Avoid Home Repair Headaches During the Holidays
Contractors Board Offers New Resource to Prescreen Service and Repair Contractors
SACRAMENTO — Holidays can bring on a flurry of home repair headaches as seasonal celebrations tax household plumbing, heating and electrical systems, putting a damper on festivities. From clogged garbage disposals to heaters that go kaput, California homeowners have an increased need for home service and repair contractors during the holidays. The California Contractors State License Board urges consumers to be prepared and do their home repair homework to avoid extra holiday stress.
"The best time to find a qualified, licensed home service and repair contractor is before something goes wrong," Contractors State License Board Registrar Stephen P. Sands said. "Selecting your preferred contractors in advance saves time and money."
CSLB is offering a free Home Service and Repair Checklist on its Web site, www.cslb.ca.gov. The one-page guide includes a fill-in-the-blank section where homeowners can write information about their prescreened contractors.
Some common home repair headaches that happen around the holidays include:
- Clogged drains: Cooking for a crowd puts a heavier load on sinks and garbage disposals, causing drains to back up, leaving a sink full of dirty water.
- Bathroom flooding: More people around the house means more use of toilets, showers and bathroom sinks that can easily become clogged and overflow.
- Electrical emergencies: Stringing holiday lights and the increased use of household appliances can put an extra strain on your home's electrical system. Don't overload outlets with too many electrical cords, and don't use worn or frayed cords - or you may be dining by candlelight, and not by choice.
- Broken windows, wall boards and woodwork: No matter how careful you are when bringing in the tree, moving furniture for decorations or playing with new toys, accidents can happen.
- Damaged gutters, awnings and roofs: Hanging outdoor lights and decorations can sometimes damage structural elements of the home, especially in windy conditions. Walking on the roof can cause shingle damage, leading to leaks inside the house.
- Water heater problems: Winter is often the time when marginally performing water heaters fail. Be ready, and don't get burned by this common holiday headache.
- Faulty heaters: Don't leave yourself and guests out in the cold - have your heaters inspected. Properly running heaters not only save energy, but may also prevent life-threatening gas leaks.
- Fireplace safety: Christmas is often the first time that homeowners light a fire in the fireplace. Chimneys should be cleaned and checked prior to use each season to avoid dangerous problems.
Planning ahead can help homeowners alleviate home repair headaches. To help consumers in these holiday hazard situations, CSLB offers these tips for seasonal solutions:
- Pre-screen home repair contractors by making a list and checking it twice - once by the Contractors State License Board and again by checking contractor references.
- Verify contractors' licenses by visiting the CSLB Web site at www.cslb.ca.gov.
- Post contractors' contact information in an easy-to-access place.
- Get a written contract for any repair work performed.
- Be sure to ask questions and understand the work being performed.
- Do not pay cash for the repair work.
The CSLB, which operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, licenses 278,000 contractors in California and investigates 25,000 complaints against licensed and unlicensed contractors every year.
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