Ask The Inspector
Q: What areas and appliances will my home inspector check in the kitchen?
The kitchen is a room where nearly all major home systems — mechanical, electrical, and plumbing — come together. As in the bathroom and laundry area, the presence of plumbing in the kitchen makes it one room that home owners should routinely examine for leaks.
During a general home inspection, your inspector will examine the condition and functionality of many kitchen components, including the interiors of doors and windows. Your inspector will also check the countertops, cabinets and drawers, which is a good way to spot past damage. At the same time, the inspector will make note of missing drawer pulls and the operation of the sliding mechanisms.
If the dishwasher is built-in, then your home inspector will run it and check for leaks. Issues with the kitchen sink are common at pipe connections and under the basket strainer. Leaks may also appear on the countertop between the sink and wall if water has had a chance to pool behind the faucet and seep under the surface. Also, extendable sprayers and faucets are common sites for leaking and other issues.
The kitchen is generally the room with the most electrical outlets in the home. Your home inspector will check a representative number of outlets to be sure that they are grounded and wired properly. In addition, ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets are needed in the kitchen near the sink, so your inspector will note whether these are present and functioning correctly.
Prevent Appliance Fires
Preventing appliance fires comes down to proper planning and maintenance. This is especially true for the kitchen, which contains many appliances that without proper care could pose a hazard. To limit future problems, there are a few things every homeowner can do:
- Have an Expert Look at Wiring – Have an electrician or home inspector check your wiring to see whether it can handle your household’s demand. These professionals can also look for faulty appliances and other problems.
- Check for Recalls – Sometimes avoiding a problem means being proactive. Appliances are often recalled by the Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) and posted on websites, like www.CPSC.gov and www.recalls.gov. Check these websites now and again to see if your appliance has been recalled. You can also register your new appliances with the manufacturer. If there is a recall, the manufacturer is obligated to let you know immediately.
- Be Careful in the Kitchen – Some problems are caused by the misuse of appliances. Keep small children and pets away from hot surfaces, and never leave cooking unattended. Be sure to keep rags, plastic bags and other flammable materials away from the cooking range. Also, unplug small appliances while not in use.
Kitchen fires are not only common, they make up approximately half of all household fires in the United States every year. Enlist the help of experts and make kitchen safety a priority in your home.
Snapshots From The Field
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
- The drain stopper pivot rod is installed backward.
- Flex piping is used on drain pipes to make them easier to install.
- Accordion-style PVC drain pipes are not recommended.
- A and C.
Correct Answer D.The drain stopper pivot arm is installed backward, so the sink will not drain properly. In addition, although it makes installation easier, accordion-style PVC is not recommended for drain pipes, as it tends to clog faster and require more maintenance.
Add Curb Appeal To Your Home
Some of the most impactful home improvements are simple and easy to implement. This is why making a few upgrades creates opportunities when you’re selling a home. A little elbow grease and some bright colors can improve the look of the exterior of a house and improve the likelihood of a quick sale.
To show off a home, clean up and clean out. Make sure the lawn is mowed and edged, and overgrowth has been cleared. Sweeping the porch and walkway can make a big difference too. Also, touching up any faded or chipped paint is important, especially for the front of the house and garage.
Potted plants can make an impact with bright and vibrant foliage on a front porch or deck. Toward late summer and early fall, many of the potted plants drop drastically in price, making it inexpensive to add new color. Many hardy plants, including mums, will last well into fall with appropriate care.
If you’re putting your house on the market, or simply sprucing it up, you can make it look like new for little cost. Look into simple home improvement projects to make your home standout in your neighborhood.
Proper Maintenance For Electrical Systems
Taking care of electrical problems starts with proper maintenance. There are some common wiring issues that can be checked for proper functioning, especially concerning outlets. Here are some problems to be on the lookout for:
- Reverse polarity is simply an outlet that is wired backwards. Certain colored wires must be attached to the correct screws and problems can arise if this isn’t the case.
- Ungrounded outlets don’t allow excess electricity to flow safely or limit static electricity buildup for electronics. Any modern three-prong outlet should be grounded, although they often aren’t.
- Ground Fault Interruption Outlets (GFIs) are placed in rooms like the kitchen and bathroom and automatically shut off when a small ground fault is detected. These outlets can restrict shock hazards and should be installed in water-intensive areas.
A qualified inspector or electrician should be called to see if there are any problems with your outlets. With some simple maintenance and periodic testing, your outlets should provide safe electricity throughout your home.
Did You Know?
What’s a Kilowatt and Kilowatt Hour?
Each month, your electric bill shows how much you are charged for kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity — simply, how much energy you use per hour in your home. Watts are a unit of power, and one kilowatt (kW) equals 1,000 watts. The average price for electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kWh. Here are some common household appliances and how much energy they consume per hour on average:
- Ceiling fan: 0.075 kWh per hour
- Central air conditioning unit (3 ton/12 SEER): 3.0 kWh per hour
- Electric furnace: 10.5 kWh per hour
- ENERGY STAR frost-free refrigerator (17 cu. ft.): 73.0 kWh per month
- Washing machine (hot wash/ warm rinse): 73.0 kWh per month
- Television (40–49-inch LCD): 0.4 kWh per hour
- Laptop computer: 0.02 to 0.05 kWh per hour
- DVR recorder: 28.8 kWh per month
- Xbox 360 gaming system: 0.15 kWh per hour
Sources: duke-energy.com, solaroregon.org, npr.org
Monthly Trivia Question
What are Phantom Loads?
- Electronics and appliances that consume power when they are turned off but still plugged in.
- Residual or unused energy that can be re-purposed to power electronics and appliances.
- The energy stored in electronics and appliances after they are unplugged.
- Warnings on electronic devices that indicate they need to be charged or plugged in.
Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbuck’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.