In a survey, the American Society Of Home Inspectors, (ASHI), identified the most common home problems. It is interesting to note that four of the top 10 problems involved water or moisture.
1. Improper Surface Grading and Drainage. By far the most frequent problem. It is responsible for the most common household aggravations, including water penetration into the basement or crawlspace. Mold can also grow in moist areas. Did you know that half the air you breath in your home comes from the basement or crawlspace ?
2. Improper Electrical Wiring. A number of respondents found this to be a significant defect. This includes insufficient electrical service, inadequate overload protection, and amateur (often dangerous) wiring connections.
3. Roof Damage. Ranked third, leaking roofs are a frequent problem. This is caused by damaged shingles or improper flashing and drainage.
4. Heating Systems. Defective items in this category include broken or malfunctioning controls, blocked chimneys, and unsafe exhaust.
5. Poor Overall Maintenance. A common problem with all homeowners. Signs pf poor maintenance include cracked, peeling or dirty painted surfaces, crumbling masonry, makeshift wiring or plumbing, and broken fixtures and appliances.
6. Structurally Related Problems. As a result of problems in one or more other categories, damage is sustained by such structural components as foundation walls, floor joists, rafters and window and door headers. This is often the most expensive to repair.
7. Plumbing. Though not ranked as a number one problem, plumbing defects still rank high. This includes the existence of old incompatible piping materials, as well as faulty fixtures and waste lines.
8. Exteriors. Flaws in this category, such as windows, doors and wall surfaces, rarely have structural significance but may pose discomfort to the occupants due to water and air penetration. The most common culprits are inadequate caulking and/or weather-stripping.
9. Poor Ventilation. In an effort to save energy, many homeowners have "over sealed" their homes, resulting in excessive interior moisture. Significant moisture can lead to rotting and failure of both the structural and non-structural elements.
10. Miscellaneous. This category includes interior components (often cosmetic in nature) which were so frequent that they did not rank individually in the survey.
Home owners should understand that regional climates, local building codes, and the age of the home have a direct bearing on the ranking of these defects. For instance, the statistics relating to electrical and plumbing problems and roofing may have varied from one location to another and thus rank differently from the averages in this survey. In addition, in older houses, problems such as heating system failure, inadequate electrical service and wiring, and worn plumbing were found much more frequently than reflected in the national survey.