Home systems and appliances have a tendency to break down at inconvenient times. Having money set aside for these expenses can prevent them from throwing your budget off track or landing you in credit card debt. Having homeowners warranty insurance can be a benefit for your budget as well. Home warranties protect you when things like your heating system or kitchen appliances fail. Home insurance protects you against unexpected damages like a weather storm.
Many experts recommend saving 1% to 4% of your home’s value each year for repair and replacement expenses. Depending on the age of your home, this figure may need to be adjusted.
1. Perform Routine Maintenance
A commonly cited rule of thumb is to set aside 1 to 4 percent of your home’s value each year for maintenance costs. This includes both repair and replacement costs.
Skipping even routine repairs to save money often backfires. That little bit of dry rot becomes a collapsed deck; the dryer vent you forgot to clean catches fire.
Collins recommends looking online for charts and articles that estimate how long home systems typically last to help you create a schedule for routine tasks like gutter cleaning, appliance inspection, and programmable thermostats. It’s also worth shopping around for materials and services. Many retailers offer discounts for bulk purchases.
2. Inspect Your HVAC System Regularly
A well-maintained HVAC system can extend its lifespan by up to 20 years. In addition to helping you avoid costly repairs, regular inspections can also save you money on energy bills.
During an inspection, an HVAC technician will clean and optimize the equipment to reduce energy usage. They will also note if it is sized correctly and note any areas that may require maintenance or repair.
A neglected HVAC system can become a fire hazard or expose you to harmful fumes and pollutants. Additionally, a poorly maintained HVAC system can cause health issues like allergies or asthma.
3. Take Care of Your Water Heater
Your water heater is one of the main cogs in your home systems gears, supplying hot water for washing machines, dishwashers and showers. Proper maintenance can extend its lifespan and delay the need to purchase a new unit.
For example, a simple step of adding insulation to the unit can save you up to 45 percent on heating costs. Flushing the sediments from the tank improves efficiency and longevity, as well.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for minor leaks around the unit. While they might not seem like a big deal right now, a leak that goes unaddressed can lead to a
hefty water bill and expensive repairs down the line.
4. Check Your Electrical System
While it’s definitely a good idea to hire professionals for some repairs (don’t even think about touching the electrical), many homeowners can easily tackle other projects on their own. This can save money and give them the satisfaction of doing it themselves.
Electricity comes into your home through service wires that connect to your main circuit breaker panel. This panel contains a main fuse or circuit breaker that shuts off power to your entire house and a number of smaller breakers that protect individual circuits.
These individual breakers are usually labelled and grouped together inside electrical boxes on the walls of your home. Knowing how electricity flows into and out of these boxes will help you track down problems in your home.
5. Inspect Your Gutters Regularly
Climbing up on a ladder and examining your gutters may sound like an unpleasant chore, but it’s one that you should take care of regularly to prevent costly home repairs down the road. For example, if your gutters are clogged or damaged, they won’t be able to do their job, which is to divert water away from the house and protect soffits, fascia, siding, and the foundation.
Also, a poorly drained gutter system can cause water surplus, which can damage the soffits and siding of your home. Regular inspections can help you spot problems like cracks, holes, and rust, so you can make the necessary repairs as soon as possible.
6. Don’t Use Credit Cards for Unexpected Repairs
No matter how well you maintain your home, unexpected repairs can occur at any time. Without proper budgeting, these expenses can add up quickly.
Instead of relying on credit cards, try to save up enough money to cover the expense yourself. If this isn’t feasible, you may want to consider a personal loan that offers low interest rates and a predetermined payoff schedule.
The best way to save for home system repairs is to start saving early and consistently. However, if this isn’t possible, be sure to prioritize your repairs and only use credit cards when necessary.
7. Ask for Help
It may be uncomfortable to ask for help, but it can also be a financial lifesaver. If you’re unable to complete maintenance tasks yourself, try finding a friend or family member who can help. You might even be able to set up a ‘skill swap’ system where you trade services rather than pay cash. Remember to plan ahead and keep up with your routine maintenance to avoid unexpected costs in the future. Our maintenance checklist can be a great place to start.