Common Problems in Older Homes

There’s an undeniable charm, personality and character in older homes that simply doesn’t exist in a new-build — to the point that many people can’t imagine living in a modern home. Also, older homes tend to be in more prestigious areas of cities, often with a lower price tag and more bang-for-your-buck than newer developments. This makes their attraction irresistible for many homeowners.

However, as with most other areas of life, as a home ages, it can develop problems, and these are most caused by exposure to the elements. If you’re considering buying an older home – or are already an owner – here are some of the more common problems that you should be aware of and that you should try to avoid.

Hazardous materials

As little as 30 years ago, many hazardous materials were commonly used in home construction. This included everything from lead-based interior and exterior paint to asbestos and other toxic materials. Lead was also very common in plumbing systems, often resulting in considerable health problems caused by leakages into the water system and surrounding environment. You should also be aware of the prevalent use of asbestos in roofing, fireplaces and insulation.

Problems with crawl spaces

Issues in the crawl space of an older home can quickly lead to far more serious consequences including foul smells, uneven/squeaky floors, problems caused by high humidity, and cracks in the walls. It may even risk your health by adversely affecting the quality of the air in your home. If you see any of the above indicators, you should hire the services of a professional contractor capable of performing crawl space waterproofing to avoid bigger problems further down the line.

Structural problems or issues with foundations

No matter how well a house was built originally, most homes will suffer some form of structural problems or issues with foundations at some point. Key identifiers of structural issues include doors and windows not closing firmly, uneven floors, cracks in walls (hairline cracks are to be expected but bigger cracking can be a sure sign of more significant problems) and cracked tiles (floor, bathroom or kitchen). If you spot any of the above, you should call in an expert as soon as possible as the problems will only get worse if left untreated.

Out-dated, dangerous electrical systems

Unless already updated, most older homes feature aging electrics and wiring which can pose a significant risk in the form of electrical fires and other problems. Unfortunately, rewiring a home top to bottom is a big and expensive task, but you can’t risk taking chances with faulty wiring and electrics. Tell-tale signs include fuse breakers regularly tripping, noticeable dimming or flickering lights, old-style electric points and switches or humming/burned or discolored electric outlets. In each case, these can be indicators of much larger, house-wide electrical problems that you should address quickly.

Issues with the plumbing in a home

Replacing the plumbing in an older house is another expensive and extensive task, unfortunately, but one that you should not put off or delay. Old-style, cast-iron pipes around a home can corrode and cause leaks while it’s very common for older plumbing systems to provide weak water flow, which can prove particularly problematic for showers and washing machines.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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