Essential Home Repairs You Shouldn't Put Off


Home maintenance is a prime example of why all of the old clichés like “A stitch in time saves nine” exist. Although you shouldn’t ever put any home repair off indefinitely, there are some problems that are more serious than many homeowners initially realize and which you’ll need to tackle as soon as possible.

Doing essential home repair tasks before they become more serious helps reduce the likelihood that you’ll be caught off guard by expensive repairs, and it allows you to do them more on your terms and your time. Whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor, these six home repair jobs all present important opportunities to head off potential problems before they become harder to manage.

  1. Caulking

For one great example of how a small investment of time and effort now prevents big, expensive work later, look no further than caulking. Caulking helps prevent water damage around the points in your house that are most vulnerable to it, so inspecting it and touching it up is an important semi-annual maintenance task.

A quick inspection once or twice a year can tell you if your caulking is in adequate shape. Check windows, sinks, bathtubs, and other areas where water can leak and drip into your house, looking for cracks, bubbles, holes or caulking that has separated. Caulking with only a small amount of damage may not need to be replaced immediately—but make a note to watch those spots for signs of a leak.

  1. Foundation Repair and Management

If your basement floods every time it drizzles or if it’s got general moisture problems—such as doors and windows that seem to swell and fit their frames poorly—it’s important that you also investigate the foundation of your home for problems. Water seeps into the gaps in your foundation and causes it to expand and contract, eventually becoming uneven and/or cracking.

Foundation repair is a daunting expense, so it’s important to check your basement for water frequently and take steps to get the problem solved if you notice it happening. If you notice that your foundation may already be suffering damage, address the problem head-on now by installing a pump in your basement or investigating other drainage options.

  1. Termite Extermination

Other pests can do damage to your home, but termites have the capacity to truly destroy it. The big kicker? Homeowners’ insurance often doesn’t cover termite damage, since the insurance company expects you to monitor for termites as a basic maintenance task.

There are several signs around your home that might indicate a termite infestation, including discarded wing casings, clicking sounds in the walls, hollow or rotted-out wood and blisters in wood flooring that appear similar to water damage. If you do suspect termites, call an exterminator right away—you need someone with professional tools and expertise to tackle a termite problem.

  1. Gutter and Drainage Repair

Remember how we discussed the importance of avoiding foundation damage? A properly functioning gutter and drainage system is critical for keeping your foundation in healthy working order. Left to its own devices, water will just slough off your roof, straight onto the ground, where it will often soak into the area directly around your home. That area is in close proximity to the foundation and, when that ground’s moisture level changes rapidly and often, it causes your foundation to expand and contract.

Installing gutter guards on your gutters is a good way to keep them free of leaves and flowing correctly. You can usually get these at a hardware store and install them yourself in an afternoon or two. It’s also important to make sure your downspouts are clear and that they all have a place to drain that’s sufficiently far from the house—consider adding a downspout extender if you find that you need some more distance to get the runoff dispersed.

  1. Air Filter Changes

This one is almost so easy that it barely counts as a repair. However, it’s another example of a task that takes only a few minutes but can save you major time and headaches later. Your air filter is designed to prevent your HVAC system from pulling in particles from the outside, so those particles will eventually accumulate in the filter.

Find out where the air filter in your system is and check it for dirt and debris. If it’s visibly clogged, get a new one from a hardware store and change it out. New air filters typically only cost around $20, and the nominal expense of replacing one now can save you the major costs of HVAC repairs later. Checking the air filter is also a good idea if your heat doesn’t seem to be working right. A clogged air filter can cause problems since it makes the HVAC system work much harder to push the amount of air that it needs. Before you call a maintenance person to check on your system, try your air filter first!

  1. Finding and Fixing Roof Leaks

Roof leaks are nothing to play with—they can damage your home much more quickly and severely than you might imagine. A leak in the roof can spread to the roof’s structural components, so it’s critical that you identify and eliminate them as quickly as possible.

Next time you’re home when it rains, take a flashlight and head up to your attic to check for leaks. If there’s anywhere that you can tell water is coming through, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Try marking the spot where you found the leak with duct tape so that you can remember where it is and, remember, the source of the leak may not be directly above it—the water may be running along other parts of the roof.

Most homeowners don’t have the time to be on top of every repair, all the time, and doing triage on your to-do list can help you be more productive. But these six repair jobs are important to take especially seriously and get fixed as soon as possible.

Fortunately, it’s often not as much work as it seems—you can fix many of them through DIY solutions. Don’t forget your personal protective equipment like work gloves and proper work boots when doing this! But, when in doubt, get a professional’s opinion. You’ll always be better off calling a professional to be on the safe side than ignoring or mishandling an important home repair.

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