Whether you’re buying or selling a home, taking care of house repairs before they become necessary is always the wise choice. There’s a word for this, and it’s called home maintenance! Water intrusion from floods, leaks, or improper irrigation can cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Why chance it?
Although most home owners insurance typically covers emergency home plumbing repairs, you’ll still have an out of pocket deductible, which could be as much as $1,000. depending on your policy. A deductible like that could just about cover any of the repairs below. I’ve learned the hard way with my own homes that you pay it now, or you'll end up paying a lot more down the road.
Check Water Pressure.
You can buy an inexpensive gauge at the hardware store and hook it to the home’s exterior faucet to test. Be sure to check both hot (see below) and cold water.
Water pressure regulators reduce the pressure coming into your home from the street in order to protect your plumbing. 60-80 psi is recommended and if it’s higher than that, it’s going to put excess pressure on fittings. Problem is, when a hose blows or pipe springs a leak, usually no one is home to shut the water off and flooding can occur.
The black bell shaped portion in the photo and the brass fitting below it is the water pressure regulator. This one has a metal tag that tells it's manufacture date. If your live in San Diego, its a good idea to replace these about every 5-10 yrs. My Neighbors water pressure regulator failed around 10-11 yrs and their house was flooded, forcing them to move out for a long period of time. To prevent events like this, don't turn on dishwashers or washing machines when you're leaving the house and...
Make sure you can shut off the water! The water shut off lever in the photo above is toward the base of the pipe, right side, yellow handle. If you have one of those round wheel type shut offs they can easily become so corroded they break, as happened to someone I know recently. They were being shown how to turn off the water for an upcoming vacation when it broke off in their hand. Luckily there was no emergency and this house repair was easily made the same day.
Perfrom yearly gas & electric hot water heater maintenance.
Manufacturer's recommend to drain and flush hot water tanks every year or two and check to make sure the pressure relief valve is functioning properly. Depending on where you live, you may want to look into replacing them once every 10 years ~ Or at least keep an eye on it. Newer models are often more energy efficient and can save you money. Check with your local utility company to see if they offer any rebates.
Check the water pressure while the hot water is running to see if it spikes above normal. If it does, you may need to have a hot water expansion tank installed. (see our expansion tank in upper right corner of photo) This house repair was recommended to us by the plumber who replaced our water pressure regulator. After testing the pressure with the hot water taps open, it spiked to 125 psi. He asked if we were experiencing clanging of pipes and I said "is that what that thumping noise in the kitchen wall is?" I never realized it was pipes clanging. Needless to say we got it fixed on the spot!
Replace your washing machine hoses with heavy duty stainless steel braided ones. It’s recommended to do this simple house repair every 5 years just to be safe, as floods can easily cost 10 -100 times that. Especially if you have plastic supply lines to sinks and toilets which I personally wouldn't trust. Replacing sinks and toilet supply lines with new braided stainless steel ones when you purchase a pre-owned home just may save you repair bills down the road. You know the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".
Regularly check under sinks. Kitchen sink garbage disposals and hose sprayers are notorious for leaking, so be sure to check under your sink periodically and make sure all fittings are tight. How embarrassing for me when I called the plumber to fix a leak under my kitchen sink and found out it was simply the hose sprayer had come unscrewed from years of back and forth swiveling movement while spraying. They still charged me $95. for a service call and all they did was tighten it. Learn from my mistake and you'll avoid paying for an unnecessary house repair.
Have your roof checked periodically. Many times leaks are caused by problems that lay festering for years because how often do you get up on a ladder and inspect your roof, or go into your attic? Whether you have a composition roof, clay or concrete tile, etc. these can come loose, slide out of place, crack, etc. Hire a licensed roofer to inspect periodically and take care of minor house repairs before they get out of hand.
Clean gutters, test, and seal any leaks. This will help to protect your home from water damage. True story...On my first home, I simply forgot to clean the gutters and who knows how long they were filled with debris? Within a couple years, flying squirrels chewed through wood soffits that became moist from rain over flowing the gutters, (East Coast) then they took over my attic. What an expensive nightmare, and one that could have been easily avoided. Come to think of it, it was mentioned in the home inspection report, dah! With what it cost me to get the squirrels out, (humanely trapped and let back into the wilderness) I could have paid a handyman to clean the gutters for 10 years!
You'd think I learned my lesson, but Oh No! On another house, there was a problem with water spilling out of the gutters in the corner by the front door, which the previous owners had let go on for years. It warped the front door, but we never knew what caused it, so I called a couple rain gutter companies to get estimates. One company sent a salesman who gave us a bid to have all the gutters in front of the house replaced at $1,400. The other company actually went up on the roof and checked it out, then recommended a gutter cleaning and minor repairs instead.
It turned out to be an inexpensive house repair because they found the real problem. There was a tennis ball blocking one of the main down spouts, plus there was 2 inches of dirt in the gutters with moss growing on top. For $400 dollars they had 3 guys hand scoop the dirt out so as not to block the gutters further, then they caulked leaking areas and fixed others, and added a section of gutter to a 2nd story balcony. Multiple problems solved! Thank You Ace Rain Gutters! We also got them to install 2 barrels and hook them into the down spouts to harvest rain water for the garden.
Pest control. Home repair maintenance in San Diego wouldn’t be complete without the help of a good pest control company because Termites seem to love our coastal climate! They can check for dry rot termite damage and repair or treat any areas as needed. In damper climates add carpenter ants and carpenter bees to the list of wood munchers. As in the advice above prevent gutter over flows to preserve the wood.
It’s also a good idea to keep wood (such as mulch, firewood, tree stumps, etc) away from your foundation, and make sure that your irrigation is set up and working properly. It should never spray the house or foundation and avoid over watering, especially on the North side. When replacing fencing, consider vinyl as an alternative. It's not much more than wood fencing, has a lifetime warranty, and never needs to be painted. Woohoo! That alone could be a cost savings of several dollors per linear foot for paint/stain and labor to apply them.
Hire licensed contractors check your home periodically for potential issues. If you've recently bought a house, remember to take care of any issues the home inspector mentioned. I say remember because often we're so busy packing, moving, and spending money on renovations that we forget about the most basic house repairs...the ones that really matter!
When buying a new home, ask the seller to pay for a 1 year home warranty. This can protect your pocket book the first year and it works so well for my Real Estate clients that they often want to renew it when the coverage year expires. One of my investor clients who self manages their own properties likes to keep the warranties going because it's one phone call and a $60. service fee. Not only can it save money, but it saves you time because now you don't have to find a contractor for a particular house repair. Think of it as a "maintenance insurance plan".
A wonderful service I use for my own house repairs - HOCOA. They refer licensed, insured, contractors for large or small jobs, remodeling projects, landscaping, and general household maintenance. They're available 24/7 and follow up to make sure you're satisfied. The small yearly subscription is about the same as Angie's list, yet after trying both I found HOCOA to be much easier to use ~ and a real time saver.
Remember: Schedule future home maintenance and check ups on your electronic calendar, plus set up at least one auto reminder. And don't hit the snooze button, because you know the old saying... "You snooze, You loose". In this case it's your hard earned money you could be loosing! Buying a home is a huge investment and one you want to protect.