Don't Let Small Problems Turn into Big Problems

Here’s a situation where a bathtub has been leaking for… let’s just say a while. This photo was taken from the basement beneath the bathroom area. Notice the old, rusted piping, the water staining and deterioration on the wood framing:


And here’s another view of the same area:


See that brown stuff there in the middle? That was once wood. Now it is something else entirely. That used to be the joist that provided the primary means of support for the bathtub. Now it is weaker than cardboard. It’s food for wood destroying organisms of all types. Maybe there are some uses for it, but supporting the weight of a house is not one of them.

Here are some more photos, just for fun:


Pretty bad, huh? So what’s my point?

If you own a home, this is important to remember: A few years ago this was a small problem. A leak in the bathtub. It could have been fixed with a new drain. Maybe $20 at the hardware store. If you wanted to really do the job well you could have spent a few hundred and replaced all of the drain piping in this area. But that didn’t happen, and now you have a bathroom that is on the verge of literally collapsing. Now repairs are going to be in the tens of thousands of dollars - the bathroom will have to be entirely rebuilt, beginning with the entire floor structure.

There are countless other examples of this - I’ve seen this problem at its earliest stages and urged repair, and I’ve seen it in its middle stages, where things are still salvageable, but the problem is getting worse. The moral of the story is this: Fix your small problems while they are small problems. You will be surprised at how quickly small problems can grow into big problems.

Get a home inspection, listen to what your inspector tells you, try to keep from thinking only of the present - consider future consequences (and ask questions!)

This is true of all homes in all places. It is probably also true of life in general, but that is a topic for another time.