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Industry Experts – Home Inspector – The Bathroom


The bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the house, and not just because of the quantity of time spent there. Buyers can get distracted by nice tiling or a new vanity, or figure that the loose towel bar is something they can replace themselves, but to a savvy home inspector, the bathroom can reveal all sorts of problems which might be symptomatic of the state of the rest of the house. For example, in this video, Karl Gresowski of Eagle Home Inspections shows how standing in a tub can help you tell if it’s installed properly, the easiest way to test a ventilation fan, and a wide variety of other details which, if you attend to them, can provide not only valuable information about the house itself, but also about the skills of the home inspector.

KARL GRESOWSKI: On the shower, we’re going to go ahead and turn it on, we’re going to make sure we have hot and cold water coming out of our valves, and make sure they’re working properly, and then that the hot water is on the left, and the cold is on the right. Sometimes the valves are backwards, so people could get burned. So we want to make sure of that. Also, we do want to make sure that our showerheads are not leaking, and that our tub diverters turn off completely. So everything’s working properly and spraying. This is a fiberglass enclosure, in which everything’s pretty well sealed the way they built it. Sometimes we’ll have tile walls, we want to check the grout, make sure things aren’t coming out, and that no moisture penetration is getting on the back side of the walls.

TOM IOVENITTI: With a fiberglass enclosure, how would you be able to tell if there was any moisture on the back.

GRESOWSKI: You’re not going to be able to. What you’re looking for on the fiberglass, again, would be cracks, holes from them screwing little soap dishes to, and things like that. Here is their lips and their seams, which are underlaid so that there is no moisture. Another way is that if it’s real loose, we may have a problem back there.

IOVENITTI: I see. And some of the tubs, can you tell whether or not they’re installed properly by looking at the grout line?

GRESOWSKI: Well, no, not with the grout line. Usually, if the tub’s not installed properly, you’re going to, you can feel it when you’re inside, so what you’re going to do is you’re going to put a little bit of weight on it, make sure that underneath is properly placed, so if a man gets in here that’s 200 pounds, we don’t end up with indentations and it cracking out us. You know. Again, we’re looking for any chipped or cracked due to kids toys, that can cause a problem.

IOVENITTI: So, generally, in the bathrooms, any one of them, a number of them, you would check the commode and the sinks and the plumbing underneath to ensure that those areas are well-sealed and that there’s not any leaks?

GRESOWSKI: Exactly. So, on the toilet, we are going to check, we want to make sure it’s flushing properly. In California, everything’s low-flow, so we do want to make sure they are flushing, that something’s not blocking them. We also want to make sure that they’re not loose at the floor, and check, make sure there’s no moisture coming out of the wax rings. And we also want to check our back valves on the back, make sure they’re not corroded, so at least if there is an emergency, someone can turn off the water.

IOVENITTI: So, wax ring, explain, what’s a wax ring?

GRESOWSKI: The wax ring is what seals the plumbing drain from the internal drain to the toilet. So when you flush it, the water goes down, it doesn’t seep out the base of the toilet.

IOVENITTI: I see. It’s on a floating ring.

GRESOWSKI: Well, the floating ring sits inside. It has a little like a funnel that sits down in the drain, the wax sits on top and seals the top of the toilet base to that so the water flushes, and everything goes down there nicely.

IOVENITTI: I see. Very good. Anything else in these areas, how about fans?

GRESOWSKI: Yes. We do have a window. Usually when we have windows, we don’t have exhaust fans. In the newer homes, we do. We want to make sure they’re working properly and that they’re sucking. A lot of guys don’t have CFM movement things, the best way to tell is to tear off a little toilet paper, place it up there, make sure it’s sucking up, that we’re not going, that it is working properly. And again, we want to make sure it’s venting to the outside of the house.

IOVENITTI: How about, here’s a kind of off-beat question, but would you be able to identify if the paint on the interior of a bathroom is correct? I mean, you wouldn’t want to have a flat based paint on there, would you?

GRESOWSKI: No, you don’t want a flat base. Most of them are a low sheen or high gloss. Now, everything’s water-based. That’s usually more of a cosmetic thing, we don’t usually deal with it unless we actually see some mildew growth on it. Then we want to bring it up to make sure that’s getting handled. And that’s usually due to lack of ventilation in here. People taking hot showers and not turning on the fans or opening the windows.

IOVENITTI: How about doors, is there anything with the doors that you want to be…

GRESOWSKI: Doors, you want to make sure they close, they’re not rubbing. If there’s any rubbing with the doors, or they’re not latching, we know there’s a little bit of settling going on.

IOVENITTI: Towel bars installed correctly?

GRESOWSKI: Towel bars, we just want to make sure they’re secure, they’re not going to fall off. Same with the tp holder. Sinks, we run, run the water, make sure the drains are not leaking. Again, looking underneath, making sure there’s no corrosion buildup on the drain lines or on the supply valves.

IOVENITTI: Also, I believe bathrooms, don’t they need to have GFIs?

GRESOWSKI: They all need to have GFIs. GFIs are required within six feet of water in the state of California.

IOVENITTI: Oh, that’s interesting. Ok. Well, off to the next room!

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