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5 Things Every Homeowner Should Know

2nd Nov 2013

When you’re getting ready to buy your first home, you can find out a lot online about mortgage rates, what you can afford and how to negotiate a lower price. But there are many lessons homeowners learn through trial and error that you may not know about right away. It’s not like these things are big secrets that no one wants to share with you; it’s just that people may not think to tell you what they know — or they may assume you already know it.

Following are five things you should know now, so you don’t have to learn about them the hard way.

1. Don’t skimp on preventive maintenance.

When you’re trying to save money, you may not feel like spending $100 or more on a tune-up for your furnace. But if your furnace isn’t running at peak efficiency, you’ll probably end up paying way more than $100 extra for your heating costs this winter. Plus, a tune-up will detect any problems that could pose a safety risk.

2. Big trees can mean big problems.

You’ll have an inspector check out your home before you buy it, but an inspector may not have the knowledge to identify potential problems from tree roots.

Mature trees can infiltrate main sewer lines and cause all sorts of nastiness. Often, the risk of this happening depends on the location and type of tree in your yard. If the home you want to buy has a large tree on the property, consider hiring an arborist to evaluate the risk of tree root intrusion and to make sure the tree is in good health.

3. Having the right tools can save you money.

When your drain is backed up or an electrical switch stops working, your first inclination may be to pick up the phone and call a handyman to fix it. But that can cost you big money. However, when you have the right tools, you may be able to handle repairs yourself.

Some items you’ll use again and again around the home — helpful plumbing devices, like drain snakes or augers; a good drill; and a set of wrenches in various sizes for tightening and loosening bolts. If you don’t want to buy these items all at once, that’s fine — just prioritize a list of tools to get. Drain problems can interfere with your happiness (and ability to take a shower) right away, so it’s always good to have a drain snake handy.

4. Don’t put off the snow shoveling.

If you live in an area where snow and ice are common in winter, take note: You could be sued if someone slips and falls on your snow- or ice-covered sidewalk. Unless you’ve been told otherwise by your neighborhood association, assume the responsibility for a clear walkway is yours.

Shovel walkways, steps and a path to your mailbox as soon as possible to avoid potential liability.

5. Do your own periodic inspections.

Every few months, take 20 minutes to poke around your house with a flashlight. Look under sinks, in the attic and in your crawlspace or around the edges of your basement for any signs of moisture damage. Moisture may start in these areas and go unnoticed until it’s already become a serious problem. But if you go searching for it, you’ll probably find it before it ruins your day — or your drywall.

There are many other handy tips for homeowners — ask your friends and family to tell you about something they learned that they wish they would’ve known all along.

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