Entry 73: Ask Mr. Homeowner

Now that I’ve owned a home for six months (or roughly .86% of my life), I feel qualified to answer questions for other fledgling homeowners because, these days, the only qualification you need to be an expert on anything is an Internet connection.

Here are some of the questions I’ve heard asked recently (primarily when I talk to myself, which is becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence).

QUESTION: In the fall, how frequently should I rake the leaves? Let me first commend you on the knowledge you already have: fall is indeed the best time to rake leaves.  You should rake leaves only once, either after they’ve all fallen off the trees, or when you can leap safely from the roof of your house.  More frequent raking is a waste of time and energy because, apparently, just as soon as you finish raking, more leaves fall.  In fact, if, while raking, you turn around quickly, you can see them descending into the area you just raked.  That scene in Forrest Gump makes falling leaves seem so romantic and fanciful, but in real life they are evil, insidious things that spend the entire summer scheming against the homeowner.

Tip:  I recently discovered a product called a Leaf Loader.  It is essentially just the top part of a trampoline.  You roll one end of it into your leaf bag and create a sort of funnel into which you can rake or sweep the leaves.  Then they just slide right into the bag.  But be sure you pull the bag high enough onto the Leaf Loader; if you don’t, the thing snaps open and throws wet leaves into your face.  Not that that’s happened to me or anything.

QUESTION: How do you get someone to come to your house to fix one little thing that would likely take two seconds to fix if I had even the slightest bit of knowledge about how to fix things?  You probably shouldn’t have become a homeowner if you are that incompetent, but there is an easy answer to your question.  Let’s say, for instance, you have a small leak in your gutter.  Simply climb up onto your roof and, using some sort of sawing implement (don’t forget the safety goggles!), cut a large hole.  Then carefully climb down (or jump into the pile of leaves you haven’t raked yet) and call a roofer to fix the hole.  When he arrives, say, “As long as you’re fixing the hole, can you check that little leak in the gutter?”

Tip:  Be sure that the big problem you create is in the same area of specialty as the small problem you need fixed.  For example, you would not want to use an acetylene torch to cut through a pipe under your sink if you need someone to install a dimmer switch, even if the dimmer is in the same room as the sink.  Actually, you probably don’t want to be using an acetylene torch period.

QUESTION: How often should I check my well water for harmful chemicals?I’ll, um, have to check into that. Really? Harmful chemicals?

QUESTION: Can my septic system blow up at any moment, so that it is literally raining human waste on my house?   Wait…what?

QUESTION: Does that home warranty I bought cover the entire electrical system if there’s yet another freak weather occurrence and, when the power goes out, my expensive new automatic generator comes on and somehow fries every wire in the house?  I wish you’d stop thinking about alarming things that could happen to a neophyte homeowner.  Just try to relax and enjoy your home, would ya?

QUESTION: I’m considering a major kitchen renovation.  Any tips?  Yes.  Move to a house with a nice kitchen.

If you have a homeowner question, leave it as a comment and I’ll get to it as soon as I finish carefully reading my home warranty.

See you soon.

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2 Responses to Entry 73: Ask Mr. Homeowner

  1. glolala says:

    as an apartment owner i was wondering if there really is such a thing as a “leaf bag.” Love your blog.

  2. markhal says:

    Dear Glolala–Yes, there really is such a thing. In Westchester, you’d see them along side the road this time of year. But in Stamford, evidently, you’re supposed to make large piles of leaves at curbside where they sit for weeks until the city picks them up. They are expected not to blow away so that you have to rake them all over again, but sometimes they disobey. I’m not sure when the city will pick up all the leaves in our cul de sac; hopefully some time before the next snow fall.

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