Home Improvement and DIY

10 Tips to Keep Your Period Property as Safe



Period properties are amazing. They are your own little piece of history, and they typically have much more character than the average newer home. Of course, as any owner of an older property will know, they are not without their negative quirks too. From noisy plumbing to temperamental electrics, you have to have your wits about you when you own a property that is period, and that being the case, here are some things you should do to keep your old place safe.

  1. Electrical Safety


When it comes to safety, the first thing you are going to want to do in a period property is ensure that the electrical system is up to modern standards and functioning well. You see, if you home was built long again, then it could be that it was better set up for candlelight than electrical lights and the wiring that was installed may have been hastily done, or done to standards that are well out of date. This could make your home one big fire hazard!


Welch House 1900

That is why hiring a qualified electrician to inspect your old wiring isn’t just recommended; it’s essential. Old systems like knob and tube wiring are not only outdated but also a fire risk. They lack the grounding of modern systems, turning what should be a minor electrical hiccup into potential headline news in your local paper. Have a professional assess your wiring and upgrade it where necessary. This is especially important if you plan to install period lighting such as vintage chandeliers or wall lights.


And while you’re at it, make sure your electrician checks for any DIY wiring done by previous owners, who may have been inspired after watching one too many episodes of home renovation shows. Remember, just because it works, doesn’t mean it’s safe.


  1. Plumbing Perils: Avoid Waterworks


Moving from sparks to leaks—let’s discuss the plumbing of your lovely period property because I bet you’ve had some issues! Old pipes might add character to your home, but they can also add unexpected indoor water features. Corroded pipes, inefficient water systems, and the odd, mysterious leak can lead to significant water damage if not checked regularly.


Schedule an inspection with a skilled plumber who appreciates the intricacies of old plumbing systems. They can advise whether those pipes need replacing, or if a less invasive option might keep your historical home’s plumbing in check without requiring a complete overhaul. After all, you want the history in your walls, not water.


A good tip to keep in mind: keep an eye out for any unexplained increase in your water bill—a telltale sign that not all is well beneath the floorboards or behind the walls. Dealing with these issues promptly can save you from more costly and intrusive repairs down the line.


  1. Roof and Foundation Integrity: Keep a Solid Lid and Base


What’s keeping your period property standing tall? Its foundation and roof, which deserve as much attention as any leaky faucet or fraying wire. These elements are crucial in protecting your home from the elements and ensuring its structural integrity remains uncompromised.


Annual inspections should become as routine as spring cleaning. Check for any signs of wear like missing tiles or shingles on the roof and cracks or uneven settling in the foundation. Early detection of these issues can prevent problems that lead to more severe damage, ensuring your home continues to stand proud through the seasons.


Engaging experts who specialize in period properties can provide insights specific to the architectural style and materials used in your home. They’ll bring not only their tools but also a respect for the craftsmanship and heritage of your abode.


  1. Fire Safety: Stop, Drop, and Roll Should Just Be a Dance Move


When it comes to fire safety in older homes, it’s crucial to step up your game. Ancient wiring, old fireplaces, and decades of built-up dust can turn small sparks into major flames faster than you can say “smoke alarm.” Here’s what you can do to prevent your period home from starring in a firefighter training video:


First, ensure that your smoke detectors are up to date and functioning. It’s recommended to have a smoke detector in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year—or opt for 10-year batteries to reduce fuss.


Next, consider the benefits of installing a sprinkler system. It might sound like overkill, but in homes with old electrical systems and materials that can go up in smoke in a heartbeat, sprinklers can be a real game-changer. They’re like having a tiny firefighter hidden in every room, ready to douse the flames at the first sign of trouble.


Don’t forget about your heating sources. Have your fireplace, chimney, and any old heating appliances inspected annually by a professional to prevent any Dickensian-level drama during the colder months.


  1. Security Upgrades

Securing a period property involves more than just a sturdy lock. It’s about blending modern security with classical charm. Start with the basics: ensure that all doors and windows have sturdy locks and consider adding deadbolts if they aren’t already present. For windows particularly vulnerable or easy to reach, install window locks or even security film to deter break-ins.


Next, modernize your approach with a security system that includes alarms and cameras. Today’s technology allows for systems that can be monitored via smartphone, ensuring you can keep an eye on your beloved abode from anywhere—whether you’re out at the shops or on holiday in the Bahamas.


And for a truly integrated approach, consider motion-sensor lights around the property. They’ll startle would-be intruders and also make it safer for you to navigate the grounds at night, because nothing says “welcome home” like a well-lit path.


  1. Insulation and Ventilation: Keeping Warm Without Burning Money


Proper insulation and ventilation are essential in older homes, not only for comfort but also to protect the structure of the building. Many period properties lack adequate insulation, which can lead to icy drafts in the winter and sweltering heat in the summer.


Start with an energy audit to identify where you’re losing heat or cooling too quickly. Adding insulation to attics, walls, and basements can be a game-changer. Consider using modern materials that are effective yet sensitive to the building’s historical nature.


Proper ventilation is also crucial, especially in homes that may deal with issues like dampness and mold. Ensure that your bathroom and kitchen fans are up to scratch, pulling moisture out of the home to protect its interior and air quality.


  1. Dealing with Pests: Uninvited Guests Shouldn’t Have Four Legs


Period homes can be a haven for pests. The nooks and crannies that add character can also harbor unwanted guests like mice, termites, or even bats. Regular inspections are key to keeping these critters at bay. Consider environmentally friendly pest control solutions that keep pests out without damaging the delicate ecosystem of your antique home.


  1. Outdoor Safety: Securing the Grounds


While much focus is given to the interiors of a period home, the property’s exterior requires equal attention. Start with the basics like ensuring walkways are well-lit and free of tripping hazards. Period properties often feature uneven surfaces or old stone pathways that are charming but potentially dangerous.


Consider installing sensor lights that illuminate these paths at night, not only for security but also to add a dramatic effect to your beautiful home’s exterior. Additionally, keep the garden well-maintained; overgrown trees and shrubbery can be hiding spots for burglars or even wild animals, depending on your locale.


  1. Regular Maintenance: The Key to Longevity


The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is nowhere more applicable than in maintaining a period property. Establish a regular maintenance schedule that covers every aspect of the home, from the roof tiles to the foundation. Ensure that this schedule includes frequent inspections and immediate repairs to prevent minor issues from becoming major headaches.


Enlist the help of specialists who are experienced with historical buildings for these tasks. Their expertise will ensure that the unique needs of your period property are met without compromising its integrity or historical value.


  1. Insurance: Your Safety Net


Last, but definitely not least (in fact, we should probably have put this at the top of the list) you will want to  ensure your home is properly insured. Period properties can be particularly costly to repair, especially if you want to ensure that they are repaired in a way that is sympathetic to the original building and which is in keeping with the look of the place, and having insurance that covers every aspect of  the potential period-specific issues, like structural repairs or specialist artisan work, that you are likely to face is, therefore crucial. Oh, and remember to regularly review your policy to make sure it aligns with any changes or improvements you make to the property.

Historic Blaisdell House, New Hampshire


It’s not always easy being the owner of a period house, but it sure is worthwhile when you get to come home to a characterful and charismatic home each night , right? And with these top tips, you can do your best to make your hike as safe and unproblematic as possible, so it does not have to be a whole production living in an old home!

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