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Fix It Now?

By March 14, 2024March 15th, 2024Living Along The Wasatch Front

As a homeowner, you can probably attest to the fact that regardless of the age of your home, there is always something to be maintained, serviced, fixed, or replaced. Though any real estate professional will advocate for regular and timely upkeep, it is not always immediately feasible, and the reality is that some things truly can wait.

If you have no plans to sell or rent your home any time soon, those “can wait” items may be a matter of how important their functionality or visual appeal is to you (or your neighbors, ahem). But as the old adage goes, “a stitch in time saves nine”—meaning that if you can stay on top of the maintenance, servicing, fixing, and replacing, you will save yourself the headache of a possible domino effect or the much higher cost of repair or replacement down the road. And if you end up wanting to rent or sell, you may find yourself with a pile of overdue repairs that suddenly can’t wait anymore.

So here is your simple, foolproof, tongue-in-cheek guide to the what, when, why, and how of home maintenance and repairs.

KITCHEN / LAUNDRY / BATH

DISPOSAL: CAN’T wait. If not functioning properly, a bad disposal can cause pipe issues, buildup, and a smell that will clear anyone out of a 20-yard radius. The good news is that if you’re up for a little DIY, obstructions can be removed with help from YouTube (I know firsthand!). And as always, DO NOT put grease, oil, fat, nutshells, popcorn kernels, or anything like unto them down the disposal.

LEAKY FAUCET: CAN wait, depending on the magnitude of the leak. But wasted water is never cool and often the problem is a relatively quick, inexpensive fix.

OVEN: CAN’T wait unless you have a large and amazing toaster oven, or you’re blessed with a second oven…then it CAN wait. Unless it’s Thanksgiving. And you’re hosting.

DISHWASHER: Depends on how many dish users are in the home. I know someone who chose never to have a dishwasher in her home because she felt it was more efficient to wash and dry by hand immediately. This American staple is not necessary for survival; ask anyone outside the US and Canada. However: buyers WILL demand a functioning dishwasher, trust me.

WASHER/DRYER: CAN’T wait. Get those suckers fixed unless you have a washboard, clothesline, LOTS of time, and large biceps. There are also many affordable options for purchase including basic models, like-new secondhand, or scratch-and-dent if your budget just isn’t in the mood.

TOILET: You know the answer.

MOLD: CAN’T wait. Mold begets mold; nip that creepy fungus in the bud ASAP with a bleach-containing cleaning powder, or baking soda scrub and peroxide spray for the less-toxic route.

UTILITIES / HVAC / ELECTRICAL / PLUMBING:

None of these can really wait (sorry). Call your home warranty provider if you’re fortunate enough to have a plan in place. Staying warm in winter and cool in summer is non-negotiable, as is hot water.

ELECTRICAL: Don’t even think about waiting unless you have amazing disaster and personal property insurance. But in all seriousness: double-tapped lines, brittle and peeling wires, and 60-year-old DIY circuit breaker connections are all downright catastrophes waiting to happen.

AC: CAN wait … between October and May. To winterize, loosely cover with an old bed sheet. Plastic coverings will cause mold and damage. ACs need to breathe.

FILTERS: CAN’T wait. The damage a dirty filter causes to your furnace is not even close to being worth skipping the $10 filter and 10 minute changeout. Put it in your calendar for every 6–8 weeks depending on the season and number of shedding dogs or feather boas you have.

PLUMBING: CAN wait, but if you have galvanized or lead pipes, you’re looking at a safety issue that may not seem urgent. It probably is. Consult a plumber, and you’ll be super happy you replaced them when your buyers order their home inspection (trust me).

FINISHES

PAINT: CAN wait. Paint can be a fairly quick fix unless a total redo is needed. Keep jars of extra paint handy for quick touch ups. Also handy to have around is spackle, a putty knife, and fine-grit sandpaper. Not sure which paint to choose? Visit the Niche Homes Studio blog for recommendations.

Go at those holes the minute they happen, and unless the “patch” look bugs you, paint can wait. Discover lead paint? Definitely CAN’T wait!

CARPET: CAN’T wait. No matter what the stain, the longer it sits, the faster it sets. Consider purchasing a portable spot cleaner machine for regular touch ups. Stain spray is also a must. For pet accidents, only a professional can get deep down where it counts.

EXTERIOR

ROOF: Leaks CAN’T wait. Lifting/peeling CAN probably wait, depending on the severity. Homebuyers and inspectors will be ALL over it if it looks old or problematic, so seriously consider an overhaul before selling.

HOSE/SPRINKLERS/PIPES: CAN’T wait unless you enjoy $10,000+ pipe replacements. Remove hoses and winterize your sprinklers and pipes each November through May.

FOUNDATION: CAN wait, depending on the severity. If there is any leaking or indication of a safety issue, call a professional. Serious foundation problems will absolutely affect value and you may lose more in concessions than you would spend on repair.

RADON: If your home tests above the safety limit, it’s wise to install a mitigation system. Radiation is typically problematic in basements, so if yours is used regularly or if there are bedrooms down there, don’t put this off. Mitigation systems will aid in the value and sale of your home and bring everyone peace of mind.

CONCRETE: CAN wait unless it’s a safety hazard. As unsightly as cracks and crumbles are, you are not compelled to fix or replace immediately.

YARD

LAWN: Technically, this CAN wait; however, once you need to spruce up your lawn there is no such thing as a quick fix. There is just no hiding dead or weed-riddled grass (don’t you dare spray paint!). An effective and affordable maintenance program option is the IFA four-step application system.

One bag per season: distribute the treatment with a seed spreader. Keeping weeds at bay and grass green and healthy is one of the most economical ways to make your home look great. Do yourselves, your neighbors, and your future buyers a favor and make lawn maintenance a priority now.

KNOW WHO TO CALL

While many of these tasks can be resolved with the skills and tools you already possess, there are times it’s necessary to call in a professional. Niche Homes has a comprehensive list of trusted tradespeople to manage the bigger jobs and we’re happy to share it with you, all you have to do is ask.

Hilary McDonough is a Realtor specializing in Highland Park, Holladay, Millcreek and other Salt Lake neighborhoods. Contact her if you are interested in buying or selling a home.

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