When it comes to do-it-yourself home maintenance, we have entered somewhat of a paradoxical era. Never before has so much information about the home and the basic tasks needed to maintain it been so readily available, and yet it seems that fewer and fewer homeowners have a clue as to how their homes actually work. We can blame this on a number of factors, including the increasing complexity of our homes and systems, the myriad other demands on our time and even the phasing out of such vocational courses as shop and home economics in the typical American high schools. Whatever the causes, the time has come for prospective homeowners to develop at least a basic level of home maintenance IQ before taking the plunge.
Much like a driver’s test ensures some basic competency before setting a new driver loose on the roads, a home IQ test would give homebuyers a simple roadmap to living safely in their new purchase. By learning a few simple, tool-free, checks and repairs, homeowners can potentially save themselves hundreds of dollars in contractor fees not to mention significant headaches. With that said, here are the critical items that we think every new homeowner should know:
- Where is the breaker panel, how can you determine if a breaker has tripped, how do you re-set a breaker?
- Where is the main water shut off valve for the house and for each fixture (toilet, faucet, etc)?
- What is a GFCI outlet, how does it work and what does it control?
- What are the model and serial numbers for every appliance in the house (the easy thing to do is keep a notebook with this information)?
- What was the install date for the major systems (HVAC, water heater)?
I addition to being able to answer these questions, homeowners should commit to performing these simple maintenance tasks:
- Operate all shut off valves at least once a year to make sure they work
- Turn off water to outside hose bibs in late fall if in colder climate to prevent frozen pipes
- Test all smoke detectors regularly and replace batteries twice a year if you don’t have the new 10-year sealed batteries
- Change furnace filters regularly (schedule dictated by the type of filters)
Armed with these basics, even the most clueless homeowner should be able to enjoy their new home with confidence.
Beyond the basics, you may want to utilize a trusted home maintenance service provider like Hassle Free Home Services. Feel free to contact us at 301-294-9444 for a customized, in-home estimate, or use our Quick Quote calculator. We’ve been serving Washington DC, Suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia since 2004.