Older homes can be charming, but they also come with unique challenges. Outdated materials, outdated construction techniques, and a lack of maintenance can all affect older homes. Here are some of the most common concerns in older homes:
One of the first common concerns in an older home is the roof. Wear-and-tear, maintenance, and the type of roofing material all affect how long a roof lasts.
Roof deterioration can lead to structural issues, persistent leaks, and indoor mold.
Check for water spots inside and out, cracked shingles, and moisture in the attic. Bowing gutters and water stains on exterior walls may also indicate leaks.
Outdated Electrical Systems
Electrical systems are prone to wear and tear and must be periodically updated.
Older homes often have fewer outlets that may not be grounded. They may use aluminum wiring or antique knob-and-tube systems, which are prone to degradation and overheating.
Replace any 2-prong outlets, flickering or dim lighting, and warm outlets or light switches.
Older homes often have plumbing problems. Polybutylene pipes are prone to corrosion and bursting. Galvanized pipes often leak and can reduce water quality. Old valves, wax rings, and other plumbing components can deteriorate and cause leaks, and tree roots or stubborn build-up can create blockages in plumbing systems.
Keep an eye out for low pressure, slow drainage, leaks around water fixtures, unpleasant smells, and the age of the home. Homes built before the 1990s may have substandard pipe material.
Over time, shifting soil, dampness, seismic activity, and wear-and-tear can damage a home’s foundation.
Things to look out for include cracks on the interior, exterior, and foundation walls. Also, keep an eye out for sloping floors, doors or windows that get stuck, and signs of moisture in the basement.
Hazardous Building Materials
A common concern in older homes is the presence of lead and asbestos, which were components of paint, plumbing, and insulation before the late 1970s.
Lead-based paint is usually safe unless it’s peeling or crumbling. Lead paint dust is unhealthy to breathe and ingest, and lead can contaminate water.
Asbestos causes respiratory problems and lung cancer. Look for flaking paint and use professional test kits (or hire professionals) to find these problem materials. Asbestos and lead need to be removed by a professional.
Other Common Concerns in Older Homes
Some other common concerns in older homes include old construction techniques, outdated materials, and insufficient standards.
Older homes sometimes have buried fuel tanks, which can burst and leak, creating a toxic hazard. Old sewer lines made of clay or cast iron can sometimes leak.
Outdated construction techniques like balloon framing and lack of insulation create a fire hazard and contribute to energy inefficiency.