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As a DM I wonder, what conditions if any must be met to impose an advantage or disadvantage on a roll.

Example - the PC's are tracking a wolf, but the entire party wandered over the tracks several times before noticing them, disadvantage survival (tracking)?

Example - the PC's have had experience handling a similar magical item, they find an item and want to determine if it is evil/good/what effect it may have. Advantage arcana?

Just wondering what is RAW on granting advantage for checks, or if I have accidentally been home brewing certain situations.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a note: It is not homebrew to act like a DM in 5th edition. The design intent was to go more for "rulings over rules" with a less intense focus on "rules and rules lawyering" in order to keep the game flowing and the fun active. Your judgment is a key element to your table's game. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 25 '16 at 12:35
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As far as the rules are concerned, you can give advantage or disadvantage whenever you deem it appropriate.

The DM can also decide that circumstances influence a roll in one direction or the other and grant advantage or impose disadvantage as a result.

The DMG gives some more guidance on when you might deem it appropriate in the section titled Advantage and Disadvantage on page 239.

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