Whether you’ve just moved into your dream home or you’re celebrating your 20th home anniversary, home safety is paramount. A malfunctioning furnace or a drip under the sink can lead to thousands of dollars in damage, time out of your home, or worse.
We interview experts from all areas of the home space and provide helpful home tips and tricks to our homeowners through the vipHomeLink home maintenance app and bi-weekly emails. Here are just a few expert home safety tips to simplify your homeownership, help you save money and time, and gain peace of mind.
Every home has a water shut-off valve that can stop the water from entering your home. If a pipe bursts or you have a serious leak, you can close the shut-off valve to help mitigate the damage. It’s also a great idea to shut off your water when you’re headed out on vacation, so a major leak doesn’t happen while you’re away.
Additional tip: Consider installing an automatic water shut-off valve, which can monitor your water usage, send you alerts to any unusual activity, and shut off your water after two minutes in the event of a serious issue. (We’re not talking about those long showers you love to take.)
They’re also relatively cheap and easy to install, and if our team members can install these on their washing machines, so can you!
Your risk of dying in a home structure fire is 55 percent lower when you have working smoke alarms in your home. When it comes to carbon monoxide, more than 400 people die and another 50,000 people visit the emergency room each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning. That’s why it’s imperative to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly and change the batteries when prompted.
Save money and energy by installing a smart or programmable thermostat. According to PSE&G, an ENERGY Star™ certified smart thermostat can help you save up to $50 a year on energy costs while keeping your home comfortable. Plus, simply lowering a programmable thermostat one degree during the heating season or raising it one degree during the cooling season over a 24-hour period can save approximately 3% on your heating bill!
Your furnace or HVAC’s air filters need to be replaced regularly to keep your air quality high, your utility bills low, and your unit working longer. Most units require you to replace the air filter every three months, but some can be as frequently as every month or as rarely as once a year. Keep up to date with your unit to ward off cold toes and hot days!
Use regular rubber hoses on your appliances at your own peril. Instead, opt for braided metal hoses on your “wet” appliances – dishwasher, washing machine, even your toilet. Braided metal hoses can last up to eight years, though our experts have yet to see one burst. They’re also relatively cheap and easy to install, and if our Director of Digital Content can put one on her washing machine, so can you!
GFCIs can save your life (no hyperbole here)! A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) cuts the power to an outlet if it senses an issue with the current. This happens super fast – in less than one-tenth of a second – and can prevent electrocution. Ensure you have these outlets in the necessary areas of your home, including the kitchen, bathroom, garage, and basement.
We’re not talking about the lint trap or screen here (which you really should clean between loads). When we say you need to clean your dryer vent, we’re talking about the long duct out of the back of your dryer that leads to the outside. This area can see excess lint from your dryer’s everyday use, and if it’s not cleaned, it can become a fire hazard. (In fact, more than 2,900 dryer vent fires happen annually!)