Ignore Now, Pay Later: Potential Costs of Not Maintaining Your Home
Remember those television commercials for Fram oil filters back in the 1970s? They typically featured an auto mechanic talking about the importance of changing your car’s oil (including the oil filter) in order to prevent costly engine repairs in the future. The commercials all ended with that snappy slogan: “You can pay me now, or pay me later.”
The same philosophy about maintaining your vehicle applies to keeping up with preventive maintenance for your home as well. A responsible homeowner will do what is necessary to keep his or her home in tiptop shape – which will help guard against home repair expenses that could run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars (or more).
Here is a list of home maintenance tips – along with the potential costs for ignoring them:
- Checking your furnace. Changing your filters can be done yourself with a minimal cost for new filters, and an annual furnace inspection by a pro costs around $150 or less. Replacing a prematurely worn out furnace can run you anywhere from $2,500 to $14,000.
- Vacuuming your refrigerator coils. Sucking out the dirt and grime from the coils on the back of your fridge is an important winter task that doesn’t cost a dime. The typical refrigerator repair costs around $315.
- Cleaning out your garbage disposal. Some warm water, ice, salt or lemon juice (and perhaps a long set of tongs for larger objects) can flush and freshen your disposal each season at no cost to you. If your disposal clogs up, the average repair bill is about $380.
- Trimming tree branches. Low-hanging limbs can be removed by yourself, and a tree-trimming service averages about $575. But if one of these branches happens to fall on your roof, you may have to get you roof repaired at an average cost of $1,100.
- Touching up exterior paint. At most, it will cost you a gallon of paint a few hours of time each summer. But if you neglect this task, these blemishes may accumulate enough to necessitate a full exterior paint job with a typical cost of about $3,180.
- Weatherstripping doors and windows. Putting in new weatherstripping throughout your home costs about $460. If your monthly utility bills are greater than $100, the typical annual energy loss through drafty windows and doors will outweigh the costs of the new weatherstripping bill.
- Fixing leaky pipes. If you find even a small leak in a faucet or a minor drain clog, call in a plumber. It may run you an average of $410; but repairing water damage from from these problems can run you seven times that amount.
- Cleaning your chimney. Most chimney sweeps cost between $100 and $150 for an annual cleaning. But if you neglect this chore and a major chimney fire ignites, a new chimney will usually set you back an astonishing $24,300 or so.
- Making minor roof repairs. Fixing flashing, applying caulk, and/or replacing the occasional rotted shingle in the spring only costs whatever the materials are worth. But if these little issues balloon into a full-fledged roof replacement, expect to be writing a check for about $7,745 on average.
- Cleaning your gutters. A gutter protection system like Gutter Helmet is an affordable way (an average of $210) to avoid the hassle of cleaning your gutters. Otherwise, if clogged gutters cause water to spill over and fall near your home, that could cause foundation problems which typically result in repair bills of around $4,605.
Sure, it’s easy to forget about or put off these inconvenient chores. But the price of doing nothing can be significant as well. Which calls to mind another frequently-uttered adage: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Written by Del Thebaud