Why “Spray & Prays” Must be Inspected

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve coined the term “Spray & Pray” to describe properties that are bought by “flippers”. The term comes from my impression that the property is painted (sprayed on the inside) and then the flippers pray that they make it through the inspection period. Flippers are real estate investors that buy and then quickly sell a property for a profit.


I’m not opposed to flippers. I believe in capitalism. I’ve inspected several properties that flippers were selling that were actually in pretty good shape. However, some of the properties that I have recently inspected had substantial defects that likely were known to the flipper.


For example, here’s a photo of a kitchen counter at a home that I recently inspected. In this photo, you can see there are no receptacles at the backsplash for the kitchen faucet. Most building standards require that no point along a counter is more than two feet away from a receptacle and that all receptacles within six feet of a water source are GFCI-protected. This is a pretty obvious defect that was “overlooked” by the sellers when they upgraded the property for sale.


kitchen counter



Here’s another photo, this time using infrared thermography, showing missing insulation in a stud bay in the master bedroom (that used to be a garage/carport).  Not only is the insulation missing, but when I inspected the attic space I observed a very long trunk line that had been added to supply heating and cooling to the additional rooms. Unfortunately, the existing heat pump is not large enough to provide adequate cooling to the home since it is now considerably larger than it had been.  This master bedroom at the other end of the home is simply not going to cool with the current system.  Arizona summers are pretty hot!





Once the inspection was complete, the prospective buyer and her Realtor were involved in some healthy negotiations with the “Spray & Pray” flippers that were selling the home.


Fortunately, armed with my inspection report, the buyer and her Realtor were in a great position to negotiate on some of the more significant issues and the transaction closed in the last few weeks.


I have a few more interesting Spray & Pray stories and photos that I will share in upcoming blogs.


Thanks for reading!

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Simple Electronic Garage Door Maintenance



The vast majority of homes that I inspect include garages with electronic garage door openers. The average-size home has a two-car garage door. There are a few different types of garage doors and electronic openers. For the purpose of this Blog, I am focusing on standard, hinged, overhead garage doors that use an overhead tension spring and cable system to pull the door up and down. The opener mechanism is typically mounted on the ceiling and includes a motor attached to a cable, chain or screw drive.


Due to frequency of use and changing weather conditions, electronic garage door maintenance is often overlooked by the average homeowner.

Continue Reading →

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The Importance of the TPR Valve

I’m sitting here in a hotel in Cleveland, Ohio the night before we begin our final preparations for our Franchisee Summit. This is an event that happens about every 18 months. As the National Technical Leader and Director of Education for the Inspect-It 1st franchise, I’ve been through this many times before. In a couple of days,

Upsloped and Narrowed TPR Piping: A Dangerous Condition!

we’ll have franchisees descending on the town to learn about technical, marketing and business applications. I’ll be a presenter or facilitator for several sessions.


TPR Valves and Piping


Today I’d like to talk about a misunderstood part of your home, the TPR valve and TPR piping on your water heater. There are many types of water heaters, and most include something called a TPR valve.


The TPR stands for Temperature Pressure Relief. The valve is typically ¾” in diameter and is used as one of the failsafe mechanisms to help prevent your water heater from becoming a bomb. Yes, I said a bomb. A water heater exploded here in Phoenix in 2008 and basically destroyed the home. The heater shot through the air 150 yards and landed three blocks away.

These are the main points for you to consider:

  1. Does your water heater have a TPR valve? Compare the picture to your water heater. Chances are good that if you have a conventional tank-style water heater (either electric or gas), it will have a TPR valve. Attached to this valve is piping that channels the hot steam and water to the exterior.
  2. Check the valve for any visible signs of leaks, such as rust stains.
  3. Check to make sure that the valve is not running in the open position. Most TPR piping exits to the exterior, so look for a small pipe sticking out of the wall and within 24” of the ground. It should be dry underneath this pipe.
  4. Check to make sure that the piping material is smooth (copper is most typical but some municipalities allow CPVC or galvanized steel). Flexible copper tubing is not appropriate because it may trap water and will slow down performance.
  5. Check to make sure that the piping is not narrowed from the original size of the valve, that it isn’t threaded or capped at the end and that it doesn’t slope upwards at any point along its run to daylight. Please see the attached photo.
  6. Pipes that slope upwards may retain water in the piping and prevent the TPR valve from performing its important mission.

Your home is your castle. Learn to listen to it. If you hear what it has to say you can prevent lots of problems.


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