Not all home repairs are created equal. While many don’t require our most urgent attention (like finding the lubricant for a squeaky door hinge or painting over that drywall repair you made 6 months ago), there are other repairs that can become increasingly costly and dangerous if disregarded. Consider this your warning for 5 home repairs you should never, ever ignore.

1. Gas leaks
Many of us have natural gas delivered seamlessly and without issue to our homes for heating and cooking. But gas leaks and other natural gas accidents can be serious and even deadly if not dealt with immediately. While natural gas has no odor, utility companies add a substance to give it that noticeable rotten-egg, sulfur-like smell, making leak detection much easier. If you smell this telltale odor or hear a strange sound emanating from a gas line (gas escaping through cracked pipes may make a hissing, whistling, or even roaring sound), do not delay. Get your loved ones into a safe place (going outside to an upwind location is recommended) and call 911 and your utility company for immediate professional assistance.

2. Pest infestations
No one likes living with vermin, but cohabitation with critters is more than just a nuisance. Depending on the critter and the size of the infestation, these little dudes can do a ton of damage to your home, your safety, and your pocketbook.

  • Termites  When it comes to termites, early intervention is key. Left to their own devices, termites will grow their colony and continue to feast on the wooden parts of your home, jeopardizing its structural integrity and leaving you to foot what can become a massive bill. If you notice any of the warning signs of termite activity (discarded wings, mud tubes, pellet-like droppings, wood damage), call in a professional to assess the situation ASAP.
  • Mice — In addition to raiding your food supply, mice spread disease through their droppings and nesting materials, multiply at an alarming rate, and can do serious damage to your electrical wiring (chewing through wires and putting you at increased fire risk).
  • Bedbugs  Bedbugs are hardy creatures and will not go away on their own. At the first sign of suspected activity (bites, live bed bugs, egg casings or reddish spots on your bed sheets), call in the professionals and begin remediation.
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3. Leaky plumbing
Seeing unusually high water bills? Getting suddenly bad water pressure? Noticing unexplained stains on the ceiling or walls? Don’t wait for things to get worse. Even a minor plumbing leak can lead to major damage over time  things like mold growth, warped floors and floor boards, swollen drywall, staining and discoloration of surfaces, and saggy ceilings. Take care to diagnose and repair leaky plumbing the moment you suspect you have a problem.

4. Roof repairs
Your roof is your first line of defense between you and Mother Nature. Keeping your roof healthy should be one of your top priorities as a homeowner and that means dealing with any roofing problems the moment you recognize you have an issue. Take note of missing shingles, cracked roofing tiles, loose flashing, or active leaks, and always be sure to keep gutters and downspouts clear of clogs and debris.

5. Electrical problems
Anytime you notice electrical issues at home (fraying wires, repeatedly tripped circuit breakers, smoking, buzzing, or scorched sockets, flickering or dimming lights, to name a few), call in a professional to assess the situation. Symptoms like these can be a sign that your system is under strain  better to investigate early than assume it will resolve on its own. Electrical problems can lead to electrical fires and that’s a risk you should never be willing to take.

So remember: be proactive when it comes to home maintenance and make sure you have homeowners insurance you can count on.

Safe and smart | Home safety

about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.