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What Every Homeowner Must Know

General Expertise, Home Maintenance
By on Apr 4, 2016
What Every Homeowner Must Know

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Home ownership gives you a space to entertain, create and relax. But, it also comes with challenges and things that inevitably go wrong. Problems can go from small to large quickly, so it’s important to know in the ins-and-outs of your home before an issue occurs.

How well do you know the water system in your home? If the lights go out, what should you do? What is your current home security like? These are all questions that could have time and money-saving solutions. Here are a few things all homeowners must know.

Home Security

Secure Your Home

Though anything can happen, you should be taking all the steps necessary to prevent break-ins. Many homeowners choose a home security system to give them peace-of-mind. However, burglars can disarm the home by cutting the wires. Know if your system is wireless, and if not, work to conceal your cords and telephone lines.

Regardless if you own a security system, there are still plenty of things you should understand about your home to prevent a break-in. It may sound simple, but start with checking the locks on your doors and windows. According to SafeWise, 30% of burglaries occur due to an unlocked door or window. Ensure all your exterior doors have sturdy, pick resistant locks and deadbolts. Condition matters as well. Older doors can be popped off the frame and certain types of windows such as double hung or sliders can easily be opened. Understanding your home’s safety features will help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your belongings.

Locate Shut-Offs Valves

Two things you must know are where the gas shutoff and water shutoff valves are located. Many homeowners will wait for a plumbing or gas emergency and try to find where these are located. Save yourself time and frustration by locating them today.

Appliances and plumbing utilities have individual valves that shut off the water to that location. Inspect and take note of where they are. For bigger issues, you may need to locate the main supply to prevent further damage. Every home is different and each city has different codes that must be abided by, so there is no standard location. Here are a few places to start.

  • Water mains are typically located in a basement towards the front of the house or outside wall near utilities. Take caution if you have a sprinkler system in your home, as there could be a secondary shutoff.
  • Gas mains are typically located near the gas meter, outside of the home on the front or side. Homes with natural gas will have one on either side. If you suspect a gas leak, do not shut off on your own. Exit the house and call 911.

Breaker Box

Operate A Breaker Box

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When the lights go off and appliances stop running suddenly, you have tripped a circuit. Get to know your breaker box and where it’s located. Every home is different but it will likely be in a garage, basement or near other utilities. Keep a flashlight nearby wherever it’s located so if the lights do go out, you can see the box well enough to reset.

Know what rooms are connected to what circuit breaker panel so when the circuit is tripped, you can restore power to the appropriate area of your home. If your panel is not appropriately labeled, do it now. It’s best to label by items rather than by room. Start by listing off all items in your home that utilize your home’s electricity, such as smoke detectors and home automation systems. Then, turn off a single breaker and check to see what is dead. As tedious as this process may be, it’s important to know when needed. If you suspect something is wrong with your panel, call a pro.

Wood Rot

Recognize Wood Rot

You can protect your home and your family by knowing how to recognize wood rot. Wet and dry rot can both impact your home and if left unattended, causes serious damage.

Wet rot occurs when water regularly impacts the wood. This rot stays contained in one area and can easily be taken care of depending on where the water source is coming from. This happens due to a lack of shielding, such as loose siding, a leaking roof or a lack of paint maintenance. Check your windows and door frames, as these tend to be areas where wet rot occurs. There are many types of wet rot, but here are some common signs to look for.

  • When touched, dried rot will easily crack
  • Black fungus growing on wood
  • Darker than surrounding wood
  • Soft and spongy feel

Dry rot is caused by a species of fungi that destroys wood and attract insects, such as termites. Check areas of your home that may have contact with water, such as decks, basements and around plumbing. Here are some common signs your home may have dry rot.

  • Musty smell
  • Peeling paint
  • Wood that is soft to the touch
  • Bubbles in wallpaper
  • Color changes such as a white or gray cotton-like appearance around the wood with some orange discoloration
  • Will crumble in your hand

If dry rot is identified, get it fixed right away, as it can spread quickly. By identifying early, you can remove the source and eliminate any further damage to your home.

Contact a Pro

When to Contact A Pro

There will be projects you work on and problems that may occur in your home. It’s easy to find instructions on YouTube or Pinterest and find the best DIY solution. But when it comes to your personal health and safety, every homeowner must know when it’s time to call a pro. They bring specific knowledge and expertise to find the best solution and results.

Know your limits and don’t wait if there is a home emergency. When dealing with a gas, electric or plumbing issue, a mistake could cause a bigger problem, so leave it to the pros.


By understanding your home, you prepare yourself for any occurrence. With so many things to remember, it’s best to create a “cheat sheet” with notes of these items and important numbers, so if something does happen, you’re prepared. Updating this sheet could be a part of your home maintenance checklist . Include notes on simple fixes so you have instructions handy if you forget a step in midst of the situation.

Is there anything you think is important to know? Let us know in the comments below.

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