Angie's List: How can I prepare for a home emergency?

By Diana Crandall
Angie’s List
Addressing a leaky roof right away can prevent a more serious (and costly) home disaster.

Venomous snakes in the woodpile, water pooling in the drywall — whether you live in an area prone to natural disasters or you’re just planning to take a long holiday vacation, it’s vital to know exactly how to prepare for different worst-case scenarios. After all, staying informed could mean the difference between paying a few hundred dollars and several thousand for home repairs.

Burst pipes

A pipe doesn’t have to freeze to burst — old, decaying pipes or plumbing clogs can also cause a rupture. No matter the cause, the damage to your property can be catastrophic if a breach does occur, so make sure you know exactly where to find your emergency water shutoff if you suspect or see a major problem. Remember that timing is everything: Calling a plumber to fix the problem before a pipe bursts will run you $150-$350 on average for the work. But for burst pipes, homeowners report paying between $1,000 and $4,000 in water damage cleanup and repair fees, according to the Angie’s List Pricing Guide. Maintain your plumbing, know where your emergency water shutoff is, and have a pro’s number on hand to solve the issue ASAP.

Electrical emergencies

Electrical emergencies can seem insignificant, like an outlet with a few burn marks around it, or absolutely massive, like a power outage that none of your neighbors are experiencing. But it’s vital to let an electrician handle even the smallest projects, as an electric shock can be deadly and damaged wiring can be a fire hazard. Homeowners report paying within a range of $160-$504 to hire an electrician, according to the Angie’s List Pricing Guide, but rest assured: This type of fix preserves life and property, so it’s money well spent.

Fresh water upgrades

Do you worry about the quality of your fresh water? Find yourself stocking up on bottled water for everyday use? Install a water purification treatment system to save time, money and waste — and get a guaranteed source of quality water on a day-to-day basis. If you have to stockpile a large quantity of water because of an emergency, you can save time and money by turning on the tap and getting top-tier water that will keep you healthy and hydrated. Nationally, homeowners report paying about $1,778 to install a water purifier, according to the Angie’s List Pricing Guide. How does that stack up against your water bottle bill?

Roof damage

Roof damage from high winds, heavy hail or significant snow can cause serious (and costly) problems if you don’t fix it ASAP. Warning signs of a problem include missing shingles or dents, condensation in your attic, and any type of leaking in your home. Call a local repairman who specializes in your roof type — the most common is asphalt shingles — to repair the issue. Homeowners report paying between $317-$1,158 to repair an asphalt shingle roof, according to the Angie’s List Pricing Guide.

Yard clean-up

Keeping your yard clear of brush, woodpiles and debris is a simple way to avoid a myriad of issues. In drier climates, this type of pile-up can serve as wildfire fuel, while cooler climates can see standing pools of water turn to slippery sheets of ice overnight. Homeowners in all climates should also be aware of local pests that can take up residence in heaps of toys, trash, leaves or wood. The cost of yard cleanup depends on how large your property is, but nationwide, homeowners report paying about $343 on average, according to the Angie’s List Pricing Guide.

Diana Crandall is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit