Free Home Inspector Practice Test

The Home Inspector exam plays a big part in building safety in America. In the United States, as in all advanced nations, governments take very seriously the need to make sure that the safety and wellbeing of their citizens is a prime consideration in the construction of buildings. There are multiple levels of safety checks built into the system in the US. First, there are stringent building codes which all new structures must be built in compliance with. Second, contractors must pass tests to prove they're competent before being licensed to operate. Third, during, and after construction, government inspectors check the quality of the work to make sure it is "up to code" and is safe for human habitation.

Home inspectors enter the picture when a homeowner decides to sell his house to another party. Generally speaking, a bank or mortgage company will require a full home inspection report before they'll approve a loan to buy the house. Of course, if the inspection turns up any problems that are big enough for the lender to refuse to approve the loan, this will send negotiations back to square one. The seller will have to get the problem repaired in order to sell the house. It's important to note that home inspectors aren't only looking for major safety hazards; they're looking for any and all problems the buyer should be aware of. Normally these will be safety problems or advanced wear and tear which will mean the likelihood that the buyer will incur major repair expenses in the first few years after the transaction. Common problems are roofing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, termites, plumbing, electrical wiring, etc.

Home inspectors will inspect new houses from time to time, but the vast majority of their work involves older homes. Because they are the last line of defense a homebuyer has before agreeing to purchase a house, professional inspectors must be highly competent. The average homebuyer isn't really qualified to make sure the home inspector they're considering is competent (nor are most banking or real estate professionals), so licensing exams have been created for this purpose. By taking and passing an exam such as the Online Inspector Examination from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI), or the National Home Inspector Examination from the Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors (EBPHI), a person lets the world know that he is a professional in the field of home inspection. Those who rely on him can rest assured that he knows what he's doing and will make sure they don't get stuck with a house with huge, unforeseen problems that will be dangerous or expensive.

Practice Questions

1. What are the types of heat that must be taken into account when calculating the cooling loads for an HVAC system?

a. Sensible and radiant heat
b. Radiant and conductive heat
c. Conductive and latent heat
d. Sensible and latent heat

2. Which of the following would be most likely to have the highest R-value?

a. 6" fiberglass batt insulation
b. 12" cast-in-place concrete wall
c. 2" extruded polystyrene panel
d. Triple insulated glazing system with ½" air spaces

3. An inspector can often determine the approximate age of a home by its method of construction. Which of the following choices shows the methods of construction in order from first developed to most recently developed?

a. Post and beam construction, balloon framing, platform framing, ICF construction
b. Balloon framing, post and beam construction, ICF construction, platform framing
c. ICF construction, balloon framing, post and beam construction, platform framing
d. Post and beam construction, platform framing, balloon framing, ICF construction

4. One is inspecting an EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finishing System) wall system for deficiencies. Where would these be most likely to occur?

a. Window heads
b. The center of large expanses of EIFS
c. Along the bottom edge of the EIFS installation
d. At the corners of the installation, such as around windows

5. An inspector notes that the heat pump is not functioning and that the condensate pan under the air handler is full of water. Why might these two things be related?

a. The full condensate pan tripped a condensate overflow switch. The unit turned off in order to ensure that condensate did not spill.
b. The full condensate pan indicates that the fan in the air handler is not functioning, as it should.
c. The full condensate pan indicates that there is a leak in the heat exchanger, which has depressurized the unit, causing it to turn off.
d. The full condensate pan means that combustion byproducts have condensed and are flowing back into the house through the flue. This tripped the flue gas spill switch, turning the unit off.

Answers and Explanations

1. D: Sensible heat is energy that causes a change in temperature. Latent heat is energy that comes from matter changing its state, but not its temperature. For example, when ice melts, it absorbs latent heat because energy is required for the phase change. HVAC systems must deal with both of these types of heat loads in order to make the indoor environment comfortable for occupants. The terms "radiant" and "conductive" (Answers A, B, and C) refer to types of heat transfer, or ways that heat can be gained or lost, but not to an actual value of heat gain or loss.

2. A: Six inches of fiberglass batt insulation could be expected to have an R-value of around 18. A 12" cast-in-place concrete wall (Answer B) would be about R-1. Two-inch extruded polystyrene (Answer C) has an R-value of 10. A triple insulated glazing system (Answer D) would only have an R-value of around 3. A material's R-value refers to its ability to resist heat flow. Fiberglass batt insulation contains many tiny air pockets, which help to increase its R-value, while a 12" concrete wall has very little air in it, thus resulting in a low R-value, despite its thickness.

3. A: Post and beam construction was used beginning in around 1700 in what is now the U.S. This involves large wood members connected together with jointed posts and beams and wooden pegs. Balloon framing started to be used in the early 1800s, while platform framing came into widespread use in the middle of the 20th century. ICFs, or Insulated Concrete Forms, began to be used in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Insulated concrete forms are polystyrene blocks that are stacked and filled with concrete. They provide a much higher R-value than typical concrete construction.

4. D: Corners offer the largest potential for leakage, and therefore special attention should be paid to them. The corner of the jamb and the sill is especially prone to leakage, because water can get in the jamb and then run down the edge and back into the wall at the corner. The center of EIFS installations (Answer B) is probably the least likely area to leak because there are no joints. The bottom edges of the installation (Answer C) are not as prone to leaking because water must be driven upward to get in. This can happen, but not as easily as when gravity can help water get behind the EIFS.

5. A: The coil in the air handler has very cold refrigerant running through it. Because it is so cold, water will tend to condense on it, and it must drain from the unit. It drains to the condensate pan, and some units have a condensate overflow switch that will turn the unit off so that the condensate does not spill out of the pan. Fixing this problem is as easy as emptying out the pan. Answers B and C are incorrect because, while these are problems that could occur in an air handler, they would probably not stop the unit from functioning immediately. Answer D is incorrect because heat pumps do not produce combustion products, as there is no combustion involved.

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Last Updated: 03/01/2017

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