Any home repair can be frustrating, but some repairs are particularly troublesome. A dead air conditioner in the heat of the summer, a failing refrigerator full of food, an oven that won’t turn on — and it’s Thanksgiving Day. These home repairs can leave you stuck and make your home uncomfortable and frustrating to live in. In some cases, you may even have to stay somewhere else until they are resolved. They are particularly frustrating because something essential in your home breaks down, and you have to work quickly to fix it.
But not every home repair has to be frustrating. There is good news: there’s always a way to fix it — and we will show you how. In this article, we share some of the most frustrating home repairs that can happen, explaining why they’re such a problem, what you can do to fix it, and how you can stop it from happening in the future, too. Often, good maintenance habits, regular inspections, and staying on top of warning signs are all that’s needed to prevent some of the worst and most frustrating home repairs from happening.
Read on to learn about frustrating home repairs, how you can fix them, and which maintenance tasks you should stay on top of to avoid running into one of these home repairs that are tough to deal with.
Photo by Flickr user usdagov
The most frustrating home repair: A dead oven on Thanksgiving Day
Denise Supplee, cofounder of SparkRental.com, experienced the classic home repair horror story: a dead oven on Thanksgiving Day. “It was Thanksgiving Day, I put my turkey in the oven, and after several hours went by, I realized there was no scrumptious turkey cooking smell,” says Supplee. “Opening the oven door, I realized the oven was not on.”
She discovered that the oven had in fact died. Fortunately, one of her guests lived close by and they were able to use their oven. Dinner was delayed, but it was all good. Supplee ended up having to replace the oven.
Why it happens: Ovens can fail for a number of reasons. It could be that the heating element is burned out, your electronic control board is not working properly, the safety valve is not working, your temperature sensor is malfunctioning, or the igniter has failed.
How to fix it: If your oven is dead on Thanksgiving Day, you’re probably out of luck unless you can find a nearby oven like Supplee did. A broken oven will need repair or replacement to get back in working order, but a repair professional will be hard to come by on Thanksgiving Day.
How to prevent it: You can do your best to avoid a Thanksgiving oven mishap by testing your oven out in the days before the big holiday. If you don’t use your oven daily, make sure to turn it on and check to see that it is heating up properly. If you notice issues, get in touch with a repair professional immediately so they can fix the problem well before the big day.
If your oven is dirty, resist the urge to run a self cleaning cycle on it before major holidays. Self cleaning cycles can be really hard on your oven, sometimes burning out heating elements or even your control panel. Doing so can leave you with a broken oven just before you really need it. If you absolutely must clean it right before the holidays, use elbow grease instead of the self cleaning cycle.
Photo by Flickr user 18284386@N02
The most frustrating home repair: Damaged and leaking roof
Lauren Haynes, home maintenance expert at Star Domestic Cleaners says a damaged and leaking roof caused by clogged gutters is one of the most frustrating home repairs. It often happens in the winter and can cause serious damage, as parts of your roof and the trim of your home rot, break away, or otherwise let moisture into your home.
Why it happens: This problem happens often when gutters are clogged due to leaves and rain, causing a water backup. If temperatures turn freezing, those water backups can become ice dams and damage your roof, allowing water and moisture to get inside.
How to fix it: Once the damage is done, you’ll have to call a roofing company for a professional fix. Roof leaks are difficult to diagnose and repair properly, so it’s best to call for help from an experienced professional who can get the job done correctly and prevent further damage to your home.
How to prevent it: Gutter cleaning may not be the most enjoyable home maintenance task you can think of, says Haynes, but it is essential for keeping the property well protected from water and moisture. Without a proper gutter system that directs rainwater away, the ceiling, walls and foundations of your house can be easily damaged. A regular gutter cleaning and inspection helps prevent such problems in the long run.
Haynes recommends a close inspection that can reveal broken, cracked, or otherwise failing rivets or seals. You should check the fascia boards for rotting areas or any panels that have come away from the walls. All trouble spots should be repaired or replaced.
After inspection and repair, Haynes encourages home owners to clean gutters and downspouts so that they’re clear of falling debris and leaves. She recommends scooping it out into a bucket and using a stiff brush to wash away and clean up the remaining dirt inside the top to ensure thorough gutter cleaning.
For a thorough clean, use plumbing rods or a long pole to check that there are no further blockages of wet leaves or debris. Using a hose, or, if you have one, a pressure washer, clean out the guttering by letting the water release in the direction of the downspout. If the water doesn’t directly come out at the bottom of the downspout, then you’ll know that you have some debris blocking the pipe, which you’ll have to push out to clear the obstruction.
Photo by Flickr user zombie
The most frustrating home repair: Plumbing surprises
Elizabeth Dodson, cofounder of HomeZada says plumbing repairs home owners don’t know how to handle can be incredibly frustrating. For example, an overflowing toilet or a burst pipe may require the help of a plumber to fix. And plumbing issues can quickly get out of hand, flooding your home and causing serious (and expensive) damage.
Why it happens: Plumbing can fail due to clogs, slow leaks, or simply old pipes. You can even have faulty fixtures, frozen pipes, and other problems. A plumbing failure is nothing to ignore, as it can become serious very quickly.
How to fix it: Dodson says that while the average home owner may not know how to fix a burst pipe or broken toilet, it is good to know how to shut off your water at your toilets and your main water supply. If you’re able to do this, you can stop damage from water in your home, potentially saving thousands of dollars in repairs.
How to prevent it: The best way to prevent plumbing surprises is to carefully maintain your plumbing system. Insulate your water heater and pipes and inspect faucets inside and out to make sure water is flowing freely. Don’t allow unflushable items to be flushed in the toilet, like paper towels, wipes, sanitary napkins, cotton swabs, or floss. Pull hair out of shower drains and use a metal drain cover to catch hair in the tub as it’s drained. You can also snake your own drains to bust up small clogs regularly so that they don’t become big problems.
Photo by Flickr user chefmattrock
The most frustrating home repair: Electrical problems
Modern homes simply don’t run without electricity. Your refrigerator, air conditioning, TV, none of it runs if your electrical system isn’t working. So if your electrical system is having problems, your home essentially shuts down. And unfortunately, electrical repairs are the most difficult to DIY, as they can be incredibly dangerous to handle if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Why it happens: Wiring can get old, so do breaker boxes. Other problems are caused by loose wires, electrical malfunctions, or improper wiring or installation.
How to fix it: Fixing electrical issues is definitely left the professionals, says Dodson. The worst thing that can happen is you get electrocuted or shocked from trying to fix something that is not in your wheelhouse or your experience.
How to prevent it: If you notice problems like losing power to only part of your house, flickering lights, switches or outlets that don’t work, frequent tripping of circuit breakers, popped fuses, large or frequent sparks when you use an outlet, feeling a mild shock or tingle when you touch an appliance or plug something into an outlet, or even a strange electrical smell or warmth on your walls near outlets or ceiling fixtures, you could have an electrical problem. The best way to prevent surprises with your electrical system is to stay aware of signs of problems and get help from an electrician right away if you notice them.
Photo by Flickr user wwworks
The most frustrating home repair: Deck collapse
With a deck collapse, the floor falls right out from under you. It can be devastating and even deadly. And unfortunately, they are not an uncommon occurrence. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors estimates that of the 45 million existing decks, only 40 percent are completely safe.
A deck collapse can happen at any time, but they are especially likely to happen during parties or any other time when more people put extra weight on your deck. It is almost impossible to avoid injury during a deck collapse.
Why it happens: Decks can only hold so much weight. They may be built to last and properly support a certain amount of weight, but if too many people stand on the deck or there is otherwise too much weight placed on the deck, it can fail. This is especially true if the boards or posts of the deck are old, rotting, or the hardware needs to be tightened or replaced.
How to fix it: If your deck has collapsed, there’s only one thing to do: scrap it and start over with a new deck. A deck that has fallen is not fit to be used again in the future and you’ll need to build a deck that is safe to adequately support weight.
How to prevent it: Heather Stegner with the American Wood Council encourages home owners to use a building inspector to make sure decks are built to code. You can also review the American Wood Council’s deck guide.
But even if you’ve built a safe deck, you’re not done. You’ll need to maintain and inspect your deck. Look for missing or rusted nails or fasteners, identify and fix splinters, loose boards, discolored areas, rotted wood, and other signs of deterioration.
After 15 years, consider replacing, repairing, or reinforcing your deck, as most decks are only built to last about 15 years.
Photo by Flickr user nancyhugo
The most frustrating home repair: A broken built in microwave
Microwaves are not typically a major concern for repairs. In many homes, if your microwave is broken, it’s easy enough to just get a new one. But things get complicated if you have a built in microwave oven. Often, they are specifically sized to the cabinetry and it can be difficult to repair or replace a built in microwave oven without also working on the surrounding cabinetry.
Supplee knows this problem all too well, as her built in microwave oven broke. She discovered that fixing her built in microwave would be costly after she got several quotes.
Why it happens: A small appliance, many microwaves just aren’t built to last. Some problems are caused by abuse, like running the microwave empty or placing metal objects inside. Sometimes, buttons stop working after they’ve been used for a long time.
How to fix it: In Supplee’s case, she remembered that she had a home warranty policy and was able to get her built in microwave repaired for the cost of a call fee. It’s a good idea to have a professional come out to evaluate the problem, as it may make more sense to have your built in microwave repaired rather than replacing it and having to adjust the cabinetry.
How to prevent it: Microwave ovens are not a major appliance, but they do require some maintenance to keep them running well. You should keep it clean, avoid using metal, never run it on empty, and prevent door damage. It’s also a good idea to make sure that the vents are not blocked. This makes it easy for the microwave to vent air as needed and prevent damage.
Photo by Flickr user tabor-roeder
The most frustrating home repair: A dead air conditioner in the heat of summer
If your air conditioner stops working in the heat of the summer, your home can quickly reach high, even dangerous temperatures. And of course, the summer is when most air conditioners fail. After all, high temperatures can push air conditioning units to the limit — and beyond. When an air conditioner fails, it puts you in a really uncomfortable position. You may not be able to sleep or function in your home until it’s fixed, so you’ll have to stay with friends or family or even at a hotel until you’re able to complete repairs. Or, you can sweat it out at home. Either way, it’s a frustrating situation to be in, so it’s best to stay on top of air conditioning maintenance to avoid failure if at all possible.
Why it happens: Air conditioners can have trouble keeping up with the heat if they’re low on freon. Other problems are caused by mechanical parts weighing down. Dust and dirt can be a factor, as outside air conditioning units can get clogged with debris. Or, ducts and air filters that need replacing can make the air conditioner work harder than it should have to.
How to fix it: Air conditioning fixes are rarely at the DIY level. Your air conditioning trouble may be due to low freon, which always requires a licensed professional to fix. Other issues may require specific parts that are difficult for the average home owner to get quickly, but that an air conditioning professional may have on hand or be able to access within hours instead of days. It’s almost always best to consult a professional if you need help fixing your air conditioner.
How to prevent it: Maintenance is the best way to avoid air conditioning problems. Practice good air conditioner maintenance by performing tasks including replacing air filters, cleaning ducts and vents, cleaning air conditioner coils, preventing debris, creating shade for the unit, combing coil fins, and more.
Photo by Flickr user goldberg
The most frustrating home repair: Broken hot water heater/p>
Just as a hot house in the summer is frustrating, a broken hot water heater can leave you feeling cold in the winter. There’s nothing worse than a cold shower on an already cold day. But that’s the least of the problems you could run into with a failing water heater. You could have leaks, damage, and more as a result of a broken water heater.
Why it happens: Often, the problem with hot water heaters is sediment. Over time, sediment builds up in hot water heaters, causing leaks and other damage.
How to fix it: Hot water heater issues usually require the help of a professional, but the problem may be simple enough to DIY. For example, your hot water may be out for something as small as a blown out pilot light. Or, you may need to simply adjust the thermostat to make water hotter or cooler. If you hear noises coming from your hot water heater, there may be sediment built up in the tank causing problems. You can flush your tank to remove the sediment. Or, the noise could be a sign of the heating element burning out.
How to prevent it: Maintenance including flushing and insulating your hot water heater can help extend its useful life. It’s also a good idea to watch for signs of a hot water heater that is past its prime and should be replaced before it has a chance to fail and potentially cause damage. Water heaters more than 10 years old should be considered for replacement. Rusty water, especially coming from the hot side of faucets, rumbling sediment, and water around the water heater are warning signs that you shouldn’t ignore.
Photo by Flickr user greencolander
The most frustrating home repair: A dead refrigerator
A broken refrigerator is one of the absolute worst home repairs to have pop up. It’s usually a surprise, leaving you scrambling to find refrigeration for food before it goes to waste. A refrigerator repair can leave you without a working refrigerator for your food for days, adding to the cost of simply repairing the refrigerator.
Why it happens: Refrigerators fail for a number of reasons. It could be a blown fuse or circuit breaker, the compressor may be failing, you could have a buildup of dust or hair on condenser coils.
How to fix it: Some refrigerator problems require the help of a professional, others can be diagnosed with DIY skills. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may want to call in a professional. Or, if your refrigerator is old and on its last leg anyway, it may be time to upgrade to a new and more efficient model.
How to prevent it: Your refrigerator is probably one of the most used but least maintained appliances in your home. You can help it work properly by keeping it clean, keeping doors closed, using the correct temperature setting, and letting food cool down before you put it in the fridge. Refrigerator maintenance tasks include keeping vents clear, clearing out ice, cleaning door gaskets and condenser coils, and replacing water filters.
Photo by Flickr user outofideas
The most frustrating home repair: Clogged garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal is probably taken for granted, but a clogged garbage disposal can leave you feeling helpless. Your sink will back up with water and you’ll be left unable to do dishes, rinse your hands, or otherwise use your kitchen sink.
Why it happens: Garbage disposals often run into problems when you put things down the disposal that really shouldn’t go there. Animal fat, coffee grounds, egg shells, and more can all cause issues with your garbage disposal.
How to fix it: Some garbage disposal clogs can be DIY fixes. You’ll just need to open up the drain trap and check for obstructions. You may need to use an auger to clear it. If you’re not able to take care of the problem on your own, you’ll need to call a plumber for help.
How to prevent it: Often, garbage disposal problems are caused by putting the wrong things down your garbage disposal. Egg shells and coffee grounds create granular waste that sticks to sludge in the pipe. Potato peels and banana peels form a starchy paste. Fat and other food waste can also clog up a garbage disposal. The best way to avoid a clog is to avoid putting these items down your garbage disposal. It’s also a good idea to use plenty of water as you’re using the disposal, continuing to flush the pipe with water for about 30 seconds after you’re done using it. You can keep your garbage disposal in good working order by grinding up ice cubes and lemon peels as well.
Photo by Flickr user 49364825@N02
The most frustrating home repair: Broken garage door opener
A broken garage door leaves you stuck in the driveway — or even stuck inside the garage. It’s frustrating to be unable to move your car in or out of the garage as planned. And to make matters worse, garage door issues, particularly problems with garage door springs, can be difficult and dangerous to resolve.
Why it happens: Garage door coils can get old and need replacing. Or, electrical elements may have problems. It could be as simple as batteries that need replacing in your electronic transmitter.
How to fix it: A problem like dead garage door transmitter batteries is an easy fix anyone can handle. All you’ll need to do is just replace the batteries, and you’re back in business. But more complicated issues like photo eye or track alignment, the garage door limit settings, or even the springs are best left to the professionals. Garage door springs can be extremely dangerous to work with, so you should never attempt to fix them yourself.
How to prevent it: You can maintain your garage door by performing regular maintenance. Look and listen for jerky movements, unusual noises, and asymmetrical movement and get help if needed. Tighten up roller brackets and bolts, test the balance, lubricate moving parts, check the cables, clear the tracks, and more to keep your garage door moving smoothly.
Another great way to avoid the frustration of these particularly maddening home repairs is to purchase a qualified home warranty service contract. With a home warranty, home repair problems including air conditioner failure, clogs, broken hot water heaters, appliance failure, and more are covered simply for the cost of a service call fee.