Common Problems Found in Older Homes in Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin
Older homes that are 100 or more years old are plentiful in cities like Racine and Milwaukee. Many of these homes are in great shape and some have been updated over the years. Some older homes have not been well maintained. Regardless of the condition of the home, older homes have some distinct differences that make them unique in comparison to newer more modern homes. The problems found in older homes are consistent and should be considered when purchasing a home.
One of the biggest differences is the foundation. Many homes over 100 years old were built with field stone, brick, or cinder block. Field stones were laid on top of each other and mortar was used to hold them in place. These foundations still perform well but need regular maintenance. Parging or repointing of the mortar between the stones has to be done consistently to ensure the foundation remains in good condition and does not cause problems with moisture intrusion or deterioration. Brick foundations were normally laid with 2 widths of brick and also needs regular maintenance. The brick has to be regularly repointed at the mortar to ensure the brick remains in good condition. Brick foundations have a tendency to bow or lean over time and often need supports to hold the foundation in place. This often occurs when moisture is not moved away from the foundation. Cinder block foundations are laid with large blocks and are often seen on older larger buildings. The foundation needs to be inspected to ensure there are no significant problems.
Electrical issues are a common problem in older homes. Older wiring can be difficult to upgrade or bring up to modern standards. Knob and tube wiring was the first wiring type used in homes and when found in older homes it is recommended that it be inspected by a licensed electrician. It can be dangerous if covered with insulation or if the wiring becomes degraded. Many homes have 2 prong electrical receptacles which don't have a ground wire. These receptacles will not allow modern 3 prong receptacles to be used and may not protect electronic equipment from damage if an electrical problem occurs. Some electrical panels are outdated and may be panels that are unsafe or have known problems. These problems can be expensive and should be inspected prior to purchasing a home.
Another common problem found in older homes involves plumbing issues. Many older pipes have leaking or corrosion that will need repair or replacement. Plumbing issues can be expensive and difficult to repair in an older home. When certain types of pipes begin to fail they corrode from the inside out causing water flow to be substantially lower than normal. Often repairs made on plumbing pipes are not properly done.
Older home can often be purchased for substantially less than a newer home. Buyers need to realize that older homes often need updating or maintenance that a newer home would not normally need. At Dairyland Home Inspection we perform home inspection in Racine, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Waukesha, Walworth, and Ozaukee Counties.