In a perfect world, our homes would never grow old and never surprise us with urgent repairs. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many homes. While you can’t always know when urgent home problems will come up, you can be prepared and know what to do when they surface.
Emergency VS Urgent Home Problem
There’s a difference between an urgent home problem and an emergency. An emergency is classified as anything that could result in immediate injury or cause major property damage. Examples of emergency home problems are gas leaks, sewage overflowing into the home, or exposed live wires near water. If your home is experiencing any of these examples, you have an emergency situation.
An urgent home problem is a task that needs a quick response but is not an emergency. If you can wait a couple of days or week to deal with the situation, it qualifies an urgent problem and not an emergency.
Typical Urgent Home Problems
Problems with wiring and electrical components should be taken seriously and acted on fast. Even minor issues can lead to damaging fires or electrocution. If your home is showing signs of electrical issues, call in a professional and do not attempt to DIY. Urgent electrical problems could be things such as hot to the touch outlets, dimming lights when using multiple appliances, or constant circuit breakers trips.
Heating and Cooling
Having an up-to-date heating and cooling system in your home not only keeps you comfortable throughout the year, it also helps regulate and protect your home. Having an unreliable heating system in the winter time could lead to frozen and burst pipes, an emergency no one wants to go through.
To ensure your home’s heating and cooling system is running smoothly, have a professional come out and assess the situation. If you notice that your home isn’t responding to your thermostat or if there are frequent on/off cycles, this could be due to faulty or broken equipment struggling to work. Find a heating and cooling professional to make sure your home is working correctly. You don’t want to be left in the cold all winter.
Taking care of your home’s foundation is essential. Without a well-maintained foundation, your home could have a number of greater issues to deal with. Homes naturally shift and settle over time but you shouldn’t be able to notice this. You have an urgent home problem if you notice a difference in your floors, new dips or slants that weren’t there before, large cracks in masonry, or sagging beams. Find a home inspector in your area to assess the situation. They may even find additional issues you had no idea were hiding in your home.
Roofs can be the source of unlimited home problems, both urgent and emergencies. The biggest cause of roofing problems is water. The smallest leak in your roof can lead to mold, rot, insect infestation, and even electrical problems. It’s important that you call in a roofing professional if you notice a damp smell, water stains on walls, damaged shingles or pools of water on your roof. Roofing issues progress quickly, so it’s essential you call in a professional as soon as you notice anything. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to an expensive roof repair.
To further ensure you don’t end up with an urgent roofing problem, you need to maintain your gutters. If you notice any dents, splits or damage, gutters that don’t connect or drain properly, you should have a professional take a look. A gutter specialist will find any areas that are underperforming or could lead to bigger problems in the future. As an added step of precaution, survey your home after a large rainfall. You’ll be able to notice any clogs, leaks, or pooling water that could be signs of trouble.
Steps to Hire for an Urgent Problem
1. Do Your Research
While we might sound like a broken record at this point, it is essential that you hire smart in urgent situations. Do not hire any random company just because they’re available. Ask your friends and family for recommendations and be sure to read reviews and look into the company even before you reach out for a quote.
2. Get Multiple Quotes
While you might be on a time crunch, you should still seek out multiple quotes. HomeStars makes it easy to do this. You can now receive multiple quotes from several companies and send them the specifics of your job, all in just a few clicks. Take the guesswork out of hiring and easily compare quotes so you can hire the right company for your job the first time.
3. Budget for Surprises
Having an emergency fund for house repairs is easier said than done for a lot of people. According to a 2015 Bank of Montreal survey, 56% of Canadians say they have less than $10,000 in available emergency funds, 44% have less than $5,000, and 21% have less than $1,000.* Having a small emergencies fund is better than having nothing. Try putting away a little bit of money where you can so that you’re prepared if anything happens to your home.
4. Plan Ahead
While it might seem like a waste of time to find an electrician right now, if your circuit breaker overloads at 10 pm on Sunday night, you’ll be happy you did the research. Make a list of possible urgent home problems and save or write down a few companies you would feel comfortable contacting. This way you won’t have to panic when a problem comes up because you’ve planned ahead. Make sure to update this list yearly or semi-yearly. Companies change and go out of business. Check their HomeStars profile to see that they’re still in business and that their Star Score is up to your standards.
It never hurts to be prepared and there’s no harm in having a licensed professional come out to assess the situation. When it comes to urgent home problems, catching them early is your best defence against them progressing into major home emergencies. Be safe rather than sorry and watch out for warning signs of urgent home problems.
Cover image courtesy of Bob Vila.