Are you a prospective homeowner, new homeowner, or have you been one for a long time? Do you know the place you live or wish to live as well as you think you do? It may have problems that you don’t know about. I don’t mean something like a bad feng shui pattern that causes your internal energy flows to be disrupted. I mean real problems with real financial or even safety concerns. Being aware of the cost of home ownership is the first step – when you know the signs to look for then you can take steps to protect yourself and your wallet.

Old Wiring

Depending on the age of a home, you may have to worry about the quality of the wiring. Many homes built in the 1960s and ’70s were designed with aluminum wiring. The problem with this is that aluminum wiring corrodes rather quickly. Electricity, believe it or not, changes quite a bit. Modern appliances have different electrical demands on home wiring now than they did even five years ago. Be on the lookout for fuses that regularly blow, this could be an indicator that the circuit is not capable of handling the demand.

Inefficient wiring at best will result in a lot of blown fuses but at worst end in a fire, which can be devastating financially and personally. You can hire an electrician to inspect and repair problem spots. It really is just as easy as installing a simple copper adapter at certain points in the wiring and doesn’t have to be an extensive rewiring of your home. Avoiding the danger can be well worth the cost.

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Mold can find its way into the home where water damage often goes undetected, such as basements, attics, and ventilation systems. Though more common in southern, humid climates, mold can happen anywhere and dealing with it after it has gained a foothold can be extremely costly. Depending on the type of mold found, homeowners have found themselves in a position where they had to abandon a house completely due to quarantine.

If a mold infestation is small and accessible enough, you may be able to clean it up safely yourself with a rubber mask and gloves. In cases where the mold is widespread or difficult to handle such that it requires professional remediation, costs can be between $500 to $30,000 or more depending on the severity.

It is also always a good idea to be on the lookout for mold in a home and regularly inspect the common areas of infestation such as windows, basements attics, and bathrooms. Be wary of stale odors in the home as this can indicate mold. It is unseen mold that poses the biggest threat, so if you can’t spot it but you are concerned it could be somewhere in the home, it is best to enlist the aid of a certified mold inspector.

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Insidious Insects

Mites can find their way into homes in surprising ways. For example, birds often seek to make nests in the exterior of ventilation systems. While this may seem harmless or even cute, these birds often bring pests with them that will be drawn deeper into the home through the air ducts. The mites they bring may cause rashes and skin irritation that require medical attention and may require professional extermination to remedy, both of which are an unnecessary cost. It is best to destroy nests before they are finished in any part of your home to deter bird inhabitation.

Termites can infest lumber before it goes into construction and they migrate from one structure to the next between August and December, usually establishing a colony where there is exposed wood. Infestations can be costly, especially if it has gone on long enough to do damage that requires replacement of a wall. Unfortunately, termite infestations are hard for the average homeowner to catch, so the best option is to get a termite inspection done yearly. It is also a good idea to keep an ear out for infestations in your area.

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The United States has also recently experienced a bedbug resurgence. They are one of the most difficult and costly bugs to exterminate as it often takes several treatments to completely clear a place. If an exterminator offers a guarantee, you will likely see it in the price. Bedbugs like to travel on fabric and they do so fairly successfully. The more you travel outside of your home, the more likely you are to come into contact with some. If you find yourself at risk of exposure, thorough cleaning of travel bags and clothing before it comes into contact with anything in your home is a good preventative practice.

Maintaining Air and Minimizing Water Damage

Yearly professional H-vac, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning maintenance should not be avoided in the interest of saving money. Not only can it save you from mold costs by early detection, it can save you having to replace a furnace, which typically costs thousands of dollars.

Regular exposure of a home to water also necessitates yearly preventative maintenance. Cleaning the gutters out regularly will prevent water damage to the roof, which should be professionally inspected yearly in general just to ensure the shingles are not deteriorated to the point where they are not keeping water out. Dryer vents should also be cleaned out or replaced regularly to avoid a fire hazard.

Most people on a budget handle repairs in their home as things break, but the costs of regular maintenance and prevention are far less than dealing with these serious problems in the home. Look at it as an initial investment with a great long term payoff so that you don’t end up getting sucked down your home’s potential money drains.

Martin Orefice is a husband, father, and entrepreneur with an interest in personal finance and real estate.