Though you had a home inspection when you bought your house, things may have changed since then. Many problems can develop over time—even when you don’t notice any obvious signs.
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You don’t have to be a home inspector to uncover problems before they get more severe. The following areas are hotspots for issues you should keep in mind and regularly evaluate for damage.
1. Wiring for Electrical Issues
Unless you have already had your home’s electrical system updated, your house probably has very old wiring. The initial home inspection would have reported significant problems, but your wiring can still degrade over time. Watch for flickering lights or any small shocks you get from kitchen appliances.
Another sign that you need a wiring upgrade in your old house is the frequent loss of power. If you lose power when you plug in your hair dryer or use the dishwasher, take that as an indication that you’re trying to draw more power than your home’s electrical system can handle. An electrical system upgrade will solve these issues.
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2. Walls and Ceilings for Water Damage
The most obvious sign of a water leak in or around your home is the presence of stains on your walls or ceilings. Keep an eye out for dripping water in these areas. You should also visit your attic occasionally to feel the insulation and determine whether it’s damp. Make sure to look for other signs of a roof leak, such as rotted wood beams.
You might see more signs of water damage in other parts of your home. For example, look for paint that has bubbles or seems peeling away. Rust-colored stains on your walls or ceilings can also indicate a problem. And remember to watch for mold since it is a fungus that grows in warm, moist environments.
3. Baseboards and Floors for Signs of Pests
Depending on your region, you might not call a pest control service until you notice a problem that requires insect or rodent removal. In this case, it’s especially important to know the signs of a pest problem before they cause hidden damage to your home.
For example, mice and rats will leave plenty of telltale signs of their presence. Look for shredded paper in dark areas, such as in corners or beneath furniture. They will use paper scraps for nesting. You should also look for holes in cereal boxes and other cardboard packages in your kitchen.
Insects can be harder to spot because they can better conceal their presence. The best way to catch a termite problem is to watch for tiny exit holes in wood door frames, window frames, and baseboards. Bed bugs will shed their shells and leave them, along with their droppings, on bedroom floors. Look for reddish-brown stains on mattress corners.
4. The Foundation for Erosion
Over time, shifting soil and moisture in the ground surrounding your home can damage your foundation. You can spot a moisture issue in your basement by looking for efflorescence or white, chalky residue on the walls. This is the stain left behind after moisture has dried.
Shifting also causes foundation problems in an old house. Look for cracks in your foundation walls or gaps between them and the basement floor. If you notice any of these issues in your basement, you’ll need foundation repair services.
5. The Frame and Structure for Failing Integrity
While a shifting foundation can cause structural problems to your house, that’s not always the case. Even an old house with a good foundation can experience structural issues as its frame weakens.
It’s easier to see signs of structural damage than you might think. Windows may crack as a shifting frame changes the pressure around doorways and windows. Windows and doors will also feel stuck, or you might find opening or closing doors harder.
You can also check the house’s structure by setting a marble on the floor. If it consistently rolls in the same direction each time, the house’s frame is likely uneven or tilted in one direction. The marble shouldn’t move in a level house.
Stay Alert to Changes in Your Home
You’ll identify these problems and other home maintenance issues earlier when you closely monitor your property. Tour your home once a month, looking for signs of developing maintenance issues. This will help you make more minor and less expensive repairs now rather than waiting for major problems to affect the habitability of your house.