A home’s mechanical systems, exterior features and large appliances don’t last forever. Even with regular maintenance, sometimes an expensive-to-fix item will fail. So figuring out how to pay for emergency home repairs is something homeowners may want to think about before that emergency happens.
From the roof to foundation, there are a lot of things in and on a home that might need to be repaired, and some of those things might be emergency home repairs at some point.
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A home’s roof has a certain life expectancy, generally based on the material used. A roof made of asphalt shingles might last from 15 to 20 years, while concrete or clay-tiled roof could last for more than 50 years.
Regular roof inspections are a good way to identify any minor problems, which may typically cost from $150 to $400. Minor repairs might include:
- Gutter cleaning
- Patching leaks
- Replacing shingles
- Repairing flashing
Major issues found during a roof inspection might cost up to $7,000. These could include:
- Substantial water damage
- Chimney repair
- Sagging or shrinking roof
- Environmental issues, such as mold
Replacing a roof, a major expense, may be necessary at some point in the life of a home. For an average-sized home, a completely new roof can cost $8,000 or more.
Recommended: What are the Most Common Home Repair Costs?
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Foundation issues can show up as cracks in a home’s walls, floors that are not level, gaps around windows, or doors that don’t close properly. Fixing these symptoms of a foundation issue won’t fix the underlying problem, but fixing the foundation at the earliest sign of the symptoms may mean a less costly foundation repair.
Hiring a structural engineer can be a good first step if there appear to be major foundation problems, as they won’t be trying to sell a product to fix any potential problems, so will likely be unbiased. A structural inspection can range from $300 to $600.
- Cracks in a foundation that don’t affect the structure are minor repairs but are best not ignored, lest they lead to major issues. Potential cost: between $250 and $800.
- A leaking foundation might be the cause of those cracks. Waterproofing a foundation, which may involve excavating around the foundation, installing tile drains, filling cracks and then coating the structure with a sealant, can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000.
- A house with a settling or sinking foundation may have flooring that is warped or sloping, doors and windows that don’t open and close properly, or even exterior cracks, or other apparent issues. The cost generally depends on the type of repair. Raising a house using piers can cost between $1,000 and $3,000, while mud jacking might be between $500 and $1,300.
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3. Water Damage
Water damage in a basement might be due to flooding from a storm or broken water line, for example, and is best fixed quickly so mold doesn’t grow and become another issue to take care of. In addition to being an unpleasant sight, standing water can cause structural or electrical issues in a home. Extraction of the water is generally the first step in this type of repair, followed by any necessary structural repairs.
- For simple fixes, such as cleaning up after an overflowing toilet, the cost might be around $150.
- To extract gray water, which is water from bathtubs, sinks, or washing machines, extraction and related repairs can cost $3,000 on average.
- Water that contains fecal matter from sewage backups is called black water. This is the costliest type of repair because it poses a significant health hazard. The cost to extract black water and make related repairs can be as high as $20,000.
Recommended: How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement?
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If the above water issues are not fixed in a timely manner, mold can grow on the surfaces, requiring additional necessary repairs. In addition to damaging any surface mold grows on, it’s also a serious health hazard, potentially causing allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and skin irritation. Mold remediation costs average between $1,500 and $3,000.
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5. Pests and Rodents
Pests and rodents in a home can be more than just annoying. Infestations might cause major damage to a home if left untreated. One-time pest control costs around $250 to $350 on average. Ongoing services — sometimes monthly, quarterly or annual recurring treatments — may cost from $50 to $400, depending on the frequency.
- Damp areas can attract pests, such as cockroaches. The average cost for getting rid of them is $150 to $400, and it might take more than one visit to completely eradicate them.
- Attics can be inviting spaces to rodents like mice, rats, or squirrels, or other animals such as raccoons or bats. Damage might be to woodwork, insulation or wiring and cost between $150 and $400 to repair.
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A home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems control the regulation and movement of air throughout the building. Like other components in a home, it’s wise to have an HVAC system inspected regularly to catch any problems before they become serious.
A standard tune-up for an HVAC system might start at $99, with any potential repairs added to that. Some companies might offer ongoing maintenance plans, which could be a cost saver over time.
- Furnace repairs might be for a blower, ignitor, flame sensor, heat exchanger, circuit board, or valve. The cost can vary depending on the part and whether it can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced, and the labor charge for doing the repair. Simple repairs may be as little as $100, while more extensive part replacements can be as much as $1,500.
- Like furnaces, air conditioners have a lot of individual parts, any of which might need to be repaired or replaced at some point. Capacitor replacement is a common air conditioning cost, and can range between $90 and $475. One of the more expensive costs is an air compressor replacement, which can be between $1,350 and $2,300. Costs will vary by model of the air conditioner and servicer.
Recommended: What Is the Cost to Replace an HVAC System?
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Electrical issues in a house can vary from minor repairs, such as replacing an outlet, to wiring overhauls that may require professional help:
- Hiring an electrician to replace a home’s outlets can cost around $100 to $250. For someone who is confident in their DIY skills, this relatively simple job can be done for about $5 per outlet.
- Replacing a circuit breaker or the entire electrical panel is something homeowners might leave to a professional. Costs will depend on the number of breakers being replaced or, in the case of replacing the electrical panel, how many amps. Circuit breaker replacement might cost about $50 per breaker. Panel replacement or upgrade can be anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000.
- Rewiring a home can be quite expensive and include other repairs, such as plaster or drywall repair. To rewire an entire home, a homeowner might expect to pay between $3,000 and $8,000.
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Ways To Finance an Emergency Home Repair
Even with regular inspections and maintenance, sometimes emergency home repairs are necessary. Paying for these repairs might involve using a variety of sources, depending on what is available and a person’s individual financial circumstances.
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1. Homeowners Insurance
Homeowners insurance may be the first source most homeowners look to when needing to pay for emergency home repairs. The policy will stipulate what is covered, how much the company will pay, and any amount the homeowner might be responsible for, such as a deductible.
Some things a typical homeowners insurance policy might cover are costs to repair or rebuild after a disaster, replacement of personal belongings that were destroyed because of a disaster, or the costs of alternative housing while repairs are being made or a house is being rebuilt.
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2. Emergency Fund
If there is a sufficient amount in an emergency fund, paying for an emergency home repair with cash on hand is an option that won’t incur interest. How much to save in a home repair emergency fund will depend on the home’s size, age, and value. Older or more expensive homes might mean higher repair costs.
A typical recommendation is to save between one and four percent of a home’s value in a home repair emergency fund. For a typical American home valued at just over $300,000, this means having between $3,000 and $12,000 saved for emergency home repairs. This is certainly a goal to work toward, but even $1,000 in savings can be helpful.
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3. Home Equity
Homeowners who have built up equity in their homes may choose to use that equity to pay for emergency home repairs. Using this type of financing, however, does come with some risk because the home is used as collateral. If the borrower defaults, the lender may seize the home as a way to repay the debt. There are two types of loans that are based on a home’s equity: home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).
A home equity loan is a fixed-rate, lump-sum loan. It has a set repayment term, and the borrower makes regular, fixed payments consisting of principal and interest.
A HELOC also uses the equity a homeowner has built up, but the borrower does not receive a lump sum, instead of accessing the loan funds as needed until the loan term ends. Funds can be borrowed, repaid, and borrowed again, up to the limits of the loan.
HELOCs are variable-rate loans and consist of two periods: a draw period and a repayment period. The draw period is the time during which money can be borrowed, and might be 10 years. The repayment period is the time during which the loan is repaid and might last for 20 years. The combination of the two would make this example a 30-year HELOC.
Recommended: The Different Types Of Home Equity Loans
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4. Assistance Programs
If emergency home repairs are required, but the homeowner can’t afford to pay for them, assistance programs might be an option to look into.
- Government loan or grant assistance. The U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Agriculture (USDA) and Veterans Affairs (VA) offer grants and loans to eligible homeowners for home repairs and improvements.
- Disaster relief. HUD offers several programs for homeowners affected by federally declared disaster areas. HUD partners with other federal and state agencies to provide relief in the form of mortgage assistance, relocation, food distribution and other types of disaster relief.
- Community Assistance Programs. Funding assistance may be able to be found by looking at local sources, such as county or city governments or charities. A good place to start a search is through HUD’s state listings.
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5. Credit Card
Using a credit card to finance emergency home repairs might be the first option some people think about. It can certainly be a quick way to pay for such repairs. There are pros and cons to using a credit card for this purpose.
If the credit card is a zero-percent-interest card — and the balance can be paid in full before the promotional period ends — this can be a way to pay for an emergency home repair without paying interest.
Credit cards are more likely to have high-interest rates, though, which can add a significant amount to the account balance if not paid off quickly. Credit cards also come with borrowing limits. A major emergency home repair might max out this limit or even exceed it. Using all available credit can potentially have a negative effect on a borrower’s credit score.
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Should I Get a Home Repair Loan?
Another option to pay for emergency home repairs might be a home improvement loan, which is a type of personal loan.
- An unsecured personal loan does not use collateral, like a home equity loan or HELOC, so the borrower is not risking losing their home if they can’t repay the loan. The potential loan value is also not limited by the amount of equity in the home.
- An unsecured personal loan may be funded more quickly than a home equity loan or HELOC. Because there is no collateral to determine a value for, this cuts out a potentially time-consuming step included in secured loans.
- Personal loans can be used for a variety of reasons, not just emergency home repairs. If there are expected repairs, planned repairs, or home renovations that might make a home more livable, an unsecured loan can be a good option.
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It’s probably safe to say that nobody likes to think about emergencies. But it’s wise to be prepared in the event that one arises. If a personal loan is the option that works best for your financial situation, a home repair loan might be one to consider.
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