Whether you are a new homeowner or just moved into a rental, there are several things you should do right away.
Step 1: Locate the electrical circuit box. Make sure each circuit is labeled with the name of the room or appliance it controls.
Step 2: Locate the furnace and change the filter. Write the current date on the filter before installing it. Add a reminder to your calendar so that the filter gets changed in 30 or 90 days, whichever the filter manufacturer recommends.
Step 3: Identify the location of the main water shut-off valve — usually near the exterior wall where the water line enters the home. If in doubt, follow the line from the hot water heater back to the main shut-off valve. Make sure access to the valve is unobstructed. If there is not an interior shut-off valve, consider having one installed.
Step 4: Go outside and locate the water meter access lid. Follow a straight line from where the water line enters the home to the road or alley. The lid will typically be a flat metal circle or rectangle with the word “water” on it. Keep the lid free from debris. Consider purchasing a meter key to turn the water off in case of an emergency.
Step 5: If there is a gas appliance or furnace in the home, identify the main gas shut-off valve. This should be near an exterior wall where the black iron gas line enters the home. There should also be a shut-off for each appliance. Identify the location of each of these.
Step 6: Make a list of nonemergency and emergency numbers and keep it a central location. Include police and fire department numbers as well as the gas, electric and water utility numbers.
Step 7: Make a copy of the house key and leave it in a safe, easily accessible place, maybe hidden in a vehicle, at work or with a friend.
Step 8: Introduce yourself to your neighbors; good neighbors make safe neighborhoods.
— Fix-It Chick’s Linda Cottin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.