In many ways, homes are like people. Despite our best efforts to maintain our bodies, the slow march of time is inevitable. A quick glance in the mirror or run on a treadmill is usually enough to confirm this basic fact—we just aren’t as young as we used to be. The evidence becomes undeniable: a thinning hairline, internal systems that aren’t quite as efficient, and skin that shows every age spot and wrinkle of worry and wisdom from a life well-lived.
The same is true of a house. As time passes, a home’s shingles may start to degrade, plumbing fixtures may spring leaks, and electrical connections may start to fray. These are only a few of a long checklist of problems that happen as a house gets older and systems to start to exhibit the effects of time.
This brings us to today’s blog post. The last couple of weeks we’ve focused on home inspection issues that result from poor installation practices. Today, we turn our attention to problems that are due to aging—the natural process of components nearing the end of their useful life. While proper maintenance and unforeseen forces (high winds, flooding, earthquakes, etc.) will play a big part in determining whether a system reaches a ripe old age, everything built into a home comes with an expiration date.
It’s another reason why it’s critical to hire a certified home inspector, like those at A-Pro Home Inspection San Antonio, to assess the age of systems in a home. What may appear to a home-shopper as a perfectly fine roof, for example, may appear to the trained inspector as an expensive replacement that will need to be made in the very near future. Knowing the age of systems in a home enables you to make an informed decision about your purchase and arrive at a fair selling price. Please note that life expectancy can be dramatically impacted by the rate of usage, installation issues, neglect, substandard materials, extreme weather, and climactic events.
Here is a brief home inspection checklist of home defects that result from aging:
Roofing: Let’s start from the top. Your home inspector understands that not all roof covering materials are the same. Each type has an estimated life span. For example, while three-tab asphalt shingles have an expected life of up to 30 years, more expensive slate roofs can last 150 years. Metal roofs stand at 40 to 80 years of service compared to single-ply TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin), which ranges from 7 to 20 years on the life-expectancy scale. Some other options are modified bitumen (20 years), built-up roofing (30 years), wood (25 years), fiber cement (25), copper (70+), and EPDM rubber (15 to 25). The home inspector will use these general guidelines when observing the roof. Further, experienced inspectors will be able to separate problems caused by weather and impact damage (e.g., hail storms) from age-related evidence, such as curling and buckling shingles, dark roof spots, cracks, deteriorating sealant, shingle degranulation (often ending up in gutters), and active leaks.
HVAC: Before making a purchase, one of the most common things homebuyers want to know is the age of the heating and cooling systems, as all HVAC equipment will eventually need to be replaced. This information will be provided in the home inspection report when possible, allowing the potential homebuyer to assess what replacement costs may look like down the road. For the home-seller getting a Certified Pre-Owned Home Inspection before placing a home on the market, this could be turned into a positive. A home with a furnace that is two years old, for example, will have much greater appeal over one that has a heating system that may only last another winter or two.
Water Heater: When assessing a water heater, there are several signs of aging that will be noted in the report, including rust on the tank (particularly around the water inlet or pressure relief valve, which may indicate internal tank rust as well); leaks, evidenced by water on the floor; operational noises, often caused by sediment build-up in the bottom of the tank; and the inability to heat. Water heaters generally have life spans between eight to ten years.
Stay tuned. For the next few weeks, we’ll be continuing our checklist by looking at more elements in a home affected by aging.