HomeServe Lends a Helping Hand to Homeowners in Need

HomeServe Lends a Helping Hand to Homeowners in Need

During the holidays, many of us are looking for ways to lend a helping hand to our friends and neighbors, and HomeServe is no exception – and we take that giving spirit with us throughout the year.

Our HomeServe Cares Foundation and Customer First Program provide pro bono home repairs to qualifying homeowners who are facing emergency home repairs that impact safety, sanitation and quality of life that they cannot afford. These programs are part of our efforts to be a good corporate citizen by offering assistance aligned with our expertise in home repair in the communities where we have partnerships and our employees and network contractors live and work.

This allows us to help people like Shirley, a Georgia resident who had an electrical box that was a complete mess, along with leaking water lines in her basement. Shirley’s electrical service box had a melted cable and burned-out wiring and was coming away from the exterior wall. Additionally, the meter box wiring was burned as well. This was a dangerous fire hazard and was preventing Shirley’s home from getting enough power. This meant her electrical service was intermittent, usually only one electrical wall socket worked, and Shirley’s stove and refrigerator did not get power.

When HomeServe learned about Shirley’s plight, we dispatched Edward Dicarlo of EAZY Electrical and Plumbing.

“We were shocked to see she still had power because it’s a dangerous situation, leaving a lug or meter box wiring burning,” Edward said. “It could have caused an electrical fire.”

Edward made some additional repairs at no charge to make things easier for Shirley, but, while he was doing the repairs, he noticed Shirley turned the water off at the meter unless she was using it. He also noticed that, when the water was on, it poured from the pipes in the basement – Shirley needed a new water service line and plumbing she couldn’t afford. The Foundation stepped in again to make Shirley’s home livable.

“The combination of the electrical and the plumbing in this particular house cost upward of $10,000, and this customer could not have made that happen on her own,” Edward said. “I believe this is going to affect her in a great way, and it’s going to create a better living situation.”

HomeServe also utilizes our network contractors and employees to help people struggling with problems with their sewage systems, like Mary Lynn of Kentucky, who started worrying about home maintenance after she lost her husband.

“My husband always took care of everything,” she said. “It didn’t matter what it was, he took care of it some way and somehow. After he passed, I knew that I had no one to depend on to do things around the house. We’ve been here all these years [40-plus years], and things might go wrong.”

Then Mary Lynn noticed a strange depression in her yard, and she only had partial use of her facilities.

“There was a sinkhole in the yard, and I got to worrying about it,” she said. “The next thing I know, it was bigger. Then came a lot of rain and it kept getting bigger and I didn’t know what it was.”

Her septic tank had completely collapsed and wasn’t covered by her homeowner’s insurance. The cost to replace it would be $2,975 – far more than Mary Lynn could afford on her fixed income. Fortunately, Mary Lynn was able to get her septic tank replaced with the help of HomeServe.

“I don’t know what I would have done if it wasn’t for your company and my electric company,” she said. “I will never forget how kind you all were to me, and I will never forget what you did for me as long as I live.”

HomeServe helps scores of people with free home repair emergencies every year, including Lewis of Colorado, an elderly veteran on a limited income whose beloved garden was put at risk when his outdoor faucet stopped working.

“I’ve been laid up for the last year, so my wife has been watering the flowers,” Lewis said. “Then she went to water the flowers, but the faucet wouldn’t work. It was plugged up. It must have been leaking, too, because when I paid my water bill, it was almost twice as much as usual.”

HomeServe dispatched a plumber to replace the faucet and fix the line, and the plumber took the time to explain how to drain the line and prepare the faucet for cold weather.

“I can’t do a repair if something goes wrong, and it’s been a life saver,” Lewis said. “We were happy with the work, very pleased. It’s been cold for the last few days, so we haven’t used it, but we will soon. We really appreciate HomeServe for taking care of the problem for us.”

Most of those HomeServe assists are low- and middle-income homeowners who do not have the savings to address much-needed repairs. All indications are the middle class – which shrank by 10 percent between 1971 and 2011, according to The Pew Trust – don’t have savings for financial shocks like unexpected home repairs. In our Winter 2021 State of the Home Survey, 13 percent of respondents said they had no money set aside, and nearly one-third said they had either less than $500 or no money set aside. That number jumped up to 60 percent for households that reported an annual income of $50,000 or less.

Many times, they have an unaffordable repair that is a safety hazard, like Shirley; or impacts sanitation, like Mary Lynn; or simply impacts quality or enjoyment of life, like Lewis. Not being able to address home repairs has long-lasting impacts on their daily life.

Utilities can help their LMI customers address this financial hurdle by partnering with HomeServe to offer optional, affordable plans that enable them to address home repair issues as they arise, instead of leaving them to linger until they pose a risk to the homeowner.

HomeServe offers a suite of emergency home repairs plans to fit every need, and we have a nationwide network of pre-vetted, licensed and insured contractors who are dispatched from our U.S.-based call center 24/7/365.

To learn more about our program and how we can offer peace of mind for low- and middle-income homeowners, contact us.



Electrical Service Box and Wiring Repair a Relief for Homeowner

Electrical Service Box and Wiring Repair a Relief for Homeowner

Shirley C., her child and her grandchild lived together in her Georgia home, but the homeowner was dealing with a host of home repair issues she couldn’t afford to fix.

The home had major electrical and plumbing problems. The electrical service box had a melted cable and burned out wiring. In addition, the main electrical box, which is ordinarily secured to an outside wall of a home, had come away from the wall. Not only was the panel coming away from the wall, but the meter box wiring had been burnt.  It was in such bad shape, it not only was a potential fire hazard, but the home wasn’t getting the correct amount of power to serve the electrical service box and power in the home was intermittent with only one electrical socket working most of the time.

Shirley reached out for assistance in her hometown of Ringgold, and she was referred to the HomeServe Cares Foundation’s Caring for People program, which provides pro bono emergency home repairs to qualifying homeowners. She applied to the program and her application was handled by Sara Parris, Repair Management Coordinator.

“[Shirley] reported a problem with the main electrical box,” Sara said. “Her stove and refrigerator weren’t working, and she was expecting the delivery of a hospital bed she wouldn’t be able to use, because the electrical outlet didn’t work where they were going to put the bed.”

Sara dispatched Edward Dicarlo of EAZY Electrical and Plumbing to look at the main electrical box and diagnose it.

“I learned about the HomeServe Cares program from a phone call from a HomeServe employee,” said Edward Dicarlo, EAZY Electrical and Plumbing owner. “They let me know they had a customer in need and were going to cover the cost. Originally, I thought there’s got to be some sort of catch or a benefit for the company, and I did some research and there is none. Just somebody who cares. People really need that.”

EAZY Electrical and Plumbing is a HomeServe network contractor. To become a network contractor, Dicarlo and his employees underwent thorough vetting and must maintain quality and customer service standards. Edward and his team were dispatched to fix Shirley’s electrical service box.

“We were shocked to see she still had power because it’s a dangerous situation, leaving a lug or meter box wiring burning,” Edward said. “It could have caused an electrical fire.”

Edward also replaced several interior outlets for Shirley.

“They did some internal work for her, just to make her life easier, and they didn’t charge us or the customer for it,” Sara said.

While Edward and his crew were making repairs to the meter box wiring, they noticed the family was turning off their water at the meter unless they were using it, indicating the main water line to the house was leaking. The home had many galvanized pipes, and they had rusted from the inside out and Edward realized someone needed to repair the water line. Whenever the water was used, water poured from the broken water line in the basement, threatening to flood it.

“The only way they could use the kitchen or bathroom facilities was by filling up five-gallon buckets of water or somebody running outside and turning on the water while they’re being used, because the main water line to the house was leaking, then hurrying up and turning it back off when they’re done so it doesn’t flood the basement or get sewage water underneath,” Edward said.

Edward informed the Foundation team of this additional broken water line need and Sara began looking for additional help to repair the water line, but there weren’t any utility repair assistance programs at the county or state level that could help Shirley.

“The combination of the electrical and the plumbing in this particular house cost upward of $10,000, and this customer could not have made that happen on her own,” Edward said.

Since re-establishing reliable water service was depending on repairing the main water line to the house that was leaking, Sara knew the cost would be beyond Shirley’s means. Sara was determined to advocate for Shirley, so she asked the Foundation to consider a second repair to the water line, and the HomeServe Cares Foundation team agreed to cover the plumbing work for the broken water line as well.

“I believe this is going to affect her in a great way, and it going to create a better living situation, especially with the hard time she’s going through,” Edward said. “She’ll now have functioning water and she’ll be able to utilize her medical equipment that’s needed for her situation with the power being fixed.”

Shirley and her family will now be able to live in their home safely and comfortably.

“The struggle is real for a lot of people,” Sara said. “I’ve seen it with church friends, family members and coworkers. My spiritual gift is wanting to help people. I’ve always gotten joy out of helping. I pushed because I understood her situation.”