Home Inspection and Appliances

By: Eric Badgely

Many home inspectors not only check the critical components and systems of a home, but also try to give an overview of the status of the household appliances. The information below gives some insight into how this evaluation is done.

Home inspection standards seldom specify that household appliances must be inspected by the professional home inspector. There are a number of reasons for this. For example, many times the appliances go with the seller so they will not be in the house after closing. Other times, there are no appliances in the home because it is brand new or, in an older home, they were worn out and were disposed of. A problem with trying to evaluate used appliances is the difficulty in doing so accurately. Even an appliance repair professional will be reluctant to try to predict the longevity or remaining life of a used household appliance.

The inspector does not want to make wild predictions about the unknown so, when appliance inspections are done at all, there are a few guidelines. These procedures may vary from one inspector to another, and from one appliance to another, but here are some basics. With a refrigerator or freezer, an inspector tries to determine if it is cooling and whether or not it is broken or rusted inside. Another common problem, that should be checked, is the condition of the door gaskets that are often found to be torn.

Ranges, gas and electric, should be checked for the basics: Do the burners, the oven and the broiler all heat? With a gas range there might be more safety checks but complicated functions, like the working of the oven timer or the calibration of the thermostat are beyond the scope of the inspection.

When the dishwasher is run, the inspector makes sure that it operates and that no water leaks show up around it on the floor or under the sink. A dishwasher, depending on the jurisdiction or circumstances, might require an air-gap. This device is a safeguard that keeps contaminated water from entering into the potable water system. In a related matter, the food disposal is usually run and the primary concern there is that it does not leak, that it is not heavily rusted and that it does not sound like it is flying apart.

As described above, kitchen appliances are commonly viewed by the inspector but laundry appliances, when they are present at all, may or may not be operated depending on a number of factors that the inspector takes into account at the time.

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