A home is a major investment, and it is one that should be cared for properly. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, damage can occur to a home. A pre-purchase inspection usually spots significant damage or issues so you can make an informed buying decision. When damage occurs after your purchase, it is almost always better to address it right away to prevent worsening of the condition. Here are four common types of home damage that you should be aware of.
1. Fire and Smoke Damage
Even a small house fire can cause substantial damage. What hasn't been destroyed may be partially scorched or melted, making it unusable. There can be hidden damage to electrical or plumbing systems that you can't see. The intense heat from a fire can also release carcinogenic fumes into a house, making it uninhabitable until cleanup is complete.
The flames may not even be the most destructive force involved. For many homeowners, smoke and water damage are just as bad, if not worse. Water used to fight a fire can destroy construction materials and personal property inside a home. Smoke permeates porous surfaces like carpeting, fabric and drywall, making it nearly impossible to eliminate on your own. Professional fire damage restoration companies have specialized equipment and techniques to fight this type of damage.
2. Insect Damage
Insects seem harmless enough on their own, but they make up for their small size with nearly incomprehensible numbers. Where you see one termite or ant, you should expect thousands more to be nearby, actively working out of sight. A single carpenter ant colony averages between 2,000 and 3,000 adult members; all of them except for the queen are actively looking at your house as a source of food.
In addition to damaging the house itself, some insects negatively impact indoor air quality. This can cause respiratory problems, particularly in family members with underlying health conditions, such as allergies or asthma. Cockroaches are one major insect source of airway irritation. Dust mites — tiny pests that feed on dead skin cells found in dust — are another. They live in bedding, upholstery, carpets and other, similar materials in virtually every home.
3. Foundation Damage and Structural Failure
Insects are not the only thing that can damage your home's structural integrity. Water or moisture in basements and crawl spaces are another major problem. While there are several causes, poor grading and improper rainwater control are two leading causes. Over time, poor drainage can weaken a house's foundation, leading to a loss of structural integrity. Cracks and excessive settling are telltale signs of this type of problem. Seasonal flooding and storms can also cause one-time flooding, resulting in serious damage to a home, perhaps even making it unlivable.
Besides eroding the house's foundation, water leaks can also contribute to mold growth. While most mold is relatively benign, excessive growth can lead to toxicity and health complications. Individuals with mold allergies are particularly susceptible to complications, such as red, itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing and congestion. A few varieties have suspected connections to serious health conditions, including acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage.
4. Roof Damage
A damaged roof is like an invitation for other problems. Over time, a roof will wear and become more susceptible to problems. These can include torn shingles, lifting flashing and holes. Storms that produce ice, hail or fallen limbs can also puncture a roof. Luckily, not all roofing issues require a full replacement. Modern roofing materials are designed to last for 15 years or more, so a younger roof with damage from a storm or other event may be a good candidate for repair. Talk to an experienced and knowledgeable roofing contractor to determine the extent of any damage and your best option.
Major damage from a fire or flood is relatively obvious, but it isn't the only problem homeowners face. If you notice many insects, mold growth or water in the house, it should be addressed right away. What may seem like a small problem can quickly grow out of control if left unchecked.