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Scrap or Salvage: Deciding Whether to Repair or Replace after a Disaster Part II: Windows, Doors, Plumbing, Electrical, and HVAC

Homeowners face a long list of difficult decisions following a significant property loss. As a result, property owners must lean on experts such as property insurers, contractors, salvage experts, and others to assist in the response and recovery process. One of the most important decisions revolves around whether to repair or replace the major components of a home. Below is the second post in a three-part series focusing on how to analyze home damage in an effort to determine the best course of action following a claim.   


Windows and Doors:


Windows and doors represent bridges between the security of a home and the elements. As a result, windows and doors are sensitive to damage during weather events. Windows and doors both tend to wear down with time, especially in areas with high heat and humidity. Below is a list of common signs of window damage and door damage.




Window Damage

  • Rotting wood – signs of rot include warped, soft, or cracked wood in window frames.
  • Damaged frames - evidence of frame damage includes cracking, shifting, and chipping away.
  • Moisture inside the panes – when a windowpane seal fails, usually condensation forms between the panes.


Door Damage

  • Cracks in the frame.
  • Frame separation.
  • Shifting in the frame that causes the door not to close properly.
  • Jamb damage – causing the door to stick after closing.
  • Damaged seal – leads to drafts or leaks.


If window or door damage exists, then an expert can investigate further to determine the full repair cost as well as any other potential underlying issues. For example, if a door does not close properly, a foundation problem may be the culprit. The age and severity of the damage are two leading factors in determining whether to repair or replace damaged windows and doors. Unrepaired windows and doors lead to many downstream effects, including water damage and poor energy efficiency.


Average Costs to Repair Windows


Estimated Cost

Single pane, one window


Double pane, two windows


Bay windows, three panes


Bow windows, five+ panes



Plumbing, Electrical & HVAC:


Plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems provide the circulation needed to maintain life in a home. Most homeowners understand the pain associated with an untimely repair to any of these systems.  Significant loss events such as fires, earthquakes and strong storms (hurricanes and tornados) are capable of causing significant damage to mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Electrical systems are especially sensitive to water damage, while plumbing and HVAC damage may result from a significant wind event.


Electrical problems may often lead to system-wide damage. For instance, if a microwave has a power surge that results in a small fire, then the entire electrical system in the home may require repair. When a power surge occurs in an appliance, the surge can reflect off the appliance and travel the full circuit of the entire home’s electrical system causing havoc all along the way. In fact, if a contractor completes a repair in a home and finds an electrical problem, then they must request the homeowner repair the problem. In older homes, the electrical systems may be out of code, which could lead to costly repairs.




Homeowners and contractors need to consider disaster resistant materials when repairing or building homes. Contractors need to use high-quality materials in order to ensure longevity and minimize the chance of failure during a disaster. You can read more about disaster-resistant building practices in our article, Indestructible Homes: How Disaster Resistant Building Practices are Mitigating Losses.


Windows, doors, plumbing electrical and mechanical systems are important components in a home. A minor unrepaired failure in one of these systems could lead to a major loss. Unrepaired electrical systems may lead to a home fire. Unrepaired windows, doors or plumbing systems could lead to a major leak. Failure to repair mechanical systems could lead to a complete loss of a home’s HVAC system. Therefore, homeowners must work with insurers, contractors, engineers system-wide and other experts in order to effectively analyze damage to a home and determine the cost of a comprehensive repair. This analysis will help lead to an agreement on whether to scrap or salvage following a property insurance claim.