Standards of Practice for a Home Energy Inspection

Last revised October 2017

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Table of Contents     


1. Definitions and Scope

2. Limitations, Exceptions & Exclusions
 
3. Standards of Practice
3.1.   Exterior
3.2.   Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace & Structure
3.3.   Heating
3.4.   Cooling
3.5.   Plumbing
3.6    Fireplace

3.7.   Attic, Insulation & Ventilation 
3.8.   Doors, Windows & Interior

4. Glossary of Terms

 

1. Definitions and Scope

1.1.  A home energy inspection is a non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property (as delineated below). It is designed to provide a list of recommended energy improvements to encourage investments by homeowners that may increase the energy efficiency and comfort of the house. The home energy inspection is based on the observations made on the date of the inspection, and not a prediction of future conditions.
 
1.2  Accreditation. The individual who performs a home energy inspection must be a trained and certified member in good standing of InterNACHI. Certification requirements are described at www.nachi.org/home-energy-inspector.
 

1.3  Non-Diagnostic Inspection and Report. The home energy inspection is not equivalent to a comprehensive home energy audit, home energy assessment, or home energy rating, which require the use of a diagnostic tool, such as a combustion analyzer, blower door or infrared camera.

The inspector is required to produce a report for their client that describes the observations made on the date of the inspection. The inspector may use a reporting software to produce a report for their client, but this is not required. The InterNACHI Home Energy Report™, a web-based software available online at www.nachi.org/home-energy-report, and functions on U.S. housing stock only. 

1.4  Discussion with Client. The inspector may provide his/her client with a general explanation of the home energy inspection process. The inspector may also discuss issues regarding home energy efficiency.

 

2. Limitations, Exceptions & Exclusions

2.1. Limitations:

  1. The inspection is not technically exhaustive.
  2. The inspection will not identify concealed or latent defects. 
  3. The inspection will not deal with aesthetic concerns or what could be deemed matters of taste, cosmetic defects, etc. 
  4. The inspection will not determine the suitability of the property for any use. 
  5. The inspection will not determine the market value of the property or its marketability.
  6. The inspection will not determine the insurability of the property. 
  7. The inspection will not determine the advisability or inadvisability of the purchase of the inspected property. 
  8. The inspection will not determine the life expectancy of the property or any components or systems therein. 
  9. The inspection will not include items not permanently installed. 
  10. These Standards of Practice apply only to properties with four or fewer residential units.

2.2. Exclusions:

I. The inspector is not required to determine:

  1. property boundary lines or encroachments.
  2. the condition of any component or system that is not readily accessible. 
  3. the service life expectancy of any component or system. 
  4. the size, capacity, BTU, performance or efficiency of any component or system. 
  5. the cause of or reason for any condition. 
  6. the cause for the need of repair or replacement of any system or component. 
  7. future conditions. 
  8. compliance with codes or regulations. 
  9. the presence of evidence of rodents, birds, animals, insects, or other pests. 
  10. the presence of mold, mildew or fungus.
  11. the presence of airborne hazards, including radon. 
  12. the air quality. 
  13. the existence of environmental hazards, including lead paint, asbestos or toxic drywall.
  14. the existence of electromagnetic fields. 
  15. any hazardous waste conditions. 
  16. any manufacturers' recalls or conformance with manufacturer installation, or any information included for purposes of consumer protection.
  17. acoustical properties.
  18. replacement or repair cost estimates. 
  19. estimates of the cost to operate any given system.

II. The inspector is not required to operate:

  1. any system that is shut down.
  2. any system that does not function properly. 
  3. or evaluate low-voltage electrical systems such as, but not limited to: phone lines, cable lines, satellite dishes, antennae, lights or remote controls.
  4. any system that does not turn on with the use of normal operating controls. 
  5. any shut-off valves or manual stop valves. 
  6. any electrical disconnect or over-current protection devices. 
  7. any alarm systems. 
  8. moisture meters, gas detectors, or similar equipment.

III. The inspector is not required to:

  1. move any personal items or other obstructions, such as, but not limited to:  throw rugs, carpeting, wall coverings, furniture, ceiling tiles, window coverings, equipment, plants, ice, debris, snow, water, dirt, pets, or anything else that might restrict the visual inspection.
  2. dismantle, open or uncover any system or component.
  3. enter or access any area that may, in the opinion of the inspector, be unsafe. 
  4. enter crawlspaces or other areas that may be unsafe or not readily accessible. 
  5. inspect underground items, such as, but not limited to: lawn-irrigation systems, or underground storage tanks (whether abandoned or actively used) or indications of their presence.
  6. do anything which may, in the inspector's opinion, be unsafe or dangerous to the inspector or others, or damage property, such as, but not limited to: walking on roof surfaces, climbing ladders, entering attic spaces, or negotiating with pets. 
  7. inspect decorative items. 
  8. inspect common elements or areas in multi-unit housing. 
  9. inspect intercoms, speaker systems, or security systems.
  10. offer guarantees or warranties. 
  11. offer or perform any engineering services. 
  12. offer or perform any trade or professional service other than a home energy inspection. 
  13. research the history of the property or report on its potential for alteration, modification, extendability or suitability for a specific or proposed use for occupancy. 
  14. determine the age of construction or installation of any system, structure or component, or differentiate between original construction and subsequent additions, improvements, renovations or replacements. 
  15. determine the insurability of the property.
  16. perform or offer Phase 1 or environmental audits.
  17. inspect any system or component that is not included in these Standards.

3. Standards of Practice

 
 
3.1. Exterior
 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the exterior wall-covering material, flashing and trim;
  2. all exterior doors;
  3. adjacent walkways and driveways;
  4. stairs, steps, stoops, stairways and ramps;
  5. porches, patios, decks, balconies and carports;
  6. railings, guards and handrails;
  7. the eaves, soffits and fascia;
  8. a representative number of windows; and
  9. vegetation, surface drainage, retaining walls and grading of the property, where they may adversely affect the structure due to moisture intrusion. 
II. The inspector is not required to:
  1. open, close or inspect screens, storm windows, shutters, awnings, fences, outbuildings, or exterior accent lighting.
  2. inspect items that are not visible or readily accessible from the ground, including window and door flashing. 
  3. inspect or identify geological, geotechnical, hydrological or soil conditions. 
  4. inspect recreational facilities or playground equipment. 
  5. inspect seawalls, breakwalls or docks. 
  6. inspect erosion-control or earth-stabilization measures. 
  7. inspect for safety-type glass. 
  8. inspect underground utilities. 
  9. inspect underground items. 
  10. inspect wells or springs. 
  11. inspect solar, wind or geothermal systems. 
  12. inspect swimming pools or spas. 
  13. inspect wastewater-treatment systems, septic systems or cesspools. 
  14. inspect irrigation or sprinkler systems. 
  15. inspect drainfields or dry wells. 
  16. determine the integrity of multiple-pane window glazing or thermal window seals.
 
 
3.2. Basement, Foundation, Crawlspace & Structure
 
I. The inspector shall inspect:
 
  1. the foundation;
  2. the basement;
  3. the crawlspace; and
  4. structural components.

II. The inspector is not required to:

  1. enter any crawlspace that is not readily accessible or where entry could cause damage or pose a hazard to the inspector.
  2. move stored items or debris. 
  3. operate sump pumps with inaccessible floats. 
  4. identify the size, spacing, span or location or determine the adequacy of foundation bolting, bracing, joists, joist spans or support systems. 
  5. provide any engineering or architectural service. 
  6. report on the adequacy of any structural system or component.
 
 
3.3. Heating
 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the heating system using normal operating controls; and
  2. the heating method.

II. The inspector is not required to:

  1. inspect or evaluate the interior of flues or chimneys, fire chambers, heat exchangers, combustion-air systems, fresh-air intakes, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, electronic air filters, geothermal systems, or solar heating systems.
  2. inspect fuel tanks or underground or concealed fuel-supply systems. 
  3. determine the uniformity, temperature, flow, balance, distribution, size, capacity, BTU, or supply adequacy of the heating system. 
  4. light or ignite pilot flames. 
  5. activate heat pump systems or other heating systems when the ambient temperature or other circumstances are not conducive to its safe operation or may damage the equipment. 
  6. over-ride electronic thermostats. 
  7. evaluate fuel quality.
  8. verify thermostat calibration, heat anticipation, or automatic setbacks, timers, programs or clocks.
 
 
3.4. Cooling
 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the central cooling equipment using normal operating controls; and
  2. the cooling method.

II. The inspector is not required to:

  1. determine the uniformity, temperature, flow, balance, distribution, size, capacity, BTU, or supply adequacy of the cooling system.
  2. inspect window units, through-wall units, or electronic air filters. 
  3. operate equipment or systems if the exterior temperature is below 65° Fahrenheit, or when other circumstances are not conducive to its safe operation or may damage the equipment. 
  4. inspect or determine thermostat calibration, cooling anticipation, or automatic setbacks or clocks. 
  5. examine electrical current, coolant fluids or gases, or coolant leakage.
 
 
3.5. Plumbing
 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. the main water supply shut-off valve;
  2. the main fuel supply shut-off valve;
  3. the water heating equipment, including the energy source, venting connections, temperature/pressure-relief (TPR) valves, Watts 210 valves, and seismic bracing;
  4. interior water supply, including all fixtures and faucets, by running the water;
  5. all toilets for proper operation by flushing;
  6. all sinks, tubs and showers for functional drainage;
  7. the drain, waste and vent system; and
  8. drainage sump pumps with accessible floats.

II. The inspector is not required to:

  1. light or ignite pilot flames.
  2. determine the size, temperature, age, life expectancy or adequacy of the water heater. 
  3. inspect the interior of flues or chimneys, combustion-air systems, water softener or filtering systems, well pumps or tanks, safety or shut-off valves, floor drains, lawn sprinkler systems, or fire sprinkler systems. 
  4. determine the exact flow rate, volume, pressure, temperature or adequacy of the water supply. 
  5. determine the water quality, potability or reliability of the water supply or source. 
  6. open sealed plumbing access panels. 
  7. inspect clothes washing machines or their connections. 
  8. operate any valve.
  9. test shower pans, or tub and shower surrounds or enclosures for leakage or functional overflow protection. 
  10. evaluate the compliance with conservation, energy or building standards, or the proper design or sizing of any water, waste or venting components, fixtures or piping. 
  11. determine the effectiveness of anti-siphon, back-flow prevention or drain-stop devices. 
  12. determine whether there are sufficient cleanouts for effective cleaning of drains. 
  13. evaluate fuel-storage tanks or supply systems.
  14. inspect wastewater-treatment systems.
  15. inspect water-treatment systems or water filters. 
  16. inspect water-storage tanks, pressure pumps, or bladder tanks. 
  17. evaluate wait-time to obtain hot water at fixtures, or perform testing of any kind on water heater elements. 
  18. evaluate or determine the adequacy of combustion air. 
  19. test, operate, open or close safety controls, manual stop valves and/or temperature- or pressure-relief valves. 
  20. examine ancillary systems or components, such as, but not limited to those related to solar water heating and hot-water circulation.
  21. determine the existence or condition of polybutylene plumbing.
 
 
3.6. Fireplace
 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

  1. readily accessible and visible portions of the fireplaces and chimneys;
  2. lintels above fireplace openings;
  3. damper doors by opening and closing them, if readily accessible and manually operable; and
  4. cleanout doors and frames.
II. The inspector is not required to:
  1. inspect the flue or vent system.
  2. inspect the interior of chimneys or flues, fire doors or screens, seals or gaskets, or mantels. 
  3. determine the need for a chimney sweep. 
  4. operate gas fireplace inserts. 
  5. light pilot flames. 
  6. determine the appropriateness of any installation. 
  7. inspect automatic fuel-feed devices. 
  8. inspect combustion and/or make-up air devices. 
  9. inspect heat-distribution assists, whether gravity-controlled or fan-assisted. 
  10. ignite or extinguish fires. 
  11. determine the adequacy of drafts or draft characteristics. 
  12. move fireplace inserts, stoves or firebox contents. 
  13. perform a smoke test.
  14. dismantle or remove any component.
  15. perform a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)-style inspection.
  16. perform a Phase I fireplace and chimney inspection. 
 
 
3.7. Attic, Insulation & Ventilation
 

I. The inspector shall inspect:

    1. insulation in unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas;
    2. ventilation of unfinished spaces, including attics, crawlspaces and foundation areas; and
    3. mechanical exhaust systems in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry area.

    II. The inspector is not required to:

    1. enter the attic or any unfinished spaces that are not readily accessible, or where entry could cause damage or, in the inspector's opinion, pose a safety hazard.
    2. move, touch or disturb insulation. 
    3. move, touch or disturb vapor retarders. 
    4. break or otherwise damage the surface finish or weather seal on or around access panels or covers. 
    5. identify the composition or R-value of insulation material. 
    6. activate thermostatically operated fans. 
    7. determine the types of materials used in insulation or wrapping of pipes, ducts, jackets, boilers or wiring.
    8. determine the adequacy of ventilation.
     
     
    3.8. Doors, Windows & Interior
     
    I. The inspector shall inspect:
     
    1. a representative number of doors and windows by opening and closing them;
    2. floors, walls and ceilings;
    3. stairs, steps, landings, stairways and ramps;
    4. railings, guards and handrails; and
    5. garage vehicle doors and the operation of garage vehicle door openers, using normal operating controls.

    II. The inspector is not required to:

    1. inspect paint, wallpaper, window treatments or finish treatments.
    2. inspect central vacuum systems. 
    3. inspect for safety glazing. 
    4. inspect security systems or components. 
    5. evaluate the fastening of islands, countertops, cabinets, sink tops or fixtures. 
    6. move furniture, stored items, or any coverings, such as carpets or rugs, in order to inspect the concealed floor structure. 
    7. move suspended-ceiling tiles. 
    8. inspect or move any household appliances. 
    9. inspect or operate equipment housed in the garage, except as otherwise noted. 
    10. verify or certify proper operation of any pressure-activated auto-reverse or related safety feature of a garage door. 
    11. operate or evaluate any security bar release and opening mechanisms, whether interior or exterior, including their compliance with local, state or federal standards. 
    12. operate any system, appliance or component that requires the use of special keys, codes, combinations or devices. 
    13. operate or evaluate self-cleaning oven cycles, tilt guards/latches, or signal lights. 
    14. inspect microwave ovens or test for leakage from microwave ovens. 
    15. operate or examine any sauna or steam-generating equipment, kiln, toaster, ice maker, coffee maker, can opener, bread warmer, blender, instant hot-water dispenser, or other small, ancillary appliances or devices. 
    16. inspect elevators. 
    17. inspect remote controls. 
    18. inspect items not permanently installed.
    19. discover firewall compromises. 
    20. inspect pools, spas or fountains.
    21. determine the adequacy of whirlpool or spa jets, water force, or bubble features. 
    22. determine the structural integrity or leakage of pools or spas.

     

    4. Glossary of Terms

    • accessible:  In the opinion of the inspector, can be approached or entered safely, without difficulty, fear or danger.
    • activate:  To turn on, supply power, or enable systems, equipment or devices to become active by normal operating controls. Examples include turning on the gas or water supply valves to the fixtures and appliances, and activating electrical breakers or fuses.
    • adversely affect:  To constitute, or potentially constitute, a negative or destructive impact.
    • alarm system:  Warning devices, installed or freestanding, including, but not limited to: carbon-monoxide detectors, flue gas and other spillage detectors, security equipment, ejector pumps, and smoke alarms.
    • appliance:  A household device operated by the use of electricity or gas. Not included in this definition are components covered under central heating, central cooling or plumbing.
    • architectural service:  Any practice involving the art and science of building design for construction of any structure or grouping of structures, and the use of space within and surrounding the structures or the design, design development, preparation of construction contract documents, and administration of the construction contract.
    • component:  A permanently installed or attached fixture, element or part of a system.
    • condition:  The visible and conspicuous state of being of an object.
    • correction:  Something that is substituted or proposed for what is incorrect, deficient, unsafe, or a defect.
    • cosmetic defect:  An irregularity or imperfection in something, which could be corrected, but is not required.
    • crawlspace:  The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the lowest floor's structural component.
    • decorative:  Ornamental; not required for the operation of essential systems or components of a home.
    • describe:  To report in writing a system or component by its type or other observed characteristics in order to distinguish it from other components used for the same purpose.
    • determine:  To arrive at an opinion or conclusion pursuant to examination.
    • dismantle:  To open, take apart or remove any component, device or piece that would not typically be opened, taken apart or removed by an ordinary occupant.
    • engineering service:  Any professional service or creative work requiring engineering education, training and experience, and the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences to such professional service or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning, design and supervision of construction for the purpose of assuring compliance with the specifications and design, in conjunction with structures, buildings, machines, equipment, works and/or processes.
    • enter:  To go into an area to observe visible components.
    • evaluate:  To assess the systems, structures and/or components of a property.
    • evidence:  (noun form) That which tends to prove or disprove something; something that makes plain or clear; ground for belief; proof.
    • examine:  To visually look (see inspect).
    • foundation:  The base upon which the structure or wall rests, usually masonry, concrete or stone, and generally partially underground.
    • function:  The action for which an item, component or system is specially fitted or used, or for which an item, component or system exists; to be in action or perform a task.
    • functional:  Performing, or able to perform, a function.
    • functional defect:  A lack of or an abnormality in something that is necessary for normal and proper functioning and operation, and, therefore, requires further evaluation and correction.
    • general home inspection:  The process by which an inspector visually examines the readily accessible systems and components of a home and operates those systems and components utilizing these Standards of Practice as a guideline.
    • home inspection:  See general home inspection.
    • household appliances:  Kitchen and laundry appliances, room air conditioners, and similar appliances.
    • identify:  To notice and report.
    • indication:  (noun form) That which serves to point out, show, or make known the present existence of something under certain conditions.
    • inspect:  To examine readily accessible systems and components safely, using normal operating controls, and accessing readily accessible areas, in accordance with these Standards of Practice.
    • inspected property:  The readily accessible areas of the buildings, site, items, components and systems included in the inspection.
    • inspection report:  A written communication (possibly including images) of any material defects observed during the inspection.
    • inspector:  One who performs a real estate inspection.
    • installed:  Attached or connected such that the installed item requires a tool for removal.
    • material defect:  A specific issue with a system or component of a residential property that may have a significant, adverse impact on the value of the property, or that poses an unreasonable risk to people.  The fact that a system or component is near, at or beyond the end of its normal useful life is not, in itself, a material defect.
    • normal operating controls:  Describes the method by which certain devices (such as thermostats) can be operated by ordinary occupants, as they require no specialized skill or knowledge.
    • observe:  To visually notice.
    • operate:  To cause systems to function or turn on with normal operating controls.
    • readily accessible:  A system or component that, in the judgment of the inspector, is capable of being safely observed without the removal of obstacles, detachment or disengagement of connecting or securing devices, or other unsafe or difficult procedures to gain access.
    • recreational facilities:  Spas, saunas, steam baths, swimming pools, tennis courts, playground equipment, and other exercise, entertainment and athletic facilities.
    • report:  (verb form) To express, communicate or provide information in writing; give a written account of.  (See also inspection report.)
    • representative number:  A number sufficient to serve as a typical or characteristic example of the item(s) inspected.
    • residential property:  Four or fewer residential units.
    • residential unit:  A home; a single unit providing complete and independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.
    • safety glazing:  Tempered glass, laminated glass, or rigid plastic.
    • shut down:  Turned off, unplugged, inactive, not in service, not operational, etc.
    • structural component:  A component that supports non-variable forces or weights (dead loads) and variable forces or weights (live loads).
    • system:  An assembly of various components which function as a whole.
    • technically exhaustive:  A comprehensive and detailed examination beyond the scope of a real estate home inspection that would involve or include, but would not be limited to:  dismantling, specialized knowledge or training, special equipment, measurements, calculations, testing, research, analysis, or other means.
    • unsafe:  In the inspector's opinion, a condition of an area, system, component or procedure that is judged to be a significant risk of injury during normal, day-to-day use. The risk may be due to damage, deterioration, improper installation, or a change in accepted residential construction standards.
    • verify:  To confirm or substantiate.
    These terms are found within the Standards of Practice.  Visit InterNACHI's full Glossary.
     
     
     
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