How I've Dealt With $1,500 in Unexpected Home Repairs This Summer

by Maurie Backman | Published on Sept. 10, 2021

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A man tries to catch water dripping from the ceiling, while his wife is on the phone and holding their daughter.

Image source: Getty Images

Sometimes, the surprise home repair bills keep coming. This summer has been a doozy in that regard.

It started toward the end of June, when a pipe burst in our basement. Next up was a sprinkler head in our irrigation system that busted. A few weeks later, one of our central air conditioning units started leaking refrigerant, and topping it off wasn't cheap. And just this week, we had the same issue occur for our second air conditioner, plus a part that blew and had to be replaced.

All told, over the past six weeks, my husband and I have encountered $1,500 in unplanned home repairs. Here's how we've managed them.

1. Working extra

As a salaried employee, my husband earns the same paycheck no matter how many hours he puts in. On the other hand, I am self-employed, and the more I work, the more money I'm able to make. I pushed myself to log extra hours in July to help compensate for these mounting bills. That covered most of our expenses, but it wasn't quite enough.

2. Cutting back on other spending

When the weather is nice, we like to get out and do things as a family, like visit amusement parks and fairs. Knowing we could easily blow over $100 on an afternoon at a theme park, we instead opted for lower-cost entertainment this summer, exploring farmers markets and festivals that didn't charge an entrance fee or only charged a modest one.

3. We did some of the work ourselves to keep the costs down

While my husband and I weren't equipped to repair our air conditioners ourselves, and we were quoted a very reasonable price to install the sprinkler head, we did fix our busted pipe on our own. That alone saved us a few hundred dollars by not having to hire a plumber.

Now, when I say "we" fixed the busted pipe, I mean my husband fixed it, and I shone a flashlight where it needed to go. I've never been particularly handy, which is why I'm glad I have the option to work more when home repairs arise.

When you own a home, there's always the chance of something going wrong. In our case, incurring $1,500 worth of surprise repairs in just over a month was a pretty harsh blow. Taking the above steps helped us avoid having to tap our savings. But had those steps been off the table, we would've needed to use our emergency fund.

Make sure to have a healthy emergency fund before signing a mortgage. Not everyone has the option to earn extra money or cover repairs solo. So it's important to have that cushion for when things go wrong in short order.

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