Is Your Home a Ticking Time Bomb?
There are some maintenance and repair issues that homeowners just hate to deal with — either because they take time, cost money or just don’t seem, well, urgent. But, some of these problems can become ticking time bombs, poised to explode if they’re not defused early, when they are more like firecrackers than bombs.
Here are some of the top structural and mechanical time bombs in your home that experts say have the potential to blow up and are worth squelching now — before the big boom.
Why it’s explosive: Houses settle. But not all settling is the same. “A lot of times people will ignore the cracks in the brick veneer on the outside of the house, even when they get to be a half-inch or more,” says Bill Loden, incoming president of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Even though that brick is often just the “skin” of the house, a crack that large can signal much deeper problems with a moving foundation, Loden says. Caught early, a repair might cost a few thousand dollars. Caught too late, the tab could run $20,000 to $50,000.
Snuff the fuse: Some cracks in your house are essentially cosmetic — the result of natural settling. When is a crack something more? “If you see a crack big enough to put a No. 2 pencil in, you’re looking at a problem,” says Loden, who also owns Huntsville, AL-based Insight Building Inspection. Other signs of trouble: a tilting chimney or windows and doors that stick or jam, which can be caused by a moving foundation that is twisting their frames. If you suspect foundation issues, hire a structural engineer to evaluate your house, he says.
Why it’s explosive: ”Most people don’t pay any attention to their roof until they see water coming through the ceiling!” says Bill Jacques, outgoing president of ASHI and owner of American Inspection Service in Charleston, SC. But if you see drips in your living room, the problem is already far gone. A new roof could cost you “probably $8,000 to $10,000,” according to Jacques.
Snuff the fuse: “Some people say, ‘I’ve got a 20-year shingle. It’s gonna last 20 years.’ Well, no it’s not,” he says. “I would just recommend that about every five years they have the roof inspected.” One of the telltale signs of a wearing roof is coarse sand pooling at the base of gutter downspouts; the sand is most likely caused from granules of the shingles washing off. If you see a lot of it, then it’s a good idea to have someone climb higher. If you can safely get on the roof (be careful!) and the surface feels slippery, that’s another sign that the shingle material is coming off, Jacques says.
You can find evidence of additional problems under the roof. Water will usually enter the attic first. Hire an inspector, or look for stains around the chimney and the stack vents, or around other venting pipes that exit the house. Those are places where the metal flashing can fail, says Jacques. Also, look around the attic for wet and/or damaged insulation. Discovering issues early could mean the difference between repair and replacement — or a few hundred dollars rather than thousands.
Bob Vila | Zillow Blog | September 30, 2013 |link
Stroll around a typical American backyard and, among the grass and trees and landscaping, you’re likely to find … metal. Patio furniture, barbecue grills, handrails, fences and gates — they are all made out of (or at least include some) iron, steel or other metals. As handsome as they may be, they are subject not only to the usual wear and tear but also to infiltration by metal’s worst enemy: rust. It takes a bit of work to keep those metal beauties in good shape, but it’s worth it.
The greatest potential for damage comes with exposing raw metal to the elements. The key is to avoid chipping whatever coating covers the metal (which is how the rust gets started), and to protect the metal as best as you can from exposure to water and harsh weather. While this sounds like a tall order, it’s not as difficult as it may sound. Follow these basic tips to keep your metal furniture in fine shape.
The first step in making your metal last is to choose your pieces wisely. The highest quality metal furnishings have a baked-on enamel or powder-coated surface, which are your best bets for a long and rust-free life. Painted or varnished metal is less expensive, but it’s more vulnerable to peeling and flaking. The more expensive options may turn out to be more economical in the long run, as they will last for years.