LRMHA Summer Newsletter 2023
August 23, 2023
SAVE THE DATE –
LRMHA Potluck Cookout on the Circle on Labor Day
Monday, September 4th is Labor Day and we’ll be gathering on the circle about 4 pm until it gets dark. We’ll provide a charcoal grill, tents and some extra chairs and a couple of tables for food to be served from. Help setting up at 3 PM will be greatly appreciated. Ice, water, freshly brewed iced tea, hamburgers, hotdogs, buns, condiments, paper plates, napkins, cups and disposable cutlery will be provided by members of the Board (no Association funds are used). Please bring chairs, food/beverages, and family and friends to share the food, fun and conversation.
Keep your pets safe and under control
Dogs must be leashed at all times when outside of your home or back yard. No exceptions. There are official dog parks nearby where you can unleash dogs to let them play. Please use them. Leash laws apply to all common areas in our neighborhood as well as the adjacent park land. Report violations to the Fairfax County Police Department Animal Protection Services at 703-691-2131.
Cats are vulnerable to coyotes and other predators in the area and dart in front of and under cars, putting them at risk of serious injury or death. They also cannot endure outdoor temperature extremes and harsh weather. Cats are also predators in addition to being prey. They are a danger to the birds some residents like to attract to their yards. Please make sure your cats are safely indoors whenever you cannot be outside watching them.
Trash and recycling reminder
Trash/garbage collection is on Mondays and Thursdays.
Recycling is picked up on Wednesdays. Do not place garbage out with recycling.
You may put out securely closed double-bagged and securely closed single bagged trash/garbage in lidded garbage bins any time between 7 PM the night before a scheduled Monday or Thursday trash collection day or before 6 AM on the trash collection day. Garbage trucks generally arrive early and can be as early as 6 AM. Garbage must be in bags specifically designed for garbage disposal or in strong contractor bags and must be securely closed – grocery bags and open bags/boxes are insufficient for garbage disposal. HINT: Putting a little vinegar in a trash bag can help deter scavengers.
Do not place trash/garbage out for collection on Fridays, Saturdays, or Tuesdays, or before 7 pm on Sundays and Wednesdays. Any trash placed out after collection on Mondays and Thursdays must be promptly removed from common ground and put out for the next scheduled collection.
Do not place anything over 45 pounds, unwieldy in size, or on the banned list of trash items (electronics devices, paint, flammable materials, etc – see LRMHA.ORG’s trash page) out for collection.
Mattresses, large dressers, televisions, toilets, construction materials, etc. require special handling and may not be left at the curb. Contact a junk hauling service to schedule and pay for special collection. Many offer point and hauling services and will remove the items from your home and yard for you.
Recycling of cardboard boxes, clean paper goods, aluminum cans and plastic bottles must be securely gathered so that it does not blow away prior to pickup on Wednesdays. No plastic bags or plastic “bubble” packing should be included in recycling or used to contain recycling. Use recycling bins, large paper bags or the largest box you have and securely consolidate recycling for disposal so it won’t fly away before the recycling truck arrives.
Please promptly pick up your trash if an animal breaks into your bags or loose trash/recycling is blown about. It is not a responsibility of Board members to clean up after residents who haven’t properly secured their trash.
Tree work coming soon
We recently asked The Arborist to inspect multiple trees that have dead limbs or obvious root problems. As a result, three dead trees will be removed and a few dead limbs will be removed from the cherry in the circle and one tree behind 4520. A pine tree with some dead limbs behind 4521 will be reinspected next spring to determine if damage near the top is manageable by trimming or if the entire tree must removed. The small cherry in front of 4502 will be removed and replaced after it blooms next year.
Fairfax County sidewalk installation and related improvements delayed
The long-awaited construction project has been delayed until next year due to the long time it took to resolve ownership issues for the drive behind our fence on the west side of our entry. The County was unable to locate the owners of the drive and finally voted to condemn the land for this project. They now expect to start construction of a wide pedestrian sidewalk between the George Mason Library and our neighborhood in January and complete it by September.
What an Architectural Review Board (ARB) inspection covers
An ARB inspection includes items enumerated in the Architectural Guidelines document and obvious defects that violate the requirement to maintain the exterior of a home in good condition. The purpose of the ARB is to advocate architectural harmony in the neighborhood through the use of uniform color palettes, common design aesthetics, and encouraging a standard of good repair for damaged or poorly maintained properties. The Architectural Guidelines implement architectural and exterior design restrictions and requirements found in the Declaration and Bylaws (D&B) that everyone is provided when they purchase a home in Little River Mews, and address emergent technologies and logistical challenges impacting visible exterior work that were unknown at the time the D&B was created.
An ARB inspection does not address legal requirements under the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code or Fairfax County Code. It also does not generally cite requirements under fire safety codes and health codes or changes in electrical and plumbing codes, or anything entirely inside of a home. For compliance information related to legal requirements regarding your property, it is your responsibility to research and apply them to your situation. To learn about residential codes that apply in Virginia consult the code at https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/VRC2018P2 – navigate with left pane of screen.
Handrails – they were there for a reason
A little over a third of the homes in the Mews have or once had railings installed on their stairs. With few exceptions, the railings were installed because there is a legal requirement for railings if there are four rises of stairs in front of the home (a starting level plus 3 steps plus a landing level = four steps up from the ground). A series of one or two steps interrupted by a platform level does not require a handrail, hence the large number of homes with only a step or two and multiple platforms between the street and their front door. You can tell if your home used to have a railing by looking at the bottom step and upper platform on the right front corner. If there is hole or evidence of one being filled in, then your home had a handrail and probably should still have one. The ARB won’t cite the missing handrails because we are not code enforcers but will let you know if one is loose (not in good repair as required by the D&B). You run a risk of being held liable if someone is injured because you are missing a handrail that is required by code.
Stairs should also be uniform in height, level and meet height, depth and width measurements. Repairs of entry stairs should be performed by professionals who have the correct equipment and materials to meet code requirements.
- Per https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/landdevelopment/codes-and-standards :
"Fairfax County is required to enforce the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) and the Statewide Fire Prevention Code (SFPC). Both codes are administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and reference the 2018 International Codes as published by the International Code Council."
- 2018 Virginia Residential Code:
- See: R311.7.5 Stair treads and risers.
- EXAMPLE SECTION:
Handrails shall be provided on not less than one side of each flight of stairs with four or more risers.”
Know your plumbing
(Home improvement tips from Pamela Rinehart)
Leaks can be costly. A dripping faucet can turn into an overnight torrent, and leaking toilets can end up flooding or damaging a floor. It’s fairly easy to replace a leaking toilet flapper, and usually doesn’t take a brain surgeon to replace the flush valve, but if you are not comfortable doing so, then call a plumber or handyman for the simple stuff - you don’t want to be left holding onto an improperly installed valve on a waterline that is gushing ice cold water at full pressure. Toilet flappers tend to wear quickly, usually not lasting more than a few years at most. Flush valves can last longer but are sometimes difficult to remove. Slow (or fast) leaks do not just increase your water bill - they can also cause a lot of damage including mold growth if they aren’t detected in time. Insurance companies recommend the use of water alarms to monitor difficult to access piping, valves and joints that are common sources of pipe leaks.
The homes in this neighborhood were initially constructed with a type of plastic plumbing called PB (polybutylene) that is no longer sold because it becomes brittle and subject to ruptures and leaking joints and valves. Replacement with new plumbing materials has sometimes been incomplete – plumbers avoided replacement of difficult to access stretches of plumbing in floors and inaccessible walls, and you may find a mixture of copper (most expensive and most durable – lasts 50 to 70 years and favored for shower valve and hot water tank installations), PEX (most flexible and cheapest to install but lasts only 20 years and that is only if there are no mice nibbling on it), PVC (fairly inexpensive but rigid and lasts about 50 years), and even remnants of the dreaded the gray PB plumbing in your home. PEX (cross-linked polyethylene usually blue) is prized by plumbers because it is flexible but it attracts rodents that like to chew on the material. PVC is not attractive to rodents and should last for up to 50 years if maintained in good condition.
Do you have an ice maker in your refrigerator?
(Home improvement tips from Pamela Rinehart)
If you’ve had that refrigerator for a while and have to replace it, you may be shocked to find that you need a valve added immediately behind the refrigerator if they put the old valve too far away. Of course that also means that you need a plumber in addition to an installer for a new refrigerator that has an ice maker. Same thing goes for a dishwasher. Older installations often feed off of the same valve used for the sink faucet. New installations require dishwashers to be connected to their own under sink valve.
While we are at it – make sure that you turn off your icemaker if you leave for vacation. I once had one overheat and melt the inside of the freezer compartment in a brand new refrigerator. It’s a good idea to unplug any “always on” electrical devices like televisions (refrigerator and freezer excepted) if you are going to be gone for a while (one started letting out puffs of smoke just after I entered a room) and never leave laptops, cell phones, etc. plugged into chargers and unattended or resting on flammable materials – you never know when one of those lithium ion batteries will go up in smoke.
Is it time to replace your electrical panel or your outlets and switches?
(Home improvement tips from Pamela Rinehart)
Electricians recommend regular inspections of electrical panels as well as switches and outlets. Here’s why – they wear out from use and can cause failures or even fires. I should know, I was trying to find the source of a buzzing noise one morning and caught an electrical panel just as it burst into flames in 2015. Ended up replacing the panel with a larger one that had room for future expansion (insurance covered most of it because there were visible flames) and had them install a robust whole-house surge suppressor to protect against lightning strikes, of which there have been a few in the neighborhood. This past year I called my electrician to schedule installation of some new bathroom fans, lights and switches and to check out a couple of faulty switches and outlets. Turns out they tend to wear out and 15 to 20 years of use is about all you can expect out of them. My electrician offered a whole house special to replace 50 outlets and switches for a low fixed price (low compared to the cost of doing individual outlets). In the course of making replacements he found that my kitchen, bathrooms and exterior outlets were not up to code. I ended up needing 7 new GFI (Ground Fault Interrupt) outlets because the electrical code had changed that much since the time these houses were built. While at it, I had him wire a couple of dedicated circuits in my expanded electrical panel for home computer equipment and install a new LED light fixture and dimmable light switch to get rid of an old fluorescent kitchen light.
Save money on heating and air conditioning costs
(Home improvement tips from Pamela Rinehart)
Have regular inspections of your heat pump and furnace. Newer furnaces (and refrigerators) no longer use freon and most HVAC companies will not replace leaked freon in older units. If your heat pump is working inefficiently, the cost of running it can easily be two to four times what it should be. Shop around before your system breaks down or you could end up needing an emergency replacement that costs more. Quoted prices for replacements can range from $7,500 to over $12,000.
Our financial audit for last year was completed and detected no problems.
Keep your porch lights on at night
Lights by front doors should be turned on every night for safety and visibility in the neighborhood. Motion sensors are OK. Lights at back of houses are not required to be on but enhance neighborhood safety.
Board of Directors
President: Pamela Rinehart
Vice President: Karyn Selko
Secretary: Pam Broberg
Member at Large: Bob Estadt
Member at Large: Jessica Miller
Our management company is Northern Virginia Management, 4306 Evergreen Lane, Suite 101, Annandale 22003. For any issues, please email email@example.com.
REMINDER – All exterior painting and staining projects require an ARB review of color selections and approval prior to painting.