That towering white oak tree in your front yard sprouted from an acorn when your great-great-great-grandmother was in diapers. It provides cooling shade in the summer and adds thousands of dollars to your property value, not to mention it's majestic and beautiful. But under the wrong conditions — high winds, lightning or heavy ice and snow — falling limbs from that beloved oak tree could cause serious damage to your house or vehicles. If your homeowner's insurance is stingy, you could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket for repairs.
Again, an ounce of prevention is worth a metric ton of cure. For large trees like mature oaks and elms, call in a professional tree service to inspect and prune the tree every few years. The tree service folks will be able to spot and diagnose disease problems that could weaken the tree and expose it to strong winds. They can also cut back limbs that are growing dangerously close to the house or use cables to strengthen limbs and trunks against stormy weather [source: Gordon].
For lots more homeowner tips and money-saving ideas, check out the related HowStuffWorks articles below.
Author's Note: 10 Home Repairs That Can Seriously Break the Bank
I wasn't kidding about the plumbing job. We bought an old house because we fell in love with the wood floors, stained glass windows and old-fashioned details. What we haven't loved is the continuous string of plumbing, electrical and HVAC problems that plague an 85-year-old house. Luckily, nothing has been catastrophic and our home warranty has covered just about all of it. Still, researching this article has been a wake-up call. I'm no fan of ladders, so the gutters have gone un-cleaned in the two years since we've lived here. Now that I know more about the dangers (and cost) of foundation damage, I'm definitely going to clear those gutters out in the spring and invest in some downspout extensions to keep rainwater away from the house. When it comes to inspecting the flashing around the chimney on the roof, I think I'm going to skip the ladder and invest in a good pair of binoculars.
- Edge, Lara. "How to Prevent Water Damage." HouseLogic (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/foundations/how-to-prevent-water-damage/
- Energy Star. "Maintenance Checklist" (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_maintenance
- Gordon, Lisa Kaplan. "Is Your Tree Going to Fall Over?" HouseLogic (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/plants-trees/dangerous-tree/
- HomeAdvisor. "How Much Does It Cost to Build a Deck?" (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/outdoor-living/build-a-deck/
- HomeAdvisor. "How Much Does It Cost to Install a Driveway?" (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/garages/install-a-driveway/
- HomeAdvisor. "How Much Does It Cost to Install a Furnace?" (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/heating-and-cooling/install-a-furnace/
- HomeAdvisor. "How Much Does It Cost to Install New Siding?" (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/siding/install-siding/
- HomeAdvisor. "How Much Does It Cost to Install a Roof?" (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/roofing/install-a-roof/
- HomeAdvisor. "How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Water Main?" (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/plumbing/repair-a-water-main/
- Huber, Jeanne. "Should Your Repair or Replace Your Septic System?" HouseLogic (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/plumbing/should-you-repair-or-replace-your-septic-system/
- Kirchheimer, Sid. "11 Ways to Avoid Costly Home Repairs." AARP (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-04-2012/avoid-costly-home-repairs.html
- Lowes. "Seal an Asphalt Driveway" (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.lowes.com/cd_How+to+Seal+a+Driveway+with+QPR+Driveway+Sealer_1281981721_
- Toht, Dave. "Care and Maintenance of Your Deck." HouseLogic (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/decks/deck-care-and-maintenance/
- Trattner, Douglas. "Checklist for HCAV Maintenance." HouseLogic (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/heating-cooling/hvac-maintenance/#.
- Trattner, Douglas. "How to Make Sure Your Fireplace is Safe." HouseLogic (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/fireplaces-chimneys/how-make-sure-your-fireplace-safe/
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "A Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems" (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.epa.gov/owm/septic/pubs/homeowner_guide_long.pdf
- U.S. Fire Administration. "Fireplace and Home Fire Safety" (Dec. 18, 2013) http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/heating/fireplace.shtm
When it rains, it pours. And when that rain pours into your basement, that's bad news. HowStuffWorks tells you ways to keep that rain out.