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

Don't ignore these household repairs. These seven home maintenance issues need to get addressed immediately, or else you'll have a much bigger problem on your hands.

Fix These Spots Before It's Too Late

signs of structural problems in a house

Let's face it: There are some home maintenance and repair issues that, given a choice, most property owners are likely to procrastinate, whether because they take time, cost money, or just don't seem all that urgent. If it's not an entirely apparent or nagging issue, it might take some time to be addressed. But some of the most serious problems hide masked behind a beautiful facade—and could turn any dream home into a nightmare on Elm Street. Click through for the top structural and mechanical time bombs that experts say have the potential to blow up in order to spot and squelch them in your own home—before the big boom.

Related: 15 Little Signs Your House Has a Big Problem


The Foundation

signs of foundation problems

A small crack in the brick veneer on the exterior of their home is no big deal, right? Not always. What looks like it can be solved with a cosmetic fix can sometimes indicate a deeper problem with moving foundation. Hire a structural engineer immediately to evaluate your home's foundation. If caught early, a repair might only cost a few thousand, but if it's too late you're looking at one of the most expensive home repair jobs possible with a whopping $50,000 price tag.

Related: Time's Up: 9 Things to Repair in Your Home Before It's Too Late


The Roof

signs of roof damage

A roof can appear completely fine from one side of the house while crumbling on a different side. That's why most people end up making the tragic mistake of waiting until they see water leaking through the ceiling to identify roofing issues. Water usually enters the attic first, so regularly inspect for stains around the chimney and vents. To be on the safe side, have your roof inspected every five years.

Related: Solved! How Long You Can Expect Your Roof to Last


The Septic System

signs of septic tank problems

Many rural homeowners rely on septic tanks for their sewage systems, which operate by breaking down solids and liquefying them. That liquid then goes out into the lines and is dispersed into the surrounding ground. While extremely useful, these tanks are also highly susceptible to clogs from other materials, like cigarette butts and food waste. Save yourself the cost of digging up your yard to repair the whole system and opt for a cheaper maintenance alternative: regularly pumping the tank. Do this every 3 to 5 years, checking for signs of clogs and leaks routinely between inspections.

Related: The Best Septic Tank Treatments for Homeowners


Old Electrical System

Old Electrical Wiring

Homes built prior to World War II didn't have to meet the same requirements for power that are now a standard in home construction of recent years. With all of this generation's high-tech amenities, older wiring just can't handle today's electrical demands. Sockets and switches can wear out, breakers grow less reliable as they age, and heavy use of extension cords could lead to a fire. Squelch worry about these larger problems with a thorough electrical system inspection every 20 years. If your home doesn't meet the code, you'll want to replace the entire electrical system to avoid a major fire hazard.

Related: 10 Building Code Violations Your Home May Be Guilty Of


The Crawl Space

signs of problems in Crawl Space

When it comes to maintenance and repair, the out-of-the-way and untraveled crawl space is one of the most overlooked areas of the home. But because the crawl space is like the window into the belly of your home, it could also hold the key to revealing any number of problems before they get bigger and expand to other areas: weakening floors, termite damage, and even issues with your heating and cooling ducts. Grab a flashlight and routinely take a peek at this often ignored storage spot; even call in a home inspector, if you're looking for a second opinion.

Related: 20 Cheap Home Repairs That Could Save You Thousands


The Furnace and HVAC Unit

signs of Furnace problems

When your heating goes, the only real fix it is to replace the furnace, which will cost upwards of $6,000. But keep up maintenance on your current unit about every six months, and you won't need to break into your emergency savings. Hire an HVAC professional to come and inspect everything to make sure the system is running smoothly. Another easy way to improve air quality, efficiency, and extend the life of your unit is to replace the filter at least every 90 days—or less, if you have allergies or pets.

Related: Solved! How to Fix a Leaking Water Heater and Prevent Future Woes


The Deck

Wooden Deck problems

Building a deck is sure to boost the value to your home—but if you don't keep up with maintenance, your that piece of curb appeal could unexpectedly fall apart. While deck maintenance runs roughly $100 a year, the average cost of replacing it from the ground up is closer to $10,000. Save big bucks by simply keeping it clean, re-securing any nails, and reapplying sealant as needed. A full inspection at least once a year will help you determine what work looks necessary and catch any early signs of rot. 

Related: The Dos and Don’ts of Sealing the Deck


Prepare for the Unexpected

7 signs of structural problems in a house

You can’t control when a home disaster will strike, but you can be ready for it. Regular maintenance checks will give you an idea of how major systems are functioning and if they need any repairs.


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