Bill Ryan's Blog
Be the burglarNot literally. But pretend to be. Go through the exterior of your house and think like a burglar. Check your windows. Especially the low-hanging ones. Are all of your locks secured? Do you make it a point to lock them nightly? Test your locks. Not all locks are created equal. Doorknob locks are often easily picked or forced open. Deadbolts are harder. However, none of these things matter if the integrity of your door is compromised. French doors, for example, are particularly easy to force open. If you're worried about your locks, consult a locksmith that can help you choose better options. Look inside your home from the sidewalk. Are there valuables within view from the street? Do you have a tendency to leave your garage door open, exposing expensive items like lawnmowers, grills, or even motorcycles? Burglars don't just target homes. Don't end your search with the house. Many items are stolen from sheds, backyards, and even off of porches, which happened to me as a child when a bicycle was taken from our porch in the night.
Tighten up securityThe number of small steps we can take to improve security and mitigate risk of burglary is boundless. Here are some security tips that should be on every checklist for home safety:
- Use a security mailbox and don't leave mail with personal information exposed in front of your home
- Install a fireproof safe in your home. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. Keep your important documents in the safe, and better yet, keep them backed up in a secure file on the cloud like Google Drive or Dropbox.
- Use motion light detectors. When calibrated correctly they won't go off for every car or cat that happens by and they're a great theft deterrent.
- Tell your neighbors if you're going out of town, and have someone take in your mail/newspapers for you. Keep a kitchen light on and a car parked in the driveway if possible.
- Don't leave spare keys under the rug or anywhere obvious. Also, keep tabs on all of the keys to your home. Know who has a copy and check up on the spare keys on occasion.
You’ve closed on your new house, moved all your boxes, and started planning how to arrange your furniture. Your family can’t wait to settle in and regain a sense of normalcy after the chaos of moving. But before you get back to your normal routine be sure to add these tasks for new homeowners to your to do list. Each takes just an hour of your time and will help you to stay on top of maintenance as well as familiarize yourself with your new domain.
Start by finding out where your main water shutoff valve is located. This is not something you want to have to find when you are in an emergency. In colder climates, it’s most likely to be found in your basement and if you are in a warmer climate you should find it outside. If you keep a binder for home updates add a note of the location within.
Make sure your attic insulation is the correct depth. You want at least 6 inches and even more in northern states. Ensuring that your insulation is the correct depth will help you to save money throughout the year on heating and cooling costs. If you’re attic doesn’t have the correct depth or is damaged be sure to have it replaced as soon as possible. Oftentimes you can get incentives for improving your insulation and thus creating a more energy efficient home.
Check the temperature of your hot water heater and be sure it is set at 120 degrees tops. If you have an older model add a hot water heater blanket to help retain heat. If you find that your heater leaks you want to replace it immediately. A small leak can quickly lead to a major one, flood your home and cause serious damage. Again, be sure to keep note of the month and year you replaced your heater or which year your current model is.
Replace air filters right away so that you will know when they’ve last been replaced. Add monthly reminders to your calendar to stay on top of this quick maintenance task. You can make this task even easier by buying them in bulk. If you love to be organized label them for each month so you know exactly when you’ll next need to replace them.
Change all of the locks on your home. This is simple enough to do on your own and is an easy proactive safety measure for your family. While one hopes there are no lingering keys out in the world of your home, you can’t be sure of who may have a spare key.
Take note of any cracks in your basement. If you find any mark their length with a piece of masking tape and mark with the current date. Watch closely to see if the crack spreads beyond the mark. If you find that the cracks are lengthening be sure to get them taken care of by a professional. This is a serious repair you don’t want to wait on.
Buying a new home is an exciting time. Especially after you’ve closed on the house, can begin to move in and start settling into your routine. Before you get too comfortable be sure to add a few tasks to your to do list. Familiarizing yourself with your new home right away will help you stay on top of maintenance and have peace of mind.
Owning a home is expensive. Aside from your mortgage, you also have to pay for insurance, utilities, property taxes... the list goes on.
It may seem like there are few ways to cut back on the expenses of owning a home. However, one of the most effective things you can do to save money as a homeowner is to do your own maintenance. The cost of home repairs can add up, especially if you live in an older home or in an area where services like plumbers and electricians aren’t accessible or affordable.
With a little research and some hard work, however, maintaining your home can be a source of pride and of saving yourself money.
In this article, we’ll cover the basic home maintenance and home improvement knowledge that will save you money, and point you in the direction of some resources that will help you attain those skills.
Maintenance is key
To increase the longevity of appliances like refrigerators, washers and dryers, you’ll need to perform some mundane tasks regularly. That includes cleaning filters, fans, and going online to order new ones when necessary. In the same way that failing to change your oil filter will result in a much more expensive issue, so will failing to properly maintain your appliances.
In a world where companies are making it increasingly difficult for consumers to repair their own devices, it’s more important than ever to learn the basic skills needed to make simple repairs.
What you should do before repairing anything
There are some precautions you should take before repairing or maintaining things like appliances. First, always be sure the item is turned off and unplugged before working with its components.
Next, refer to the manual first, but if that fails, search for tutorials online such as on YouTube for your particular model. Always keep in mind that sometimes warranties are void if you attempt repairs yourself, so make sure the repair you’re attempting is easy enough so that you don’t risk losing your warranty.
The right tools for the job
It might be tempting to go down to The Home Depot and fill a cart with power tools when you buy your first home. Remember, however, that certain tools are more useful than others. Find out which tools you’ll be using most often. Odds are they’re simple, inexpensive hand tools that will fit in a small toolbox. Some power tools, such as a cordless drill, will probably be worth the investment as long as you take care of the batteries.
Don’t throw out good materials
Ample storage space is a problem many homeowners face. But if you can spare the space, hold onto materials from previous projects that might come in handy. Some examples include:
Paint. You don’t want to have to go back to the store and mix a new can of paint just for a touch-up.
Nails and screws that come with your purchases. Sometimes the screws are designed specifically for whatever you’re building. Save your backups so you don’t have to buy a new bag if one is lost.
Wood. Having extra wood around can come in handy for any number of home improvement projects.
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