4 Home Repairs You Should Never Ignore

Runaway Rainwater

If there are things that can go wrong with a house, most of them have to do with water. Gutters, downspouts, and leader pipes collect rainwater and channel it away from the house. In very wet regions, leaders should extend at least 5 feet from the house. Check the entire gutter system seasonally for proper pitch and for clogs, corrosion, broken fasteners, and separation between connections, and where gutters meet the fascia board. The soil around the foundation should slope away from the house at least 1 inch per foot for 6 feet or more. If you have planting beds along the foundation, make sure the grading of the bed, its edging, or the edge of the lawn isn’t keeping water from draining away from the house.

Roof and Siding

Roofs are the most vulnerable to extreme weather, especially abnormally low winter temperatures. On a sunny day spot your roof for cracked, curled, or missing shingles, which are signs that the roof is near its end of life. Also check flashing around chimneys, skylights, and roof valleys, and the rubber boots around vents for cracks. A small tube of caulk might save you thousands of dollars in structural repairs. If you live in a cold climate, check the siding under the roof eaves for water stains, which could be a sign of ice damming. Adding attic insulation and sealing gaps around pipes, recessed lighting, and ducts into the attic might help prevent future damming and lower your heating and cooling bills.

Pest Infestations

Termites and carpenter ants gravitate to moist soil and rotting wood. Keep mulch, firewood, and dense shrubbery away from your foundation. Once termites infiltrate a home, they can bore through the structure in a few short years. Termites have been known to rip through studs and floorboards in a matter of months. To detect termites, probe the sill plate that sits on top of the foundation with a screwdriver to check for rotted wood. To check for carpenter ants, look for piles of sawdust along baseboards. Regular termites also shed wings along windowsills, walls, and other entry points. Rodents gravitate toward disorder and debris, such as leaf piles around the foundation. Plug holes in the siding and the foundation walls with expandable foam.

Mold and Mildew

Hot outdoor temperatures can drive even small amounts of water trapped in the structure to condense on colder interior surfaces, leading to mold. Musty odors and dank air are warning signs. Check under carpets and around windows for visible mold or mildew. If indoor mold covers less than 10 square feet, treat it yourself with a homemade solution of 1 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Be sure to don an N-95 disposable respirator, goggles, and heavy-duty gloves. Professional remediation is required for larger outbreaks.