Home Inspectors Look for in St. Louis Homes
Investing in a professional home inspection is crucial for understanding the true condition of any St. Louis property you’re considering. Home inspectors in St. Louis know exactly what potential issues to look for in the area that could turn into expensive problems. Here’s an overview of the top things inspectors closely evaluate when examining St. Louis homes.
St. Louis lies in a zone of seismic risk, so inspectors check for structural integrity and earthquake preparedness. They look for foundation cracks or shifts that could indicate instability. Reinforced framing in walls and bracing on water heaters and tall furniture to prevent tip-overs is important. Chimneys should be well-secured. Homes built before 1994 when seismic codes were adopted need retrofits.
Inspectors examine roofs closely since they take a beating from Missouri’s extreme weather. They look for damaged, curling, or missing shingles and degraded rubber boots around vents. Stains on ceilings can indicate leaks. Older roofs near the end of their useful life may need full replacement. Flashing details around chimneys and valleys should be robust.
Proper attic ventilation is crucial in St. Louis’ humid climate. Inspectors check for adequate intake vents at the roof eave and exhaust vents at the ridge. This air circulation prevents moisture buildup. Insulation baffles around vents keep air flowing freely into the attic. Lack of ventilation causes mold, rot, and other moisture damage.
Inspectors evaluate the lay of the land around the home checking for proper drainage. They look for sloping yards, with downspouts emptying several feet from the foundation. Low spots or negative grades toward the house can lead to wet basements. Water should flow away from the home on all sides.
Basements take a beating in St. Louis, so inspectors check for past or ongoing moisture infiltration. Signs include efflorescence on walls, mold, musty smells, and stained carpets. They look for CPVC sump pumps and adequate ground slopes around window wells. Battery backup pumps provide protection when the power fails.
Old, corroded plumbing is a common issue in older city homes. Inspectors check under sinks for leaks, loose fittings, and corrosion. Showers, tubs, and toilets are run to check for proper drainage. Water pressure and hot water recovery times are noted. Signs of past leaks like water stains on walls or ceilings raise concerns.
From old knob-and-tube wiring to overloaded circuits, electrical issues are common. Inspectors check for sufficient amperage, grounding, and safely enclosed wiring. Aluminum wiring requires special precautions. They also look for GFCI outlets within 6 feet of water sources and arc fault breakers. The electrical panel should not have any empty breaker slots.
Inspectors thoroughly assess furnace age, type, and performance. Old systems often lack efficiency and proper venting. They check for sufficient airflow in heating and AC modes. Filters should be clean and ductwork well-sealed. Smart thermostats indicate upgrades for energy savings.
Poor insulation makes for costly energy bills and discomfort. Inspectors evaluate insulation levels in walls, attics, and crawlspaces. Wall insulation often settles over time. Attics should have 10-14 inches of batt or blown-in insulation. Foam seals around openings prevent air leakage.
Windows takes abuse from the elements. Inspectors check for loose frames, broken seals, worn weather tripping, and the presence of safety glazing on glass near doors. Condensation between panes indicates insulated glass seal failure. Opening and closing windows tests operation.
Inspectors look for signs of termites, carpenter ants, cockroaches, mice, and other unwelcome visitors. Mud tubes on the foundation, droppings, and wood damage suggest termite activity. Bait traps and poison baits should be kept away from pets and children.
Working smoke and CO detectors, updated fire extinguishers, and strategic placement are vital. Inspectors also check the fireplace damper operation and watch for creosote buildup in the flue. They ensure handrails feel securely fastened.
Inspectors check appliances for functionality, wear, and age. They ensure ovens, ranges, dishwashers, and refrigerators work properly and don’t show rust, leaks, or damage. As a rule of thumb, most major appliances last 10-15 years before needing replacement.
The EPA lists the St. Louis region as zone 1 for the highest radon risk. Inspectors use passive test kits to screen for this radioactive gas that enters homes from surrounding soils and bedrock. Long-term exposure causes lung cancer.
Homes built before 1978 may contain lead paint, a major health hazard, especially for kids. Inspectors test suspect painted surfaces. Full lead risk assessments may be recommended. Removal requires an EPA-certified contractor.
These key areas give inspectors insight into the overall quality, safety, upgrades, and repairs needed in St. Louis area homes. Addressing issues discovered leads to improved comfort, savings, and value for your new home.