Are you considering buying an old home? Or maybe you’re currently living in one that’s 30 years or older. If so, there are a number of issues that older homes often experience that you should be aware of. With older structures, minor problems can quickly become serious and expensive ones if they’re left ignored. But knowing what to look for can help you address problems as soon as they arise, allowing you to keep your home safe while reducing the likelihood of paying for costly repairs. Here are five hidden problems in old homes to look out for that could cause serious damage and structural concerns.
It’s natural for the soil beneath the foundation to shift over time. This process is called settling, and it can cause your home and floor to slant. A slight slope is common in older homes and may not be cause for concern, but when it starts to dip and sag, it’s a sign of an issue that needs attention. A foundation expert can determine whether it’s the underlying foundation itself, the joists and beams below the floor, or the sill that rests on the foundation footer that might be deteriorating from water, rot or ants. Whatever the cause, it’s important to have it inspected and quickly repaired before it gets any worse.
Older homes tend to have older roofs. This can present numerous problems, stemming from cracked shingles, loose flashings, sagging gutters and chimney damage. If unaddressed, moisture can make its way into the attic, leading to water damage, wood rot and mold growth – all of which can seriously impact the structural integrity of the home. What’s even more worrisome is that water damage can be hard to spot because it usually happens behind the walls and above the ceiling. Water spots are the only warning signs you will get that your roof is leaking, so it’s important to have your roof inspected every year.
Many older homes will eventually start to deteriorate as they age. Constant wear and tear on the home will lead to structural problems that will become difficult (and dangerous) to ignore. Issues such as foundation cracks, damaged piers, and uneven slab and perimeter walls will start to become more evident over time. Doors and windows will begin to stick and tiles will crack, giving you red flags that there’s an underlying structural issue that needs to be addressed. Modest issues like cracks only take a few hundred dollars to repair, but more serious problems can set you back thousands of dollars to fix in an older home. And once one problem starts, others tend to follow suit. So the sooner you can get any foundation problems fixed, the less likely you’ll need to spend a significant amount in the future.
Older homes are the most charming, but they’re also the least safe. Outdated features that are considered to be unsafe today include blocked off chimneys, low ceilings, half-finished add-ons, and illegal basement bedrooms. Many older homes built before 1978 also contain hazardous lead-based paint and asbestos insulation. The costs to fix these substandard features are high but absolutely necessary, especially if you plan to sell the property in the near future. If you have a number of outdated features and banned materials in your home or are considering buying one that does, hiring a foundation expert is important. They can easily identify any issues that could jeopardize the safety of your home and will advise you about which features are against-code and require immediate upgrades.
A large number of older homes commonly experience basement leaks because of outdated drainage systems. A lack of proper drainage and broken components can eventually become major issues that will be costly to fix if the entire system fails or mold starts to form. Foundation professionals can set new drainage systems around the perimeter and waterproof the walls, regardless of the age of the building. Sufficient grading can also be designed to create a slope that directs moisture away from the foundation. Proper surface and subsurface drainage will channel water from the foundation and pump out any water that does make its way in.
Whether you own an older home or are considering buying one, it’s important to have a comprehensive home inspection done before you buy – and every year after. Only a trained and experienced foundation professional can identify the hidden problems in old homes before they become costly repairs. When you need a foundation team you can rely on in Ottawa, contact our team at The Foundation Experts. We always keep your safety and budget in mind, and will work with you to correct any inefficiencies that we find to prevent costly repairs in the future.