According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, the average American spends more than a quarter of his or her life inside their home. Our home is our sanctuary. And for most of us, it’s our largest asset. That’s why we spend a lot of time, energy, and money making sure our home stays in good working condition. But no matter what you do, emergencies are going to happen. And for the ill-prepared homeowner, these emergencies can destroy the home in no time.
But if you know what to do in emergency situations you can save your home from potential disaster. Below is a list of skills that every homeowner should have, because when emergencies happen it is important to act quickly.
Know how to shut off the main water supply to your house
An overflowing toilet or a busted sink faucet can cause a lot of damage. Most of us know there are individual shutoff valves near our toilets and sinks when this happens, but what happens when a pipe starts to leak through the ceiling, or worse, when our water heater bursts? If the main water supply to your home is not shut off immediately, your whole house can flood in a matter of minutes. But if you know where your shut off valve is, you can turn it off quickly before the damage becomes severe.
The location of the shut-off valve will differ from house to house. It is typically located where the main water supply enters your home. In most Houston houses this is either in the garage or around the outside of your house. All you have to do is turn the valve and your water should stop flowing. We recommend a test run when you first move into your home so you can make sure it works before you need to use it for real.
Get to know your breaker box and panels
The electrical system in your home plays a large role. It is a very delicate system and if it is not properly maintained then serious problems can occur. If you see smoke or notice a burnt odor coming from a receptacle in your home, or the power in a certain area of your home suddenly goes out, you should head straight for your breaker box.
“Proper labeling of your breaker panels is very important and can save your home from disaster,” said John Moore Services Electrical Manager David Floyd. “Flipping a breaker will stop the flow of electricity to a certain area of your home, and if a part of your system is smoking it is important to stop the flow of electricity as soon as possible. Electrical safety is all about preventive maintenance. If you have your panel inspected once a year and know your breaker panels are properly labeled you will be better prepared in an electrical emergency.”
Know how to test your fire alarm and carbon monoxide detectors
We all have fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in our home, but when was the last time you actually checked yours to make sure they are working properly? Each alarm is equipped with a test button. By testing them periodically throughout the year and making sure the batteries inside them are fully charged, you will be prepared in case of a fire or a carbon monoxide leak. Carbon monoxide safety at home also requires that you replace your CO detector every 5 to 7 years.
It is also important to have a fire extinguisher on each level of your home and to know how to use it. That way if there is a fire, you can put it out before it gets out of control.
Know how to check for termites
Termites are a big problem in Houston because of our hot and humid climate. And many times homeowners are not aware they have a termite infestation until the damage has already been done. But there are several things you can look for around your home that will tell you if you have a termite problem.
- If you see tunnels made of mud that are located on brickwork, walls, or concrete posts. Termites use these tunnels to get inside your home.
- You notice small specks of dirt on your indoor walls. Termites tunnel and eat through the wood that frames the inside of your home. When they reach the end of a wall they cover up the hole with dirt and feces, and continue to tunnel in a different direction.
- You start to see swarmers, or winged termites, flying inside your home. Swarmers are the reproductive termites that fly around looking for a place to nest. Seeing them flying around inside your home is a pretty good indicator that you have an infestation.
Know how to test your generator in case of a power outage
We get a lot of storms in Houston, especially during hurricane season. And depending on the severity of the storm your house might lose power. But if your home has a generator you don’t have to worry because it should turn on a few seconds after the power goes out.
“Generators self-test the same time each week to make sure they are working in proper condition. But it is important for the homeowner to make sure this is actually happening,” said Floyd. “We carry Honeywell Generators that have a digital IP. Basically, you can go to a website to monitor your generator and make sure it is self-testing weekly like it should. Any problems that go wrong will show up on the website. It is an easy way for homeowners to stay on top of generator maintenance.”
If you do not have a generator, it is important to have a stash of flashlights and batteries readily available. You should also have a list of phone numbers for your utility companies so you can double check if the power outage is due to a storm or if it is an internal problem with your electrical system.
Being a homeowner is a big responsibility, and by learning a few key skills you are making sure your home remains safe in the face of an emergency. When you have a problem with your plumbing, electrical, or HVAC system it is important to call in licensed professionals to come take a look. It is better to be safe than sorry! The experts at John Moore Services are trained to help with every type of emergency. So next time your power goes out unexpectedly, or a pipe bursts, give us a call and we will be there in no time!