Some house problems are obvious from the get-go—for instance, you know you’re in trouble when raw sewage starts backing up in your basement shower. Other problems, however, are not as apparent. They creep up on you, silently wreaking havoc in your home while you remain blissfully unaware. The best time to address any problem is while it’s still small, so the longer a house problem stays hidden, the more likely you are to end up with costly repair bills. Keep your eye out for these 10 easy-to-overlook signs that could signal a big problem up ahead if you don’t act quickly.
Tiny Holes in Drywall or Wood
They may look innocent enough, but these little spots signal a long battle ahead. Even if they’re just a grouping of small dots on the wall, each no more than 1/8 inch in diameter, they’re anything but innocent. In fact, they’re probably flying termite exit holes, and they could be a sign of an active termite infestation. Flying termites chew exit holes through drywall to allow young termites to escape, then other termites fill the holes with a plaster-like substance made of wood fiber and their own feces. If you find termite exit holes, call the exterminator—pronto.
Dry Mud Tubes on the Foundation
Another sign that termites are munching away at your walls is the discovery of small, dry mud tubes on the foundation, running from the ground to the siding. Termites are subterranean critters, and they prefer to remain covered as they travel back and forth from their nest in the soil to their “restaurant” in your house. To conceal their comings and goings, they build small tunnels (about 1/4 inch wide). They can build these mud tubes on the outside of your foundation or on the inside, so if you have a crawl space, shine a bright flashlight in the crevice and check for tubes once or twice a year.
The Door Won’t Close
If you have a door that used to close easily but now sticks or won’t close at all, it’s a sign that something has shifted in the structure of your home. One possible cause could be expansive clay soil that swells when it becomes saturated and puts pressure on the foundation, causing it to shift. Or, it could be the result of normal settling. Either way, when a door will no longer close, an inspection is in order. A reputable contractor can pinpoint the problem and advise you on steps you can take to protect your home.
The Floor Is Sloping
Unless you drop a marble and it rolls to one side of the floor, or you spill a glass of water and the liquid runs to the same spot, you might easily miss a slight slope in your floor. When a formerly level floor develops a slant, it could be a sign that one or more of the joists that support the floor have rotted or broken, causing the floor to settle in that area. A structural engineer should take a look at your home’s structural support system and determine a method for repairing it, which could involve replacing one or more of the floor’s structural members.