The estimated average lifespan for a house is 60 years, but homes can last over a hundred or even two hundred years—that is, if they’re well taken care of.
With so many other life issues on your minds these days, you can easily overlook caring for and looking out for structural issues of your home.
Every homeowner wants to keep their property safe and value high, but many preventable causes of structural damage to homes could have been avoided by paying attention to warning signs and catching things before they get out of hand.
Read on to learn about 10 common ways your house could suffer structural damage.
Causes of Structural Issues
Your home is a complex system of pipes, wires, walls, structure support beams, etc. All of these parts serve the whole.
We sometimes underestimate how easily we could be putting our home at risk. To keep your house standing for a few more generations, take heed to the following 10 ways you could destroy your home.
1. Moisture Damage to the Foundation
Don’t remove your downspout extensions. The extensions take the water far away enough from your house to keep the water from eroding your foundation. Over the course of years, the foundation can weaken and eventually fail.
Water damage can also come from blocked gutters or just using too much water when you mop the kitchen floor. A rule of thumb is to always keep your home’s foundation as dry as possible.
2. Not Replacing Worn-Out Appliances
Everything on this Earth, living or nonliving, has a life expectancy. Every part of your home—from the materials it’s made of to all the heating, cooling, water, and electric systems throughout your home—will wear out over time. When these vital pieces of the home start to fail, they can lead to even bigger problems with the rest of the home.
3. Leaky Pipes
Leaking pipes are also a common cause of structural damage to homes. Even a small leak can turn into a big problem as it slowly eats away at your home’s foundation.
If you notice mold on your floors or walls, you likely have a leaking pipe in the area. It is best to get a plumber out to take a look and stop any leaks from becoming the downfall of your home.
Just because termites are small and stay out of sight doesn’t mean they won’t eat your house down to the foundation. Termites have been eating wood for millions of years, and they are not about to change if they find their way into your home’s wood framing.
Termite queens can live to be 50 – 100 years old, so waiting for them to die off naturally is a losing strategy. If you notice mud tunnels or any other signs of termites, call an exterminator before the problem gets any worse.
5. Propane Leaks
There is nothing like a propane tank explosion to threaten the very structure of your home. If you have a propane tank on your property, be sure to check it for leaks regularly.
Propane is highly explosive, but if properly handled, it can be safe. Read this post on the advantages and disadvantages of owning a propane tank for more information.
6. Aging or Improper Electric Wiring
Household wiring, cables, and electrical cords account for 50% of household electrical fires in the United States, causing $650 million in damages. If the wiring in your home is getting old or if your lights are flickering, have an electrician take a look at it before your home goes up in smoke.
7. A Dirty Fireplace and Chimney
Over time, a fireplace builds up creosote, a flammable resign that puts you at greater risk of a chimney fire the longer you put off sweeping your chimney.
Damage to your chimney or venting pipe could leak smoke and fire debris and pollute the inside structure of your home. Fireplace experts recommend that chimneys be cleaned and inspected annually.
8. Sinking Floors
An unleveled or sinking area of your floor is a sign that your floor is losing its structural integrity.
A few rotten floorboards and the whole floor could collapse under the pressure of the house’s weight. These kinds of home structural issues are nothing to mess around with and deserve your immediate attention.
9. Tree Roots
Tree roots are incredibly strong. The roots of trees growing near your home can potentially grow into the foundation, cracking or even breaking down the walls. Underground sewer and water pipes can also fall victim to the tree roots being pushed to the point of bursting.
Check your basement walls for any signs of structural damage such as cracks or pieces of concrete falling off. If there is no water damage, tree roots might be the culprit.
Any damage to foundation walls, no matter how small, could be a warning sign of structural issues in the near future.
10. No Insurance Coverage
Does home insurance cover structural issues? Do home warranties cover structural issues with your home? Well, that all depends on the structural issue in question and the cause of it.
Many insurance policies will deny coverage if the cause of the damage was human error and preventable. However, having home insurance could save the life of your home if a costly repair is needed unexpectedly. Read the fine print of your insurance contract for more ways your home could be destroyed and the insurance policy won’t payout.
Word to the Wise
Buying a home with structural issues is a nightmare of any homeowner, but most disasters can be avoided with a little attention to detail and proactive preventive measures.
Have a mindset of never letting anything bad happen to your home and you will keep it a part of your family for the rest of your life. For more helpful information about taking care of your home, read a few more articles here on our blog.