It’s important for you and your family to feel secure from the very first day in your new Austin home. Not feeling safe immediately can start you off on a rocky foundation. Here are some way you can increase your home security quickly and inexpensively.
Change the Locks
When buying a home, you never know who the previous owners shared a key with: maids, pet sitters, relatives, and the list goes on. Most locks can be rekeyed quickly and relatively inexpensively using a rekeying set or by a reputable locksmith. Have a plan to change locks or rekey soon after taking possession of your new Austin home. It will be nice to know that you’re the only one with the keys to the kingdom.
Replace Door Screws
Sometimes external door screws are an inch or less long. That’s not a lot of strength to stop your door from being forced open. Even if you live in a nice neighborhood in Austin, pick up some 3-inch screws, grab a drill and swap out the external door screws connecting the hinge with the frame. This is a very quick, cheap, and effective way to increase your home security.
Add Door Reinforcement Locks
Door reinforcement locks are a great way to add extra security. These locks are secured from inside your home and come in a variety of forms. When installing these locks, remember: the larger the screw the better, and be sure to be aware of the door thickness.
Add Window Blocks
Basic window locks can be defeated quite easily. Adding a 1-inch dowel cut to fit each window rail can stop a window from being forced open. When measuring each window, remember that you want the block to be as long as possible to stop the window from opening even slightly when the block is in place.
Reset Garage Door Remotes and Codes
You’ll never know who has your garage door codes saved on a device. It’s best to reset all the remotes for the garage door opener and change the code, then reconfigure the garage door opener that came with the home. You’ll need to reference the garage door opener and remote manuals, but if you don’t have them in hand, they can typically be found online easily.
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Change Smoke Alarm Batteries
Smoke alarm batteries should be changed every year. When moving into your new Austin home, you have no idea the last time the batteries were changed unless the former owners kept amazing records. It’s a good idea to go ahead and change them.
Replace Old Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms should be replaced every 5-10 years. Modern alarms can be easily replaced by rotating them counterclockwise; the reverse is true for installation.
Clean Dryer Vent
This item could be put under Safety or Preventative Maintenance. We choose to put it under safety because a clogged dryer vent is a fire hazard. Depending on how your dryer vent is situated, it may be quick and easy to clean out yourself with a stick, or it could be harder to reach and require the help of a professional. Either way, it’s an important task. Cleaning your dryer vent not only cuts down on fire risk, but also improves your dryer’s efficiency.
Check Fire Extinguishers
Everyone should have a fire extinguisher, or two, three, or four…. Extinguishers should be inspected monthly. Keep an eye on the gauge to make sure it has pressure, and inspect the device as a whole for defects. Fire extinguishers should be replaced every 5-10 years. Check your manual for specific details and instructions. Here is a great inexpensive fire extinguisher on amazon.
When you move into a new Austin home with a fireplace, it’s a good idea to inspect the chimney. Over the years, chimneys build up residue and soot that can catch fire, turning your chimney into a fire risk. Here in Austin, chimneys can also get blocked by debris or animals, which results in smoke flooding the house, ruining a relaxing evening in front of the fire. This is likely a task you’ll want to bring in a professional for. The tools and equipment required are typically outside of the scope of the standard Austin, Texas homeowner.
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Change HVAC Filter
With the long hot summers that we have in Austin, this is an essential housekeeping task that must be performed frequently. The specific timetable for your home depends on a multitude of factors, including occupant allergies, pet shedding, amount of heating and cooling usage, dust density, etc. You can’t be sure when the filters were changed last, it’s a good idea to change them once moving into your new Austin home.
Lubrication can help keep locks and hinges moving as they should and help keep minor but consistent annoyances like sticking and squeaking at bay. Try using a dry graphite lubricant, liquid lubricants can turn thick and sticky over time as they accumulate dust, and end up just making matters worse.
Check the Dishwasher Filter
Nobody likes a stinky dishwasher, and this can be addressed by cleaning the filter. There are two main types of filters, self-cleaning and not. Self-cleaning filters have a garbage disposal built in that can take care of food residue. Non self-cleaning filters are essentially a net that collects food residue that over time starts to stink. Check your manual to find out what type of filter you have and how often you should clean it.
Clean the Back of Your Fridge
Dust accumulation can decrease the fridge’s effectiveness, which can boost electrical bills and force a repair. Whenever you pull your refrigerator away from the wall, take the opportunity to clean the back of it and prolong its life.
Clean Your Oven Vent
Your oven vent is great at moving air out, but material builds up in the vent over time. This can cause the vent to be less effective and to smell. After moving into your new Austin home, if you notice any smells coming from your over/stovetop, reference your owners manual for the best way to clean your oven vent.
Clean Shower Heads and Faucet Aerators
If your on Austin city water, the water pressure decreases as you move further away from the city. You can increase the water flow of your shower heads and faucets through a quick disassembly and an easy application of cleaning products. This can be simple and easy, and can make an immediate improvement without having to replace your fixtures in your new Austin home.
Gutters can get blocked by silt, leaves, and debris. Cleaning gutters can be tough because they are hard to access. You can use a ladder and power washer, and there are many odd devices designed to help tackle this task, but ultimately it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you and your house, whether it’s tackling the job yourself or hiring a professional. In any case, your gutter system is an asset that helps to keep water out of your home, so you should get it cleaned at least once a year.
Check Window Caulk
Windows are holes in your home. Most of the hole is filled with frame and glass, but there is still plenty of space that needs to be managed. In Austin, heat, cold, moisture, and insects can work their way through that space. Make sure your windows are properly caulked soon after moving to keep your home operating at its highest efficiency.
Check Interior Silicone Caulking
Kitchen, bathroom sinks, showers, and other water fixtures should all have silicone caulk applied to help seal off joints and connections. This caulk erodes over time, so check the condition soon after moving and reapply if necessary.
Clean Jetted Bathtubs
If a jetted tub is not used frequently, then water sits in the pump for an extended period of time. This can lead to a very unpleasant first bath after moving to your new Austin home.
Test Your Outlets
You can get a current tester for a just few bucks online, and they’re useful to make sure that all your outlets are working correctly. Any outlet that isn’t working correctly can be fixed before it has a chance to cause an issue.
Insulation can cut down on heating and cooling costs significantly. Whether you opt for hard foam insulation or spray insulation, make sure it’s high quality and the job is done correctly. Insulation can last a long time, so if there are any areas of your home that could use insulation, you probably will only have to do the job once.
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The toilet seats in your new Austin home may look fine, but you also might want to replace them just for some piece of mind and a bit more comfort, especially if any of them aren’t your preferred style.
The best time to paint, replace flooring, fumigate or do a major renovation is before you move all of your stuff in. Try to schedule any improvements before you move in to save yourself a headache. A good local realtor can refer or help you find reputable contractors to insure your improvements are a success.
It’s important to keep accurate records of your home’s systems and maintenance schedule. Choose an online and offline place to keep this information and commit to keeping it organized. Things like paint swatches, manuals, diagrams, pictures, etc can be invaluable to you down the road. Do yourself a favor and record the information you have now in an organized fashion, and continue to do so into the future. You’ll appreciate it when it’s easy to figure out what size filter you need to buy for your HVAC.
Locate the Utility Shutoffs
Learn exactly where your utility shutoffs are and how to work them. This goes for water, electricity and gas. There are handy tools available online that will work for many standard water and gas shut off valves.
Buying a Home in Austin
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