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What You Should Know About Your Home

Crystal Barrow

There are so many actions that are required to make sure that your home stays in tip top shape. Being a new home owner requires a huge learning curve.  Even though I have been in my home for a little over a year now I am constantly learning new things to ensure that our home stays together.  We have experienced a few challenges along the way that have made really funny stories and have kept us on our toes. 

1. Locate your gas shutoff valve.

  • Most gas appliances have a gas shutoff valve near it.  We had to turn off the gas when we were installing our dryer.  The valve was right next to the gas connector for the dryer.  The gas meter and gas shutoff valve are usually located in the front of or to the side of the home which is where ours is located.  The valve shuts off all of the gas in the home. 

2. Know where your water shut off valves are.

  • I learned where my shut off valves were when we had a huge leak in our backyard.  Our dog had discovered the thrill of digging.  He would dig random holes in our backyard.  We would stop him when we saw him but were not too concerned with the holes because we planned on redoing our backyard eventually anyways. Looking back now I probably should have made sure that he wouldn’t be able to damage anything with his digging but I didn’t think of it.  One day he  had dug a large whole next to our sprinkler system which had caused the piping to break.  This caused a huge flood in the backyard.  I had noticed but didn’t know what to do.  I called my water company and they sent someone out to show me where the shut off valve for just the backyard was.  It was on the side of my house.  They also showed me where the water turn off valve was for the house which was in our garage.  The water valve that turned off all of the water for the whole property was close to the side walk.  He told me that is where the water company would usually turn it off if need be.  

3. Know where your breaker box is for the electricity.

  • Our home is about 15 years old.  The previous owner had performed some DIY jobs while they were living here.  When we first moved in, we had to reset some of the different electrical systems on our breaker box.  One time in our kitchen half of the outlets had stopped working.  When my husband reset it on the breaker box it has been fine ever since.  I found it very strange that our breaker box was on the outside of our home.  I was told that is pretty standard for most homes unless they have a basement, then it may be located there.  We keep a lock on our breaker box and know where it is whenever we need it.   Label your breaker box if it isn't already labeled. 

4. Know where your water heater is.

  • Usually water heaters are located either in the garage or in the basement if you have one.  The water heater makes sure there is hot water. If your water is not heating there may be something wrong with your water heater.   Tankless water heaters are often being used in new homes.  They usually have a 20 year warranty.

5. If you have a sprinkler system, know where it is.

  • When we first moved into our home half of the yard was green and the other half was dying.   They would turn on automatically usually in the evening but only half would turn on.  We didn’t know why only half of the sprinklers were working.  We eventually found the manual sprinkler turn on valve under a fake rock which is kind of funny now because it really looked real. So we would manually turn on the other sprinklers in the evening when the other half turned on. It took us a little while to find where our sprinkler system control panel was located.  It was in our garage behind some boxes.  Whoops! Once we found the sprinkler control panel we no longer had to do it manually.  

6. If you have solar, you may have a solar panel control system.

  • We have solar on our home but we do not have a solar panel control.  My mother does have one though in her home which is located in the garage.  Her panel doesn’t really require her to do anything but it had one time turned off after a power outage.  It had to be manually turned back on for her solar panels to work properly.

7. Locate your carbon monoxide and fire detectors.

  • Usually the carbon monoxide and fire detectors beep when they are getting low battery but it is important to make sure they have batteries and are continually on.  Fire detectors are usually high up or in hard to reach areas.  We have one in our room that we are only able to reach with a tall ladder. Make sure you have extra batteries for them so you can change them when needed. 

8. Change your air filters often.

  • Depending on the home there will be different amounts of air filters.  I was honestly really surprised by how often air filters needed to be changed.  We made sure to get the specific measurements for our air filters before we went to buy new ones.  On the air filter packaging it will tell you how often you will need to change the filters.  When I looked it up online it says that normal suburban homes without pets usually need to change the filters every 90 days.  Homes with one pet should be every 60 days.  If you have more than one pet you may need to change the filter every 20 to 45 days.  

9. Have a home warranty and know what your home warranty covers.

  • This is something I wish I had paid more attention to when we first moved in.  We had a home warranty plan so I thought that we would be covered in case of an emergency.  What I didn't know is that the plan we had was extremely basic.  We had our air conditioner go out and needed some repairs to the HVAC so I contacted my home warranty.  They told us that it was not covered so we had to pay out of pocket.  It was summer so we really needed it repaired as soon as possible.  We had to pay a pretty penny for the repair.  After that, I made sure to really shop around for a good home warranty. 

10. Additional Coverage.

  • Gas companies offer insurance coverage for gas and water pipes.  It can be under $5 a month for each.  I called my home warranty provider and was told to get these two inexpensive policies through the gas company.  These policies covered pipe damage that the homeowners insurance did not.  Picking this coverage up is a lot cheaper than if we have an emergency that will be expensive to fix. 

11. Make sure you know who to call in an emergency.

  • Make sure to have a plummer, electrician, home warranty and other emergency contacts saved in your phone just in case. 

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