How to Avoid Exorbitant Home Maintenance Costs
To loosely quote Leo Tolstoy (a man who knew a thing or two about problems on the home front) properly maintained homes are all alike; every unmaintained home is unmaintained in its own way. This, of course, is because there are countless ways for a house to fall into disrepair, and many of them can end up costing homeowners a small fortune to fix.
Luckily, though, there are many methods for avoiding costly home maintenance issues. Here is a look at some of the best ways to identify and remedy the most common problems before they become costly disasters:
Moisture is often the root cause of building deterioration, and the first issue it typically causes is damp. Leaking pipes, improperly sealed windows, rain damage, and condensation are the leading producers of damp, and they each leave subtle evidences to look out for. In serious cases of leaking pipes and rain damage a “waterline” will appear, but also keep an eye out for bubbling paint and concave pockets in the paneling around doors and windows.
When you discover damp in your home, your first job is to identify the source of the moisture and remove or repair it. This may involve anything from a roof repair, to replacing a defective pipe, to shoring up window jambs with weatherproofing and caulking. Next, you will need expose and replace the damaged wood or drywall, because if left untended damp materials will invariably lead to bigger problems.
There are two primary types of rot: wet rot and dry rot. Wet rot occurs with water damage, and is one reason why it is so important to remove all materials affected by damp. Rot is caused by fungal growth that eats and weakens wood from the inside, and if allowed to spread unchecked, it can compromise the structural integrity of your home, possibly even leading to collapses.
Dry rot is also caused by fungus, but it can occur even in the absence of moisture. It is harder to spot, but easier to repair. Unlike instances of wet rot, where it is often necessary to replace entire beams in affected areas, dry rot can usually be treated locally by applying wood hardener and filler. It can often be spotted in crumbling edges of cabinet frames or fence posts, for example, or where pealing paint reveals small concavities in wood.
Mould is often more dangerous to the people inhabiting the house than to the structure itself. It can lead to allergic reactions and respiratory issues. It too is produced by moisture, usually accompanying damp and wet rot, which is yet another reason to quickly and thoroughly remove damp materials when they are discovered. Windowsills are particularly susceptible to mould, so it is important to ensure that condensation is not allowed to gather there. If you notice a moisture problem, you can often reduce condensation in your home by venting your clothes dryer outside, covering pots when boiling water, and keeping a window ajar when people are in the house.
Termites have the potential to eat a home from the inside out, causing a small fortune in damages before they are even noticed. They avoid exposure to air, and will eat away all but the exterior surface of wooden beams. But they do leave some visible traces. Often their tiny brown and black spherical droppings will be seen spilling from infested wood, and sometimes small mud tunnels can be spotted through which the insects travel unexposed across concrete or other similar barriers to their next wooden meal. Occasionally in the springtime they will reveal themselves in flying hordes, sometimes in your living room, before shedding their wings and mating, so tiny reddish wings are another warning sign to look out for.
Unfortunately, aside from priming and painting thoroughly, and a few expensive specialized chemical treatments, little can be done to prevent them. When you discover a termite infestation, it is time to call in an expert to exterminate them and assess the damage.
As with most problems in life, the key to avoiding costly home maintenance issues is to identify and fix them before they can worsen. As everyone knows, avoiding your problems will not make them go away. So keep your eyes peeled for these early warning signs and do your best to cope with them as they come along.
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