According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, a home inspection is an objective, visual examination of the systems and structures of a home. It’s a complete inspection that examines everything from the foundation to the roof. As such, a single-family home inspection can easily take two to four hours for a professional to complete. 

So, what are the most common home inspection issues? Here are the top 10 worst things that fail a home inspection that you can address to make selling your home a smoother process.

1. Pest Infestations

Pest infestations, like termites or other wood-destroying insects, are enough to give any potential buyer the chills. Understandably, nobody wants to move into their new home and fear bugs or rodents crawling around, contaminating their food, or destroying the home’s structure. 

Licensed home inspectors are trained to look for signs of termites and other pests. However, don’t be surprised if your potential homebuyer gets a separate termite inspection or pest inspection from a dedicated pest control company for extra peace of mind. 

Image Source: Canva

Before a home inspection, hire a professional pest control company to thoroughly inspect your home for termite damage and treat it for any pest problems. If termites are found in your home, you’ll need to disclose this to potential buyers, but if you treat the termites and purchase a termite warranty, you can pass this on to the buyer to give them peace of mind that they’re protected if the termites come back. 

2. Electrical Wiring & Electrical Issues

Home inspectors commonly discover issues with electrical writing, such as damaged receptacles, reverse polarity, and missing junction boxes. Older homes built between 1965 and 1973 may have substandard wiring, which the home inspector will identify. 

If a home inspector finds electrical issues, they’ll recommend that you immediately have your home checked by a licensed electrician. This situation fails the home inspection and potentially puts anyone currently living in the house at risk. 

To fix this, hire a licensed electrician to inspect and upgrade faulty wiring, outlets, and junction boxes. Double-check that your breaker box is labeled correctly too. Be prepared that major electrical issues often cost between $2,000 and $6,000 to be addressed. However, minor electrical problems like missing ground-fault circuit interrupters or improperly grounded outlets can be fixed for a much smaller cost. 

3. Rundown Roofing & Roof Replacement

Most asphalt shingle roofs last 15 to 20 years, so if your roof is older than this or getting close to it, don’t be shocked if this is marked in the home inspection report. A good inspector will note curled, brittle, or broken shingles, leaky spots, loose flashing, and other roofing problems. 

Depending on the state of your roof, you may need to have the entire roof replaced, which can cost thousands of dollars. However, you can tackle this project independently if you only have a few broken shingles or minor roofing issues. Take an afternoon to replace damaged shingles, roofing materials, and flashing, then add caulking to areas with gaps and where ventilation pipes are penetrating the roof. If you’re unsure about how to repair your roof, reach out to a contractor to have your roof inspected and repaired. 

4. Mold and Mildew

Water damage and high humidity can lead to mildew and mold issues in your home. Unfortunately, black mold is expensive to fix and highly dangerous to your health and the health of anyone moving into your home. Per the Mayo Clinic, mold can cause severe allergies and asthma-like symptoms, such as itchy eyes, scaly skin, and even breathing issues. 

If mold or mildew are found on your property during a home inspection, address any leaks, excess humidity, or plumbing issues contributing to the mold. If you can’t locate the source of the plumbing problem, contact a local plumber to examine your home for leaky pipes and other potential water damage sources. You can also use a dehumidifier to quickly reduce humidity in areas of your home with mold.

Fortunately, mold has a distinct, musty odor, so it’s unlikely that professionals will find mold on your property without your nose having detected it first. 

5. Faulty Foundation

Unfortunately, foundation problems are some of the most expensive issues to fix and can turn off buyers quickly. Common signs of foundation issues include cracks in walls above doorways, horizontal or L-shaped cracks in the exterior foundation, sloping floors, or windows or doors that stick out. 

Image Source: Canva

Often, foundation issues are a result of the soil beneath your home collecting water, absorbing it like a sponge, and expanding. If the expansion is significant, the soil will put pressure on the home, leading to minor structural problems. Minor structural issues often cause leaks, which exacerbate the situation, leading to worse structural problems or mold. 

Most buyers will not want to deal with foundation issues, so this is a problem you’ll want to address before listing your home. Hire a professional for serious foundation issues and brace yourself for the quote, as underpinning a foundation costs an average of $25,000.

Otherwise, look into filling minor cracks with silicone caulk or epoxy and seal your home’s exterior foundation with a waterproof coating. Check that all windows and doors can open and close easily without sticking. 

6. HVAC Replacement

An HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) unit keeps your home at a comfortable temperature. If your furnace, heating system, or air conditioner is broken down or barely holding on, you’ll want to look into replacing these HVAC components for safety reasons and to avoid scaring buyers off with significant HVAC problems they’ll need to address. 

7. A Poorly Maintained Home

Many sellers are surprised when their homes fail a home inspection due to seemingly minor cosmetic issues, such as cracked caulk, wood damage, or peeling paint. While a few of these minor problems are unlikely to turn off buyers or warrant a note on the inspection report, many of these can add up and send the message to the inspector and buyer that the home hasn’t been maintained properly over the years. 

If your home has many minor cosmetic issues, take a day to address them with a fresh coat of paint on the inside and outside of your home. Take time to repair and replace broken lights and address any scuff marks on your walls or doors. Consult with your realtor about other small cosmetic changes you can manage to improve your home’s look and value. 

8. Risk of Asbestos

It’s common knowledge that lead paint is dangerous to our health, which is why these paints have been obsolete for decades. However, many homes from the early 1900s to the 1980s were painted with lead paint or asbestos additives. 

Asbestos can be found in floor tiles and their glues, plaster, ceiling tiles and their glues, texturized paints, and specific types of pipe insulation. Unfortunately, asbestos is hazardous and can cause deadly lung disease and cancer. 

If lead paint or asbestos materials are found on your property, immediately contact a professional to remove the paint, material, etc., as this is a severe risk to your health and the buyer. 

9. Drainage Problems

The surface grading around your home can lead to terrible drainage issues and even foundation damage. Poor surface grading can lead to a leaky basement, increasing your risk of mildew, mold, and other common issues. Your home’s foundation may shift if the soil under your home absorbs water and expands. 

If your home has poor surface grading, add topsoil to correct this and make a 10-foot-long slope around your home. Check that your gutters and downspouts are also turned in the right direction to direct rainwater away from your home’s foundation. 

10. Structural Damage

Structural damage is one of the biggest issues that buyers won’t put up with because of the costly repairs required to correct them. During the home inspection, the inspector will look for signs of structural damage like sagging rafters, floor joists, and door headers. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to tell from these signs alone if your home has minor or major issues, so the home inspector will likely recommend that the buyer has the home inspected by an engineer. 

If your house inspection shows structural damage or flaws, hire a structural engineer to assess the depth of the issue and what your home needs to be repaired.

Image Source: Canva

Remember, your home’s foundation is crucial for the longevity of, safety, and stability of the house, so most buyers won’t be willing to purchase a home with serious structural issues. You’re likely better off addressing these problems on your own. 

Final Thoughts

If your home fails a home inspection, don’t fret. This is a common occurrence for many sellers. As any home inspector would tell you, most sellers are genuinely surprised when they’re informed of an issue that caused their home to fail the inspection. Remember, as the seller, you’re not obligated to fix everything in the house that is listed as a home inspection problem. No buyer is expecting to purchase a perfect home. However, you’ll want to consider what items may send buyers running, typically large, expensive issues like replacing a roof, HVAC system, or structural concerns about your home. Consult with your real estate agent about what you should invest time and money into fixing and what can be included in the seller’s disclosure and dealt with by the buyer. 

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Alora Bopray

Alora Bopray

Staff Writer

Alora Bopray is a digital content producer for the home warranty, HVAC, and plumbing categories at Today's Homeowner. She earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of St. Scholastica and her master's degree from the University of Denver. Before becoming a writer for Today's Homeowner, Alora wrote as a freelance writer for dozens of home improvement clients and informed homeowners about the solar industry as a writer for EcoWatch. When she's not writing, Alora can be found planning her next DIY home improvement project or plotting her next novel.

Learn More

photo of Roxanne Downer

Roxanne Downer


Roxanne Downer is a commerce editor at Today’s Homeowner, where she tackles everything from foundation repair to solar panel installation. She brings more than 15 years of writing and editing experience to bear in her meticulous approach to ensuring accurate, up-to-date, and engaging content. She’s previously edited for outlets including MSN, Architectural Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens. An alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, Roxanne is now an Oklahoma homeowner, DIY enthusiast, and the proud parent of a playful pug.

Learn More