Inspecting and Maintaining Home Utilities
Utilities, such as electricity, water, and natural gas, allow us to complete the tasks of daily living. Now that working from home has become the norm, it's that much more important that these critical services work reliably, day after day. As the chances of extreme weather and natural disasters continue to increase, here's what you should know about maintaining your home utilities, and what to do if there's a problem.
Prevention & Maintenance:
The best way to be sure your services work the way they're supposed to is to have them checked and maintained regularly. Here are some things you can do.
- Inspect your pipes for leaks, rust, holes, or any visible problems.
- Hire a professional to perform a complete plumbing inspection.
- If you live in a climate that experiences sub-zero temperatures, take steps to make sure your pipes don't freeze.
- Check your water heater at least once a year. See this link for step-by-step instructions.
- Know how to turn off your main water valve if necessary.
- In case of emergency, keep water on hand. Experts recommend having several days' supply of approximately one gallon per person.
- Know where your breakers are located, how to turn them off, and when to call an electrician.
- Regularly inspect your wiring and look for any damage.
- Replace faulty wiring in a timely manner.
- Don't overload your outlets, and unplug appliances and other devices where you can.
- Have your electrical system professionally inspected.
- Keep appliances well maintained.
- If you notice an overheated outlet, sparks, or burn marks, call a professional.
- Keep your heat pump or furnace maintained, and always have it serviced before the winter months.
- Regularly clean or replace filters, and clean ducts.
- Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working, and test them at least once a year.
Internet Access for School and Work:
If you are working from home, particularly if your situation is permanent, or even 'temporarily' permanent, internet access is vital to getting any work done and connecting with clients and co-workers.
- Use a power surge protector for computers and routers.
- Check to see what kind of service standards your internet service provider has should you lose internet access. You might be down for a few hours in an outage but it could also be days.
- Have a back up plan. What can you accomplish using just your phone? Will a VPN (virtual private network) give you the kind of security you need to work from a public hotspot like at a coffee shop? Have you considered keeping a backup router on hand?
When You Have Problems:
Keeping your home utilities maintained and inspecting them regularly can prevent most minor issues from becoming major ones. But sometimes things just break down or there is an emergency. If you have or suspect a problem with your utility services, here's what to do:
- Turn off or don't use the service (water, electricity) if you can, especially if you suspect the problem could be dangerous.
- Don't try to fix a major issue on your own if you don't know what you're doing, because it could result in major injury or worse.
- If you suspect a gas leak, call the fire department right away.
- If a problem such as a water leak or faulty wiring has caused damage to your home, have it professionally assessed and cleaned, and call your insurance company right away.