Congratulations! You went through the home buying process and finally found your perfect home. The next step is to call the movers to bring everything in, right? Well, not necessarily. The checklists continue and you need to do a number of things before moving into a new home.
To make the most of your new investment, it’s crucial that you make sure all of your plumbing, electrical and HVAC ducts are in a row. Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered. Here are six things to do before moving into a new home.
1. Learn about your sewage system.
One of the most important things to check before moving into a new house is its sewage system. In general, sewage will leave through the lowest point of a house. First, you’ll want to start by identifying if your system has a mainline or a septic tank.
- Septic system: If it’s a septic system, the sewage will run into a tank or field. If the home has a septic tank, determine its location. Then, look around that space for water, seepage or unpleasant smells. These are signs you could have a problem.
- Mainline: If you have a city or county system, the sewage will run out into the street or a city main. If your home’s sewage system has a mainline, call a professional plumber to do a video inspection to analyze its condition. Over time, sewage lines can become clogged or damaged from nearby trees. If the system is old, it could also collapse and allow sewage to back up into your home.
Sewer maintenance can be inconvenient for residents, so it’s best to have service repairs taken care of before you move into a new house.
2. Unclog your drains.
Clogged drains are incredibly common. Loose hair, oils from toiletries, and paper products such as toilet paper, paper towels, and sanitary products don’t mix well with drains — which is why they cause clogs. Clogged drains are annoying, sure, but they can also lead to serious leaks.
Before moving into a new home, check the drain by turning on your faucet and letting it fun for two to three minutes. Your basin should drain fast and continue draining for the entire duration. To manage a simple clog, pour about half of a cup of baking soda down the drain and wait for it to bubble up. After sitting for 10 minutes, pour very hot (not boiling) down the drain. If this doesn’t help, don’t opt for commercial unclogging products, as they can damage your pipes. Instead, it’s a smart idea to call a trained plumber and schedule a visit.
You can also take a look under the sink for leaks, water damage or mold (which causes health problems). While you’re down there, check to see if there’s paint on the drainline or garbage disposal. If so, this could be a sign that the previous owners covered up a dated system that you’ll need to replace.
3. Replace your air filters.
If your home’s air gets dirty, it makes your HVAC system work harder (which means you spend more money on energy bills). According to the Department of Energy, replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower energy consumption by up to 15 percent.
A new air filter also has tremendous benefits for reducing or eliminating allergy symptoms. Mold, dust mites, ragweed and other pesky allergens lurk in your home — and dirty air filters can make your air quality even worse. Before moving into a new home, be sure to replace your HVAC filters.
4. Install a programmable thermostat.
If your new home doesn’t already have a programmable thermostat, install one before moving into a new house. When you install a programmable thermostat (and use it properly), you’ll be able to set your temperature to align with your family’s schedules. A programmable thermostat enables you to set your temperature for every hour of the week, automatically adjusting the temperature when you aren’t home to cut back on utility expenses.
If you do decide to install a programmable thermostat — use it. According to a study led by the Energy Analysis Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 90 percent of thermostat users set their programmable thermostat manually. The survey also found that 15 percent of people had the wrong times set on their thermostats, defeating the purpose.
Still not convinced? The Department of Energy reports that you can save up to 10 percent of your energy costs each year simply by turning your thermostat back 7°F to 10°F for eight hours a day. Those are some simple savings!
5. Check if your light bulbs and fixtures are compatible.
We all know that there are energy-efficient light bulbs available. But have you checked your home for overlamping? Overlamping occurs when you put a bulb in a light fixture that has higher wattage than the fixture can manage.
Overlamping is a serious mistake. If your bulbs overheat, the socket and wiring on the insulation can actually melt. What’s even worse? That wire damage will put you at risk for arc faults — a leading cause of house fires. An arc fault happens when an electrical current is forced to jump (arc) across a frayed wire.
If you don’t know your fixture’s wattage rating (why would you?), take a look at its body. Every modern light fixture should disclose it. If you can’t find the rating, you can try a lower-watt bulb or play it safe by replacing the fixture.
6. Look for dead outlets.
In the electrical world, outlets that don’t work are often labeled “dead.” Dead outlets are more than just a pain — they could be a sign of a larger issue.
A common cause of dead outlets is a tripped GFCI. A GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet is a special electrical device that provides much greater protection from electrical shock than a standard outlet. The National Electrical Code has required buildings to use GFCI outlets near sinks since the ‘70s.
When GFCI outlets detect overheating, they cause the outlet to shut down automatically and the breaker to turn off. In some homes, this may even cause outlets in different rooms to trip if they’re on the same circuit. If your outlets aren’t working, first try resetting all GFCI outlets in that room.
If GFCI outlets aren’t causing your outlets to die, you could have a more serious problem. Sometimes, wires will come loose — meaning you’ll need to replace your entire unit. Never attempt to perform this type of electrical work on your own. If you need a new outlet (or to repair an old one), always contact a trusted electrician.
Make the most of your move
Your new home’s plumbing and HVAC fixtures will impact how comfortable it is for your family. Work with the team at John C. Flood to inspect and tune-up your equipment before moving into a new home. Call the HVAC, plumbing, and electricity experts at John C. Flood at (703) 783-0247 or schedule HVAC, plumbing, and electrical service online.