Picture this, Roy Thomas has just found you your new Halifax home. It's exciting being a first-time homeowner and your head is spinning with moving, furniture placement and decorating ideas to make this home your own. The last things you're probably thinking about are when to get the septic tank pumped out or where the main water valve is located.
Over time you will learn all about your new house and how to maintain it. You may want to undertake some renovation projects to make it more energy-efficient or suitable for your needs. But in the short-term, here are some basic maintenance jobs that every homeowner should know about.
Meters and Panels
First, familiarize yourself with where the water, gas and hydro meters are located. Usually in newer Halifax homes they can be found outside and you don't have to deal with the meter reader, but in some homes they are located inside. You may also be asked to read the meters yourself and send the information to the local utility.
One important task is finding where the main water valve is located. Usually it's right beside the water meter. You need to know where it is if you have any plumbing repairs. If there's an emergency such as a burst pipe, you may need to shut it off in a hurry. It's a good idea to open and close the main valve at least once a year to keep it in good working order and to make sure there are no leaks present.
The main electrical panel is another important thing that should be easily accessible. The main shut off is usually in that panel in case you need to shut off the electricity for any reason. Make sure that each of the circuit breakers and fuses are labeled to which part of the house they service. Should one become overloaded and blow a fuse or trip the breaker, you'll know immediately where the problem occurred. Also, make sure there are no water leaks anywhere around the panel. If there's water near the panel, don't go near it - call in professional help.
Keep the Smoke Alarm in Check
They can sometimes go unnoticed, but smoke alarms are located throughout the home, and it's useful to know where they are. If you accidentally set off the smoke alarm, be sure that if you pull out the battery to stop the alarm, you put it back as soon as you ventilate the room; forgetting to do so can have tragic results if a real fire occurs. Don't forget to make a schedule to change the batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home twice a year.
Heating and Duct Work
If you have a forced-air heating system, the furnace filter should be cleaned or replaced once a month during heating season to keep the system clean and functioning properly. It's easy to make a note of the type and size of filters and keep them on hand to replace monthly.
If your home has a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), filters should be cleaned at least every two months. It's important to ensure the best indoor air quality for your home. Periodically, check the HRV's intake and exhaust hoods outside to make sure the vents are not blocked with leaves, snow or frost build-up. Vacuum the heat exchange core and wash it with soap and water. Once a year you should also vacuum the ductwork leading to and from the HRV. Check the owner's manual of your unit for more information.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) suggest that regular duct cleaning is probably unnecessary for most homeowners, but there are exceptions. If your home is new or has undergone extensive renovations before purchasing, there could be enough drywall dust and other material in the ducts to warrant a good cleaning.
Other Household Jobs
Some other simple but important maintenance jobs:
If you have hot water radiators, bleed air from them once a year.
Range hood filters should be cleaned once a month.
Vacuum electric baseboard heaters regularly.
If you use well water, test the well for bacteria every six months.
Get fireplace and woodstove chimneys cleaned regularly.
If you have an outside hose connection, turn off the valve before there's danger of frost.
CMHC has an extensive home maintenance schedule that will keep you busy all year long. But relax - you don't have to do everything right away, so take some time and enjoy your new home. When it's time for Roy Thomas to upgrade you into your next home, you will be a seasoned expert.