Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

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jplee3
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Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by jplee3 »

Hi all,

Just moved into our new place a couple days ago and found rat and or mice nesting under the dishwasher, kitchen sink void space (via removing the toe-kick), and also a little under the fridge. I'm suspecting MORE of this under the remaining cabinets. What led up to this was that we were smelling something pretty bad... we had the place fumigated last week so I think that may have killed off anything under these cabinets. One rat was 'mummified' but today after pulling the kitchen sink toekick there were three more - not sure if these were mice or rats. We sprayed down as much as we could with bleach-water (1:9 or 1:10 ratio) and then disposed in a double bag. Wearing gloves and N95s of course.

During rentback we noted a couple rodent droppings (a mold remediation company actually called it out) and we brought it to the sellers' attention but they mostly just ignored it. I actually set traps out the night before fumigation and got a big rat. But it seems there were likely more.

Any recourse here? And would either home warranty and or home insurance cover the clean-up/demo/restoration of any of this ?
Saving$
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by Saving$ »

Sorry you have to deal with this.

I don't have a response for your question, but wanted to comment on getting the issue taken care of. Many of the supposed pest control companies are less than choir boys. If you see that many rodents, chances are you have a huge infestation and it really needs to be dealt with properly. I'd contact the local county extension service to see if they have a service that will help you deal with this and/or recommendations.
Lalamimi
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by Lalamimi »

wow. Sorry to hear this. Sounds like your inspectors did not look everywhere. Never heard of insurance paying anything, but give them a call. Home warranty probably not. Does the dishwasher work? Assume it does, if inspected. Agree, bring in the big guns. Buyer beware is true in this case.
redmaw
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by redmaw »

My guess is that this isn't covered by the warrantee, and if it is, you don't want to wait for them to take action anyway (in my experience these companies require you to book service through them and drag there feet for weeks to get anything done).

If you can show there were signs the home inspector should have pointed out, the inspector may be liable. You can't use evidence that was found by removing the kickplate, as that is not required during inspection, but holes used for entrance/egress, droppings, etc. should have been found and noted in the report. I know a guy who claims a very expensive water damage repair was paid for by the inspector because it was missed during inspection. You may also have a case against the prior owner for non-disclosure as this type of infestation is hard to miss, and didnt happen overnight. In either case I would guess you will need a lawyer to collect anything, but I could be wrong.
cabould
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by cabould »

Welcome to home ownership, there are always unexpected costs. I'm sure it would be cheaper to hire a pest control company vs. getting a lawyer. It will be very difficult to hold a home inspector liable, as I am sure you signed some sort of waiver at the time of inspection.
OnceARunner
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by OnceARunner »

redmaw wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:35 am I know a guy who claims a very expensive water damage repair was paid for by the inspector because it was missed during inspection.
Interesting. Every one that I've seen has the maximum liability being what you paid for the inspection itself.
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Watty
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by Watty »

OnceARunner wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:16 am
redmaw wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 7:35 am I know a guy who claims a very expensive water damage repair was paid for by the inspector because it was missed during inspection.
Interesting. Every one that I've seen has the maximum liability being what you paid for the inspection itself.
And likely required that any claim go through arbitration by a group that is very favorable towards them.

A bigger question to me that the seller likely knew about the problem and may not have disclosed it properly.
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lthenderson
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by lthenderson »

Most insurance covers damage from wild animals to the house itself but not damage to your personal property or damage caused by excrement. I'm guessing insurance won't cover this.

I also wouldn't expect a home inspector to have any liability as they are tasked with finding structural or home issues and not tasked or trained with spotting rodent infestations.

My guess is your only course of remediation is to go after the previous owners but I would guess you would have to prove they knew about the infestation and didn't report it (probably very tough to do) and the end result would just be a financial settlement that may or may not cover the cost of your lawyers.

Me personally, I would chalk it up as an expensive lesson, kill them, repair the damage, seal up their access to the house and move on.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by ResearchMed »

Lalamimi wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 9:05 pm wow. Sorry to hear this. Sounds like your inspectors did not look everywhere. Never heard of insurance paying anything, but give them a call. Home warranty probably not. Does the dishwasher work? Assume it does, if inspected. Agree, bring in the big guns. Buyer beware is true in this case.
I'm just thinking about this now.
I don't remember home inspectors actually running the dishwasher... or washer/dryer, or checking the temps in the oven, etc.
Is that usually done?

Maybe we haven't had the best of the inspectors.
We have a very old (just over 100 years) and large house, and as we got to know the house after moving in, it became clear how many things/areas the inspector didn't inspect.
Actually IF we were to buy another house, I might do more checking.

I think one mistake is selecting an inspector recommended by any real estate agent who is involved in the sale of that house. The inspector presumably is aware that if they slow thing down too often or even seem to lead to offers being cancelled using the inspection contingency, the agents will be recommending other inspectors.

I do remember that it was too cold to check whether the AC worked.
So we insisted upon a few thousand to be escrowed until we could get the system checked.
I'm pretty sure the sellers, who were by then overseas permanently, thought they'd never see that money back. But several weeks later, the AC worked okay, and we had the money sent to the sellers.

What does a "home warranty" cover if the house isn't brand new?

RM
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HomeStretch
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by HomeStretch »

In addition to dealing with the rodents living inside, you need to identify how they are getting in and out of the house. Walk around the exterior looking for any openings into the house (mice can squeeze through an opening the size of dime). Pull out the appliances away from the exterior wall to check on the inside too. Any openings around vents, ducts, cables, gas lines, etc. with gaps that aren’t properly sealed or or exterior doors/garage doors that have gaps or are left open are a possible entry point to the inside of your house. You need to inspect the exterior/interior from the ground up to the roof/attic.

Old-fashioned Victory spring traps for rats/mice baited with a peanut butter smear are effective. Buy a couple dozen of each and start putting them out now. Check daily and replace any “used” ones.

Vacuum any food crumbs daily. Keep counter clean of any type of food. Make sure everything in cabinets is in sealed containers.

Clear away any brush, leaves, bushes or ground coverings within a few feet of the exterior foundation. The Boston ivy at my house when we moved in had creeped to the foundation on 4 sides and the mice had perfect cover to move inside and outside.

Wear gloves and mask when cleaning up droppings.

Sadly the urine odor will not completely go away. A kitchen cabinet and floor redo may be in your future.

I have no idea if you have recourse against the Sellers or inspector. As someone who also moved into an undisclosed (more lightly) infested house, the sight and sounds of rodent infestation are very clear. The Sellers were likely aware of the issue and your inspector should not have missed such an infestation as bad as you describe.
Last edited by HomeStretch on Wed Oct 13, 2021 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Elsebet
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by Elsebet »

We had a separate pest inspection on our last and current home, did you have one of those?

On our last home, the inspector found rodent droppings/carcasses in the crawlspace so we were at least warned about it. We also found issues in the kitchen that the inspector did not find so had to remedy that. We used snap traps to get rid of the mice, then cleaned everything and found where they were getting in and sealed it. Also make sure to keep your kitchen clean (swept) and don't put any food where mice can access it. Keeping access points blocked and keeping the kitchen clean and free of food they can access is critical and will be an ongoing maintenance item.

Our current home there were no mice found but he did find carpenter ants in the garage and a pest company came out and resolved that. I still keep an eye out for pests often.
"...the man who adapts himself to his slender means and makes himself wealthy on a little sum, is the truly rich man..." ~Seneca
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by crefwatch »

A lot of insurance does not cover progressive or gradual damage. I suppose the idea is that it's a maintenance issue that should have been discovered before it got out of control. A deer crashing into a patio door is not a progressive event, for example. I think small rodents would fall under that category.

You might want to consider whether you want to begin a history of claims against your policy when the cost might be only a few hundred dollars. Wait until a small tree branch hits your roof, or a sump pump fails!
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jplee3
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by jplee3 »

Thanks all. We are having a pest control company come out and I'm also working with a contractor to see about removing the cabinets beforehand so they can get a better idea/look of what happened and where the entry points might have been if behind the cabinets. I have a feeling it was from the previous owner leaving his French doors open all the time, even when he was out of the house. The infestation was primarily in the kitchen in the lower cabinet void spaces and the French door he left open all the time is direct access to the kitchen. But it is certainly possible that they were coming in through piping and interior openings. We'll hopefully get all that checked. I'm also having our local vector control company come out in the next couple weeks hopefully - they will only check the exterior however.

At this point I'm planning just to have all the lower cabinets rebuilt - the front veneers and doors will be reused as those are in good shape but may need to spray those down with bleach and then enzymatic cleaner if possible after they pull those off and before they put them back on. The interior 'boxes' and shelving are all MDF/particleboard though so I think replacing those with plywood type material will be much better in the long run.
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by Lalamimi »

look at the inspection report. Too late to do anything, but it will show if he was lazy. Our realtor gave us a list to choose from, or we could have found someone. In Texas you pretty much get a 1 yr Home Warranty policy from the seller at closing, your choice of the company. It covers a variety of things. Appliances, we got a new toilet out of ours, some of the plumbing, AC, it depends on what you choose. We have had the built in microwave replaced, a toilet replaced, my Samsung washer and dryer repaired, all in the last 2 yrs. Shop around. We have "Choice" and have been pleased. $60 service call. Mainly have one since one of our AC units is really old. It does not cover `100% replacement of the AC, but about $1200.
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jplee3
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by jplee3 »

Ok so I just had most of the lower cabinets (at least the ones that were majorly impacted) demo'd earlier today:
Image

They found more nesting but no other dead rodents:
Image


The main likely entrypoint:
Image

The other area where there's a smaller hole, and perhaps this one was where mice got in:
Image


The remediation company came out after - the guy is expecting there to probably be more dead stuff behind the drywall based on us already finding dead ones under the cabinets :( He was suggesting cutting drywall. Not sure how much it's going to cost but definitely into the thousands. To patch it back up I'm not sure the cost but the guys who are installing the cabinets I think would also be able to patch it too. It's just that we're doing more demo and pushing our overall costs higher and higher as we go. I'm really not sure what to do at this point - should we really open more drywall? I guess we'll see what the pest company has to say tomorrow. In the meantime, I sprayed everything down with bleach, let it dry, then hit it with Nature's Miracle. I'll probably go through and do this routine at least 1-2 more times just so the smell can die down. We sealed the kitchen area off with plastic sheeting and tape so I think that's helping contain the smell to the kitchen area. I can't believe how bad this was. Basically, half a dozen void spaces under cabinets had some amount of nesting material in addition to what was under the dishwasher and some under the fridge. The fridge is a huge Subzero fridge too so pulling that out to try to clean under would be a huge PITA. smh....
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JoeRetire
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by JoeRetire »

jplee3 wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 8:48 pm Any recourse here? And would either home warranty and or home insurance cover the clean-up/demo/restoration of any of this ?
Probably not. I'm guessing you didn't have a pre-purchase pest inspection done.
Read your documents. Call your insurance companies. Hope for the best.
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
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jplee3
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by jplee3 »

JoeRetire wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:08 pm
jplee3 wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 8:48 pm Any recourse here? And would either home warranty and or home insurance cover the clean-up/demo/restoration of any of this ?
Probably not. I'm guessing you didn't have a pre-purchase pest inspection done.
Read your documents. Call your insurance companies. Hope for the best.
I'm not sure how we missed out on having pest/rodent inspections done during escrow/inspection period. Does *everyone* do this? We were so keyed in on just getting the home inspection and sewer line inspection done that nothing else really occurred to us :( Well, maybe plumbing if anything... we didn't do a pest/rodent inspection for the place we backed out on either but we also backed out so it wouldn't have mattered anyway haha.
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by HomeStretch »

Mice mark the path in and out of your house with urine and follow the path by smell. Try to thoroughly destroy the trail by spraying ammonia on interior and exterior exit/entrance points. DO NOT SPRAY BLEACH AND AMMONIA AT THE SAME TIME AS A TOXIC GAS WILL RESULT. You can also try packing mothballs in the holes before you patch or on the ground outside under the exit holes until the problem is resolved.

Edit - consider putting Victory traps on the outside too along the exterior wall of the infested area. It’s amazing how many mice in and out you can catch which really helps to get the problem under control.
Last edited by HomeStretch on Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by JoeRetire »

jplee3 wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:03 pmI'm really not sure what to do at this point - should we really open more drywall?
(shrug) How lucky do you feel? If it were me, I'd want to keep opening up drywall moving away from the likely entrance until I didn't find any more pests/nests.

When I purchased our current home, we had the owners fix a rodent issue in the attic. We and they thought we knew where they were coming in, but it turns out we were wrong. We moved in during February. But once the temperatures warmed up, we could hear mice in the walls in the middle of the night. I trapped them in the attic, but more kept arriving.

It took me several years of trapping, experimenting and sealing to finally discover and seal up the entrance point. It was a small opening in the foundation smaller than the size of a quarter hidden behind some vegetation and tucked up under the siding.

We were fortunate that we never used poison, so never had dead bodies pile up in inaccessible spaces. I emptied and rebaited the traps weekly during the infestation season each year.
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by JoeRetire »

jplee3 wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:14 pm I'm not sure how we missed out on having pest/rodent inspections done during escrow/inspection period. Does *everyone* do this?
No, everyone doesn't do this.

Did you know before purchasing that the prior owner always left his french doors open?
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
AnnetteLouisan
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by AnnetteLouisan »

Im having this issue with my apartment currently, so I am staying elsewhere for now. Only started during covid. Ive had different folks come to fix it 4x. but its still an issue. might sell. I called my carrier but didn’t file a claim.
Last edited by AnnetteLouisan on Thu Oct 14, 2021 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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jplee3
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by jplee3 »

JoeRetire wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:34 pm
jplee3 wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:14 pm I'm not sure how we missed out on having pest/rodent inspections done during escrow/inspection period. Does *everyone* do this?
No, everyone doesn't do this.

Did you know before purchasing that the prior owner always left his french doors open?
I didn't know he left his doors open - we only came less than a handful of times when I noticed that he left them open and this was after closing escrow. So either he knew there was a problem and was picking up the droppings after seeing them before/during escrow, basically hiding the issue, or he was that oblivious... I mean, the guy was sleeping in a room with a gas leak for God knows how long so we already knew his sense of smell was nil to zero.

Other than that, I don't think any of us suspected rodents - it wasn't until we had a damage remediation company come out to look at a wet wall that we found out - the guy was keen enough to check for moisture on the drywall behind the kitchen cabinets when he noticed droppings. This was during the last week of rent back so were a bit panicked as to what to do. We had already scheduled fumigation, etc and I did trap that one big rat the night before. I didn't realize how extensive of a problem this was until this past week though.
tj
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by tj »

ResearchMed wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:49 am I'm just thinking about this now.
I don't remember home inspectors actually running the dishwasher... or washer/dryer, or checking the temps in the oven, etc.
Is that usually done?

RM

Mine did all those things.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by ResearchMed »

tj wrote: Fri Oct 15, 2021 9:11 am
ResearchMed wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:49 am I'm just thinking about this now.
I don't remember home inspectors actually running the dishwasher... or washer/dryer, or checking the temps in the oven, etc.
Is that usually done?

RM

Mine did all those things.
:annoyed

Hmmm.

I doubt we'll buy again (time for convenience and then Independent Living/etc.) but.... Well, it all worked, so no harm...
If we do buy again, I'll be much more alert. I've purchased several homes, so perhaps I'm forgetting (it happens....).

RM
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by criticalmass »

jplee3 wrote: Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:03 pm Ok so I just had most of the lower cabinets (at least the ones that were majorly impacted) demo'd earlier today:

The remediation company came out after - the guy is expecting there to probably be more dead stuff behind the drywall based on us already finding dead ones under the cabinets :( He was suggesting cutting drywall. Not sure how much it's going to cost but definitely into the thousands. To patch it back up I'm not sure the cost but the guys who are installing the cabinets I think would also be able to patch it too. It's just that we're doing more demo and pushing our overall costs higher and higher as we go. I'm really not sure what to do at this point - should we really open more drywall? I guess we'll see what the pest company has to say tomorrow. In the meantime, I sprayed everything down with bleach, let it dry, then hit it with Nature's Miracle. I'll probably go through and do this routine at least 1-2 more times just so the smell can die down. We sealed the kitchen area off with plastic sheeting and tape so I think that's helping contain the smell to the kitchen area. I can't believe how bad this was. Basically, half a dozen void spaces under cabinets had some amount of nesting material in addition to what was under the dishwasher and some under the fridge. The fridge is a huge Subzero fridge too so pulling that out to try to clean under would be a huge PITA. smh....
This is extensive damage and inside the wall likely isn’t much better. I would highly recommend opening the walls until everything is removed, while you already have cabinets removed, so you don’t have to start all over to remove tocic substances from the house and air.

Drywall is relatively cheap, is easy enough to install, and you don’t have to get it perfect where cabinets will cover your work.

Why were (outside?) doors left open? Didn’t it get cold/hot/wet inside?
Big Dog
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by Big Dog »

cutting a small square of drywall out to look behind it, is pretty cheap. Any handyman could do it. Of course, the pest control company can do as well. And since its behind the cabinets, any wall patch doesn't have to be "perfect." Just slap some primer on it and its good to go.

(We had a leak coming from the roof and had to open the downstairs wall in several places to see where it was coming in thru the exterior stucco. Much easier than I expected. Handyman even sprayed on the onion peel and and blended it well.)
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JoeRetire
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by JoeRetire »

ResearchMed wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:49 am I don't remember home inspectors actually running the dishwasher... or washer/dryer, or checking the temps in the oven, etc.
Is that usually done?
I don't know about "usually", but every time I had a house inspected, they checked all the water sources, all the temperatures and operations of all the major appliances, etc, etc.
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
RichL
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by RichL »

We had a similar situation when we purchased our house. Inactive rat nest in the kitchen that became active when the weather got cold. Ended up remodeling the kitchen because the smell and damage.

The entrance hole was small, just a couple finger-sized gap between foundation and wall from an old deck addition.

With regards to drywall, if your house is older, be prepared for added cost if asbestos is found during testing. Maybe where you live is less strict than my area, but drywall cannot be legally disposed of here without a test and certified inspector witnessing the removal and disposal. At least consider getting a price up front to avoid additional surprises.
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Re: Will home warranty or home insurance cover *pre-existing* (discovered) rodent damage/nesting?

Post by DarkHelmetII »

ResearchMed wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 8:49 am I'm just thinking about this now.
I don't remember home inspectors actually running the dishwasher... or washer/dryer, or checking the temps in the oven, etc.
Is that usually done?
My home inspector ran dishwasher and washer / dryer. Don't remember about oven temperature.
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