All homes have some
method of heating. The most common type
of heating system is a forced air furnace. The furnace can be powered by
electricity or gas. Temperature is
controlled by a thermostat. The heat
from the furnace enters the home through vents in walls and/or ceilings and
cold air is returned to the furnace through larger vents called “cold air
return” vents. Another type of heating
system is hydronic or hot water
heating. In this type of heating the
water is heated in a boiler, which is typically powered by gas or electricity,
and then circulated through pipes to convectors or radiators located throughout
If the home has a
cooling system it will be one or more of the following three types of systems;
Air Conditioner, Evaporative Cooler (Swamp Cooler), Attic Fan.
are run by electricity. They can be room
or whole house units. Room air
conditioners are mounted in windows or walls and are operated manually. Whole house units are set on a cement slab outside
and are connected to the furnace venting system and controlled by the
require both electricity and water.
Swamp coolers can be mounted in windows, walls or on the roof. The control is located at the swamp cooler or
on a separate thermostat inside. Water
is piped to the swamp cooler via a copper tube connected to your cold water
line. A shut off valve is installed at
are run by electricity and are located in the ceiling on the upper floor and
vent into the attic. House fans should be used only at night after the outside
temperature has dropped. This pulls the
cooler outside air through the house the hot air is vented into the attic.
Your Heating Systems
Install smoke and
carbon monoxide detectors in recommended locations throughout your house.
Change batteries in
your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every 6 months.
Change or clean
furnace filters regularly. Check monthly at first to determine appropriate replacement
interval for your home and lifestyle. Dirty filters will prevent your furnace
from running efficiently wasting energy, money and potentially causing damage
to the furnace. Note: Thefilter must
be changed year round if you have whole house (central) air-conditioning) How to change your furnace filter
Have your furnace cleaned and serviced annually to prolong the life of your system.
inspected and serviced every year. For wood burning fireplaces contact a
chimney sweep for gas fireplaces contact a gas appliance service company.
Your Cooling Systems
(AKA swamp coolers) should be drained seasonally to prevent water lines from
freezing and splitting. Cooling pads should be replaced every 2 years.
filters should be inspected and cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. Check monthly to determine appropriate
replacement interval for your home and lifestyle, then perform routine
should not be run if the outside temperature is below 65 degrees F.
Whole house air conditioning systems should be serviced annually.
One of the things I talk about in a number of my classes (home maintenance, plumbing and weatherizing) is the importance of knowing where your main and individual water shut-off valves are located. This is not only vital information in an emergency, it is also important for safely and efficiently completing your home repairs and improvements.
The following is a list of the shut off valves and switches and how to locate them. Main water shut off valve
This valve is typically located on the lowest level of your home which in some cases may be a crawl
space. Go to the wall that is closest to the street and look for a valve that looks like one of these pictures and is connected to a pipe that is coming through the foundation wall below ground level or up from the ground in a crawl space.
If you can't find it this way start at your water heater and follow the cold water pipe until you can find where it enters the house. Your shut off valve may be concealed behind a panel in the wall in a finished basement. Water shut-off valve for sprinkler systems.
This valve is typically located near the main water shut off. The water supply line for irrigation systems often branches off the main water line near were it enters the home. Look for a shut off valve that looks like the main shut off valve.
Individual water shut off valves
In newer homes it is required that every individual fixture (sink, toilet, washing machines, laundry tubs) has a shut off valve on any water supply line. This is not necessarily true for tubs and showers and I don't know why that is. The valves should visible and accessible. Look under sinks, behind toilets and behind your clothes washer.
Water Heater shut off valve.
Every water heater should have a shut off valve on the cold water
supply line to the unit. This allows the unit to be serviced or replaced without having to shut the water off to the entire house.
I am an expert at helping women experience the joy of home ownership. I empower women to confidently navigate the home buying, selling and maintenance processes by making smart decisions with great information. I have years of experience in residential real estate as a handywoman, home inspector, teacher, landlord, homeowner, broker and volunteer.