Guide clients through winter warranty issues

Resolving homeowner claims is often more about education than repairs
Resolving homeowner claims is often more about education than repairs.

This time of year requires some education and preparation for homeowners and their homes, new or old. Here is a list of the top phone calls we typically receive after the first cold snap from homeowners who are not up to speed on their responsibilities of homeownership.

[Related: Lost in translation—Deciphering builders’ insurance]

Phone call No. 1: My heat won’t work; it’s cold in my house.

Solution/Response: Sometimes we find the thermostat is still set to A/C, the furnace filter hasn’t been changed since they closed on the house or the furnace disconnect switch is off.

Be careful when dispatching your HVAC sub for a no-heat call because if any of the above are the cause and not an actual fault with the furnace, someone will be paying for that visit.

Phone call No. 2: Something is burning and it stinks in my house. This typically follows phone call No. 1.

Solution/Response: This is normal when you first turn on the furnace for the season.

Phone call No. 3: There’s water leaking in my front yard. That green box (sprinkler valve box) has water coming out of it. There is a huge mushy spot in my yard. I hear water running but nothing is on. We usually get these calls after the first cold snap when it has warmed up, aka Indian Summer.

Solution/Response: Did you have your sprinklers blown out before it was below freezing? (Palm over face.) Turn off the water for the sprinklers and call someone to fix all the broken stuff in the spring.

In most neighborhoods, your homeowners’ front doors are likely strewn with flyers for sprinkler blowout specials. Your existing landscapers are a great go-to for your homeowners to have sprinkler winterizations taken care of.

Phone call No. 4: There is a water leak in my basement.

Solution/Response: Did you disconnect your hose from the spigot before it was below freezing? Or, my personal favorite, did you wash your car today or use the hose? Their response is always, “Why yes, how did you know?” The sillcock froze because the hose was not disconnected; call a plumber and have it replaced.

The items above are typical homeowner maintenance items and are not warranty items. That means they are not the builder’s responsibility—unless of course you choose to take care of them. In many of these calls, expect an argument that no one told them they had to do it or that the hose really was disconnected.

[Related: Two things to consider before making warranty repairs]

Just remember there is no such thing as “No Maintenance Living,” except in a hotel. We often send reminder emails in the fall to blow out sprinklers and disconnect hoses. Now bring on the snow!

Bill Armstrong is president of ProHome Colorado. He can be reached at [email protected].

Bill Armstrong

Bill Armstrong is president of ProHome Colorado. He can be reached at [email protected]

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