Water dripping …Sign: Water dripping from your heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system
Potential problem: Water damage. It’s normal to see a bit of condensation, which indicates it’s cooling, but you should never see water dripping from a unit inside your home. It could mean that something is leaking or not draining.
Be proactive: Have your HVAC system inspected regularly, and be aware that water damage caused by your system may not be covered by basic home insurance.
Small holes …Sign: Small holes in baseboards and gnaw marks
Potential problem: Pest infestation. Small holes in the walls and floors could mean mice or other pests have made your home their home. Look out for chewed-up electrical wires and gnaw marks on baseboards or door frames.
What to do: Seal any small holes or openings where critters can get in. (Mice can easily squeeze through a hole the size of a dime!) Remove potential nesting sites like stacks of papers and cardboard boxes from shelves and floors.
A draft …Sign: A draft near doors
Potential problem: Air leaking out of your home. This can be costly by unnecessarily increasing your energy bill; plus, there’s the environmental impact of an overworked HVAC system.
What to do: Inspect the threshold under each door, looking for light seeping through or signs that the opening is too big. In many cases, a draft guard or adhesive weather stripping can solve the problem. Your utility company might even offer a free energy audit with more advanced solutions. Shop at Lowe’s or The Home Depot and earn AAA Dollars through the AAA Dollars Online Mall.
Soot buildup …Sign: Soot buildup in your chimney or a foul smell in your fireplace
Potential problem: A buildup of creosote (usually black or brown residue) in the chimney or problems with venting or the flue. This could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or a fire because creosote is combustible.
What to do: Make sure carbon monoxide detectors are installed near fireplaces. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a certified professional before you use it.
Water spilling over gutters …Sign: When it rains, water spilling over gutters or pooling around your home’s foundation
Potential problem: Wet or flooded basement and foundation damage. Not caring for your gutters can cause several problems. Leaves and twigs can clog downspouts, rendering them useless and causing water to cascade down the side of your home. If the downspouts don’t direct water away from your home, water can also build up around its foundation.
What to do: Replace damaged downspouts and extend them to direct water at least 10 feet away from your home’s foundation. Make sure to clean gutters at least once a year—twice if you live near lots of trees.
Branches overhanging home …Sign: Tree branches touching or overhanging your home
Potential problem: A damaged roof and easier access for wildlife to get into your home. Branches can scrape against shingles, stripping off layers that can lead to a leak. Even worse, a storm can cause limbs to fall on your home.
What to do: Trim trees regularly. Keep in mind that this can be risky, so consider using a certified and insured arborist to take on the job. They will know how to safely and properly trim the tree without damaging your home. Landscape your yard and earn AAA Dollars from Gardener’s Supply Company.
Loose or cracked caulk …Sign: Loose or cracked caulk around windows and doors
Potential problem: Water damage and higher heating and cooling costs. Excess water can quickly penetrate the porous materials in your home, damaging the structure and encouraging mold growth and humidity problems.
What to do: Waterproof your home: Seal gaps around doors and windows.
Efflorescence …Sign: A white/grayish tint (efflorescence) on your chimney brick
Potential problem: There could be too much moisture inside the chimney. If that water seeps into the cracks of the bricks, it can freeze and then slowly damage the chimney.
What to do: Immediately have your chimney professionally inspected—check the Chimney Safety Institute of America for a licensed expert.