Maintain Unit Kitchens for Fewer Inspection Worries
Unit kitchens can be a hot spot for deficiencies when inspection time rolls around. REAC inspectors check for an array of problems in the kitchen, both large and small, from missing or damaged countertops to leaking faucets to inoperable range hood exhaust fans. But you can minimize deficiencies and improve inspection scores if you prepare ahead of time.
Many site managers and owners are not aware of the types of deficiencies that can cause problems, notes REAC Inspector Kay McIlmoil. If you become familiar with the kinds of things inspectors check, you may be able to avoid a poor report.
According to McIlmoil, REAC inspectors look for these problems in the kitchen:
At the stove:
- Inoperable vent fan
- Missing or damaged vent fan filter
- Damaged oven gasket
- Inoperable range burners
At the sink:
- Leaking/dripping faucets
- Inoperable garbage disposal
- Leak under kitchen sink
With the hot water heater:
- Missing pressure relief valve extension
- Leaking from hot water heater or its plumbing connections
- Cover missing for heater's electric or gas components
With other major appliances:
- Damaged refrigerator gaskets
- Inoperable dishwasher
- Cracked outlet/switch cover plates
- GFI will not test
- Under- or overcharged, or missing fire extinguisher
- Closet doors off track or damaged
- Damaged cabinets or countertop
- Missing or undersized blank in a breaker box
- Damaged or missing floor tiles
- Damaged sub-flooring
- Missing or damaged dryer vent (when the washer/dryer are in the kitchen or in a laundry attached to the kitchen)
Do Your Own Pre-Inspection
McIlmoil says it's a good practice to do your own inspection ahead of a scheduled REAC inspection. “Unit inspections should be conducted at least one month in advance when preparing for a REAC inspection, so that the site maintenance staff has the time to order supplies and to complete the work orders in each unit,” she says.
When inspecting a kitchen to prepare for a REAC inspection, start at the entrance to the kitchen and go right to left, she suggests. “Open every cabinet door and closet door, look at every ceiling, wall, floor, and light fixture, and test every switch, GFI, faucet, and appliance,” McIlmoil says. “Take notes that GFIs can be tested only by hand, not with an electronic tester.”
Here are more of McIlmoil's tips for your pre-inspection:
- Ensure that the dishwasher is not used only for storage.
- Take all burnable items out of the oven and all flammable items out of the cabinets and closets.
- If there's a resident-owned fire extinguisher, ensure that it's properly charged.
- Inspect the underside of the vent hood.
- Ensure that there's access to the hot water heater if it's under the kitchen countertop.
Keep in mind that REAC inspectors will take off additional points for any life-threatening deficiency, she says. Examples of these are: a missing or broken (versus cracked) switch or outlet cover plate with exposed electric wires; a gas leak from a gas range; an expired, missing, or over-charged or under-charged fire extinguisher; a missing or undersized blank in a breaker box; or a missing cover for the electric or gas components of a hot water heater.
“Some other common health and safety items found in a kitchen that are not considered life threatening but that cause additional points to be taken off are insects and rodents, mold or mildew, excessive indoor garbage and debris, and improperly stored flammable materials, such as charcoal lighter fluid,” McIlmoil adds.
The bottom line is that if you are aware of what inspectors are looking for and fix any problems ahead of time, your kitchen inspection can be deficiency-free.
Kay McIlmoil, CPM: REAC, FEMA AND FHA Certified Inspector, IMC Inspections, 4111 Lakeview Pkwy., Locust Grove, VA 22508; (540) 846-7677; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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