When a house has been sitting empty for a long period of time due to various reasons, problems can occur that wouldn’t normally in an occupied home. To give you an idea what to look for, ask the neighbors how long the home has been vacant and what type of maintenance the previous owners did. Besides what you learn from the neighbors, you’ll want to check for certain physical issues before signing the papers that give you ownership. We’ve identified potential problems for you, along with solutions.
1. Cracked Plumbing Seals
When the previous inhabitant hasn’t turned off the water properly, the pipes are prone to fractures. The plumbing fixtures require water in them to remain pliable. If there’s no water inside the pipes, once it’s turned on again, flooding is likely.
Solution: Before your home inspection, turn all water and valves on for a few days. Then the inspector has a better chance of identifying potential issues, ones that may cost more than you want to shell out.
2. Slow Flow Faucets
Scaly minerals can creep into unused pipes preventing the water from flowing freely when it’s turned on. These can clog the water system and be hard to get rid of.
Solution: Run both hot and cold water from the faucets to clear them. Remove and clean each aerator, flush the system and put the aerators back.
3. Persnickety Appliances
Mold and mildew can build up in a refrigerator that wasn’t properly cleaned before it was turned off. The appliance may have reached the point where you don’t want to use it. Valves in dishwashers can get stuck in the closed position when they’ve slept for a long time, which can cause a leak or flood or even a need for a replacement.
Solution: When bargaining on the purchase price, include the cost for all new appliances.
4. Critters in the Attic
Squirrels, bats, mice, rats and possums all find the warmth of an attic inviting. They can also chomp on insulation and wiring. Their presence may be hard to determine.
Solution: Pay for a pest removal service to check and see if they notice any animal infestations.
5. A Diminished Home Inspection
When the water, gas or electricity is shut off, an inspector can’t adequately evaluate the condition of each.
Solution: Have the utilities turned on for the inspection, or better yet, ask the realtor to do it.
6. High Insurance Premiums
Insurance agencies may want to make their own inspection before issuing a policy on a home that’s been vacant for a significant period of time. Even then they might insist on significant and expensive repairs.
Solution: Ask for quotes from several different insurance companies before you buy the home.
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