Save On Costly Repairs And Maintenance With These Fundamental Skills

There’s a lot of freedom in owning your own home; but a lot of responsibility, too. Renters have the luxury of calling the landlord or maintenance staff when something goes out or is in need of repair. When you own your own home and something breaks or stops working, the responsibility of the repair falls on your shoulders.

But don’t let that keep you from becoming a homeowner. Take some time to brush up on this list of essential skills every new homeowner should have. Are there skills on this list you haven’t quite grasped yet? There’s no better time to learn than now.

How to Change Air Filters — Minimize dust in your home and keep your A/C unit running efficiently by regularly swapping out dingy air filters for new ones. If your home is a new build, change air filters every two to three weeks at first to help filter out any remaining drywall dust. Then you can step back to changing filters every three to six months, unless you have pets or allergies. If that’s the case, it’s recommended to swap air filters every 30 to 90 days. Check out automatic delivery services like Amazon or FilterEasy to send you new air filters at a predetermined frequency.

How to Shut Off Water — Water damage is a leading cause of damage inside homes, but knowing how to quickly shut off water in the event of a pipe burst can help prevent flooding that could cost you thousands in repairs. Ask a plumber or other knowledgeable source to show you where the main water valve is in your home and know how to turn of water to individual appliances like your washing machine and toilets.

How to Fix a Running Toilet — Think your water bills are high? Check your toilets. Running toilets can waste hundreds of gallons of water each month, costing you quite a bit more on your monthly water bill. A running toilet is usually a sign of a problem with the flapper, chain or float. Check out this “how-to” article that explains how to diagnose and repair your toilet problems.

How to Unclog Drains — This is another important skill to have when it comes to avoiding water leaks or flooding in your home. A clogged sink, shower or bath drain can be a hassle, but can also result in water overflowing onto your cabinets and floors. Drains can be unclogged using a chemical drain cleaner like Drano, or by inserting a drain snake into the drain to remove what’s blocking it. To help prevent drains from clogging in the first place, regularly remove stray hair from drains.

How to Change Water Heater Temperature — Does your water get too hot? Or maybe it’s not hot enough? Control the maximum temp of water by adjusting the temperature on the water heater. The default setting is generally 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but in most cases, there’s no need to have it set above 120. A lower temperature setting won’t just prevent you or your little ones from being burned by scalding water; it can also slow mineral buildup and corrosion in the heater and pipes and may even save you a little ($10 to $30 per 10-degree reduction) on your annual energy bill.

How to Turn Off Gas — Just as it’s important to know how to shut off water, it’s also essential that all homeowners with gas run to their home know how to turn it off at the first sign of a gas problem. If you smell gas or suspect another problem, call the gas company, and then locate the shut-off valve (usually located at the meter) and turn gas off until the problem can be inspected and rectified. You’ll probably need an adjustable wrench to operate the shut-off valve.

How to Reset the Circuit Breaker — Circuit breakers supply power to appliances and lighting in every room in your home and can occasionally shut off if it becomes overloaded. In most cases, if you find outlets in your home aren’t working, it’s simply the result of a “tripped” breaker. Locate the breaker panel (often found in the utility room or garage) and look for the breaker that’s sitting in the “off” position, or simply look for the switch that is flipped the opposite direction as other switches on the panel. Flip it back to “on” and everything should be back in working order. Can’t locate the problem breaker? Go through the panel and turn each one off and then back on.

How to Find a Wall Stud — Before you go hanging heavy objects on the wall, it’s important to locate a stud behind the drywall to give you a stable and secure mounting point for your TV, shelves, mirror or other heavy items. Pick up a $10 stud finder at your local hardware store to help you locate the boards, which are almost always spaced 16 or 24 inches apart.

How to Clean Your Gutters — The gutters on your home can help prevent water damage to the wood trim or siding of your house, but if the gutters are clogged with leaves or other debris, you risk water runoff that can cause expensive damage. Check your gutters twice a year and remove any debris you find. Be sure to wear long sleeves and gloves, and you may even want protective goggles and a mask. Once the debris has been removed, rinse gutters and downspouts using a high-pressure water hose.

How to Repair Drywall — If you have kids — and even if you don’t — you may be familiar with how quickly an interior wall can become damaged by rambunctious play.  In that case, knowing how to repair drywall can save you a bundle on repairs. If your walls have dents, dings or small holes, all you need is a little putty and a spackling knife to make them look good as new again. Larger holes can also be repaired using a patch of scrap drywall or a pre-cut patch.

How to Apply Caulk — Keep your home airtight (and your energy bill from running sky high) by applying caulk around windows and doors where air might flow between your home and the outdoors. Caulk can also help prevent water leaks. For the best long-lasting seal, choose silicone caulk that is waterproof, flexible, shrink proof and crack proof. Start by removing old caulk with a utility knife and carefully cleaning the surface. Apply a link of new caulk with a caulking gun to a dry surface and use a wet finger to smooth the line when you’re done.

How to Maintain Appliances — Save the manuals for all appliances and read up on routine maintenance to keep your appliances in tip-top shape. Some regular maintenance tasks include cleaning your oven (or running the self-clean feature) and changing the water filter on your refrigerator’s water dispenser/ice maker. You’ll also want to know how to remove lint buildup from the duct that runs from your dryer outside your home, how to clean the dishwasher filter or trap and how to unclog the garbage disposal.

Now that you’ve got the skills, are you ready to own your own home? Contact a friendly lending professional at PrimeLending today to help you get into the home of your dreams.

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