When shopping for a home, you want to make sure everything is in working order – especially any appliances that come with the home. Although a home inspection can go a long way toward catching issues, you should also be prepared to check things out for yourself. The following tips can help.

Tip #1: Run all appliances

Any appliances that come with the home should be checked to ensure they are operational. This means placing a cup of water in the built-in microwave to ensure it heats, verifying that ice is being made in the refrigerator ice maker, and checking that range hood fan really runs. You only need to check the appliances that are coming with the purchase – there's no need to throw a towel in the dryer if the owners are not including laundry appliances with the purchase.

Tip #2: Look for signs of repair

Signs of repair can indicate an ongoing problem. The most common are leaks. Check under every sink in the house for signs of water damage. Also, look at the ceiling beneath the kitchen sink and any upstairs bathrooms to see if there has been water damage. You can also sometimes get a repair history right off the appliance. For example, service calls are often recorded on a sticker right on the side of a water heater or furnace. If you notice signs of past damage or frequent service calls, ask questions. Sometimes the problem component has been repaired or replaced, but in other cases in may indicate an ongoing issue.

Tip #3: Stress test certain systems

A stress test is necessary for certain systems in the home – particularly those with temperature requirements. Bring a couple of quick read food thermometers with you when viewing homes. Use these to check the temperature in the fridge and freezer, if it is included in the sale. You can also use it to verify that the hot water is heating to the temperature that the tank is set at. The HVAC system should also be tested, particularly the service that isn't needed at the moment. Most homes are bought in spring or summer, so you likely know the AC functions. In this case, don't overlook the furnace. Flip it on and turn the thermostat way up to ensure it comes on properly.

Finally, protect yourself with a home warranty, either one you purchase yourself or that you demand as a contingency of the sale. This way you will be protected if any issues occur after you have closed on the home.