Six Common Defects Found in Home Inspections

Home inspections can be stressful for both home sellers and home buyers.  At All Home Inspections, our specialized home inspectors cover 10 mandatory categories and look for hundreds of possible points of failure in a home.

Our careful and methodical approach removes the guesswork about the condition of a home.  With the detailed report in hand, home buyers can make an informed decision about their new home purchase.

Disclaimer:  the following information is not intended to be a comprehensive list of considerations, does not expand the scope of inspection, and does not amend or replace the California Standards of Practice (SoP) used by All Home Inspections.

Here are the six most common issues we have found that tend to show up in a home inspection:

  1. Mold and Mildew Problems

Even in new homes, mold and mildew can be a problem. Both mold and mildew are a fungus.  The spores of these fungi are all around in our environment and thrive in moist areas.  Anywhere water is leaking, pooling, or condensing, mold and mildew can grow.

But the presence of mold and mildew in a home are often secondary to some other problem, such as water intrusion from the outside, leaking pipes, weeping basements, or poorly ventilated attics and crawl spaces.  In severe cases, these harmful microorganisms can contribute to or cause structural damage and even serious health problems.

  1. Damp Crawlspaces and Basements

Basements and crawlspaces and basements, especially unfinished ones, can reveal problems during a home inspection. Basements or crawlspaces with damp walls, efflorescence, mildew, or pooling water, can be signs of anything from cracks in the foundation which allow water intrusion, deficiencies in landscaping, blocked drains or leaking pipes.

  1. Roof and Fireplace/Chimney Condition

The roof is another vulnerable weak point in many homes. There are five major elements to consider: the roofing (cover), the roof structure (framing), drainage and flashing, penetrations (venting, boot/roof jack, pipes, damage), and skylights.

For the roofing:

  • Are there missing or degraded shingles which are allowing water to get in?
  • Are the shingles showing signs at being at the end of their service life, brittle and worn, or showing undue wear?

For the structure:

  • Are there wet or rotting roof elements, growth of fungus, evidence of water intrusion, or bowing of the roof?
  • Are structural members of the roof support deflecting, over-spanned. or undersized?
  • Is there evidence which may indicate rodent infestation?

For drainage and flashing:

  • Is flashing adequate, deficient, damaged, or missing?
  • Is flashing sealant degraded or absent around the chimney or vents?

For roof penetrations:

  • Are boot jacks or vent caps adequate, deficient, damaged, or missing?

For skylights:

  • Is backer flashing, counterflashing, stepped base flashing, base flashing, and apron flashing adequate, deficient, missing, or damaged?
  • When visible, have cut joists or rafters been properly framed so that loads are transferred to adjacent intact joists or rafters?

For Fireplace and Chimney:

  • Damaged or missing brick or mortar, which may render a chimney unsafe to use or invite water intrusion into the dwelling.
  • Various other missing or damaged flashing and seals.
  • Improper clearances to combustible materials
  • Missing or damaged spark arrestor, rain cap, and chimney shroud.
  • Creosote or situations which might tend to indicate risk of pyrolysis.
  1. Plumbing and Piping Woes

As should be clear from issues #1 and #2, leaking pipes and other plumbing issues that produce standing or traveling water can cause a lot of problems. Besides mold and mildew, water damage and rot are not uncommon.

Leaking fixtures can be small problems to fix.  But if you have got an issue with your septic tank or field, or pipe interiors are corroded and near their end of service life, then that is another more costly matter.

  1. Electrical System Deficiencies

House fires caused by faulty wiring and overloading circuits is common.  It is not unusual for home inspectors to find evidence of DIY changes to a home’s electrical system, and while these changes might ‘work’, they were done improperly and cause safety issues..

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) are now required in the kitchen, bathroom, exterior outlets, garage, and laundry room.  These important safety devices sense electrical imbalance as low as 4 or 5 milliamps between the hot and neutral, and can react as quickly as 1/30th of 1 second to shut off power and avoid electrocution.  About 2 out of every 10 homes has a substantial deficiency with GFCI.

The electrical systems of homes, especially older homes, aren’t always up to the needs of the house as well as being up to code. During the inspection, appliances and wiring is assessed.  Old wiring, or just sloppy wiring by contractors, is a common issue with homes when it comes to electrical safety.

Numerous electrical service panelboards are now at the end of their service life, and some are known to have serious safety deficiencies which should be addressed.

  1. HVAC havoc

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), are expensive to replace.  Most homeowners fail to perform adequate maintenance of their home’s HVAC equipment. Dirty condenser coils on the air conditioner condenser unit stresses the equipment and dirty furnace filters, to name just a few problems, can lead to costly repairs.


The equipment may be at or near its life expectancy and need to be replaced. Gas-fired furnaces may not burn properly or have cracks which release carbon monoxide into living areas.


With proper maintenance, an HVAC system can continue to heat and cool the house, but many times heating and cooling systems are “out of sight out of mind.”

This is a sampling of typical issues found during a home inspection. These items may vary depending on the geographical location of the property and the overall maintenance of the property

All Home Inspections provides prompt and in-depth inspection in Arden Park, Sacramento, West Sacramento, Folsom, Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks, Orangevale, Carmichael, El Dorado Hills, Roseville, and Rocklin.  If you have any questions about home inspections, then call us at 916-333-0540.  We will help answer any questions you have and provide next day service on most home inspections.  If you are ready for a home inspection, then you can also schedule an online appointment.