Seven House Items That May Cost More to Repair Than You Think

By  //  December 4, 2018

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Of all the expenses we have in our lifetime, the ones involved with owning a house are among the most surprising. This shouldn’t be the case, but we tend to romanticize home ownership without thinking about the cost of maintenance and repairs.

Of all the expenses we have in our lifetime, the ones involved with owning a house are among the most surprising. This shouldn’t be the case, but we tend to romanticize home ownership without thinking about the cost of maintenance and repairs.

As such, we are shocked when we are handed that first bill in the thousands of dollars. In this article, we’ll identify seven house systems and appliances that cost far more to fix than we think they should.

(1) The Roof

Your roof is one of the most basic components of a viable home. Ever since the dawn of civilization, these crucial structures have protected their occupants from the elements.

Neglect their upkeep and you’ll be faced with a repair bill that can range between $2,000 and $10,000 for asphalt shingles. If you have a roof clad with high-end shingles (solar, slate, metal), you may end up paying more than $100,000 to fix it.

If the shingles on your roof have begun to peel, don’t wait for a leak to occur – water damage from a breached roof can cost you many thousands more depending on the extent of water damage to walls, ceilings, and other structures.

(2) Furnace/Air Conditioning

Very few of us live where the weather is just right 365 days per year. Depending on where you are, it either gets cold enough in winter or hot enough in summer for a furnace or air conditioner to be mandatory appliances.

One night spent freezing or sweating to death is all anyone needs to be convinced of the importance of their importance. As such, it is fitting that problems with these devices can get expensive. The average furnace repair will set you back about $300, with some problems costing as much as $800 to fix. If the whole unit is busted, it can cost more than $3,000 to replace.

Air conditioner repairs cost about the same, with the average bill sitting around $340. If your compressor goes, though, you could be on the hook for as much as $1,900. If the unit is beyond repair, expect to pay up to $4,000 to replace a central air conditioning unit.

(3) Hot Water Heater

If your furnace goes in the dead of winter, you can always throw on a sweater or extra blankets on the bed until it gets fixed. Losing your hot water heater is arguably worse, as having to take an ice-cold shower when it is freezing outside is downright depressing.

Should you suddenly be left without hot water, it will take an average of $450 to repair your hot water tank. Replacement costs are not much higher than that, with the average unit costing $850. If you get a quote around or above that figure for a repair, consider starting anew.

(4) Plumbing

What’s worse than an ice-cold shower? Not being able to take showers. Or drink tap water. Or cook. Or flush toilets. If your pipes burst on a frigid night, not only will you be in for an expensive repair, life will be very difficult for you until they are fixed.

The cost of plumbing repairs depends on how accessible the breached pipes are. If they are in an unfinished basement, you may be able to get away with a $300 repair bill. If your plumber has to cut through walls or a concrete foundation to reach the break, costs can escalate into the thousands of dollars. Note that this does NOT count water damage done by leaking water to walls, ceilings, foundations, and so forth.   

(5) Wiring

So you bought a cute character house in a mature neighborhood. Several months in, however, breakers tripped by easily overloaded circuits have begun to drive you mad. The wiring in your house may need to be replaced – when these aging lines were installed, the electrical loads they were designed to handle were lower than what modern appliances demand today.

It’s not a question of whether you can get accustomed to the limitations of your electrical setup, either – eventually, these wires will fail, which could potentially cause a fire. If you need to re-wire your house, you can expect to pay between $8,000 to $15,000 for the entire job. The good news: once done, it’s something you shouldn’t have to worry about again for another generation.

(6) Oven/Range

Unless your college student who has perfected the art of microwave cooking, your oven/range is an indispensable part of your home. When it goes down completely, your ability to food on the table without getting on the phone to Pizza Hut is compromised.

If the problem is the controller (or igniter in gas models), these repairs could cost as much as $300.

(7) Washer/Dryer

Losing either your washer or dryer can really mess up your routine, especially if there isn’t a laundromat close by. When they do break, busted agitators & drive belts in washers and broken pulleys and thermostats in dryers are the costliest issues.

Expect bills as high as $500 – $1,000 for the biggest repairs.

How can I minimize my exposure to these costly bills?

Despite the downsides of renting (crappy landlords, having to move on short notice, lack of freedom over things like hanging pictures, etc), reading about these potential costs is enough to dissuade anyone from making the leap to home ownership.

It’s important to note, though, that these are issues faced by all homeowners. For every person caught unaware by a multi-thousand dollar repair bill, there are others who anticipated these occurrences by taking action beforehand.

Some folks save money in a special account designed to pay for unexpected repairs. However, it is much easier to simply sign up for a home warranty program. This is separate from home insurance, which provides coverage against events like fire, floods, and earthquakes.

For between $500-$1,000 per year on average, home warranties in Florida cover the repair and replacement cost of systems (like plumbing and electrical) and/or appliances (fridges, dishwashers, ovens, etc).

So long as basic maintenance is carried out and the damage done is not deliberate or due to negligence, these companies will dispatch a repair person and cover the cost of the repair (less a nominal fee).

While nothing may go wrong with your house in the early years of a home warranty contract, the day that an expensive problem occurs will be the one that will make this initial investment worth it.