12 Skills & Tips Every Homeowner Should Know



When you own a home, there are some things that you should know to make your life (and your family’s lives) safer and easier. Our heating and cooling service experts have come up with 12 things that we believe every homeowner should know:

1. How to replace an HVAC filter

Your HVAC filter should be changed every two months, on average, and it’s a fairly simple task to do. Each HVAC unit is different, so consult your manual to find out which filter you need and the steps you need to take to replace it.

2. Where to store flammables

While it may seem like a no-brainer, many homeowners store flammable materials in a basement or utility room that has a furnace, boiler, water heater. This is not a good idea and could cause a serious fire.

3. How to unclog a toilet

All you really need is a good plunger and a pair of rubber gloves. Make sure there’s some water in the toilet bowl (but not too much or it’ll come splashing up) and put some elbow grease into your plunging. If you flush and the toilet is in danger of overflowing, shut off the water supply valve.

4. How to start a garden

Starting a garden may seem intimidating, but it’s not as difficult as you may think. Simply choose a good, level spot that gets a lot of sun. Then, test your soil to see what nutrients it may need. After that, talk to your local nursery about which types of plants are best.

5. Where a wall stud is

When you go to hang something on your wall, you’ll want to place your nail or screw into a wall stud (instead of your drywall). This way, you can hang heavier items and won’t have to worry about damaging the wall. You can find a wall stud by knocking and listening – a stud will sound solid instead of hollow. Or, invest in an inexpensive stud finder.

6. How to paint a wall

While it may seem simple, painting a wall requires some prep work and technique. Patch any existing holes or gaps, then make sure you sand the surface well. After that, prime the surface, sand again, and cover any wall hardware with tape. Then paint using smooth, even strokes.

7. Which drain cleaner to use

Many popular drain cleaners that are available are also corrosive, which can cause damage to your plumbing and can also injure anyone trying to make a repair. Choose a drain cleaner with natural, non-toxic ingredients. (For more information, read our blog on Reasons to Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners.)

8. When to use heat/AC

Use your heat or air conditioning while you’re home, but when you leave and there’s no one in the house, you should turn it down. You’ll not only save energy, you’ll save money. You can also save money by keeping your thermostat two or three degrees above or below your normal temperature (depending on the season).

9. How to clean grout

Yes, the grout between your tiles gets dirty too. Take some time to scrub it clean with warm water, soap, and a hard-bristled brush. You can also make a paste with baking soda and water to clean it even deeper.

10. How to wallpaper

Like painting, wallpapering requires some prep work and some patience. If you’re wallpapering over a dark paint color, prime it so that the paint doesn’t show through. Then, layer your pieces of wallpaper side-by-side so that the pattern lines up and overlap them a little (around two inches).

11. Where to install CO detectors

Many homeowners install their carbon monoxide detectors near appliances that emit carbon dioxide. However, the biggest risk of carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when people are sleeping, so install your detectors near bedrooms instead.

12. How to shut off the water

While individual fixtures usually have their own water supply valves, turning off the valves won’t turn off the main source of water. The main water shut-off valve is usually next to the water meter. Remove the meter cover, then turn the valve 90 degrees with a cutoff key or adjustable wrench.

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