Every house has its problems, but sometimes the older they are, the more likely it is that home inspections won’t always go so smoothly. If you are buying a house that’s getting up there in years, whether it’s 30 years or 300 years, there’s no doubt that you can stumble into a few problems here and there. Generally, with homes that are built before 1977-78, there are a few huge issues that may need addressing..
Here are some common problems with older homes that you’ll want to be on the lookout for.
If your home was built before 1978, when lead paint was banned, your home may have lead paint in it. Virtually all house paint contained some form of lead, until it was banned as an additive in 1978. But that doesn’t mean you’re doomed if your house was built in 1977. In the decades before the ban, the country was coming around to the realization that living with lead paint was deadly, which caused paint companies to significantly reduce the amount of lead in their paints.
Lead poisoning can be harmful to adults – enough exposure can lead to cardiac arrest – but it’s especially harmful on a young child’s brain development. Typically if the paint is in good condition and not peeling, you can simply paint over it and seal it. However, the paint is peeling or flaking, your home inspector may recommend testing or at least a professional paint job to seal the paint and reduce the risk of exposure to lead. Usually, you find lead paint around the windows, doors, trim and on painted floors, but actually finding it isn’t easy. You can buy lead paint detection kits for generally under $100, but they can be difficult to use correctly. If you fear lead paint, your best bet may be to pay for a certified lead inspector to look at your home.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber. There are several types of asbestos fibers like, Chrysotile, Actinolite, Tremolite, etc. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. Chrysotile is the most commonly used form of asbestos and can be found today in roofs, ceilings, walls and floors of homes and businesses.
It was a common practice to use asbestos on the heating system to protect the surrounding wood and insulate the ducts. It was also added to the “popcorn” ceiling texture to make it less flammable. Unfortunately, it turned out that the most common types of asbestos were found to be a carcinogenic, and as a result it is no longer used in homes. Your inspector should recognize materials that may contain asbestos. While you cannot confirm the presence of asbestos just by looking at it, your inspector may suggest that you have it tested by a qualified lab.
During the late 1960’s and 1970’s there was a worldwide shortage of copper, which is the preferred material for making house wiring. The industry turned to the next best conductor, aluminum. The product was easily available, less expensive, and was very successful as a conductor. After a few years, however, electrical fires began to occur in homes with aluminum wiring. Although, the wiring is not completely at fault, homeowners should be aware that there is a potential for a chemical reaction that occurs when you connect two dissimilar metals together, called corrosion.
When the industry switched to aluminum wires, they didn’t make any changes to the receptacles or light switches being used. Many of these had terminals that were copper or other metals that reacted with the aluminum wire connected to them. A few years down the road this led to deteriorated wires, which then led to overheating and fires originating from these light switches.
If you are buying a home built prior to 1977 and you are concerned about lead paint, or any of these other issues, you should have a thorough inspection performed with a detailed inspection report to follow. A licensed inspector will test all coated surfaces inside of the home for lead, and asbestos, as well as any faulty wiring, and give the homeowner and buyer a written report that explains where there are any issues.
When buying a house that was built over 40 years ago, take all things in strides. You should expect that some items will be worn, and your inspector may recommend repair or replacement, don’t fret, houses do wear out.
At Georgia Pro Inspection Company we serve all of Metro Atlanta with reliable home inspection services. We perform detailed home inspections and provide easy to read information with illustrated reports regarding your home. Call us today at (770) 655-0536 for your more information.