Doing your own home inspections as a Phoenix homeowner can help you identify issues early before they become costly repairs. Structural problems, leaky roofs, faulty electrical – catching these homeowner headaches sooner rather than later will save you money and headaches.
But you don’t need to be a professional building contractor to spot potential issues. Follow this DIY home inspection Phoenix checklist to learn what to look for in key areas of your property:
Inspect the Roof
Your roof takes a beating from Arizona’s desert climate. Inspect it twice a year – before monsoon season hits and after peak summer heat:
- Use binoculars to look for missing, cracked, loose, or curling shingles. Repair or replace them before water damage occurs.
- Check areas around chimneys, vents, and skylights for lifted flashing allowing water intrusion. Reseal any gaps with caulk.
- Clear dirt and debris from your roof and gutters to prevent clogging and drainage issues when rain hits.
- Look for dark discoloration or water stains on roof sheathing visible from inside the attic. This signals leaking issues.
- Evaluate the roof overhang for rotting or sagging wood. Support or replace deteriorated sections.
Catching roof problems quickly is key in Arizona’s desert climate where rain can pour heavily during monsoon season. Even one compromised shingle can lead to major leaks.
Inspect the Exterior
Move around the exterior of your home looking for these red flags:
- Check for cracks more than 1⁄4 inch wide in stucco walls. Have a professional seal these to prevent water intrusion and further cracking during monsoons.
- Ensure exterior vents for HVAC systems are clear of clutter, nests and dust buildup. Clogged vents strain your AC system.
- Examine siding for warped panels or cracks allowing pest access. Fill any gaps with caulk.
- Look for soil erosion around the base of the home exposing the foundation over time. Backfill settled areas to stabilize the structure.
- Clean out clogged exterior drains to prevent flooding during heavy rains. Flush with a hose.
- Replace weather stripping around doors and windows that become brittle and compressed over time. This prevents cooled air loss.
Monitor the Foundation
Foundational issues are common in parts of Arizona with expansive clay soils. Check for these warning signs:
- Look for new cracks in interior drywall, especially archways and ceilings. This signals foundational settling.
- Watch for sticking doors that won’t close properly due to shifting.
- Check for exterior cracks wider than 1⁄4 inch in the foundation or masonry. Seal these.
- Inspect for sections of exterior wall bowing in or out. This requires foundation repairs.
- If your floors feel uneven, check for sagging spots using a level tool.
Even small foundation problems can worsen quickly in Arizona’s shifting soils. Address issues before major repairs become necessary.
Check the Attic
Inspect the attic for these potential red flags:
- Look for dark stains on roof sheathing indicating a leak. Trace stains to pinpoint the source.
- Check that insulation hasn’t become saturated or thin in areas. Replace wet or compacted sections.
- Make sure attic vents are not obstructed by insulation or nests. Proper ventilation prevents mold.
- Look for daylight coming through cracks that need sealing.
- Ensure all electrical wiring and junction boxes are secured and not covered in insulation. No loose connections.
The attic holds clues to roof leaks, ventilation issues, mold risks, and electrical hazards. Make this spot a key stop on your home inspection route.
Examine Water Features
Don’t neglect pools, spas, and water features in your DIY inspection:
- For pools, test water chemical levels and pH yourself or hire a pool service. Improper chemical levels can damage facilities.
- Check the pool pump and filtration system for leaks. Listen for abnormal sounds indicating problems.
- Clean out baskets for pumps and skimmers. Clogs strain the system.
- Ensure lighting is working properly. Replace burnt-out bulbs around pools and yards.
- Inspect water features and fountains for algae growth, and cracked or leaking concrete. Address any damages.
Water is precious in Arizona. Properly maintain these features to avoid major repairs.
Check Electrical Systems
Electrical issues can quickly become fire hazards. Look for these warning signs:
- Listen for crackling sounds behind walls. This may signal arcing wires or shorts.
- Look for burn marks on outlets. This indicates overheating. Replace outlets showing wear.
- Use an electrical tester to check for adequate grounding and polarity in outlets. Improve any issues.
- Ensure protective plates are securely installed over switches and outlets. Signs of heat damage mean problems.
- Check that GFCI outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, garages and exterior areas are functioning. Test them monthly.
- Examine wiring for cracks, loose connections and insulation damage. Rodents often chew on wires.
Don’t take chances with outdated or faulty electrical. Issues identified today could prevent disasters down the road.
- Spot plumbing problems before they lead to flooding or leaks:
- Check under sinks for any sign of moisture or dripping pipes. Tighten connections if needed.
- Listen for running water in pipes. Idle trickling may signal leaks.
- Examine exposed pipes and joints for cracks or corrosion. Replace any deteriorating sections.
- Make sure overflow drain holes inside and outside of sinks and tubs are clear. Clogs cause overflows.
- Pour oil and drain cleaner down the tub and sink drains monthly to keep them flowing freely.
- Run water and flush toilets to check for adequate water pressure. Low pressure indicates clogs.
- Locate the main water shutoff valve and ensure it is functioning in case of emergencies.
Routine plumbing inspection and maintenance today prevents extensive damage and repairs down the road.
Check Garage Areas
Don’t forget the garage when inspecting your Phoenix home:
- Test garage door openers and mechanisms to ensure proper operation, and no unusual noises. Lubricate and tighten if needed.
- Check garage doors for solid connections to tracks. Tighten any loose hardware.
- Inspect garage door weathers tripping for gaps or damage allowing air intrusion. Replace worn stripping.
- Look for cracks in concrete walls or the slab foundation. Seal cracks before they worsen.
- Clear clutter away from electrical panels. Ensure easy emergency access.
- Check firewall integrity between the garage and home interior. Seal any gaps to prevent fume entry.
The garage contains many overlooked maintenance zones. Include it in home inspections.
Watch for Pest Intrusion
Left unchecked, Arizona’s termites, scorpions, roaches, and rodents can overrun a home. During inspections, look for these signs:
- Check exterior siding, stucco, trim, and foundations for small holes signaling pest entry. Seal up holes.
- Look for dirt tubes on foundation walls from termites. Knock these down and contact pest control.
- Watch for compromised roof sheathing, floorboards, or walls that are spongy under pressure – a sign of pests.
- Listen for scurrying in walls from mice and rodents. Set traps or use poison bait if detected.
- Inspect attics and crawlspaces for droppings and nests. Clean them out fully.
- Check under and around appliances for roach evidence like egg casings. Use boric acid and baits to treat.
With frequent inspections, you can catch infestations before they get out of control. Don’t let pests ruin your home’s structure.
DIY Tips for Home Inspections
Conducting your own visual inspection provides a baseline to judge changes over time. Follow these tips for DIY home inspections:
- Do a walk around your home’s interior and exterior every 3 months. Look for changes and new problem areas.
- Use a ladder placed securely on level ground to access your roof. Never walk on a roof that appears unstable.
- Take photos documenting problem areas to compare deterioration over time.
- Grab a flashlight and mirror to illuminate and view hard-to-access spots.
- Make it a two-person job – have someone outside while you inspect indoors for better visibility.
- Keep written DIY inspection records noting dates and locations of issues found.
- Start inspection and maintenance when problems seem minor before they escalate.
Don’t ignore small issues today that could become huge headaches tomorrow. With proper DIY inspections, you can stay ahead of home repairs and keep your property in peak condition for years to come. Maintain your valuable investment through proactive maintenance.