By Brentnie Daggett
Moving usually brings up a whole mix of emotions–from excitement and stress to fatigue and fear. Once the moving process is over and you’re officially in your new home, the more optimistic feelings should start to take precedence over the negative ones, but your job isn’t done just yet. Here are a few essential steps you should take in your new home to ensure your safety and start to fully settle in:
Locate the Fuse Box
Finding your home’s circuit breaker box right away means you’ll be able to act quickly in case of a power outage or in an emergency situation, such as an electrical fire. Overloaded outlets, short circuits or even large appliances can blow a fuse or trip a breaker, which are common reasons for you to have to access the fuse box. Usually fuse boxes are located in places like the basement or garage, but sometimes they can be tucked away on the exterior of the home or in a closet. It’s a good idea to store a flashlight nearby in case you need to access the fuse box in the dark.
Find Your Shut-Off Valves
Few things can cause more damage to your home than a water or gas leak. Locate both your water and gas shut-off valves right away and consider showing them to everyone who lives with you as a safety measure. Accidental water damage is one of the most common insurance claims in the United States, plus it's also very expensive. If you’re dealing with something like a burst pipe, you won’t want to waste time looking for the shut-off valve.
Most homes will have a water shut-off valve in the kitchen and near each toilet, while gas shut-off valves are typically located closer to the gas meter. It can also be beneficial to know where the master water shut-off is located for the entire property in case a leak isn’t stopped by the local valve. Don’t hesitate to contact your municipal water or gas provider if you need help locating these shut-off valves.
Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are vital to the safety of you and your family. Not only is it important to locate these tools in your new home, but it is equally important to test out each device to make sure they are functioning properly. If they aren’t working, do what you need to do to get them in working order as soon as possible or purchase new ones.
Create Emergency Plans
It’s not the most exciting part of moving into a new home, but take a moment to identify emergency escape routes and create an emergency plan with your family. Add a lockout plan into the mix–what will you do if you end up locked out of your new house? Consider installing a lockbox or asking a friend or family member who lives close by to hold on to a spare key.
Check Out Your HVAC System
Most heating and cooling systems use a replaceable filter to ensure good airflow and prevent wear and tear. Even if the HVAC system was examined during the home inspection process, it’s a good idea to take a look at the HVAC filter, check for dirt and debris, and see if it's time to swap it out for a new one. Changing the filter will keep the air in your new home healthy and can even keep your electric bill in check since the system won’t be overcompensating due to poor airflow.
Experts recommend changing HVAC filters at least seasonally, or monthly, if you have pets in the home. While you’re inspecting the filter, run both the heating and cooling systems to ensure they operate as intended to avoid a situation where you can’t keep your home at the proper temperature during all seasons.
Get Homeowners Insurance
Homeowners insurance is typically required before you can close on a home, but if you haven’t already secured a policy, do so immediately. Your home is likely the largest investment you'll make in your lifetime,and homeowners insurance adds another layer of protection to your home, your personal property and your liability.
Moving isn’t always easy, but with a little research and planning ahead you can take some of the stress out of the situation. Once you complete these important first steps in your new home, it’s time to move on to the fun part of moving: enjoy your new house and explore your new neighborhood!
Brentnie Daggett is a writer and infographic master for the rental and property management industry. She loves to share tips and tricks to assist landlords and renters alike. To learn more about Daggett, and to discover more great tips for renters, visit www.rentecdirect.com.