Common Housing Defects, Part 1
Home Inspectors may disagree on the exact order of a list of prevalent defects found in the course of home inspections. One thing they will almost universally agree on is that water is the enemy of a house and those defects that lead to water problems are among the most devastating.
Landscaping problems are often a simple matter of assuring that the soil slopes away from the structure for the first 10 feet or so at a rate of about 1 inch per foot. When coupled with a proper gutter system, this will help reduce chances of water entering the basement or crawl space.
Roof issues are more likely to stem from improper or worn flashings and sealants around protrusions such are roof vents and plumbing stacks than they are from worn out shingles. Even cheap shingles are usually able to shed water for 15 – 20 years when installed correctly barring damage, such as hail or wind. Obviously, at some point shingles will start to fail requiring maintenance and eventually replacement. A roofing professional is the best authority in helping decide when the most economical course is replacement.
Chimneys can be a source of water inside the house in several ways. As mentioned before, poor or worn flashings can cause leaking into the house. Cracks in the crown can allow water to penetrate inside of the chimney structure and lead to damaged bricks, blocks or liners. These defects are particularly dangerous with wood burning fixtures. Clean and inspect chimneys annually for frequently used wood burning fixtures.
Windows and doors, when improperly installed and maintained, can be another source of water inside the house. These can be insidious as the water can leak inside the walls and beneath the flooring causing considerable damage before detection. Check and maintain door and window sealant and flashing annually.
Foundations can leak through cracks and water migration through the porous concrete blocks and mortar lines in stone and brick foundations. In unfinished basements and crawl spaces, foundation cracks are easily detectable and should be properly filled to restore water tightness. Water movement through porous masonry is often seen as a white salty looking crust, known as efflorescence, around the area of penetration. This typically requires cleaning and sealing to help prevent recurrence.
Plumbing issues are often visualized as a gush of water and these certainly can be a major but easily located problem. The most damaging water problems tend to be those we are not aware of until damage is done. A slow leak beneath a sink, an aging wax ring under a toilet, a leaking flashing on the roof, all of these keep wood wet for a long time allowing decay to progress without warning. Water heaters store a large amount of water and become a source if not routinely monitored. Improper connections can be a source of leaks as can a failing temperature and pressure, T&P, relief valve. The most dramatic leak stems from tank failure. Routine monitoring or a home inspection by your favorite home inspector can reduce chances of having a tale of woe to share at work and potentially save you money on repairs.
Mid-America Inspection Services, serving Fargo and West Fargo, North Dakota, Moorhead, Alexandria, Fergus Falls, Detroit Lakes, Wadena and the Minnesota Lakes Region
218-443-3555, 320-846-0004, 218-287-0877, 218-841-0444