Each week I spend a bit of time going through the junk we’ve accumulated (seriously where does this stuff come from?!) and I donate, recycle, or toss stuff we no longer need. Fortunately, I had to go into the basement/spider haven to get a suitcase for a trip my husband took last week on Saturday evening. I also took the opportunity to clean up some junk, and in doing so found a pool of water on the floor near our water heater. That’s never a good sign.
I decided to clean up the mess and wait to see if it kept leaking. We had some recent heavy rain so I wasn’t 100% sure that it was from the water heater, so between that and the weekend (no one likes weekend plumbing rates) I decided to wait until Monday to call our plumber.
Hot water heaters don’t tend to last that long, so by the time Monday rolled around and it was still leaking I made a call. The receptionist in our plumber’s office thought that it couldn’t be that old, their computer system said it was from the early 2000’s when I gave her the serial number. I told her it said 1988 on the label, so she made some calls. She called back later to confirm it was indeed from 1988, and that their computer system found the wrong install/manufacture date because the number had already been used again! 25 year old hot water heaters aren’t that common I suppose.
When we had a home inspection nearly 6 years ago our inspector told us the hot water heater would need to be replaced, most likely in a year or two. So, we knew we were going to have to replace it, but I take the stance that if it isn’t broke, you don’t need to fix it.
Now that it was leaking, I knew it was necessary. I knew that while our plumber may not give us the lowest price, they are wonderful to work with, and do a fantastic job. (Horn Heating and Plumbing if you’re local) I knew our options were limited. While I’d love to have a sexy tankless hot water heater, there’s no reason to spend a small fortune when we have a perfectly fine setup in our basement. So, it was time to install a new hot water heater.
Since my husband was away on business I handled the calls and service though really it was straightforward. They took the old one out, brought the new one in, and installed it and new shutoff valves in a matter of about two hours.
Over $1,000 later we have more/hotter hot water than before, and this ‘gorgeous’ piece of equipment in the basement.
It’s one of those times where I HATE spending the money, but I know it’s necessary. At least we know that we won’t need to replace it for the next 25 years! 😉 And hey, I do kind of like hot water in the shower.
We’ve run into these scenarios enough times to know a few tips which I’ll share below, but I’d love to know what advice you have for unexpected or expected big budget home repairs.
My Tips for Unexpected Household Repairs:
1. Keep savings for household repairs. This will make it easier to swallow when you do have to pay for a big bill.
2. Check with insurance or your HOA for coverage when it makes sense. In some cases they may help or cover the costs (minus any deductibles) for repairs. For instance, in our previous townhome we had an HOA and had a water leak from an ice dam on our roof during the winter. They repaired the damage, but initially refused to fix the roof. After it caused more interior damage they replaced the entire roof and added an underlayment to keep ice from causing a dam and leaking into the house. It cost us some time and frustration, but even after calculating in HOA fees for the 5 years we lived there (which included a lot more than that) we paid less than the roof would have cost.
3. Keep a list of needed or potential upgrades. This will help you prioritize. Though with some items (like our hot water heater) don’t really need to be replaced until they break. Also make sure to keep a list of what you’ve repaired for resale.
4. Call during ‘normal’ business hours (if possible). Weekend or evening hours cost more-sometimes as much as double.
5. Have a list of service providers from recommendations or previous work you had done. You can also check the BBB site, Angie’s List, and Google for reviews and information about the service provider.
6. Do your research.Know what options you have, and what those options mean. For instance a lower priced hot water heater may be less expensive short-term, but a slightly more expensive one may net you a better warranty and potentially a longer life span.
What recommendations do you have when faced with unexpected home repairs?