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Things You Need to Know About Your Home


Knowing these five things about your home can save you lots of money and troubles:

Where the Shut Offs Are Located

Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Make sure everyone in your household knows where the shut offs are for the water, gas and electric and how they work. In the event of a mechanical failure or an emergency, shutting things down quickly could help you to avoid a fire, flood or even an explosion, and ultimately protect your home and family from danger.

The Age of Your Appliances and Systems

Do a bit of digging to determine the age of all of the appliances and major systems in your home. This includes your roof, HVAC unit, hot water heater, sump pump, washer and dryer, refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, freezer and anything else that you may have. Then, look up the typical life expectancy of those items over at Consumer Reports, and use this information to predict when you're likely to have to replace things, so you can come up with a plan to have enough money saved by then.

If Your Smoke Detectors are in Working Order

Having smoke detectors in your home isn't enough to ensure your family's safety. To keep them in proper working order, they need to be tested monthly, cleaned regularly and to have the batteries replaced at least once a year. They should also be replaced every 10 years, as they do eventually wear out.

Have appliances or systems in your home that run off of wood, gas, oil or another non-electric fuel? Then, you also need carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure you have the right number for your home. Then, follow the instructions that they come with them to stay on top of their testing and maintenance.

What's Inside Your Walls

A pretty exterior can hide all sorts of ills. If you had a home inspection when you bought your house, pull it out; and review what was said about your home (you may catch things that you overlooked before). Is the wiring old? What about the plumbing? Were there signs of current leaks? Drainage issues? Termites? Knowing these things can help you catch safety issues before they become a problem and help you to plan for repairs that seem inevitable.

Has it been a while since you bought your house? Consider spending a few hundred dollars on another home inspection. Things change over time, and a trained professional may catch a serious issue that you've overlooked. This is an especially good idea, if you've done a lot of work on your house.

When a Problem is a Big Deal

Some repairs can be put off. Others can't. Learn how to size up the situation, so you don't procrastinate your way into a much bigger and costlier repair later on:

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