Clarke & Sampson Blog

Caring for Your Historic Home

Scott Jefferson | Thursday, February 26, 2015

As a home ages, a thorough maintenance program can help you avoid costly repairs. Here are some steps you can take to help reduce the risk of loss in an older home:

• Consult with licensed electrical, plumbing and heating specialists for an initial evaluation, and arrange schedules for routine maintenance. Maintaining and updating essential systems is a critical step in protecting your property.


• Older homes often have less insulation. To help prevent pipes from freezing, you can insulate
pipes directly, shut off exterior faucets, and maintain a comfortable heating temperature at
all times. The installation of low temperature sensors tied into the central station alarm
system will detect a problem with the heating system and a drop in interior room
temperature. Should a pipe freeze and burst, there are also products available that detect
water leaks.

• If you will be away from home for an extended period of time, shut off your main
water supply.

• Repairing or re-pointing of mortar walls and chimneys may become necessary when any
of the following conditions are noted: cracked or missing mortar, loose bricks or stones,
damp walls or damaged plaster work. Left unattended, these conditions can lead to severe
water damage and other problems. Regular chimney evaluation and cleaning by a
professional is highly recommended.

• Missing, worn or broken roofing materials may allow water to penetrate and deteriorate the
roof structure. Inspect your roof and flashing around chimneys and skylights periodically,
especially after severe storms. Contact a licensed roofer for further evaluation and repairs.

• If you live in a wooded area, falling leaves may clog the gutters and lead to water backup that
could damage your exterior siding. In late fall, clear gutters and downspouts of leaves and
debris. Downspouts should be directed away from the house to improve drainage around the

• Proper ventilation and updated insulation in the attic can not only reduce the potential for
damage or deterioration due to excess moisture, but also reduce energy usage.

• Inspect windows and exterior doors for proper caulking and weather stripping. Check exterior
paint and siding for peeling and/or cracking.

• Regularly inspect decks, terraces and balconies. A deteriorating condition can lead to water
damage of the interior. Uneven, cracked or rotting decks, terraces and balconies can lead to
a personal injury liability hazard.

• Periodically inspect your foundation walls and floors for cracking that might allow water
seepage. Avoid storing valuables in the basement. If your basement is prone to leaks or
flooding, a sump pump is the best defense. Most sump pumps last about 10 years. Follow
the manufacturer’s suggestions for testing and operation. The areas around the pump
should be clear of debris. A battery back-up is recommended to ensure proper operation
during power outages.

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