Home Maintenance Inspections
by Corrie Reed
Regularly-scheduled preventative maintenance inspections can keep small problems from turning into huge ones.
Although your home isn't alive, it is still very much like a "person". It can have its bad days and good days. It can get "sick" when systems break down, and it can become "temperamental" when there are hidden problems in need of repair. In most cases, you will not know what is wrong until something breaks or someone is injured. And as with the human body, a symptom is usually a sign of a bigger problem. If that symptom is not treated or repaired, symptoms may worsen and lead to bigger problems down the road.
Ironically, our homes are maintained far less frequently than our cars (though your house often costs ten to twenty times as much as your car). A home rarely receives a "check-up". Problems that occur in a home are typically only addressed after something breaks or after extensive damage forces you to make repairs. Most homeowners don't consider that, if found early on, repairs will often be less expensive. Turning a blind eye to problems can lead to extensive repairs where the costs may cause a financial strain.
How do you know something is wrong with your home if there are no symptoms? Based on various facts such as weathering, normal wear and tear, and the planned obsolescence of construction materials and mechanical systems, it is recommended that you schedule a home inspected every two years. A maintenance inspection will provide you with a detailed report about any damage found to the systems and structure in your home. It will also give you an indication of the overall condition of your home.
In a recent survey, it was discovered that the number-one reason that homeowners don't get their homes periodically inspected is because they aren't aware that the service is available outside of the real estate transaction period. Home maintenance inspections have always been available, but they aren't typically marketed by realtors or home inspectors.
Home-buyers and sellers have been led to believe that only time they should be concerned about the "health" of a property is when a property is being sold or purchased. No one suggests to the new home owner that he or she should have the home periodically inspected to head off costly repairs.
Of those that know the service is available, many current-occupancy homeowners do not get a home inspection because of fear. They believe that the home inspector will find thousands-of-dollars in damage.
Regardless of what the home inspector finds, you need to know the condition of your home. The home inspector cannot force you to fix anything, nor can they condemn your property- there is no pass or fail. Most homeowners are pleasantly surprised that a home inspection reveals only minor problems or damage that can often be addressed or repaired for a minimal amount of money.
Did you know?
All of the following problems are likely to occur on some level, after you sign a closing contract on your home.
- Most home inspections occur at the time a home is bought or sold.
- Buyer/seller inspections may assure that a home is suitable for sale or purchase, but buyer/seller inspections don't prevent natural wear-and-tear on a home. Even after the closing contract is signed, the structural and mechanical systems of a home continue to deteriorate.
- The average family occupies a home for eleven years. This means that there are eleven years of damage that accrue on the home from normal usage, obsolescence of building materials, obsolescence of mechanical systems, inclement weather, and more.
- Heat causes building materials to expand. As building materials expand due to extreme or continuous exposure to heat (such as from the Sun), those materials can, and often will, twist, warp, bend, pull apart, and cause breaches. These breaches can, in turn, expose your home to pests and moisture. Long-time exposure can then lead to extensive damage caused by nesting, water-rot, rust, loss of insulation value, electrical shorts, mechanical system failures, and more.
- Gas or wood-burning systems produce CO gas (carbon monoxide) that, if not properly ventilated, can lead to potential health problems or poisoning.
- One-in-fifteen homes contain a high-level of Radon gas. Radon, a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that emulates from the ground, causes approximately 20,000 deaths per year in the United States according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
- Toxic mold, such as Stachybotrys or Chaetomium, can lead to chronic bronchitis, learning disabilities, mental deficiencies, heart problems, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple chemical sensitivity, bleeding lungs and much more.
- Indoor air quality can be worsened by smoke, pet dander, pet hair, human dander, dust, invading pest feces, invading pest carcasses, and more. The heating and air systems in your home can distribute polluted air to all parts of your home if not properly filtered and vented.
- Improper insulation can lead to an increase of up to thirty-percent in annual energy costs.
- Improperly-grounded electrical systems can lead to fires. You typically will not know that your home's electrical system is damaged until systems begin to malfunction (short-circuit) or after a fire has already occurred.
- Water and heat can cause structural components in your home to contract and expand. This can cause adjoining components to pull each other apart, reducing the structural integrity of your home.
- A cracked chimney or other improperly-flashed vent on your roof can cause allow water to enter the walls of your home. This can lead to severe moisture damage, structural rotting, mold growth, infestation of insects, damage to electrical systems, and more.
Every Two Years
It is recommended that you receive a home maintenance inspection every two years after the purchase of your home or immediately following inclement weather.* For about the cost of a basic automotive tune-up, a home maintenance inspection can help identify problems and damage in your home before they become extensive. Get a home maintenance inspection- it just makes sense.
Heat waves, high winds (especially from tornados and hurricanes), torrential downpours, severe ice storms, heavy snow drifts, and earthquakes can all lead to home damage that may be unnoticeable right away.