10 Warning Signs of a Problem At Your Home

“Your home is an asset, an expensive asset that, like a car, requires regular servicing to keep it in good order”  – get off the couch and have a look at your house – pay attention to areas below.

1.      UNEVENNESS IN FLOOR LEVELS.

Very good indicator that the footings a have a problem and commonly seen in older homes on stump footings during our building inspections around the Melbourne area.  Other defects may be evident if this is the case – binding doors, wall cracks etc.  Some older homes may have been re-stumped but never correctly leveled and the only way to find this out is to get under and check the stumps.

2.      INTERNAL WALL CRACKS.

Internal or external diagonal wall cracking over doors and windows normally means some differential settlement has occurred in homes footings. Seriousness of the problem will depend on widths and lengths of cracks.  If an old house built on timber stumps it may be time to re-stump the dwelling. You will need a building inspection company to inspect the homes footings. Depending on the cause cracking can be dormant, open and close seasonally or just not move again.

3.      EXTERNAL WALL CRACKS

Go for a stroll around your home and check for any cracking in masonry mortar lines of bricks themselves.  If you have a weather board home, check for rot, but weather board rot isn’t a bad sign, you just forgot to maintain them.  If you are seeing cracking on the lower walls this can mean a footings problem and depending on the severity (width) and number of cracks will depend on what needs to be done to rectify.  Get advice from a building inspector or structural engineer.

4.     SALT RESIDUE VISIBLE ON LOWER EXTERNAL WALL.

If the salt residue has risen above the finished floor levels, this will normally be a rising damp problem. Normally indicates the damp proof course has been breached.  Found in older homes we carry out house inspections on, with the old bitumen compound was used as a damp proof course.  If below floor level, it may be a drainage problem – look for leaks from pipes, down pipes not connected to storm water and drainage fall in that area.  Ground surface should fall away from the home.

5.      LOWER INTERNAL WALL PAINT BUBBLE OR DETERIORATION.

Check all internal walls for any paint deterioration or bubble around the lower wall areas.  If exists, this is normally associated with a damp problem, for example rising damp.  You won’t see this with a weather board home unless you have a brick fireplace. Can be severe in older homes and mostly means the damp proof course (DPC) has been breached and thus reinstating same may be required. A building inspection of drainage, broken or blocked pipes in the sub floor must also be carried out to ascertain if that is contributing to the problem.  Other symptoms of a rising damp problem are lower brick mortar decay and salt (white) residue on lower walls. Painting over affected areas will not fix a rising damp problem.  A qualified damp proofing specialist should be engaged to carry out a house inspection of the affected areas.

6.      SKIRTING BOARD DETERIORATION AROUND SHOWERS

Many of our house inspections in Melbourne reveal skirting board swelling, rot, paint deterioration or discoloration near showers or on walls behind showers.  Further inspection can reveal a shower leak and it is essential that a thorough building inspection of the sub floor be carried out to ascertain if the floor frame timbers have been affected.  Leaks can be via the shower screen junctions having sealant deterioration, the shower tap wall penetrations behind the flange not being sealed, shower tile cracking. Tile grouting deterioration or a leak in the pipes in the wall cavity.  Have a plumber assess and rectify this.  This can cause rot in flooring and floor frames as well as being conducive to termite infestation.

7.      DOORS BINDING OR OUT OF SQUARE.

Check all you doors for binding (they won’t close properly) or out of square doors (close it and look at the door architrave for gaps.  This may will indicate a footings problem either current of occurred in the past.  You need to have the sub floor footings inspected in this instance.  Can be rectified if footings are OK but if not, re-stumping may be required and then alterations to door/frame required.

8.      STAINING ON CEILINGS

An inspection of the roof cladding for rust or cracked tiles must be carried out.  The roof cavity should also be inspected as this can be a safety issue if excessive leaking has occurred into light fittings and the ceiling lining.  May cause sagging of the ceiling and plaster normally will require replacement if mold has set in.  Some homes we have carried out a house inspection on have identified that the leak was from an upper bathroom.  A plumber must be engaged to rectify all leaks.

9.      EAVES HAVE WATER STAINING.

If you have not cleaned out your gutters regularly you may see eave staining from back flow and blockages.  This can also cause dampness in a wall which will be depicted by staining and paint bubble.  It will also cause gutter rust due to water ponding in your gutters for prolonged periods of time.  One solution is gutter guard as it reduces time spent cleaning gutters.

10.   TERMITES.

You won’t get any warning signs that termites exist in your home.  You may come across them by accident – by putting your hand through a timber door or window frame or your foot through a floor board.  Best to have this handled by an inspector but you could tap on your timber areas and if sound hollow or like hitting a newspaper, then you may have a problem.

And finally, on a lighter note, keep an eye on the pets, they can get up to no good.

Thanks for reading this article and if you have any queries, please feel free to contact Mr Inspector for assistance.

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