You sign what feels like hundreds of papers to agree to a thirty-year relationship with a house … it may feel like signing your life away, but that’s just how buying a home feels - it’s not reality! In reality, you can sell. You can rent. You can move. However, what doesn’t change - is that for the time you do own your home, it is your very own. That means the maintenance and upkeep are all on you. Thankfully, you are not alone, and many of the problems new homeowners face are common - which means well-known solutions! Here is a round-up of some of the most common problems and solutions:
If you’re a new homeowner you may think that the HVAC system takes care of itself. After all, it’s expensive, and more or less out of sight. Unfortunately, they do require maintenance, and HVAC repairs and replacements can be an incredibly steep and unexpected expense.
Solution: Maintenance! Schedule yearly “check-ups”. While this may be an unwelcome cost, the small cost of a maintenance visit is much less than a huge repair or replacement. Your future selves will thank you. In addition, make sure you change your filters at least every 6 months. This will keep energy costs down, your air cleaner, and a happier HVAC system.
Household disaster strikes and you find a toilet, sink, or other appliance overflowing which means almost immediate damage to the surrounding area.
Solution: First, prep yourself ahead of time and know where the water cut off for each toilet and sink are (usually along the wall where the water line comes in). Next, if that doesn’t work at the time, you’ll likely have to turn off the water where your water meter is outside of your house. This typically requires a special key so it’s handy to know where the key is and how it works in case that dreaded day where you need it comes.
High Energy Bills
Everything is going so smoothly in your new home … and then you get your first energy bill. How in the world is it so high!? You want to bring that down ASAP.
Solution: Unfortunately, high energy bills are the default. It’s what you do to increase the energy efficiency of your home that will make all the difference. First off, you need to know where your home could use some improvement in insulation and other energy-saving tactics. To do this, you can do your own energy audit, or look for local entities that are willing to come and do it for free. Typically there is a focus on changing air filters, making sure there are no drafty, leaky windows or doors, shielding the sun, increasing insulation, etc. The list is long - but lots of small changes really do make a difference.
Ahh, the sweet sound of a quiet night in your new home. But wait, what’s that constant running water sound? Enter: the pesky running toilet.
Solution: The tricky part about this fix is that it could be multiple issues at the root of the problem - but the good news is that if you’re able to decipher what the problem is, the fix is easy. Use this visual guide to check and pinpoint if it’s the flapper or fill valve and exactly how to fix it on your own.
If the power goes out in the whole neighborhood, it’s out of your hands and you have to wait for the power company to get everyone back online. But what about when it’s just a part of your own house? That’s on you.
Solution: Know where your circuit breaker is located and which fuses or switches control each circuit. If your problem is that you overloaded your electricity needs or the fuse has burned, the switch for that circuit will have flipped itself to the off position. To recover, turn off some of the appliances that caused the overload, in addition to unplugging, reducing, and doing whatever else you can to get that energy load down. Once you do that, you can flip the switch to “on” again. If it happens often, especially with less of a load, you will likely need to call an electrician. Warning: Do not do any electrical work without killing the circuit and never work with electrical wiring without knowing you are doing it safely.
Warmer weather comes and you couldn’t be thrilled to spend that first spring and summer in your NEW house. But what’s that in the corner of the bathroom? Mold!?
Solution: First off, as with most things, prevention is key. Try to reduce the amount of moisture in your home by using a dehumidifier, ensuring good airflow, and drying wet areas immediately. Next, when you see mold - act fast, as breathing in mold spores can be dangerous (and it will just continue to get worse). To remove, mix one cup of bleach with one gallon of water. Wear eye protection and a mask, and cover the surface area containing the mold and let sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing away. For more serious cases or worries about truly toxic mold, seek professional help.