When inspecting the kitchen, in addition to the plumbing items mentioned above, the condition of the cabinets and counters should be checked. The appliances, although important, need not be inspected at this time. Because appliances can break down at any time, it is recommended that on the day of, but prior to, the contract closing, you come back to the house and operationally check every appliance included in the purchase. If an appliance is not operational, you can have your attorney request an adjustment at the closing for the cost of repairs.

Cabinets should be inspected for missing, cracked, and loose-fitting doors and drawers. Missing hardware for doors and drawers should be noted. The shelves should be checked to see if they are adequately supported. The counters should be inspected for cracked, burned, blistered, and loose sections. If there is a cutting board or hotplate on the counter, lift it up or move it aside. You might find that it is concealing a damaged section of the counter.

When inspecting the sink, in addition to checking water flow and drainage, look for a sprayer. If there is one, see if it is operational. I have seen many sprayers with a disconnected hose mounted in the sink fitting. The sprayers were not functional and served only as a decoration to cover the opening in the sink. Is there a sink in a central island cabinet? If there is, check the drain piping. Island sinks are notorious for being improperly vented. If the sink drain has an S-type trap rather than a P-type trap, it is not properly vented. Record this item on your worksheet.

Is there a garbage-disposal unit connected to the sink drain? If there is and the house has a septic tank, there might be a problem. A garbage-disposal unit introduces solid wastes into the septic system at a greater rate than normal. To avoid overloading the system, some states have a design criterion calling for a larger-capacity septic tank when there is a garbage-disposal unit. Other states recommend that the tank be cleaned at more frequent intervals. (See chapter 13 for a discussion of septic systems.)

If the disposal unit was added after the house was constructed and provisions were not made for a larger septic tank or more frequent cleaning, the disposal unit might have been overloading the septic system. This can result in premature failure of the system. If the house has a garbage-disposal unit and a septic system, check with the local municipal building department to determine if the system was designed to accommodate the wastes from the disposal unit. Also, check with the owner to find out when the septic tank was last cleaned. If it was not cleaned or at least inspected for sludge buildup within the last three years, record the fact on your worksheet. The tank should be cleaned after you move in.

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