Protect Your Investment: 4 Home Maintenance Items Too Risky to Be Overlooked
Navigating the process of closing on a home requires careful consideration of numerous factors for buyers. Among these considerations are proximity to amenities, suitability for family needs, accommodation for pets, and especially the condition of the property itself. While clients are typically presented with a plethora of information, insights from an inspection conducted by a certified home inspector often serve as one of the final determinants. Acknowledging home risks establish how essential inspections are for the financial longevity of a home. We’ve provided a simple list of 4 Home Maintenance Items , with input from our trusted inspectors on noticeable items to watch out for.
Dirty HVAC Filter, Coils
Reduced Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): Dirty filters and coils can lead to poor indoor air quality by allowing contaminants such as dust, pollen, mold spores, and bacteria to circulate throughout the home. This can worsen respiratory issues, trigger allergies, or contribute to the spread of airborne illnesses.
Decreased Efficiency and Increased Energy Costs: Debris or contamination on filters and coils can restrict airflow and hinder the HVAC system's ability to regulate the home. As a result, the system is strained and consumes more energy to maintain the temperature, leading to increased energy bills.
Fire Hazard: In extreme cases, a severely clogged air filter or dirty coils can restrict airflow leading the HVAC system to overheat. This can potentially ignite the debris or cause electrical elements to malfunction, posing a fire hazard to the home. Additionally, if the HVAC system uses gas for heating, restricted airflow can lead to incomplete combustion and can release carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can be fatal if inhaled in high concentrations.
System Malfunction and Breakdown: A dirty air filter or coils can even cause the HVAC system to break down entirely. For instance, a clogged filter can cause the system to stop working due to reduced airflow, potentially leading to water damage, costly repairs, or replacing the unit entirely! Dirty coils can inhibit heat transfer, and the system cannot achieve the desired temperature. This can lead to uneven heating or cooling in the home.
"Keeping up with proper maintenance for your home's main components can prevent hazardous and costly conditions and necessary repairs." - Dave Ganatra
Flush Your Water Heater Yearly
Buildup of Sediment: Over time, minerals and sediment from the water supply can accumulate at the bottom of the water heater tank. This buildup creates a layer of sediment that insulates the bottom of the tank from the heat source. As a result, the heating element must work harder to heat the water, leading to increased energy consumption and potentially higher utility bills.
Reduced Efficiency: The presence of sediment in the water heater tank reduces the overall efficiency of the appliance. It takes longer for the water to heat up, and the water heater may struggle to provide an adequate supply of hot water for household needs. This can be particularly problematic during peak demand times, such as mornings when multiple family members need to shower.
Corrosion and Rust: Sediment buildup can also contribute to corrosion and rust inside the water heater tank. Over time, this corrosion can weaken the tank's structural integrity, leading to leaks or even tank failure. A leaking water heater can cause significant water damage to the surrounding area, including floors, walls, and belongings, potentially resulting in costly repairs and restoration efforts.
Increased Risk of Overheating: As sediment accumulates at the bottom of the tank, it can create hot spots where the heating element is in direct contact with the sediment. This localized heating can cause the water in those areas to overheat, leading to excessive pressure buildup within the tank. In extreme cases, this pressure can cause the tank to rupture, resulting in a catastrophic failure and posing a significant safety hazard to occupants.
Diminished Lifespan of the Water Heater: Regular flushing and maintenance help extend the lifespan of a water heater by preventing the accumulation of sediment and reducing strain on the heating element and other components. Neglecting this essential maintenance task can shorten the water heater's lifespan, necessitating premature replacement and incurring additional expenses for homeowners.
Route Gutters and Downspouts Away from the Foundation or Driveway
Foundation Damage: When rainwater is not properly diverted away from the foundation, it can accumulate around the perimeter of the home. Over time, this pooling water can seep into the soil and exert hydrostatic pressure against the foundation walls. This pressure can lead to foundation cracks, shifting, or even structural instability, compromising the integrity of the entire home.
Basement Flooding: If water is allowed to collect near the foundation due to poorly routed gutters, it can find its way into the basement or crawl space through cracks, gaps, or porous materials. Basement flooding not only damages belongings and finishes but also creates an environment conducive to mold and mildew growth. Mold can pose health risks to occupants and necessitate costly remediation efforts.
Soil Erosion: In addition to posing a threat to the foundation, excess water pooling near the home can cause soil erosion. As water accumulates and flows over the ground, it can wash away soil and landscaping features, such as flower beds, shrubs, or grass. Soil erosion can create unsightly landscape issues, compromise the stability of slopes or embankments, and even expose underground utilities.
Driveway Damage: Similarly, if gutters are not properly routed away from the driveway, water runoff can erode the driveway's surface over time. This erosion can lead to cracks, potholes, or uneven settling, making the driveway unsafe for vehicles and pedestrians. Repairing or replacing a damaged driveway can be costly and disruptive to the homeowner.
Ice Dam Formation: In colder climates, improperly routed gutter runoff can contribute to the formation of ice dams along the roof's eaves. When water from melting snow or ice cannot flow freely through the gutters and downspouts, it can accumulate and refreeze along the roofline. Ice dams can cause water to backup under the shingles, leading to roof leaks, water damage, and potential mold growth within the attic space.
Blasting Damage from New Construction
Cracks in Plaster, Drywall, and Mortar Joints: The shockwaves generated by blasting can transmit through the ground and adjacent structures, leading to cracks in interior walls, ceilings, and mortar joints between bricks or blocks. These cracks may appear immediately after blasting or develop gradually over time as a result of repeated vibrations.
Basement Damage to Masonry Walls: Blasting can cause damage to masonry walls in basements, particularly if the home is located near the construction site. The vibrations from blasting can weaken the structural integrity of basement walls, leading to cracks, displacement, or bowing. This can compromise the stability of the foundation and pose a risk of water infiltration or collapse.
Nail Pops: Blasting-induced vibrations can cause nails or screws in walls and ceilings to loosen or "pop" out of place, resulting in visible protrusions or bumps in the surface. Nail pops are cosmetic issues that may require patching and repainting to restore the appearance of affected areas.
Water Leaks in the Foundation: Blasting can disrupt the soil and rock layers surrounding a home's foundation, potentially creating pathways for water infiltration. This can lead to moisture issues in the basement or crawl space, including water leaks, dampness, and mold growth. Proper waterproofing measures may be necessary to mitigate these risks.
Ceiling Fissures: The intense vibrations from blasting can cause fissures or hairline cracks to form in ceilings, particularly in older homes with plaster or concrete ceilings. While these cracks may initially be small and inconspicuous, they can gradually widen over time if the underlying structural integrity is compromised.
From ceiling fissures to basement flooding, investing in your home involves care for even the smallest of parts. These four tips will prepare you for more unexpected damages that can go unnoticed for long periods of time yet could lead to long term consequences. Choosing to neglect even cosmetic issues could leave a homeowner with a long to do list when maintenance time comes around. Routinely caring for these items will ensure a longer quality of life and reduce risks you don’t want to take!