Do Home Inspectors Check Appliances


home inspection

So part of your home purchase negotiation included the inclusion of several appliances. When ordering a home inspection, you may be wondering if home inspectors will check the appliances and, if so, what appliances the home inspector will check, or more importantly, will not check.

Do home inspectors check appliances? Home inspectors operate built-in appliances in the kitchen, including wall ovens, ranges, surface cooktops, built-in microwaves, dishwashers, and disposals. However, home inspectors are not required to verify thermostats’ operation, all appliance features, or timers. Home inspectors are not required to inspect removable appliances such as refrigerators, clothes washers, clothes dryers, etc.

Most of the time, appliances such as refrigerators, clothes washers, and dryers may not be included in a home purchase. Many home sellers take these appliances with them to their new home.

According to the ASHI Standards of Practice, home inspectors are not required to verify:

  1. Appliance thermostats, including their calibration, adequacy of heating elements, self-cleaning oven cycles, indicator lights, door seals, timers, clocks, timed features, and other specialized appliance features.
  2. Operate, or confirm the operation of every control and feature of an inspected appliance. 1

However, additional appliances may be included in a home purchase if they’ve been negotiated. Appliances shouldn’t be viewed as a deal breaker. You shouldn’t just assume that all the appliances you see in the house are staying with the house. It would help if you got this in writing on your purchase offer sheet.

It’s important to understand what a home inspection includes.

Home inspectors are looking for structural issues, electrical problems, plumbing issues, and other safety issues. Here we’ve compiled a list of some of the common home inspection red flags.

However, it’s not uncommon for home inspectors to look at additional items. Suppose you request (and your home inspector agrees), other appliances such as clothes washers and clothes dryers may be included in your home inspection.

Personally, I’ve inspected many clothes washers and dryers, while other home inspectors will not check them no matter what. Most home inspectors will check all appliances on new home construction.

The absence of an appliance shouldn’t fail a home inspection. Most appliances are relatively simple to replace.

Which Appliances Are Included in Your Home Inspection?

The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) Standards of Practice is the benchmark used by many state licensing boards and insurance companies. The information below is based on the ASHI Standards of Practice.

Appliances covered by the home inspection standards of practice include the kitchen range, cooktop, wall oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, range hood, built-in microwave, and waste disposal.

It’s also important to understand that the inspection of these items is not an exhaustive inspection by an appliance expert. A home inspector will be looking at two main things when checking the appliances. These are:

  • Does the appliance operate as it should?
  • Are there apparent defects in the function of the appliance?

Which Appliances Are Not Included?

Appliances that are not checked by home inspectors include countertop appliances such as microwaves, small refrigerators, clothes washers and dryers, central vacuum systems, and any other appliances that can be unplugged and moved quickly.

The ASHI SOP states that a home inspector shall inspect installed ranges, ovens, cooktops, built-in microwave ovens, range hood fans, dishwashers, and food waste disposals using normal operating controls.

Beyond the following statement, it is at the inspector’s discretion what they do and does not inspect. It may surprise you that refrigerators are often excluded in a home inspection because they can be unplugged and moved quickly. If a refrigerator is present in the kitchen, your inspector will likely include it in the home inspection report. However, a refrigerator or freezer located in a garage is often excluded from the inspection.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the appliances a home inspector checks.

Do Home Inspectors Check Stoves, Cooktops, and Wall Ovens?

The kitchen is arguably one of the most critical rooms in a home. The kitchen is often the single most significant selling feature of a home. It is actually an FHA requirement for a house to have a range, wall oven, or cooktop.

So will a home inspector check stoves, cooktops, or wall ovens? Yes, home inspectors will check and operate installed ranges, wall ovens, and cooktops and document the inspection report results.

Some kitchens will have an electric or gas range, while others may have an electric or gas cooktop with a wall oven.

  • A range is a freestanding oven and cooktop in one appliance.
  • A wall oven is installed in a cabinet. These can come as a single or double appliance.
  • A cooktop is an appliance that consists of 4 or 6 electric or gas burners mounted on a kitchen countertop.

Under normal daily operating conditions, a home inspector will check for visual defects to the appliance and verify the appliance works by operation of the controls. This includes operating the oven in the bake and broil modes and operating the burners on high.

Before operating the range, wall oven, or cooktop, the home inspector will need to do a visual inspection of the appliance to determine its safe operation. The home inspector will need to check the following items:

  • Inside the oven for damage to the heating elements.
  • Check to make sure there is no damage to the burners.
  • Make sure there are no damaged or missing control knobs and controls.
  • The wall oven and cooktop are secured to their cabinet or countertop.
  • That the oven door operates properly, the door should not bind, scrape, or hit other objects. If the door drops hard when opening, the springs or hinges are likely damaged and could be unsafe to operate.
  • The condition of visible electrical and gas connections. The home inspector is not required to move the appliance to do this.
  • The range should have an anti-tip bracket installed.
  • Check to make sure the glass in the oven door is not cracked or broken?
  • Check to make sure there is no damage to the seal around the oven door.
  • Check to make sure the range visibly level.

Operating the Range, Cooktop or Oven:

  • For electric ovens, run the oven broiler and bake elements to ensure they glow red at the highest temperature.
  • For electrical cooktops, operate all burner elements to be sure they burn red at the highest temperature setting.

Do Home Inspectors Check Dishwashers?

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A significant selling feature in a kitchen for most women (and secretly men) is the dishwasher. A good dishwasher frees up time standing at a sink washing dishes after cooking.

So, do home inspectors check dishwashers? Yes, the home inspector will check the dishwasher’s overall condition and operate the dishwasher by the controls and report the results in the home inspection report.

However, a dishwasher that is not operating correctly can be a nightmare. A leaky dishwasher can cause water damage, mold, attract termites, etc. When checking a dishwasher, a home inspector will inspect for:

  • For evidence of water leaks or water damage to the floor and cabinet around the dishwasher.
  • The condition of the drain hose and the connection to the plumbing drain under the sink. The drain hose should be connected to the waste disposal connection port or the sink tailpipe with a connection port. The hose should be securely clamped. If the waste disposal is seized, the dishwasher may not drain properly.
  • The condition of the water supply line to the dishwasher. Is there a shut off valve? The water supply line should be a flexible stainless steel connector, copper tubing, or material recommended by the dishwasher manufacturer.
  • The water supply hose connection needs to be connected to how water supply with a shut-off valve. If the water is turned off to the dishwasher, it is likely off for a reason and should not be turned on for testing.
  • You should check that the dishwasher is level and securely installed on the countertop or cabinet.
  • Make sure the door operates properly without binding or scraping to the countertop or cabinet. Is the seal on the door intact and in good condition?
  • The internal condition of the dishwasher. Is rust or other damage present inside the dishwasher?

When operating the dishwasher, the home inspector will check if the dishwasher fills up, operates a washing cycle, and drains properly.

Do Home Inspectors Check Microwave Ovens and Exhaust Fans?

Microwave ovens, convection ovens, and exhaust fans are generally mounted above a range or cooktop. Since the microwave invention, there have many advancements in technology, making them a highly sought-after item in a modern kitchen.

So you may be wondering if a home inspector checks microwaves, convection ovens, and exhaust fans? Yes, a home inspector will check a microwave oven, convection oven, and exhaust fan by operating the controls and reporting the inspection report findings.

The inspection of a microwave oven or convection oven is much like a range or oven. To check a microwave oven, convection oven, or exhaust fan, a home inspector will look at the following:

  • Check inside the microwave or convection oven for visible damage. Look inside the oven for signs of neglect such as spilled food, scorching, or other damage.
  • Check for missing knobs, damaged buttons, and other controls that could affect the microwave or convection oven’s operation.
  • Check that the unit is securely attached to the cabinetry.
  • Check the door operation. It should move freely and latch securely.
  • Check around the cabinet for damage or deterioration.
  • Check for the presence of exhaust fan filters. Are the filters clean?

Inspecting operation of the microwave oven, convection oven, or exhaust fan:

  • Using a glass of water or a wet paper towel, run the microwave for about 10 seconds; the water should be hot.
  • Check the condition and operation of any glass tray.
  • Check the operation of the light inside the microwave.
  • Check the operation of the exhaust fan.

Do Home Inspectors Check Food Waste Disposals?

Food waste disposal is used to grind up and dispose of food waste. Food waste disposals are not recommended for private septic tank systems, as they can clog leach fields.

So does a home inspector check food waste disposals? Yes, a home inspector will check a food waste disposal by operating the controls and report the inspection findings.

When inspecting a food waste disposal, the inspector will run the water and then turn the appliance on to listen for strange sounds that could indicate an obstruction exists or that the appliance has seized. This includes:

  • Check the condition of the waste disposal for evidence of damage that may be present. Run water in the disposer to see if any leaks are present.
  • Check the electrical connection. The wire should have a wire clamp installed at the bottom of the disposal. A flexible conduit should protect wiring.
  • Check the plumbing fittings and trap to ensure the disposer discharge pipe is at the same level as the waste pipe from the adjacent sink.
  • Check the presence of the flexible splash guard at the mouth of the disposal.

Run cold water in the sink before starting the waste disposal. Turn the disposal on. Listen for loud or unusual sounds that indicate an obstruction exists. Disposals will seize up if misused, which requires removal to determine if replacement or repair is necessary.

Do Home Inspectors Check Refrigerators?

A refrigerator is a staple in every kitchen. However, not every home is sold with one. Very often, sellers will take refrigerators with them when they sell their home and move.

You may be wondering, do home inspectors check refrigerators? No, according to the ASHI Standards of Practice, inspectors are not required to inspect a refrigerator. However, if a refrigerator is present in a kitchen, the inspector will likely include it in the inspection report.

When it comes to refrigerators, below are some of the things a home inspector will look at when checking the refrigerator.

  • Check to see if there is there visible damage to the outside of the refrigerator.
  • Check to see if the refrigerator is plugged in and running.
  • Check to see if there is visible damage to the inside of the refrigerator.
  • Check to see if the appliance is cooling properly.
  • Check to see if the freezer portion is freezing properly.
  • Check the condition of the door gasket, hinges, handle, and door operation.
  • Unless ice is present in the refrigerator, the inspector will not test the ice maker or in-door ice dispenser.

Do Home Inspectors Check Clothes Washers and Dryers?

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Oftentimes, this is the one set of appliances that will not convey with the home when sold. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, particularly in condos, a clothes washer and dryer are apart of the purchase transaction.

So, do home inspectors check clothes washers and dryers? No, there is no requirement for a home inspector to check a clothes washer and dryer. However, a home inspector is not prohibited from doing so and will often test them at the client’s request.

This may come as a surprise to you. There are limits to every home inspection. Let’s explain why that is and what it means for you.

The ASHI and other home inspection organizations agree that a home inspector isn’t required to inspect certain things. Clothes washers and dryers fall under this category of not required.

This doesn’t mean the inspector won’t, only that they aren’t required to. Keep in mind, much like building codes, the Standards of Practice are a set of minimum standards an inspector must adhere to.

ASHI states that the inspector shall inspect fixtures and faucets; however, clothes washing machine connections do not fall under this category because the connections are not always readily accessible without moving the appliance. Often, due to cabinetry or positioning of the appliances block access to the connections.

For example, stackable washer dryer combo units are often located inside a narrow closet with no visible access to the water supply connections without moving the appliance.

Inspectors are also not required to do anything that they think may damage themselves, their clients, or the property. Remember, this is a visual examination only, and you don’t own the home yet.

If the home inspector agrees to check the clothes washer and dryer, a visual inspection will be needed before running the appliances. The inspector will check:

  • If the clothes washing machine’s condition for rust and other damage, that could indicate damage or operation failure.
  • Check the clothes washing machine connections for evidence of active leaks, rust, or damage to the shut-off valves on the water supply connections.
  • Check the condition of the water supply hoses from the water supply connections to the clothes washer. If the hoses are damaged, cracked from dry rot, or weak spots causing bubbles on the hoses, the clothes washer should not be tested, and the condition noted.
  • Check the knobs or control buttons for damage.
  • Check the clothes washer lid for proper operation.
  • If the clothes washer is located on the second floor, is there a pan located under the clothes washer, and does the pan have a discharge pipe directed to the exterior of the building?

The inspector may operate the clothes washer if they feel it’s safe to do so without the risk of damage to the property. When I test a clothes washer, I run the appliance on a rinse/spin cycle. This allows me to check the fill, drain, and spin in approximately 15 minutes.

When checking the clothes dryer:

  • Check the clothes dryer for damage that could indicate operation failure.
  • Check the lint trap to see if it is clean. A dirty lint trap can be an indication that the appliance has been neglected.
  • Check the dryer vent pipe to see if it’s connected and discharging to the building’s exterior.
  • Check the dryer knobs and controls for damage.
  • Check the dryer door for proper operation.

Provided it’s safe to operate, I’ll check a dryer by running it on high heat for 5 minutes, the visible vent piping, and the exterior dryer discharge for proper venting.

In closing, it’s important to remember that home inspectors are not allowed to do some things. Most home inspectors won’t move appliances either. Moving appliances is often a 2 person job and can damage the appliance or floor coverings.

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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