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What’s the best weather for home inspections?

Early 1900s house in Williamsville, NY

Usually when you are planning to buy a house, things move along quickly and there’s a very short window of time when a home inspection can be scheduled.

But if your intention is to have the home inspected prior to listing, or if you are purchasing a home from a friend or sometimes in for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) situations, there’s a chance that the timing of the inspection process may be more flexible.

Did you know that all weather isn’t the same when it comes to the ability to find problems with a home? What are some of the benefits and drawbacks of various outside conditions the area near Buffalo.

Sunny Weather

Clear days have the solid advantage of making it easy to visually assess the outside of a home. But there are both benefits and drawbacks to having a home checked for problems when the sun is brightly shining.

Benefits of sunny weather

  • Clear visibility to inspect the grounds around a home, the siding and windows
  • If otherwise safe, the inspector may be able to climb on the roof to inspect its shingles, flashings, chimney and other penetrations
  • If the home is air conditioned, then it may be possible to identify areas of missing insulation in exterior walls with a thermal imagery inspection.
  • In warm weather the air conditioning system can be tested. (if the outside temperature is under 65 degrees, then running the air conditioner can cause the evaporator coils to freeze and become permanently damaged).

Disadvantages of sunny weather

  • Gutters can’t be assessed or inspected to determine if they are effective
  • Grading around the house can’t be observed to find out if water is adequately moved away from the foundation
  • Roof and siding leaks are impossible to confirm with 100% certainty, although evidence of leaks, such as staining, may be evident when looking at drywall and other interior materials

Snow and Freezing Weather

We all know that winters here in Western New York can be long and brutal, and our super-competitive housing market doesn’t stop during these snowy months. If you are buying or selling a house and snow’s on the ground, will your home inspection be hampered?

Advantages of Freezing Weather

  • It’s easier to determine if the heating system is operating properly
  • Thermal imagery can generally do a good job of located areas where insulation is missing in exterior walls
  • The presence of ice dams can help identify areas of poor attic ventilation
  • If the roof is leaking, the inspector may be able to locate leaks from inside of the house

Disadvantages of Freezing Weather

  • The biggest disadvantage by far is that the roof surface simply cannot be inspected if it’s covered with snow or ice. In fact, the inspector may not even be able to see the shingles or other roof covering.
  • The home’s air conditioner (if one is present) can’t be tested
  • Problems with drainage around the home can be difficult or impossible to locate

Strong Wind

We here in the Buffalo, New York area typically have several days of very strong wind each year. Performing home inspections during heavy wind can sometimes benefit out clients in unexpected ways.

Benefits to having a home inspection during heavy wind

  • The inspector can sometimes see if shingles are loosely attached to the home. If shingles can be seen moving around or flapping, it’s a clear sign that the roof installation isn’t up to par
  • Vinyl siding might move around or flap if manufacturer instructions weren’t followed.
  • Issues related to overhead electrical service cables might show themselves. For example, if the cables were not properly installed then they may touch the home during strong winds.

Drawbacks

  • It’s dangerous for the home inspector to climb on any roof during strong winds, so certain roofing problems may not be identified.

Rain

Despite the drawbacks, the best possible time to have a home inspected is during a heavy rain storm. The reason is simple – hard rain has a way of showing problems with the roof, chimney and siding.

Benefits of inspecting a home during a rain storm

  • Rain will most likely show problems with the roof, including flashings, chimneys and other penetrations. Without rain leaks are difficult to identify, unless water staining or other signs are evident from inside of the home.
  • The operation of the gutters and downspouts can be assessed
  • Pooling water can be identified around the perimeter of the home, possibly providing clues to problematic drainage systems

Drawbacks of home inspections during rainfall

  • If the inspector isn’t paying close attention, certain problems with windows and siding can be missed
  • The home inspector won’t be able to climb on the roof and inspect it up close

Conclusion

I would say that in my opinion, the benefits of inspecting a home during heavy rain outweighs any disadvantage. Even though we can’t climb on roofs during rain storms, observing the effects of rain from inside of the home actually provides a better gauge of the integrity of the roof, siding and chimney.

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About the Author:

Bradley Beck

Bradley is owner of Alto Home Inspection, LLC.  He lives just south of Orchard Park, in Western New York’s Southtowns, and inspects homes throughout the Buffalo area, and is NY Licensed Home Inspector #16000086029, NY Certified Mold Assessor #MA1606.  He also serves as Technical Director of Alto Home Inspection’s Radon Laboratory.

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