Hey, homeowner! If you’ve come here, you probably aren’t sure where the really important things in your house are. You’re likely a first time homebuyer, but maybe not. No worries if you are – everyone has to start somewhere! Regardless, you want to know what systems require your prioritized attention and care. Follow along with the list below as we shed some light on the important questions you have about your home.
Since homes are built by different people and different construction companies, every home layout is different. However, your main water valve is most likely on the interior of your home, near ground level. For most homes, it’s right by your water meter. If not, think logically. The fastest way between two points is a straight line. The water main will begin begin at the street and head in a straight line to your home. Look for the main water valve by staying on the side of your house that faces the street. And since the water lines are underneath the city streets, you’re going to want to keep your eyes on ground level. This means you’re looking upwards if you’re in the basement. Water valves usually have a long handle to turn, or feature a knife style.
This one is the easiest to find. It’s common practice for the electrical panel / breaker box to be placed in the basement of a home. Check your utilities or storage room. The distinctive grey box features black or red switches that correspond to the appropriate rooms (group of outlets) of your home. Hopefully, they’re labelled. If not, labelling them right away should be your next step. You don’t want to be playing a guessing game the next time your power is out!
A thermocouple is a sensor that measures temperature; a safety device. When your pilot light is lit, the heat from the flame sends a voltage through the thermocouple that keeps the gas line open. If the pilot light goes out, the thermocouple loses its voltage, and the gas line to the furnace will close. Your pilot light is responsible for igniting your furnace’s burners. Without it, gas would build up in your furnace without actually lighting. If the pilot light were to turn back on after gas had built up in and around the furnace, it could cause an explosion. Secondly, excess gas buildup could cause carbon monoxide to get into your home.
If you experience a furnace malfunction, it could be the thermocouple. Changing one is pretty easy, and costs around $10.
You would be surprised by how many experienced home owners forget this one! A traditional furnace draws air in through the return air ducts, warms it over a heat exchanger, and then a blower fan pushes the heated air through a series of ducts which branch off into rooms throughout your home. A furnace filter is what protects the blower fan from catching and re-circulating all of the dust, hair, allergens and other general yuck. General guidelines say to change your furnace filters every couple of months, but sometimes that’s still too long – especially in the winter months when we are holed up for long periods! 4-6 Weeks is a better guide. These filters are cheap, and will save you from costly furnace repairs if you don’t use one (or leave one in too long). You don’t need anything plush, fancy or even brand-name.
Depending on the type or brand of furnace you have, your filter could be located in:
In most cases, it’s labelled anyway! Just make sure that when you place the filter in, the arrows are properly lined with the direction of the airflow.
A sump pump is designed to take water that surrounds your foundation, and pump it outside before it can seep into your basement. So, if you don’t have a basement, you don’t have to worry about even having one! For homes with basements, a sump pump will usually be in a preformed pit, or a hole in the floor. A pipe extends upwards, out of it, and exits your home. It may or may not have a lid. If it does have a lid, it will be removable. If you see a sealed lid with two pumps, what you have is a utility pump. A utility pump is designed to pump grey water wastes (without solids) like washing machine water or humidifier condensate. It has to be sealed and vented because it carries sewage; the gases emitted from sewage is toxic. If you see a sealed lid, 2 pipes penetrating the lid, and a discharge pipe attached to the main sewer line – you have an ejector pump. This type of pump will handle solid waste from toilets and is usually found in basements or crawlspaces. A sump pump is the most common type of pump in homes now, since it’s code. To maintain one, all you have to do is check both lines to make sure there’s no debris, and make sure the float component can move smoothly around the pump. This will extend the life of your sump pump, since it won’t have to work needlessly hard.
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