7 Things You Need to Know About Your Home

You can probably recite your home’s square footage, your property's acreage, and your community's school district—but do you know your neighborhood's noise policy or the location of your house's shut-off valves? Here are 7 vital things—be they important numbers, safeguards, or local ordinances—that every homeowner should be aware of.

  1. Property Line

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    How to Determine Property Lines

    Are you planning to plant a tree, install a fence, or add on to your home? First figure out your actual property lines, which may not be accurately marked by a fence or the edge of your lawn. Many deeds indicate property lines, but if you don't see them, look at the map you received when you purchased the home. You can also check with your local assessor’s or county recorder’s office to make sure you're not infringing on your neighbor’s property.


    Related: 10 Sneaky Hidden Costs of Home Remodeling

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  2. Noise Ordinances

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    How to Find Out About Noise Ordinances

    You’re throwing a party, and everyone is having a great time—until the police knock on your door after receiving a noise complaint. Many larger towns and cities as well as apartment and condo complexes have rules about excessive or disturbing noise. Typically, these noise ordinances are stricter in residential areas, and they have different policies for daytime and nighttime. You can learn about your municipality's specific ordinances on your city's website or through your local zoning office, planning office, or police department.

    Related: The 50 Strangest Laws in America

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  3. Signage

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    Laws About Signage

    You’ve probably seen countless homemade signs littering your neighborhood touting garage sales, lost pets, cars for sale, and local handyman services. But did you know that many towns have ordinances forbidding people from attaching notices to stop signs, traffic lights, telephone poles, and similar public structures? Some cities even restrict the signage allowed on your own front lawn. While such offenses are often overlooked, you risk getting a ticket if you break a local ordinance, so play it safe by checking with your zoning office before setting up a sign on or near your property.

    Related: Get Your Fix: 20 Easy DIY Repairs for Every Part of Your Home

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  4. Best TV Size for Your Space

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    Best TV Size

    You finally bought that 4K Ultra HD 65-inch TV you’ve been dreaming about, but alas, watching it in your tiny living room strains your neck. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t consider the logistics of positioning a large-screen television in their living space. For optimal viewing, your couch should be about 5.5 to 8 feet away from a 65-inch 4K Ultra HD television, and 8 to 13.5 feet from a 1080p HDTV.


    Related: 14 Easy DIY Living Room Updates Anyone Can Do in a Day

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  5. Location of Shut-Off Valves

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    Where Are Gas Valve and Water Valve

    Knowing the location of your home’s main gas and water shut-off valves could prevent considerable damage if a leak occurs. A home's main natural gas valve is either a small metal nub that requires a wrench, or a lever that can be turned by hand. You’ll typically find it on the side of the house, near the back, or in a cabinet on an exterior wall. The water shut-off valve is located somewhere near the ground level of your home—often in the basement or near the water heater. If your home has a round “wheel” valve, shut the water off by turning the valve clockwise until it catches. If the valve is a lever, turn it 90 degrees so the lever is perpendicular to the water line.


    Related: Prep for Disaster: 10 Things You'll Need in a Home Emergency

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  6. Water Pressure

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    How to Check Water Pressure

    Homeowners should test their plumbing system's water pressure a couple of times each year. Too-high pressure can seriously damage plumbing and blow out hose lines, while too-low pressure reduces the efficiency and function of your washing machine, dishwasher, and shower. Before starting the test, make sure all water is turned off inside and outside your home. Then, check the water pressure by screwing a pressure gauge onto a hose bib (such as the outside garden hose or washing machine hose) and turning on the water. In general, a reading of less than 50 psi is low, more than 80 psi is high, and around 60 psi is ideal.

    Related: 12 Things Every Homeowner Needs

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  7. Radon Level

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    How to Determine Radon Level

    Radon, a naturally occurring colorless and odorless gas, is the second-most common cause of lung cancer—and it could be lurking in your home right now. A by-product of the breakdown of uranium in soil, radon enters your home through cracks in walls or the foundation; gaps around plumbing, the chimney, windows, and air vents; and even through water. Radon is most commonly found in the the Midwest, Northeast, and Northern Plains States, but it can occur anywhere. Consider picking up an easy-to-use DIY kit for radon testing. If your results indicate dangerous levels of radon (anything above 4 pCi/L), remediation includes venting the air from underneath the house and sealing cracks or openings that allow radon to enter the premises.


    Related: 8 Dangerous Secrets Your Home May Be Hiding

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  8. Be Smart

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    Be Smart

    Being a homeowner comes with a lot of responsibilities. While you can’t foresee all maintenance headaches, you can be prepared for them. Make sure you have the proper emergency equipment on hand if disaster strikes, and always do annual checks around the house to make sure your home is in top-shape.

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  9. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!