Maintenance and the First Time Homeowner

Your new home
Your new home

The first time homeowner may think because their house was inspected before purchased there will be little maintenance, at least for a while. The first few weeks in a new home are taken up with moving in, buying window treatments, and painting rooms in hues that are more in line with the homeowners’ idea of what their perfect house will look like. An important part of settling in is reading all the manuals for appliances, furnace, air conditioner, garage door openers, and any equipment that came with the house. Even if the house is a previously owned house, the previous owner should have warranties, service contracts, and other important information to leave with you. Most companies now have manuals on the Web that can offer troubleshooting advice and general maintenance tips.

Hot Water Heaters- Hot water can be a large part of your utility bill, especially if the heater has a temperature setting that is too high.

  • There is a dial on the hot water heater that will allow you to keep the temp about 120 degrees. This will allow the hot water heater to supply all the hot water an average size family will need. Especially if everyone learns that running the dishwasher, the clothes washer, and taking showers should be spaced out during the day.
  • Also, there is a vacation setting on the newer hot water heaters that will prevent the heater from heating water that will not be used while the homeowner is away.

If living in an older home there may not be a drip pan to hold water that overflows or gathers from condensation. Newer homes have hot water heaters that already have a hot water pan. It might save some water disaster later on to check this out and decide if this inexpensive overflow pan is worth the low cost and short time it would take to install.

Heating/Air Conditioning

  • Changing the air filter is a necessity. Bi-monthly would be a good time to check the filters. After the first few changes, the homeowner can decide if they need more changes. People with allergies may want to get the Hepa filters. They are more expensive but worth the money.
  • Setting up a Heating/Air Conditioning technician to come by twice a year may keep expensive repairs down. Or, at least give the information for repairs before the heater breaks down in the middle of winter. Remember that new units are not a guarantee that the unit will run efficiently.

Stoves – electric or gas. Gas stoves must be connected by a plumber if you purchase a new stove. The homeowner should not attempt to make any connections unless they are a licensed plumber.

  • There have been many safety features added to stoves. One is an anti-tipping device. Unless there are no children or grandchildren in the family, it is important to attach this device.
  • Also, note that automatic cleaning ovens lock during the heating cycle. They are heat sensitive and the door will not open again until the interior of the oven reaches a particular temperature.

  • Washers and dryers - The new home owners needs to check venting for the dryer. It needs to vented to the outside and be clear of all debris. A clogged vent pipe will cause the dryer to experience longer dryer times, plus it can be a fire hazard.


Fire detection is important. Place fire extinguishers where they can be reach quickly in the kitchen, Since most fires in the kitchen involve grease, the type of fire extinguisher needed is vitally important. Make sure that you read the label for all types of fire extinguishers.

  • Fire detectors can be battery operated, hard-wire into your homes’ electric source or a combination of both. Just because the extinguisher is hard-wired does not mean that they will last forever. Many of these units will cease to function after 10 years.

************ It is vital to check your units twice a year ************************


It is important also to have a carbon monoxide detector. These are now available in combination units with the fire detector.


Old ceiling hard-wired detector.  No back up batteries and not working.
Old ceiling hard-wired detector. No back up batteries and not working.
New battery operated model
New battery operated model
Small battery operated model.
Small battery operated model.
  • Garbage disposals can be easily repaired. There is a reset button on the side or bottom. The disposal also comes with a wrench that can be used to help with maintenance. There are certain guidelines that are listed in the unit description that comes with the disposal. Certain foods should not be put in the disposal such as celery. The disposal should be used with cold water.


  • Refrigerators. Many refrigerators have a grill in the bottom front. These can be removed and a long brush made for cleaning around the refrigerator motor can be used. This brush is pushed under the unit and will extract dust and animal hair. Leaving debris under the refrigerator will cause the motor to overheat and cut down on the life of the motor.

Note: The new bottom freezer units do not have as much room for the brush, but the brush can be used along the side of the motor. The refrigerator can be pulled out, but that is normally a two person job.

  • Be sure to clean the small grill at the bottom by washing with soap and water. This will allow air to flow and circulate under the refrigerator.

detach the grill and clean.
detach the grill and clean.
Brush for under refrigerator cleaning
Brush for under refrigerator cleaning

Make sure to keep a record of service that is provided to all appliances along with the model and serial numbers. Knowing those numbers may keep a service visit shorter if professional repairs are needed.

In the winter, disconnect all outside hoses and turn off the water. It is also a good idea to purchase inexpensive covers if the home is in a cold climate. Covering or shutting windows to crawl spaces will keep your pipes from freezing, and keep animals from finding a warm home.

Under counter micro-waves. Under no circumstances replace the light bulbs before unplugging the unit. There are stickers that remind the homeowner of this, but if forgotten will result in a very expensive service call when the circuit board is ruined.

Your new home is the largest purchase you will probably make in your life time. Preventive maintenance with help keep your home looking like new.

Basic tools:

  • hammer
  • Phillip-head screw driver set
  • Regular screw driver set
  • a variety of nails, and screws
  • crescent wrench
  • a set of various wrenches
  • duck tape
  • string
  • a small picture hanging set with hangers for different weight pictures.
  • A level. If you don't know how to use one, it's as easy as finding the bubble.
  • ruler
  • spray bottle
  • work gloves.

Walk through the tool/hardware department of the local home hardware big box store. Make a list of things that would serve many purposes. If the list is long, and if faced with a new problem at home, talk to one of the guys and see what they may suggest. Also, check the problem and tools needed for repair online.

Many cities now have tool closeout and discount shoppes. The savings is worth the trip.

Items needed or wanted always make good gifts, so make a list and keep it to share.

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