Some remodeling projects are essential to the protection of your home. Photo Credit: SubZeroConsciousness
Each year homeowners spend thousands of dollars fixing major problems that could have been avoided with a little preventative maintenance. As with our cars and our health, the longer you wait to fix a problem the more expensive it’s going to be. Let’s look at the most critical home repairs that you should never ignore.
Small cracks aren’t usually disruptive; however, others can be a nightmare if ignored. Walk around your house and inspect the concrete. If you find some iffy sized cracks, poke a No. 2 pencil inside. If the pencil goes into the crack up to the yellow paint, you could have a major problem. Another way to check the size of the crack is to use a ruler. If the crack is wider than 3/16 of an inch you may have a serious problem. Horizontal cracks or any buckling usually calls for a structural engineer.
Hairline cracks are common and are usually the result of concrete curing or settling. You can fill these smaller cracks with an epoxy-injection system.
While you’re inspecting cracks, also look for cracks at the upper corners of windows and doors. This signifies uneven foundation settling.
It’s easy to ignore the roof because we don’t walk around looking up. So, make it a ritual – put it on your calendar. Water infiltration can cause major damage; check for missing shingles and cracked or curled shingles – these are signs your roof will need replacing soon. Check flashing around skylights and chimneys and rubber boots around vents. These little preventative tactics will pay off in the long run. If you’re afraid of heights, hire a roof inspector for a few hundred bucks – it’s money well spent.
Check your siding, especially around windows and doors, these areas are vulnerable to water leaks. Caulk is cheap - structural repairs aren’t. So invest a couple bucks in some caulk and seal around your windows and doors.
If you don’t have gutters, you’re asking for trouble. They’re not expensive and a contractor can install them for you if you’re not a do-it-yourself type. They will save you thousands of dollars in repair work in the future. Gutters channel water away from your house – as it should be. Leaders should extend a minimum of 5 feet from the house. Inspect your system before the rainy season and look for proper pitch and for clogs, broken fasteners, corrosion, and separation between connections and where the gutter meets the fascia board. The soil around your foundation needs to slope away from your house at least 1 inch per foot for 6 feet or more. Make sure your plants aren’t preventing water from channeling away from your home.
No home is immune to mold and mildew. If your home smells musty or the air feels dank, it’s a sure sign you’ve got problems. Another common sign is a chronic runny nose. Check around your windows and under your carpets for mold and mildew. To check behind your walls, remove cover plates for internet connections, TV, and phone, then use a flashlight to look through the opening. If you find a patch of mold and it’s less than 10 square feet, you can treat it yourself by spraying chlorine bleach on the mold and wiping it off with a wet rag. Once you remove the mold and the wall is dry, paint the surface with primer. The best primer for the job is B-I-N.
Termites can bore through your structure in just a few short years. In the southern region, Formosan termites can eat through studs and floorboards in just a few short months. Termites and carpenter ants love moist soil and rotting wood. Keep dense shrubbery away from your foundation and keep trees pruned away from your roof. Don’t store firewood or mulch near your foundation. To check your home for termites, use a screwdriver and probe the sill plate that sits on the foundation for rotted wood or wander around the crawl space and look for mud tubes. Also, look for droppings or discarded wings along the windowsills. To detect carpenter ants, check your baseboards for piles of sawdust.
If you find areas that need correcting and you’re not the handy-man type; hire a contractor to do the job right. Contractors are not as busy as they were a couple years ago and they’re more flexible on price. You can find a pre-screened, licensed contractor in your area by scrolling down this page to the title Areas of Remodeling and then click on the appropriate link.
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