Home inspections are commonly associated with real estate transactions. But an annual home inspection that you conduct yourself is a good idea. New Year’s Day is a time for resolutions, and many suggest changing smoke alarm batteries then too. But if you care about the condition of your house and the safety of your family, why not resolve to extend the battery-changing duty into a mini home inspection?

The following tips comprise a list of items you might want to perform on an annual basis, not necessarily on New Year’s Day. This list is a subset of the more comprehensive checklist that home inspectors follow.

Tips for Inside the House

Yes, change the batteries in those smoke alarms. But also upgrade them if they are not interconnected and hard-wired, if they are more than 10 years old, or if you don’t have one in each bedroom, in the hallways near bedrooms, and on every level.

Establish a fire escape plan if you don’t have one already. Go over it with your family and practice executing it.

Home inspections don’t ordinarily deal with carbon monoxide detectors, but you might think about installing them. They go within 10 feet of every bedroom door, on every floor, and near or over an attached garage. After five or six years, replace them.

Test all GFCI receptacles and AFCI circuits. If your house doesn’t have them, seriously consider an upgrade.

Take a few minutes to do a home inspection of your plumbing. Inspect the plumbing fixtures, toilets, sinks, showers and tubs. Look for moisture stains as well as water under and around the fixtures. Also examine the ceiling and walls of rooms below fixtures. While you are at it, conduct a quick pest inspection.

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Go in the kitchen and test to see if the oven has an anti-tip bracket properly installed.

Do a quick inspection of your windows and doors. Look for evidence of leaks or damage and test their operability, especially in the bedrooms.

If adventurous, go up in the attic and look around. Contact a home inspector if you see anything suspicious.

Tips for Outside the House

Most of us are laymen when it comes to the health of trees, but you should still inspect the condition of any trees that could damage your house if they were to fall. If any trees are leaning or you sense that they may have rot, contact an arborist.

Don’t risk injury by traversing the roof during your home inspection, but use your eyes or with binoculars if possible to examine it for moss, debris, loose tiles and overhanging branches.

Perform the standard exterior home inspection checks for vegetation less than one foot from house siding, soil less than 6 inches below siding, and cracks or trip hazards in the driveway, walks and patios.

Look for evidence of leaks around windows, doors and gutters and also inspect for insects or evidence of insects, rot and mold.

If for whatever reason you don’t feel comfortable following these tips yourself, contact a professional to conduct your annual home inspection.

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