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How to Inspect a Home Garage

Posted by: Kaplan Real Estate Education

Updates: August 21, 2018

Learn How to Inspect a Home Garage From an Expert Home Inspector

Inspecting a home garage is comprised of many different aspects—don’t forget to inspect an important component. Doug Hastings, Kaplan Real Estate Education Instructor and home inspector for over 20 years, will teach you the ins and outs of inspecting a garage. From the outlets to the flooring to the garage door opener, Doug will show you how to look at several different features of the garage.


Video Transcript
Although we haven't completed the outside part of our inspection, we're coming across a door that enters into the garage. In order to keep the flow around the home consistent so we're not running around, I would want you to come on in the door. And now, what we would do is we'd shift gears just a little bit, and we'd start looking at the interior of the garage. Now, there's both detached and attached garages. This happens to be an attached garage, which has a few unique things that wouldn't apply to a detached garage. But basically, what we're looking for is do we feel it's structurally sound. Do we feel that the fire barriers are in tact? Do the doors operate well? So, as we start passing around, a couple things I'd point out.

Number one: This is an underground sprinkler system. If you read your standards of practice, we don't do nor do we test underground sprinkler systems. So, what do you do? The home inspector should put in the report that this is not a part of the inspection. The second thing that I would like to point out is we have an outlet right here. This particular outlet has that GFCI protection. This is a wet room or a wet area. We are required to test all outlets. So, with my little test button, I'm going to see if it trips off, and it does. All is well. With GFCI's, it's very important that you reset them. Never leave one on. If you don't know what might be plugged into that outlet somewhere else in the series, and the power could be off to that appliance. Example: a freezer.

Now, as we go along, we're going to pay attention to this. Now, although there's sheetrock up here, this isn't a firewall because this isn't a common wall to the home. So, whether it's completed or not completed wouldn't mean anything to us as inspectors. Sometimes, we have to crawl around stuff to get where we want to be. It also makes looking for things a little bit more difficult. But you know, in a moment when I get to the other side, I should be able to look under the car and be able to tell you whether or not the slab is in good shape. As I'm passing this way, I'm going to pay attention to the door. Few things you're going to want to do.

Number one: Do the rollers look secure? Are they in the track? Number two: Push on the track a little bit. Make sure it's secure. Pay attention up here to the springs. Now, if there's a broken spring, you would never want to test the door for the automatic opener, for fear that you would break it. So, look at the physical condition of the spring itself. Continue walking around, just like we did outside. We're kind of walking around the perimeter of things. As we do, we kind of look back and make sure that ceiling lines, corners, beams above doors are all in tact. So, always, always, always look behind as you're moving around.
Now, it's important when you're looking at the slab to judge it from this basis. Number one: A garage slab is not a structural part of the house. That means if the slab has a little wear and tear, it's not going to have an impact on structure. I'm not trying to imply that it's good to have a garage slab that's all cracked and deteriorated, but I am trying to say that it isn't a structural flaw if it is. So, if I were to take you over here and show you at the slab a little bit of the deterioration, we call that spalling. Some people will call that pitting. Pretty common and typical. It's not something that a home inspector is going to be worried about. Now, if you'd like to comment on that, it would probably be a good idea because what we've always talked about is to tell people what did I see. I saw some spalling of the garage floor. What do I think about what I see? I don't think it's a big deal. At best, it's a little bit of maintenance. Alright.

Now, you've explained things pretty well to the customer. Continue looking at the other door the same way that you looked at the last one. Springs, rollers, et cetera. As you begin to make the corner, you have to be aware of where you're at. So, example. As I start coming down this corner, at this point, I am now a part of the house. So now, this fire barrier that's a common wall becomes important. So, as inspector, I need to comment on any breaches or any holes in that fire barrier. Example. This vacuum, believe it or not, is a break in the fire barrier. So, you would want to point out the fact that that's something that should be covered up. Now, they do make vacuum covers now that are fire rated. This just doesn't happen to be one of them.
As we continue to look around, notice that there's a register cover in the middle of the ceiling. We're going to want to verify when we get up into the attic space that that's not connected to a heat duct. Because if that's connected to a heat duct of our furnace, we'd be talking about a break in the fire barrier again. Also, notice when you go back up to the ceiling that we've got an attic access with the cover off. Now, it may just be somebody left the cover off. If that's the case, we'll put it back on when we come out of the attic space, and the fire barrier is reestablished. However, if that's a plywood cover or if it's missing or broken, that also would be a breach in the fire barrier. So, once we've begun to assess the fire barrier issues, the last part of the fire barrier is the door.

As home inspectors of existing homes, we require a minimum 1 3/8 inch door. It either has to be solid wood or metal. So, this meets that intent. It seals shut. It doesn't have to self-close anymore. It used to, but the code has changed on that matter. So, this is an acceptable fire barrier. Now, it's time to take a look and see how does that garage door or garage doors operate.
I want you to be aware of how I'm not jumping around. Did you notice how, just like on the outside of the house, I flowed around the garage? Prior to closing and testing the garage door for its safety reverse, what I'm going to do is I'm going to grab my ladder and set it up at the attic access. Then once I've got that set up, we'll test the automatic opener. When you're setting up the ladder, again, you want to be careful not to damage anything, and you also want to make sure that you get it set nice and secure. Garage attics sometimes are a little trickier than the ones in the house. Sometimes, the ceilings are higher. So, you need some sort of flexible ladder that's going to be able to change its dimensions periodically in order to get where you want to go.

With the garage, with the ladder in place, now we're going to go on up into this attic as well. Now, we may or may not find insulation when we get up there. We'll see what we find when we get up there. But nonetheless, we're going to try and see now, is the garage attic structure structurally sound, just like eventually, we're going to determine whether the house attic is structurally sound. Let's take a look and see what's going on up there. Now, it's time to check the operation of the door. The homeowner gave me the combination, which isn't too uncommon for us. So, let's push the combination and see whether or not we can check the reversing mechanism of the door. It's simple. Just take your foot and kick it under there. Make sure that it goes back up. Make sure things aren't rattling around. Take one last little poke at the opener itself. Make sure that it's tight and secure. Make sure that the wiring is correct to it.

After you've done that, then you want to go back and set the garage door back down. Now, you don't want to leave until you're sure that the garage door is going to stay down. So, give it a minute to reset. Then, we're going to head back out the service door that we came in, and we're going to finish the exterior of the inspection.