New homes can be scary. But when you take the time to think about it, and plan ahead, maintaining a home is easier than you think – a manageable mix of experience and common sense. Here are five skills that will help maintain your new home for years to come.
Fixing A Toilet
It's not as daunting as it sounds. Just remember that toilets work with gravity – the water wants to flow freely. Don't be afraid to open that tank up and adjust the floater and valves as needed. Occasionally run the water (flush the toilet, turn on the sink) in unused rooms, like the guest bathroom, to keep the pipes clear and functioning.
Dealing With Animals
Sometimes your animal neighbors invite themselves in. While it's always better to use professionals if you have a large-scale or persistent pest problem, there are steps you can take to minimize animal visitors before it comes to that. Check for termites by looking for raised, hollow tubes along the wood (tubes filled with bugs). If you have mice, and know how they're getting in, block their holes with steel wool and set friendly traps – ones that capture instead of kill. But make sure to release the captives far from your home.
Electricity and Water Awareness
Know how to shut off your electricity and water, just in case. Find the shut-offs when you first move in. And take the time then to test the breakers and label them, clearly, directly, with permanent marker. That way there is no confusion if one gets tripped.
A Regular Deep Clean
On a regular basis, give your house a deep clean. Scrub the bathrooms, clean the kitchen appliances and floors/walls. Doing this will not only prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime, which could lead to bigger problems later on, but will also give you a chance to do a run-down of your house and see what needs fixing/updating/replacing.
Gather your home maintenance kit (Home Maintenance for Dummies has examples) before you need it, and keep it up – if you use all the nails, replace them. It's also a good idea to make a maintenance calendar with notes on what needs to be done when – this makes it easy for the homeowner, and anyone they need to step in. Finally, in being prepared, don't forget to maintain your fire and carbon monoxide detectors with regular checks and battery changes (suggested every six months, regardless of battery life).
Your first step in preparation is to contact your local real estate agent, who can help you get started on your road to home maintenance.