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Testing Microwaves


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1. penny balloon with 5drops of water and tied at top

2. penny balloon with one kernal of popcorn and tied at top

3. red penny balloon tied at top inside an old tube sock.

4. small piece of lucite with a pellet of krypton embedded (glows red when struck by microwave)

5. concord grape split along horizontal axis

6. dead rat before rigor sets in

7. etc

I'm sure others use different mat'l and protocols.

PS: I charge extra for microwave testing.

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I snap off a square of paper towel or grab a small wad of toilet paper from the powder room, dampen it with cold water under the faucet and then pop it into the microwave, set it for ten seconds and hit the start button. After ten seconds I pull it out and toss it to the client and then say something like, "I don't spare any expense for the latest testing equipment."

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I snap off a square of paper towel or grab a small wad of toilet paper from the powder room, dampen it with cold water under the faucet and then pop it into the microwave, set it for ten seconds and hit the start button. After ten seconds I pull it out and toss it to the client and then say something like, "I don't spare any expense for the latest testing equipment."

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

The microwave in question (built in with venting system, venting worked fine) is cutting off at 20 seconds (not a breaker trip either). Plus it is not even mentioned as an inspection item within my report. This is the first issue I have ever had with microwaves. They feel I am on the hook for it. Any suggestions on the proper way to handle this situation?

Mike

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The microwave in question (built in with venting system, venting worked fine) is cutting off at 20 seconds (not a breaker trip either). Plus it is not even mentioned as an inspection item within my report. This is the first issue I have ever had with microwaves. They feel I am on the hook for it. Any suggestions on the proper way to handle this situation?

Mike

Tell them to produce the standard that requires you to test the microwave.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Yeah,

Politely inform them that appliances aren't covered by the state standard of practice and that, though you might have, as a courtesy to them, turned it on for a few seconds to see if it was functioning, you aren't required to provide any warranty unless it's agreed to in writing first.

Point out to them that any appliance can fail at any moment; that the manufacturer warrants an appliance for a year but after that point will not repair it and that a home inspection does not extend a manufacturer's warranty nor offer a separate warranty of performance to guard against any future defect in any electro-mechanical items in the home. Explain that when the licensing board wrote the SOP they pointedly omitted appliances because they didn't want home inspectors being on the hook for appliances because they are considered to be convenience accessories and aren't germane to the home inspection process.

As proof of that direct them to the state home inspector's standard of practice at www.dol.wa.gov/business/homeinspectors/ to Chapter 308-408C WAC Standards of Practice and WAC 308-408C-030 Exclusions and Limitations

The Inspector is not required to:

(1) Determine the condition of any system or component that is not readily accessible; the remaining service life of any system or component; the strength, adequacy, effectiveness or efficiency of any system or component; causes of any condition or deficiency; methods, material, or cost of corrections; future conditions including, but not limited to, failure of system and components.

(11) Offer or provide warranties or guarantees of any kind unless clearly explained and agreed to by both parties in a pre-inspection agreement.

Tell them to look at WAC 308-408C-140 Interiors.

The inspection of the interior includes the walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors; steps, stairways, balconies and railings.

Nowhere in there does it say appliances. Believe me when I tell you - that omission was intentional.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Mike,

we do not inspect any appliances. We do observe and report on the "hook-ups" ie: gas/electric/etc. We also report if there is an existing microwave in place. nothing more. we do not even turn anything on - ever!

We will do a dog and pony show if time allows and the performance will benefit the client.

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The microwave in question (built in with venting system, venting worked fine) is cutting off at 20 seconds (not a breaker trip either). Plus it is not even mentioned as an inspection item within my report. This is the first issue I have ever had with microwaves. They feel I am on the hook for it. Any suggestions on the proper way to handle this situation?

Mike

Tell them to produce the standard that requires you to test the microwave.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Of course, there is no such standard or obligation, but I'm guessing that Mike's SOP also does not specifically state that he doesn't test microwaves. Presumably, he did test other fixed appliances in the home, including the range and dishwasher. So, from the client's POV, why not the microwave? All of our tests are limited. Most of us that do briefly check microwaves probably would not have caught one that shuts off after 20 seconds, but we would at least have some documentation of what we did and did not do.

Mike's problem is this bit..."Plus it is not even mentioned as an inspection item within my report."

Unless he can actually point to something in his published standards about microwaves, or in the report about not testing them, he has put himself in an awkward position.

As to how to handle this particular situation...I guess I would try pointing out to the client that any HI inspection of a microwave is incomplete and would not have found this particular fault. If that doesn't satisfy them (and it seems unlikely), my next step would probably involve money...Mine!

...and then in the future, I would make damn sure that what I did not test was documented somewhere.

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Unfortunately you're in a tough spot there. Like most, I turn it on for a few seconds to make sure it kicks on and the lights/fans work, but that's it. My report will say if it was functional or not. Thanks for the post. I need to add a new disclaimer...

On a side note, you could also ask them what temperature you should have heated the oven to for ensuring it's fully functional. They can't expect a full cycle test of everything.

Grant

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Richard,

Should we specifically exclude everything we do not inspect?

I inspected ranges for the first few years, then stopped when we became a multi-inspector company.

When I was making some modifications on my old report format, I did a little research on the number of defects we noted on the check-list narrative format regarding appliances. I learned we found very few defects and accepted lots of liability. In our area 99% of inspectors do not inspect appliances. I can't see any up side.

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FWIW - if it's staying with the house we test.

Whether it's required or not, my customers appreciate me looking at everything I can. I'm familiar with Mike's argument that we can't know how well the dishwasher cleans, or how evenly the oven heats. But I find leaking dishwashers fairly often, along with occasional problems with clothes washer drains. A washer in a repo I checked out last summer dumped half a tub of water through the living room ceiling before I realized there was a problem and turned the damn thing off.

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Texas TREC SOP requires testing of all appliances. If a microwave is a "portable" unit sitting on a counter-top they are excluded.

I test with a small plastic glass from the tool-bag that I fill ~ 1/2-full (or empty) of water and run for one-minute. If it is bubbling at that time then it's working.

End of test.

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I do a visual inspection. No tools. I look for damage. If it's a combination microwave/range hood appliance, I check if the interior light comes on and the fan blows air. I wiggle it to see if it's securely mounted. I check if the light cover or fan filter are missing. I'm done.

Marc

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Richard,

Should we specifically exclude everything we do not inspect?

No, of course not. And if you don't test any appliances, then fine...I'm sure your clients are made aware of that. The problem comes when you test some and not others. In my area, it is, I believe(?), the norm to check the "usual" appliances. And I consider a built-in microwave no different than a wall oven, disposal, etc. It's not a thorough check by any means at all, but it does at least test for basic function(s). Then in the report I state something along the lines of... "The built-in WhirlyGig was tested briefly and functioned normally. Note that not all combinations of whirling or gigging were tested."

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It's a funny thing--peoples' expectations.

People want to know about the big expensive stuff and at the same time care about the seemingly little stuff, i.e. do the kitchen drawers open and close? Does the door latch? Does the microwave work? All stuff that doesn't require the least bit of expertise to evaluate.

But. . . I try and comply as much as possible to avoid complaints later. I'll check all the drawers and the simple stuff 'cuz it's what people expect. . . I think.

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They know before I get done with the contract that the only reason I'm looking at the appliances is a courtesy to them but that I won't warranty any appliance. I tell 'em I only care if the disposal is properly plumbed and wired and if it spins up - I won't know, or care, whether it can chew up a tablespoon of jello. I tell 'em that I don't have any dishes to test the dishwasher, that I'll run it through a cycle to see if the thing leaks and if the soap thingy flips open, but I won't know, or care, whether it couldn't take the spit from a gnat off a plate. I tell 'em that I'm only interested in how a stove and fans are wired up and vented and whether they get too hot for me to touch and I won't know, or care, whether the oven can hold X° for an hour or two minues, etc.. I tell 'em that's what I'm going to do for them but that I'm not required to and that it doesn't constitute a warranty. I often say to them, "In fact," if the thing fails as I'm backing my truck out of the driveway, I'll feel badly for you but I'm not an appliance warranty provider, never have been and never will be one. If you want a warranty on your appliances, call a home warranty company. Oh yeah, and I do the thing with the wad of paper in the microwave.

I have a lot of Chinese clients. When I explain that I don't care about the "accessories" in the house and they wrinkle up their foreheads and it becomes clear that they aren't 'getting' it, I tell them to think of me as a mechanic who is inspecting a car for them. I'm interested in the engine of the car, the transmission, the drivetrain, the axles and brakes and suspension and the electrics and ignition system, doors, window and body, but I don't care about the CD player or the fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror. That usually puts it in perspective for them and they then "get" it.

Honestly, in 14+ years I've never had a client complain that I didn't inspect the appliances beyond that or warranty the appliances. I'd say, based on the number of customer referrals I get, that it's never been an issue. Oh, and I never run washing machines; I don't care if they're hooked up or not - they are even farther into the accessory zone than all the other appliances put together - except for a trash compactor.....maybe.

Still, appliances are specifically excluded from the inspection and there is nothing that says if you inspect one of them you "have" to inspect them all - even if the client has some warped expectation that you must - and that will be the answer they get from DOL if they try to push the issue.

If you inspected any of the appliances and they worked. Fine. You went beyond what you were required to. That doesn't mean that you were providing a warranty on the appliances inspected or that they should expect a warranty, or, if you inspected one but not all that you were negligent by not inspecting them all. You were not required to do so, so you could not be negligent where those are concerned - period.

They should be ashamed for looking a gift horse in the mouth and expecting gold dentures.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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All these little things, little particulars, etc will be overlooked by a happy client. Dissapointed clients will put everything through a microscope, especially their attorneys, if you're unlucky enough for it get that far.

Marc

EDIT: grammar

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Typically, if it's a counter top model, i plug in a sentence that "counter top microwaves are not inspected." If built -in, shake/pull it, test light/fan, proper clearance from stove top, put in a half full of water plastic bottle I carry in the toolbag for 1 minute, hand to client while warm. Turn on the stove top (always test microwave above first, keeps from burning the belly!) and oven, turn off when they are hot or gas has lit, look at oven hook-up, is there an anti-tip device, run dishwasher on rinse cycle (only takes a few minutes), make sure it's attached to counter or side cabinets, take access panel off bottom of dw, look at electrical connection (many have no connector or grommet) and leaks, look for air-gap (or at least hi-mounted drain line) and watch for water spurting out the air-gap when it drains, (how many people install the disposer without removing the plug!) take ice cubes from freezer of refrigerator and dump into disposer - grind ice. Look at electrical connection to disposer and for leaks. Open each cabinet door with a slight downward pressure, pull all drawers the same, note anything that looks old or worn with a "appears to be old/worn - budget to replace - - "

Is this more than what is required - sure is, but is it good customer service and what people expect? I say yes, but each inspector has to decide for themselves. Yea, it takes a little longer, but most of my business comes from referrals by clients so I have to think the clients like my inspections. And I also run the washer and dryer. If the owner is at home, I always ask if they need to do laundry or run the dishwasher because I going to, so it would save a little energy and water if they want to do it while I'm there. But I don't vacuum, even with a whole house system. [:)]

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