Your home is your refuge and its maintenance is paramount, especially if you ever plan to… sell your house in the future you will definitely want top dollar for it. In addition to sweeping floors and mowing your yard, some home maintenance tasks require more immediate attention and if left unchecked can cause significant damage to your home. Here are 11 things to address immediately if you see any of the signs that your home may have an underlying problem.
1. Your house has a leaky pipe
Whether it’s a small drip or a larger constant leak, the constant buildup of moisture can lead to mold growth, cracks in your drywall, damage your ceilings, and can even erode your home’s foundation. If you suspect you have plumbing leaks in your home, call a professional plumber to review the signs you see, and any other plumber questions so you can get your house back in order.
Signs to watch out for: You get an unusually high water bill, a room smells musty, or you have recently noticed unexplained stains, wet spots, mold or mildew on ceilings, walls or floors.
2. Your roof is leaking
Rain can be a boon to your yard, but not when it enters your attic or the rest of your house. Your attic is usually warmer and more humid than the central portion of the house, and even a small leak from the roof to warm attic conditions creates a hotbed for mold growth. Not to mention that if that leak continues unchecked, it will wreak havoc on the rest of your home, damaging ceilings and possibly your home’s walls and floors. This is one home maintenance item that you’ll want to tackle as soon as you realize it’s there.
Signs to watch out for: A large water stain appears on your ceiling, unexplained moisture or drips form on your walls, or you notice larger pieces of shingles in the downspout of your gutters.
3. Leaking Foundation
Your basement foundation can leak over time. As your home settles, hairline cracks can form in the foundation. Unfortunately, water only needs a small space to seep through a foundation wall. You may be able to find and seal these cracks yourself, or you may need to hire a foundation specialist to reinforce the foundation and prevent further movement and potential leaks. Standing water in an already damp basement can lead to mold growth, as well as significant damage to your home.
Signs to watch out for: An unusually high water bill, damp carpet or floors, you smell mold or mildew, there is a warm spot on your floor, you see cracks in the foundation, or you see a white powdery substance (efflorescence) usually due to evaporation of water behind minerals.
4. Damp or wet crawl space
You want to keep your house? crawl space as dry as possible. However, if you live in an area like Portland, OR or Seattle, WA, where it rains a lot, it’s possible that your crawl space will get wet. It’s usually because the surface water from your roof’s drain has overflowed, the ground water around your home has become too saturated from heavy rainfall or snowmelt and has found its way in, or there’s a problem with the pipe that you haven’t discovered yet. While this home maintenance task isn’t necessarily the most fun, since you’ll probably be crawling under your house, it’s a very important one to tick off. Fortunately, there are professional crawl space inspectors who can do this for you.
Signs to watch out for: Higher energy bills because it takes more energy to heat/cool moist air, you smell mold or mildew, or you notice an increase in dust mites and other pests that thrive in a humid environment.
5. Dirty and improperly sealed air ducts
Air ducts become traps for dust, pet hair, and other contaminants that get sucked into your heating and cooling system. These contaminants stick to moist channels where mold, bacteria and other fungi can grow. While you can keep the air moving with ceiling or portable fans and air conditioning, the result is recirculating that same air filled with dust, mold, mildew, pet dander, and other respiratory irritants back through your home. Also, air ducts that are not properly sealed lead to overall poor air quality in your home. Replace your air filters more often and have a professional come by once a year to thoroughly clean your air ducts, check your ducts for tape and repair if necessary.
Signs to watch out for: You start to have high electricity bills, your house is always dusty, your rooms have different temperatures, there is dirt under your ventilation grilles, your return air register is covered in very thick dust and your air filter is clogged with dust.
6. Air leaks
Air leaks from the outside can contribute to poor quality indoor air. Especially during the warmer months, pollen from new plants, chemicals from lawn pesticides and other environmental pollutants can enter your home through poorly sealed windows, doors and pipes. Air leaks also contribute to higher energy bills for cooling and heating your home. If you suspect your home has air leaks and you see some of the signs below, consider hiring a professional to perform an energy audit for your home.
Signs to watch out for: Gaps where two different building materials meet in your home (example: exterior brick that connects to a cement foundation), you notice cracks/holes at electrical outlets, doors, window frames, fireplaces, light fixtures, or you just notice a draft in your home. House. It is most likely due to an air leak.
7. Sewage backup or sewer gas smells
A sewer backup is a serious environmental hazard. Because modern sewage systems are usually so effective, people often don’t worry about the impact of a backup on their home or their families. If you notice any of the signs that you have a sewer backup in your home, you should probably leave it to the professionals and have it looked at immediately. This is one home maintenance item you don’t want to put off, as the toxic fumes from sewer gas can negatively impact your family’s health.
Signs to watch out for: More than one of your drains is clogged, water backs up into other drains, you see bubbles after you flush the toilet, your toilet doesn’t flush properly and the plunger doesn’t seem to help, or you smell sewage gas in your home.
8. Excess moisture in the house
Environmentalists stress the importance of keeping indoor humidity at around 40% and keeping windows, basements and attics dry. Excess moisture in your home can be a breeding ground for all kinds of fungi and bacteria. Keep an eye on the humidity in your home with a handy humidity meter that you can get at any hardware store. This can help you decide how to control the humidity in your home.
Signs to watch out for: There is condensation on windows during the colder months, you notice a mold smell in the bathroom or mold growing in the cabinet under the sink, the paint is peeling, cracking or blowing on interior surfaces, or you notice an increase in pests such as dust mites.
9. Your stove’s exhaust fan is not venting properly
Your stove’s exhaust fan filter collects smoke, odors and grease from your food during cooking. If oil clogs your filter — which it inevitably does over time — cooking contaminants recirculate back into the air in your home and begin to stick to your walls. Fortunately, this household problem is easily solved by simply cleaning (degreasing) your filters. If that doesn’t work, you may need to call in a professional as the motor in your range hood may need to be replaced.
Signs to watch out for: Your hood doesn’t clear smoke easily (even on the highest setting), the exhaust fan is very loud or buzzes constantly, lights stop working on the hood, which could indicate other electrical issues.
10. Overflowing Gutters
If your gutters are overflowing, it usually means they are clogged with debris — leaves, seeds, and sticks from surrounding trees. The force of the water flowing through the gutters compacts this debris, leading to clogged and overflowing gutters. If you ignore this typical fall and spring maintenance task, your clogged gutters can cause damage to the exterior of your home. Your gutters can put unnecessary stress on your roof and shingles, spill water down the side of your house instead of down the downspout and away from your house, or they can even collapse and damage the side of your house. Fortunately, this is an affordable maintenance job that you can just have a professional do.
Signs to watch out for: You see plants growing out of your gutters, there is dirt on the side of your gutter, you see dirty streaks (tiger stripping), watermarks or mold on the side of your house, or possibly your gutter is pulling away from your house.
11. Chimney and flue gas outlet (creosote)
Creosote is an oily substance that builds up in your chimney and flue if you have a fireplace or stove. Have your chimney and flue cleaned of creosote every year, especially if you use your fireplace regularly. It’s also a good idea for the colder months to clean it with all kinds of dirt or even bird’s nests before using it. Failure to do so could put your home at risk of a chimney fire, which could cause significant damage to your home and potentially put your family at risk. If you hire a professional to clean your chimney and flue once a year, you can maintain your home and enjoy those warm fires for years to come.
Signs to watch out for: You see more wood than ashes after a fire, there is less draft in the fireplace, you notice black soot around the fireplace, very dark, dense smoke comes out of your chimney, and you see a build-up of soot, you hear a loud crackling – or popping sound, or you notice an intense hot smell.