(CNN) — As I lay in bed on the morning of December 30, I had been living in the apartment of my dreams (and my first) for three months. Enjoying the golden light coming through the window, I was feeling very excited and relaxed having a day off after an incredibly stressful move.
Sounds like a dream, right? Then the smell of towels that have been wet for too long comes into the picture… at least that’s what I thought before seeing the entire floor of my apartment submerged by smelly flood water and drain.
Multiple thoughts and feelings, some of which I can’t politely share here, came flooding back to me: What the hell happened? What am I supposed to do? Who is responsible for cleaning up this mess?
It turns out that an overnight storm and a sewage backup catalyzed the flood that ruined some of my belongings and forced me to start looking for a second apartment. The experience was taxing on my mind and finances.
When things go wrong in your home, “it’s never fun and it can be very discouraging and stressful,” says Daniel Wroclawski, home and appliance writer for Consumer Reports, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers evaluate goods and services. services.
Wroclawski experienced his own flood nightmare in his first and current home.
“I came home one weekend after being away, and there was a flood in my kitchen, no joke, and it cost tens of thousands of dollars in damage,” he added. “And my wife was six or seven months pregnant.”
Flooding is just one of the most common things that can go wrong in a home.
If you’re renting, Wroclawski highly recommends getting renters insurance, as it often helps when things go wrong. Renters insurance is typically affordable coverage designed to protect your personal liability and belongings from circumstances such as theft, fire, storms, and natural disasters, since the landlord or superintendent is not responsible for your belongings, according to US News & World Report. .
Pay attention to what certain policies do or do not cover: If you live in a high-risk flood area, your insurance should include flood coverage. The home insurance policies They are very similar to those for renters, but cover the structure of the house and outbuildings, as well as your belongings.
Regardless of what happens, if you’re a renter and you have a problem with something your landlord is responsible for, like your home itself or the appliances you were provided with, the first thing you should do is call maintenance or your landlord, he says. Wrocławski. If you’re a homeowner and you can’t solve the problem, call a professional service for help, like a plumber if your toilet won’t flush or an HVAC technician if your furnace needs repair.
Here’s expert advice on how to calmly deal with common household headaches, whether you’re renting or owning.
“In the event of a pipe burst or a leak, the first thing to do is turn off the water,” explains Wroclawski. “In your house, that’s usually affordable. But if you’re renting, it might not be, in which case you need to get in touch with your landlord or superintendent as soon as possible.”
If you’re responsible for fixing the problem, call a plumber, or an emergency response plumber if necessary and you can afford it, Wroclawski said.
The longer there is standing water, the more damage will occur.
“Standing water is no laughing matter. It can eventually cause mold and health problems,” Wroclawski said. “If they don’t respond within a few hours, you’ll want to start looking for someone else.”
If you have to take care of things yourself, get rid of as much excess water as possible. You can get a water pump at a home supply store and pump it into a sink or bathtub, then dry everything; speed up the process by using fans and opening windows.
If your garbage disposal isn’t working, unplug it before looking for the culprit, says Wroclawski. If there aren’t any obvious objects clogging it, you can try disposer cleaning tablets, he recommended. Some disposers also have reset buttons.
If you notice that your fridge isn’t as cold as it should be, check the condenser coils in the back of the fridge, Wroclawski said.
Condenser coils can get dirty, so pull the fridge away from the wall every six months to vacuum them, Wroclawski said. That buildup can cause the refrigerator to not cool as efficiently and have to work harder, which can lead to machinery failure if not addressed first.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
If your smoke or carbon monoxide detector isn’t working or beeping excessively, make sure it’s not expired, Wroclawski said. Smoke detectors typically need to be replaced every eight to 10 years, and carbon monoxide detectors every five, he added.
If your detectors are battery powered, be sure to change them routinely. If you rent housing, you may have to replace them through the maintenance service.
Heating, cooling and ventilation systems
All heating and cooling systems need routine maintenance at least once a year, says David Heiman, senior director of training at The Refrigeration School, Inc. in Phoenix.
In both apartments and houses, “most residents who experience a problem will first notice a lack of cooling or heating,” Heiman said by email. “Residents may also notice units being left on for long periods of time and/or swings in indoor temperatures.”
Experts also “commonly find problems due to dirty air filters, dirty or blocked condensing coils, refrigerant leaks, clogged condensing lines, and failed electrical components, (such as) motors, capacitors, and relays,” Heiman added.
You can replace a dirty filter or, if you are renting, it can be done by the maintenance staff or the owner. You may need a professional to fix some of the more complicated problems.
If you don’t have hot water, your water heater could have a faulty part or need to be replaced entirely, Wroclawski said. If you live in an apartment, call the landlord or janitor. If you live in a house, call a plumber.
“Another thing to keep in mind is that if it’s a gas water heater, it could be that the pilot is off, in which case you’d have a real gas leak problem. That’s very dangerous,” he said. Wrocławski. If you see that the pilot is off, to be sure, he leaves your house and calls the fire department or the gas company: his staff will check for gas leaks.
If you have little or no home repair experience, you may be wondering what the fair price is for these services.
With some of these issues, “timing is critical, in which case you probably want to suck it up and pay what they’re charging you,” Wroclawski said. “But if you have the time, it’s definitely worth comparing and getting quotes from multiple vendors.”
HomeAdvisor lists the national median price for many home repair services, he added.