Some of the protective items you bring on inspections are pretty common sense – gloves, flashlights, coveralls, etc. But some aren’t, and they can protect you and your client from injury, or potentially worse – a lawsuit. Inspector Outlet offers “Danger” signs that can be used to alert passersby to hazardous situations, such as an opened crawl space in which you can fall into. There are some novel techniques that use ordinary equipment, too – such as placing a road cone behind your car so that no one will park too close behind and make it hard for you to remove your ladder without banging someone in the head with it. Our new article on inspector safety equipment covers the basics and more.
Newer ranges are light enough that it doesn’t take much weight to cause them to tip over, but they’re heavy enough to injure or kill small children trapped beneath. Hot items on the stovetop, too, can burn or scald anyone who accidentally tips the range over. Anti-tip brackets can prevent this from happening and they are required by UL standards but they aren’t installed in a huge portion of ranges. Inspectors should know how to check for brackets and what to tell the client if none are found. Check out our new article on anti-tip brackets for ranges to find out more about these safety devices and why they are so valuable.
When homes lose too much air pressure due to exhaust fans and other appliances it becomes possible for backdrafting to occur. This is a common way for dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide to enter the living space unnoticed and harm or kill the occupants. Luckily, it is sometimes possible to test for backdrafting. To find out more about how it happens and how inspectors can test for it, check out our new article on backdrafting for inspectors.
Grounding electrodes are essential safety measures in every home, but even if they’re there it doesn’t mean that they will work if they are needed. Water pipe electrodes are particularly prone to failing because plumbers sometimes replace metal portions with nonconductive plastic pipes and nothing is done to correct the grounding system. Take a look at our new article on home service grounding electrodes to find out more about the different types you might encounter and how they work.
Pool fencing is not a subject that is most inspectors know much about, and most don’t include it in their services. It’s a good idea to learn the basic requirements of pool fencing, however, since many children are killed due fences that are not built to code. Take a look at our new article on outdoor pool barriers to find out more about how they should be constructed.
Home Inspections and Safety Issues
The Home Can Be A Dangerous Place!
There are many systems and pieces of equipment in a home that can cause injury or even death if not respected and maintained. These items include mechanical appliances such as garage doors, combustible equipment such as gas furnaces and fireplaces, pressurized equipment such as water heaters, electrical equipment, trip and fall hazards such as improper stairways, safety glass, firewalls, and many more.
Some safety items can be very serious. A improperly installed TPR (temperature and pressure relief) valve or TPR drain line on a water heater could result in the water heater exploding. Faulty electrical wiring or electrical grounding could result in electrocution or fire. Others items such as the picket spacing on a railing may be of less concern if the home owner has no children living or visiting the home.
Some safety items may not have been known issues or required by building standards when the home was built. Other items such as asbestos or lead may have been installed without any knowledge of the safety issues. Improvements in home construction, upgrades in building standards, innovative new equipment and just plain experience in the housing construction has resulted in home safety constantly changing and improving.
Your home inspection may reference some of these safety items and make recommendations for maintenance, further evaluation, repair or upgrades. Many of these recommendations are just that, recommendations. Older homes are not required to upgrade to newer building standards. It is a home owner’s decision on whether to upgrade and what safety upgrades they choose to implement. Keep in mind that safety items are concerns. There is a risk involved in not implementing repairs or upgrades. No home can be 100% safe but, ultimately, each individual must determine the amount of risk they are willing to assume for themselves and their family.
J. Christopher Weise
Atlanta Home Inspector
J. Christopher is an InterNACHI member with 25+ Years Designing and Building Residential and Light Commercial Buildings, and 20+ Years in Property Management and Maintenance. He is also certified by the International Code Council (ICC).
If you would like to know more about septic system maintenance and inspection, feel free to take a look at our new article called Inspecting Septic Systems. There, you will find out how a septic tank can be located, maintenance tips, safety precautions, and links to other informational resources.
I hope you find this helpful,
Check out my latest article on dryer vent safety. In it you will find information about appropriate vent materials, warning signs, relevant IRC code, and dryer fire frequency statistics.
I hope this is useful to you!