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Home Inspection Education

  • DEFECTS LIST - GARAGES - CONTENTS: Residential garage safety & strucutral inspection & defects list. Lists of important defects for residential and light commercial garages.
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Garage inspections for defects:

This article lists significant residential garage defects, definitions, and home inspection education topics.

We include lists of defects in the garage stucture, floor, windows, supporting columns, roof, roof drainage, vehicle door, automatic door operators, and the passage door or man-door entry to the buildling.

The building defects and inspection points listed in these articles also guide homeowners and home buyers to building areas that merit careful attention and often point areas of safety concern or important maintenance and repair tasks. Our page top photo shows a leaning garage corner and a building that is settling into the dirt.

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Home Inspection Education Curriculum - Garage


First let's identify the type of garage structure being inspected, as the type of structure has implications for common safety hazards or other defects

  1. Detached garage, or other separate outbuildings, including the garage structure, wiring, other facilities
  2. Attached garage, physically connected to the building, including issues with fire protection, fire door
  3. Garage constructed below all or part of the occupied space of the building, including issues with fire barriers, and location of mechanicals

Garage Floor Defects List

• Broken 

• Cracked, settled or heaved 

• Drainage problems

• Structural garage floors (specialized inspection needed)

Garage Window Defects List

• Cracked

• Condensation, abnormal

• Deformation

• Drain holes blocked or missing

• Installed backwards [?]

• Ineffective drip caps

• Missing

• Rot, insect damaged

• Inoperable

• Loose fit

• Poor weatherstrip

• Leaks

• Lost seal on double or triple glazing

• Damaged

• Missing

• Sash coming apart

• Worn

• Stiff

• Poor flashing details

• Broken

Garage Fire Safety Defects List

Air leaks

• Exposed combustible insulation

• Fireproofing or gasproofing ineffective

Garage Footing & Foundation Defects List

• Lintels sagging or missing

• Water leaks

• Cracked

• Heaved  

• Settled

• Spalling                 

Garage Framing or Masonry Wall Defects List

• Missing or removed structural components

• Rafter spreading

• Rot, insect damaged

• Racked

• Bowing or bulging                

• Cracked

• Leaning                          

• Mechanical damage                

• Mortar deterioration             

• Spalling

Garage Supporting Columns Defects List

• Leaning, settled, heaved 

• Rot, insect damage

• Rust

• Spalling, cracked or damaged 

• Wood/soil contact or wood column penetrates slab

• No footings

 Garage Exterior Trim Defects List

• Caulking or flashing missing, deteriorated, loose, rusting or incomplete

• Damaged, cracked or loose

• Inadequate sill projection

• Paint or stain needed                  

• Missing

• No drip edge

• Rot, insect damage or wood/soil contact

• Paint or stain needed

• Sagging or bowing                 

• Putty (glazing compound) cracked, missing loose or deteriorated                                  

• Rot                      

• Rust

• Sills with reverse slope

• Vines

Garage Roof Covering Defects List

• Missing drip caps                                      

• Leaks                        

• Damaged                 

• Missing                         

• Worn                             

• Poor flashing details

 Garage Gutters & Downspouts Defects List

• Leaking or clogged                     

• Loose or damaged                       

• Missing                                

• Poor location                          

• Poor slope                         

• Rusted

• Undersized

Garage Vehicle Entry Door Defects List

• Air leaks

• Lintels sagging or missing

• Water leaks  

• Damaged  

• Dark paint on metal exposed to sun

• Deformation

• Delaminated

• Difficult to open or close

• Drain holes blocked or missing         

• Installed backwards        

• Loose or poor fit                          

• Plastic trim on metal door behind storm    • Paint or stain needed

• Racked    

• Rot or insect damage

• Rust or denting

 Garage Vehicle Door Operator Defects List

• Automatic garage opener

– Inoperative

– Fails to auto reverse

– Adjustment needed to open or close   limits

Garage Passage Door Defects List - "Man-Doors"

• Door not fire rated or exterior type

• Door not tightfitting and weatherstripped

• No self closer

• No step up to house

• Floor includes stairs down into basement utility area (heating equipment) or occupied space (CO hazards)

• Opens into bedroom

Readers should see EXTERIORS of BUILDINGS for our complete list of articles on this topic. Also see HOME & BUILDING INSPECTORS & INSPECTION METHODS. Use the Search Box at the top or bottom of these pages to find in-depth information about building, energy savings, and indoor environment inspection, diagnosis and repair at this website.

Watch out: these inspection lists do not list all possible defects for the systems discussed, and not all home or building inspectors will examine all of the items listed here. CONTACT us to suggest corrections or additions to articles at this website.

Readers should see EXTERIORS of BUILDINGS for our complete list of articles on this topic.

These curriculae and building defect lists are based on smilar curriculum documents first prepared by Joe Scaduto, an ASHI member who prepared course material for Northeastern University's Building Inspection Certificate program in 1988, subsequently by DF, InspectApedia's editor, for New York University ca 1988 and later, with others, recommended to ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors.

ASHI did not adopt this material though currently that association as well as others offer extensive HOME INSPECTOR EDUCATION material.

The curriculum and lists of defects are informed by additional analysis of the process of home inspection that was developed beginning Calgary, AB for Canadian and U.S. home inspector education and certification examinations in 1997.

Other early contributors to home inspection education in the U.S. and Canada include Dr. Jess Aronstein, Alan Carson, Mike Casey, Mark Cramer, John Cox, Dwight Barnett, Douglas Hansen, Rick Heyl, Larry Hoytt, Bill Merrill, Kevin O'Malley, Dennis Robitalille, Keith Peddie, Pat Porzio, Roger Robinson.

Reader question: leaky door between garage and house interior makes a whistle when it's windy

(Jan 26, 2012) Linda  said:

The metal door that goes into the garage from the house has a whistle when the wind blows. It is very well sealed and the sound stops when the door is cracked. Although the garage was built on several years the whistle started recently. The only thing that has changed is we put a ceiling in the garage and added a whirling vent in the roof. What could be causing this and how can we stop it from happening?


Linda I suspect that your garage changes - adding a ceiling and a roof vent - may have changed the air pressurization of the garage itself, thus changing air movement properties; or by coincidence the door itself and its seal were damaged, nicked, or modified just enough to permit an air leak.

The best solution will be to find and fix the air leak around the garage door. You might get some help by using powder or smoke to test to see exactly where the air leak is occurring.


Watch out: if you have heating equipment in the garage or that depends on combustion air from the garage space there may be other hazards including insufficient combustion air and CO dangers.

Garage-House Connections: Fire safety restrictions in model building codes

2006 International Residential Code (IRC) R309.2: Separation Requirements:

The garage shall be separated from the residence and its attic area by not less than 1/2-inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board applied to the garage side.

Garages beneath habitable rooms shall be separated from all habitable rooms above by not less than 5/8-inch (15.9 mm) Type X gypsum board or equivalent. Where the separation is a floor-ceiling assembly, the structure supporting the separation shall also be protected by not less than 1/2-inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board or equivalent.

Garages located less than 3 feet (914 mm) from a dwelling unit on the same lot shall be protected with not less than 1/2–inch (12.7 mm) gypsum board applied to the interior side of exterior walls that are within this area.

Openings in these walls shall be regulated by Section 309.1.

This provision does not apply to garage walls that are perpendicular to the adjacent dwelling unit wall.

2006 International Residential Code (IRC) R309.1 Opening Protection:

Openings from a private garage directly into a room used for sleeping purposes shall not be permitted.

Other openings between the garage and the residence shall be equipped with solid wood doors not less than 1-3/8” (35 mm) in thickness, solid- or honeycomb-core steel doors not less than 1-3/8” (35 mm) thick, or 20-minute fire-rated doors.

2006 International Residential Code (IRC) R309.1.1 Duct Penetration:

Ducts in the garage and ducts penetrating the walls or ceilings separating the dwelling from the garage shall be constructed of a minimum No. 26-gauge (0.48 mm) steel sheet or other approved material, and shall have no openings in the garage.

Doors: Fire-rated, self-closing door should be used between the garage and the living space.

2006 International Residential Code (IRC) R309.3 Floor Surface:

Garage floor surfaces shall be of approved, non-combustible material. The area of the floor used for parking of automobiles or other vehicles shall be sloped to facilitate the movement of liquids to a drain or toward the main vehicle entry doorway.

Electrical Receptacles in Garages: floor height

Garage electrical outlet location: In the garage electrical outlets should be 18" or more above floor level.

GFCI protection is required on garage receptacles.


Stairs Between Garage and House

Watch out: in addition to the protection afforded by a self-closing, gasketed fire door between house and garage, a garage floor that is one or more steps down from the occupied floors of a home is safer against the fire and explosion hazards that ensue should a car or stored fuel or equipment leak combustible gases or fuels onto the garage foor or should a motor or vehicle be left running in the garage.

A garage that sports stairs leading down into a basement or crawl space is a particular danger from fuel leaks or gases. Some building code inspectors may accept stairs down from a garage provided that a curbing of sufficient height surrounds the stairwell.

CO and Smoke detectors should be installed in the garage as well.


Heating Equipment Protection in Garages

Heating equipment located in a garage or in a utility room opening off of a garage including boilers, furnaces, water heaters or calorifiers or geysers should be eleveated at least 18" above the garage floor to reduce the chances of a heating equipment flame or spark igniting combustible fumes that may occur in a garage from a gasoline leak or spill.


Oil storage tanks in a garage also need to be protected from vehicle impact.


Damage protection for water heaters: Also referred to in some communities as "bollard or barrier" to protect the water heater, water heaters in garages should be protected from mechanical damage such as being struck by an auto

Elevating stand for water heater: required by some building codes that specify that the water heater must be elevated above floor level, for example for water heaters installed in a garage. Note that many new water heaters are FVIR rated or "flammable vapor ignition resistant"


This article series, beginning at BUILDING DEFECTS LISTS, provides lists of common building defects and basic defect knowledge that also outline recommended curriculum content for home inspector education.


Continue reading at ARTICLE INDEX to BUILDING DAMAGE, DISASTER, REPAIR or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Or see STRUCTURAL INSPECTIONS & DEFECTS where we discuss simple measurements of building or wall leaning, bulging, or bowing.

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DEFECTS LIST - GARAGES at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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