric. Water softeners, filters, and other auxiliary components will not be part of this general inspection, but will be examined for leakage.
Older homes potentially have issues that may not afflict newer homes, such as cast iron, galvanized, and/or lead piping. If these plumbing pipe types are observed during the inspection, an explanatory note will be included in the report to inform the buyer of some of the issues associated with them. The buyer should be aware that these items may be still in use at the time of purchase.
Please note that shutoff valves under sinks, toilets, or other, will not be operated due to the high risk of issues involved with operating such valves. Valves that are not operated daily can break down or leak which could cause damage to the surrounding areas.
The foundation inspection includes a visual observation of the foundation perimeter for signs of inadequate performance. The external visual inspection, along with other factors–such as how windows and doors operate, cracks in the exterior and interior walls, and cracks visible in the floor or ceiling–will be used to provide an opinion of the foundation’s performance. If any concerns are found, it is typically recommended that the client seek the opinion of a structural engineer licensed in Texas or a reputable foundation specialist for further review.
Please note that all concrete slabs crack, not all cracks are a sign of slab failure, and most slabs can be repaired. During a one-time visit it will not be possible for the inspector to determine the rate of movement; this type of observation should be performed by a licensed engineer.
The heating and cooling system inspection includes operation of the heating unit (furnace or heat pump in most cases) and cooling system (central air or window unit). We also examine the refrigerant lines, ductwork, drain pans, condensate drain lines, burner areas, and evaporator/condenser coils (if visible). Auxiliary equipment such as fresh air intake systems and air filtration systems will not be part of the inspection.
At different times of the year it may not be possible or proper to operate one of these systems. During winter, temperatures outside may not be warm enough to safely operate the cooling system. In this case, it is recommended that the system be reviewed by a licensed HVAC technician to determine the best time to operate the unit for full inspection.
The inspector will walk on safe-to-access compostion shingle roofs for the most thorough inspection possible. We have walked on many steep roofs, but only if it is felt to be safe to do so. Clay tile, slate, and metal roofs will not be walked upon, but will be viewed from the ground or ladder as possible.
Windows/Doors – all accessible windows and doors will be tested. Any issues will be noted on the report.
Stairways – any stairways will be assessed for safety issues, such as guardrails, handrails, headroom, trip hazards, etc.
Walls – interior and exterior wall surfaces will be observed for structural and installation issues. Small cosmetic issues may not appear on the report. Moisture issues may be reported in these areas as well.
Ceilings/floors – ceiling and floor surfaces will be observed for structural issues. Moisture issues may be reported in these areas as well.
Fireplaces – visible areas of the fireplace and chimney will be observed. Gas log sets will be lit, if possible.
Decks/Balconies/Porches – Installation and structural issues will be observed.