7 Problem Areas You’re Overlooking—But Shouldn’t

When you're trying to maintain a home, there's just too much to keep track of. Something always needs cleaning, replacing, or updating, making it easy to forget those out-of-sight, out-of-mind areas. Unfortunately, sometimes the biggest problems are hiding in those unexpected places. Add these 7 often-overlooked spots to your inspection checklist to ensure that your home remains safe and in excellent working order.

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  1. Basement Window Wells


    The purpose of a basement window well is to ensure an opening for rescue and allow egress from the bottom level of your home. Because local codes vary, you should check your community’s requirements and confirm that your home complies. Make sure the window fully opens and the area is clear of debris, and double-check that there's no moisture buildup to ensure that water won't leak into your basement. 

    Related: 7 House Sounds You Never Want to Ignore


  2. Gutters


    It's important that your gutter system function well so it can catch water runoff from your roof and carry it safely away from your home’s foundation. Be sure gutters are free of debris and clogs, and that they are pitched properly for water to flow as it should. Also check that the gutters are securely attached to the fascia board and that all the seams are properly sealed.

    Related: 10 Easy Repairs Never to Pay Someone Else For


  3. Chimney


    Gathering around the fireplace on a chilly day is a favorite family pastime, but in order to maintain that tradition you need to inspect your chimney every year, inside and out. Note any excess ash and creosote buildup: If the chimney has creosote buildup greater than 1/8 inch, it needs to be cleaned; buildup greater than 1/4 inch requires a pro to remove.

    Related: The 1-Hour Home Energy Audit That Can Save You Money Every Month


  4. Foundation


    Your home’s foundation is of ultimate importance. Inspect it regularly to keep small issues from becoming big, expensive problems. Check the walls for cracks and bulging. Poke any chipping areas with a screwdriver to make sure you can’t easily provoke further damage. Other red flags include door jambs or windows that suddenly start to stick. If you begin noticing one or more of these subtle hints, call a professional for a full inspection.

    Related: 6 Ways You’re Accidentally Damaging Your Home


  5. Septic Tank


    Just because your septic tank is buried doesn't mean it should be forgotten. To inspect it, check the surrounding area for any mushy, overly wet ground. If the grass is a lot greener over your septic tank than it is elsewhere in your yard, that could also be a sign your septic tank is full or on the verge of a breakdown. At that point, it’s time to call a professional.

    Related: 7 Ticking Time Bombs in Your House—and What to Do Next


  6. Sump Pump


    A sump pump is your best defense for keeping water and dampness out of your home. The last thing you want is to discover it’s not working during the season’s worst rainstorm. Test your sump pump by pouring water onto it to see if it turns on automatically. If it doesn’t, take the necessary steps to get it back into operation.

    Related: 7 Ways to Avoid Basement Flooding This Spring


  7. Crawl Space


    Though it may be dark and uncomfortable, the crawl space of your home can tip you off to important maintenance issues before they become bigger problems. Look carefully at the sills to check for termites, make sure there are no pools of standing water, and keep an eye out for drooping insulation, which is a sign of heavy moisture that could lead to mold

    Related: 9 Things You Didn't Know About Flood Insurance


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