Tenth Edition of Biannual State of the Home Survey Finds HVAC And Toilets Source of Most Common Home Repairs

Survey Also Finds Younger Americans Less Informed About Responsibility for Home Emergencies

  • One-third of homeowners have less than $500 or nothing set aside for an emergency home repair; 50 percent of homeowners with an annual household income of less than $50,000 fall into this category.
  • More than half of homeowners (53 percent) have had a home repair emergency in the past 12 months, with an HVAC repair being the most frequently needed repair followed by blocked and/or overflowing toilet.
  • Younger Americans were least likely to know that they are financially responsible for common home repairs – like broken water and sewer pipe and HVAC – believing incorrectly that the repairs would be covered by their city/municipality, water utility or homeowners’ insurance.

Norwalk, Conn. (May 28, 2020) – HomeServe USA (HomeServe), a leading provider of home repair solutions, announced the findings of the tenth edition of its Biannual State of the Home Survey that reports on the financial impact of home repairs and the state of the American home. This edition of the survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of HomeServe, March 30-April 1, 2020, during the early stages of sheltering in place of the COVID-19 pandemic around the U.S., among 2,026 U.S. adults age 18+, of which 1,454 are homeowners.

Homeowners’ Savings Practices

Each of the ten editions of the survey have measured homeowners’ savings practices for unexpected home emergencies. This edition of the survey found that one-third (33 percent) of homeowners have less than $500 or nothing set aside for an emergency home repair. That number jumps to one-half (50 percent) for homeowners with an annual household income of less than $50,000. Consistent with the findings of the previous two surveys (March 2019 and October 2019), 17 percent of homeowners in the latest survey report having no money set aside for an emergency home repair.

Common Home Repairs

The survey’s finding that over half of homeowners (53 percent) have experienced a home repair emergency in the past 12 months is especially relevant with many Americans right now spending more time than ever in their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most common home repair need was for problems related to the home’s heating and air conditioning systems (HVAC) (19 percent). The next most common home repair cited was a blocked and/or overflowing toilet (15 percent), which has become a serious problem for many municipal utilities and plumbing contractors during COVID-19 as some Americans try to flush items like cleaning wipes, tissues, and even socks due to toilet paper shortages.

“This survey, as well as previous ones, have shown that the majority of homeowners can expect to have a home emergency over a twelve month period,” said HomeServe USA Chief Executive Officer John Kitzie. “Our real-time repair data is showing that our customers are continuing to require urgent repair help during the COVID-19 pandemic with more Americans at home, putting extra strain on their home’s infrastructure and major systems. Our service technicians are answering the call with proper social distancing protocols and use of personal protective gear.”

Understanding Responsibility for Home Repairs

Another key finding of the survey was that younger Americans, those age 18-34, were more likely to not know who was responsible for covering certain common home repairs compared to respondents age 35 and older. For example, only 14 percent of those age 18-34 correctly answered that a homeowner is responsible for a repair to a water pipe connecting a house to the water provider system at the property line or street, while 33 percent of those age 55 and older answered correctly. A similar finding came when asked about repairs to a similarly placed sewer line – 21 percent of those age 18-34 correctly said it would be the homeowners’ responsibility if raw sewage suddenly backs up into a home from a blockage or break in the sewer pipe in the yard compared to 47 percent of those age 55 and older.

“We hear from municipalities all the time that homeowners get very frustrated when a water or sewer pipe on their property fails and they find out that they are financially responsible for the repair – not the city and not homeowners’ insurance,” said Kitzie. “The findings of this latest survey clearly show that homeowners, especially younger ones, are unaware of their responsibility when it comes to common home repairs. At HomeServe, we are committed to educating homeowners and providing them with smart financial planning tools so they are prepared when an inevitable home emergency strikes.”

For more information on available repair service plans, visit www.HomeServeUSA.com and for helpful homeowner tips, visit www.HomeServeUSA.com/blog.

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Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of HomeServe from March 30-April 1, 2020 among 2,026 U.S. adults ages 18 and older (among whom 1,454 are homeowners). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact homeserve@hkstrategies.com.

About HomeServe USA

HomeServe USA Corp. (HomeServe) is a leading provider of home repair solutions serving more than 4.4 million customers across the US and Canada under the HomeServe, Home Emergency Insurance Solutions, Service Line Warranties of America (SLWA) and Service Line Warranties of Canada (SLWC) names.

Since 2003, HomeServe has been protecting homeowners against the expense and inconvenience of water, sewer, electrical, HVAC and other home repair emergencies by providing affordable repair coverage, installations and quality local service.

As an A+ rated Better Business Bureau Accredited Business, HomeServe is dedicated to being a customer-focused company supplying best-in-class repair plans and other services to consumers directly and through over 950 leading municipal, utility and association partners.

HomeServe has teamed up with executive producer, host, and best-selling author Mike Rowe, best known as the creator and host of the hit TV series Dirty Jobs, to work together to provide homeowners expert advice on maintaining, enhancing and protecting their homes. For more information about HomeServe, a Great Place To Work certified winner and recipient of thirty 2020 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, or to learn more about HomeServe's affordable repair plans, please go to www.homeserve.com. Connect with HomeServe on Facebook and Twitter @HomeServeUSA. For news and information follow on Twitter @HomeServeUSNews.


Myles Meehan
HomeServe USA
Phone: 203-356-4259
Email: Myles.Meehan@homeserveusa.com

Claire Deneen
Hill+Knowlton Strategies for HomeServe USA
Phone: 312-255-3134
Email: homeserve@hkstrategies.com