You are your home’s best ally. Gaining familiarity with all of your home’s features helps you tackle minor nuisances before they escalate to big-time problems.
Take the time to learn more about your home’s major systems, with an eye on the following features:
- Circuit breaker box: Most modern homes are equipped with breaker boxes. Open up your home’s breaker box and take a careful look. Your breakers should be labeled so that you know which one controls the different parts of your home. A power overload can “trip” a breaker, which will shut off power to a limited area. When that occurs, you’ll need to reset the breaker.
- Shutoff valves: Find your water and natural gas shutoff valves in case you ever need to turn them off. Your gas shutoff valve is typically located outside your home. You can use a crescent or pipe wrench to turn off the gas in case of an emergency. Turning off your gas isn’t usually necessary unless you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line or suspect a gas leak. The water shutoff valve is normally located in a home’s basement or an outside wall in a utility area of the house. Turning off the valve cuts off the water supply to the entire house. If you’re doing plumbing repairs or have a frozen water supply line, you’ll want to turn off your water supply.
- Thermostat for water heater: Also take a minute to check the thermostat on your water heater. The thermostat controls the temperature of the water in the tank. Lowering the thermostat can be a good idea for parents with young children or for those interested in energy savings. EnergyStar.gov recommends setting your water heater thermostat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to save on energy usage and utility bills.
- Review warranties/manuals: Check to see if the previous homeowners left behind a stack of user manuals for your home’s major appliances. Otherwise, you can also find a lot of appliance manuals online. These manuals can provide a wealth of data about the features and recommended maintenance of your appliances. They may also let you know if your appliances are covered by warranties.
- Review the inspection report: Also take another look at the home inspection report after moving into your new home. Go through each item on the report and make a decision about how to proceed with recommended repairs.