When you own your own home, no matter how unskilled you are with tools, there are some basics you need to know. As a first time home buyer, be prepared. Following are just the basics – honest. If you love DIY, then homeownership will be a playground for you, but if you don’t, you still need a couple of defensive moves that you can do yourself.
Most real estate agents will buy you a one year Home Warranty policy. It’s important you have this in place, even if you have to buy it yourself, but it doesn’t help with the small, but equally important “can’t wait” day-to-day stuff.
Most important – Unclogging your Toilet
You may think it’s odd to make this the first DIY in the list, but you won’t think so when you reach for your plunger and you realize you didn’t buy one.
Clogged toilets and drains – Yes, they will happen, and it’s an easy fix if you remember that your first household purchase should be a plunger.
If there is water in the bowl, enough to cover the rubber part of the plunger, you’re good to go. If not, fill the bowl manually from a bucket. Whatever you do, don’t flush or your toilet will overflow. If the water is rising, quickly reach behind the toilet and turn the water off.
Grab that plunger and covering the drain, push down. Use enough force to create suction when you release it. Don’t be delicate or it won’t work. You may have to do it several times, but don’t give up. You’ll know when the pipes open up. Just don’t forget to turn the water back on if it’s off.
Believe me, this is a talent you cannot live without. And don’t buy a cheap, flimsy plunger – one with soft rubber. It’s useless. Trust me! Years of experience?
Before you move in – change the locks
You don’t need a locksmith. If you want something fancy; a combination lock or an electronic lock, for example, you may want to call a professional. In the interest of time and the chaos of moving, however, you can replace the current locks so the dozens of people who may have a key will be out of luck. Worry about getting fancy later.
Here’s what you do. Make sure you know the brand of lock you have. It may be a Kwikset, or some other common brand. If you’re really challenged, you can take a picture on your phone and take it to the hardware store with you. Replace with the same type of lock. That way you’ll know all the holes in the door and doorframe will be in the correct location. You only have to change the knobs with their attached barrel. The rest of the lock – just use what’s already there.
Just take out a couple of screws pull the doorknobs out and replace with the new one. Easy peasy. Here’s a video to show you how.
Don’t forget the back door and don’t forget to get extra keys. I always have my front door keys make with a Lakers logo or doggie paws. Something that makes it stand out from my other keys. You’ll appreciate that when your arms are full and you get home after dark when you’ve forgotten to turn your porch light on.
Everyone forgets the filters.
Before you go to the hardware store for your door locks, take a look at the filters in your furnace, air conditioner, and room vents. Anywhere you find a filter, jot down the size (it will be on the side or edge of the filter), and pick up some new ones. You should change them right away and then at least twice a year, or more, depending on where you live.
While you’re at it, check the filter(s) on your refrigerator. Both the air filter at the bottom and, if you have an automatic ice maker and/or water dispenser, check the water filter too
Last, but not least, your shutoffs and meters.
Nothing to do here. Just know where they are.
When the electricity goes out at night, you’ll be glad you know where that electric panel is. It’s tough to find in the dark.
And if you have a water emergency, where is that main turnoff? Hopefully, you have one between you and the water meter. The main water meter shutoff can take a special tool but you should have one close to the house that allows you to turn it off yourself in an emergency. It may be in the garage or a closet.
Even though your home inspector checked your gas connections and meter, be sure you know where it is. And don’t forget that barbeque gas hookup.
When your inspector is doing the pre-close inspection, you could ask him where these things are. Make it easy on yourself.
Most of all, have fun with your new home. It’s like having a child. The upkeep is worth it.