Problems in Your Home that You Might Have Overlooked

Peace of Mind Home Inspections

Homeowners must be aware of a myriad of issues and problems that their homes might potentially develop. News media, watchdog groups, and government agencies constantly warn homeowners about well-known threats like mold or asbestos. While publicizing these health and safety risks is necessary and beneficial, this focus on a few major problems sometimes overshadows other issues and materials that are equally hazardous. Homeowners might not be aware that other materials pose the same threats, and could miss more subtle clues that all is not well in a house. If you’re concerned about testing for mold, for example, you might not think about the dangers of lead paint. Here are just a few issues that are often overlooked by homeowners. 

Plumbing 

Known Issue: Lead Pipes 

Overlooked Issue: Polybutylene Pipes 

While not poisonous like lead pipes, polybutylene (PB) pipes can still cause a lot of damage. They were designed to be cheap alternatives to lead and unfortunately lived up to the “cheap” designation: these pipes lacked the dangerous metal’s structural integrity. PB pipes can easily rupture or wear, leaving homeowners with leaks, mold, and other expensive issues. 

Known Issue: Leaking Faucets 

Overlooked Issue: Poor Drainage 

True, a leaking faucet can be annoying to residents and bad for the environment, but a clogged drain could indicate problems beyond a simple clog. The insulation might not be adequate, for example. Even a clogged pipe, left to its own devices, could potentially cause a major rupture in your home or your sewer line! 

Insulation 

Known Issue: Asbestos and Vermiculite Insulation 

Overlooked Issue: Cellulose Insulation 

While cellulose insulation is highly effective, it is also highly susceptible to damage from moisture. Unless properly sealed, cellulose insulation will quickly succumb to mold and rot. Additionally, it breaks down over time so most experts advise homeowners to reinstall it every five years. The risk plus the expense just don’t add up to a good investment. 

Structure 

Known Issue: Termites 

Overlooked Issue: Balloon Framing

This method of construction was common from the Victorian Era to the beginning of World War II, so owners of newer homes should not have to worry about it. The problem with balloon framing is that the continuous wood stud wall stretches from the foundation to the roof. This sounds like solid construction until one considers fire hazards. Each floor in a modern home is individually constructed so that fires cannot spread between floors. However, a continuous stud means a continuous path. Only professionals can tell if your older home was constructed in this fashion, and the only fix is a major remodel of your entire home. 

Known Issue: Stair-Step Cracks in the Masonry 

Overlooked Issue: Horizontal Cracks in the Foundation

Those odd, right-angle cracks between bricks or blocks not only look unsightly, but they are also indicative of moisture problems like clogged gutters. They pale in comparison to horizontal cracks, though. A horizontal crack in your home’s foundation indicates that soil–that expanded either when frozen or even when merely moist–has broken the foundation. Chances are that your home will need a completely new foundation. 

Appearance 

Known Issue: Mold 

Overlooked Issue: Lead Paint 

A well-maintained vintage home can be beautiful, but surfaces painted before 1978 might feature lead paint. While not as insidious as lead pipes, lead paint is still dangerous for children and pets. Let’s be honest: most children are more curious than cautious. Infants and toddlers “explore” with their mouths–and colorful paint chips might look delicious. The fix for this issue is simple: when in doubt, repaint. 

Whatever issues your home has, don’t be caught by surprise. This is especially true if you plan on selling your home. A pre-listing home inspection will reveal any hidden problems and help you determine the right price for your home.

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