Tag Archive for: Murfreesboro home inspections

Murfreesboro electrical inspection, Smith & Smith Home Inspections

As the owner and lead home inspector for Smith & Smith Home Inspections, I’ve inspected thousands of houses. The main concerns I have when inspecting a property is to find all fire hazards, safety hazards and anything that would put the home occupants at risk. Rental properties are where I usually find a high number of these safety risks and hazards. Here I’ll highlight the safety hazards I discovered in one duplex in Murfreesboro, TN.

Removing a dead front cover, and inspecting the interior of an electrical panel is a very important course of action as a home inspector. At this house’s sub panel, the ground and neutral wires are bonded on the same bus bar. If the load should become unbalanced, and ground and neutral are bonded, the current will flow through anything bonded to the sub-panel (enclosure, ground wire, piping, etc.) and back to the main panel. This is a major shock hazard! It can also cause problems with GFCI breakers, and cause equipment interference issues. You want one path for power to return to the source. If grounds and neutrals are connected at a sub panel, the grounds could take some of the power load and deliver it back to the main panel. This would be very bad. Grounds are never supposed to have any power, except for instances were there is a surge of power. The grounds alleviate the surge by pushing the path of the power to the Earth/ground, so nobody gets hurt.

Neutrals and Grounds Bonded on the Same Bus Bar in Sub Panel

Defected and wrongly wired outlets are the next hazards found. The updates and remodeling of the place did not include the work of a licensed, qualified electrician. The home had outlets with open grounds, outlets with open neutrals, and outlets with the hot and neutral wires reversed. An open ground is when a three-pronged outlet is not connected to the home’s grounding system. This is unsafe because if a fault were to happen, the surge could damage equipment or people rather than routing to the ground. Hot and neutral wires reversed can cause plugged in items to be electrically charged at all times, which could cause short circuits, shock, or fire. When you have an open neutral, there’s a disconnect in the white wire. Electricity can still flow to the device through the hot wire, but it can’t return to the panel. The device plugged in won’t work, but you can still get a shock from it because it’s energized. Most electrical fires are caused by a loose neutral wire.

Outlet with an Open Ground Outlet with the Hot and Neutral Wires Reversed Outlet with an Open Neutral

In case of a fire or an emergency, the occupants of a home should be able to make a speedy escape from the building. This house had keyed deadbolts on the interior side, and windows taped shut, because they were the original 70s, single pane windows, and were super drafty. The front door and back door to the exterior had a deadbolt which required a key for operation from the inside. This condition is unsafe as it may slow or prevent exit during an emergency, and installation of these types of deadbolts is no longer allowed in new construction. Imagine trying to find a key, so you and your loved ones can escape a burning building. There is no logic for having an interior keyed deadbolt. As for the taped windows, bedroom windows double as emergency egresses. To top everything off, in the attic, the walls separating the duplexes were not fire rated. Meaning that fire can easily spread from one dwelling to the other. Plus, smoke detectors were not installed inside every bedroom.

Keyed Deadbolt on Interior Side Window Taped Shut

If you are looking to buy a home or an investment property, you want your home inspector to be experienced in building and construction, InterNACHI certified, and licensed by the state of Tennessee. I am that home inspector. At Smith & Smith Home Inspections, we inspect the entire house, from the foundation to the roof, and we always include thermal imaging and gas leak detection, all at a reasonable, flat rate price. We provide home inspections and radon testing throughout Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Lebanon, Shelbyville, Manchester, McMinnville, La Vergne, Winchester, Woodbury, Columbia, Nashville & The Greater Middle Tennessee Area. Call/text/email to schedule your inspection today!


Crawl Space Inspector Murfreesboro TN

Here at Smith & Smith Home Inspections of Murfreesboro TN, there are common defects and problem areas that we find in crawl spaces, no matter the age of the house. An advantage of purchasing a home with a crawl space is that your home inspector can see the condition of the house’s bottom plates, rim joists and overall floor structure. Your home inspector can also observe if there are any flaws in the plumbing and/or wiring, if there were past or present leaks under the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms, and, most importantly, if there has been any movement in the foundation wall.

During a home inspection, it is very important to observe the entire perimeter of the crawl space. Leaks or moisture intrusion at the roof eaves, siding, windows and doors can be seen as moisture stains and/or rot on the rim joists, joist ends and bottom plates. These are also the main areas where one will find termite damage. I find termite damage at past or present moisture intrusions, behind mulched areas, behind areas that have siding touching grade, and the side where the garage slab meets the house. Plus, past or present termite tunnels are easy to observe inside a crawl space. As a home inspector, I poke and prod all wood with moisture stains and all wood above past or present termite tunnels to discover rot and insect damage.

Smith & Smith Home Inspections Murfreesboro

The most common leak to find in a crawl space is around toilets. If a wax ring is not installed properly, or the toilet is not secured enough to the bathroom floor, a leak will occur. You can check if a toilet is secured properly to the floor by placing each knee up against the toilet sides, and lightly push/pull with your legs. If I discover a loose toilet in any bathroom, more than 90% of the time, I will discover active moisture stains under that toilet. If an active leak is found under a toilet, you must go ahead and replace the wax ring before you refasten or tighten the toilet connection to the floor.

Murfreesboro Home Inspector

Another important area in crawl space inspections are plumbing and electrical wiring. I find pipes and wiring not supported properly all the time. If not supported properly, plumbing pipes can sag when filled with water. The weight of the water can break connections, or the joints, and cause serious leaks, which, in turn, could cause expensive water damage. As for what could be discovered wrong with electrical wiring, for example, the other day a client asked me why the kitchen island did not have an electrical outlet. With the Murfreesboro house being only two years old, I assumed the electrician must have just forgot to wire an outlet to the kitchen island. Under the kitchen, I found a live wire (safety hazard) labeled “kitchen island”. It was wired downstream from the kitchen ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI), but never found its way to the kitchen island.

Professional Home Inspections Murfreesboro TN

Lastly, crawl spaces are great places for home inspectors to observe the condition of foundation walls. Not all cracks in foundation walls are serious concerns. Vertical hairline cracks can be pretty common, and can be caused by normal house settlement and compression and tension on the concrete. New homes can start seeing vertical cracks after only a couple of years. While you might not necessarily have to do anything to fix hairline or vertical cracks at the moment, you must continue to monitor them. Since cracks can change subtly over time, the best way to measure changes is to take pictures and measure cracks every six months to a year. Horizontal cracks can point to a more serious problem. They can be caused by hydrostatic pressure (the outward and downward pressure caused by standing water pushing against any object or surface that blocks it) due to gutter of downspout issues, and/or negative grading at the house perimeter. Diagonal and stair-step cracks can indicate differential settlement, and are commonly found in houses built on hillsides. Any cracks measuring more than 1/4-inch wide should be evaluated and addressed by a foundation specialist. However, some foundation experts say cracks more than 1/8-inch wide should be addressed. Another foundation defect that should be addressed is when bricks or blocks are displaced, or they appear to be pushed in or out from the wall.

Middle Tennessee Home Inspector Licensed Home Inspector of Murfreesboro TN

At Smith & Smith Home Inspections, I provide due diligence in finding and informing my clients of all crawl space problems observed, whether big or small.  We provide home buyer inspections throughout Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Lebanon, Shelbyville, Manchester, McMinnville, La Vergne, Winchester, Woodbury, Columbia, Nashville & The Greater Middle Tennessee Area. Contact us today to schedule your inspection!


real estate inspections: what matters

Real Estate Inspections: What Matters?

Are you in the process of buying or selling a home in Murfreesboro or Middle Tennessee area, and you are stressed out? Home inspections or real estate inspections are expected to give people peace of mind, but often have the opposite effect. You’ll be asked to absorb a lot of information in a short amount of time. This will often include a written report, a checklist, photographs, environmental reports, and what the inspector himself says during a walk through of the inspection. All this, combined with the seller’s disclosure and what you notice yourself, can make your experience even more overwhelming. What should you do?

Relax. Most real estate inspections will be maintenance recommendations, life expectancies for various systems and components, plus minor defects and imperfections. These are useful to know about. However, the main issues that really matter will fall into four categories:

  • Major Defects.  Example would be a structural failure;
  • Things that lead to Major Defects, such as a small roof-flashing leak;
  • Things that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy, or insure the home; and
  • Safety Hazards, such as an exposed, live buss bar at the electrical panel.
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Anything in these categories should be addressed. Often, serious problems can be corrected inexpensively, protecting both life and property.
Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection. Realize that sellers are under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in the report. No home is perfect. Keep things in perspective.

To lower stress and make the buying selling process smoother, sellers may want to have an inspection performed before placing a house on the market. With a home inspection prior to placing the property on the market, the seller can better assess the home’s value, correct any defects that might impair a sell, and avoid problems at closing.

Smith & Smith Home Inspections provides inspection services throughout Middle Tennessee. Contact us today to schedule your inspection!