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Updated by Nathaniel FitzGerald on May 14, 2018
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The Biggest Issues with An Old Home

Nothing beats the charm of an old house. But that charm comes with its drawbacks. Here are the issues my wife and I have run into with our 1922 Craftsman Style home.

1

Old Plaster

Old Plaster

Plaster is great for a ton of reasons. It's stronger than drywall, offers better sound resistance, and is considered by most people to look better.

But plaster has a number of drawbacks as well. Chiefly, it's a pain to repair.

Plaster is finicky and temperamental. If you aren't a professional, it's difficult to get it looking good at all, let alone matching the existing plaster.

This adds even more frustration to other repairs. Such as...

2

Old Wiring

Old Wiring

We live in a world built on electricity. Between all of our smartphones, wi-fi-enabled thermostats, flatscreens, and PlayStations, modern life requires a constant and reliable flow of electricity.

But unfortunately, the wiring in older homes can't always cope with our modern demands. The insulation on wires fails over time, increasing the risk of fire, shock, and power failure. Not to mention that decades of accumulated water damage, pests, and normal wear and tear can shorten the lifespan even further.

Luckily, most of the wiring in our home was updated before we moved in, but some of the lighting fixtures are still outfitted with the old wires, and they are a pain.

3

Poor Insulation

Poor Insulation

Not that you've ever thought about it, but there have been huge advancements in insulation technology in the past few decades. Old homes mean old insulation, and old insulation is frighteningly inefficient. And every once in a while, old homes are outfitted with asbestos.

But, remember what I said about those plaster walls? They make replacing the insulation in these old homes a chore. Often, it's easier to just deal with the higher utility bills than upgrade the insulation.

4

Sagging Doors

Sagging Doors

I could probably make a full article based solely on everything wrong with the doors in our old house.

The hinges sag. The jamb has shifted subtly over time so that there is a gap. In the back door, you can actually see sunlight through the gap.

And since older houses weren't always built to standardized specifications, finding doors that fit is almost impossible.

5

Drafty Windows

Drafty Windows

Every window in our home is accented with absolutely beautiful woodwork, with the original pulley ropes. And they are huge.

But they're also incredibly inefficient. In the winter, you can feel the draft through the window from five feet away. In the summertime, they let in every ounce of heat the sun can muster—as well as tons of cool air from my air conditioner.

There are plenty of energy efficient options for window replacements, but they changing out every window is a pricey endeavor, and they sometimes lack the charm of the old windows.

6

Worn Out Floors

Worn Out Floors

Who doesn't love hardwood floors? Luckily, old homes are chock full of them. But unless they've been properly taken care of, they're prone to wear. And let me tell you, a hundred years of foot traffic can erode a floor like a the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

In my house, I constantly run into warping boards, rising nails, and growing gaps. Eventually, we're going to have to replace some of the old planks. Until then, I just keep hammering them back into place.

7

Outdated or Inefficient HVAC Systems

Outdated or Inefficient HVAC Systems

Ubiquitous though it may be, central heating and air is a fairly recent convention. If your home isn't already outfitted with a ventilation system, retrofitting one can cost an arm and a leg.

In our house, we have central air on the ground level. But our bedroom is in a converted attic that wasn't included in the original ventilation system. Linking it to the main system is prohibitively expensive, as is creating an independent system for the attic.

As it is, we have a portable air conditioner that runs all summer. It's not the most effective solution, but it's what we can afford. And it sure beats turning our bedroom into an oven in the summertime.