Wednesday, May 02, 2007

10 Things a New Homeowner Should Know

Congratulations.. you just bought your first house... but there are some things you really need to know before you open the door. Most of us were renters before we bought a home. When you moved in you got a key and a number to call if you had any problems. Many landlords wouldn't make repairs and we lived in some bad conditions. Sometime we didn't call because we were afraid they would raise the rent if we had too many problems. Often we didn't realize there was a problem and just lived with a leaky tap or electric outlets that didn't work.

Now that you are a homeowner you need to know more about owning a home then how to turn on the lights. Home ownership is wonderful but it can also be a lot of work. The biggest mistake new owners make is not knowing when there is a problem. The second mistake is not taking care of small problems before they become major problems. A leaky faucet may cost $40 to repair. A water leak that goes unrepaired and causes a mold problem could cost $10,000 to repair.

The following is a list of what I think are 10 things that I think every homeowner should know about their home.

Basic Things All Homeowners Should Know:

1. Smoke or anything that smells like smoke or burning rubber is bad... very bad. If you can't find the source call someone who can.

2. Water on the interior should never be found anywhere inside the home other then in a sink, tub or toilet. Water gets into the house via pipes that are inside the walls. You should never see water coming from the ceiling or a wall surface. Water should not enter the house through windows, vents or from the floor. All water leaks need to be fixed fast

3.Water on the exterior should only come from rain, a sprinkler or if you physically turn on the hose. It generally doesn't come from a new lake in your front lawn. See #2

4.Gas. You should never smell gas in your home. If you walk into your house and the lights are out and you smell gas.. do not light a candle to see what's leaking. Go outside and call the Gas Company and scream I smell gas.... they will be there before you turn off the phone.

5. Strange odors are not good. If you suddenly smell something that reminds you of a high school chemistry experiment gone bad.. leave the house and refer to #3

6. Fireplaces should be inspected periodically. All fireplaces have a gizmo called a damper. It should always be open. You can check this by looking up the chimney from the interior of the fireplace with a flashlight....if you see daylight you can start a fire. If you do not see daylight and start a fire.. refer to #1 on the list.

7. Clunking and thumping noises should be another item of concern for a new homeowner. This is especially true when they come from pipes that carry water or from your heating system. Call a plumber or furnace repairman. It may be nothing but you are better safe then sorry.

8. Storing stuff..It is never a good idea to store oily rags, cleaning solvents or other flammables near a hot water heater or in your furnace closet. If you do store these items near things with a pilot light.. refer to #1 or #4 on the list.

9. Mold is everywhere. Some mold/mildew is yucky but not necessarily harmful. Generally the stuff that grows in the tub or shower can be killed with a good dose of Bleach. However not all mold is the kind you grew in your chem lab experiment. Where you find mold.. you will also usually find water. Long term water leaks will lead to black furry stuff on walls and in corners... if the walls are wet with a strange odor and a sickly green color you will need to do more then spray bleach. You will call a mold specialist who will charge thousands of dollars to clear the house of the stuff. To avoid this problem refer to # 2.

10. Electricity..Sparks from any electrical outlet are not normal. No matter what the ads say... Duct tape is not the best way to splice two electrical wires or create your own extension cord in the garage. Electricity is tricky and you need to be careful with extension cords and outlet strips. Only licensed electricians should add things to a breaker box or attempt to re-wire a home..

These are just the basics.. there are many more things you will learn as you go along.

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