Important Stuff Every Homeowner Should Know
Getting Acquainted WIth Your Home
You just bought a home! Congratulations! You’re excited and can’t wait to move in, especially if this is your first home. You want to paint and decorate it. Maybe buy some new furniture. Of course, you want to turn your new digs into a home you will appreciate every single minute in the years to come. Kate and I felt the same when we bought our first home.
But in all the enthusiasm, there are some aspects of your home you should familiarize yourself with from your first day, for your safety and peace of mind. There are also a couple of new home chores you want to take care of that need to be on the very top of the to-do list.
Change the Locks
I’m often amazed at how many new homeowners do not change the locks before or as soon as possible after they move in. It would be best if you prepared to do this before you close on your house. Even when you have met the former owners and think they would never hold back a key, you have no idea how many other keys may be circulating or who may have them. If you want to save some coin, you can buy a rekeying kit. You could also change the locks yourself (it’s easy) or have a handyman perform the task.
Change the Garage Door Code
For the same reasons you would change the locks, you should also reprogram the access code on your automatic garage door opener. Once you have your home secured against unauthorized entry, you will sleep more soundly.
Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Test all your smoke detectors. I would also suggest replacing the batteries and that way you shouldn’t have to worry about them for a year. If the unit is old, it might be wise to replace it. The recommendation for replacement is every ten years.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas. It’s colorless and odorless and may be produced in the home by furnaces, water heaters, and fireplaces. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission finds that more than 150 people die in America every year from accidental Carbon monoxide poisoning. If your new home doesn’t have them, and you are replacing any smoke detectors, models are available that perform both smoke and CO monitoring.
Have an Escape Plan
While we are on the subject of smoke detectors, should there ever be a fire in your home, you want to know the best way to get everyone out safely. Determine the nearest exit to every bedroom in case of fire or other emergencies. Having a plan will help to ease panic and help you keep a clear head when you need it most.
The Fire Extinguisher
If no one bought you one for a housewarming gift than put this necessity at the top of your shopping list. Kitchen fires can flare up quickly. All it takes is overheating some cooking oil and whoosh! Don’t forget to learn how to use it. It might be a great idea to buy one for the basement and the garage as well.
Your Electric Control Panel
It’s an excellent idea to know where your electric breaker box lives. In most homes, you will find it in the basement, but it could also be in the garage, or even outside in the vicinity of the electric meter. If you are doing anything that involves electric power beyond plugging something in you should shut off the power. The same holds if you see sparks from an electrical outlet or an appliance.
If a pipe bursts, you need to know how to shut the water off pronto. The longer it takes to stop the flow of water the more damage will occur. Locate the main water valve, the vales for each toilet and each sink in your home as well.
The main water valve is usually found near the water heater and should have a bright red handle. All that is requires is a clockwise turn of the handle to shut off the water supply to your home. The shutoff for your toilet is an oval-shaped knob located below the tank. You will find shutoffs for the sinks in the cabinet below. A clockwise turn of the valves as far as they go will shut off the water.
The HVAC System
Determine what type of air filters you need for your system by checking out the HVAC Manual. You might want to keep a couple on hand. If you have pets or allergies, it is recommended you change the filter every month. Otherwise, a minimum of every season. Getting the right filter size is essential for optimum efficiency and effectiveness.
Also, check when your system last had service. To be sure your furnace will keep you warm in winter and your air conditioner comfortably cool in summer service should occur twice a year, optimally in fall and spring.
Find the closest hospital that offers emergency medical care. If you have pets, locate the nearest emergency veterinary as well.
There is an abbreviated but critical list of things you need to learn about your new home. Some of it might be sobering, but with four young boys and a couple of dogs I can tell you I have faced my share of home emergencies, and when they happen, the atmosphere can become chaotic very quickly. Knowing what you need to do and how to do it can stop a small issue from resulting in significant damage.
As always, thanks for reading my post. If you have any questions, you know where to find me.