A house can contain a number of hazards that might not be obvious at first. These hazards can affect the selling price of a home. Some problems can build slowly over time until they start to cause major issues that make the house unlivable. There are several hazards to look for when inspecting a home.
It is important to always look for signs of pests in a property. Termites, roaches and mice can destroy structural elements of the home, lower air quality and cause damage that is costly to repair. Signs include small dark dropping that look like coffee grinds, dead pests or suspicious holes in walls, wood or window frames. Oily marks along baseboards could indicate mice or rats. Pest problems can often be easily solved by calling an exterminator immediately. Homes with a pest infestation should be inspected for cracks or damage that could allow insects and rodents into the house in the future.
Mold is serious hazard in homes. The spores can make respiratory problems worse. Some molds release toxic spores that can cause chronic health issues. Mold can grow inside of walls and ductwork. Buyers should look for discolored areas on walls especially where there is heat and moisture. Areas behind appliances, under sinks and in basements should be inspected. Removing mold requires professional abatement and potentially replacement of drywall or other parts of the house.
Asbestos is a substance that can cause cancer and other serious respiratory problems. It was used in the past as a fire retardant in homes and insulation. It is best to check attics, basements and around furnaces for thick grayish-white asbestos particles. Visual inspection will not reveal most asbestos. Professional asbestos testing should be performed on all homes build before 1981. Any signs of the harmful mineral will need to be removed immediately by an experienced asbestos disposal company. Asbestos can be removed completely making the house safe to occupy.
Radon is a dangerous gas that cannot be detected without special equipment. Radon rises naturally from the soil but can accumulate inside of homes. Radon is radioactive. The particles can cause lung cancer when breathed in over the course of many months or years. The only way to tell if radon is a problem is to install a detector. Radon detectors can give a fast reading in just a few days. The only way to deal with radon is to install a mitigation system that exchanges the air in the house or prevents the gas from entering the home.
Water damage is something that can destroy a house slowly over the course of many years. It can be hard to detect. Buyers will want to look for discolored areas on ceilings, floors and walls. Drooping ceilings can indicate previous water damage that might have rotted away joists. Houses that feel exceptionally humid or that have a strong mildew smell could have hidden water damage in the walls or floors. Repairing water damage usually involves finding the source, stopping the moisture and replacing any rotted materials.
Contributor: Sally Smith