Ask the Inspector

Thanks to more than three decades of experience, AmeriSpec inspectors have heard (and seen) it all. Find expert answers to the most common questions from home buyers and home sellers.

Purchasing a property is a huge decision, but you don’t need to do it alone. AmeriSpec inspectors are certified and trained to evaluate a home and offer insights on maintenance, too.

What to Expect During a Home Inspection

  • Yes, AmeriSpec inspectors are licensed according to state requirements and trained through our national program. Our inspectors also carry extensive errors and omissions insurance and general liability insurance.

  • Yes, in addition to a general home inspection, we may offer specialty inspections in your area. Often, these specialty inspections include mold, radon, sewer scope,  termite and wood-destroying organisms and more. It’s best to check with your local AmeriSpec inspector to confirm the availability of specialty inspections.

  • Once a home inspection is complete, you will receive your AmeriSpec Report often within 24 hours.

  • Common signs of wear and tear on a home include peeling paint on the exterior and interior, caulk and weather-stripping damage, torn window screens and minor wood discoloration.

  • Common bigger-ticket items that may arise during a home inspection include structural movement, HVAC equipment non-functional, roof damage and leakage, electrical fixtures non-functional or damage (including damaged or exposed wiring) and non-functional, leaking or damaged water supply lines and drain pipes.

  • When you see the phrase “recommend review by a qualified or licensed professional,” the system or component needs evaluation for repair or replacement.

  • Homes don’t pass or fail an inspection, but we’ll be sure to point out anything specific that may cause major concern.

  • Depending on your state and local inspector, they may have recommendations on experts. It never hurts to ask.

  • Radon, an odorless, tasteless radioactive gas, can be found in homes throughout the United States. It is released into the air as a result of the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and often enters a home through small cracks and holes in the foundation, where it becomes trapped. According to estimates, nearly one out of every 15 homes in the United States has elevated radon levels. All types of homes can have a radon problem — new homes, old homes and homes with basements, crawl spaces and even slab constructions. 

    Any exposure to radon has some risk of causing lung cancer. And the Surgeon General and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend testing for radon in order to know whether there are dangerous levels present in the home. From there, you’ll be able to determine what radon reduction method or mitigation will be best for your home.

  • During a comprehensive home inspection, the inspector conducts a thorough evaluation of the main electrical panel box and any subpanels that are present. They will also remove the cover from the panel box and determine whether or not the sizes of the wires are compatible with the size of the fuses or circuit breakers that have been installed. The inspector will also determine if the electrical system is properly grounded and look at wires at branch circuits. The main service line and the mast are examined for safety.

    On the interior of the home, all of the accessible receptacles will be tested, too. The inspector will also look for exposed wires and improper splices as well as Romex™ wiring and stranded wiring that have been incorrectly used throughout the home. While inspecting the exterior of the home, the inspector will note whether or not ground fault circuit interrupters have been installed at the exterior receptacles.

    Note: Any electrical items that are considered to be a safety concern will be noted in the AmeriSpec report. AmeriSpec always recommends that the repairs be done by a licensed electrician for everyone’s protection.

Find even more answers to common questions from home buyers, home sellers and home renovators.

Expert Home Maintenance Insights

  • When it comes time to assess winter impacts on your home and get ready for spring, a visual evaluation helps identify potential issues and helps to create your home maintenance to-do list. Start by checking:

    • Foundation walls, floors, concrete and masonry for cracking, heaving or deterioration.
    • Masonry chimneys for loose, deteriorated brick or missing mortar.
    • Roof and eaves for any missing, loose or damaged shingles, open seams, blisters, debris, standing water or bald areas on flat roofs.
    • All window hardware for proper operation and windows for broken glass, breached seals and damaged or missing screens.
    • Water heater for leaks and corrosion. Flush water heater per manufacturer’s instructions.
    • Lawn sprinkler system for leaky valves.
    • Caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bases.
  • Tackling exterior and interior upkeep and maintenance before the weather turns cold can help you stay cozy inside and give you peace of mind. 

    First, let’s start outside.

    • Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of debris and functioning properly.
    • Check the roof and flashings around all surface projections (roof penetrations) and sidewalls (joints between the roof and vertical services).
    • Drain and winterize all outside faucets and the sprinkler system. Empty any water hoses, coil and store.
    • Repair any damage to sidewalks, driveways and steps before ice or snow makes them worse due to the freeze/thaw cycle.
    • Make sure your chimney is clear of bird nests and leaves. Consider calling in a professional chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote.
    • Check and repair any gaps in weather-stripping or caulk around doors and windows. Failure to do so could add up to 10% to your winter heating bill.
    • Make sure doors and windows have no missing or loose glazing putty.
    • Winterize the lawnmower and clean, sharpen and oil all metal gardening tools before storing. Make sure your snow removal tools are operational and ready to go if needed.

    Then, we head inside.

    • Consider having a professional inspect and service your furnace. Also, be sure to replace the furnace filters and clean and adjust the humidifier, if applicable.
    • Clean heating ducts, grills and registers.
    • Clean lint and any other debris out of the dryer vent.
    • Test smoke and carbon monoxide monitors as well as fire extinguishers.
    • Reprogram your thermostat for the winter weather. Keeping your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees when you are home will help control energy costs.
    • Unclog slow running drains.
    • Make sure caulking around the bath and shower is intact.
  • With proper care and regular maintenance, you can help avoid septic system issues.

    • Pay attention to what you flush or pour into drains. Don’t flush wipes and other non-toilet-paper items. Avoid pouring fats, oils, coffee grounds, etc. into the drains. This will prevent the absorption area from clogging. Additionally, a garbage disposal may cause the septic system’s workload to increase, and will require more frequent tank pumping.
    • Schedule regular pumping. Professional pumping removes solids in the septic tank that accumulate over time. Most septic tanks require pumping every two or three years, depending on the usage.
    • Conserve water. Repair leaks and drips, and minimize overlapping system usage (like doing laundry, running the dishwasher and taking a shower at the same time). This helps to prevent straining and overloading the system.
  • Noises, like squeaky hinges, creaky floors or a banging radiator, are quite common. Here are some tips to address them:

    • Squeaky Hinges. Use a silicone spray or light penetrating oil on the hinge. If the squeak persists, remove the pin and thoroughly clean it, along with the barrel and hinge leaves, with steel wool. Coat them lightly with silicone spray or light penetrating oil and replace the pin.
    • Squeaks Under Carpeting. If a carpeted floor squeaks, you can drive nails or screws through the carpeting and the plywood subfloor and into the joists below. Depending on the type of carpeting, you can usually drive finishing nails or finish-head screws right through the carpeting and their heads will not be visible. Otherwise, you may need to pull the carpeting up first.
    • Banging Radiator. Place a level on top of the radiator. Shim the legs on the non-valve side up so that the radiator tilts slightly toward the valve.
  • A running toilet can be caused by a number of issues, so identify the cause first. 

    • Check the guide rod or chain on the tank stopper. Straighten if bent or twisted.
    • Check the float mechanism. If lifting the ball stops the running, try to bend the float arm down to adjust the buoyancy. If the ball has water in it, you’ll need to replace it. To do this, unscrew it from the arm and put a new one in place.
    • Lift the stopper and check for objects. Gently scour the valve seat and rim. If there’s a good deal of damage, replace the stopper and valve seat.
    • You may have to replace the flush valve assembly if none of the above works. Take the old parts to the hardware store with you to make sure that when you get new inside gaskets and the assembly you’ll have a perfect match. If the shaft of the assembly is cracked, the whole shaft and assembly will have to be replaced.
  • Besides regular inspections, you can help prolong the life of your roof by doing the following:

    • Keep trees trimmed to prevent branches from scratching shingles and avoid damage from falling limbs. Squirrels and raccoons can also reach the roof easily via touching limbs and can cause extensive damage to roofs.
    • Replace missing or damaged shingles as soon as possible.
    • Never walk directly on the roof — you can damage the shingles. To inspect the roof, use a ladder or walk board.
    • Make sure you have good ventilation in the attic, even during the winter.
    • Keep gutters, roof valleys and flat portions of the roof free of debris.
  • Even little roof leaks can lead to big repair bills. Preventive measures and early maintenance can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

    • Check your roof in the autumn, before winter weather hits, and again in the spring to assess any damage.
    • The best time to check for roof leaks is during heavy rain. Look for water flowing over the tops of gutters, sagging gutters, leaks at gutter seams, or water pooling on the roof or in the valleys of the roof.
    • In the attic and on the roof, look for signs of mold. This means that moisture has gathered at some point, and could indicate a nearby leak.
    • Inspect the attic, and look for water stains, moisture or dark-colored areas that could indicate wet wood or soft spots that could be dry rot.
    • Examine the gutters for leaks, cracks and weak spots. Make sure the gutters are still firmly attached.
    • Most importantly, have your roof checked as part of a regular professional home inspection. A professional home inspector can troubleshoot potential roof problems, saving you costly repairs, time and trouble.

How to Partner with AmeriSpec

I have more questions. How can I connect with a home inspection expert near me?

Find a certified AmeriSpec inspector near you to get answers to your home inspection questions. 

The AmeriSpec real estate inspection services may not be available everywhere. Please contact your local AmeriSpec office for more details. AmeriSpec services are provided by independently owned and operated franchises. Availability of services may vary depending on location.