I learned many years ago when I was completing my field training as a home inspector…never to open refrigerator doors in vacant homes!
It was during my first inspection with my instructor that I realized this to be of the utmost importance. In this little old vacant bank-owned home that had no power, I reached out to open the refrigerator door only to hear my instructor say to me “I wouldn’t do that if I were you!” Without stopping I flew the door wide open…took one full breath of the retched smell that came at me…then hit the ground! Yes…this full-size home inspector passed right out on the kitchen floor for all to see!
Learning from that experience, I went forward in my career as a home inspector with the vow NEVER to do that again! Unfortunately, several of my customers and referring agents have had similar experiences and I have seen many make the same mistake I did!
Near the end of the inspection of an older two-story bank owned home that had been empty for some time, the first-time home buyers, their agent and myself were gathered in the unfinished basement of the house. Along the very back corner of the cold, damp and poorly lit basement sat both an older 1950’s style upright freezer and an older refrigerator unit. I watched as the customer reached out to open the freezer door, I immediately said to him “I wouldn’t do that if I were you!” Ignoring my warning, like most people do, he opened the door…only to find that the previous owners had left behind a freezer full of meat! With no power on to the home for sometime now…the rotten meat had become infested with MAGGOTS!
The stench of the rotting meat immediately hit our noses…followed by writhing maggots spilling out onto the concrete floor. Thousands…if not millions of these little off-white, slimy and crawly creatures were everywhere! The pure shock and horror at the sight of these nasty maggots crawling on the floor and the horrible smell of the rotten meat made all of us begin to gag and choke. I shut the freezer door as fast as I could and turned around only to see the rest of the group running up the basement stairs as fast as they could! I don’t think I have ever exited out of a home as quickly as I did on that day!
Needless to say, removal of the maggots and rotten meat was a recommendation on the report. I later found out that it took an additional two full weeks to find someone willing to clean up the mess. I can only imagine what it looked…and smelled like by then! I still get the “heebie-jeebies” just thinking about that day!