What to Check Before Calling a House Inspector

Buying a home is the largest investment most people make in their lives. It can seem like an overwhelming and stressful experience. However, with the right knowledge, you can make an informed, intelligent decision.

Don't let a nice paint job and beautiful presentation distract you from a home's hidden issues. Maybe behind that paint is a sturdy house with manageable, reasonable quirks, but maybe not. Arm yourself with a comprehensive checklist of items to check before you even call a home inspector.


  • Taste the water from different faucets. This will help you identify possible hidden problems.
  • Check the drains. Fill all of the sinks and tubs and start a load of laundry. Make sure that everything drains properly and that the plumbing system can handle the heavy load.
  • Check all fixtures. Are there cracks in the toilet, tub, or any of the sinks? What do the faucets look like? Check surrounding areas for mould and caulk in disrepair.
  • Flush all of the toilets multiple times. You should actually use each toilet before you buy a home.
  • Pay attention to any odours throughout the house. Your sense of smell could be your greatest ally in your personal inspection.
  • If you suspect there are any problems but you can't find them. Don't hesitate to call a plumber, even if the current owners have already performed a home inspection. It never hurts to have someone on your side check it out.


  • Check for water marks or other signs of leaking on the outside walls.
  • Check for damp carpet or dust rings.
  • Look for any dehumidifiers or other devices for eliminating moisture.
  • Consider peeling up the edges of the carpet and looking for mould underneath.

Heating & Air Conditioning

  • Visually inspect all systems.
  • Turn on the air conditioning system and listen for any worrisome noises. Check out it works in each room.
  • Repeat this process with the heating system.
  • Test the hot water in each room. Flush the toilet while the shower is on. Ask about the capacity of the water heater.
  • Manipulate the thermostat.
  • Light a fire in the fireplace and check the chimney and ventilation.


  • Visually inspect the insulation. Without a thermo-graphic insulation test or ripping out an entire wall, it is impossible to check if insulation is present throughout the house. However, you can check for basic insulation.
    • Pick an exterior wall and turn off the circuit breaker for the outlets in that wall.
    • Plug in an electric device to check if the power is out on the outlet before proceeding.
    • Remove the cover plate.
    • Use a plastic crochet hook to probe into the insulation on either side. You will get a small sample of the insulation.
  • Beyond that simple test, it is best to hire an inspector.


  • Check out the electrical panel. Ideally, the panel should be labelled. Look for loose, frayed, or disconnected wires.
  • Count the outlets in each room and make sure they all work.
  • Ask about ground fault circuit interrupters for the kitchen and bathroom.

Surrounding Land

  • The ground should slope away from the foundation for drainage.
  • Check for any sunken ground around the yard.
  • Check sprinkler system to make sure it works and does not show signs of rust or disrepair.
  • Check the deck and porch for signs of decay, termite damage, rot, mould, etc. Porches should have solid foundations.
  • Check for cracks or sunken areas in driveway.

Ceiling, Floors, and Walls

  • Look for any signs of water damage. Check drywall for mould, water stains, cracks, etc.
  • Walk around the floors and pay attention to any weak or spongy areas. Make sure all of the floors are level.
  • Check carpet quality. Is any of it fraying? Are there stains? Does it look worn? Are there any bug infestations? Ask when it was last replaced.
  • Check out the flooring in the kitchen/bathroom. What type of flooring did the previous owners install? Tile? Hardwood? Laminate? Look for stains, scuffs, and signs of wear and tear. Ask when it was last repaired, and ask about the typical maintenance routine.

Go through this checklist and don't be afraid to call in a professional from Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating when you need one. It is better to invest in proper inspections than to purchase a home and discover the issues later.

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