An older home is a treasure trove of shared memories. Every part of it is a thread in the tapestry of a family’s heritage. However, an older home also presents unique problems to the homeowner. To keep your home livable, you must attend to taking care of an older home in the unique ways that it needs to be cared for.
Your Home Ages, Too
Like the people who live there, a home has an aging process. Its materials, decorations, and appliances will also age. By understanding how to care for some of these components, you may better identify where to focus your energies to keep your home in its best possible condition.
1. Generating Emergency Power
Older homes were built with fewer power outlets than today’s homes. Older outlets and wiring systems weren’t created with the future in mind – since the amount of power used by today’s homes couldn’t be imagined back then. Therefore, older homes are at an increased risk of faulty wiring or power failures. Part of taking care of an older home is preparing for those risks.
Wise homeowners will protect against that risk by purchasing a generator. Having a generator available to provide power when needed is a necessary investment. When you lose power for any reason, having a backup generator keep your home powered. Many home energy experts recommend investing in the best Kohler generator you can find.
Kohler is considered by many to be one of the leading manufacturers of generators. Since 1920, Kohler has been the brand homeowners turn to for backup power solutions. They have many models to choose one, and you’re sure to find the one to suit your needs. The cost of a Kohler generator plus installation is listed as approximately $7.500. (1)
2. Eliminating Toxins in Older Homes
Asbestos was used in many of the homes constructed before 1978. Exposure to asbestos can result in lung problems and may put you at risk for colon or other digestive cancers. If your home was made before 1978, contact an asbestos removal contractor. Their services for removing asbestos from your home may cost anywhere from $200-1000. (2)
Another of the dangerous contaminants in older homes is lead paint. If there is lead in your home, chips or dust from lead could result in headaches or abdominal pain. Lead removal professionals will replace the old paint with a safe replacement paint. Although its removal can cost between $1450 – $5000, (3) your health is worth more than that.
Taking care of an older home also presents you with an increased risk for the presence of mold. Any accumulated moisture can lead to mold infestation. Mold is a toxic substance that can lead to respiratory infections or other adverse symptoms. A mold inspection and removal cost $10-25 per square foot. (4)
3. Replacing Your Well Pump
Having a private well is a significant asset for a homeowner. If you own an older home with a well pump, you will need a new pump system at least every 15-25 years. As your home ages, you may notice increasingly lower water pressure. If the well becomes damaged, your water could become dirty. You may also hear strange noises coming from the well.
When you have an old well pump and are dealing with its decreased water pressure, there are adjustments you can make. Many homeowners in a similar position adjust their pressure tank settings. Municipalities’ average settings of water tanks are about 60 pounds per square inch. By changing the pressure to 40/60, a homeowner will feel a significant increase in pressure.
Even if the water pressure from the well or the quality of the water remains unchanged, its age will eventually cause the well to need replacement. Although some tasks included in caring for an older home can be done by a skilled homeowner, replacing an older well pump is a job for trained professionals. The national average cost for new well pump installations is about $1750. (5)
4. Resolving Plumbing Issues
Older homes were built with a standard that reflected the knowledge of their times. Many older homes present plumbing issues. One of the most common problems is the materials used to make plumbing pipes, in homes built before 1990. Many of those materials would no longer be approved by U.S. building codes.
Over time, a home will naturally shift in place, and the pipes will be forced downward. This will create a pocket in the earth below your home, known as a ‘pipe belly.’ Those irregularities can cause a blockage of the flow of your plumbing system. Correction of these problems will require the assistance of professional plumbing services.
Homeowners taking care of an older home also face the possibility of a failed sewer line. Older sewer pipes were designed to handle the decreased flow from older homes. Replacement of your outdated plumbing system can vary from around $2,300 to 5,200. (6)
5. Repairing Your Bathtub
Many things can happen to chip or crack your bathtub. Older bathtubs make the need to repair or refinish even more likely. Depending on how handy you are at home repair, a bathtub repair is something you can do for yourself. There are bathtub repair kits sold at DIY stores, which can enable you to revamp your older bathtub.
If your bathtub has gone beyond the stage where it can be repaired, you can opt for a complete replacement, or use a bathtub liner. PVC or acrylic plastic liners can improve your tub’s appearance and extend its duration. Some homeowners prefer to refinish their bathtubs. Refinishing is a more intensive process, requiring a professional team’s services.
If you decide to invest in a complete bathtub replacement, the cost will vary widely, but the average price is around $5000. (7) Making your decision on which of these to do can be difficult. However, although finances are a necessary consideration, the need for a safe bathtub is an investment in your future.
6. Restyle Your Kitchen Countertops
Countertops in older homes are frequently made from materials that are now considered outdated. During the 1970s and 1980s, tile countertops were a popular choice. Despite their attractive appearance, they went out of style. Homeowners found it challenging to prepare food on the uneven surfaces provided by tile countertops.
Laminate was an even older choice for countertops. It was first used in the 1950s. Laminate had a superficial resemblance to stone, but it was a poor substitute up close. Despite its smooth surface, homeowners taking care of an older home also found heat or knives would easily damage its surface.
Home design contractors are unified in citing the excellence of custom granite countertops. Its smooth, hard surface provides a durable surface ideal for food preparation. Its appearance is also modern and clean. The estimated cost of installing granite countertops is $2,000 – $4,500. (8)
7. Crowning Your Home with a Roof
Without a solid and intact roof, your home can’t remain safe. Taking care of an older home may mean you inherit roof problems that tend to be present in older homes. Any roof can sustain damage from a falling tree or a hailstorm. However, older roofs are more likely to encounter those types of damage.
A critical feature of an older roof is the flashing. Flashing refers to material installed around chimneys and vents to protect your roof from water. The material that composes flashing is likely to have deteriorated with older roofs. When the flashing disintegrates, that can lead to flooding through your roof.
When you contact a professional roofing company, they will inspect your roof and let you know what potential or actual problems they find. They can also remove any deteriorated materials for safety. The company will then install a safe, modern roof. The average roofing costs, including labor, are approximately $9000.
8. Restyle Your Kitchen Cabinets
Kitchens have a different ambiance than the other rooms of the home. Preparing and serving food needs a backdrop for the preparers to feel comfortable. The style of the kitchen cabinets can serve as an inspiration for to the people who create meals in that kitchen. It can also lend to the pleasure of family gatherings for meals.
Although properly constructed kitchen cabinets can last up to 50 years, you may notice signs you’re your cabinets are outdated. You may smell decayed food or see a stain that doesn’t disappear after cleaning. If you cannot open and close the cabinet doors, the hinges may have a problem. The most potentially harmful occurrence would be the presence of mold.
Any of these problems could mean that replacing your kitchen cabinets is the next step in caring for an older home. Removing and installing old cabinets is a complex process, but it will be well worth your while. The cost of the remodel will vary according to which materials you use. Your budget for the job should be between $5,000 – 6,000. (10)
9. Resurface the Floors
If you have rugs or carpets, your floors may be easy to overlook, but floors in your older home may have hidden problems. Many of those problems can involve the floor joists or subfloors, which will bear the most pressure from foot traffic. These areas are also most likely to be invaded by pests or mold. Part of your quest to care for an older home will be to watch for signals that it’s time to replace your flooring.
The ground under any home will shift, in time. This shifting will cause a hazardous condition, which must be corrected to preserve your safety. If the shifting causes foundation cracks, floor pieces may become out of place. This floor displacement will result in another dangerous condition.
Search the listings for local flooring companies that can assist you in replacing your floor. You can interview several contractors and ask each for a quote before selecting the right company to help you. The cost of replacement will vary by the area of the flooring and your choice of materials: (anywhere from 4,000 – $50,000.) (11)
10. Keep Your Lights Burning
Older homes used wiring methods and wires made of materials that today’s standards would find substandard. If you experience frequent circuit breaker trips or find outlets that feel hot, your older home may have wiring problems. If the problems aren’t corrected, you can have problems ranging from power issues to electrical fires.
Exposed wires can cause additional problems because rodents can attack them. Caring for an older home involves contacting an electrical contractor to inspect your electrical wiring and outlets. The estimated cost of an electrical inspection is $150 – 200. (12)
When the electrical contractor finishes their inspection, they can install new electrical wiring. It’s a good idea to use the same contractor, if possible. They will already be familiar with your electrical system. their work during the inspection will allow you to see they can be trusted.
After the Renovations
Once all the renovations are finished, make a checklist of all the systems in your home that need to be maintained. If the contractors you worked with gave you any advice for future repairs or preventative maintenance tasks, note them and don’t forget to schedule them. They can be added to your checklist.
You’ve invested a lot of time and money in your home. One home maintenance tip many contractors give is to complete all needed maintenance tasks. Your renovations have shown you what years of wear and tear did to your home. Use that cautionary knowledge as a signal to tend to any maintenance issues as soon as you notice them.
Consider eco-friendly materials and methods as you make future repairs. These methods have been shown to cut energy costs after their installation. Using eco-friendly methods is also likely to be more widespread as time passes.
As you can see, taking care of an older home can involve a great deal of renovation and repair. Keep in touch with the professional contractors who worked on your home during renovations. They will be able to help you care for your home and keep it safe and comfortable for many years to come.