How long until it is broken

There is very little on the interior or exterior of a house that doesn’t wear out eventually. The good news is it can all be repaired or replaced.  Having

Shingles

something breaks the month that you close on your home is also a common and upsetting experience.

It might be something small like the veggie sprayer in the kitchen sink or something more major like a malfunctioning air conditioning unit.

As a homeowner myself I have had or made every kind of repair I can think of and a lot of home improvements too.  The most recent repair was to some plumbing and it cost $600. Before that, it was an electrical problem in the kitchen.

Our newest appliance is a refrigerator that we bought just before the pandemic lockdowns started. The year before that we bought a new washer after having had the old one repaired a couple of times.

The house has been resided, re-roofed and one of the porches has been rebuilt. We have purchase water heaters, a furnace, and we added central air. We have replaced sinks and faucets and old worn kitchen countertops too. I have sanded hardwood floors and I have tiled others. We have never carpeted anything but I have had that done for family members and have learned from it.

Each appliance in the house has been replaced at least once. We have a few new windows and have added storm windows and a new back door. This year I want to replace the front door and I plan on putting in some new fencing. I would love to hire a landscaper too but I may wait until next year on that one.

By now you might be wondering what my point is. It is that any home is going to involve repairs and some of them will be expensive. Homeowners should put money aside or save up for repairs. A minimum of $2000 a year for a modest median-priced St. Paul house. They are unavoidable and even though they can be upsetting you shouldn’t let them upset you.

It is best to keep on top of repairs and to do a little every year. Deferred maintenance can lead to more expensive repairs and hurt the value and saleability of your real estate.

 

Also, see Sellers should do some research before committing to repairs

The world of home improvement contractors

Try YouTube instead of Facebook

Some things are worth the wait

Crocus
Crocus

There is no instant gratification with crocus bulbs that are planted in the Fall and if we are lucky they bloom for us in the late winter or early spring. They require little care and they grow in clumps and prefer sunshine. The clump in the picture is from planting I did at least 20 years ago.

I am always so happy to see crocus blooming and it will be weeks before anything else in my yard blooms.

Know where your water shutoff is

As I watch the news from Texas I keep seeing water freely flowing through houses after the pipes burst. People were shooting videos of water gushing down hallways and falling out of windows. I couldn’t help but wonder why they weren’t shutting off the water.

Pipes don’t burst when they freeze they burst when they thaw because water expands as it gets warmer but that is the subject for a future blog post.

If your pipes do freeze consider turning off the water before the pipes burst. Acting quickly and shutting off the water can save thousands of dollars in repairs.

There is a lever or one of those old-school round valve wheels right next to the water meter. It might be in a crawl space or enclosed, make sure you know where it is.  If you close the valve by moving the lever or turning the handle you can shut all of the water in the house.

The power can be turned off too. There is a switch or level right inside the breaker or fuse box in most homes. Learn how to turn off the power.

For your own safety, you should know how to turn off the water and electricity in your home. If you don’t today is a good day to figure it out.

If you are buying a house ask your inspector to show you how to turn off the water. Some inspectors label the valves and put tags on them.

water
Water

Seeds for Valentines day

Happy Valentine’s day!

Last year it was hard to find seeds. People in warmer climates bought them all as they planned on growing their own food.

It was hard to find plants in the spring and by then the seeds were long gone. I was able to have a garden because I bought seeds in February before the pandemic years began.

It will be a while before they can be planted outside but in a few weeks, I’ll start them inside. I also have seeds from plans I grew in last year’s garden. I saved them just in case.

seeds for garden 2021
seeds

 

Try YouTube instead of Facebook

I am not trying to pick on Facebook but it seems like when something breaks people go and as their Facebook friends what they should do. I am referring to minor home repairs and home maintenance.

There is no shortage of bad advice when you ask a random group of inexperienced individuals how to do something that may require the help of a pro.

YouTube doesn’t have all the answers either and I have run into some bad “how-to” advice. I have also been able to use YouTube videos to perform minor maintenance and home improvement tasks all on my own.

There was the time the central AC unit seems to be leaking. It turned out to be a clogged hose. I did need help with it but at least I knew what was wrong and didn’t do something stupid like let the repair person sell me a new unit or a large repair job. He cleaned the line and it hasn’t leaked since.

I had some problems with my washer that turned out to be a clogged filter. it was a Youtube video from the manufacturer that showed me how to remove and clean the filter. I am sure my Facebook friends would have had tons of suggestions too but I doubt it any own the same model of washer.

If you want to learn how to bake a tastier potato or how to crochet a hat or how to plant a garden in a straw bale you may find better information on YouTube than anything your friends on social media can provide.

Check the source of the video and if possible find videos from a couple of different sources. You might be surprised by what you can learn.  Sometimes I learn by watching a video that I couldn’t possibly do the work myself.  Yet even if I end up hiring someone I have a better understanding of the project of I approach it from a DIY  point of view.

Are you ready for snow?

Snowy street in St. Paul

We really haven’t had much winter weather except for what we had last October.  I have enjoyed walking on sidewalks that are free of snow and ice. If we get snow today that will all change. There are homeowners and businesses that never shovel.

The city has various pedestrian plans.  You can find them on the Stpaul.gov web site where it says:

“Saint Paul is a walking city. We are more healthy, resilient, and connected because walking is safe and appealing for all.”

Walking on icy sidewalks where snow is allowed to accumulate all winter is anything but safe.

St. Paul property owners are required to remove snow from the sidewalk along within 24 hours of when it fell. There are no exceptions for vacant houses or businesses.

Here are some sidewalk shoveling tips from the city:

Shoveling Tips

  • Shovel sidewalks on all sides of your property, the full width of the sidewalk down to the bare pavement.
  • Remove all ice from sidewalks. After the sidewalk is clear, sprinkling a little sand can help prevent slipping on frosty sidewalks.
  • Pile snow onto your yard and boulevard. It’s against the law to shovel snow into streets and alleys.
  • If you have a corner property, clear curb cuts at corners and crosswalks to the street gutter. You are not required to clear snow ridges or piles left by plows beyond the gutter–City crews sometimes return to do that but if they can’t your neighbors would appreciate it if you could clear an opening and get through.

The city also has a video about removing snow from walkways.

Sidewalk violations can be reported to the city. Go to Stpaul.gov and type “shoveling sidewalks” in the search bar. I would leave a link but the city re-arranges the website often making the links useless after a month or two.