Home Maintenance 101: Basic Tasks Everyone Should Know

Homeownership comes with its perks but it also comes with its own set of responsibilities. Mainly all of them. If you’ve been used to having a landlord or property management company handle household maintenance, you may be in for a surprise when a leak appears or your toilet won’t stop running and you’re the one who has to deal with it.

But don’t worry. With some know-how and an internet search or two, you can handle several common home maintenance tasks. Here are some basic home maintenance tasks everyone should know how to do.

Change filters

Dust and grime will make your furnace work harder than necessary, which wastes energy and costs you money. The simple solution (serious, so simple) is checking your unit and changing the filters. Turn off the system and pull out the filters to inspect them. It’s time to change them if they’re dark and dirty-looking. Just slide in a new filter and turn the system back on. A good rule of thumb is to change the filter every 3 months – or more frequently if you have pets.

Reset the circuit breaker

If the power suddenly turns off in your home (and is only affecting your home) chances are the circuits have become overloaded and turned off. When that happens, you’ll need to reset the breaker to get the power flowing again.

Locate the breaker box and find the switch that is slightly off alignment or set in the opposite direction of the others. Push it into the OFF position and then back ON.

Turn off the water and gas main

In the case of an emergency, you should know where your home’s water main is and how to turn it off. The water main valve is usually located near where the water main enters the house from the street. If your valve has a wheel handle, turn it clockwise to turn off the water supply. If it’s a lever, turn it ¼ turn. In addition to the main shutoff valves, you should also know how to turn off the water at specific locations in the house. These are found directly under the sink or behind the toilet.

You should also know where your gas main is if your home is supplied with natural gas. You should only turn off the gas if you smell natural gas or hear gas escaping and it’s safe to do so. The shutoff valve is located on a pipe running from the ground to the meter. When the gas is on, the valve will be parallel to the pipe. Using an adjustable wrench, turn the valve a quarter turn in either direction until it is crosswise to the pipe. Once you turn off the gas, have a representative from the gas company come to restore service.

Each appliance that is powered by natural gas, like the stove or furnace, will have its own shutoff valve.

Unclogging drains

Slow or clogged drains are a hassle but need to be dealt with immediately. Thankfully you don’t need to call in a plumber to handle this task. Skip the chemical drain cleaners and opt for a drain snake, clog remover tool, or a plunger to clear the backup.

Fix a running toilet

A running toilet can be annoying. It can also waste a lot of water which can increase your water bill. There are many reasons why toilets run but issues with the toilet fill valve, flapper, chain or float are most common. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to fix the most common toilet issues.

Locate wall studs

If you’re hanging anything from the wall, you’ll want to make sure you’re securing it into a wall stud. You can knock on the wall hearing for a solid sound but the most reliable way is using a stud finder. Anchoring heavy items into the studs stabilizes them and protects your walls and items from damage.


Caulking prevents water, air, and bugs from getting into your home. Caulk is typically used around windows, doors, pipes, and walls. There are two common types of caulk: latex and silicone. Latex is the easiest to use though is semi-permanent. Silicone provides a longer-lasting seal though can be more difficult to apply. Remove the old caulk and clean and dry the area. Apply the new caulk with a caulk gun and smooth it out with your finger. Allow to dry and you’re done.

Know when to call in a pro

If the repair stretches beyond your capabilities, the smart move is to call in a professional. Pushing forward to fix something that’s above your skill level is not only dangerous but can also devalue your property in the long run. Save yourself the stress and make the call.

Even if you don’t believe you’re particularly handy, knowing how to handle these home maintenance tasks will make you feel like a capable homeowner.

Are you looking for a new home in the Bay Area? Visit us at SummerHillHomes.com to learn more about our communities, view virtual tours, and schedule a private tour and get ready to find your new home.

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