Older homes come with material decay and general wear and tear that may cause you to spend more than you did buying the house.

To avoid such a situation, pay attention to these telltale signs.

Electrical System

If you found an older home to buy, there is no telling what year its electrical system is from. Particularly old homes bring a rustic charm, but also bring the danger of fire as old, electrical wires inevitably fail.  Old wires are more prone to a short-circuiting.

Look for scorch marks on switches and outlets, damaged or missing insulation or other things that seem to indicate the potential that one or more wires are not properly grounded.

Heating Systems

Like electrical systems, heating systems have also undergone many changes over the years. From chimneys to central heating, even if houses were updated, the heating system might still vent exhaust through the old chimney.  Older smoke pipes were encased in terracotta, a rapidly deteriorating material. Survey the age of the house’s heating system, what type it is, its condition and how efficient it is. Antique heat systems are interesting, but they will not save on heating bills.

Plumbing Systems

Of the four systems listed here, plumbing is the most obvious.  As pipes are repaired in sections over time, they turn into a combination of old and new technology. From corrosion to clogging, the only thing you can be sure of is that you’ll need to have the entire system redone to ensure there are no plumbing emergencies as a result.


Most roofs do not stand the test of time as weather elements are extremely harsh. Ask what material is the roof and how long it has been there. Check for water spots on the ceiling to find any leaks. Chances are, if it was not recently done, you will either fix a section or have to redo the entire roof to prevent leaks.

All warnings aside, old houses have a charm that modern luxuries cannot replicate.  Make sure your home is electrically sound and outfitted with efficient heat, plumbing, and roofing.  2

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