There’s a reason people love older homes – deep lots, established neighbourhoods, high ceilings and charm galore. However, if you are looking to buy an older home, you also need to know what may be hiding beneath that charm so you can address potential issues.

Older homes may have older wiring, such as knob and tube. These are basically a system of wires and ceramic insulators used to run electrical current through homes built before 1940. Although not a sign to panic, knob and tube wiring may make it difficult to obtain home insurance. And if you plan to do any changes to the electrical in the future, you will definitely be required to remove the knob and tube and bring the electrical up to current code.

Lead is a naturally occurring element that, when ingested or inhaled especially by children or pets, can cause neurological damage. Homes built before 1976 can contain lead paint, especially in window trim and baseboards. Before 1950, lead was also common in solder and pipe connectors in plumbing work (The term plumber comes from the Latin word for lead). Trim containing lead paint that is chipped or damaged should be replaced or removed and professionally stripped. Lead-contaminated plumbing on potable water supplies should be replaced promptly to avoid lead leaching into the water supply.

Once lauded as a miracle product, asbestos was used as an insulator and fire proofer in a long list of building and household products, such as floor tiles, pipe wrap, plaster, siding, and caulking. Unfortunately, asbestos is characterized by long, microscopic filaments that, once airborne, can lodge in the lungs, potentially causing mesothelioma cancer. Asbestos should be professionally removed if discovered, especially if damaged and crumbling. However, if asbestos is encapsulated in products like floor tiles in good repair, it can be safely covered with a new flooring material, such as a floating laminate floor, and not disturbed.

A qualified home inspector, such as those with AmeriSpec, will be able to identify these and other types of concerns in older homes and suggest an action plan to address them.