Ten Most Frequent House Problems
surveys by U.S. and Canadian home inspectors resulted in a list of the most
frequently found problems in the homes they have inspected:
Improper Surface Grading/Drainage
by far the most frequently found problem, reported by 35.8% of the survey
respondents. It is responsible for the most common of household maladies:
water penetration of the basement or crawl space.
Improper Electrical Wiring
significant number (19.9%) chose this item as the most common home defect,
which includes such situations as insufficient electrical service to the
house, inadequate overload protection, and amateur, often dangerous, wiring
reported by only 8.5% of the respondents as the most common problem, roof
leakage, caused by old or damaged shingles or improper flashing, was
considered by CAHPI members to be a frequent problem.
in this category include broken or malfunctioning operation controls, blocked
chimneys, and unsafe exhaust disposal.
novice home buyer is usually aware of this situation, demonstrated by such
signs as cracked, peeling, or dirty painted surfaces, crumbling masonry,
makeshift wiring or plumbing, and broken fixtures or appliances.
6. Structurally Related Problems
Many houses, as a result of problems in one or more of the other categories,
sustain damage to such structural components as foundation walls, floor
joists, rafters, and window and door headers.
Though never ranked by the respondents as a Number One problem, plumbing
defects still rank high among the house problems encountered, and include the
existence of old or incompatible piping materials, as well as faulty fixtures
and waste lines.
Flaws in a home’s exterior, including windows, doors, and wall surfaces, are
responsible for the discomfort of water and air penetration, but rarely have
structural significance. Inadequate caulking and/or weather-stripping are the
most common culprits.
9. Poor Ventilation
Perhaps due to overly ambitious efforts to save energy, many home owners have
“over-sealed” their homes, resulting in excessive interior moisture. This
can cause rotting and premature failure of both structural and non-structural
This category includes primarily interior components, often cosmetic in
nature, which were not found frequently enough to rank individually in our
(a) It is significant that within this list of ten problem categories, at
least four are directly related to the damaging effects of water. It is
apparent, therefore, that after a home is built (presumably in a structurally
sound manner), keeping water out is the homeowner’s most important - and
continually challenging - objective.
should be most clearly understood that the statistics relating to electrical
and plumbing problems, and roofing in particular, will vary greatly depending
upon regional climates and building codes, and that this list, therefore,
represents an average.
addition, the age of a home plays a significant role in these findings. In
older, urban houses problems such as heating system failure, inadequate
electrical service, and worn plumbing can be found with much greater frequency
than reflected in this survey.
Survey response percentages were given only for the first three categories
because they were so high and statistically meaningful. Items 4 through 10
were ranked significantly lower than the top three, and vary regionally.