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Home Inspectors Tell You How To Keep Your House From Falling Apart

Whether your house is little or big, on a prairie or in a city, a fixer-upper or an upscale mansion, you could probably use some home maintenance tips. Some people have DIY in their DNA, or a heavy investment of hours watching HGTV and hanging out at Home Depot. For the less repair-savvy who want advice from a professional plumber or other building expert, home inspectors can offer helpful house maintenance advice.

It's their job to find flaws in homes, so they're full of solid tips. Home inspectors of Reddit (answering questions in AMAs) offer structurally sound advice, although you might want to run any of these ideas by your own source of DIY expertise.

  • To Keep Rats Out Of A Basement, Plug Every Hole, Even Tiny Ones

    Question from Redditor /u/naimnotname:

    How do you effectively keep rats out of the basement level?

    Answer from Redditor /u/welmoed:

    You need to plug all the holes from the outside. Rats are quite clever, and can squeeze through holes the size of a quarter, or even smaller if they are young. They will also chew through lots of materials to get where they want to go. Some people swear by stuffing holes with steel wool or other shredded metal material.

  • Small Cracks In Walls Are Normal

    From Redditor /u/welmoed:

    Most small cracks are due to normal settling, especially if they radiate from the top corners of openings like doors and windows. Much depends upon the age of the house and the type of material used. Every house is expected to settle a bit after construction.

    The time to be concerned is if the cracks are more than about 1/4" wide, or there is displacement (i.e., one side of the crack is no longer on the same plane as the other), or the crack widens as it goes along.

  • Photoelectric Smoke Detectors Are The Best Type

    From Redditor /u/welmoed:

    If your smoke detectors are between seven and 10 years old, change them. Make sure you buy PHOTOELECTRIC smoke detectors; they are much better at alerting you to smoldering fires, which are the kind that kill people. Put one on every level, PLUS one in every sleeping space.

    And if you have anything in the house that uses oil, natural gas, or propane, or a wood-burning fireplace, get a carbon monoxide alarm and install it in the hallway outside the sleeping areas.

  • The Biggest DIY Mistake Is Cutting Into Load-Bearing Walls

    Question from Redditor /u/Carbsv2:

    I'm a bit of a [do-it-yourself]-er. What's the biggest DIY-er mistake you run across?

    Answer from Redditor /u/djvorac:

    I did residential remodeling for seven years; now I do commercial maintenance. One of the most common that I ran into in houses was people cutting into load-bearing walls [walls that support "the weight of a floor or roof"]. Windows, doors, doggy doors. Just cut the studs and install, right? That's why you called me out for a window that won't open or a door that is getting stuck on the frame.