Nine Warning Signs - That your home may be in trouble
Excerpts from "Housewrecked" - Consumers Reports - January 2004
Serious defects often present themselves in telltale ways. If you see one or more of the following problems in your home, hire an engineer to investigate. (See If you think you have a problem.)
1. Deep cracks in the foundation or basement walls. They can be signs that the foundation was laid on a poorly compacted base or poorly graded soil.
2. Sagging floors or leaning walls. A shifting foundation or structural problems with support beams could be to blame.
3. Windows and doors that never sit well in frames or close properly. House-framing problems may be at issue. If the beams, studs, and joists weren't correctly sized or assembled, the whole house may not hang together well.
4. Cracks in interior walls. Wide cracks could signal a foundation problem. Generally, though, fine cracks are cosmetic, the result of normal aging.
5. Water damage. Warning signs include mold, rot, and insect infestation in exterior walls; staining, swelling and discoloration on interior walls; and a musty odor. Possible causes: improperly installed roofing, no flashing around penetrations and joints, no moisture barrier in a climate that requires it, lack of a drainage space behind brick or siding, poorly installed windows and doors, holes in siding, and trapped water-vapor condensation from heating and air conditioning.
6. Flooding, sewer and drain backups, and switched hot and cold water. Flooding and backups may result from poorly graded land or faulty sewer and water-main connections. Switched spigots may signal improperly installed plumbing.
7. Excessive heating or cooling bills. Rooms that don't get warm or cool enough can be another signal that air ducts may be leaky or improperly connected.
8. Shorting or dead outlets. The electrical system may be installed incorrectly.
9. Lack of required permits. This indicates that building authorities have not performed the required inspections.
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