Purchasing a new home is a big step in anyone’s life, and there are a lot of things to keep in mind even after the sale is complete. There are endless potential issues with any home, many of which can be very costly if not remedied. In this article, we’ll look at 25 things every homeowner should do. Whether you’ve just bought your home, or owned it for years, these items are important to check off your to-do list.
Change The Locks
A good first step every homeowner should do is to take some time to change the locks of their house. The fact is you have no idea who out there might have a key and that’s not something most people are comfortable with.
Luckily, changing the locks is a fairly cheap and quick project that most people can do. Buying a set of locks at the local hardware store is easy enough, and the process takes only a couple of minutes. There are also services out there that can handle the process for you, but will be significantly more expensive.
Check The Attics Insulation
It’s a good idea to check the insulation situation in your attic or other similar spaces. Attics are notorious for lacking proper insulation and that can be a serious waste of money. A little time spent insulating it now can prevent a shock on your heating bill later.
Check for Pests
While you go through the home make sure to keep an eye out for pests. This includes actual sightings, but other things like droppings are another big sign. Figure out what type of pests are in your area, and keep an eye out for common signs of them.
Don’t forget to look for entry points as well. Even small gaps can be enough for mice to get in for example, so be sure to keep an eye out and seal them up.
Take Note Of Your Water Heater
You’ll also want to take note of your water heater, in particular it’s age and model. Older models are less efficient and more likely to break down. If you have an older water heater it would behoove you to start saving for a new one.
If it is time to replace your water heater consider upgrading to a high-efficient heater. These are a bit more expensive upfront, but quickly recoup their cost in their cost to operate.
Install Ceiling Fans In Popular Rooms
A good way to keep costs down is to install ceiling fans in popular rooms. Their ability to move air can help make rooms feel cooler, which ultimately helps reduce your heating bill. This is especially impactful in areas with hot summers.
Upgrade To a Smart Thermostat
If you don’t already, upgrading to a smart thermostat is another good money saving upgrade. Smart thermostats give you a ton of control over heating and cooling schedules, and ultimately this helps save money.
The process for installing them is typically easy and within the abilities for most homeowners. Also, many energy companies give rebates for their purchase, so it’s possible to offset a good portion of the cost.
Replace Your Furnace/AC Filters and get Them Serviced
Your furnace and AC are expensive and important, so make sure to take care of them. You should look to have them serviced at least once per year, and it’s a good idea to do so right after moving in. At the very least, you should be changing their filters to make sure they’re not working harder than they have to. This is quick and easy, but an extremely important part of home maintenance.
Replace Your Fridge Filter
Depending on your fridge/freezer you might have an air filter, water filter, or both. In either case, you should look to change these out every 6 months or so. It’s smart to do so right when you move in and then track from there.
The process is usually easy, but differs depending on the model of your fridge. Most manuals are available online, so it’s easy to figure out what you need to do and which filters you need to buy.
Check All Faucets For Leaks
You’ll want to quickly go through all the sinks and faucets in your home and check for any dripping or leaks. Dripping faucets are a big money waster, and should be fixed ASAP.
Checking the sinks for any leaks is also important to prevent any surprises later on. Simply let them run for a minute and look to see if there’s any sort of water leaking. Unchecked leaks can bring tons of headaches down the road.
Install LED Lighting
If your house has a lot of older light bulbs switching them out for more energy efficient bulbs is a good move. Overall, this is going to help in the long term in reducing your energy bill. Newer, LED style lights are much more energy efficient, and that means less money wasted.
You can also look to add auxiliary lights to help reduce the need for full lighting. Small LED strips for example under cabinets can help illuminate the kitchen without the need for a full scale lightbulb. These types of additions can also help to reduce long term electric bills.
Paint Before You Move In
If you’re looking to paint, try to do so before you move in. It’s way easier to paint a room when you don’t have to worry about moving furniture or other things you have in your home. It’s also much quicker when you cut out all the prep of moving and covering your furniture.
Do a Deep Clean Before You Move in
Much the same as painting, give your house a deep clean before moving in. Without furniture in the way, it’s much easier and quicker to clean. It also ensures you get into all the nooks and crannies that become more difficult to get to with furniture in the home.
Clean Your Dryer Lint Vent
Something that many homeowners neglect is their dry lint vent. A dirty trap can not only ruin the efficiency of your dryer, it can also be a fire risk as dryer lint is extremely flammable. It’s a good idea to do this right when you move in, and then again once a year.
Check the Basement for Signs of Water
If you’ve got a problem with water the most likely area of concern is the basement. This should absolutely be something that is caught during an inspection, but you should remain vigilant even if all looks good as it only takes one big storm to change things.
Efforence is one of the most common signs, but won’t always be present. Make sure to regularly check your basement for signs of water, especially after large storms. If there is water, there are a variety of fixes from grading the surrounding land to cleaning your gutters and many other solutions so it’s important to evaluate the root cause of the water.
Find Shutoff Valves for Water and Gas
This is a quick one, but no less important. Finding the shut offs for your utilities is important as you don’t want to have to worry about finding them when an issue occurs. Nothing is worse than having water streaming into your house and not knowing how to shut if off. Take a few minutes and find the main shutoffs; in the event of an emergency you’ll be more prepared.
Map Out The Breaker Panel
Another fairly simple one, but a bit time consuming, is to map out which fuse controls which areas of your home. This will help immensely when looking to do any sort of work as turning off the electricity is important to many projects.
For this it’s best to have two people and some sort of way to communicate like a cell phone. Get one person to turn off the fuse while the other finds which room it killed the power to. Then, take a small piece of tape and pencil in what area of the house that fuse controls and put the tape next to it. Now, when you’re getting started on projects you can more quickly figure out what controls what.
Lube Garage Door Springs
Something that should be done every so often is to lubricate the garage door springs for a power garage door. While they will naturally break over the years, lubricated one per year will help to extend their life by taking strain off them. It’s quick, but can add time to the lifetime of your garage door.
Clean your Gutters
Having clean gutters is incredibly important as they are key to moving water away from your house. Dirty gutters back up, and then water will naturally enter the ground too close to your home. This can lead to water getting into the foundation which can cause damage, mold, and more.
While you’re at it, check to make sure that the gutters are moving water far enough away from the house. You’ll want water moved at least 4’ away before it enters the ground. If your gutters aren’t long enough extenders are fairly cheap and can help prevent water from entering you home.
Check Smoke Detectors and CO2
Very important! Make sure to walk through the house and test out all the smoke detectors and CO2 detectors. If any aren’t working make sure to switch out the batteries or replace them as soon as possible. This is very cheap to do, and can literally save your life.
Make sure your detectors are CO2 detectors as well as many older ones are only for smoke. CO2 poisoning kills people each year, and is easily preventable if you take appropriate measures to detect it.
Wash The Dishwasher
If you’re noticing some musky smells from your dishwasher giving it a quick wash can prevent that. Washing is easy, and can be done by leaving a small bowl of vinegar and running the dishwasher through a cycle. This will not only remove bad odors, but can also remove grease and grime buildup which can negatively affect your dishwasher.
Weaterstrip Drafty Doors and Windows
No matter your climate, weatherstripping your door and windows can help cut down on energy costs. While a longer term solution is a total replacement, this is expensive and also not entirely necessary. You can get similar energy efficiency with many of the popular weatherproofing options, and at a significantly reduced cost.
Create a Maintenance Schedule
A lot of the above items have a schedule that should be followed in order to keep your house in the best shape. It can be difficult to remember them all, so it’s a good idea to create a home maintenance schedule.
An easy way to do this is simply to create a binder that has all the items you want to accomplish each year, month, or week. You can further break it down by season so you can focus on what you need to get done then.
Create a Lawn and Garden Plan
Another important area that many homeowners are looking to invest some serious time in is their lawn and garden. There are countless things you can do here, so focus on what your goals are, whether that’s a sustainable garden or a lush lawn.
Once you know what you’re looking to accomplish you can create a plan to tackle that. Understand that this can be a huge undertaking, and might take you years to get perfect. That’s okay, no one expects a 5 star lawn to spring up overnight.
Start a List of Future Projects and Prioritize
Most homeowners come into their new home with dreams of all the projects they want to accomplish. Whether you’re looking to do it yourself or hire somebody, there’s certain to be a list of things you want to upgrade or change around the house. For most, doing them all at once is unrealistic, so it’s important to prioritize and plan.
How you plan is up to you. Some like to do it by the level of effort involved, knocking out all the weekend projects first then tackling the bigger ones. Others look at price, and plan out what they can afford and when. Whatever you do is fine, but having a plan is a smart way to stay focused and see the progress you make over the years.
Create an Improvement Budget
Lastly, it’s important to start setting aside some money for all those projects you have in mind. Home improvement is expensive; you’ll thank yourself later if you start putting away money now to handle them. Do what works for you, whether that’s mentally setting aside money in a savings account, or opening a new account solely for your home improvement fund. This is also a good way to stay on budget as you have a set amount you’ve saved up.