Cleaning for a Home Inspection

cleaning products

Your home doesn’t have to be clean for a home inspection, but it can help.

You want the inspector to have an overall positive report for the buyers and a clean home will help with that.

You also don’t want clutter or dirt to prevent a portion of the inspection and lead to an “incomplete” report that could deter the buyers.

You should complete these cleaning chores before the home inspector arrives:

#1. CHIMNEY

The home inspector will want to climb onto the roof and inspect the roof and the chimney if you have a fireplace.

You need to either hire a professional chimney cleaning service or you can perform DIY chimney cleaning with tips from our blog.

You don’t want soot or debris limiting the inspector’s visibility and ability to properly report on the current quality of the chimney.

#2. CARPET

If you have older and dirty carpet in your home, you should consider hiring a professional carpet cleaning service near your home.

The service you hire should be able to eliminate and remove deep dirt and surface level soil for a clean carpet.

This should discourage the home inspector from recommending you replace the carpet or tear it out prior to completing the sale of the home.

#3. BASEMENT

You need the walls of your basement to be clear of clutter so that the inspector is able to properly grade and evaluate the foundation of the home. If the inspector is unable to access and inspect various sections of the wall and foundation, he or she might fill out the report as “incomplete” and require another inspection at a later date which could delay the selling process.

#4. ATTIC ACCESS

Your attic will need to be accessible to the home inspector. Often, attics are accessible via a closet in a home and that closet is filled with clutter or other items of the homeowners’.

You need to clear the space to allow easier entry to the access for the inspector so he or she is able to lower the ladder and evaluate the insulation and interior of the roof of the home in their report.

#5. GUTTERS

You should clean your gutters two or three times each year and once before a home inspector arrives at your home.

Clogged gutters can lead to foundation problems from rain overflowing over the sides of the gutters and resting in pools and puddles near the foundation of the home.

The home inspector will notice the puddles and pools of rain and will assume there are either problems with the roof or the slope of the foundation. Both are significant issues that can derail the sale of a home.

Cleaning your gutters is one cleaning project you absolutely want to complete before a home inspection.

No home inspector wants to traverse a dirty home during their evaluation. In general, it is a courtesy to clean your home before the inspector arrives.

Plus, as you can see from our tips above, there are some additional benefits to completing various cleaning chores before a home inspection that could help the results of the report be positive.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

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Buying a home is a major investment and the process itself can cost a lot of money. You might consider passing on hiring a home inspector to save money but we do not recommend this.

A home inspector could save you thousands of dollars in the long run if he identifies a major issue with the home that will need attention. If you do not hire an inspector and purchase the home unaware of the issue, you will be responsible for the costs of repairing it.

The risk involved is not worth the amount of money you will save if you do not hire a home inspector before you buy a home.

So, how much does a home inspection cost?

There is no set cost for a home inspection. The prices often range from $200-400 depending on a variety of factors. Factors include the size of the home, the age of the home and the estimated time the home inspection will require for completion.

You should ask a home inspector how much he charges right away as well as his qualifications and referrals from previous realtors or home buyers.

He will explain the rates for his pricing and an estimate on how much the inspection will cost and an idea of how long it will take.

A larger home that is several decades old can require up to 4 hours or more to complete an inspection so if an inspector charges based on an hourly rate you should expect the cost to be more for a larger, older home.

However, condos and smaller homes might only require 2 hours or less to complete an inspection. More often than not, the amount of time the inspection requires will often come down to the condition of the home.

Additional costs for a home inspection can occur if the inspector performs radon tests or mold tests in the home. We recommend you include these tests in the cost of the inspection since the inspector will often charge less if he performs them at the same time as the inspection.

You should expect to pay $300 on average for a home inspection. The money spent on a home inspection before you purchase a home can save you thousands of dollars if the inspector identifies serious issues in need of repair.

Install GFCI Light Switches

electrician

In our last post, we stressed the importance of installing smoke detectors in your home prior to a home inspection. Today, we want to encourage you to install GFCI light switches in your home.

GFCI stands for “ground fault circuit interrupter”. The internal device in this light switch shuts off electric power to the switch if it detects a current moving in the wrong direction.

GFCI light switches are now standard in new home remodels and a home inspector will require you install them as part of his report.

HOW TO INSTALL A GFCI LIGHT SWITCH

  • Locate the circuit breaker in your home and turn off the power to the room you will be installing the GFCI light switch.
  • Test the outlet with a circuit tester to ensure the power is off and then remove the face plate with a screwdriver.
  • Test the interior of the outlet again to ensure there is no power.
  • Remove the mounting screw from the outlet and then remove the outlet from the wall.
  • First, remove the black wire from the outlet.
  • Second, remove the white wire from the outlet.
  • Lastly, remove the ground wire from the outlet.
  • Straighten the neutral wire and the ground wire and and strip ½-inch from the wires with a wire cutter.
  • Now attach the ground wire to the GFCI.
  • Now attach the neutral wire to the GFCI. Push it through the end of the GFCI on the end with the hole and the screw to tighten the hole around the wire.
  • Now attach the black wire with the same process.
  • Now organize the wires into the outlet box and push the box back into the wall.
  • Mount the outlet with a screw and screw on the face plat.
  • Now return to your circuit breaker and turn the power back on in the room.
  • Test the GFCI outlet.

You should repeat this process for all of the outlets in your bathroom, kitchen and outdoor living areas.

The presence of GFCI light switches and outlets in your home for sale will help you to pass your home inspection and complete the sale of your home.

If you are not comfortable working with electricity, we recommend you hire a professional electrician near you to install GFCI light switches.

Types of Smoke Detectors

smoke detector

During a home inspection, the inspector will evaluate the placement and condition of the smoke detectors in a home.

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) recommends at least one smoke detector (and one carbon monoxide detector) on each level a home. This includes a sub-level or basement.

The home inspector will verify there is at least one detector on each floor of the home and that the detectors are in good condition.

You will need to install a smoke detector on each floor of your home prior to the arrival of the home inspector in order to pass your report.

The smoke detectors should be installed on the ceiling and 4 inches away from the nearest wall. Do not install them directly next to a window or above a stove or chimney fireplace.

There are two different types of smoke detectors to choose from:

IONIZATION SMOKE ALARM

An ionization smoke alarm responds well to fires that spark fast. This alarm contains a tiny amount of materials that are radioactive. The materials filter through an air-filled chamber in the alarm. The chamber contains two electrodes with a current between the two. If smoke enters the chamber it will pause the current which will then sound the alarm.

PHOTOELECTRIC SMOKE ALARM

This type of smoke alarm relies on lasers and optics to detect smoke in the air. There is a laser inside the alarm that sends a direct beam across the device. If smoke interferes with the path of the laser it will cause beams to disperse across the device and hit different sensors within the device which will sound the alarm.

The NFPA recommends purchasing combination smoke detectors. A combination smoke detector uses both the radioactive materials and laser sensors for 100% certainty the device will detect the smoke in your home.

The home inspector will verify that the alarm is a combination alarm and recommend the installation of a combination alarm if the home features only an ionization or photoelectric alarm.

You can also purchase a smoke detector that doubles as a carbon monoxide detector. This will save you time and money in having to install multiple detectors on each floor of your home.

DIY Chimney Cleaning

fireplace

If you have a fireplace in your home, it needs to be cleaned during the year in order to prevent chimney fires from burning wood.

Your chimney will be carefully inspected during a proper home inspection. You will want it to be clean before the home inspector arrives.

You want to remove creosote from the chimney and fireplace. Creosote is an organic compound that is very flammable that will build up over time after burning wood in the chimney.

You can hire a professional chimney cleaning service or save money with DIY chimney cleaning.

This post from Lake Watch Homes will provide step-by-step instructions on how to clean your chimney and fireplace:

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Ladder
  • Safety Gear
  • Chimney Brush
  • Fiberglass Rod
  • Flashlight
  • Vacuum

You need to purchase a chimney brush from a hardware store that fits the exact dimensions of your chimney flute. A brush costs about $20. You will also need to purchase a fiberglass rod to fasten the brush to. This will cost about $10.

#1. CLOSE DOORS

You should first seal or close the opening of your chimney in your home. You do not want creosote or soot to be pushed down and into your living space.

If the chimney doesn’t have doors, seal it by taping plastic bags or cardboard over the opening.

#2. CLIMB TO THE ROOF

You will need to be comfortable with climbing onto your roof for this project. Practice proper ladder safety to reach the roof and ensure someone helps you hold the ladder during your ascension to the top of the roof.

You also want to wear the proper safety gear on the roof. This includes footwear with good traction and a harness.

#3. REMOVE CAP

Remove the chimney cap from the top of the chimney. The cap is usually just attached with a couple of screws or bolts that can often be removed by hand although, you might need a wrench or screwdriver to remove your chimney cap.

#4. CLEAN

Push the brush in an up and down motion in the chimney. Push the brush as far down as you can until you have the bottom of the fiberglass rod in the chimney. Then attach an additional rod and continue to push down the chimney. Continue this process until you have reached the bottom of chimney.

You should use vigorous force in cleaning the chimney. Then pull the chimney brush up from the bottom of the chimney and out of the chimney.

We recommend protective eyewear as there will be a lot of creosote that will shoot out of the chimney when you pull out the brush and you do not want it in your eyes.

Turn on your flashlight and look down the chimney and see if it looks clean to you. If you see remaining creosote deposits, continue to clean the chimney until all of the creosote buildup is gone.

#5. VACUUM

Now go into your home and use a handheld vacuum or suction hose to remove all of the loose debris and creosote from the bottom of the fireplace.

The entire DIY chimney cleaning process should only require one hour of your time and cost around $30.

Be sure to complete this project prior to the arrival of the home inspector so he can ensure the chimney is in good working condition for the potential home buyers.