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Home repair warning signs:

As a healthy homeowner you need to take a slow walk in and around your property on a regular basis. Assess and carefully consider each symptom or warning sign then prioritize a list for repairs.

As we enter the cold and flu season, my imagination goes into overdrive and I notice symptoms of illness all around me; the children seem to cough and sneeze more often, the dog seems lethargic and less interested in food and I feel warmer than usual, maybe a little more tired too.

I even start to think that houses are sick; they make weird rumbling sounds, emit strange odours and occasionally squeak, pop, groan, leak and have questionable electrical reliability.

While I may be paranoid about some of my family’s symptoms, houses certainly have warning signs when all is not well under the rafters. If ignored, some of these clues can turn into serious consequences for you the homeowner. So how do you spot the difference and how urgently do you need to address any issues?

Let’s say we describe problems as “not so bad,” “kinda bad” and “really bad” to judge the potential danger to the structure of the property or the people living within it.

Not having a carbon monoxide detector in your home

Really bad. Carbon monoxide is a serious household danger that causes unintentional poisonings and deaths every year in Canada. It is an odourless, colourless, tasteless and very toxic gas that is produced when carbon-based fuels such as wood, propane, natural gas, and heating oil are not burned completely.

It’s called the “silent killer” for a reason — it is easy to miss. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, sort that out pronto.

Squeaky hardwood floor

Not so bad. The squeak might be annoying but it doesn’t indicate a problem with the structure of the property or a risk to your family’s health.

Insects

Really bad. Now, a fruit fly isn’t actually so much of an issue, but bed bugs or any hint of carpenter ants or termites must be addressed immediately. Beg bug infestations have been on the rise in developing countries since the 1980s and can cause a variety of health problems.

Termites and carpenter ants are wood-destroying bugs; this means most houses in North America are susceptible and if left unchecked, these critters will systematically destroy a property.

Foundation cracks

Kinda bad. Concrete will crack, but not all cracks are created equally. There are hairline cracks that are the result of minor settling of the foundation, but others are the result of serious structural issues. Deep or wide cracks can allow water or radon gas to ingress a property, and in the worst case scenario these cracks will compromise a foundation, resulting in building collapse. If you notice any foundation cracks, hire a professional to assess the situation. Early identification of the issue will prevent costly repairs in the future.

Mould and mildew

Kinda bad. While mould growth may be desirable in the cheese industry, it is not nearly as palatable in real estate. If you spot a small, isolated patch of mould or mildew in your house, it can usually be treated with a variety of DIY solutions. But mould spores in larger quantities can cause significant health problems for you and your family, so it’s a ‘Gouda’ idea to seek professional help to remedy the problem.

Trees and bushes against the home

Not so bad. It’s easy for Mother Nature to get up close and personal with your property and sometimes we ignore it when we’re busy cutting the grass all summer. But you should trim any branches or hedges touching the house and ensure the soil surrounding your property slopes away from the foundation to help drain water away.

As a healthy homeowner you need to take a slow walk in and around your property on a regular basis. Assess and carefully consider each symptom or warning sign then prioritize a list for repairs. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound — or dollar — of cure.

Vanessa Roman