What Can Cause a Failed Home Inspection?

UPDATED 11/19/20

Before putting your home on the market, it’s important to get an inspection so that there are no surprises down the road. Oftentimes, buyers will look elsewhere if a home fails inspection. The most common reasons properties fail home inspection are plumbing issues, roofing issues, and mold. Different types of inspections are needed, including inspecting the HVAC, the attic, the basement, the furnace, and more.

If mold is discovered on your property, you’ll want a mold removal service to come out immediately. Mold is not only dangerous to your health, but it will deter buyers from placing a bid on your property. Mold is typically caused by water damage and tends to spread quickly. It is advisable, therefore, to have a county home inspection that is registered with the city inspection office after the mold has been treated. Knowing the issues with your home before you put it on the market gives you time to fix it. You want your home to sell quickly and a failed home inspection will do nothing but stall the process.

Around 86% of home buyers who have utilized a home inspection say that at least one problem was identified that needed to be addressed. As a home seller, this can be particularly troublesome, as — depending on the issue — this could cause buyers to look elsewhere. For this reason, it’s important to have your home inspected before listing it, so that you can take steps to rectify and fix any problems before selling.

What Is a Home Inspection and Why Is It Important?

Before learning the most common reasons homes fail inspection, you should understand everything that an inspection covers and why it’s important. While some things will vary by the inspector, the most common areas that are addressed include:

  • Your HVAC system
  • Your electrical and plumbing
  • Your walls and structural integrity
  • Your attic and roof
  • Your insulation

The main goal of inspecting these areas is to uncover any issues that may be serious. A passed inspection means that the inspector found no pressing issues within these areas, while a failed inspection means that something needs to be repaired or replaced. The inspector will be able to point out what needs to be done so that you can take steps to improve the issue and pass your next inspection.

It’s important to note that a home inspector will not advise potential buyers on whether or not they should buy a house. Instead, they merely provide information so that buyers can make the most educated decision.

Reasons Homes Fail Inspection

With so many areas covered in an inspection, it isn’t hard to see why finding issues is common. That said, some issues are more common than others — and it’s important to know how to avoid them when it comes time to sell your home.

Plumbing Problems

When it comes to plumbing problems, even minor issues should be addressed swiftly. Something as simple as a leaky pipe can quickly grow to cause significant water damage if you’re not careful. It’s rare for a home inspection to complete without finding at least one minor plumbing issue, which makes them one of the top reasons homes fail inspections. And, while a leaky faucet won’t take much to fix, you should be wary of more significant problems.

For instance, slow drains could be easy to fix. However, if the water is draining slowly do to a severe clog or tree root growth, you could be looking at extensive repairs. While not all problems can be prevented, there are steps you can take to ensure your plumbing stays in good condition.

Keep an eye out for any changes in how your plumbing functions. If you notice leaking, slow draining, or clogging, speak with a professional plumber as soon as possible. Additionally, refrain from flushing or disposing of things that could put your plumbing at risk. Things like grease, oil, coffee grounds, paper towels, and food, should all be disposed of properly and never thrown down the drain. Products like these can damage your pipes and create clogs that put you at risk for a failed inspection. If any problems are detected, be sure to seek the proper plumbing repairs before listing your home. This will ensure you not only pass an inspection, but also get the highest amount possible for your home.

Water Damage and Mold Growth

Another one of the reasons homes fail inspections is due to water damage. Be it from plumbing issues, roof damage, or drainage problems, water damage can quickly give you a failing grade on a home inspection. While the causes can be varied, the damage itself should be professionally repaired by a water removal specialist. If not cleaned up properly you could risk mold and mildew growth that could further sink your inspection score.

If mold or mildew is present within your home, removing it should also be completed by a professional to ensure that it is thoroughly eliminated. While it may be tempting to try and clean yourself, without the proper tools and knowledge, you could risk having the mold reemerge in the future. Residential mold cleanup services should be called in at the first sign of mold or mildew within your home.

While water damage can sometimes be unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to avoid it and by extension mold and mildew growth. Addressing any drainage issues, foundational cracks, plumbing leaks, or roofing problems can help prevent water damage before it starts, and mitigate damage before it becomes more severe.

Roofing Problems

Another of the reasons homes fail inspection is due to roofing issues. It is recommended that all homes undergo a roofing inspection once, although preferably twice, each year. Once during the spring and again before winter. This ensures that any problems are detected before the heavy rains of spring and summer and before the heavy snow of winter, both of which can cause water damage if not caught and repaired quickly.

Roofing problems are common, especially if your roof is over a decade old and hasn’t been inspected recently. In some cases, an inspection may find that your roof is beyond repair and is in need of full replacement. If this is the case, investing in a roof installation isn’t only necessary for passing your inspection but it also has the benefit of allowing you a good return on investment. This means that by replacing your roof you can increase the value of your home and potentially get more than your original asking price.

To prevent roof problems, consider getting regular inspections and undergoing repairs when needed. Not only will this help keep your roof in better condition but it will also help prevent water or pests from entering.

Pest Problems

Another of the reasons homes fail inspection is due to pest problems. Insects and rodents typically enter homes through cracks in the roof, attic, or foundation. They can also enter in gaps around windows and doors. If your home has a pest problem, you’ll quickly fail an inspection unless you rectify the issue. A pest control service can help identify the type of pests you have, as well as the points from which they are entering. They can also help prevent additional pests from getting in while removing the original issue. However, if the pests are entering due to cracks and gaps in the attic, doors, windows, or roof, you will need to address these issues to ensure you won’t have additional unwanted visitors in the future.

To prevent pest problems beforehand, it’s important to have a professional pest controller inspect your home and inform you of any potential problems they see. You should also keep trash bins away from your home, and take care to prevent food from being left out. Things like this can attract pests and create problems if you’re not careful.

Window and Door Security

As mentioned above, gaps around windows and doors can create the perfect place for pests to enter. However, they can also enable energy loss and pose a security problem. Older doors and windows are often much less secure than updated options and they offer much less insulation. This can make it easier for unsavory parties to gain entry into your home, while also helping to drive your energy bills through the roof.

Problems like these are one of the reasons homes fail inspections. Without the proper updates, you’ll have a harder time passing or finding a buyer. While you can add additional insulation around existing windows and doors, oftentimes full replacement will be your best option. Not only will it address security, energy, and pest issues, but the addition of new windows comes with a high return on investment that can add additional value to your home overall.

Window installation services often have deals on windows, allowing you to replace all of the windows in your home without having to break the bank. They will also be able to correctly install your windows to ensure that no gaps can occur. Similarly, a door specialist can advise you on the best doors for your needs, while installing them properly and securely.

HVAC Problems

HVAC problems can be one of the reasons homes fail inspection. Older systems can have a plethora of issues; if your current system is between 10 and 15 years old, it may be time to start looking into replacing it. Similarly, if your home has poor insulation, or if energy is escaping from unsealed doors and windows, you’re HVAC systems could be strained. This is due to it having to work longer and harder to regulate the temperature that is otherwise being lost through these weak points. When this occurs your system could be put at risk of premature failure and shutdown. To prevent this have an HVAC specialist take a look at your system to determine if it’s running the way it should, or if it has been working harden that is necessary.

Similarly, heating contractors can diagnose problems with your furnace and advise you on whether or not you should seek repairs or replacement. If you live in an area that experiences harsh winters, this will be essential for ensuring your home stays as comfortable and as marketable as possible.

While some issues cannot be prevented without addressing issues of energy loss and insulation, there are some things you can do to ensure that your heating and cooling system lasts for as long as possible. Change your filter regularly to prevent airflow restriction and debris from building up in your system. By far one of the most common causes of HVAC problems is unchanged filters. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest things to change and prevent.

Electrical Issues

Electrical problems are both one of the most common and potentially dangerous reasons homes fail inspections, especially older homes. If an inspector finds problems with your electrical system, it’s best to seek repairs quickly. When electrical problems exist, your home could be put at risk of fire. If you’ve noticed any power surges, flickering lights, frequent circuit breaker trips, or burning smells, don’t wait until the problem gets any worse. Known problems will not only make it harder to sell your home, but it can also pose a danger to you while you live there.

While there is no sure-fire way to prevent electrical issues, especially if you have aging wires, you should seek repairs and replacements at the first signs of trouble. Furthermore, don’t try and tackle these problems on your own, only electricians with the proper training are qualified to identify and replace electrical components. Trying to do so yourself can result in injury to you or damage to your home.

Lead Paint and Asbestos

While found more commonly in older homes built before 1960, this is one of the reasons homes fail inspections — and it is one that could be dangerous to deal with. Chipping lead can easily be inhaled, and this has been linked to developmental problems in children. High levels of exposure have likewise been linked to lead poisoning, anemia, and nervous system problems. Similarly, asbestos, once commonly used in insulation, has now been linked to various forms of cancer. If found during an inspection, professional removal services should be called immediately to ensure safety and proper disposal.

Passing Your Inspection

There are many reasons homes fail inspections, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that all problems can be rectified. In some cases, the necessary repairs may even benefit you and your safety while you are still living in your current home. Furthermore, many of the updates and replacements needed can help boost the value of your home and grant you a larger ROI overall, this means that you could even sell your home for more once everything is taken care of.

Home inspections are a necessary part of buying and selling a home and they can help identify potentially hazardous problems that could compromise the livability and integrity of a home. If you’re going to be undergoing an inspection, or if you have already failed one, consider the advice that your inspector gives you, and don’t hesitate to make the changes needed so that you can get the most out of your home when you go to sell.


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