Most people dread home repairs — those pesky maintenance tasks that keep your home in good shape, but no one knows you did but you. It’s easy to put off these home fixes, especially if your budget is tight, but doing so could lead to bigger and costlier problems in the future.
There is a general rule in real estate that you should budget about 1 percent of your home’s purchase price per year for maintenance costs. Understand this isn’t improvements, but simple maintenance. If you paid $200,000 for your home, set aside $2,000 per year for things such as repairs and replacements. If you don’t need that much, great. You can use part of the budget for improvement.
If you’re facing a mountain of repairs and you aren’t sure what you should tackle first, here are a handful of repairs you really shouldn’t put off for later.
Never put off a leak, because it can cause damage to wood and even create a black mold situation. Black mold impacts your family’s health and is costly to remove. It’s best to deal with leaks the minute you discover them, so a small problem doesn’t grow into a huge problem.
There are many different types of leaks. If your roof is leaking, you may need to replace it entirely, which is much costlier than a pipe fitting leaking and needing some rubbing compound to fix it.
2. Clogged Gutters
Forgetting about your gutters is easy. They are out of sight, after all. However, trees shed their leaves in the fall and dirt and debris build up, resulting in clogged gutters, which can cause rain to backup and damage your roof. Putting off cleaning out clogged gutters leads to a bigger repair bill.
You can either ensure you or a company removes debris every year — winter or early spring are good times for this — or you can install covers over your gutters to prevent the buildup in the first place. If you’re on a tight budget, it is cheapest to clean those gutters out yourself, but don’t forget the task!
3. Outdoor Features
Your deck, patio and other outdoor structures are at a greater risk of damage due to their exposure to nature all throughout the year. In fact, 50% of decks are more than 20 years old, meaning there is plenty of time for wood to split and fasteners to become loose without the proper upkeep.
If you want to protect the longevity of your outdoor living spaces, it’s important to stay on top of their repairs. You can find resources for checking on the status of your deck or patio yourself, and call a professional if you need help with a major problem. Rotting wood, popped nails, and dirty surfaces are all signs that the structure needs some TLC.
4. Gas Leaks
Do you smell gas? If so, you may have a gas leak, and ignoring that repair can be downright dangerous. If your home runs on gas heat, you may have an issue with your furnace. The last thing you want is carbon dioxide poisoning. If the gas smell is coming from an oven or other appliance, you risk combustion.
Most gas companies will come out and do an audit of your home if you smell gas. While they won’t repair a furnace or do other home maintenance, they can tell you if the issue is inside your home, so you can take immediate action to protect yourself and your family.
Did you discover mouse droppings in your home or see a bug run across the floor that looked suspiciously like a cockroach? If you suspect there are pests in your home, you should address the issue immediately. Ignoring the problem gives the pests a chance to multiply, and a small infestation suddenly becomes a major one.
When it comes to dealing with pests, there are many do-it-yourself solutions. However, professional pest removal services will make sure every trace of the pests is gone and your family remains healthy. Pests range from bugs to rodents to everything in between. You may even find bats or bees in your attic and need to figure out how to remove them safely.
6. Foundation Issues
Is your foundation cracked, sagging or unstable? You should never put off fixing foundation issues. The foundation is what holds your house steady and in place. Postponing this repair could result in additional damage to the structure of your home, including drywall, supports and even your roof.
If there is a natural disaster such as an earthquake or flood, an unsteady foundation may give way, causing severe damage and putting your family at risk. Even though foundation repairs are often costly, this is one repair you’ll want to complete immediately.
7. Warped or Sagging Floor
If your floor suddenly begins to sag or warp, it’s time to call in an inspector to go into the basement or crawl space and determine the cause. More than likely, a leak has caused some damage. If you catch it quickly enough, you can repair the damage before you need to replace your floor supports.
Getting the right repairs will likely save you money in the long run. If you let things go, the damage may worsen to the point that you end up with a hefty repair bill, instead of a minor one. A well-kept house runs more efficiently and saves you money over time, both on utilities and on major disasters.
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