Good Habits for a New Home Owner

Are you a new home owner? Congratulations! You got through the mortgage process in one piece. Thankfully, you’re out on the other side – with a new house to boot! You probably want to do everything that you can to make sure that your new house is taken care of so it will last far into the future, don’t you? If that’s the case, then you’ve found the right place. Here are all of the habits you should start today as a new home owner.

Change the Filters

Whether it’s your air conditioner, furnace, drinking water faucet, or even your ice dispenser, make sure you’re changing all of those filters as required. Not only does this keep dust, germs, and bacteria at a minimum, you will also improve energy efficiency, which is good for your home’s long term health.

Save Energy

Speaking of being energy efficient, keep an eye on your home’s energy output and look for ways to reduce it as much as you possibly can. This can be as big of a deal as installing all new appliances or a small thing like swapping incandescent bulbs for LEDs or CFLs. It also includes regular maintenance of energy based appliances such as your HVAC system.

Clean the Gutters

Just because you can’t see the leaves doesn’t mean they don’t exist. One of the most common causes of basement flooding is overstuffed gutters that keep rainwater from exiting the rooftop. You should be sweeping out your gutters once a month and perhaps twice a month from August to April, when the leaves fall and it gets particularly grim outside.

Maintain Curb Appeal

Just because you spend most of your time on the inside doesn’t mean that you don’t have to keep up with the outside. The outside of your house is an extension of the inside, so you should take pride in it. It helps with your resale value, too! Trim your hedges and bushes, add flowers and trees, and keep the grass cut and the weeds pulled.

Check Home Safety Equipment

Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms every month without fail. Change their batteries every six months whether you think they need it or not. Make sure the gauge on the side of your fire extinguisher is in the green. If not, it needs to be replaced. Always replace a fire extinguisher once it’s been used, even if you haven’t used all of the spray.

Change the Locks Every 5 Years

It’s likely that someone out there will have a key to your house if you don’t. Sure, the old owners surrendered their keys to you, but it’s not uncommon for people to make copies of their house keys for the neighbors or their parents. Keep your family safe by re-keying the entire house. Now is also a good time to make sure the locks on all the windows are sturdy. Don’t forget the garage door keypad. Change the keycode on that as well.

Check for Leaks

Ideally your home inspector checked to make sure your house was leak free, but you deserve the peace of mind. Check again. On a weekend that everyone is otherwise busy, turn off the water to the home and after a few hours, check the water meter. If it has changed at all from the time you turned the water off, there’s a leak somewhere. You should do this at least twice a year.

Check Your Water Heater

Look at the temperature on your water heater, especially if you have kids. You don’t want to accidentally scald them. Manufacturers tend to set them way too high for young ones baths, so you can turn it down if you need to. The generally accepted best temperature setting is around 120 degrees.

Clean Your Dryer Hose

You should do this yearly. It doesn’t take long and it isn’t a lot of work. Not doing it can end with your house burnt down. It happens all the time! You don’t know the last time the previous owners did it, so make sure it’s one of the very first things you do. Start your schedule from there.

Clean Your Fridge Coils

Many people don’t even know you have to do this, but it’s an integral part of refrigerator maintenance. Changing the coils makes your fridge run better and last much longer. However, some newer fridges don’t have coils, but you should still check. If you certainly don’t, there’s no need for an annual cleaning.

Emergency Preparedness

Make a plan and update it twice a year. Locate your main water shut off valve (busted pipes are practically a new homeowner initiation rite – it happens to everyone). Find the circuit box, and label all of the breakers. Find the gas shut off valve and show your family where it is. If you have one, test the sump pump, preferably before the rainy season starts. List your emergency contacts and update their information. You should also have and keep updated an emergency supply kit.

Go Through Important Documents

You never know when you’ll have a dispute with your neighbor over property lines. Store copies of all of your important papers relating to your house in a fireproof and waterproof lockbox and hide it like you would a safe. Every six months, drag it out, and go through each paper. If there’s something you don’t need anymore, get rid of it. Add papers that you’ve come into ownership of but haven’t filed yet.

Fertilize or Plant New Grass

This one is great for the spring time. When the nights are still a little chilly, grass will still grow, but weeds won’t. The more grass you have, the less space there is for weeds, crabgrass, and dandelions. You can’t use chemicals such as weed blockers or killers with brand new grass seed, so get started on this each spring as soon as the snow melts.

Sweep Out the Chimney

If you have a fireplace, you have to do maintenance care for it. Every year or so, you should have your chimney swept out. Otherwise, the buildup can start a fire. If you have a wood burning fireplace, get that swept out every time you go through a cord of wood (or every few years, whichever comes first). Don’t wait until the dead of winter to do this, either – schedule it for early Fall.

Boiler and Furnace Clean Out

Before it becomes time to turn on the heat, you should get these two things inspected professionally. Then, handle the regular maintenance on them. If you get oil delivery, your oil company should take care of this for you. With gas, you will have to call your own plumber or heating technician. They will flush out the water in it and then fill it back up a few times. That’s it!

Check for High Water Pressure

There is a line on how high your water pressure should get. Anything over around 75 lbs psi is too much. High water pressure can harm pipes, connections, and appliances alike. It also creates water hammer and wastes massive amounts of water. You can easily check this will a pressure gauge and if needed, fix it with a new pressure reducing valve. They are available at any home center.

Clean Window Weep Holes

Many sliding windows and vinyl replacement windows have weep holes on the outside bottom frame. These holes are meant to drain away rainwater that collects in the frame’s bottom channel. They tend to get plugged up with bugs and debris, which can cause the rainwater to flood over into your house because it has nowhere else to go. You can clean out these holes with a wire hanger or a paperclip.

Clean Out Window Wells

If you have a basement, make sure you do this. A clogged gutter can dump rain water into your window well, causing the leaves to act like a pool liner, preventing drainage. The water level will rise higher and higher until the pressure breaks the basement windows, flooding the basement. There is typically not insurance for this type of flood. You can also buy window well covers to take this job away.

Lube Garage Door Springs

Otherwise, they’ll need replaced a lot sooner. Coat the overhead torsion springs mounted above roller tracks with a garage door lubricant. Obviously, all springs will eventually go bad thanks to corrosion and metal fatigue, but doing this will make them last a lot longer. While you’re at it, lube the rollers, hinges, and track, too.

Check Garage Door Balance

Speaking of garage doors, a properly balanced door is less likely to injure someone and keeps the door opener from working too hard, shortening it’s lifespan. You can check the balance by closing the door then disengaging the opener by pulling the release handle. Manually lift the door about halfway and let go. A properly balanced door will not move. If it falls, the tension needs increased. If it rises, it has too much tension.

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