For homeowners, it makes sense to tackle minor household headaches before they become migraines. Consumer Reports suggests taking on these high-priority projects early.
Telltale signs: Rain pouring over gutters and puddling along foundation walls.
Why you need to act: Water can deteriorate siding and foundation walls, eventually finding its way to interior spaces and causing considerable damage.
What to do: Inspect the entire gutter system for clogs and corrosion. You can clear clogs yourself, but if your gutters are corroded, youll want to talk to a pro about having them replaced.
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Telltale signs: Cracked, curled, or missing shingles, which signal that the roof is near its end of life; also cracks in the flashing around chimneys, skylights, roof valleys, and the rubber boots around vents.
Why you need to act: If your roof doesnt provide a proper barrier to rain and snow, moisture can find its way to drywall and insulation, leading to rot and interior water damage.
What to do: You might be able to replace a shingle here or there, or patch leaky flashing. But if your roof is more than 20 years old, its probably time for a new one. If its an asphalt shingle roof with only one layer, you might be able to add a second layer over it, significantly lowering the project costs.
Telltale signs: Evidence of termites includes rotted wood in the sill plate that sits on top of the foundation and cast-off wings along windowsills. Piles of sawdust along baseboards are a sign of carpenter ants.
Why you need to act: Tiny as they are, these insects can cause major structural problems if left to nosh on your homes wooden framework.
What to do: Call an exterminator. Check for accreditation on the database of the National Pest Management Association.
Telltale signs: Cracks in the concrete, especially those that are wider than 3/16 inch, as well as signs of the walls bulging and buckling.
Why you need to act: An unstable foundation can compromise the entire structure of your house.
What to do: Hairline cracks can usually be filled with an epoxy injection system. If the cracks seem to be getting bigger, consult a structural engineer.
Telltale signs: Musty odors, dank air, and black mold spores growing on surfaces such as bathroom ceilings.
Why you need to act: Any surfaces that harbor extensive mold, including drywall, carpet, and ceiling tiles, will need to be removed. Otherwise mold spores will be released into the air, causing allergic reactions and asthma attacks.
What to do: If you catch it early, patches of mold less than 10 square feet large can be treated with a homemade solution of 1 cup of chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Wear an N-95 disposable respirator, goggles, and heavy-duty gloves. For larger outbreaks, or if the ventilation system is contaminated, call in a mold-remediation professional.
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