Ask McEnearney: When do I have to fix this?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: When do I have to fix this?

Answer: Many new homeowners are making the transition from having landlords in charge of repairs, to being responsible for them all by themselves. It is important that you know not only what to fix, but when. Not everyone can afford to fix everything all at once. If there are a number of repairs needed on a home when you move in — or after five years of living there — it is important to know what to prioritize.

First, and potentially most obvious, is gas. This is — I hope — something that most people know should not be taken lightly. Whether you smell it or hear your carbon monoxide alarm go off, you need to act immediately. In my experience, it is usually a gas burner that was accidentally pushed. However, if the cause is not immediately obvious and easily fixable, leave your home and then call the gas company. No one — including pets — should be inside until it is checked out by a professional.

Most other repairs that should be quickly addressed are not quite as “in your face”. As a homeowner, it is important to look for little signs that maintenance could be required around your home. Preventing a problem is always cheaper than fixing a problem.

Like gas, water seems is another important one. Aside from structural damage to your home, water will cause mold to grow which can lead to serious health consequences. Most people know that water is NOT something you want to be surprised by.

What’s not so obvious is the ways in which water might sneak its way into your home. If you have any concerns about plumbing, get them checked out ASAP. Dallas McVicker, of Top Down Home Inspections, advises that “small leaks can very quickly become large ones, which get expensive fast. Be sure to check that your water shut off valve functions properly in case of emergency — and be absolutely sure that you know where your water shut off valve is!”


Photos courtesy of Top Down Home Inspections

An item that comes up fairly frequently in home inspections, for example, is an unsecured toilet. While a wobbly toilet may seem like a minor inconvenience, it could lead to much larger issues just down the road. Moisture can more easily collect under the flooring, and seriously weaken the stability of the subfloor. Besides, almost anything that is wobbly, and is continually used, will get more wobbly! Why wait?

Water doesn’t just come from pipes and plumbing though. It can also come from the ground, the sky – even the walls if your windows aren’t properly sealed! It cannot be overstated that small leaks will become large leaks quickly.

Another sign of potential, future water damage is missing shingles, or a damaged roof. It’s always a good idea to check your roof after a big storm, especially if there are large tree branches above your home. I once woke up to a few of my roof shingles on my front lawn. Luckily, I had a great contractor who could come the very next day, so I didn’t have to worry about damage while I waited. Damage to your roof could easily lead to water damage — the longer you wait, the more costly it could become.

Finding a great contractor who you can trust is crucial, so ask around and form a relationship with someone you can work with. And your inspector is likely to be able to answer pressing questions for you as well. If you don’t have an inspector, follow Dallas McVicker from Top Down Home Inspections on Instagram! Dallas is always happy to answer questions, and his Instagram has tons of info that can really help out a new (or experienced!) homeowner.

Of course, I’m really only addressing a couple of things here and when it comes to owning a home the possibilities are endless. While it may seem daunting, keep in mind that the majority of homeowners have many of the same questions you do — regardless of how long they’ve owned. It’s important to remember that you are not alone — ask all of the questions! Our real estate team has a great group of people we refer all the time to our past clients and friends.

And finally, one last tip from Dallas — “Rubber laundry hoses have a five-year lifespan. Probably time to change them.”

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia. She grew up in Old Town and currently lives in Del Ray. As a partner with The Peele Group, Hope is dedicated to guiding her clients successfully through the many faceted process of buying or selling a home. Contact Hope at 703-244-6115.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria