What are some common signs around the home that can lead to more serious problems for you in the future? And how does this affect your quality of life at home, not to mention the resale value?
When you own a home, you get to pick and choose when you want to make aesthetic repairs. Chipped paint in the wall may not be at the top of your priority list, but sometimes things we think can be left alone are actually a sign of larger issues at play. Ignoring these common problems around your home can lead to troubling outcomes, so it’s important to address them before they potentially become more serious—and more costly.
1. Water stains and warped walls, ceilings, or floors
What starts out as a small water stain or a warped wall or ceiling is often a sign of a leaky roof, dripping pipes, or faulty plumbing. Whether big or small, every leak should be looked into as soon as possible.
“The first thing to check for are fixtures (faucets, sinks, toilets) then check your bathroom showers or tubs by running water through them,” says Paul Rodriguez of Intelligent Contracting Solutions, Ltd. in Toronto, Ontario. “Water intrusion into the home is a problem that cannot be ignored. It can lead to issues that will be expensive to remediate. If you’re unsure, call a plumber right away!”
Water spots, warped or missing shingles, or water-damaged exterior walls are all signs of roof leaks. If you suspect a leak on your roof, you can check in your attic for water damage or mould around the rafters and roof sheathing. Leaks can also be identified by going onto the roof itself, but in this scenario you should call in a roofing professional to do so.
Without being inspected and repaired, leaks can lead to water damage to your drywall, insulation, and flooring. As a result, mould, and mildew springs up. Ensure you quickly identify where the leak is coming from and call in a plumber or roofing professional (depending on where the leak originated) to get it repaired. The longer the leak lasts, the more likely structural damage and mould can occur, negatively affecting the health and resale value of your home.
2. Mould and mildew
Any time water or excess moisture enters your home, toxic mould can grow. Signs to look out for include musty, stale-smelling air, and small black specks, especially in your basement, attic, or around damp areas in your house, such as your laundry room. You may also feel your own health being affected with sinus, cold, and other symptoms. Don’t forget to check for mould and mildew if you’ve recently had to repair a water stain as mentioned above.
“Don’t ignore leaks, they can lead to mould,” Rodriguez cautions. “This can have serious health impacts. If you notice mould behind drywall, inside cabinets, or another place where a leak has been happening, call an abatement company after having dealt with the leak with a plumber.”
It’s important to address mould growth before it spreads.You’ll need to identify why they’re occurring, and what repairs need to be done to prevent it. According to Health Canada, household dampness and mould can lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation, worsening of asthma symptoms, bronchitis, and eczema—all depending on the species, severity, and length of exposure.
Potential buyers would absolutely take this into consideration, learn of the cost of repairs needed to stop the issue, and then take this into account when submitting bids.
3. Cracks in your home’s foundation
In Canada, our homes become subjected to extreme changes in weather, such as heavy wind,storms and relentless freeze-thaw cycles. Because of this, small hairline fractures may occur in the concrete around the outside of your house. These small cracks are common, but it’s important to look out for bulging or buckling in the concrete, or cracks wider than about the width of a pencil. These can be signs of more significant problems which require repairs to your foundation—no small task If you do see some cracks, but you’re not sure whether it’s time to call in a structural engineer or foundation contractor, Rodriguez says you can monitor them on your own—at first.
“Take a marker and make two lines across from each other, on opposite sides of the crack. Measure between the two lines, record the measurements. Come back in three weeks and measure again. If the gap has increased, call a structural engineer for an assessment. Settlement in new construction can happen, but drastic changes can mean something is wrong with the foundation such as footings or drainage.”
If the gap hasn’t widened, there’s no need to address them unless you want to for aesthetic reasons. Just keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t grow. Without being addressed, these larger cracks can grow, allowing water and salt to enter the concrete and further erode the steel rebar within the foundation of your home. When this rebar erodes, it threatens the durability of your home and can lead to potential rotting and damage to the internal structure of your home.
Other signs to look out for that signify your home’s foundation is shifting include cracks in the paint inside your home, difficulty opening and closing your doors and windows, or uneven flooring. Though these issues may be harmless—door frames can shift due to humidity in the summer—they may also be signs that one of the joists that support your flooring has rotted or is broken, requiring a replacement. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to get professional advice.
Foundation issues can significantly affect the resale value of your home as a new owner would have to pay for repairs. Cracks in a foundation are something home inspectors look for, and if a home inspection is included as a condition of your home’s sale, it could mean the deal won’t go through.
4. Pests and rodents
Pests and rodents can cause significant damage to your home, termites being one of the most destructive. Aside from the very unpleasant idea of having critters running around your home, rodents can cause damage you may not see right away.
“It’s important to have your home protected from the intrusion of rodents,” Rodriguez explains. “They can destroy insulation, wiring, and other components behind walls or in your attic. Inspect your home yearly for gaps around soffit and fascia, shingles or missing roofing materials. There are companies who specialize in removing rodents, squirrels or raccoons, as well as making sure they stay out.”
When it comes to insects, they can cause structural damage to your drywall and baseboards.
“Pests can be worse [than rodents] and detrimental to your wellbeing,” Rodriguez tells us. “ Identify what these pests may be in your area and call a specialist to treat and prevent intrusion.”
Signs to look out for include “termite tunnels,” which are small black or brown stick-looking tunnels made from wood, soil, and termite saliva. Small piles of shed wings, a significant amount of dead insects, mouse waste, chewed wires, or ripped-up paper, cardboard, or fabric are also indicators that you have a pest problem.
It’s important to get an exterminator in your home and identify how these pests are getting in to prevent future problems. The longer you leave these insects and rodents alone, the more time they will have to breed and cause even more damage, lowering the resale value of your property.
5. Electrical overload
Do you own an older home that hasn’t had its electrical wiring inspected? There may be some tell-tale signs your home is experiencing electrical overload.
“Flickering lights or a breaker always tripping when running multiple appliances can be signs of shoddy electrical work or overloaded circuits,” Rodriguez says. “Ignoring these signs can lead to appliance damage, or worse, an electrical fire. Don’t wait, call a licensed electrical contractor to assess and repair any damage or improper wiring. Make sure an ESA [Electrical Safety Authority] permit is pulled and work is inspected. This way you can ensure that the work is done by code.”
Rewiring an entire home can be costly but is necessary and should be done as soon as possible by a licensed professional. When potential buyers have your home inspected, these wiring issues will definitely affect your house’s resale value.
If you ignore little problems, they become big. Don’t write off these signs of potential problems that can cost you more in the future.