5 Things to Check Before a Home Inspection

Written by Edie Sherwood of Area Wide Inspections
Updated February 5, 2016
home inspector in the attic
While you certainly shouldn't cover up problems, you should always prepare for your home inspection.
Photo by Sara Cozolino

As a home seller, there's nothing more nerve-wracking than waiting for the results of the buyer's home inspection.

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Let’s be honest, to a homeowner going through the process of selling a house, the phrase “home inspection” is about as welcome as “colonoscopy” or “IRS audit.”

After all, you’ve worked hard by staging your home, endured the stream of showings and negotiated a price. Now, here comes a home inspector to pick apart your house and scare the buyers out of their wits, right?

Knowing what issues might come up during a home inspection can help alleviate that anxiety. While under no circumstances should you make an effort to cover up an existing problem, the following tips can serve as a guide to help prepare you and your home for a home inspection.

1. A home inspection of the roof

If you’re curious about the condition of your home’s roof, do yourself a favor: Do not ask your insurance company to come and look at the roof. Even if there is no damage, requesting an insurance company to inspect your roof may be reported as a claim.

Instead, talk to a local roofer that offers free estimates. If the roofer indicates that roof repairs or replacement are necessary, get at least two other quotes and then talk to your insurance company.

2. Inspecting the HVAC system

The heating and air conditioning systems are at the top of the list for almost every homebuyer. If your home has older heating or A/C units, it can be well worth the money to have a reputable, licensed HVAC company or technician perform a tuneup or regular HVAC maintenance before your home is inspected.

A tuneup can alert you to things such as rust in the heat exchanger, missing insulation on refrigerant lines or low refrigerant levels — all of which may turn up during home inspection. During a HVAC tuneup, you should also ask the HVAC provider to inspect the condition of the ducts to ensure that you’re not losing energy efficiency to holes or gaps in the ductwork.

3. Checking the electrical system

A working electrical system is invaluable to any home, but electricity is dangerous and it should be treated with the respect it deserves. For that reason, any work or evaluation to your home’s electrical system should be conducted by a licensed electrician.

However, one way to check the status of your home’s electrical system is to purchase a receptacle tester and test that your home’s electrical outlets are working correctly. You can also do a simple check to make sure that overhead lights and ceiling fans are working correctly.

4. A home inspection of the plumbing system

More and more homeowners are hiring plumbers and drain clearing services to inspect the sewer lines commonly found in older homes to alert them to possible future problems. While that’s definitely an option, it can be somewhat costly.

You can check a lot of your home’s plumbing system yourself. Look at the water supply lines to the sinks and toilets. Are the cutoff handles present and easy to turn? Are any lines or handles leaking?

Test your drains. Are all plumbing fixture drains draining freely? Are there any leaky drain pipes? These plumbing issues can be identified and corrected before a home inspection.

5. Other home inspection items to consider

My personal advice to home sellers is to make sure the home inspector can access the attic, the crawl space and the electrical panel. It also helps to clear out the cabinets under sinks so the home inspector can access and test those fixtures.

The day of the inspection, make sure that any household pets are secured and crated since the home inspector will be going outside and inside several times during the inspection. Securing outdoor pets that may not welcome a stranger’s presence is also a good idea.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on March 11, 2013.

Did you have to repair items before you put your house on the market? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

About this Experts Contributor: Edie Sherwood is the owner and office manager of Area Wide Inspections. The company provides home inspection services in Lubbock, Texas, as well as construction inspections, FHA inspections and construction consulting.

As of February 4, 2016, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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