7 Common Problems in Old Homes

Old homes possess a certain charm and character that many homeowners find appealing. While these houses may have historical significance and unique architectural features, they can also be plagued by common problems requiring attention and maintenance.

While not all issues are deal breakers, they should be kept in mind when you live in an older home or are moving into one. So here are some problems you should be ready to face in an older house and potential solutions to address them effectively.

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  • Foundation Settling

As homes age, the soil beneath their foundation may settle, causing the foundation to sink or shift. It is most common in Pittsburgh homes due to the presence of clay soil. This can result in visible cracks in the walls, uneven or sloping floors, and doors or windows that stick or don’t close properly. Foundation settlement can occur due to various factors, such as changes in the moisture content of the soil, poor drainage, inadequate soil compaction during construction, or the use of inferior building materials.

When dealing with foundation issues, it is crucial to talk to a professional engineer or contractor with expertise in foundation repair. They will assess the severity of the problem and determine the appropriate course of action.

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  • Aging Roofing

One common issue with old roofs is worn-out or damaged shingles. Over time, exposure to weather elements can cause shingles to deteriorate, crack, or go missing. If you live in a city like Pittsburgh, old homes are a common sight, with unique architectural styles and historical significance. The climate there has a fair amount of precipitation and demands good roof conditions for structural integrity. If damage is detected, it is advisable to hire professional Pittsburgh roofers like EAS Roofing to assess the roof’s condition and recommend the most appropriate course of action. 

In some cases, repairs such as replacing damaged shingles or fixing leaks may be sufficient. However, if the roof is significantly deteriorated or nearing the end of its lifespan, a full replacement might be necessary.

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  • Outdated Electrical Systems

Outdated electrical systems are a common problem in old homes and pose significant safety risks. Over time, the wiring in older homes may deteriorate, and insulation may become brittle. This can result in electrical hazards, including short circuits and electrical fires. 

Older homes were not designed to handle the electrical demands of modern appliances and technology. The electrical systems may not have enough circuits or sufficient capacity to safely support multiple devices, leading to overloaded circuits and potential fire risks. Many old homes lack proper grounding, which is essential for protecting against electrical shocks and ensuring the safe operation of electrical equipment. Without proper grounding, you may be at risk of electric shock and damage to sensitive electronics.

An electrician assesses wiring and insulation, tests for load capacity, and recommends replacements if outdated or safety risks exist. Upgrading may involve replacing old wiring with safer alternatives and installing additional outlets. 

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  • Plumbing Troubles

Old plumbing systems in homes can present various problems, such as leaks, pipe corrosion, and inadequate water pressure. These issues can lead to water damage, higher utility bills, and inconvenience. Upgrading the plumbing system is essential to improve water flow, prevent future problems, and maintain the integrity of the home.

Old plumbing systems often suffer from leaks and corrosion, leading to water escape and damage. Regular inspections and prompt repairs are crucial to prevent further damage. Replacing corroded pipes with modern materials like copper or PEX can improve water flow and prevent future issues. Inadequate water pressure is also often experienced in old homes with outdated plumbing systems. This can be caused by various factors such as mineral deposits, pipe obstructions, or outdated fixtures. A professional plumber can assess the water pressure and recommend solutions such as cleaning or replacing clogged pipes, installing pressure-boosting devices, or upgrading fixtures.

When upgrading the plumbing system, it’s important to consult a licensed plumber who specializes in working with old homes. They have the knowledge and expertise to assess the existing plumbing, recommend appropriate replacements or repairs, and ensure compliance with current plumbing codes.

  • Inefficient Insulation

In old homes, inadequate insulation can result in a range of problems, including drafts, temperature inconsistencies, and high energy bills. Insulation helps create a thermal barrier between the interior and exterior of a home, minimizing heat transfer and maintaining a consistent indoor temperature. Common areas that require insulation in old homes include walls, attics, crawl spaces, and basements. Moreover, older construction methods and materials may not have prioritized insulation as much as contemporary standards. Insulation techniques and materials used in the past may not meet today’s efficiency requirements.

Insulation installation may involve working with hazardous materials, such as fiberglass or spray foam. Hiring a professional insulation contractor with experience in retrofitting old homes will ensure the job is done safely and effectively, adhering to building codes and standards.

  • Moisture and Mold Issues

Old homes are often more susceptible to moisture infiltration compared to newer constructions. Moisture-related issues can lead to mold growth, rot, and damage to wooden structures, compromising the home’s integrity.

Moisture problems in bathrooms and kitchens due to activities like showering, cooking, and dishwashing can be addressed by improving ventilation, installing exhaust fans, and improving ventilation systems. Due to their underground nature, basements are more susceptible to water seepage and high humidity levels. Proper drainage, crack repairs, and waterproofing coatings can help prevent mold growth and damage. Controlling humidity levels in the home is essential for preventing moisture-related problems. Using dehumidifiers in areas with high humidity, such as basements or areas prone to condensation, can help remove excess moisture from the air.

These issues may require the expertise of professionals such as plumbers, contractors, or mold remediation specialists. They can assess the specific concerns and recommend appropriate solutions tailored to the home’s unique conditions.

  • Insects and Bug Problems

Old homes often face insect and bug problems, posing challenges for homeowners. Termites can cause significant damage to aged wooden structures, necessitating regular inspections and moisture reduction. Ants attracted to food, and damp areas can be deterred through cleanliness and sealing entry points, whereas cockroaches thrive in dark, moist spaces and require cleanliness and professional extermination if necessary. Bed bugs are also a persistent issue in old homes, demanding thorough cleaning, high-heat laundering, and potential professional intervention. 

By practicing regular cleanliness and seeking professional assistance, you can effectively combat and prevent insect and bug infestations, reclaiming a comfortable and pest-free living environment.


Being ready to face these challenges is one of the foremost things required when buying an old house or if you already live in one. By addressing these common problems head-on and seeking professional assistance, you can preserve the charm and character of your beloved older houses. With proper care and regular upkeep, old homes can continue to provide comfort, beauty, and a sense of history for generations to come.