OK, let's take a look at a list I've assembled of top 10 pre-sale interior home repair areas that should get your attention before you list your house:
- Basement Dryness
You want your basement as dry as possible. A wet, damp or musty basement will be a turn-off to a buyer and a sure-fire inspection report item. Fortunately many damp basement problems are fairly easy to solve. For example, a seemingly serious wet basement problem may be caused just by improper roof downspout discharge not draining away from house or improper grade draining into the house. Other problems such as a general mugginess or dampness may be solved with a dehumidifier.
Easy Outside Repairs for a Wet Basement
Troubleshooting Wet Basement Problems
- Water Heater Operation
Your water heater must be operating properly, be correctly vented and not be leaking from any of the connections or valves, such as the T&P valve. You also don't want to have any rust or corrosion at the base of the tank or visible in the combustion chamber. It is a good idea to do a maintenance drain of the tank as described in the 3 Easy Step tutorial below and generally check for proper operation of the water heater.
How to Maintain a Water Heater in 3 Easy Steps
Gas Water Heater Troubleshooting
Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting
- Waste Line Drainage
Clogged or slow draining sink or tub drains, or worse yet, poor draining toilets are sure to turn off your buyer and their inspector. Make sure all your drains are free flowing and that all toilets drain properly. If you have any slow draining drains they can most likely be cleared using the tutorials below. If not, then it is money well spent to get a professional plumber or drain cleaning service to "snake" out the waste lines and make sure all drains are unobstructed.
How to Unclog a Sink
How to Unclog a Tub Drain
How to Unclog a Toilet
- Leaky Faucets and Pipes
Leaking faucets or pipes will surely be noticed. Check all faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms for leaks. Your home will have one or more faucet types including Ball, Disc, Cartridge or Compression. Repair any leaky faucets using the tutorials below. Check in the basement or crawlspace for any leaking pipes or valves, such as the water heater T&P valve.
Repairing a Compression Faucet
Repairing a Cartridge Faucet
Repairing a Single Lever Ball Faucet
- Garbage Disposal Operation
If the buyer doesn't flip the garbage disposal switch themselves, you can rest assured that the inspector will, so you need to make sure this basic kitchen appliance is good to go. Make sure the disposal is free flowing and works properly. If it is stuck, repairing the disposal is usually an easy fix using the tutorial below. If you need a new unit, please follow the installation tutorial.
Troubleshooting and Repair of the Garbage Disposal
Repairing a Clogged Garbage Disposal
How to Install a Garbage Disposal
- Electrical Panel
Your home's electrical power panel will definitely get a visit by the buyer and inspector. Make sure the area in front of the panel is cleared away of debris and clutter and that the panel is cleaned. Make sure there are no tripped circuit breakers or popped fuses. Check that the ground wire is tightly clamped to the cold water pipe (if attached in that manner). If you have a fuse box, you may as well plan on having to upgrade the panel to a circuit breaker panel. At the very least you can expect to have the buyer use this upgrade in negotiations.
Why Circuit Breakers Trip (and Fuses Blow)
- GFCI Outlets
Make sure your home has GFCI outlets in the bathroom and kitchen. GFCI stands for Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter and GFCI protection is required by Code for kitchen countertop receptacles and all bathroom receptacles. This is an important life safety issue. Fortunately a GFCI outlet is easy to install using the following tutorial.
Upgrade a 2 Prong Outlet With a New GFI
- Furnace / Air Conditioning Operation and Maintenance
Count on your furnace and air conditioning systems to get the once over. Make sure seasonal furnace maintenance has been performed including a new furnace filter. Ensure the area around the furnace is cleared of debris and clutter. Also make sure all thermostat operations are functioning properly. If you have central air conditioning, go outside and make sure the condensing unit is cleaned including its cooling fins.
Seasonal Furnace Maintenance
Troubleshooting a Standard Gas Furnace
Troubleshooting a High Efficiency Condensing Gas Furnace
Troubleshooting a Thermostat
Central Air Conditioning Maintenance
- Damaged Drywall
Obvious drywall problems like a hole of any size will need to be repaired before showings. Although these types of repairs can be common with young children in the home, a hole in the wall speaks to a lack of repair and must be fixed.
Repairing a Small Hole in Drywall
Repairing a Large Hole in Drywall
- Tired Paint
The last item to check in your list is that of paint. Painting a wall or room that has dirt, dings or has just been patched is an essential pre-sale repair. Painting is inexpensive, easy to do and has the most positive impact for the least amount of money of almost any home improvement.
How to Paint a Room
How to Properly Use a Paintbrush