Does a home inspector check for trip hazards?

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Trip hazards are not addressed directly in the Standards of Practice for home inspectors in the State of Florida and of the two national home inspector associations, American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). But all of them require inspection of the interior and exterior walking surfaces and make “recommendations to correct, or monitor for future correction, the deficiencies reported."

    We call out any abrupt change in the level of a walking surface of a half-inch or more. A typical trip hazard is a heaved section of a concrete walkway due to tree roots or settlement. Also, sometimes a weekend warrior’s installation of a tile floor in one room of a home without an adequate transition slope down to the original floor level in an adjacent room will create a trip hazard. See our blog post What floor level change is a trip hazard?

   Another part of the home that can cause a fall if not installed properly is the stairs. Walking down a flight of stairs is a kind of controlled falling in itself, so any loss on balance will induce an actual fall. Because you expect each riser height to be the same, even a minor change in height will throw a person off of their cadence and may induce a fall. Low ceiling clearance above a stair run is another fall hazard: someone that bumps their head while looking down at where they are stepping while ascending or descending the stairs will likely take a tumble. Lack of an adequate hand-grip along at least one side of the stairs is also a safety defect.

   Yet another fall hazard is created when an indoor-rated tile with a smooth surface is installed at an outdoor location. Tile for exterior installation is required to have a slip-resistance rating, called a “coefficient of friction,” of 0.60 or more. Ramps require a rating of 0.80 or more. The manufacturer lists the coefficient of friction in their specifications on the packaging. While we can’t determine the coefficient of friction of installed tile during an inspection, it is always obvious when a smooth tile has been used. 

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Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about SAFETY:

 What is the best place to install carbon monoxide alarms (CO detectors) in a house? 

 Why is it important to use "cabinet screws" to mount the upper cabinets in the kitchen?

 Is the door between an attached garage and the house required to have a closer (self-closing device)?

 Can the smoke sensors in a home security/fire alarm system replace the smoke alarms required by the building code?

 Should I get a lightning rod system to protect my house? 

 What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home?

 What is aging in place? 

 How do I safely remove a dead rodent (rat, mouse or squirrel) from the attic?

 Does pushing the test button on a smoke alarm test the smoke sensor device inside? 

 What is the minimum height of a ceiling fan above the floor?

 Should a smoke alarm be installed in the kitchen? 

 Why is a double cylinder deadbolt lock on an exterior door a safety hazard?

 Why are rubber washing machine hoses a safety risk?

 What can I do to avoid kitchen accidents and injuries?

 Where are smoke alarms required to be located? 

 Are carbon monoxide alarms required to be installed in homes in Florida?

 Are old vinyl tile floors dangerous?  

 How can I use safety checks to limit my tenant liability for a rental house?

 Do you inspect for trip hazards around the home? 

 When should I replace my smoke alarms?

• Why is an anti-tip device now required behind the range? 

What are the hazards to avoid when going into an attic? 

What are the warning signs of a dangerous deck?

    Visit our SAFETY page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.


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