What Your Contractor Wished You Knew About Home Repairs

By: House Method

Home repairs are frustrating and overwhelming. We interviewed owners of Mr. Electric and Mr. Handyman to learn what homeowners should know about home repairs.

When a major system or appliance breaks at home, it can be a stressful experience. We’ve heard horror stories from homeowners, like when the oven goes out Thanksgiving morning, that time the air conditioner broke on a midsummer’s day with record-breaking heat, or when the water heater called it quits in the dead of winter.

When core components that make our homes comfortable to live in fail or malfunction, it can be equally frustrating and overwhelming. If you’re a first-time homeowner, a rookie do-it-yourselfer, or just simply not interested in venturing anywhere remotely close to your crawlspace, you’ll likely hire a local repair professional.

When a technician arrives, homeowners are often anxious to get their home back up and running again. However, impatience comes with a price.

“When something’s not working, we need to figure out why.” Gary Dagley, Owner of Mr. Electric of Grand Prairie, Texas, said. “That takes time and the electrician’s knowledge—homeowners don’t always understand this. These things can take 15 to 30 minutes or several hours. Until we can determine what the problem is, we can’t offer a solution.”

“We’ve also come across many homeowners who don’t want to know the electrical condition of their home. We’ve been told, ‘If I don’t know about it, then I don’t have to do anything about it.’ Please, do not take this approach because it will only get worse,” Dagley advised.

Unfortunately, when it comes to home maintenance, there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

“Every home is different,” Mike McCalley, Owner of Mr. Handyman serving Greater Jacksonville, said. “Some were built recently and others are more than 100 years old. There’s not one tip that applies to every home or every situation. That said, I’d encourage everybody to have a plan for regularly assessing what—if any—maintenance and repair needs their home may have. “

We continued our conversation with Gary Dagley and Mike McCalley to find out what else they wished more homeowners knew. Here are their tips on empowering homeowners to troubleshoot electrical repairs, how to conduct preventive maintenance around the house, and when to decide it’s time to hire a pro.

Tips from Mr. Electric

Dagley had four quick tips for homeowners who aren’t sure where to start in making sure their electrical system is working, safe, and up to date.

  1. If you have partial power, but your dryer or oven are not working, call your energy provider first. The problem could be on their side of service. If they determine their side is working, then call your electrician.
  2. Surge protection at the panel is very important. It protects all the appliances and electronics from internal surges in your house. The things we, Mr. Electric, repair the most are tripped breakers and outlets that do not work.
  3. Smoke detectors are very important in every home. They need to be replaced every 10 years. They have many options now. Some detect fires that smolder, which is (photoelectric smoke alarm) and then there are some that are more responsive to flaming fires (ionization). For the best protection, use both types of technology. In most cities, smoke detectors are required to be interconnected. You also have options on how you want them interconnected.
  4. Finally, technology has come a long way in this field. What was installed in your home 10 years ago was great at that time, however GFCI, ARC Fault, surge protection, smoke detectors, LED lighting, and smart devices have all been technologically improved. If you have not had an electrician to your home in years, please make an appointment. They can review any safety concerns you might have and advise you on the new products that are available to you and your home.

Mr. Handyman’s preventative maintenance checklist

Once a quarter, do a thorough inspection of the home. Make a list of things that need to be done in the next quarter before the next inspection. Examples of quarterly inspection items:

  • Look for dripping water under sink cabinets and behind the toilet.
  • Is it time to flush your water heater? The schedule for this varies in parts of the country depending on the hardness of the water and whether you have a water softener.
  • Is it time to change the filters in your air conditioner?
  • Review your home’s exterior to ensure you have no need for caulk, paint, crack repair, or any issues that would allow water to penetrate the “shell” of your home.
  • Review your porch and/or deck for cracked and split wood. Does it need stain or paint?
  • Review your doors and windows to ensure they are properly and fully sealed. This keeps water out and your heat or air conditioning inside the home. Do you need a new door sweep, weather stripping, or seals?

Note: Depending on your home, the list of things to be regularly inspected may include other items.

Consistent maintenance is the best, and least expensive, way to keep the total cost of ownership of your home down.”

Mike McCalley, Owner of Mr. Handyman

DIY or hire

With list in hand, you can assess a strategy for getting the work done. What can you and family members handle and where will you need help? Taking on too much can make some homeowners feel overwhelmed to the point that nothing gets done. If that’s you, consider hiring help. That may seem like an expense you’d like to avoid, but if the work doesn’t get done correctly, costly damage can follow. Attempts to save some money can cost you more in the long run.

It’s helpful to develop a relationship with a company that you can call on when needs arise. When there are things you can’t do—or don’t want to do—it’s convenient to have somebody who you can call and depend on. When you find a licensed professional who you trust, ask them about the warranties they offer.

“We offer a warranty on our workmanship and we follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on material,” Dagley said. Mr. Electric’s workmanship is guaranteed for up to a year with its service plan.

Mr. Handyman also offers a warranty.

All work Mr. Handyman does come with a one-year warranty for workmanship,” McCalley said. “That means that if the work we’ve done ‘fails’ in some way due to the way in which the work was performed, we’ll return and resolve the issue. We take quality seriously, and this is one of the ways we stand behind our work.”

In addition to leaning on your local home repair company, House Method also advises homeowners to consider a home warranty. These plans cover the cost to repair or replace major home systems and appliances, such as your refrigerator, dishwasher, plumbing system, and more. You can browse the best home warranties on House Method here.

About the experts

Gary Dagley, Owner of Mr. Electric, a Neighborly company

Gary has been in the construction industry for over 30 years. His time has been spent in government, residential, and commercial. He was a general contractor, project manager, and estimator for over 25 years. He has held a master electrical license for 23 years.

Mike McCalley, Owner of Mr. Handyman, a Neighborly company

Mike and his wife, Libby McCalley, have owned and operated Mr. Handyman serving Greater Jacksonville since 2008. With a background and Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from Frostburg State University and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, Mike is known for his analytical thinking and many contributions to the Mr. Handyman system.

He has served on the National Marketing Committee, Franchise Advisory Committee and ServiceTitan task force to help adapt, improve and integrate the new point-of-sale system into the brand’s franchise locations. Additionally, his long-time commitment to giving back to the Jacksonville community with the National Day of Service and Remembrance, Mike led fellow Neighborly franchisees to complete repair, maintenance and enhancement projects for a veteran and his family during the Neighborly Project.

Mike has been recognized with numerous Mr. Handyman Awards including the coveted Million Dollar Club, President’s Award, Heart of Mr. Handyman, Top Gun and the Incentive Trip for year-over-year revenue increases.


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