New homeowners often find there's more to keeping up a house than cutting the grass and clearing snow from the driveway.
As new homeowners, it's a good idea to check your meters on a weekly or monthly basis. This will help you gain an understanding of seasonal increases and decreases in consumption and enable you to take measures to become more energy/water efficient.
The fresh-water system can be completely shut down by closing the main valve, which is usually located in the basement near where the underground water line enters the house. Most lines that branch out from the main line also have individual shut-off valves so water can be turned off to one area without disturbing the flow in another. Most plumbing jobs require at least the partial shut-off of your home's water supply.
Meanwhile, the drainage system connects all the plumbing fixtures to a main sewer line that carries waste out of the house to a sewer or septic tank. The main sewer line extends above the roof of the house to allow gases to escape. The opening of this pipe, above the roof, is called a vent and must never be covered or allowed to become clogged with debris.
The main switch, along with the circuit breaker panel or fuse box, are located near the electric meter at a point close to where the power lines come into the house. They may be in the basement, utility room, or even the kitchen. The older the home, the more likely it will have a fuse box instead of a circuit breaker panel. Always replace fuses with ones of the same capacity.
Gas-fired and oil-fired heating systems have burners and should be inspected regularly, usually once a year before the start of the heating season. Gas burners have pilot lights. You should learn to re-light the pilot light on your gas burner in case it ever goes out. You should also know the location of the gas shut-off valve so you can turn off the gas in case the burner doesn't light or you smell gas escaping.
Heating systems operate in a variety of ways. The better you understand your system, the safer and more efficient you can make it.
If you have a gas-fired heating system or a fireplace in your home, it's also a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors in the bedroom areas. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas that, at high levels, can cause flu-like symptoms and even death.
While carbon monoxide detectors are not a substitute for proper care and maintenance of your home, they provide a good second line of defense by sounding an alarm when carbon monoxide reaches an unsafe level.
When we purchase a home, most of us want to turn it into a safe and secure haven for our families. The more we know about the home we have purchased, the more efficient and effective we can be.