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A Guide For Getting Through Emergency Home Repairs

(ARA) - A surprise can be fun on some occasions, like your birthday. But when it comes to home repair emergencies, a surprise is the last thing you want - especially in these economically challenging times.

Unfortunately, this is a situation all too many homeowners find themselves in after a home emergency. Often they discover that a repair they assumed would be covered by their home insurance or local utility is actually their responsibility to fix.

From water and drainage systems to electrical and heating/cooling configurations, your home is a complex network of pipes, wires and electrical components that could require an emergency repair at any time.

An outside water pipe breaking or a sewer line collapsing can easily rank as a homeowners' worst nightmare; however, when an emergency occurs, most homeowners are not aware of who is responsible for the damage. In fact, less than 50 percent of the homeowners in a recent national survey, conducted by GfK Roper Custom Research, knew that they were responsible for repairs to the water line between their house and the street.

This is where companies that offer emergency home repair plans, such as HomeServe USA, can make the difference between peace of mind and an expensive and time-consuming repair.

"According the results of the survey, one third of all homeowners responding assumed that their local utility was responsible for the cost of a burst water line between their house and the street, when this is usually not the case," says Tom Rusin, chief executive officer of HomeServe USA. "One of the challenges of home ownership is that the potential for expensive repairs is always out there. In fact, repairing a water service line can cost more than $2,000 and simply clearing a blocked drain can cost upwards of $350."

Rusin suggests that all homeowners do the following things to minimize the potential financial liability and hassle associated with home repair emergencies:

1. Speak to your homeowners insurance agent to get a clear understanding of which areas of your home are covered by your insurance policy and which ones are not. Potential trouble spots include interior and exterior electrical wiring, outside water service and sewer lines, inside plumbing and gas piping, central heating and air conditioning systems, and the water heater.

2. Similarly, speak to your local electric, gas, and water utilities to determine equipment that you may be responsible for. As mentioned earlier, the water and sewer lines that run underneath the lawn are the responsibility of the homeowner in the vast majority of cases.

3. Proper maintenance of home components greatly minimizes the chance of an unexpected emergency. For example, check the air filter on your central heating or cooling system regularly and change it about once every three months during the season. Protect water pipes from freezing with proper insulation or draining them prior to winter. And fix leaky faucets and toilets to save water and prevent bigger problems.

4. Consider a home emergency protection plan that can relieve you of not only the financial burden of a home emergency, but also the uncertainty involved in looking for a repair person on a Sunday afternoon.

"The more prepared homeowners are for a home repair emergency, the more peace of mind they'll have and the more time they can spend enjoying their house with their families," says Rusin.

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