7 Things you Should Know About Your Home




Where is the Main Panel?

This is extremely important to know ahead of time.  Not only do you need to know where your breakers are, but you also need to make sure they are properly labeled.  You also need to know that just because you found a panel, doesn’t mean there isn’t another sub panel somewhere else in the house.

Look through the panel and make sure all the breakers are properly labeled.  Let’s say it’s cold and in the middle of the night, the furnace goes out.  Well, you will know exactly where to go and what breaker to check before you call a tradesman out to your house.  What if you aren’t at home and you have someone watching your house.  You want to make sure they can easily read the breakers.

Taking a little time to do the proper research and labeling now can save a ton of frustration down the road.



Where is the Main Water Shut Off Valve?

This might be the most important item to find in your house.  If a pipe breaks, you want to make sure you know exactly where the main water shut-off valve is located and how to shut it off.  Here is the important thing to remember.  These valves sit in the open position for years and are never moved because normally we don’t have issues with the pipes.  Once you find where the water shut off is located, make sure you remove or exercise the value by opening and closing it a couple of times.  When water is rushing out onto your floor, that’s not the time to find out the valve is frozen and doesn’t work.

You should also locate a secondary value just in case the main valve doesn’t work.  We have the main water valve like everyone else.  We also have a second valve located right behind the water softener.



Where is Your Sump Pump?

This is very easy to find if you don’t know.  This will be located in the lowest part of the house such as a basement or crawlspace.  Usually, you can find it in a corner.  A sump pump takes water that builds up around the house’s foundation and pumps it away from the house.  Why is this important?  It stops your basement from flooding under heavy rain conditions.  When you find your pump, make sure there are no obstructions in the way.  Also, double check if you have a backup pump and it’s in working order.



Where are the Pilot Lights?

Take a look at your furnace, water heater and other items that produce heat and uses gas.  In my house, I have 3 items, my stove, which isn’t a huge deal if it goes out unless I am extremely hungry.  My two most important items are my water heater and my boiler.  Both of these items use a pilot light.  If you don’t know, a pilot light is a small flame that always stays on.  When a water heater calls for heat, it releases gas and is ignited by the pilot light.  If the pilot light goes out, your water heater will be unable to produce hot water for you.  Might not be a huge deal, but for a boiler, well that can be a big deal since it heats our home.

Once you determine what items have pilot lights, just make sure you know how to properly and safely light them as they can go out.



Where are all my Filters?

Filters are usually never a case of an emergency, but you should know what items take filters and how to replace them.  Filter are key to making something last longer or run cleaner.  Chances are your furnace has an air filter.  These are always easy to change, but you do need to know where they are so you can perform proper maintenance on these filter.  Yur fridge might be another filter you need to know.  We have an RO system, so I have to change those every 6 months.  Take a look around and see what takes filters.  It’s a good idea to keep a log of what type of filters with the model numbers, plus a change date.



Where is my Dryer Vent?

This is pretty obvious where this is located, but what most people don’t do is clean out the vent.  Now you can either do this yourself or have someone do it for you.  If you look it up online, you will see that it’s pretty easy to clean out yourself.  So why is this important to clean.  There are two reasons.

First, if you have a clean vent, it’s easier on the dryer and makes the dryer more efficient, which means it should last longer.  The second and most important aspect is to help prevent fires.  As you know the exhaust from a dryer is hot.  Also, the debris left in the dryer vent has a low flash point which means it will catch fireat low temperatures.  This is a great way to prevent fires.



Where are the Contractor Numbers?

Sure your house is in good working condition and everything is fine, but you should plan ahead and do your research now.  Most people have an emergency contact list for their doctors and other health related people.  However what about the health of your home, do you have an emergency contact list?  Just because your house is in working condition, you shouldn’t be relaxed until you do your homework.  Would you rather do research and find the right contractor while everything is working and your not under stress or would you rather do your research when something is broken and you’re stressed out?

When things are bad and you need something fixed, how do you know you are contacting the right person in the middle of the night?  How do you know you are being charged fairly?  How do you know you can trust this contractor?  These are all important questions you need to know before you make the call.  Now is the time to do your research so when things go bad, you know exactly who to call and you can have the piece of mind that this contractor is the right person to help with your problem.

Get referrals from friends and co-workers.  Ask them who they use and then do a little research to make sure they meet your standards.  You can even give them a call, tell them your making an emergency contact list and have some questions for them.  It’s a great way to get to know them ahead of time.


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I grew up in a small town in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I worked my way through DePaul University in the construction industry. After college I worked in the financial industry and school system. I have also been in the technology field for a couple of years. Currently I write for GT Today and another power tool publication, plus I am a part time firefighter. My only hobby is spending time with my wife and kids.


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