SIX Urgent Home Fixes NOT to be Ignored!

By
Real Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

It is easy, especially in this economy, to be tempted to delay or even skip minor home maintenance repairs, cleaning jobs and inspections in your home. But don't be penny-wise and dollar-foolish. That $200 or $300 you save today could result in expenditures of $3,000 or even tens of thousands next month or next year if hidden problems in your home go unnoticed and become worse.

Consider coughing up a little dough to take care of these small jobs before they morph into gigantic, expensive jobs later.


1. ANNUAL HVAC INSPECTION:
 
Cost: $200-$300, depending on where you live.

How often: at least once a year.

When: spring or fall. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, companies aren't as busy, and you're not in dire need of heat or air conditioning.

What an inspection might find:

The furnace blower is not working properly. Cost to repair or replace: $100-$150. Possible consequence of letting it go: a broken heat exchanger. Potential savings down the road: $300-$1,000 to replace the heat exchanger or $750-$3,500, depending on the energy efficiency, to replace indoor or outdoor furnace components.

The reversing switch in the heat pump is broken. Cost to repair or replace: $100-$300. Letting it go results in no heat from the heat pump, and the system switches to a more expensive auxiliary heat. Potential savings: lower heating bills.

2. CHIMNEY INSPECTION

Cost: $65 for an inspection; $150 for inspection and cleaning, including removal of creosote buildup, which may lead to a chimney fire.

How often: once a year.

When: before your first fire in winter.

What an inspection might find:

There's no chimney cap. Cost to add: $150. If you let it go, rain water can get into your chimney, damage the chimney liner and damper, and even saturate mortar joints -- causing mold. Potential savings: $2,000-$4,000 to replace the chimney liner.

Other problems may include: a cracked chimney crown, which can be repaired for $300-$500; chimney flashing that needs caulking, which can be done for $80-$100; and waterproofing the exterior brick, $350-$600. All these fixes will prevent rainwater from getting in and mold from forming.

3. TERMITE INSPECTION

Cost: $75-$200 for an inspection; $200-$300 for a termite protection contract for qualifying homes with no current evidence of termites to cover treatment and repairs for any later infestation.

How often: once a year.

When: any time, although termites are more active in spring and early summer.

An inspection might find subterranean termites that come from the ground or flying termites. If left untreated, these bugs damage framing, trim, drywall, furniture, carpet, copper and other soft metals. Termites cause more than $5 billion in damages a year in the U.S. The average homeowner loss for termite damage is $3,000, but losses can be as high as $30,000 or even $80,000. Most homeowners insurance does not cover repair of termite damage.


4. POWER WASHING AND SEALING WOOD DECKS AND PATIOS

Cost: $100-$300 for a 200-square-foot deck, more for a larger deck.

How often: every one to three years, depending on the amount of traffic, moss and mold.

When: any time in sunny weather.

Power washing gets rid of stains, algae, mold, mildew and moss. Algae and mold can make your deck slippery and dangerous. Sealing your deck after it is cleaned helps prevent water damage. Wood soaks up rain like a sponge, expands and then shrinks, Lee says. Sealing makes the water bead up and roll off. And let's not forget -- your deck will look nicer, too.

If you let it go, your deck will warp, nails will pop out and the deck won't last as long.

Potential savings: $4,000 to $20,000 or more to replace your deck, depending on size.

5. DRYER VENT CLEANING

Cost: $120-$200.

How often: every year.

When: a sunny day.

The purpose is to get rid of lint buildup. If your dryer is not on an exterior wall, it's likely that the vent leading outside is clogged up, says Gessner of A Step in Time Chimney Sweeps.

If you ignore it, the result could be a disastrous fire. Once the vent gets clogged, the dryer starts overheating and it can catch on fire.

Potential savings: your home, your furnishings, your belongings and your life.

6. CARPET CLEANING

Cost: about 50 cents per square foot for hot water extraction cleaning, or $500 for 1,000 square feet of cleaned carpet.

How often: every 12 months; more often for high-traffic areas and homes with small children, pets or smokers. Manufacturers' warranties may require cleaning every 18 to 24 months. You can save money by focusing on regular cleanings for high-traffic areas and waiting up to two years for the entire carpet.

When: any time.

If the carpet looks dirty, you've waited too long because some soil can't be removed with vacuuming. This soil will bind to your carpet and dull the texture, shortening the life of the carpet.

Your home also will be healthier with pollen, bacteria, insecticides and dirt removed, says Howard Partridge, founder and president of Clean as a Whistle, a cleaning company outside Houston.

Potential savings: extending the life of your carpet. Replacing 1,000 square feet of medium-grade carpet, including padding and installation, costs about $3,000.

LINDA SECRIST - LINDA SECRIST & ASSOCIATES - EVERYTHING THEY TOUCH TURNS TO SOLD!

www.lindasecrist.com
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Comments (5)

Sharon Lord
Maracay Homes - Peoria, AZ
New Home Advisor

Linda - a great reminder for home owners - part with a LITTLE money now, versus a LOT of money later!

Sep 24, 2011 05:41 AM
Scott Hayes
(512) 786-8300 - Austin, TX
Realty Austin, Broker Associate

Great tips Linda. I'll have to Bookmark this for later. It may be wise to do all of these on the same weekend.

Sep 24, 2011 05:42 AM
Mike and Adie Realtors
(909) 476-9600 www.WeLoveMorenoValley.com - Moreno Valley, CA
Realty Masters & Associates

Great post. Most home owner don't thinks about AC inspections, cleaning vents...etc until its to late. I must confess. I'm guilty as well.  Once again great post.

Sep 24, 2011 05:47 AM
David Burrows
Classic Realty - Fairfax, VA
No Pressure, Just Seriously Devoted to Real Estate

Linda - excellent post! I like the fact that you talk about avoiding fires with some of your maintenance tips!

Sep 27, 2011 09:52 AM
Rosemary Brooks
BMC Real Estate - 209-910-3706 - Stockton, CA
The Mother & Daughter Realty Team

Great reminders.  Great post.  These are safety issues too.  Great that you shared these.

Feb 13, 2013 01:40 PM