Owning Your First Home: 6 Common Home Maintenance Problems & How to Solve Them

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/28/16 11:22 AM

Topics: First Time Home Buyer Homeowner Tips Home Maintenance Energy Efficiency first time homeowner

Homes are subject to normal wear and tear, but certain problems should be addressed to make sure your home is as safe, comfortable and energy-efficient as possible. Here are the likely causes of some common home maintenance issues and what you can do to fix them.

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1. Window Moisture

Foggy windows can point to several home issues and need to be addressed in a timely manner to avoid causing further issues like mold, mildew and window deterioration.

Likely causes

  • Old, inefficient windows
  • Poor home ventilation
  • High home humidity

Solutions

  • Use ventilation fans when cooking or showering.
  • Install storm windows or windows with an ENERGY STAR label.
  • For a cheaper, short-term fix, use shrink film or polyethylene sheet window insulation to combat window moisture.
  • Reduce home humidity with a dehumidifier.

2. Cold Floors

Certain floor types like wood, stone, tile, or concrete have a naturally cool feel, but failure of certain systems in your home can cause flooring to feel colder than normal.

Likely causes

  • Leaking air ducts
  • Poor insulation
  • Air infiltration

Solutions

  • Seal air leaks around doors and windows.
  • Improve your insulation. Older homes with little to no insulation in unused areas like attics often cause adjacent rooms to feel cooler. Locate your problem areas and address accordingly.
  • Seal vent and duct leaks. According to ENERGY STAR, approximately 20 percent of heat moving through your home's duct system is lost due to leaks and poor sealant.

3. Mold & Mildew

Water leaks and high home humidity can lead to serious mold and mildew issues. The presence of mold and mildew can cause wood rot, structural damage, and serious health problems.

Likely causes

  • Water seepage from roof, foundation or windows and doors
  • Leaking pipes, toilets, showers or bathtubs
  • High indoor humidity from cooking, showering, washing and drying clothes, etc.

Solutions

  • Use kitchen and bathroom ventilation fans as needed.
  • Use a dehumidifier.
  • Seal leaks around windows, doors and window air conditioning units.
  • Address water leaks immediately (roof and plumbing repairs should be made by a certified professional).
  • Reduce humidity in homes with crawlspaces by covering with plastic to prevent soil moisture.

If mold has become an issue, call a mold remediation specialist to ensure proper removal and home safety.

4. Dry Air

Dry indoor air can cause homeowners to experience dry throat and skin and static shocks. While having a home that is too humid can cause issues, dry air can cause furniture damage and increased home energy use. Dry air causes you to feel cooler, so homeowners with dry indoor air often have increased heating bills in the winter.

Likely causes

  • Low humidity levels
  • Air leaks that allow humid, warm air to escape and draws in drier, colder air
  • HVAC system issues

Solutions

  • Aim to have your home humidity levels in between 30% and 50%.
  • Have your HVAC system regularly serviced to check for an inefficient system.
  • Have your air ducts checked for leaks.
  • Seal air leaks around windows and doors.

5. Excessive Dust

Although fighting dust is a battle that you can never really win, there are ways to reduce the amount circulating in your home. While 90 percent of household dust comes from people and fabric, your home’s major inner systems can also contribute to excess dust in your home.

Likely causes

  • Dirty furnace/air conditioner filter
  • Dirty air ducts
  • Air infiltration through doors and windows

Solutions

  • Change or clean your furnace and A/C filters one a month or according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Make sure your dryer is vented directly to the exterior of your home. Check for a secure, unobstructed connection to the dryer. Clean your dryer vent duct once a year and replace if there is any damage.
  • Seal air leaks around windows and doors.
  • Remove shoes at the door so you don't track in outside debris, which is the biggest source of home dust.
  • Consider having your air ducts cleaned to eliminate your air conditioner and furnace from continually blowing dust into your home (if you suspect that is the root of your problem).

6. Drafty Rooms

Homeowners who have drafty rooms typically experience higher heating bills in the wintertime.

Likely causes

  • Air leaks around windows, doors, light fixtures and electrical outlets
  • Hidden air leaks in the attic or recessed lighting
  • HVAC system issues

Solutions

  • Change the filter on your HVAC system per the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Keep the dampers closed on home fireplaces when not in use.
  • Have a certified home energy auditor identify places where air sealing may be required.

For more information about keeping your home energy efficient, follow us on Pinterest.

If your home is in need of significant home maintenance, renovations, or other energy efficient projects, download our free Rehab & Construction Guide for information about how you may be able to combine the cost of those projects with your home's mortgage.

Download: Rehab & Construction Guide

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