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Where the Bodies are Hidden

Home Inspector with Home Sweet Home Inspection Services

Drop ceilings are an affordable solution instead of drywall ceilings in a basement. Drop ceilings are also homeowner friendly in terms of installation. Drop ceilings are also where I find many safety issues and defects.

Depending on how many rooms there are, I will pop up 1 or 2 panels per room to see what is up in the cavity between the ceiling and the floor frame above. What do I find? Electrical defects are the number one issue. Splices that are left in the open with wire nuts or taped together and not in an approved receptacle with cover are a safety and liability issue.

Ceiling tiles that are bellied is another example of what I find. What is causing that belly in the tile? Usually a recessed lighting fixture or supply/return registers that is not properly installed. The result could be a collapsed fixture and tile which could hurt someone.

Bathroom and dryer venting is another issue. I will find bathroom vents that exhaust into the cavity of the ceiling and floor frame above. What does this do? Dampness permeates this area and possible mold and mildew growth will occur. Dryer venting has the same moisture issue but also all the lint fills the cavity which is a fire safety issue.

I am also able to see leaks from plumbing fixtures above. This is easy to find and evidenced by the water stain on the ceiling panel. Also, looking at the underside of ceiling panels I will find where they have been replaced. Some tiles will also have a date of when they were made giving me an indication of when possible leaking or damage in that area occurred. I am then able to tell my client that they may want to ask the home seller about the new tiles that have been replaced and why, what or if there was a problem.

I do have to be careful removing ceiling tiles to gain access. If I break one, I feel I should have to replace it and some inspectors won't look up there for that reason. These are many more issues that can be found but these are just a few.  I feel that if you want to do good job for your client, looking into a drop ceiling is necessary. Who knows what will be found?  And Why Not?

Josh Bradley
Keller Williams Realty - Spartanburg, SC
Spartanburg, SC Realtor

Great Blog. Thanks for the valuable information.

Feb 16, 2009 02:51 AM
Pat Champion
John Roberts Realty - Eustis, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

I can see you really do your job for your customers.  Thanks for sharing this information.

Feb 16, 2009 02:58 AM
Joel Bennett
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. - Columbia, MD
The Joel Bennett Group

I agree.  If you have your clients interest at heart, looking in to the ceiling is definitely a good move.  Nice Blog. 

Feb 16, 2009 03:32 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Louis, good info.  I like to pick on the ones that already have some damage if I can---there often is:)

Feb 16, 2009 04:41 AM
Jim Mushinsky
Centsable Inspection - Framingham, MA

Hi Louis. I know Georgia does not have a home inspector law, yet this is a good example of how you exceed the Standards of Practice of several professional home inspector organizations (as well as most States that have licensing do not require inspectors to move ceiling tiles). Good Job.

Feb 16, 2009 02:46 PM
Louis Agudo
Home Sweet Home Inspection Services - Roswell, GA
Roswell Home Inspector

Josh, Pat, Joel, Teresa, Charles and Jim

Thank you all for your comments. I do look out for my clients. They in turn recommend me to other people. I couldn't imagine not looking into the ceiling. I just assume that all home inspectors do :)

Feb 17, 2009 11:39 AM
Preston Sandlin
Home Inspection Carolina - Charlotte, NC


I always look behind the ceiling tiles too.  Along with all the wiring and plumbing problems you really do find some weird stuff.  I always found the dirty magazines and a teenage kids liquor stash. http://www.askthecharlotteinspector.com



Feb 19, 2009 02:24 AM