If you're a first-time homeowner and just got the keys to your new place, your head is likely spinning with thoughts of where you'll place the furniture, what rooms you want to paint and how you'll plant the garden next spring. You're probably not thinking about when to get the septic tank pumped out or how to shut off the smoke alarm after you burn your toast.
Then there's that embarrassing moment when the guy comes to read the water meter, and you have to admit that you don't know where it is.
Over time you will learn all about your new house and how to maintain it. You may want to undertake some renovation projects to make it more energy efficient or suitable for your needs. But in the short-term, here are some basic maintenance jobs that every homeowner should know about.
First, familiarize yourself with where the water, gas and hydro meters are located. In most newer homes they are outside and you don't have to deal with the meter reader, but in some homes they are inside. You may also be asked to read the meters yourself and send the information to the local utility.
When you are exploring your home, find out where the main water valve is located – it's usually right beside the water meter. You need to know where it is if you have any plumbing repairs. If there's an emergency such as a burst pipe, you may need to shut it off in a hurry. It's a good idea to open and close the main valve at least once a year to keep it in good working order.
It should be easy to find the main electrical panel for your home. If you need to shut off the electricity for any reason, the main shut-off is usually in that panel (although it's not a requirement in all municipalities). Each of the circuit breakers or fuses should be labelled so you know what parts of the house they service. Should one become overloaded and blow a fuse or trip the breaker, you'll know immediately where the problem occurred. Make sure there are no water leaks anywhere around the panel. If there's water near the panel, don't go near it – call in professional help.
Many people who accidentally set off their smoke alarms while cooking or showering stop the noise by pulling out the battery. If you forget to replace it, there could be tragic consequences. Some smoke alarms now come with “hush buttons” that turn off the alarm for about 10 seconds – enough to ventilate the area. Otherwise, I know from experience that waving a towel at the alarm generally does the trick. Don't forget to change the batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home twice a year.
If you have a forced-air heating system, the furnace filter should be cleaned or replaced once a month during heating season. The furnace itself must be serviced by a qualified professional once a year.
For homes with heat recovery ventilators, filters should be cleaned at least every two months. This is important to ensure the best indoor air quality in the home. Check the HRV's intake and exhaust hoods outside, making sure the vents are not blocked with leaves, snow or frost build-up. Vacuum the heat exchange core and wash it with soap and water. Once a year you should also vacuum the ductwork leading to and from the HRV. Check the owner's manual of your unit for more information.
At some point soon, you will probably receive an offer from a company that cleans ductwork. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) says that regular duct cleaning is probably unnecessary for most homeowners, but there are exceptions. In new homes or houses that have undergone extensive renovations, there could be enough drywall dust and other material in the ducts that a good cleaning is required. If there's water in the ducts, the problem must be solved and then the ducts should be cleaned and disinfected.
If you see a return air register that looks grungy, you can take off the grill and vacuum as far as you can reach; otherwise, you'll need to call in a professional.
Another job that requires a professional is getting the septic tank pumped out. CMHC says this should happen every three to five years or when one-third of the tank volume is filled with solids, but it really depends on the size of the tank and the amount of household water use. In the province of Quebec, you must have the tank pumped out every two years for a full-time residence and every four years for a seasonal home. Other local regulations may apply.
Some other simple but important maintenance jobs:
- If you have hot water radiators, bleed air from them once a year.
- Range hood filters should be cleaned once a month.
- Vacuum electric baseboard heaters regularly.
- If you use well water, test the well for bacteria every six months.
- Get fireplace and woodstove chimneys cleaned regularly.
- If you have an outside hose connection, turn off the valve before there's danger of frost.
There's lots more that we have not covered here, but CMHC has an extensive home maintenance schedule that will keep you busy all year long. But relax – you don't have to do everything right away, so take some time and enjoy your new home.
This Article Courtesy of Realty Times, Written by Jim Adair and Published September 28th, 2010