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Home repairs that could be costly if delayed

Male Plumber Using Wrench To Fix Leaking Sink In Home Bathroom Photo by Monkey Business/stock.adobe.com

If you’ve put off a home-improvement project since the start of the pandemic, you’re not alone: Seventy percent of homeowners have delayed repairs since early 2020, according to a Sears Home Services survey.

However, deferring necessary home repairs for too long can lead to the kinds of problems that cause significant—and costly—damage. This is particularly true when it comes to your plumbing, a leading source of water damage, and your electrical system, a common cause of house fires. So now is a good time to conduct a thorough home inspection, before minor issues become major issues that may or may not be covered in whole or in part by your homeowners insurance policy.

Plumbing problems

Water damage is common. Because pipes are typically hidden inside walls and cabinets, leaks are often out of sight until it’s too late. However, you can detect seepage before it causes major harm.

First, examine the plumbing under your sinks, as well as the supply lines for your water heater, refrigerator ice maker, dishwasher, and washing machine. Look for drips, dampness, rust, or corrosion at the joints.

Next, check the walls and floors near your sinks, showers, bathtubs, toilets, and appliances for soft spots, discoloration, warping, and cracks. Inspect the walls and ceilings in the rooms around and below bathrooms and the laundry room for stains, peeling paint, or bubbling wallpaper.

If you find any of these things, call a plumber. There’s a good chance you have a leak.

Electrical issues

Troubles with the electrical system spark an estimated 24,000 home fires each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Call an electrician ASAP if you notice lights that flicker, outlets that spark or are warm to the touch, circuit breakers that trip repeatedly, or unusual buzzing sounds or odors coming from your electrical system.

Also, make sure you’re not overloading outlets. Add extra ones where you need them most if you’re using a lot of extension cords.

And if your electrical wiring is older, consider having AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupter) outlets installed; they detect when the electrical current jumps from one wire to another, and trip the circuit to stop the flow of electricity, thereby preventing a fire.

Ask an agent

Question: Is there any kind of water damage that my homeowners insurance does not cover?

Answer: Without adding optional coverage, homeowners policies typically do not cover flood damage or losses caused by sewer backup.

Policies also usually won’t cover damage resulting from failure to keep up with maintenance or wear and tear—one more reason to look for leaks and fix them immediately.

—David Flores, AAA insurance agent, Lancaster, California, branch

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