"From small things, Mama, big things one day come," as the song goes. It's especially true when it comes to your house. Left unchecked, seemingly minor things—a gutter pitched the wrong way, a bit of crumbly grout—can lead to bigger and expensive issues. The good news is that, in many cases, all it takes to head off catastrophe is a little preventive maintenance or an inexpensive repair. "Don't wait until it's an emergency," says TOH master carpenter Norm Abram. "Spot-check areas around your house, preferably twice a year, in the fall and spring. And when you do fix something, do it right so that you don't end up making the problem worse."
Read on to learn the telltale signs of some of the most common household breakdowns just waiting to happen—and how to fix them.