If you are a homeowner or thinking of becoming one, there are many items that must be examined to be sure that a home is in good condition. Moisture intrusion is a problem that can lead to, among other things, mold growth and structural deterioration.
Examine both the interior and exterior of the home for signs of water intrusion. Stains on a ceiling point to a possible roof leak. A roof that traps water or snow may lead to a problem in the roof's or wall's structural integrity. Pay particular attention to areas around skylights, whole house fans or access stairs.
Doors that close poorly or hit their frames may have been affected by water damage. Buckling in the wood components of floors, trim, doors, siding and framework should be further investigated.
Even small amounts of moisture over time can do significant damage to concrete surfaces. Damage can occur if water accumulates in even the smallest cracks, voids or pores in the concrete. When the water freezes, the expansion further cracks the concrete. Eventually the concrete surface may even begin to scale away.
In a basement or crawl space, stains, smells and cracks can indicate trouble. Dark stains on drywall may indicate the height that water previously rose to during a flood. A musty smell may be an indication of high levels of humidity and possible water damage. Large cracks in a foundation are always indicative of structural problems. When checking a basement, be aware of cracks inside and outside on the foundation, particularly near corners, around windows, as well as full length vertical or lengthy horizontal cracks.
A home humidifier may also contribute to moisture problems. This equipment should only be operated when a window can be opened slightly to allow excess moisture to escape. Moisture build-up on the inside of double pane windows may be a sign of a greater problem, as well.
Correction of structural problems can be quite expensive. Periodic inspections by youself or a certified home inspector can help avert such trouble.