A Realtor's Guide to Home Inspections: Top Items to Look Out for and Easy Self-Checks


A comprehensive home inspection can provide invaluable insights into a property's condition, ensuring that both buyers and sellers are well-informed before making important decisions. In this article, I will highlight some of the top items commonly found during home inspections and offer simple tips for homeowners to conduct their own preliminary checks.

1. Electrical Systems

An outdated or faulty electrical system can pose serious safety hazards. During a home inspection, an inspector will examine the electrical panel, outlets, wiring, and switches. As a homeowner, you can conduct a preliminary check by looking for exposed wires, flickering lights, and malfunctioning outlets. Additionally, with a simple tool you can purchase from any hardware store for about $10, you can test all of the outlets in your home with an outlet tester, to verify the outlet is wired correctly. An outlet wired incorrectly is one of the most common items that comes up on a home inspection. 

2. Plumbing Issues

Water damage and plumbing problems can be costly to fix if left undetected. During a home inspection, the inspector will assess the plumbing system, including checking for leaks, water pressure, and the condition of pipes. As a homeowner, you can inspect for water stains on walls or ceilings, dripping faucets, and irregular water flow from sinks and showers. Did you know that part of your tax bill in Baltimore County is sewer usage, the amount of water that goes down your drain is assessed and you are billed for this separate from your water bill.

Ignoring a slow faucet drip or leaky toilet can increase your property taxes.

You can pull up property taxes HERE.  Perform a search by Street Address and only type in your street name not the street number. This way you can see all the neighbors on the street, and you can compare the sewer charges on the tax bill. If your charge is significantly larger than most of your neighbors, you likely have a leak. Once fixed it will take until the next tax billing cycle for the bill to adjust.  

3. Roofing and Gutters

A well-maintained roof is crucial for protecting your home from the elements. During a home inspection, the roof's condition, including shingles, flashing, and gutters, will be closely examined. As a homeowner, you can perform a visual inspection of your roof using binoculars from the ground. Look for missing or damaged shingles, sagging gutters, and signs of water accumulation. Go into your attic access panel and inspect your roof from the inside, look for any signs of staining on the boards. Most roofing companies will come and inspect your roof for free.

5. HVAC System

An efficiently functioning heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is essential for maintaining a comfortable indoor environment. A home inspector will examine the HVAC system, including the furnace, air conditioner, and ductwork. As a homeowner, you can check the air filters regularly and ensure that the vents are clear of dust and debris. Also, listen for any unusual noises when the HVAC system is . Did you know not changing an air filter regularly can cause a system to fail.

8. Safety Measures

Ensuring a home is equipped with adequate safety measures is crucial for the well-being of its occupants. During a home inspection, the inspector will check for functional smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, handrails on staircases, and safe electrical wiring. As a homeowner, make sure to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly and ensure your smoke/Carbon Monoxide detectors have 10-year sealed batteries. Install handrails in staircases if they are missing.


A home inspection is an integral part of the home buying and selling process, helping both parties make informed decisions about a property's condition and potential maintenance needs. As a homeowner, you can conduct your own preliminary checks on some of the essential items found during a home inspection. However, it is essential to remember that a professional home inspection is still crucial for a comprehensive assessment of the property's overall condition.

By proactively addressing any potential issues, you can increase the value of your property and ensure a smooth transaction when the time comes to sell. Likewise, as a prospective buyer, understanding these common inspection findings will enable you to make an informed choice and negotiate fairly with the seller.

Always prioritize safety and invest in regular maintenance to keep your home in optimal condition for years to come.

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