Different Materials (in Alphabetic order)
Aluminum Siding – Prone to denting
Aluminum Wiring - Used during the period of the Vietnam War is prone to oxidizing loosening and causing fires. It should be examined by an electrician. Most often it is the outlet in the hallway that the vacuum cleaner is plugged into and pulled out of on a regular basis.
ARC Fault Breakers – at first about 1/3 had issues they are becoming more dependable, time will tell at how effective they are at preventing fires.
Asphalt Shingles – Triple tab roofs last about 20 years with architectural shingle lasting 30 plus years. Quality varies by manufacturer and installer.
Block Foundations - Prone to cracking and with long horizontal cracks with step cracks at the ends (it looks like an envelope). Over the years I have observed thousands of homes with cracks (especially ranch homes with vinyl siding). This is one area where a structural inspection is recommend over the past 20 years the definition of wall movement has changed, 20 years ago inspectors called for monitoring with bulges of less than 1”, now days 90% of hairline crack are called as structural defects that require a repair in the thousands of dollars. Even if the wall appears stable the next time the home is sold most likely it will be called as major.
Boiler – lasts for 50-60 years and is the most comfortable heat (the domestic water portion of the boiler are prone to clogging, just install a water heater)
Built Up Roof - best to obtain a roof certification from a roofer to determine the number of layers and life expectancy many older roofs are nursed along with roof coating.
Cast Iron - Unless the occupants poured grease down the drain and used a Drano type product it holds up about 100 years and is very quiet when water is running through it, however I’ve seen it leak at 60 years and a main waste pipe beneath the ground the joints may admit tree roots.
Cement Board Siding– very durable
Chimneys - Chimneys all leak, period they are very porous and pass through the roof maintenance item.
Circuit Breakers – I always recommend replacing Federal Pacific Stab Lock Breakers and Zinsco Panels especially with aluminum wiring it could be a receipt for fire.
Copper Plumbing – Good except in areas with acidic (low ph) water.
CPVC – very few issues
CSST Gas Plumbing - Corrugated Stainless steel gas plumbing needs to be bonded for lightning however the codes were conflicted for about 10 years so it is very common for this fire risk to be in homes of a certain age, I find this twice a week.
Edge Vents - I have only found these a couple times and they were admitting water beneath, most likely due to the negative pressure from the ridge vents.
EIFS Stucco - Very few homes in this area have this type of siding but many inspectors do not know how to tell the difference, I only see it about 1 in every 500 homes, I’ve never inspected one that after further evaluation by a stucco inspector did not have a problem.
EPDM (Rubber) – Installed properly can last 30 years
Expansion Tanks - New Water Meters have a check valves and when water is heated in the Water Heater it expands this can crack the water heater, cause leaks and pop off the Shark Bite Fittings.
Flat Roofs - Rafters deflect a pin hole or loose flashing will leak that pond on the roof into the home.
Flex Ducts - A small amount of UV will deteriorate quickly, they also crush easy and tend to come disconnected in the attic.
Furnace – Easy to install A.C., but the newer high efficiency units tend to rust quickly and they typically locate the electronics just below the areas where the leaks occur.
Gable Vents – Not the best ventilation, keep an eye out for bats and mice, Soffit vents with Ridge Vents made them obsolete, once the ridge vent is installed close them off and ventilate the soffits.
Galvanized Plumbing - No longer used. It is very common in older homes, do not use acidic drain cleaners as over time it deteriorates.
Geothermal Heat Pumps – Very good, Very expensive and Very Rare
GFCI Outlets - These are used near water but now they are required on the sump pump if it trips the basement may flood. If you have one install an audible GFCI so you will know when it trips and will not be electrocuted when standing in water resetting it.
High Efficiency Condensing Furnaces - often rust out in a few years because of the low PH in the exhaust gasses and the thinner metal they are made of. If the owner had only opened the top cover of the furnace ever few moths they could have averted a problem.
Heat Pump – the newer units are much better than the old but still not as comfortable as fossil fuel heat.
Knob and Tube wiring - older homes could create a fire hazard, you cannot insulate over top of it and is not designed for today’s appliances, it was mainly used for lighting.
Open Web Floor Joists – should have perpendicular strong backs usually near the center and tight metal plates (very important)
PB Plumbing - Polybutylene plumbing is very common in Delaware and I see it about 5 times per week. There are 4 generations and while it was an approved building material at the time I do not prefer it. There is class action law suit and I’ve witnessed many leaks.
PEX plumbing – was doing very well then problems with the metal fittings were found
Power Vents – Outdated, tend to leak.
Properly installed Trusses - Are Very are strong but 1/8” gap at the plates can cause an 80% loss in strength.
Real Wood - Old growth timber was much better, todays wood has much more spring wood, floors squeak, not as strong.
Ridge Vent – Prone to leakage but good to ventilate and helps with moisture, mold and heat.
Sharkbite plumbing fittings – Personally I do not like these, I have witnessed 2 that popped off, unfortunately they are permitted one common problem that I see it that a homeowner buys sharkbite fittings with a brown (PVC, PEX, Copper) collar and uses them on PB Plumbing, while the outside diameter is the same PB has a thinner wall so that a fitting with a gray collar on the PB side and a brown collar on the copper side is required. I find that issue about once per week. I also see the fittings installed before the main shut off valve which means if it pops off a plumber with 6 foot curb key will be required to shut off the water in the front yard which could take hours.
Shower Hot/Cold Mixer valves - Most that are installed by homeowners do not mix properly, when the handle is turned, Hot, off, warm then cold. Most times all that is needed is to flip the handle 90 degrees and it is fixed.
Slate – Budget for annual repairs depending on the quarry it came from they can last about 100 years
Single Membrane roofing – Look closely some of the newer materials are very thin.
Soffit Vents – Continuous vents are best with ridge vents
Stucco - there was a 20-25 year period where contractors determined that caulking was good enough therefore they stopped installing flashing and tar paper, applied the stucco thick enough, waited the proper amount of curing time between coats or properly installed the windows. To date biggest problem we’ve observed was $225k to repair and nothing was visible to the naked eye. We always insist on a separate independent inspection.
T-111 – older but easily repaired, don’t forget the Z Flashing
TJI (thin Web Floor Joists) – Must be installed properly especially under heavy loads.
Torch Down – 10 Year life but it only take small hole to leak.
Vinyl – The most common and durable siding available.
Stucco – Nice looking but repairs in the 10’s if not 100’s of thousands is common.
Wood Siding – keep it treated/sealed sun side tends to wear faster