Older Homes: 4 Potential Problems That Could Spell Trouble

Are you a fan of homes with a bit more character than newer, modern designs? Whether in pristine condition or more of a “fixer upper,” older homes are quite popular in cities across the country. St. Joseph was incorporated in 1845, which means it is home to countless older houses. Whether you’re looking for something 100 years old, or 20 years old, there are some key factors to consider before purchasing an older home. Let’s take a look at four potential problem areas you will want to be aware of if you’re thinking about buying an older house.

Electrical Wiring

No matter when a home was built, it’s almost guaranteed to have electrical wiring running through walls to supply rooms with lighting and/or power outlets. However, if the wiring was run in decades past it may be with older cords/wiring which is less able to withstand a modern workload. After all, prior to the late 1940’s to 1950’s, large home appliances weren’t commonplace. A quick check of the circuit-breaker panel or fuse box and the wires leading from it can give an idea just how old the wiring is. As older designs can be a fire hazard, you will want to ensure the wiring is up to date.


Plumbing can also be an issue in older houses – especially those in states that experience a cold winter. Water pipes tend to expand and contract due to temperature, which can lead to stress and leaks over time. Moreover, even though older pipes are typically made of metal such as cast iron, they can still corrode and wear out. The last thing you need is to wake up to a flooded basement, so be sure to have the plumbing professionally inspected.

Roof and Insulation

While the roof might look solid from the outside, it may not be as well put together on the inside. Even the smallest of holes or leaks in roof membrane can wreak havoc on the structural integrity of the roof. It’s worth spending some time in the attic to inspect the inside of the roof, the condition of the insulation and how well the entire structure is holding up. If you have concerns and decide to hire a pro to take a look, get at least two different opinions.

Lead Paint

If the home was built before 1978, it’s possible that lead paint is in the home. If you’re unsure whether it’s lead-based paint or not, not to worry. Lead Paint Test Kits can be found in most home improvement stores. If you don’t want to test it yourself, hire a professional to take a look. Lead paint and dust are extremely hazardous to your health, particularly for children. If you do purchase a home with lead-based paint in it, there are a couple of removal options. The most affordable method is to paint over the top of it with a specially made coating which creates a watertight seal. Another option is to remove the paint by wire-brushing or wet hand scraping it. Great care must be taken when removing lead paint. Consulting a pro is highly recommended.

While the above list might sound a bit daunting, it isn’t meant to turn you away from buying an older character home. If you’re diligent in checking out the home’s history and invest in a professional inspection, you’ll stay safe. When you’re ready to explore character home options in the local area, contact our professional real estate team. We’re happy to show you around.