Move-in Checklist for New Homeowners

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You just closed on a new home – congratulations! 

Checking these items off will help catch small repairs before they turn into emergencies, ensure that your major appliances and heating-and-cooling systems remain in good working order, and protect your family and pets from potential hazards. 

Security

Rekey door locks 

You received keys at closing, but there’s no way to know if there are other keys still floating around, and you don’t want an unexpected visitor! Rekeying can also make all of your locks “match” so one key opens the front, back, and any side doors. 

To rekey, you can call a locksmith who will get it done quickly. You can also remove your locks and take them to a locksmith or some hardware stores to have them rekeyed on site, which will save a little money. The third option is to buy a rekeying kit and do it yourself without removing the locks (just make sure the kit’s made for your brand of lock). 

Change garage door codes

Just like your new keys, there’s no way of knowing how many garage door openers are in someone else’s hands. Changing the code for the keypad and remotes has a few steps that you can do yourself with a ladder and a screwdriver (you’ll need to access the motor). We recommend looking up your brand’s directions online. 

Check window locks

Make sure that each one fastens smoothly and that the windows remain in place while open. If you have sliding glass doors, consider installing a security bar. You can more than likely purchase one from your local hardware store, or a dowel rod, cut to size, can be a good DIY solution.

Safety

Change batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide sensors

Change your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries as soon as you move in. Smoke detector batteries should be changed at least once a year and the entire unit should be replaced ten years from the manufacturing date. Carbon monoxide detector batteries should be changed every six months and the unit should be replaced every five years. We recommend getting in the habit of testing the batteries for both alert systems once a month.

Clean dryer vent

Lint can accumulate in the vent and be a fire hazard when combined with the heat of doing laundry. You can generally clean the vent with a vacuum cleaner hose attachment. If you can’t reach it, an HVAC company can do it for you when they check your heating and air conditioning units. Generally, vents should be cleaned once a year, but families who do a lot of loads may need to do it more frequently. 

Get fire extinguishers

Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher. If you only have one, the kitchen is a recommended place to keep it as many home fires start there. Experts also recommend having one on every level of your home and one near the front and back doors. 

We recommend looking for a multipurpose extinguisher, which will be effective against different types of small fire. The US Fire Administration has helpful information about the five types of extinguishers and how to use a fire extinguisher, as well as other fire safety tips. 

It’s also smart to make and practice a plan for how to get out of your new home in the event of a fire. The National Fire Protection Association has tips on how to do this. 

Appliances

Check HVAC system

Check your air filter when you move in and if it doesn’t look new, replace it. It should generally be changed out every three months, especially if someone in your home has allergies. You can also inspect your ductwork for debris and leaks. 

You can also have an HVAC company visit your home to check the coolant and motor on your air conditioner unit, check your furnace or heat pump, and clean your bathroom vents to prevent mold and mildew. 

Clean kitchen appliances

The back of the fridge is one of the most-ignored spots in a home, even when a seller is making everything look great for potential buyers. Dust and debris can accumulate, and eventually block vents and cause the fridge to malfunction. 

Clean your dishwasher filter as well to keep it draining so the washer can do its job. 

Clean range hood

Your oven likely has a grease hood over it. This hood’s job is to vent out grease, smoke, heat, and steam from the air, so it can get gunked up and become a fire hazard. Wipe down the outside with a basic spray cleaner or dish soap mixed with water. Under the hood, use a scrub brush with a solution that fights grease, such as OxiClean. Clean the filter by removing it from the hood, then soaking it with hot water and baking soda. Make sure it dries before reinstalling it. 

Plumbing

Drain and refill water heater

Sediment can collect in your water heater and cause issues. You can find detailed directions online that show how to drain and refill it to get rid of the sediment. The basic steps are to turn off the water supply and water heater, attach a hose, open the hot water tap on a sink to alleviate pressure, opening the drain valve, allowing the hot water to flow through the hose, then removing the hose and turning on cold water to refill the tank. You’ll just need a standard garden hose. 

Clean drains

If you’ve just moved in, having a professional plumber inspect, clean, and flush your drains is something you might want to consider. You may not know when – or if ever – the previous owner had clogs removed, and plumbing emergencies can be some of the most damaging (and disgusting) things that can go wrong in your new home. Once the drains are cleaned, set up regular cleaning with your plumber. Also, avoid using chemical drain cleaners, especially with older homes, as they can damage your pipes.

Install drain covers

If your shower and tub don’t already have drain screens, buy some that fit over the drains to catch stray hairs that can build up and create clogs. 

Outdoors

Clean gutters

Your gutters protect the foundation of your house from water run-off from the roof. Make sure the gutters are free of leaves and debris, and that they’re firmly in place.

Check caulking

Windows, corners, and siding joints all use caulking that can erode over time. Take a close look to be sure your caulking is intact and re-caulk where necessary. 

Have roof inspected

Checking the roof should have been part of your home inspection prior to closing. If it wasn’t, make sure to have it looked at. If there are especially heavy snows or hail storms, having an inspection afterward can help find leaks while they’re still small (and cheap) enough to fix.

Check sprinklers

Make sure your sprinkler system works, and have the sprinkler heads checked annually, as damage can happen over time while mowing your lawn or through general wear and tear.  



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