Appliance Inspection Questions

It is my understanding that in Florida we are required to inspect household appliances. I have a few related questions:

Do you all carry microwavable containers to test microwaves or bring trash to test compactors? It seems unprofessional to ask the home owner for these items to perform the inspection, and what if they are not home?

Do you pull refrigerators out of their alcoves to inspect water valves, water lines, and coils?

Do you carry thermometers to test oven performance?

The state of Alaska requires me to inspect “built in” appliances. Dishwashers, trash compactors, microwaves aren’t necessarily built in but…you know.

Same/similar requirement in Texas. I have a cloth or paper towel in my bag that I moisture & then microwave. If it’s hot it’s working.
Most deficiencies in microwaves have to do with physical damage of the unit or keypad, mounting or just inoperative.

I have yet to encounter a trash compactor. (Kinda weird) I would test that it operates (on/off) & let my client know that testing the pressure of the ram by compacting the occupants trash or bringing a bag of trash with me is beyond the scope of my home inspection.

I never move a refrigerator for any reason. I only open them to see if they are on if plugged in & feel if they are cold, no testing of temperature.

Yes, I bring an oven thermometer (not an IR thermometer) to test the oven temperature. I turn it & the dishwasher on at the start of the interior portion (usually after exterior) of my procedure. The kitchen is my last room to inspect.

I explain my my company policy of trash compactors & refrigerators on the phone or in person if given the opportunity, in the inspection agreement & in the report.

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Travis, don’t overthink it bud. You want to do a great job and that can be done with simple processes. You are working for the buyer in most cases and you should have a good contract that explains the limitations clearly. BUILT IN means mounted with manufacturers mounting hardware… not a owner fashioned frame that holds a countertop style appliance up under a cabinet. But if you want to exceed your SOP then by all means test away and note for your client. You decide but remember, you are setting a precedence for your inspections if a claim ever comes up later. YES, you have to be aware of this fact.

As for the microwave you should inspect the ‘mounted’ style not the countertop style. Carry a small rag/microfiber cloth or grab a paper towel and dampen it. Open the door and turn the microwave on while the door is open to make sure it’s working correctly, they have been known to come on. Throw it in the microwave for one (1) minute on high. Inspect the stove while this happens and when done open and the rag should be hot. Microwave is good.

Trash compactor is simple… turn it on and wait for its cycle. You’re testing operation, not effectiveness or you could bring your trash from home to test in it.

Dishwasher, two ways to do this. Test a whole cycle or test operation but if you test one cycle should you test all of them? You decide how much time you have on site.
1- When you enter the house 1st thing is to go turn it on a NORMAL wash IF it’s empty because it takes a good while to run. If it’s full you have to decide “should I run this” or call it a limitation in your report. Let that run while you do your inspection. At the end of the inspection go open and make sure it’s all wet inside and look under for leaks through the cracks on the side and below. You can take off the kick plate if you wish… just put it back on right side up… not that anything like that has ever happened to anyone and they no longer do it…
2- This is how I do it. While inspecting the kitchen, I first look inside for dishes (decide) and turn the dishwasher on NORMAL and inspect kitchen completely. When done place rotating knob if equipped on RINSE or hold CANCEL WASH button and allow to drain. Open sink cabinet and listen and watch for drainage. When done, check around for leaks and make note and move on.

Think about your inspection process and how much time each room or area is going to take you. I take about 4hrs per inspection but I’m a small time guy/newbie as well. I’m working to refine my processes and speed things up a bit now that I’m getting better at inspecting Focus on reading EVERYTHING you can find on inspections. These forums are GREAT to see things it would take you 10 years or longer to come across but don’t ask any question until you have researched it yourself! In other words, don’t use this forum to learn… use it to fact check and get advice on confusions.

Good luck

Travis, I have a plastic cup in my bag. Use it to check the ice and water dispenser on the frirge and the microwave. I run the microwave for just a few seconds, enough to warm the water on the cup. Check the ice box in the freezer to make sure it isn’t a solid block of ice before running the ice dispenser. If it frozen up, I don’t test it, note it and move on. In three years and several hundred inspections, I’ve never run into a compactor.

I generally have my client sign the inspection agreement at the beginning of the inspection. I quickly go over the agreement with them. Explain what I am and am not inspecting. I also explained what non- intrusive, non-invasive inspection is as outlined in the agreement. I also explained that I won’t put the seller’s property at risk, that includes risking damage to the kitchen flooring. So I never move appliances. I start the dishwasher early in the inspection and let it run through its cycles. Check it periodically for leaks. I leave the oven door open when the heat to the oven or stove is on to remind me to turn it all off. I don’t leave the room with the oven, stove on.

Inspector outlet sells a nice little microwave tester ( )

I use a IR thermometer to test oven and fridge Just to prove they are heating and cooling respectively.

Like others have said, I never move the refrigerator- there is way to much potential for floor or water line damage. (I DO try to look behind it if possible)

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Thank you all for your suggestions.

Robert, to your point about not learning here: I’m still working through the course and I have not been able to find another inspector who is willing to do a ride along with me–I understand not waning to help the competition. I have to use the resources that are available to me.

Thanks again.

Travis, it may not be that they’re worried about you being competition. I’ve had a couple potential new inspectors ride with me and it can be distracting. Distracting for me, the client and the client’s agent. It also slows down the process. I’m not a fast inspector and have a reputation for being thorough. You can tell when the agent or client gets bored, loses interest etc. So I move as quickly as possible without compromising the quality of the inspection. Another body doesn’t help the process. All attention should be on the inspection and the client. Now, I only do this if I’m working solo without the agent or client attending and that is very rare.

That makes a lot of sense. Thanks Neil.

Travis, I completely agree. I wasn’t busting your butt for coming on here… you’ll see a lot of people who make this their first stop. I was just offering advice to research first. You won’t have to look hard for those who rely on these forums for answers. Just don’t be that guy. Study hard and keep studying. Good luck

I have to agree with Robert. Keep studying. Something that helped me was doing a bunch of inspections for friends when I first got my license. I posted on Facebook that I was new at this and needed practice. Also wanted to learn my software better by doing real, as opposed to practice inspections. I got about 10 requests. I charged them but not much. It helped me a lot. One big time waster in an inspection is going back and forth because I didn’t have a set routine. Inside, outside, inside again etc. Once I got my process streamlined, I at least looked like I knew was doing. I inspected my own house about 10 times. Did my daughter’s house, my mom’s and my ex wife’s. After several hundred now, I’m still working on streamlining the process. I never did attend an inspection with a seasoned inspector except in my training course.

Checking the nuker - I asked my wife to make me a small bean (about 3" x 3" x 1" thick) filled bag that I toss into the microwave and set the timer for a minute or less. If it warms up, good. I note both in person and in the report that the nuker is not tested for timer or temperature accuracy. There is also a commercial test device you hand-hold and pass around the door perimeter while the nuker is on. It indicates if there a is any RF (radio frequency) leaks at the seal. The bag may also be made with cherry pits or corn. (Both smell good when warmed). Many or the realtors have their own trick for showing the nuker is functional. They walk in with a cuppa joe and ask the owner (if present) if they can warm up their coffee. Subtle but practical.
As far as freezer/refrigerator - yes, I do check for the particular section being in “food safe range” at the time of inspection. Then tell the client to verify the dial setting when they do the walk-through before closing. Nothing is as frustrating as bringing in your Coleman cooler with refrigerated stuff and not having the fridge/freezer working. I do verify the functioning of the range top to be sure burners turn on, at not more than 3 sparks for gas fueled units and burn cleanly. Verify nothing in oven, then see if it turns on. This is the one time I use sellers item - a pot or pan to check induction top units. Again, “Functioned at time of inspection, accuracy of timers and temperature settings are not verified, per SOP” (MY sop).
I will run at least a partial cycle on dishwashers (ONLY if they are empty). Trash compactors are quiet rare in our area. I report that there is no practical way to verify their function. Food waste grinders - caution that they be run wet. Difficult to test under normal inspections except perhaps with a couple of partially melted ice-cubes.