Limited Inspection Items During The Winter

Date Published: November 3, 2023

Being a Colorado home inspection company means sometimes going head to head with Mother Nature. Even though we get 300 days of beautiful sunshine (on average), we also receive our fair share of cold and snowy days. While it is always our goal to conduct inspections that are as thorough as possible, it is common for certain weather and temperatures to result in limited inspections. This means there are sometimes items that our inspectors are just not physically able to examine.

It’s always important to us to maintain transparency and set client expectations. So that’s why we have made a list of inspection items that will be affected in the winter. If you plan to have any home inspections in the upcoming months, this article will likely be applicable to you! Note: Although Scott Home Inspection is CO-based, these limitations will likely be applicable in any region with a comparable climate to Colorado.

Limited Inspection Items

Air Conditioning Units/ Evaporative Coolers

Plain and simple – we do not run air conditioning units during the cold months of the year. Our rule of thumb is that when the average outside temp gets to be below 65ºF, no more AC testing.  Activating an AC unit in cold weather can cause serious damage to its compressor. Damage incurred from operating in the cold could necessitate costly repairs or even unit replacements. And we don’t want to be the cause of that! This limited inspection typically begins around October and lasts until March.

We can, however, offer a visual inspection to make sure there is no apparent visible issues with the unit. When possible, our inspectors will examine the exterior compressor and coolant lines for any signs of damage, defects, leaks etc. We also, of course, take a look at the portion of the unit inside the house, investigating the exterior of the evaporator coil and furnace.

limited inspection of AC unit

Similar rules apply for evaporative (or swamp) coolers, running them in cold temperatures could cause damage. Besides, most homeowners winterize their unit, which means disconnecting its water supply and draining the unit of all liquid. So the unit might not even be operable by the time we take a look at the inspection.

If the swamp cooler is winterized but not covered, our inspectors can open the unit up to look at its fan and pump and make sure it is properly drained. They might even be able to test the fan in the unit, if possible. But evaporative coolers are usually always covered when winterized. In any case, our inspectors will try to visually inspect the system as much as possible. They will also look for any apparent signs of damage or rust.

Comment from a Scott Home Inspection report citing a limited inspection on a cooling system.

Sprinklers

As you may have guessed, sprinklers are another item that we cannot test during winter months. Most home owners will have winterized their systems by that point. Sprinkler winterization is the process of using pressurized air to clear all the excess moisture out of the line, to prevent damage caused by cold temperatures.

In Colorado, homeowners should generally start winterizing their sprinkler systems around October. However, sometimes we will have a relatively mild fall season, so you can get away with keeping your sprinkler system active for longer. In these cases, we will continue to test sprinklers, as long as they remain unwinterized.

If the sprinklers are winterized, we will still comment on the condition of the backflow preventer, shut-off, and controller.

Roofs

Being located in such a snowy region means we often experience limited inspections of roofs. If a roof is covered in snow, our inspectors will be unable to walk it and make any determination as to the condition or quality of the roof material. Sometimes if the roof is partially covered by snow, the inspector may be able to evaluate certain portions of the roof. But even in those cases, it is best to have a completely uninhibited view of the roof. What if there is a serious defect hidden under the snow?!

Conducting a full, unobstructed inspection of a roof is very important. That’s why in these situations, we will schedule a re-inspection, specifically for the roof. The inspector will then return to the property, once the snow has melted, in order to examine the roof in its entirety.

In some cases, we will recommend you get a roof inspection from a roofer if there are other limitations such as height or material type. The good news is most of our roof inspections are free of charge.

limited inspection on roof

Grading/Exterior Foundation/Exterior Surfaces

Similar to roofs, there are other aspects of the property that can be affected by snow coverage. When snow piles high enough, sometimes the inspector will be unable to evaluate the grading around the foundation. Grading is a crucial facet of the property, as it helps to direct harmful water and moisture away from the foundation. For that reason, we may schedule a follow up inspection when necessary.

limited inspection of grading

The foundation is another critical component of a home. While the inspector will be able to take a look at the foundation from the basement or crawlspace where visible, sometimes the exterior side of the foundation is obstructed by snow.

The area exposed on the exterior of the home is very minimal so this is usually not a large concern if we can get a good look at it from the inside. If there are serious foundation issues, there will likely be other signs present.

Finally, there are a number of exterior surfaces that will be affected by snow coverage. Driveways, walkways, and decks can all be difficult to evaluate after a big snow storm. We will make note of any of these limited inspection items as well and coordinate a re-inspection as needed.

Working With Limited Inspections

Here at Team Scott, when it comes to housing transactions, time is of the essence. That’s why we do our best to deliver a complete, comprehensive report on the day of inspection. But as this article has consistently reiterated, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans! In those cases, our customer service team will schedule follow up inspections to address any missed items as soon as possible.

It is always our goal to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about purchasing a home – no matter the season! Interested in booking a Colorado home inspection? Give Team Scott a try! Visit us online, or schedule your inspection today.

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About the Author: Chris Kimmel

Chris Kimmel worked as an Associate Home Inspector for two years, handling numerous services including sewer scope inspections, pest inspections, mold air sample testing, radon testing, and water quality testing. Chris now works with Scott Home Inspection as a Content Writing Specialist.

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