Common Problems to Watch Out for in Older Homes
Older homes are admired for their unique architecture, character, availability, affordability, and investment potential. However, with such positive qualities come a few negative ones. Unfortunately, older homes tend to come with a few pesky issues that modern homes may not face. Such issues don’t just have the potential to rack up considerable bills; they can also pose safety and health risks for residents. However, these risks shouldn’t prevent you from purchasing the old home of your dreams. By being aware of some of the most common problems to watch out for in older homes, you can address, minimize, and resolve them. By doing so, you can keep your home safe and looking great despite its age. Here are some of the potential issues you may encounter when you purchase an old home.
Poor insulation is one of the most common problems in older homes. You should replace the insulation at least every 15 years, as it will likely stop working properly after that time—or even sooner, in some cases. Despite the many benefits that proper insulation offers—such as lower energy bills, improved comfort, and increased home value—many people forget to replace their insulation, especially in older homes. As a result, roughly 90 percent of homes are under-insulated. Old homes that haven’t been updated in many years are even more likely to be under-insulated.
Checking that your insulation is up to snuff won’t just lower your energy bills and create a more comfortable living environment; it will also reduce the dangers associated with improper attic insulation. Improper attic insulation also poses several health and safety risks, such as respiratory problems, mold, ice dams, rust, skin irritation, and even cancer. Because the potential dangers of poor or improperly installed attic insulation are so immense, we suggest having a professional insulation company examine the insulation in your home. Such a company will have the skills and expertise to effectively address and resolve any issues in your attic insulation to create a healthier, safer, and more comfortable living environment for you and the other residents of your home.
Another common issue that frequently arises in older homes is leaky roofs. Over time, harsh weather conditions or aging materials can cause roofs to deteriorate, allowing water to seep into the interior of the home. Leaky roofs can have numerous negative effects on your home and health by causing water damage to the home’s ceiling and attic, which in turn compromises the home’s structural integrity and increases the risk for mold, mildew, and even fire. Due to these negative effects, addressing and resolving leaky roofs as soon as possible is imperative.
In some cases, the roof on your old home may be so damaged that you may need to replace it entirely. However, a full replacement isn’t always necessary to resolve your leaking problem. You can often avoid the expensive cost of completely replacing your roof by investing in spray foam coating. In addition to stopping heat transfer in and out of your home, closed-cell spray foam roof coating can help waterproof your roof by fully sealing it off. The coating will further work to create channels for proper drainage on your roof to prevent future leaks.
Mold is a costly and dangerous menace that plagues many homes—especially older ones. This damaging growth can weaken the structure of your home by eating away at the building material. As it spreads, mold can also release harmful spores that may result in skin, eye, nose, and throat irritation as well as allergic reactions and respiratory problems.
If you notice mold growth on the exterior of your home, a simple way to manage it is by power washing your siding, which will quickly remove mold, algae, or other growths and prevent the further damage they would have caused. Power washing will also restore your home’s appearance and make it look as good as new by removing any grime or dirt that has accumulated over the years.
Toxic chemicals are frequent issues in many older homes, as they were built before many important building regulations were established. Chemicals that are commonly present in older homes include:
- Asbestos: If you’ve considered purchasing an old home, you’re likely aware of the risk of asbestos. This toxic chemical was commonly used in the siding, insulation, floor tiles, roof shingles, and other areas of homes built before 1980 to provide fireproofing and insulation. When you’re exposed to asbestos, your risk for developing lung disease significantly increases. If your home was built before 1980, make sure to get it checked for asbestos.
- Lead: The presence of lead in old homes is largely due to lead paint, which was often used to paint homes before being banned in 1978. If your home was built before that time, there’s a good chance it may have lead paint. Lead paint is relatively harmless when kept in good condition, but it becomes extremely dangerous when it’s heated, chipped, or scraped. In such cases, the lead dust can be inhaled, resulting in impaired brain and nervous system functions. As such, it’s important to get your home checked for lead paint if it was built before 1978.
- Carbon monoxide and radon: Carbon monoxide and radon are colorless, tasteless, and odorless gases that can be extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening when inhaled. When radon is inhaled, it can become trapped in one’s lungs and increase their risk of lung cancer. Because symptoms can take years to appear, many people don’t realize they’ve been exposed to the gas until extensive damage has already occurred. Carbon monoxide, on the other hand, often has more immediate symptoms, which may include headaches, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness. If you’re exposed to high enough quantities of carbon monoxide, death may result. When you move into an old house where the presence of these gases is more common, make sure to purchase a testing kit, and consult a professional if quantities exceed unhealthy levels.
Paragon Protection is dedicated to ensuring your home is as comfortable and safe as possible at any age. As such, we offer a wide range of beneficial services, including insulation, power washing, sealcoating, and spray foam roofing systems, in Crystal Lake, Lake Zurich, McHenry, and other locations in the greater Chicago area. For more information regarding our services, contact us today!