4 Skills to Learn as Soon as You Buy Your Own Home

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These skills could end up saving you a lot of money and stress.

If you've become a homeowner for the first time, your life is changing in major ways. You're now responsible for making mortgage payments. You also are having to deal with the expenses of homeownership.

And instead of relying on a landlord, you'll most likely have to handle maintenance tasks on your own and find ways to deal with home repair problems that come up.

There are some home fixes that require professionals -- and it's a good idea to save up a home repair fund to pay for these types of issues. But there are also a few tasks that you should learn how to do yourself once you've become a homeowner. Being able to do the following four things could save you a fortune, and might help you avert potential disaster.

1. Unclogging a drain

Sinks can get clogged more easily than you think. When you can't get water to run down the drain, you might find yourself needing to call a plumber, which can get expensive.

The good news is, in most cases, there are some plumbing issues you might be able to take care of on your own. There are various solutions you can pour down the drain to try to break up clogs, including those that you buy as well as ones you can make yourself from household products such as baking soda and vinegar.

You can also use a bent wire hanger to pull debris out of the drain, or consider investing in a plunger or a plumber's snake. And with a simple plumbers wrench, you can even remove the trap (a u-shaped pipe) under the drain and see if you can remove clogs that are further down in your piping system.

Developing some plumbing skills could be invaluable, both because you won't lose the use of your sink when a drain clogs and you can save a fortune on a plumber's fee.

2. Resetting a tripped circuit breaker

Your home's electrical system has circuit breakers that can prevent dangerous electrical overloads. When too much power is drawn -- often because you've plugged in too many things -- or when there's a short, your circuit will trip.

When this happens, you'll get no power from that circuit any more. That means whatever electronic items are hooked up to it will no longer work. It can be frustrating and surprising to find a whole bunch of lights in your house don't work all at one time.

The good news is, this is an incredibly easy fix that definitely doesn't necessitate a call to an electrician. You just need to go to your electrical panel and reset the circuit breaker. You can do this by looking at which circuit is flipped the wrong way to "off" instead of on. Push it back in the correct direction and you'll be good to go.

3. Turning off the water supply

If you have a leak, you can do serious damage to your home very quickly. But the good news is, there are shut-off valves that can stop the flow of water and prevent that from happening.

Generally, these shut-off valves are found at individually plumbed areas throughout the home. For example, there's likely a valve by each of your toilets and under sinks. As soon as you notice a leak, you can simply turn these valves off.

Your home should also have a water main shut off valve that cuts off all water going into your home. If a pipe bursts somewhere, this is the valve you'd want to shut off. You should find and practice this before a leak happens and your home begins to flood with water.

4. Changing HVAC filters

Changing HVAC filters can help you to prolong the life of your heating and cooling system. When air can't move easily through dirty filters, your unit has to work harder until you change your filters. Depending on your system, there may be several filters in various locations throughout your home.

You may need to change your filters as often as monthly or as rarely as once per year. Make sure you review the manual and paperwork associated with your system (or ask an HVAC professional) so you can change these on schedule.

This is usually a simple DIY job, and doing it can pay off when you can preserve your expensive heating and cooling equipment for as long as possible.

By learning how to do these four essential home maintenance tasks, you can help keep your home safe. Plus, you can avoid paying repair bills for problems you could easily fix on your own. That's why it's well worth your time to develop these skills when you own your own home.

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