JANUARY 2, 2018 MIKE HOLMES
They say they don’t build them like they used to, but even the most well-built homes will eventually start to show their age. Every material has a lifespan, and as a homeowner, it’s your job to understand what signs to look for that indicate an aging home, so you can step in and make a few small home maintenance fixes to prevent long-term problems.
1. Breaking Brick and Mortar
Brick is a popular exterior material for a house. It’s a classic look that people associate with strength and integrity - but you need to be careful. For older brick homes, you need to keep an eye out for brick that’s starting to break apart (which is known as spalling).
When moisture penetrates brick, it can freeze, causing the brick to expand and crack, giving you your spalling. You can’t repair brick that’s already begun to spall, and instead need to replace it with new brick and mortar.
Speaking of mortar, eventually it will start to break down - letting more moisture penetrate the brick, speeding up the spalling process. So what do you do when your mortar starts to break down? You’ll need to scrape out all the old stuff and replace it with newly mixed mortar, sealing any gaps in between your bricks. This process is called tuck pointing.
2. Damaged Shingles and Pulling Gutters
Your home’s exterior is its first line of defence against the elements, and after years of wear and tear, you might notice some weak spots that need some repair.
Your roof will take the biggest beating from the weather - and you want to look out for things like asphalt shingles that have curled edges, are peeling or entirely missing. These are a sign that it’s time to install a new roof. I like metal roofs because they typically last longer than your traditional asphalt shingle.
Look for gutters that are pulling away from your roofline; this is a sign that the fasteners that hold it to the fascia have deteriorated with time. Replacing the hangers is a fairly inexpensive task, but if you’re doing it yourself, always keep safety in mind when you’re working at heights.
3. Water Leaks
Look for evidence of leaks or water stains around the interior of your home, especially beneath bathroom areas. This could indicate a plumbing system that’s made it to the end of its lifespan. For visible piping, look for any rusted or corroded materials - a sure sign that it’s time to call in a plumber. You want to be proactive with your plumbing and deal with things before you spring a major leak.
If your property uses a septic tank, make sure your system is getting inspected and pumped regularly. You can’t use your nose as a guide here - if something starts to stink, you’ve already got a problem.
Wear and tear is normal for an older home. By checking for these signs of aging, you'll be able to make small fixes now instead of being tempted to rush major repairs later.
About the Author Mike Holmes, professional contractor and TV host, is working with Associa to refine the standards and protocols that today’s Homeowner’s Associations use to Make It Right™ for their homeowners. He brings more than 35 years of experience in renovations, construction, and inspection services, and is best known as the contractor and host of “Holmes on Homes” and “Holmes Makes It Right” where he rescues homeowners from repair and renovation disasters.
I am a full-time home inspector servicing all of South Carolina.