Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

The House Detective by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector

Dear Barry: I’ve made an offer to buy a 40-year-old condo with electric radiant heat in the ceilings. So far, I haven’t been able to confirm that the heat is working. Our home inspector said he wasn’t sure. So what should I do next, hire an electrician? If the heating doesn’t work, is the seller obligated to fix it? Kelly

Dear Kelly: Home inspectors can verify the function of radiant ceiling heat in two easy steps: Step one is to turn on the thermostat in each room and then wait about 15 to 20 minutes, while inspecting other aspects of the property. Step two is to carry a ladder from room to room and to place one’s hands on the ceiling surfaces. If the ceiling feels warm, the radiant heating is functional.

You don’t need to hire an electrician. Instead, call your home inspector and ask that the heating inspection be completed. If the system is not operative, you can request that the seller have it repaired. The seller may not be required to make these repairs, but you can argue that a home without a functional heating system is not a legal dwelling.