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When money is tight or the economy is iffy, it can be tempting to postpone or even completely skip over home maintenance repairs. Skipping repairs can be risky, because the $200 you save with an inspection or small repair could cost you thousands more if little problems become big ones.

Money spent now could protect you from financial headaches later. Check out these five expensive home repairs that can arise if you ignore regular maintenance:

1. Roof

If your roof shows signs of deterioration, like loose shingles, water damage, separated flashing, or moldy spots, you're better off repairing those areas now, before you're faced with replacing the entire roof.

Potential Savings: Simple fixes such as replacing shingles and re-caulking flashing will cost you time and a few hundred dollars, but neglect them and you may be handed a bill for up to $18,000, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value report. Even worse, if water is seeping through your roof and into your attic, you could be paying up to $50,000.

2. Foundation

Home maintenance experts recommend that you inspect your foundation at least once a year. Look for hairline cracks, widening gaps between your home and the foundation and sinking floors. Also look for cracks around windows and doors, because they can be a signal that your foundation is shifting. Finally, make sure water pools aren't forming around your foundation, because water damage can deteriorate concrete walls and cause serious issues inside your home as well.

Potential Savings: These relatively straightforward fixes can save you up to $10,000 if your entire foundation needs to be replaced. This cost can soar to $30,000 if your basement is affected and if mold remediation due to water damage is required.

3. Termite Removal

Most homeowners' insurance policies don't cover repairs related to termite damage, so it pays to have regular inspections by a termite company. Termites cause damage from the inside out, eating through flooring, insulation and wood, so if you have an active termite infestation, the repair costs could be hefty.

Potential Savings: Most inspections fall into the range of $100-$200, but skip them and you could look at losses of up to several thousands of dollars if you do indeed have termites.

4. Plumbing

Left unresolved, water leaks can lead to problems like mold and a complete plumbing system replacement. Look for water leaks around toilets, under sinks, and from faucets. Replace old washers when you need to, and insulate exposed pipes, which can corrode due to temperature changes. Also, inspect your hot water heater to ensure optimum operation and the absence of mineral deposits in the tank.

Potential Savings: These relatively easy maintenance checks and repairs can save homeowners up to $10,000, or more if the hot water heater needs to be replaced.

5. HVAC System Replacement

Regular heating, ventilation and air conditioning system inspections are key to avoiding major repair costs later. Recommended maintenance includes cleaning filters every few months to avoid inefficient and clogged filters, and inspecting the ducts for good air flow. Watch for signs of wear and tear and address those areas promptly. Also, replace old filters, thermostats and other components that could impact your HVAC system performance.

Potential Savings: Hiring a pro to maintain your HVAC components can cost between $200 to $300, while letting maintenance go can mean you might spend up to $4,000 replacing a furnace blower, compressor, or other high-ticket items.

The Bottom Line

Taking simple maintenance steps now will prevent bigger homeowner expenditures when small jobs morph into more expensive undertakings.  A good rule of thumb is that homeowners should expect to spend 3% to 5% of their home's value each year on maintenance and repairs. Considering that the price to replace costly items like roofs, foundations and plumbing can rise way beyond that number, it pays to do the little stuff while the problem is still little.

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When you are buying or selling property in today's Harrisburg PA real estate market, it's important to have confidence in your real estate professional. Don’s commitment as your Harrisburg PA REALTOR® is to provide you with the specialized real estate service you deserve.

When you are an informed buyer or seller, you'll make the best decisions for the most important purchase or sale in your lifetime. That's why Don’s goal is to keep you informed on trends in Harrisburg PA real estate. With property values continuing to rise, real estate is a sound investment for now and for the future.

As a local area expert with knowledge of Harrisburg PA area communities, Don’s objective is to work diligently to assist you in meeting your real estate goals.

If you are considering buying or selling a home or would just like to have additional information about real estate in your area, please don't hesitate to call me at (717) 657-8700, complete my online form, or e-mail me at