10 of the most expensive home repairs (and how to prevent them)

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Buying a home involves a lot of expenses. There are the obvious ones like the down payment and monthly mortgage. You also have to budget for closing costs and of course home insurance, and you may have even started thinking about decorating or remodeling parts of your home-sweet-home. But there’s something else every homeowner needs to be prepared for: expensive home repairs.

Of all the expenses involved in homeownership, the cost of the various fixes you’ll face is the hardest to plan for. Some are low-cost, minor preventative updates, while others are major projects that carry a high price tag. And since you never quite know when a water heater will quit or when your AC will decide to go on the fritz on a hot day, you need to do what you can now to be prepared. We’ve listed out 10 of the most expensive home repairs homeowners face, including their general costs and what you can do to avoid them.

Here are the top 10 most expensive home repairs:

1. Foundation repair

If your home was built in an area where the soil tends to swell with rains and contract during periods of drought, those changes put your foundation at risk. Foundation repairs are complicated and can get very expensive.

Cost: Anywhere from $450 to $11,000

Signs of a problem:

  • Doors and windows that don’t really fit their frames and are hard to shut
  • Cracks showing up around the house
  • Sloping floors
  • Water pooling in your basement or around the edges of your house.

Preventative measures and maintenance:

  • Use soaker hoses around the perimeter of your house during periods without rain to keep the soil from getting too dry.
  • Check for proper drainage during periods of rain
  • Keep the soil around the house at a slope to enable drainage.


2. Roof repair

Your roof is the most important part of your house for protecting everything else in it from the elements. When it needs repair, it’s important to do it fast.

Cost: Average of $650 for a partial repair or $6,000 for roof replacement

Signs of a problem:

Preventative measures and maintenance:

  • Hire professionals to inspect your roof periodically (10 years after installation, and every 3-5 years after).
  • Look over the roof yourself in between inspections to identify weak spots or minor repairs you can address.


3. Repair or replace hot water heater

The water heater is something we all depend on every day without thinking too much about it, but water heater problems can lead to flooding and even more expensive problems.

Cost: Average of $523 to repair, and $1000 to replace.

Signs of a problem:

  • It makes loud or unusual noises
  • It leaks (particularly if it’s rust-colored water)

Preventative measures and maintenance:

  • Check the pressure valve periodically
  • Flush the tank once a year


4. Termite damage

Bugs in your home are an inconvenience at the very least, but one type causes far more trouble than any of the others. If you’re unlucky enough to deal with termites, it’s important to treat the problem – and treat it fast.

Cost: Treatment costs an average of $541, but the damage caused by termites averages $7,229

Signs of a problem:

  • Swarms of small flying bugs, or bug wings in the basement
  • Hollowed out wood
  • Mud tunnels about the width of a pencil leading up to your exterior walls

Preventative measures and maintenance:

  • Install termite monitors
  • Keep wood and mulch away from the outside of your house
  • Have your home inspected for termites once a year


5. Water damage

Water can rot wood, cause mold growth, and make metals rust. Whether due to flooding, a leak, or damage that happens little by little, water is one of the biggest culprits in costly home repairs.

Cost: Average of $2,330

Signs of a problem:

  • Leaks
  • A musty smell
  • Fuzzy discolorations in the walls or ceilings (mold or mildew)
  • Peeling paint

Preventative measures and maintenance:

  • Clean your gutters
  • Fix leaks in roof or pipes right away
  • Test your sump pump once a year

6. Repair or install new pipes

Plumbing issues are another potentially enormous expense, as they’re generally located in spots that are hard to get to (underground and inside walls).

Cost: Repair for a sewer line averages $2,443, for a drain pipe it’s $559, and installing new pipes averages $1,054

Signs of a problem:

  • Discoloration or flaking in exposed pipes
  • Leaks
  • Rusty water

Preventative measures and maintenance:

  • Avoid using chemical products to unclog drains
  • Insulate your pipes during the winter
  • Hire a plumber to clean out your sewage pipes every few years


7. Heating/AC repair

Not only are AC and heating repairs expensive, the systems inevitably seem to break at the time of year you need them most (because it’s when they’re working the hardest). You won’t want to wait on getting them fixed.

Cost: Average of $372 for AC, $288 for furnace

Signs of a problem:

  • It’s not cooling or heating
  • The unit’s leaking or making strange noises

Preventative measures and maintenance:

  • Hire a professional to perform yearly maintenance
  • Replace your air filters every 3 months


8. Mold Removal

Mold in your home can cause a number of health issues, particularly for anyone with allergies. Even if you’re not allergic to mold itself, it can have a serious effect on your home’s resale value.

Cost: Average of $2,155

Signs of a problem:

  • Musty odor
  • Discoloration in the walls or ceilings
  • Allergy symptoms

Preventative measures and maintenance:

  • Take care of leaks right away
  • Inspect your home periodically for signs of mold


9. Electrical issues

Similar to dealing with plumbing problems, it’s not easy (or safe) for the average homeowner to access or attempt to fix electrical issues because the wiring is located within walls. But if electrical issues go unfixed, you face a risk of fire – not to mention the inconvenience of your electricity not working.

Cost: Average of $318 for repairs, but up to $15,000 for rewiring

Signs of a problem:

  • Circuit breakers trip regularly
  • Appliances shock you
  • Flickering lights

Preventative measures and maintenance:

Have a professional inspect your electrical system annually, or anytime you suspect issues.


10. Septic system repair

A septic tank not working properly can be a big, messy problem (ew). It’s not one you’ll be able to (or want to) put off fixing.

Cost: Average of $1,488

Signs of a problem:

  • Toilets won’t flush
  • Slow drains
  • Standing, smelly water in your yard

Preventative measures and maintenance:

  • Hire a professional to inspect it every 3 years
  • Have it pumped every 3-5 years

An ounce of prevention…

… is always the best medicine. You can avoid a lot of the most costly home repairs by doing your due diligence with preventative maintenance. But even if you do your best to stay on top of how everything works in your home, you may still find yourself stuck with a big, expensive repair to deal with.

When that happens, make your first call your home insurance company. What they’ll cover and how much of it they’ll cover will vary based on the repair and your policy, but in many cases, you won’t be stuck paying for the whole thing yourself as long as you make sure to check in with them first.

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Home insurance can help cover many of these repairs

While repairs such as these can get pricey, thankfully home insurance can help cover the cost. Learn more about home insurance and water damage, termites, roof leaks and foundation repair