Assessing the Hidden Dangers Lurking in Your Home

by Luke Smith

Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or you’re moving into a different house after living in the same place for years, there are certain expectations most people have. The most obvious (and important) is that the home you choose to live in will be safe. That’s why most home sales don’t occur without a professional inspection first. A home inspector’s job is to inform you of any obvious dangers that could cause problems or even any potential risks that could become harmful in the future.

The obvious dangers in homes could include anything from lead paint to a leaking roof or poor insulation. Problems like these can be especially apparent when you’re buying an older home or one that hasn’t been taken care of in a while and is in foreclosure.

But, there can be less-obvious dangers lurking in your home, too. Being aware of those potential risks can save you money on repairs and help keep your family safe and healthy. With that in mind, let’s cover a few of those hidden dangers.

Homes with Older Construction

Older homes can be great investments. They tend to have a lot of charm, quality craftsmanship and are often fantastic places to raise a family. But, older homes can also come with a lot of issues if they haven’t been taken care of properly. One of the major issues for homes built before 1975 is asbestos. Asbestos was commonly used for things like roofing shingles, textiles, and other construction products. In older homes, it can typically be found within the walls. Unfortunately, asbestos exposure can cause respiratory issues and even lead to mesothelioma. If you suspect that your older home may contain asbestos or you’re worried about exposure, having a professional team come out to test for the material and/or remove it is the best way to go. It would be best if you didn’t try to remove it yourself.

Most people who buy older homes are also eager to take on improvement projects to bring things up-to-date and increase the home’s value. However, if you have an older home, you might start to find anything from water damage to lead paint as you “deconstruct.” If possible, these are things you should try to find out ahead of time from an inspector. But be aware that they can be easily missed, and you should be prepared for anything.

Problems You Don’t See Right Away

You should use all of your senses when assessing any potential problems. Well, maybe you shouldn’t go around tasting things that seem ‘off’ in your house. But, the point is that not everything is always noticeable to the naked eye.

Your sense of hearing can actually help you indicate certain problems in your home. Strange noises in a house are often a sign of structural issues that shouldn’t be ignored. Some common sounds that should grab your attention include:

● Bubbling in the pipes
● Electrical “humming”
● Hissing noises from the gas
● Knocking/banging pipes
● Running water
● Strange noises from the furnace

Some of these sounds could indicate more immediate danger than others. For example, if you hear a hissing sound, you should get out of your house immediately, so you’re not exposing your family to a potential gas leak, and then call your utility company to come to perform a check as soon as possible.

You can also use your sense of smell to indicate certain problems. For example, does your bathroom or basement have a “musty” odor to it? Many people disregard such smells because they think the house is just old or those areas tend to get damp. Unfortunately, that dampness and darkness can lead to big problems. A musty smell can often be an indicator of mold growth. You may not see it if it’s growing behind walls and ceilings or under the floors. But, mold can be hazardous to breathe in, especially for those with respiratory issues. Thankfully, most commercial cleaners can get rid of it. But, it may require you to do a bit of “demolition” to discover where it’s lurking.

Uninvited Guests

While a home inspection should indicate whether you have any rodent or insect problems, it doesn’t always come through. Maybe the problem is just beginning. Maybe the previous owners tried to resolve it, but those pests have/will come back. Some homes can be more susceptible to insect infestations and pests. If you live in a wooded area or a very damp place, you could be attracting anything from mice to termites.

Additionally, any gaps or spaces in your home can make it easy for these critters to get in. That’s why it’s so important to have a solid foundation and tight construction. Even a weakened roof can allow animals to break through and come inside. So, be aware of any warning signs of roof problems, including curling shingles, dark areas, or water spots on your ceilings.

While you may not be able to protect your home from these critters completely, there are things you can do to lower their chances of getting in, including:

● Drying up any damp areas
● Making sure food is not easily-accessible/left out
● Fixing leaky faucets and backed-up drains
● Securing siding
● Sealing windows and doors

While this list of hidden dangers isn’t meant to scare you, it should make you aware of some of the potential hazards that could be lurking around in your new home. If you don’t notice any of them before you buy a home, make sure you pay attention to any signs that there could be a problem after you’ve moved in. The sooner you’re able to take care of these issues, the safer you and your family will be.

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