Homeownership comes with an immense source of pride. It can also be the cause of considerable financial strain. To avoid unnecessarily pricey repairs, preventative maintenance is key. It can help you diagnose certain commonly overlooked problems before they bite you in the bank account. Here are eight issues that are often overlooked and easy to avoid.
1. Foundation Issues
The foundation is your home’s backbone, but it’s often taken for granted. Major foundation repairs can cost in the neighborhood of $10,000. That’s a pricey neighborhood, but one you can avoid if you’re vigilant.
What to look for: If your home’s floors are uneven, the foundation should be inspected. Other telltale signs of foundation damage may include doors and windows that don’t close securely, cracks in the drywall, and chipping or flaking in the foundation itself. Efflorescence on the foundation walls is also a sign that water may be damaging your foundation.
2. Drainage Issues
Nothing has the potential to rain on a homeowner’s parade like drainage woes. The trouble with standing water is how harmless it can seem. After all, it’s just a puddle! But the fact is that any pool of water can pose a major threat to both the interior and exterior of your home. Removing and draining standing water isn’t cheap, but it is considerably less expensive than the alternative — catastrophic foundation damage.
What to look for: Standing water is the most obvious sign, but also check your crawl space for small leaks, as they can cause major damage over time. Cracks in the sidewalk, retaining walls, fences and foundations can also be signs of drainage issues. If you spot any of these items, have a professional take a look immediately.
Our homes shelter us from the elements, but they can also shelter unwelcome guests. And once insects, such as termites, are inside it can be difficult (and expensive) to eradicate them. Fumigation costs vary, but your best bet is to catch the critters early and eliminate the problem.
What to look for: If you hear what sounds like a subtle knocking noise emanating from inside your wall, it’s time to call a pest control expert to check for termites. Other signs to look for include peeled paint that resembles water damage, mounds of tiny, wood-color pellets, stuck windows or doors, discolored or sagging drywall, holes in your crawl space venting grates, or trails of mud climbing your home’s foundation. Take the preventative step of trimming any trees near your home, as pests use overhanging branches to gain access to your roof and attic.
4. Roof Replacement
Many people don’t think about the roof over their heads until it’s too late. Our advice? Look up! A sagging roof requires immediate attention, but the signs of trouble aren’t always that apparent. Neglecting your roof repair can lead to water damage, structural damage, or even collapse. That’s when the real costs begin.
What to look for: Grab a ladder and a spotter and head for the roof. Inspect the shingles. If you see cracking, bald spots, or if the shingle edges are curled, it’s time to contact a roofer. If there’s evidence of moss or fungi growing, it may be a sign there’s moisture trapped beneath the surface. A roofing expert will be able to tell you for sure.
5. Dry Rot
Damaged or decaying wood is the most obvious sign of dry rot, but it’s not always visible, since dry rot often develops out of sight in areas: behind walls, in lofts or attics, underneath stairs or floorboards, etc. The best way to stay on top of this potentially disastrous issue is to pay attention to the humidity level in your home. The sooner you can diagnose the issue, the sooner you can treat it and the less costly the repairs will be.
What to look for: A damp, musty smell, deep cracks in the timber grain, or brittle/crumbly wood are all signs of potential dry rot. Condensation on windows can also be a sign of high humidity and poor ventilation, both of which lead to dry rot. Fortunately, dry rot is treatable by fungicide. Even so, you definitely want to leave that job to the professionals and, if possible, have a surveyor inspect the full extent of damaged timber beforehand.
6. Deck Repair
A deck can be a great addition to your outdoor space, but only if it’s properly maintained. Common issues with decks or elevated wooden patios can include board gaps, structural weaknesses, and pest or water damage.
What to look for: Check the substructure of your deck for loose or protruding nails and listen for squeaking when standing or walking on the deck– both are potential signs of unwelcome pests. Moist patches that don’t dry quickly can be a sign of water damage. If the wooden boards on your deck are properly sealed, then water shouldn’t be able to soak in. Fortunately, this is a relatively simple fix, but it’s imperative to reseal the planks on your deck before the wood needs to be completely replaced– or worse, before a guest falls straight through the deck to the ground below!
Every homeowner knows that a pool comes with its own set of pros and cons– though in the summer months, the pros definitely outweigh the cons! Pool maintenance is often more involved than new homeowners expect, but it’s still vitally important. Issues like algae, a stained or scratchy pool floor, or an overtaxed pool filter can be signs of larger problems and should be addressed immediately.
What to look for: Generally speaking, you can judge the health of your pool by the color of the water. Clear water indicates a healthy pool. If the water is cloudy or milky, you may need to replace your filter. If the water is green, there’s likely algae growing in your pool, which can be treated by “shocking” your pool with an overdose of chlorine. Keep your eyes peeled for any stains or cracks in the floor of your pool, as this could be a sign of a leak.
8. Cement Driveways
Although cement is durable and requires very little maintenance on the aesthetic level, there are still problems that can crop up. Common concrete issues include spalling (the peeling of small patches of cement), potholes (which can damage vehicles or injure those walking or running along the driveway), pitting (the appearance of small holes, or pits, in concrete over time), or cracking (often along the edge or end of the driveway).
What to look for: Fortunately, most of the aforementioned issues are easy to spot. In any of these situations, the best option is to call in a professional paving contractor, who can properly assess the damage and create a step-by-step plan to fix it.
As a homeowner, you occasionally need to play detective. Being able to identify a potential problem before it becomes a full-fledged catastrophe can literally save you thousands of dollars.
While it can be overwhelming to handle this kind of responsibility, the good news is that you don’t have to tackle it alone. AAA House Manager is a subscription-based service that provides proactive home maintenance and upkeep planning, with hands-on help from background-checked AAA professionals. Check out our available plans today to learn more about perks like in-depth home assessments and seasonal maintenance visits.