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Excerpted from an article by Mitchell Parker/Houzz for realtytimes.com


Your home is trying to tell you all sorts of things:  the way it sounds…the way it smells.  And there are plenty of visual cues to tip you off to problems.  Everything is moving all the time, expanding and contracting…reacting to heat, rain and wind.  In other words, a house is something you’ve got to take care of.

Tapley Dawson at The Home Doctors recommends that you do a good walk around every fall before the raining season begins, checking for cracks, clogged gutters or anything that just doesn’t look right.  That way you can catch problems early.  If you own an older home, you should do a thorough check in the springtime as well, since those homes are prone to more damage.

THE BIGGEST ENEMY IN A HOUSE IS MOISTURE.  You want to keep it out, and nature is constantly trying to force it in.  It’s the cause of things like rotting wood, termites, cupping floorboards and mold and mildew.  “If you think about the materials in a home – wood, carpet, tile – they are meant to be inside the building envelope.  So most problems have to do with moisture or something getting into that envelope,” Dawson says.  Here are some problems to look for:

  • DARK SPOTS ON WALLS, CEILING OR EDGE OF CARPET.  Any dark spots on carpet that won’t vacuum up, or dark spots on drywall mean moisture is getting in and mold or mildew is forming.  You could have a leak somewhere, from the roof or from a window…If you have a north-facing wall without insulation, when warm, moist air from the inside hits that cool wall, moisture will form.  That’s why you should always run your fans when you cook and when you shower.
  • BUBBLING, FLAKING OR CRACKING PAINT.   Means moisture is somewhere in the wall, and should be addressed as soon as possible.  Some latex-based paint will actually balloon out, which is a big red flag…Trapped moisture can occur on ceilings, walls, around windows and on trim and molding…which means there’s a leak and water is getting into the spot, and can cause mold and wood rot.
  • DRIPPING FROM A SMALL PIPE OUTSIDE A MAIN LIVING WINDOW.  Dripping means there’s already a clog and the AC system is using its backup.  Then the pan will overflow, causing major problems.  If you see a lot of moisture anywhere around a furnace or A/C unit, there’s potential for water damage.
  • A LIGHT OR POPPED-OUT BUTTON ON YOUR SOCKET, AND AN APPLIANCE HAS STOPPED WORKING.  Often this is due to a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) which helps prevent electric shock from compromised wiring in electrical appliances.  Basically, when electricity is going where it’s not supposed to go, the fault circuit pops, shutting off electricity through the socket.  All you need to do is push the reset button.  If it doesn’t reset, then there’s something wrong with the outlet.  Keep in mind that many GFCI’s can control multiple outlets.  So if an outlet stops working, look for one with a GFCI nearby and hit the reset button.
  • FLICKERING LIGHTS.  This is not the same as when a light dims while you’re vacuuming or using a hair dryer, which is normal.  If you see pronounced dimming and brightening, make sure the bulb is screwed in all the way.  If that doesn’t work, it could also be a bad socket, which can be a potential fire hazard,
  • A BLACK LINE OPENING UP ON THE BOTTOM OF AN EXTERIOR WOOD DOOR.  This often occurs on an exterior French-style door where two portions of wood meet near the bottom.  Wind and rain can drive moisture under and into the door if it’s not properly sealed and installed.  The paint should be even on the door, with no spacing anywhere between the pieces.  If you see a space opening up, the door is on the road to failure.  Dawson says:  “Moisture goes in there, and it’s a domino effect.  Once moisture starts expanding and contracting, it breaks the joint, and the process starts.  Wood doors and wood windows are hell.  They require a lot of maintenance.”
  • WRINKLED WOOD. This could be an indicator of dry rot.  Wood should look smooth.  If you see wrinkled or wavy wood, or if your trim or siding looks different than other parts, it’s cause for concern.  This mostly affects the exterior.
  • INSECT WINGS ON WINDOWSILLS OR IN SPIDER WEBS.   Don’t panic, but this could be a sign of nearby termite swarms.  If you’ve already got moisture problems, you might want to call a termite specialist, because moisture attracts termites.  If you see any mud tubes coming out of the walls or on any pieces of wood, you’ve got termites.
  • BLACK STREAKS OR BLACK CIRCLES AROUND NAILS ON HARDWOOD FLOORS.  This most often occurs near doors.  If you have an older home with exposed nail flooring and you see blackness around those nails, chances are that you’ve got moisture getting underneath the door sill, and it’s corroding the nails.  If the wood is cupping up, the problems is bad.
  • A FOGGY WINDOW.  This happens on older dual-pane windows that have argon gas in the middle.  If the seal becomes broken, moisture buildings up and fogs.  You’ll likely need new windows…”

Ask your Connestee Falls REALTOR for recommendations of home repair specialists, electricians, etc. in our area.

SOURCE:  Mitchell Parker, Houzz/for realtytimes.com   IMAGE:  Pinterest


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