The Most Common Problems of Older Homes (And How to Fix Them)

A rusty pipe against a brick wall.

Whether you own an older home or are looking to purchase a classic, home repairs are something important to consider. As the age of your home increases, there are certain things you will inevitably have to replace or repair. Knowing what things to look for will help you fix problems before they become a burden to your budget and your stress levels.

Moisture and Grading

Water is a major enemy of any home, but it’s an easy thing to diagnose and fix. As the ground around a home has time to settle, so does the structure that is resting on top of it. These changes in grading can lead to costly leaks and other moisture related issues. One way to fight back against unwanted moisture buildup is to repair broken gutters. A broken gutter can potentially send thousands of gallons of water right towards the ground around a home. By simply fixing the broken gutters and directing the water away from the house, you can solve issues related to water getting in and eroding your home’s foundation.

No Insulation

A lack of insulation is directly related to higher utility bills. Older homes were sometimes built with non-insulated single-pane windows, no wall or floor insulation and little attic insulation that has potentially compressed and deteriorated over the years. To combat this insulation problem, repair the caulking around windows, install proper insulation around door jams, and hire a pro to add blown-in insulation throughout the house. The extra money spent now will pay off with the added energy savings over the years.

Steel Plumbing

If your home is older than 1940 and hasn’t been updated, then it likely has steel plumbing throughout. These steel pipes are very susceptible to rust which clogs them up, leading to lower water pressure and even burst pipes. Replacement of steel pipes is a must in order to prevent water from becoming an unwelcome menace in your home.

Drafty Windows

Back in the day, steel and aluminum windows were the best replacements for the old iron-weighted wood models. However, these kind of windows tend to rust and crack, letting in outside air. Try and replace these old and outdated windows with contemporary energy-efficient replacements which come in all kinds of different designs to fit the style of your home.

Undersized Wiring

There are several problems related to wiring and electricity that older homes may have. One major issue with older homes is undersized electrical systems that don’t always meet household demands. The entire electrical and power needs of one or even two rooms were sometimes piled onto the same circuit, causing the tell-tale sign of dimming lights when a major appliance kicks on. If you experience this, then it’s time to call in an experienced electrician and upgrade to a plan that can meet the electrical demands of a modern-day home.

Cracked Shingles

Shingles manufactured during the 1980s were switched from asphalt to fiberglass. After five to ten years of use these shingles have a tendency to crack, rip and tear. In order to stay on top of the game, and keep moisture out of the roof of your home, a house bearing such shingles should be routinely checked, and shingles that are cracked should be replaced.

Foundation Issues

Some of the worst and more costly problems associated with older homes are foundation issues. Foundations can sink over time, leading to cracks in exterior walls, windows and sliding doors that stick and floors that sag. Another contributing factor to foundation issues are trees that have grown large beside the house and have roots that extend under the home. The first thing to do if you notice you have foundation issues is to find out why the foundation has moved and if it will continue to do so. If it is a tree related problem, then remove the trees. The normal fix for a moving a sinking foundation is to lift and stabilize it with piers, with the cost depending on how deep they have to go to prevent it from sinking more.

Inefficient HVAC Systems

Lastly, heating and cooling systems with leaking ducts contribute greatly to low energy efficiency and high energy costs in older homes. If you are spending more and more money every year heating and cooling your home, then it might be time for an upgrade to a more efficient system.