The First Things to Do After You Move Into Your First Home
Moving into your first home can be both exhilerating and terrifying. Get off to a good start with this list of must-dos from veteran homeoweners.
Locate Your Home’s Main Water Shutoff Valve
Almost all homes have one main shutoff valve directly before the water meter and another directly after. Where the meter is located depends on the climate in your area. In cold climates, the meter and main shutoff valves are located inside, usually in a basement or other warm area to prevent freezing. In milder climates, the meter and its two shutoff valves may be attached to an exterior wall or nestled in an underground box with a removable lid.
Between the water main in the street and the meter, there’s also usually a buried curb stop valve (accessible only by city workers wielding special long-handled wrenches) and a corporation stop, where your house water line hooks up to the water main. Your city absolutely doesn’t want you messing around with these valves. Turn your water off or on using the main valve on the house side of the meter. This valve will normally be a gate-type valve, with a round knurled handle, requiring several full clockwise rotations to turn off. In newer homes, it could be a ball valve.
Find out more about main water shutoff valves here.
Locate the Electrical Panel
You’ll usually find the main circuit breaker panel—a gray, metal box—in a utility room, garage or basement. Don’t worry about opening the panel’s door. All the dangerous stuff is behind another steel cover. Behind the door is the main breaker for the entire house (usually at the top of the panel) and two rows of other breakers below it, each controlling individual circuits. If you’re lucky, there will be a guide that indicates which outlets and receptacles are served by each circuit.
Learn more about circuit breakers here.
Replace the Furnace Filter
Inspect Crawlspaces and the Attic
If you already keep a clean house, simply keep up the good work, checking to make sure you don’t overlook little-used closets and other nooks and crannies that aren’t part of your weekly routine. This needs to be a deep cleaning.
For the rest of us, it’s time to get serious. Start at the top (the attic or second-story rooms) and work your way down. Clean ceiling light fixtures first, scrub walls and woodwork and finish with floors. As you work your way from top to bottom, don’t leave one area until it is completely clean and then move on. Don’t drag dirt from one area back into the place you just cleaned.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of clean windows. Buyers won’t walk in and think, “Wow, clean windows!” But, freshly cleaned windows look great from the outside and with the lights on, they sparkle on the inside. And with this method, window cleaning is not all that bad.
Make One Room a Sanctuary
So, choose one room that doesn’t require too much work and make that space your new-home getaway. You’ll have a place, in your colors and style, where you can relax and dream about the day when every room in your home is just the way you want it.
Like the wall panels shown here? Here’s how to create this look in one weekend.
Meet the Neighbors
Want to replace your front door to make it more welcoming? Here’s how to do it yourself.
Check Smoke and CO Detector Dates and Replace, as Needed
If You Have a Sump Pump, Does it Work?
*A sump is a pit, well, basin or the like in which water is collected. In a basement, excess water collected in a sump is removed by a sump pump.
Start a Sample File
If You Don’t Have Keyless Entry, Hide a Key
For hiding valuables inside your home, check out this collection of tips.
Within the First Six Months:
Install a whole house surge protector to prevent your plug-in electronics from voltage surges.
Replace traditional rubber washing machine hoses with no-burst hoses to prevent a costly flood.
Flush the water heater to remove sediment that reduces efficiency.