Failing to maintain your home could create a money pit that you may never be able to fill once the situation spirals out of control. While delayed maintenance could solve your short-term money and time constraints, it could also reduce the value of your property when you attempt to sell it in the future.
Delayed maintenance, the practice of postponing small and large repairs, can be avoided. This article identifies home maintenance and repair tips that will ensure that your home will always be in a good state of repair. It answers some common questions about home maintenance, such as the cost of some common home repairs and how you can best track maintenance and repairs in your home.
We end the article by looking at how a home warranty can be the solution for homeowners who find themselves having to defer maintenance because of a shortage of funds.
How Do I Handle the Most Common Home Repairs?
Most of the maintenance problems that end up becoming colossal problems start as small issues. Also, most maintenance issues can be avoided if you follow some easy tips to ensure that they do not happen in the first place. Let’s look at some of the common problems and how you can handle them.
What's In This Guide?
Even though we identify a few home repair issues below, there are hundreds of others. The secret to ensuring that no issue ever becomes a huge problem is to know your home well, carry out regular inspections, and attend to issues as soon as you notice them. You will realize that it’s cheaper and easier to act proactively than deal with a problem reactively.
Suppose you have ever had the water heater stop working on a cold January morning. In that case, you will understand the importance of ensuring that the water heater is well maintained.
Some small signs can show that something is not right with your water heater. These include leaks or strange noises. When you feel that the heater is no longer working as it did before, there is probably something wrong with it.
The best way to deal with a water heater is to start by reading the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions. Get the heater looked at by a professional at the intervals stipulated by the manufacturer. As soon as you see a leak, or hear unusual noises from the heater, call a professional to look at it.
Peeling Paint and Dry Wall Cracks
You start by ignoring that part of the peeling wall, which you hope nobody is noticing until you end up with a house that looks like it is falling apart from the ceilings to the walls. Once walls start to peel and show signs of disintegrating, you should know that you may not have been attending to maintenance as well as you should have.
It’s essential to have a schedule regarding when your home needs a fresh coat of paint. Most paint manufactures will tell you how long the paint will last before you need to re-paint. Painting is one of the easy jobs that you could do for yourself.
Cracks on walls need to be appropriately filled before painting over them. This may take more time and money initially, but it will save you much work and money later on.
Leaky Roofs or Walls
You look at your ceiling and see a part that looks like it was once wet, and you know there may be a leak on your roof. If you ignore this, you do at your own peril. Most of the time, the hardest part is to find the place in the roof that is leaking. Repairing the leak is usually straightforward.
Finding the leak is something you are better off leaving to the professionals. This is because a leak can either be on the roof or in other parts of the building. Attempting to deal with this issue using stopgap measures would usually leave you more frustrated because it doesn’t usually deal with the underlying problem.
Leaking or Burst Pipes
Pipes that carry water are under much pressure most of the time. This is why burst water pipes are some of the most common maintenance issues in the home. This is especially the issue in areas that get so cold that the water in the pipes freezes.
One of the most common repairs in the home is fixing a faucet washer. Even though some people will ignore water slowly dripping off the tap in one room, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that about 11,000 gallons of water are lost every year in the U.S. due to drips and leaks. For a homeowner, leaks and drips can result in a massive bill while also damaging other parts of the house.
Once a pipe has burst, the first thing you should do is close the main water supply into the property; therefore, it’s always important to know where this is. Also, keep the contact details of plumbers in your area where you can easily access them so that you can get assistance as soon as possible.
How Much Do Common Home Repairs Cost?
One of the reasons you need to attend to home repairs when they are still minor is that significant home repairs are expensive and require labor, professional expertise, and permits (in some cases). In contrast, minor home repairs can be done with the minimum and basic knowledge of the homeowner.
The cost of the most common home repairs will depend on several factors. These include the area where you live, materials needed, the availability of people with skills, the extent of the damage, and whether the repair is an emergency or not. Of course, it’s never possible to get an exact cost because situations differ.
Here are a few estimates:
Roof repair: Will cost an average of $550. You will pay between $5,372 and $10,968 depending on where you are and the material you use if the repair involves installing a new roof.
Water heater repair: Will set you back between $218 and $936 on average per job.
Peeling paint repair: Can cost a homeowner between $0.90 and $2.20 per square foot.
Drywall cracks: Can cost a homeowner back between $150 and $325 for the smaller repairs, while water damage could cost between $220 and $380 to repair.
Leaking or burst pipes repairs: Smaller jobs can cost between $125 and $350, while bigger jobs will cost between $500 and $800.
How Do I Minimize the Need for Repairs?
By now, it should be clear that when a home is left to disintegrate, more things will need to be repaired at the same time. There are a few actions you can take to minimize the need for repairs, including the following.
- Check the roof twice a year to make sure nothing is falling apart, including sealants and wood.
- Clean gutters at least twice a year.
- Prevent damage to the house’s foundations by ensuring that no water is allowed to remain stagnant around the house’s walls.
- Prune trees close to the house to prevent parts of the tree from falling on your roof and damaging it.
- Repair any damage entirely instead of doing cosmetic fixes that will come back to haunt you later.
- Patch parts of the wall that are peeling with quality materials as soon as you notice them.
- Replace appliances based on the recommendations of the manufacturers.
The AARP, an organization that helps Americans aged 50 and above to improve their quality of life, has a helpful page on avoiding costly home repairs and how much you could save.
How Do I Track Home Maintenance and Repairs?
It could be a daunting task keeping track of maintenance schedules and repairs as they all have different recommended inspection periods. We look at different ways homeowners can keep track of these repairs and maintenance:
Apps: Various mobile apps help homeowners keep track of different maintenance schedules, vendors that offer these services, and stores where maintenance tools and materials can be ordered. Examples include Angie’s List, Maintenance Reminder, Buildertrend, and TaskRabbit.
Maintenance manual/home report: Is a file for home system and appliance instructions, maintenance records, and all home warranty information.
Maintenance checklist: This checklist will list the required maintenance tasks for each system on a monthly, yearly, or biennial basis. It also includes the required materials to carry out the maintenance or repairs, their cost, and the cost of professional labor. See the annual home maintenance checklist provided by The New York Times here.
How Do I Improve My DIY Maintenance Skills?
To ensure that you can deal with home maintenance issues as they emerge and before they become huge issues, you will need to gain some simple DIY skills. Here are a few tips on how you can do that:
Start small: Tasks like the clearing of drainages or checking the rollers of your sliding doors when they come off the hinges are the first steps in your DIY journey.
Research: For more complicated tasks, you can find instructions, books, and videos, search the internet, or ask friends and neighbors to show you how they attend to these repairs. Homeowners can take DIY home repair classes at the local hardware stores.
Observe: Whenever you call a professional for a routine maintenance check or repair, you can observe while they work so that you can learn and carry out home maintenance tasks.
Volunteer: By volunteering in home improvement projects in the community, you can learn advanced maintenance skills like landscaping, plumbing, and electrical repairs.
DIY vs. Professional Home Maintenance
Even though the thought of doing DIY home maintenance can be enticing for the homeowner that wants to save money, not all home maintenance jobs are DIY. But how do you determine whether to call a professional or to do the job yourself?
If you don’t have the skill, then you’re not qualified to do the job. If you do the job yourself, you could get injured, harm others, or make the problem worse.
Ask yourself a few questions before you decide to do DIY maintenance. Am I physically up to the task? Will the job look like it was done by a professional? Will I be able to correct things if the repair becomes a disaster? Is it legal for me to do the repair? Do I have the right tools and protective equipment?
If the answer is no to any of the questions above, you need to find a professional.
Home Warranty Cost vs. DIY Repairs
One of the main factors that make homeowners either delay maintenance or choose DIY is to save money and time. But do you know that a home warranty can ensure that you can maintain some systems and appliances in your home, find the best professionals, and never have to worry about costly repairs that need to be done when finances are tight?
What is a Home Warranty?
A home warranty is a contract that covers the maintenance of household systems and appliances for a certain period. A home warranty is not home insurance (that covers the loss of a home and the contents in it). It usually covers specified costs, with the homeowner paying a specified amount whenever an item is serviced.
Costs covered by a home warranty can include replacing major kitchen appliances and repairs to plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and electrical systems. Usually, the warranty will not cover home structural features like doors and windows.
How Much Does a Home Warranty Cost?
A home warranty can cost between $400 and $800 a year, while service fees can be between $75 and $125 every time a technician is dispatched to your home. Home warranty premiums can be paid monthly or annually, and some companies require a one-time enrollment fee.
Can Home Warranties Save Me Money?
Suppose one considers that repairing a water heater could cost over $900, while a home warranty covering more than 35 items could cost up to $800 a year. In that case, you will notice that a home warranty can save you money. For argument’s sake, let’s say that you need to repair or replace three appliances in a year. These appliances are likely to cost a lot more than you may have paid for your home warranty in a given period.
With a home warranty, the homeowner manages to get home maintenance services without finding a lump sum at a specific time. Also, the technicians provided by the home warranty are usually trusted and vetted. You can expect excellent quality and easy ways of complaining if you are not satisfied with the service.
A disadvantage to the home warranty option is that you pay your premiums even when no repair is carried out; however, these things often balance themselves. When something needs to be replaced, you will notice that it may cost more than all the premiums and the service fees you have paid.