9 Things Every Homeowner Should do at the New Year

Okay so it’s a new year!  This is a great time for homeowners to take care of some maintenance items around the house.  One of the reasons this a great time to do these things is it’s an easy time to remember each year… just make it a system in your house where every year, you check these items.  Some of these could potentially save your life; some of them could potentially save you money.

Here are 9 things every home homeowner should do in 2022:

1) Fire Alarms

Ideally, you’ll check your fire alarms twice a year.  So the first of January is a great time for one of those checks.  Check the battery and do a device check where you actually test the fire alarm by pressing the button and making sure it works.  Also, consider the placement of the fire alarms and the number of alarms in your home?  Do you have enough for the size and layout of your home?  Are they placed in the most effective way?

The graphic below is from the site The Spruce.  Check out this article for helpful information on where to place fire alarms in your home; https://www.thespruce.com/where-to-place-smoke-detectors-1152485 

2) Review or Create a Fire Escape Plan

While we’re on the subject of Fire Alarms; this would also be a great time to consider what you and your family would do in the event of a fire.  How would you safely escape your home?  Take some time and make an escape plan.  If you need some help figuring out how to create an escape plan, check out this article from the National Fire Protection Association: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Staying-safe/Preparedness/Escape-planning

3) Get a fireproof Safe for Important Documents

What would happen to your important documents in the event of a fire?  Do you even know where all your important documents are?  I’m talking about things like your marriage certificate, birth certificates, titles to your automobiles, etc.  

You can purchase a fire and flood proof mini safe from places like Target and Walmart very easily and usually around $50 – $100 dollars.  These are a great solution for most people to collect and safely store important documents, photos, jewelry, etc.

4) Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon Monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that claims the lives of over 430 people per year.  Like your smoke detector; this is a great time of year to check the batteries and operation of your Carbon Monoxide Detectors.

To learn more about how these detectors work and why they’re important, check out this informative article from SafeWise.com: https://www.safewise.com/home-security-faq/carbon-monoxide-detector/ 

5) HVAC filters

Ah filters.  What a pain!  They’re expensive and inconvenient to change.  But it’s important to do.  Clogged up filters is the #1 reason that your HVAC system will either stop working or will at least be much less efficient, costing you comfort and money.  

The lifespan and frequency of how often you’ll need to change your filters will be determined by the type you buy; most filters need to be changed out every 30 days, but some are designed to last longer.

This is something everyone has overlooked at some point.  So take this time to create a system in your home where you’re changing out all the filters in your home at the appropriate frequency.

6) Inspection of Circuit Breaker Box, Valves (water shut off), etc.

Many people just don’t pay attention to things in their home.  And I get it, we’re all extremely busy working and raising a family, etc.  Learning all the intricate ins and outs of our homes sees like something we can put off.  The problem is though, we’ll put it off and then when we need to know how to do something, it may be too late.

For example, do you know how to shut the water supply off in your home?  Many years ago, a knob in our shower just randomly flew off, creating a torrent of water shooting out.  I didn’t know where the cut off was.  I knew it was in the front yard somewhere but not exactly where.  It was night, so I grabbed a flashlight and ran outside and searched for the cut off valve.  Roughly 5 minutes later I found it and had the water shut off.  That might not seem like a long time, but a lot of water can shoot out of those pipes in 5 minutes.

Same principle applies to other things as well; like your circuit breaker box.  Is it labled?  If you needed to cut power to a specific portion of your home like an oven or certain rooms, would you know how to do it?  If not, take some time to get your breaker box labeled.  Then, when an emergency does arise, you’re fully equipped and ready to go.  

To label your breaker box you may want to hire an electrician; or you can turn everything on in the house and, one by one, shut off each breaker and see what turns off.  Then, just label it accordingly.  Here is a photo of my breaker box… I have to say, it’s a thing of beauty!

7) Review your Mortgage

The financial market is always changing.  You may have gotten a decent interest rate on your mortgage for 2012; but is it still a good rate now?  You may have 4.5 % rate, but could get it now for 3.9 % if you refinanced.  That may seem like a small difference, but if you have years left on your mortgage that could save you real money.

So just take a few minutes, pull out your mortgage and just make sure that you’re still getting the best deal possible.  As of the time of this post (1/7/2022), rates now are at 3.7%.

8) Review Home Insurance Policy 

Similar principle here as with the mortgage.  The new year is a great time to take a half hour and just review your home insurance policy.  Do you know what your policy covers?  Let me tell you, that finding out what your policy covers after a disaster is not the right time…  get familiar with your policy now, before a disaster occurs.

Also, are you still getting the best rate on your policy?  It could be that you could get the same, or even more coverage now for the same or better price than what you’re currently paying.

9) Photos (inventory) 

This is something you should do every year… no question.  You should take some time and walk your property and document the condition of your home.  Check the gutters, siding, window seals, shingles on the roof and just take pictures of your entire house, inside and outside.

Why you ask?  I’ll tell you a true story.  Back in 2018 our house was smashed by a 6 ton oak tree.  Part of the damage went all the way down to our foundation and it caused a basement wall to buckle and crack.  Our home was built in 1925, though, and the insurance company initially refused to pay for any foundation repair saying that this was a pre-existing problem.  Fortunately, I had recent photos that showed that, prior to the tree falling, the wall was in good condition.  The insurance company eventually paid for a new foundation wall.

Additionally, take pictures of all your things.  Got lots of books?  Take photos of them.  Take photos of everything, your dvds, your clothes, your baseball card collection, everything.  In the event of a fire or theft or event that destroys your belongings, having photos of what you owned is extremely important as you seek to be reimbursed from your insurance company.

So that’s it!  Nine things that every homeowner should do at the New Year.  The list may seem overwhelming, but you could knock all this out in an afternoon.  I know this feels like homework and something unpleasant to think about or do; but please, consider these and implement any changes that may benefit your family: whether that’s a safety benefit or a financial one.  

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great New Year!


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