Branch Circuits, Connected Devices, and Fixtures, Electrical Systems

Open Ground on a Receptacle

When performing an inspection, I will use a receptacle tester similar to the one pictured.  The tester is used to test a representative number of receptacles for specific deficiencies.  The most common deficiency found is an open ground.

The purpose of an electrical ground is to provide an exit path for electricity so if there is a malfunction with your electrical outlet or appliance, the electricity will enter the earth, instead of people or equipment that are in contact with the malfunctioning outlet. An open ground prevents this from happening, causing a dangerous situation.

An open ground is usually caused by a loose, broken, or damaged ground wire.  If the wiring is in good shape and properly installed, an open ground reading on the tester could also be caused by a bad receptacle.  In this case, the receptacle should be replaced immediately.IMG_1055

At Blue Star Real Estate Inspection Services you can rest assured that you will be getting a quality home inspection, and that you will have the information you need to make your next step in the home buying process.  Call 361-462-9018 today to schedule your home inspection.

Roof Covering Materials, STRUCTURAL SYSTEMS

Proper Use of Ridge Shingles

The peak, or point of a roof is known as the ridge.  When applying shingles on a roof, there are a special type of shingle called a ridge shingle that should be used.  These shingles are typically a little thicker than normal shingles so they can withstand the bending without breaking or tearing.

The picture above shows properly installed ridge shingles.

Proper high quality ridge shingles also have extra adhesive to allow them to stay down more easily, and most come with a slight pre-bend at the angle of the ridge formed into them.  They also have a thicker nailing area which helps prevent tears and rips.

The picture above shows modified 3-tab shingles used as ridge shingles.

Shown above is regular 3-tab shingles, which would normally be used for flat surfaces, installed on the ridge vent.  Not only is this a lot of extra work for the installer, it is also highly likely that the shingles on the ridge will tear, rip, or leak before the rest of the roof.

Doors (Interior and Exterior), STRUCTURAL SYSTEMS

Double Sided Keyed Deadbolts

During a recent home inspection, I discovered a deadbolt installed at the front door which was keyed on the outside and the inside.  You may think that this type of deadbolt provides an extra layer of security, but this situation creates an egress issue during an emergency situation.

double sided deadbolt

The danger in this type of deadbolt is that if you need to quickly evacuate your house, you may be locked inside your own house.  Emergency situations include a fire, burgler, extreme weather event, etc.  You should be able to open all doors to the exterior without any special knowledge or the use of a key or tool.

To correct a double sided keyed deadbolt, a new deadbolt should be installed that is only keyed on the outside.  Leaving the key in the lock is not an acceptable solution, because the key will eventually be removed for one reason or another.  If you are worried about an intruder breaking a nearby window to gain access to the lock, you can install decorative metal grills over the window as a deterrent.

Here at Blue Star Real Estate Inspections you can rest assured that we have your best interests in mind.  Call 361-462-9018 today to schedule your inspection.

Plumbing Supply and Distribution, Plumbing Supply, Distribution System and Fixtures

Static Water Pressure

The water supply to your house is one of the many items checked by Blue Star Real Estate Inspection Services.  Static water pressure is a measurement of the amount of pressure that is supplied to your water system when no plumbing items are in use.  It is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI).

If your water pressure is too low, you will have to deal with issues such as low water flow in your shower, sinks, or other fixtures.  There is also a greater possibility of contamination of the water supply due to back siphoning.  See this article on Anti-Siphon Devices and this article on Dishwasher Backflow Prevention for more information related to back siphoning.

If your water pressure is too high, you run the risk of damage to fixtures, piping, water heating equipment, or appliances can occur.  When testing static water pressure, I use a gauge to ensure that the water pressure is within the acceptable range of 40 – 80 PSI.

Water Pressure Guage
This is the pressure gauge that I use for measuring static water pressure. 

One thing to keep in mind is that if the static water pressure measures at over 80 PSI, your water heater must be equipped with an expansion tank.  If desired, a pressure reducing valve can be installed at the water supply which can regulate the water pressure to an acceptable level.

Call Blue Star Real Estate Inspection Services today at 361-462-9018, or visit our website for a free quote.



Missing P-Trap on HVAC Condensate Drain

HVAC systems are complex in nature, and it is important to have a trained Professional Inspector inspect your HVAC system who can find deficiencies that an untrained eye would not notice.

One problem that I often see is a missing P-Trap in the condensate drain.  There are many reasons why the P-Trap would be missing, but the most common is that the installation was completed or modified by the homeowner.

The image above shows a condensate drain line that is missing a P-Trap

What is a P-Trap?  A P-Trap is a trap is a device which has a shape that uses a bending path to capture water to prevent sewer gases from entering buildings, while allowing waste to pass through.  Without a P-Trap, gases from the sewer line to which it is connected will make their way up through the drain, causing the sewer smell to enter the dwelling.  The condensate drain P-Trap should be equipped with a cleanout downstream nearby with a removable cap.  The exit point of the P-Trap should be lower than the entrance point to allow the condensate to properly drain.  For information on routing your HVAC Condensate drain line, check out  this article on HVAC Condensation Drain Line Routing

hvac ptrap

Blue Star Real Estate Inspection Services has the knowledge to help you make an informed decision when purchasing a house.  Call 361-462-9018 today to schedule your home inspection, or visit our website at to request a free quote.

Appliances, Dryer Exhaust Systems

“Grid” Type Dryer Exhaust Vent Cover

A common type of dryer exhaust vent cover that I see is what I call the “Grid” type of cover.  While these are very good at keeping rodents and pests out of your dryer exhaust, there is one main problem associated with this type of cover.

Grid type cover
“Grid” type dryer exhaust vent cover

The problem with these type of covers is that lint from the dryer exhaust easily accumulates on the grids creating a fire hazard.  After just a few uses, the lint from the dryer will build up in the square spaces, and quickly fill them in leaving nowhere for the hot exhaust from the dryer to go.  Another consequence of a blocked dryer exhaust is that it will take much longer for your clothes to dry which can have a significant effect on your electricity bill.

louvered dryer vent
A louvered dryer exhaust vent cover

The preferred type of vent cover is a louver type.  This type of cover is equipped with thin slats that are attached at one end while the other end is free to move.  The louver is able to close when no exhaust is pushing on it, and open when the dryer is on to allow the hot air to escape.

Call Blue Star Real Estate Inspection Services today at 361-462-9018, or visit our website at to request a quote for your home inspection today.

Electrical Systems, Service Entrance and Panels

Open Breaker Slot in Service Panel

Occasionally, I run in to open breaker slots in the service panel.  This deficiency is a safety hazard that can cause serious injury or death.  As a homeowner, you should have open breaker slots repaired by a licensed electrical contractor as soon as possible.  Do not attempt to make the repairs yourself.

Usually open breaker slots are the remnants of do-it-yourself home repairs.  The danger in open breaker slots is that there is no protection against incidental contact with live electrical conductors or wires within the panel.

Open Breaker Slot
The picture above shows an open breaker slot.

Another problem with missing breaker slot covers is that animals like lizards, snakes, and mice can enter the panel.  When animals enter the panel, they are usually electrocuted, and their presence can cause arcing which can lead to fires.

A metal insert plate should be placed in the open slot where the breaker has been removed.  The insert plate should be from the same manufacturer as the panel itself.

Call Blue Star Real Estate Inspection Services today at 361-462-9018, or visit our website at to schedule your inspection today.