Common problems in Old Homes

Old Home Repair

Older houses have definite character and appeal to them. If one happens to grab your eye, or you are looking to sell your house that is maturing well beyond its years, be advised that older house may bring more than character to the negotiating table. The sale of your older home may bring more headaches then smiles to your family if you are unaware of potential common problems. These problems aren’t necessarily deal breakers, but a knowledgeable buyer and seller needs to know how to maneuver any of these issues before a contract is signed.

Lead Pipes

Homes built before the 1940’s are likely to contain lead pipes. Some homes built after the beginning of galvanized pipes up until the 80’s still contain lead in joining components. A costly solution is replacing the pipes, which will run upwards of $5,000. A filtration system is a less expensive solution that will ensure the removal of lead from the pipes. Filtrations systems range from kitchen-specific models $400 to entire home systems $2000.

Lead Paint

There is that annoying lead again. Older homes that contain lead-based paint may have different solutions depending on the problem. Lead based paints are dangerous when ingested, for instance by a child, and require replacement. These lead-based paints are so old, odds are the walls have already been painted over by a latex paint, which creates a safe barrier. When the exterior paint flakes or peels, the lead can contaminate your soil causing landscaping issues. In most cases, replacing the siding of a home will cost upwards of $10,000.


Radon is a gas linked to lung cancer. It can enter through cracks in walls and foundation, as well as through improperly sealed attics and windows. The EPA website can refer homeowners to radon inspectors for testing procedures. Solutions for radon problems include properly sealing windows, doors, cracks and foundation. New exterior vents will cost approximately $1000. Hopefully, the more costly repair of a cracked foundation is not in the cards for a homeowner, which can cost well over $5000 for small homes.

Foundation cracks

A cracked foundation is almost a guaranteed deal-breaker. The foundation fear-monger has a bad reputation and one that most buyers won’t touch. Foundations that used cement and cinder block often do not have appropriate “bending” capabilities. This causes cracks, which allow water to seep in further damaging the foundation. The threat of wood rot, termites, mold, mildew and other possibilities make repairing a foundation an immediate requirement. A foundation repair can range from $1000 to $20,000 depending on the home.

Other factors that are common in older homes include asbestos insulation. Asbestos in insulation of vintage homes was commonly used to insulate pipes, boilers and furnaces. Electrical codes can be changed and updates required as often as every year. An older home that has not been required to bring electrical outlets, breakers, and wires up to code will have a multitude of electrical repairs that will need to be done.