Common Age Related Issues with Homes
Below are some of the most common and important issues found in homes of different ages. This is by no means a complete list.
- Older foundations degrade over time and the degradation may not be visible.
- Older basement foundations were not designed to be water tight and will allow moisture to come through (efflorescence). Moisture problems such as mold and mildew can occur if drywall or insulation is placed too close to the foundation or the foundation is unable to adequately dry.
- Knob and tube wiring overheated (the knobs and tubes were installed to help the wiring cool) and was designed for homes with only a few lights and appliances. We now use a lot more energy, which can overheat the wiring and cause the rubber coating to degrade. Knob and Tube wiring should be inspected to ensure the coating is in good condition and it should never be covered in insulation. Replacing knob and tube wiring is a beneficial upgrade.
- If the home still has a fuse box we recommend it be replaced with modern breakers, which are safer.
- Galvanized plumbing has a lifespan of 40-60 years. Most of the homes this age still have galvanized plumbing that may begin to leak any time. Galvanized plumbing often times contained lead that could get into the drinking water. Lead water filters are relatively inexpensive and can be installed in fridges and under sinks.
- Copper plumbing has a lifespan of roughly 75 years. Prior to 1985 lead solder was used to seal the joints in the plumbing, which could leach into the drinking water. Lead water filters are relatively inexpensive.
- Lead Paint
- There is an ~87% chance of lead paint in homes of this age. If there is lead paint it will most likely be on the the exterior of the home, basement walls and around door and window trim.
- Repairing or repainting a home with lead paint, especially if it is chipping, is a lot more expensive because of environmental requirements for removal.
- Asbestos was used in thousands of products and materials. A licensed asbestos tester can determine where/if there is asbestos in the home and mitigate it. This should be done before any remodeling.
- Balloon framing was common in two story homes and can allow fires to spread through the walls to the top floor quickly.
- Older homes were not built with insulation in the flooring or walls because vapor barriers and insulation that could withstand moisture had not been invented yet. Installing insulation in areas with the most potential for moisture (walls and floors) at that time would have lead to mold and rot.
- Homes of this age did not have reinforced foundations and do not stand up as well as a newer foundation in the event of an earthquake. Until 1974 most homes were not attached to the foundations, which can allow them to slide off the foundation in the event of a large earthquake. Earthquake protection and reinforcement can be added.