This week I did several inspections, and each of the homes had some common observations. Here are my top three along with tips for home owners:
- Missing ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles: these outlets are required by NEC (National Electric Code) for protection against electric shock–especially near water sources. They are required in bathrooms, garages, outdoors, unfinished basements, crawl spaces, kitchens (including the receptacle for the dishwasher), laundry/utility/wet bars and pool/spa areas. The most common observation is that GFCI receptacles are installed in bathrooms but forgotten in kitchens. So, take a tour around the house to see where this common hazard may be hiding.
- Missing or improperly located detection devices for smoke and carbon monoxide: building code requires one smoke detector for each bedroom, and carbon monoxide detectors installed outside each sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms on each level of the home. This includes basements with fuel fired appliances like furnaces, water heaters and gas stoves. Make a list of these areas in your home, and be sure that you know where each detection device is, and what kind of batteries it takes. Put a note on your calendar, or a reminder on your phone, to check your batteries twice a year when you change your clocks.
- Roof debris: I commonly see a build up of organic debris (leaves, berries, palm fronds, etc.) in roof valleys. This is particularly common after a wind storm. The strong winds can lift the tiles and debris gets wedged between the tile edges. When built up roof debris gets wet, it can prematurely deteriorate the underlayment. Premature deterioration can lead to dry rot of the framing, and create an environment conducive to mold growth. This type of hidden damage can go undetected until it becomes a costly problem. Check your roof quarterly, and after a big wind storm, to ensure that debris is not collecting in the roof valleys.