Your house might be talking to you and it’s might be giving you early warning signs of potential trouble at its most vulnerable spots, and by paying attention you can prevent costly repairs down the road.
Problems: Water damage, mold, foundation damage.
Trouble signs: Flaking or peeling paint on walls, bowed walls, moisture or odor.
What to do: Ensure that the ground around your foundation slopes downward away from the house at least one inch per six feet. Regularly clean downspouts and make sure they direct water at least 10 feet away from the foundation.
What it may cost: A weekend adding well-compacted earth around the foundation. It will cost about $50 to extend downspouts for a typical house. If not, expect thousands of dollars in water damage. Foundation repairs cost $10,000 or more.
Roof or Attic
Problems: Water leaking into your home can cause rot, insects, mold, mildew and electrical shorts.
Trouble signs: Curled, missing or broken shingles; bows or dips on roof; dampness or stains in attic or on ceilings and interior walls; broken masonry in and around fireplaces; green algae growth on attic ceiling.
What to do: Inspect your roof and attic every six months and ensure flashing around chimneys is tight. Check caulking and sealants for peeling and leakage and look for cracking on collars around vents. Prevent algae and fungus on wood shakes and asphalt shingles with zinc control strips.
What it may cost: One to two hours of your time if you’re comfortable on a ladder; a professional inspection and minor repairs might cost about $200. If not, expect around $5,000 or more for prematurely having to replace your roof and anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars to repair interior damage.
Problems: Wet or flooded basements, foundation damage.
Trouble signs: Basement flooding, or water spilling over gutters during rainstorms or pooling around your home’s foundations.
What to do: Extend downspouts to direct water at least 10 feet away from your home’s foundation. Replace dented downspouts. Clean gutters at least twice a year.
What it may cost: Twelve-foot vinyl downspouts cost $10-$15 each. For a cleaner look, dig trenches on a downward slope away from your house and install 4-inch PVC pipe ($17 per 10-foot sections) below grass, secured to downspouts with “offset adjuster” connectors ($2 each).
For $1 a foot, prevent future clogging with homeowner-installed gutter shield strips. Replacing faulty gutters or having gutter shield professionally installed can cost $1,500 to $3,000 for a medium-sized house. A professional gutter cleaning and inspection starts at about $60. Thus, you get to save thousands of dollars in foundation damage and thousands in repairs of finished basements.