Easy Fixes That Are Frequent Problems

As a home inspector in Gloucester, I spend a lot of time looking for things that are wrong. Some things that come up on a home inspection are strange, alarming, or unusual, but most issues are simple. Here are just a few small things that are almost always wrong and are easy to correct.

Gutter Issues – Most homes have gutters, but it seems the majority of houses gather the water and dump it out right next to the foundation. Downspouts should terminate at least 6 feet away from the foundation. Making simple repairs like extending downspouts away from the foundation can reduce the moisture level in the basement. A 1000 sq ft roof can result in 623 gallons of water with 1” or rain, so about 150 gallons will end up next to the foundation per downspout if it terminates next to it.

Missing GFCI’s – a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) measures electrical current and will turn off the power when “leakage” of current occurs. A GFCI will trip and the risk of being severely shocked or electrocuted is greatly reduced. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), electrocutions are down 83 percent since the 1970s when GFCIs were introduced, so they significantly improve the safety of a home and are a small job for an electrician to install.

Grading Issues – You may not think too much about your mulch beds or the soil around your house, but it can create big issues. Soil in contact with the siding or trim of your home is a very conducive condition to having pest problems. When we see siding buried in soil, we make a note to check these areas on the interior for insect activity and rot. Termites, for example, live in the ground and eat the wood, so this is low-hanging fruit for termite activity. Improperly sloped grading is also a problem as it can result in significant moisture issues in the basement.

Insulation/Ventilation/Air Sealing – Air leaks get very little attention in most homes and insulation and ventilation are often present but poorly designed. The more heat you have in your attic in winter conditions, the higher likelihood of ice damming, mold, and other moisture issues your home will have. While contractors will often recommend replacing the roof which has an ice damming issue, the underlying cause is easier to deal with. You can also call Mass Save for a free energy audit and if eligible you may be able to have these problems resolved at a reduced cost.

Dryer Venting – Clothes dryers are a large source of fires every year and there are many common installation issues. The vent hoods are often found low to the exterior grade where they can be blocked by snow, clogged, or stuck in the open position. Vent piping is often poor material and not installed/supported properly. These issues can pose a safety concern, particularly if you have a gas appliance as it is also venting combustion products. These issues are usually easy to fix.

These are just a few examples; there are many others including my last blog about preventing water damage and all the suggested improvement there If you wonder if these ideas apply to you, chances are they probably do. The vast majority of homes have improvements that could be made in these areas.