Crippling Home Defects That Often Go Unnoticed

Crippling Home Defects That Often Go Unnoticed

The adventure of home ownership has it's ups and downs. You have the freedom to do what you like with your home, but you have the responsibility to fix things when they break. While wobbly toilets, meager air conditioning and impotent water heaters are easy to notice, there are other defects that often go unnoticed. There are places in the home that homeowners don't frequent and it is in these uninhabited places that the most crippling defects often lurk and fester.

The roof

Homeowners rarely have need to mount the roof, but there are a litany of things that could be wrong.

  • Broken, damaged or missing shingles
  • Moss, lichens or foliage eating away at the shingles
  • Broken, cracked or missing plumbing vent boots invite rain into the attic
  • Cracked chimney crown, damaged spark arrestor or broken tiles.
  • Punctures, blistering or nail pops riddling the roof

Most of these problems don't reveal themselves immediately. They often go unnoticed until there is a ceiling stain, which by then is just the tip of the iceberg.

The attic

We may occasionally visit the attic to grab the Christmas decorations, but how often do homeowners traverse the whole thing? If they did, they might meet a few less festive items.

  • Bats, rats, starlings or squirrels
  • Mold, fungus or rot from leaks or condensation
  • Condensation from broken ducts, displaced insulation, clogged ventilation or bathroom fans terminating in the attic
  • Insulation in contact with your furnace vents or non IC rated lights, which is a fire hazard
  • Broken rafters, cut trusses or damaged joists

Everything can seem quiet below while problems mature above in the attic.

The crawlspace

The crawlspace is often the bane of the home selling process. Rarely do homeowners muster the courage to go spelunking below their home, but this is where we often find the most serious transgressions.

  • The crawlspace can be immersed in water, swarmed with pests or engulfed in mold
  • The insulation often gets commandeered by mice for warm, cozy abodes
  • The insulation may be saturated with water and mold from humidity and condensation
  • Joists can be rotted and soft to the touch, or gnawed away by a militia of termites
  • There could be lagoons from leaking pipes or busted sewer lines
  • It's not uncommon to find lint stalactites formed from broken dryer vents, or to feel a cool breeze from a broken HVAC duct

The crawlspaces are dirty, and scary, and gross, but neglecting them is a risky gamble that is often costly.

These areas need attention and need to be monitored or inspected regularly. The best thing you can do for your home, and your wallet, is to hire a home inspector annually to keep your dream of home ownership alive. If nothing else, have them check out these covert areas to find the mole hills before they become mountains.

About this Experts Contributor: Juan Jimenez has been a home inspector for three years working with A House on a Rock Home Inspections, which provides home inspections in Richmond, VA. He is certified by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. You can follow this contributor on Twitter @homeinspectorVA.

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