6 Important Tasks for the First Day in Your Home


  1. Change the batteries in you smoke alarms and test them to ensure they are operational.  The smoke alarms should be tested monthly and the batteries changed annually.  If the smoke alarms are more than 10 years old or are the inexpensive Ionization type alarms they should be replaced with Photoelectric type alarms. There is evidence that the Ionization type alarms may not sound for many minutes even after a home is filled with smoke from a smoldering fire, which is common to modern homes.  See the attached video from NBC news regarding this concern. 
  2. Have a locksmith rekey all of the locks.  This is relatively inexpensive and can usually be completed on site in less than an hour. 
  3. Have your dryer vent cleaned by a qualified professional.  Most of the dryer exhaust vent pipes I see are several feet long – they can be up to thirty-five (35) feet long - and exhaust either through the roof or at the exterior wall above the ceiling of the laundry room.  Both require the dryer to push hot air and lint up the exhaust vent pipe for several feet before exiting the building.  This can allow lint (a highly flammable substance) to build up inside the pipe.  The build-up of lint can reduce the flow of air from the dryer making it less efficient and create a possible fire hazard.  A report on Clothes Dryer Fires in Residential Buildings (2008 -2010) by FEMA indicates that there are approximately 2,900 clothes dryer fires in the US each year.  

  4. Replace the water supply hoses to the clothes washer.  If you are bringing you own washing machine, make sure you install new hoses.  If you buy a new washing machine and are having it installed make sure to provide upgraded hoses for the installer.  The hoses that generally come with the new washers are unreinforced rubber hoses.  It is not uncommon for this type of hose to burst, causing a flood inside the home.  Reinforced rubber hoses and steel braided hoses are a better choice but can still leak on occasion.  These type hoses should be replaced every five (5) years.  The best choice in clothes washer hoses is from a company called Floodchek.  These hoses, while expensive compared with regular clothes washer hoses, carry a 20 year warranty and are a sound investment against a flooded home. 
  5. Have your heating/air conditioning or heat pump unit(s) serviced by a qualified licensed professional.  This is especially important if the home has been remodeled or vacant for some time.  Units that are not serviced regularly may not be operating at peak performance.  Twice annual service is recommended in order to maintain the most efficient operation of your unit(s).  Heating/air conditioning contractors offer service contracts that provide this service for a reduced cost as they will schedule with you when the temperature is mild and the emergency service calls are low.   The biggest single source of energy usage is your heating/air conditioning units.  Having them operate at peak performance is a great way to save money.
  6. Familiarize yourself with the main service disconnect for the electricity and the shutoff valves for the water and gas (if applicable).   A working knowledge of these shutoffs can reduce the time needed to find and use them in an emergency.