Hidden Problems Lurking in Your Home
You love your home and feel like your sitting on top of maintenance. If you’ve lived in your home for five years or more little problems can be hidden below the house or under the roof or behind cupboard doors. You and your family can feel secure while small leaks, holes, or cracks develop that can threaten the soundness of your home and your family’s health.
The best way to prevent those little issues from becoming big and expensive problems is to do a thorough check of your home from top to bottom. Use our Homeowners Checklist [link] or find a professional home inspector to give your house a health checkup.
Catching small repairs before they become expensive contracting projects is the best way to maintain the value of your home, keep it safe, and protect your loved ones.
Here are 10 pitfalls that contented homeowners often ignore.
1. Out of View Plumbing Leaks
Plumbing leaks may not be visible. An untended leak can cause havoc in your home. Floors and walls can suffer water damage causing underlying structure and sub-flooring to soften with rot. Repairs can be costly. Damaged wood needs to be replaced. That means the flooring needs to be taken up or the wall covering like sheetrock removed and replaced.
Hidden plumbing leaks are a source of moisture that can lead to toxic mold infestation. These infestations also are often hidden under flooring or behind walls.
2. Intermittent/flickering Electrical
When a light flickers in a room, you’re looking at a problem. And, it’s a dangerous problem. Somewhere, a line is frayed. That’s why the electricity flow is interrupted because contact is not secure.
A frayed wire can spark as the electrical current flows. That spark can start a fire. Your home is endangered.
Turn off the circuit to that room at the breaker box. Call an electrician and get the wire fixed.
3. Smoke Detector Inoperative
There’s no excuse for an inoperative smoke detector. It’s better to have it go off when the toast burns than to miss a fire in your home.
Every smoke detector has a test button. Push the button to hear the alarm and make sure it works. Most smoke detectors also have a blinking or solid light that glows when the alarm has power.
To ensure the detector is operating consistently, add a new battery twice a year. An easy way to remember is to change the battery when you adjust clocks twice a year. Just do it.
4. Chimney Sweeping
If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove, soot, creosote, and blockages can build in your chimney liner, firebox, smoke chamber, and damper. How often you need to use a chimney sweep service to clean depends on how frequently you use the fireplace.
Creosote is highly flammable. Even a small layer can ignite and cause a fire that threatens your home.
To be safe, get your chimney inspected once a year. The inspection findings will indicate whether you need to clean the chimney.
5. Dirty HVAC Filters
A dirty filter in your heating and cooling system – air conditioning, heat pump, furnace – puts your family at risk and can cause your HVAC system to malfunction.
Depending on your system you need to replace or clean the filter once a month. When dust, pet hair, and other fibers clog the filter, nothing gets past the filter. Dirty air circulates into your house aggravating allergies.
If the filter is clogged, the system has to work harder and your utility bill can skyrocket. Eventually, both the cooling system and/or the furnace will stop working. The evaporator coils on the cooling system begin to freeze up. At this point, even if you replace the filter, the melting ice from the coils can cause water damage to your home.
Cleaning the filter is an easy, 5-minute task. Do it monthly, to avoid costly heating and cooling system repairs or replacement.
6. Sheetrock/stucco Cracks
Large cracks in sheetrock or stucco may be your first indication of a structural issue in your home.
Although tiny, “hairline” cracks can appear in time due to gradual settling, larger cracks need your attention. They aren’t just a cosmetic issue. You need to check for indications of structural damage.
Check for sloping floors, doors that get stuck, sagging ceilings, or bowed walls. These combined with cracks indicate the need for an inspection to evaluate the structural soundness of your home and find the cause of the problem. Don’t delay, repairs can be expensive.
7. Garage Door Openers
Garage door openers are handy tools that make getting into your garage easy. But, like any system, things can go awry.
If the garage door doesn’t close all the way, you need to reset the close-limit switch. It’s a safety feature meant to protect people from being hit by the door. The switch is usually a screw on the motor you can easily adjust. You’d think something so simple and convenient wouldn’t be dangerous, but a non-working opener system can cause a door to fall on children and even adults.
Also, the safety sensors may need adjustment or realignment. Two electronic eyes near the bottom of the door require a clear line of sight for the door to close smoothly all the way to the floor. If anything blocks the sightline the door will not descend all the way. Depending on your system the door will stop or reverse. You don’t want to drive away leaving the door open as an invitation to trespassers and thieves.
When the auto-reverse doesn’t work, the garage door will continue closing even if something or someone, like a child is standing in the doorway. The door will keep closing. Keep your children safe. Make sure it’s in working order.
Regularly monitor the system to preserve the safety of your family and your home.
8. Swimming Pool Fence
Owning a swimming pool increases liability for any accident that occurs in the pool. Just because someone is trespassing does not necessarily mean you are not liable in the event of an accident or drowning.
A pool fence is a first-line deterrent to protect you. A fence with a gate gives you control over who accesses the pool and when. It keeps children from taking a dip without supervision and deters trespassers.
Every state has different legal requirements. On top of that, your local municipality may have additional stipulations.
Always have a locking gate and keep your fence in good repair.
9. Non-tempered Glass Windows
Older homes may have non-tempered (annealed) glass windows or doors. While tempered glass breaks into small pieces, non-tempered glass can crack and break into large potentially hazardous jagged shards. A piece from a broken window or door can slice through flesh from the force of the break, causing major injury and even death.
Ensure the safety of your family by replacing non-tempered glass with tempered glass. Tempered glass breaks into tiny, dull, rounded pieces rather than jagged shards.
10. Improper Exterior Drainage
When ground slopes toward your home water settles at the lowest point. This water can pool creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes and mold and fungus that can injure your plants.
A more crucial problem with poorly drained exterior ground is the impact on the basic structure of your home. Sustained pooled water has the potential to impact the ground causing the foundation to settle. Once this happens, the structure and safety of your home is in danger.
If you’ve had standing water next to your home, contact a home inspector to evaluate the soundness of your home and check for any structural damage. Foundation and structural work can be expensive.
Grade the land around your home to slope away from the house. If you are in an area of heavy rainfall, you may want to install French drains to direct water away from your home.
Regular Maintenance Can Save You From Costly Expenses
You’ve heard the adage, A stitch in time, saves nine. That’s true for your home. Fix small problems before they get big.
Once a year, walk around your entire house, inside and out. Check for any leaks, working systems, or obvious new flaws. Follow up with repairs right away. Ignoring problems will result in more expensive repairs later on.
We recommend a home inspection by a professional inspector every five years. The inspector is experienced in observing home conditions and can spot problems you may overlook. It’s an investment in your safety and preserving the sound condition of your home.
If you’re ready, find the right home inspector at Inspect.com. Tell us where the property is, we’ll connect you with an experienced professional.