RISMEDIA, March 10, 2008-Being a homeowner comes with its own set of challenges, particularly as it relates to home maintenance. The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) recognizes that geography is a significant contributor to maintenance issues and encourages homeowners to familiarize themselves with common issues in their region.
“At ASHI, we work closely with our members to identify maintenance issues and track regional defects that plague homeowners,” said Brion Grant, 2008 ASHI president. “By discussing these issues in real time and sharing valuable information, our members are able to stay on top of their game and identify potential problem areas that others may miss.”
While some maintenance issues, such as poor drainage, leaky roofs and old plumbing are common to all areas of the country, others are driven by geography, climate, weather conditions and the quality of the contractor who built or renovated the home. Below is a snapshot of prevalent maintenance issues homeowners should look for. Homeowners who need help evaluating these issues can contact an ASHI Certified Inspector:
Regional Defects in the Northeast
Framing issues are a top concern in the northeast region of the United States, particularly underframing, which is the presence of undersized and/or over-spaced beams in a home’s framework.*
Fire retardant-treated (FRT) plywood, often found in attics, is an issue in newer homes in the Northeast, especially in town homes. When the plywood reacts to high temperatures it becomes structurally unsound and can crumble, which can be a safety hazard for anyone inspecting or walking on a roof.
Faulty HVAC systems, in older homes with modern heating equipment, are a common problem for homeowners in the Northeast. Condensation can form in older chimneys that weren’t designed for low-flue gas temperatures and cause water stains, efflorescence and deterioration of the chimney. In extreme cases, the chimney may even collapse.*
Regional Defects in the Southeast
In this warmer region, roofs are top-of-mind for inspectors and homeowners alike. The sun and heat deteriorate materials more quickly than in other parts of the country. Roofs that typically have a 30-year life expectancy may only last 15 years in Florida.
Termites are also a big issue in this region. In the Southeast, the rule of thumb is that if your house is 20 years old, you probably have termites, or you’ve had them in the past. Homeowners should be on the lookout for subterranean termites and flying dry wood termites.
Regional Defects in the Midwest
Water intrusion is a common issue for homeowners in the Midwest. Wood rot is very common in trim and siding. The prevalence of basements in this region also makes it a hot spot for water intrusion.*
Plumbing issues are also prevalent. It’s not uncommon to see water heaters serving as both a furnace and water heater. Issues arise, however, when plumbers forget to attach venting fixtures or drains when new water heaters are installed.*
Decks are another area of concern. This widely enjoyed add-on can be attached incorrectly when built by eager Do-It-Yourselfers.
Regional Defects in the Northwest
Moisture intrusion impacted by drainage systems, exterior flashing components and exterior grading is a top concern in the Northwest, particularly as it may result in wet basements and crawl spaces.
Topography also impacts homeowners in the region. Because of heavy rainfall, homeowners who live in houses built on slopes should contact a geotechnical engineer, or similar expert, to identify potential settlement issues.*
Regional Defects in the Southwest
Homes in the desert Southwest also suffer from specific maintenance issues caused by the sun, particularly issues with the longevity of roofs, vinyl windows and siding.
Upward structural pressure caused by water build-up under the foundation is also an issue in the Southwest, a result of expansive soil.
“Our goal is to empower homeowners and give them the opportunity to understand their home and common maintenance issues affecting their region,” said Grant. “Many of these issues, if left unexamined, could undermine the condition and possibly compromise the safety of the home and its occupants.”
For more information, visit www.ASHI.org.