When you buy your first home, there are so many things to consider and stay on top of. (Make sure you check out our blog about “buying your first home” here for more information on the purchasing process). Once you are the proud homeowner, you now assume “great responsibility.” We wanted to point you in the direction of what are the most common issues, fixes and maintenance concerns people usually have in their home. This will hopefully help save you money, and more damage to your home in the long run.
Foundation Cracks and Repairs
- Living in a colder climate, we have the privilege of dealing with frost. “Frost heave” consists of ice forming underneath the soil. As the soil beneath your foundation alternates between freezing and thawing, shifting occurs, which can lead to structural damage and cracking in your foundation.
- Especially in older homes where older wiring exists (knob-and-tube, fuses, etc.), you will likely be inclined/required to update your electrical in the home. This is a serious safety concern, especially if you are overloading the breakers/fuses. You do not want bare wires or arching to occur in the walls and start a fire. A great time to repair the electrical is during a kitchen renovation or other major renovation.
- This is a common repair in almost any home. With the extreme climate of cold winters and hot windy summers, the roof material in Western Canada takes quite a beating. This is why it is important to be constantly checking and repairing your roof to make sure no leaks occur. If a leak starts, it is hard to fix and resulting damage throughout the house can be extensive (ie. rot, mould, etc.). Skylights and roof valley’s are usually the first areas to fail, so make sure you check those areas out.
- Insurance claims frequently occur on the roof, either from wind ripping off shingles or other material or hail damage. If the roofing is near its life expectancy, you may be limited on your claim payout, that is why it is important to make sure they are in good-standing and not deteriorated.
Home Systems and Appliances (ie. Water Heater)
- The old expression “They don’t make it like they used to!” is an actual fact when it comes to appliances. The technology has changed so drastically, that your dryer can actually text you a notification when it has completed its drying cycle. However, the life expectancy of these appliances have dropped and now seem to only last 7-10 years. This includes your fridge, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, hot water heater, stove, etc. If you are buying a home that is 10 years or older, you may be on the hook to replace some appliances in the near future. Make sure you budget accordingly.
- At Mello Insurance, we want to help you when we can, so we have optional “Home Systems Protection” coverage to help protect you from any sudden and accidental mechanical failure to your appliances in your home. Think of it as “extended warranty” without an expiration date. With a furnace costing $7-10,000, you will want to make sure you have this added coverage on your policy. Contact us at for more information.
- Water damage has surpassed fire claims over the past decade. Which is WILD. The reason being, there are a number of ways this damage can occur and you need to be prepared for all of them.
- Flooding – this is dependent on the location of your home. If you are near a body of water, such as a river/lake/pond that frequently floods; OR you live in a location that has a ton of rainfall. You may have flooding issues from “flash floods” or improper sloping into your home. As precautions, you’ll want to make sure you have your eavestroughs, sump pump, weeping tile, and proper water drainage in place to remove the excess water and shed away from your premises. This optional coverage can be purchased on most home insurance policies (high risk locations may be excluded).
- Sewer Backup – this is caused by blockages in your sewer line, or municipal sewer overload. Some towns or cities have out-dated plumbing that may not keep up to their storm drains or they collapse and cause a series of backups throughout homes in the area. Another threat we have seen is a tree root that often finds a way into the sewer line and causes a blockage. If your toilet tank runs incessantly along with a blockage in the line, you may have a serious issue with either your toilet backing up onto your floor or a backup in your basement floor drain, filling your basement with sewer water. This coverage is included in our home insurance policies for your protection.
- Water Escape & Rupture – This is for all your water supply lines running throughout your home. If a pipe bursts suddenly in your home, you have coverage for the resulting damage in your home through your home insurance policy. However, if it is a slow dripping leak, (aka seepage), you will be responsible to fix the resulting damage out of your own pocket. Also, make sure you check your insurance wordings for any stipulations and limitations when it comes to freezing and other potential issues.
- If there has been water issues in the basement, or through the roof or windows, you will want to check for moisture content in the home to make sure there aren’t any potential mold issues. Breathing in spores is unhealthy for your body and especially harmful to young kids. Having a home inspection prior to purchase is important to catch these issues. If mold is found after purchase, make sure you remedy it immediately.
- Homes built before the 1980s could expose homeowners, their families and others to asbestos possibly hiding in cement, floor tiles, insulation, walls and pipes. Asbestos is a natural mineral composed of thin fibers. When residential construction products made with asbestos are damaged, those fibers become airborne and can pose a danger to anyone who inhales the toxic dust. If the material appears damaged or future activities could disturb it, contact a trained and accredited asbestos professional. Limit access to the area until a professional can confirm the presence of asbestos.
There are many other items to touch on when it comes to older homes.
- Windows and doors should be replaced for higher efficiency. Check weather stripping as well for sealing these units.
- Deck and Fencing will constantly be maintained either by staining, painting or replacement.
- Updated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Replace your furnace filter (seasonally) and have your heating ducts cleaned.
- Snow removal from the roof during winter to prevent ice damming
Maintaining your home is crucial to the longevity of your property. We are fortunate that we have information at our fingertips to figure out how to fix, repair or maintain most items in our home. Just remember that a little bit of maintenance can save you a lot of headaches and repairs down the road.