Moving into a new house comes with a lot of emotions. There is the elation of being a homeowner, the anticipation of making new memories, and the overwhelming fear that you may not know how to take care of your largest investment. In fact, 86 percent of homeowners say they have had at least one home repair to address since moving in.
Fortunately, we can help make your transition into homeownership a little easier with the top 10 home maintenance tips every first-time homeowner needs to know!
Smoke alarms have expiration dates
All smoke alarms, battery-operated or hard-wired, need to be replaced every ten years. If you are not moving into new construction, you will need to check the expiration date on your alarms. (It’s also a good idea to check new home’s alarms, too, just in case!) If the dates are missing or illegible, err on the side of caution and replace the units ASAP.
Also, make sure to test your smoke alarms once a month, and while you’re at it, test your carbon monoxide detectors, too!
Upgrade your home security system
Though the previous homeowners handed over their keys, you may not know how many other people have keys to your new home, too. Change all the exterior door locks, and consider hiring a locksmith to rekey all your locks. This way, you’ll only need one key for all doors.
Also, don’t forget to check all the window locks. If you notice any of these are broken, get them fixed immediately. You never know how or why the lock broke.
Finally, you may want to add a few smart home tech devices, such as keyless entry system, motion-detection lights, and cameras. Consider installing a video doorbell, so you know who is at your front door and when.
Locate you shut-off valves and electrical panel
Your inspector might have shown you where your breaker box is, but are you sure you remember? Once you move in, familiarize yourself with the important parts of your home - the water shut-off valve, gas shut-off valve, and electrical panel.
With your gas shut-off valve, make sure you know how to turn it off. Some older models may require a wrench to close the valve. If you have any questions, contact your utility company.
An emergency is not the time to go searching for the switch you need. Make sure you really know your electrical panel and check the labels. If your panel is not labeled correctly (or at all), be sure to update it, so you know you’re turning off the right switch at the right time.
If you don’t have an automatic water shut-off valve yet, you might want to consider installing one. An automatic water shut-off valve can turn your water off even if you’re not home, preventing major flooding and saving you money. Most also send an alert to an app on your phone, so you know when there’s a problem.
Complete everyday maintenance tasks
The seller’s disclosure or the home inspection report may provide you with important information, such as the age of your HVAC and the last time the roof was replaced. Unfortunately, it won’t reveal the last time everyday maintenance tasks were completed.
You won’t know the last time the HVAC air filters were replaced. You won’t know when the plumbing fixtures were last checked for leaks or when the dryer vent was last cleaned. You’ll even be in the dark about the last time the previous owners changed their light bulbs.
The best thing you can do to make sure your new home and family are safe is to complete routine annual home maintenance tasks. These include getting your HVAC serviced and scheduling an annual plumbing inspection.
Perform a deep cleaning
A lot of life has happened on those carpets and in that house before you moved in. Doing a deep clean ensures that you are starting your new home life on the most hygienic foot possible.
Steam clean carpets to help get rid of pet hair, smoke, spills, and stains. Clean all appliances that have been left by the previous owners. (You never know how well they were cleaned before your arrival.) If you’re not up to the task or don’t want to add another item to your to-do list, hire a professional cleaner.
Save money with easy upgrades
You’ve just shelled out a lot of money for your new home, so it’s important that you look for places to save. Investing in a programmable or smart thermostat is an easy way to save on your utility bills. Another quick way is upgrading all your lighting to LED bulbs. Not only are these bulbs more energy efficient than incandescent ones, but they also last years longer. (LED bulbs also help to prevent home fires since they don’t produce as much heat as other light bulbs.)
If you need to replace any appliances, be sure to buy ENERGY-STAR rated models, which can save energy, water, and money!
Get your emergency kit together
You never know when a disaster will strike. It might be a power outage, a bad storm, or another calamity. You might not want to think about the worst-case scenario, but it is important to plan for it. Put together an emergency kit that includes items such as a first-aid kit, flashlight, important phone numbers, an extra charger, potable water, extra blankets, and whatever else you would need to help stay safe during an emergency.
Save for the future
No matter how perfect your home is right now, you will always need to do maintenance on it. Experts recommend saving 1%-4% of your home’s purchase price annually. However, check your home inspection report and seller’s disclosure to see if you should save a bit more for upcoming large purchases, e.g. a new roof. This may sound like a lot, but remember - it is less expensive to maintain your home than it is to fix major issues.
Meet your neighbors
Being a part of a neighborhood can be fun, and it can also make your home safer. Neighbors can check your home or collect mail while you’re away. Many also notice if someone was in your house who isn’t you, and if you have pets, they may be able to tell first responders where they are if you’re not home during an emergency
Download the FMI HomeAssist app!
Wouldn’t you feel better prepared for homeownership with a personalized home management app? FMI heard you, which is why we offer FMI HomeAssist, powered by vipHomeLink. This is a free app and service, exclusively for FMI policyholders, that allows you to organize, maintain, and improve your home all from one easy-to-use, intuitive app.
From personalized maintenance reminders to keeping all your documents and info in one secure location, HomeAssist is your go-to resource for protecting your home and preventing costly claims. It’s one more way FMI goes the extra mile to help keep you and your loved ones safe.
Claim your personalized FMI HomeAssist app and help protect your home!
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