As any homeowner can tell you, running a house can be an expensive endeavor. The costs of many repairs can run into the thousands, and it can be incredible how much damage even a small water leak can do. In my career I run across many issues that can be repaired for very little cost, usually as a weekend DIY project. These are probably the three most common issues I see:
Negative Grading/Clogged or Missing Gutters
As home inspectors, we often joke that moisture is our sworn enemy. While water is obviously essential for life and for a safe and healthy home, it needs to be contained properly. The biggest issue I see in homes is poor exterior drainage: most particularly when looking up to the rain gutters. For example, I recently inspected a property that only had gutters on one side, and they were almost completely clogged with debris. Most residential roofs are designed to rapidly force water off the surface and this extra force had compacted the soil and created a negative slope towards rather than away from the foundation. Water has a way of finding the tiniest cracks to find its way inside and particularly in a finished basement can cause significant damage before being detected. Be sure to keep those gutters clear (or install them if they are missing) and check the ground near your home to make sure it is sloped away from the foundation.
Clogged Air Filters
Most HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) units such as HRVs (Heat Recovery Ventilators), Furnaces and Heat Pumps have air filters and, in my experience, are rarely if ever cleaned. The main implication can go from poor air quality and increased energy consumption up to premature system failure. Just like a vehicle, each manufacturer has a recommended schedule for replacing or cleaning filters and this should be followed as closely as possible to maximize efficiency and safety. On a side note, a future project I would love to be a part of is creating (or improving) an app that allows easy and efficient maintenance planning and scheduling like what is used in the commercial building services industry. In the meantime, please check your filters and replace as necessary!
Dryer Vent Issues
I have yet to come across a home that had perfect dryer ventilation. There are several issues I regularly see when it comes to dryers.
According to my research, Halifax averages about one dryer fire a month and that is one too many as they can be easily prevented with regularly cleaning. A clogged dryer can also lead to greatly decreased efficiency, moist air expelled into the home (remember, our sworn enemy!) and is usually an easy fix for homeowners.
These three items should be checked regularly (usually every season) and with summer just starting why not do them this weekend? The best way to repair an expensive issue is to stop it before it happens. Your house and your home inspector will thank you!