Introduction to Homeowner Essentials:
These few basic homeownership essentials are incredibly powerful in so many ways. This post is what I would consider “foundational” for Trustworthyhomeadvice.com. This article represents the core of our theme, which is honest advice from years of experience for any homeowner.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time compiling these 25 items that I think EVERY homeowner should be aware of. Some of these homeownership essentials may be outside of your ability or comfort zone in terms of handling yourself, but most are things that anyone can do, and everyone should know. I plan on adding more detailed posts for most of the 31 items listed, so stay with us and read along and check for updates as we explore all aspects of homeownership. As always, feel free to leave a comment or a question below, I will be sure to answer you, or at least point you in the right direction.
Knowing the basics and understanding some tricks to maintaining and managing your home efficiently is important for so many reasons. From understanding your home’s electrical panel and circuit breakers to mastering the art of hanging shelves securely, we’ve got you covered with practical tips and techniques. So let’s dive into these essential homeowner hacks and empower you to become a pro in home management.
1) Understand Your Home’s Electrical Panel and Circuit Breakers for Easy Troubleshooting:
A fundamental homeownership essential is to familiarize yourself with your home’s electrical panel and circuit breakers. By taking the time to study and understand how they work and knowing how to troubleshoot basic common electrical issues, you can save time and money on unnecessary repairs. Whether it’s a tripped breaker or a faulty outlet, being able to identify and resolve basic electrical problems is a valuable skill every homeowner should have.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to troubleshoot a minor electrical problem over the years. Issues with circuit breaker trips, GFI’s, or ARC Fault breakers typically occur after a power blip. Calling an electrician every time you have one of these issues can be very costly, so learn this basic skill, but know your limits. Read our article titled: Home Electric 101: Understanding Your Electrical Panel.
2) Know the Location of the Main Water Shut-off Valve in Case of Leaks or Emergencies:
Water leaks can cause significant damage if not addressed promptly. That’s why this vital homeowner hack is one that you and all of your family members should know. Immediately knowing the location of the main house water shut-off valve in case of a burst pipe is critically important. Being able to quickly shut off the water supply can prevent major damage and save you from costly repairs. Take the time to locate the valve and ensure that it is easily accessible for emergencies, don’t block it with hard-to-move items such as shelves or heavy boxes. You should also consider shutting off your water main as well. Significant damage can occur over time, even with a small leak. Read our article on this here: Should you shut off your water main while on vacation?
3) Familiarize Yourself with the HVAC System and Change Air Filters Regularly:
Your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system plays the most important role in maintaining a comfortable indoor environment. To keep it running efficiently, make sure to familiarize yourself with its components and understand its basic operation. Troubleshooting an HVAC system may be beyond your abilities, however, regularly changing the air filters and having periodic maintenance completed by a professional are the most important things you can do as a homeowner to keep your system running smoothly. Clogged filters restrict airflow, reducing the system’s efficiency and increasing energy consumption. By replacing filters on schedule, you can improve indoor air quality, extend the lifespan of your HVAC system, and save on energy costs.
4) Learn Basic Plumbing Skills like Unclogging Drains and Fixing Minor Leaks:
Dealing with common plumbing issues doesn’t always require calling a professional plumber. Learning basic plumbing skills is a valuable homeowner hack that can empower you to handle minor repairs on your own. From unclogging slow draining sinks to fixing minor leaks, having these skills can save you time and money. Invest in a plunger, a drain snake, and other basic plumbing tools, and learn the proper techniques for tackling common plumbing problems. However, always remember to contact a professional for complex plumbing issues or if you’re unsure about any repair or plumbing codes if you are attempting a DIY project. It’s also good to learn how to increase your home’s water pressure.
If you do need a plumber, Rotorooter is always a reliable choice, to find the local one click here è Rotorooter Local Service
5) Master the Art of Hanging Shelves, Pictures, and Other Items Securely:
Hanging shelves, pictures, and other items adds personality and functionality to your home. However, improper hanging can lead to accidents and damage to your walls. To ensure secure installations, master the art of hanging. Use the right hardware, such as wall anchors and picture-hanging hooks, based on the weight and type of item you’re hanging. Follow proper measurement techniques and consider using a level to ensure your items are straight. By mastering secure hanging, you can enhance the aesthetics of your home while keeping your walls intact. There are a number of homeowner hacks to hanging pictures that we will blog about in the near future.
6) Have a Basic Toolkit with Essential Tools for Common Repairs and Maintenance:
Every homeowner should have a basic toolkit equipped with essential tools for common repairs and maintenance tasks. A well-stocked toolkit can save you time and money on minor fixes around the house. Some essential tools to include are a hammer, screwdrivers (both flathead and Phillips), pliers, an adjustable wrench, a utility knife, a tape measure, and a cordless drill. By having these tools readily available, you can tackle various projects and repairs with ease. This 158 piece kit from Dekpro is a fantastic starting kit, actually a little more than a basic kit, but you won’t be disappointed with a few extra tools. It doesn’t include an electric drill, so you will definitely need one of those. I’m a huge DeWalt fan, I have the DeWalt 20V Max Cordless. Battery life is fantastic, it’s light, compact and easy to handle. It also has a forward facing light that comes on when in use, very handy!
7) Create a Home Maintenance Checklist to Keep Track of Regular Tasks:
This is a great homeowner hack. Proper home maintenance requires staying on top of various tasks throughout the year. To help you stay organized, use a home maintenance checklist. This checklist should include tasks such as gutter cleaning, HVAC system tune-ups, checking smoke detectors, inspecting the roof, testing carbon monoxide detectors, and more. By following a structured checklist, you can ensure that essential maintenance tasks are not overlooked and that your home remains in optimal condition.
I’ve complied one for you, below are 2 links to a list of 50 common home maintenance items I’ve put into a checklist form. You can download in either an excel format or pdf format. I recommend the excel format so you can modify, add or subtract tasks easily.
50 Common Household Maintenance Items Checklist:
8) Know How to Check and Change Smoke Detector Batteries to Ensure Safety:
Smoke detectors are critical for early detection of fires and saving lives. To ensure their effectiveness, you MUST check and change the batteries regularly. Most smoke detectors will emit a chirping sound when the battery is low. Take the time to test your smoke detectors monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year. This simple homeowner hack can provide peace of mind knowing that your home is protected from fire hazards.
9) Learn How to Locate and Reset Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs):
Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are electrical safety devices that protect against electric shock. These devices are commonly found in areas prone to moisture, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor outlets. It’s important to know how to locate GFCIs in your home and understand how to reset them in case of a trip. Being able to reset a GFCI can help restore power to affected outlets and ensure the safety of your electrical system.
10) Understand How to Read Your Home’s Water Meter to Monitor Usage and Detect Leaks:
Monitoring your water usage is an effective way to detect leaks and conserve water. Knowing how to read your home’s water meter is essential for this task. By periodically checking your water meter and comparing the readings, you can identify any unusual increases in water usage that may indicate a hidden leak. Understanding how to read your water meter empowers you to take proactive steps to address leaks promptly, saving both water and money.
11) Know How to Shut Off Gas Valves and Be Aware of Gas Leak Signs and Precautions:
If your home is powered by gas, it’s important to know how to shut off gas valves and be aware of gas leak signs and precautions. In case of a gas leak or emergency, being able to quickly shut off the gas supply can prevent accidents and potential hazards. Familiarize yourself with the location of gas valves and learn the appropriate procedures for shutting them off. Additionally, educate yourself about the signs of a gas leak, such as a rotten egg smell or hissing sounds, and understand the safety precautions to follow.
12) Understand Your Utilities: City Sewer or Well Systems, City Sewer or Septic, Gas or Electric?
Understanding the utilities specific to your home is essential for efficient management. Do you know if you have city water or a well, whether your connected to a city sewer or a septic system for wastewater disposal, or is your heat powered by gas or electric? This knowledge will help you make informed decisions regarding maintenance, troubleshooting, and upgrades related to your utilities. New homeowners may not think about these things, but they are important to know!
13) Safe-Organized Home Documentation
Keep important home-related documents organized, easily accessible and in a fireproof safe. This includes warranties, instruction manuals, renovation records, and maintenance receipts. We also keep home and car titles, passports, birth certificates, and SS cards. Creating a digital or physical filing system can save you time and frustration when you need to refer to these documents for repairs, insurance claims, or home improvement projects.
14) Understand How to Safely Use a Ladder for Tasks Like Cleaning Gutters or Changing Bulbs:
This may not sound like a homeowner hack, and even a little silly, however, using a ladder safely is important when performing tasks such as cleaning gutters or changing light bulbs. Ensure that your ladder is stable and on a level surface before climbing. Always maintain three points of contact (two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot) while on the ladder. Avoid overreaching and have someone assist you when necessary. By following ladder safety guidelines, you can prevent falls and injuries during home maintenance tasks.
15) Know the Basics of Lawn Care, Including Watering, Mowing, and Fertilizing:
Maintaining a healthy and vibrant lawn requires understanding the basics of lawn care. Proper watering, mowing, and fertilizing practices are key. Water your lawn deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth. Mow at the appropriate height for your grass type and never remove more than one-third of the grass blade. Fertilize your lawn based on its specific needs, especially in the fall By following these practices, you can achieve a beautiful and resilient lawn.
16) Be Aware of Common Household Pests and How to Prevent or Address Infestations:
Dealing with household pests can be frustrating and detrimental to your home’s comfort and even potentially, your health. Be aware of common pests such as ants, cockroaches, rodents, and termites, and understand the prevention measures and treatment options for each. Seal entry points, maintain cleanliness, and eliminate sources of food and water to prevent infestations. If you notice signs of pests, promptly address the issue through DIY methods or by contacting a pest control professional.
17) Understand How to Maintain and Clean Different Types of Flooring in Your Home:
Different types of flooring require specific maintenance and cleaning techniques. Whether you have hardwood, laminate, carpet, or tile flooring, understanding the proper cleaning methods and products is an absolute requirement. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive tools that can damage the flooring. Regularly vacuum, sweep, mop, or steam clean, depending on the flooring type, to keep it in optimal condition. By properly maintaining your flooring, you can extend its lifespan and preserve its appearance. Check out our article on How to Remove White Water Stains from Hardwood Floors!
18) Learn About Different Paint Finishes and Techniques for DIY Painting Projects:
Painting can be a cost-effective way to update and enhance your home’s interior or exterior. Learning about different paint finishes, such as matte, satin, or gloss, allows you to choose the right finish for each area. Additionally, familiarize yourself with various painting techniques, such as brush, roller, or spray application, to achieve the desired results. By mastering these techniques, you can transform your living space and add a personal touch to your home.
A particular painting project that can really enhance your home, and actually add value is to paint your older Kitchen Cabinets. This is one we did not long ago in our shore home. Check out our article on How to Properly Paint Kitchen Cabinets for details and a examples of how this can enhance the look of your kitchen.
19) Know How to Safely and Properly Store Hazardous Materials and Chemicals:
Storing hazardous materials and chemicals requires caution to prevent accidents and protect the environment. Understand the proper storage guidelines for substances such as paints, solvents, cleaning agents, and pesticides. Store them in designated areas away from heat sources, flames, or direct sunlight. Ensure containers are tightly sealed and labeled appropriately. By following proper storage practices, you can minimize the risk of exposure to hazardous substances and maintain a safe living environment.
20) Understand How to Properly Clean and Maintain Kitchen Appliances:
Kitchen appliances play a crucial role in daily tasks, and proper maintenance ensures their optimal performance and longevity. Understand how to clean and maintain appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, and microwaves. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and perform regular maintenance tasks, such as removing debris and cleaning filters. By keeping your kitchen appliances clean and well-maintained, you can avoid breakdowns and extend their lifespan.
21) Know How to Troubleshoot Common Wi-Fi and Networking Issues:
In today’s digital age, a stable internet connection is essential for everyday tasks. Knowing how to troubleshoot common Wi-Fi and networking issues can save you from frustration. Familiarize yourself with basic troubleshooting steps, such as restarting routers, checking network settings, and identifying potential signal interferences. By addressing these issues promptly, you can maintain a reliable and fast internet connection.
22) Upgrade Insulation, Inspect It Every 5-10 Years:
Upgrading insulation is an essential homeowner hack to improve energy efficiency and comfort in your home. Insulation helps regulate temperature, reduce energy waste, and lower utility bills. Consider adding insulation to attics, walls, and crawlspaces, and make sure to inspect it every 5-10 years. Over time, insulation can settle or become damaged, compromising its effectiveness. By upgrading and inspecting insulation, you can enhance energy efficiency and create a more comfortable living environment. For a more in-depth discussion of upgrading home insulation, check out our post on Insulation Upgrades: Enhance Energy Efficiency In Your Home.
23) Implement Effective Water Conservation Strategies:
Conserving water is not only environmentally responsible but can also help you save on water bills. Implementing water conservation strategies in your home is a smart homeowner hack. Install low-flow fixtures, such as showerheads and faucets, and consider collecting rainwater for outdoor watering. Fix any leaks promptly and practice water-efficient habits, like taking shorter showers and only running the dishwasher or washing machine with full loads. For more detailed ideas, check out or post on 25 Water Conservation Tips Every Homeowner Should Know!
24) Practice Fire Safety by Having Fire Extinguishers and Creating an Escape Plan:
Fire safety is paramount for protecting your home and loved ones. Ensure you have functional fire extinguishers placed strategically throughout your home, particularly in the kitchen and near sleeping areas. Learn how to use fire extinguishers properly and have them inspected annually. Additionally, create a comprehensive escape plan for your household in case of a fire emergency. Unfortunately, this is something most families do not do, but it can save lives if done properly. Practice the plan regularly and ensure everyone knows the designated meeting point outside. By practicing fire safety measures, you can protect your home and react swiftly in emergencies.
25) Regularly Inspect and Maintain the Roof for Any Damage or Leaks:
The roof is your home’s first line of defense against the elements, and regular inspection and maintenance are critical. Periodically check your roof for any signs of damage, such as missing or damaged shingles, sagging areas, or leaks. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage or water infiltration. Keep gutters clean and free from debris to ensure proper water drainage. By regularly inspecting and maintaining your roof, you can prolong its lifespan and avoid costly repairs down the road.
26) Know How To Test For Mold:
If you have been in your home for any amount of time, and the seasons have passed, you on occasion may have notices some mold growth. This can occur in many places that have contact with moisture. Obvious areas are sinks, tubs, and showers, but you really need to know how to test for mold in inconspicuous areas as well. Read our post on How To Test For Mold for more detailed information on this very important topic.
27) Know The Hidden Dangers In Your Home:
There are many “hidden” dangers in all homes that many homeowners just aren’t aware of. We mentioned Mold in #26, but there are many more. If you own an older home, built between 1920 and 1980, you should be on the lookout for asbestos floor tiles. These were widely used during that time, but as most people are aware these day, asbestos poses a significant health threat. Other issues such as Lead Paint, Radon Gas, Carbon Monoxide, Gas Leaks, and Foundational problems are a few more to be aware of.
28) Know How to Regrout Tile:
Knowing how to regrout tile can save you alot of time and money over the years as grount inevitably cracks, get’s discolored, or starts to fall out. You should also know that You don’t have to remove old grout when regrouting tile!
Implementing and knowing these 27 homeowner hacks will empower you to efficiently manage and maintain your home, and keep your family safe. From understanding electrical systems to upgrading insulation and practicing fire safety, each hack plays a vital role in ensuring a safe, comfortable, and well-functioning living environment. By incorporating these practices into your routine, you can save money on repairs, enhance safety, reduce energy consumption, and increase the longevity of your home. Stay proactive and make your home the best it can be!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Q: How often should I conduct a comprehensive home inspection?
- A: A full home inspection is recommended every 3-5 years. This helps in identifying potential issues early on, allowing you to address them before they escalate into major problems.
- Q: Are energy-efficient appliances truly cost-saving in the long run?
- A: Absolutely! While energy-efficient appliances might have a slightly higher upfront cost, they often pay for themselves through reduced energy bills over their lifespan. Additionally, they’re environmentally friendly, reducing your carbon footprint.
- Q: What’s the best way to keep my home free from pests?
- A: Regular pest inspections are crucial. Additionally, ensure that your home is well-sealed, especially around windows and doors, and avoid leaving food out, as this can attract pests. If you notice any signs of an infestation, consult a pest control professional promptly.
- Q: How often should I clean or replace filters in my HVAC system?
- A: Filters in your HVAC system should be checked monthly. Depending on their condition and the type of filter you’re using, they might need to be cleaned or replaced. Typically, replaceable filters should be changed every 3 months, but this can vary based on usage and air quality.
- Q: I’m new to DIY home maintenance. How can I ensure I’m doing repairs safely?
- A: Always start with the proper safety gear, including gloves, safety glasses, and appropriate clothing. Make sure you’re using tools correctly by reading manuals or watching tutorials. For more complex tasks or anything involving electricity, gas, or major plumbing, it’s often best to consult or hire a professional to ensure safety.