Minnesota Plumbing Contractor | Plumbing Inspection MN

Minnesota Plumbing Contractor Minneapolis/St Paul MN

If you’re planning on selling a home in the Minneapolis or Saint Paul area, there is a good chance you will need to have a home inspection done before you sell your home.

It’s true that the purpose of a home inspection is only to inspect the quality, safety, and overall condition of things that are readily visible — that is, components of a home that don’t involve dismantling anything or opening up walls and ceilings. While this may sound like something you are anyone with a good eye could do, here are some examples of things that an untrained individual probably can’t identify.

  • Do you know how to identify a toilet that needs replacement?
  • Can you identify faulty wiring on a garbage disposal?
  • Do you know how to tell if the dryer vents properly?
  • Can you identify a fireplace that is not in safe, usable condition?
  • Do you know how to tell if the vent above the kitchen range hood is a fire hazard?

There are two types of home inspections, private and city.

City inspections are required in 14 metro cities, including Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  In Truth in Housing there is a full list of these cities with specific requirements for each city.  These are inspections that must be done by a city employee or sub-contractor for the city before the house is sold, and in many cities, before the house is even offered for sale.  Some cities, such as Saint Louis Park, do code compliance inspections and require repairs to be made on things that aren’t up to code.  Other cities, such as Maplewood, require only a disclosure report, and no repairs ever need to be done.

These reports are commonly referred to as Truth in Housing, Time of Sale, or Point of Sale inspections, among many other terms.  It would be nice if every city could call their inspections the same thing.  It would also be nice if every city had the same requirements!  In Minneapolis, you need a working smoke detector on every level of the home.  Bloomington requires the same, plus a working detector in every bedroom.  In Saint Paul, you only need one working smoke detector in the home, but it needs to be hardwired.

Even though each city has specific requirements, there are some items that are fairly universal to all the cities that have repair programs:

  • Vacuum Breakers – aka backflow preventers.  This is a device that can be purchased at most hardware stores, and should be screwed on to the end of any exterior sillcocks, or indoor faucets that could accept a garden hose thread (typically the laundry faucet). These are basically one-way valves that protect the city’s water supply from potential contamination. Vacuum breakers have always been one of those pesky Truth-In-Housing repairs for homeowners in Minneapolis and Bloomington, but those aren’t the only cities where they’re required.  They’re actually a requirement of the Minnesota State Plumbing Code, section 4715.2100 (D).
  • Smoke Detectors are recommended in every bedroom and one in a common area on every level, such as a hallway.  Take time to test every detector in the house, install new batteries if needed, or replace the detector if defective.   Smoke detectors should ideally be located on the ceiling in the middle of the room, and never closer than four to six inches to a wall if mounted on the ceiling.  If mounted on a wall, follow manufactures instructions for location.
  • Plumbing leaks and electrical hazards make up a large portion of the repair items.  Before having your inspection, take time to make sure there are no leaking plumbing fixtures.  To test the sink, fill the sink up with four inches of water, and then let it drain.  Look underneath with a flashlight to make sure there are no small drips, and also check the faucet handles for leaks – laundry faucets are the most common offenders.  To ensure no electrical issues, replace any missing cover plates at outlets and switches – check the outlet behind your fridge too!  Make sure there are no permanently installed appliances running on extension cords – the most common offenders are garage door openers and water softeners.  Other appliances that cannot be connected to extension cords are window air conditioners, washing machines, clothes dryers, sump pumps and other “permanent” appliances. An electrical permit must be secured to install a new electrical outlet.

While these items make up only a small portion of what an inspector will look for during city inspections, these are certainly some of the most common repair items, and are often some of the easiest items a Licensed Minnesota Plumber can help you take care of ahead of time.

Don’t expect to find a home that is flawless. Your goal is to make sure the home you’re interested in doesn’t have any existing costly defects and that you go into the purchase knowing what shortcomings the home may have and what repairs need to be made.

Common Required Repairs for Minneapolis Truth-In-Sale of Housing Evaluations

General

 Items that cannot be inspected are typically listed as repair items needing a re-inspection. This includes:

o Water, electricity, or gas turned off

o Garage locked

o Attic access blocked by stored items

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

 A functional CO alarm is required within ten feet of every room used for sleeping purposes. One-and-one-half story homes will always require a CO alarm in the upper level – the sleeping room starts at the top of the stairway, not the bottom.

Smoke Detectors

 One smoke detector is required on every level of the home in a common area. Every smoke detector must be functional and properly located.

Gas Appliance Venting (furnaces, boilers, water heaters, space heaters, etc)

 The venting must have proper clearance to combustibles. Drywall is considered combustible.

o For single wall vents, 6” is required.

o For double wall (B-vents), 1” is required.

 Backpitched venting, rust holes, or backdrafting at the appliance requires repair.

Boilers

 Must have a proper backflow prevention device

 Gaps in the outer jacket or worn out seals require a safety check. Centerpoint Energy will not do this.

 Pressure relief valve discharge pipes must be made of metal, full sized, not threaded at the end, and must terminate within 18” of the floor.

Furnaces

 Excessive rust or scorching requires a safety check. Centerpoint Energy will not do this.

Water Heaters

 Temperature and pressure relief valve discharge pipes must be made of metal, full sized, not threaded at the end, and must terminate within 18” of the floor.

 Installations less than three years old must be completely ‘up to code’.

Gas Lines

Gas Piping

 Every gas appliance must have a gas valve.

 Improper appliance connectors must be replaced

 Open / uncapped gas lines require repair.

Plumbing

 Dishwasher drains must have a high loop.

 Abandoned fixtures must be made operational or removed.

 Leaking drains, clogged drains, holes in drains, holes in vents, and any gaps that could allow sewer gas in to the home must be repaired.

Floor drains must have a proper cleanout plug present, and must be operational.

 Toilet ballcocks must be an anti-siphon type, and must be properly installed.

 Laundry faucets and exterior faucets (sillcocks) must be provided with backflow preventers if a garden hose can be attached.

 Faucet openings located below the spill line of the fixture will typically require repair.

Electrical

 A missing or improper jumper wire at the water meter

 GFCI outlets that do not lose power when the test button is pushed.

 Missing circuit breakers or fuses at panelboards

 Spliced wires without a junction box

 Uncapped and untaped wires that protrude from electrical boxes, creating an immediate shock hazard.

 Broken lights, outlets, or switches that create an immediate shock hazard.

 Evidence of tampering or oversized fuses / circuit breakers requires a safety check by an electrician. As a general rule of thumb, a 60 amp service would require a safety check if :

o Several adder boxes are present – or

o More than two 240 volt circuits are present

Clothes Dryers

 Disconnected dryer ducts, dryer ducts with holes, or dryer ducts with bypasses that re-direct the exhaust back in to the home.

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