Homeownership is the American Dream but with this dream also comes the responsibility of taking care of your home which can be quite a challenge. While there is a lot to learn about how to take care of your home, the top three things every homeowner should know are:
1) Where the whole house water shut off valve is located and how to turn it off
2) Who their homeowner insurance agent is and how to contact them 24/7
3) How much their home's insurance deductible is
Water damage is the #1 source of damage to a home and so knowing how to shut off the main water valve is the most important thing you can learn and one of the easiest! Locate the shut off valve and practice shutting it off and then turn it back on. (Turning if off will not harm anything) If you cannot locate your shut off valve or see several knobs that may be it, invest a few dollars in having a plumber ascertain which is the main water valve and then label any other valves you may have so that anyone can figure out which is the main valve.
While none of us like to pay for homeowner insurance, it is a necessity to protect what is oftentimes your biggest investment. In your homeowner's insurance policy you will see where it states that it is ultimately the homeowner's responsibility to "mitigate" any damage to the property. "Mitigate" means "lessen" and so it is the homeowner's responsibility to lessen any damage. You lessen the damage by learning key things, like where to turn off your water in the event of a water leak. Damage is then mitigated further by knowing who to call as a first responder to your emergency which is oftentimes a restoration company that responds 24/7 and has the expertise in handling a variety of home disaster emergencies. You don't want to wait 2-3 days to have your problem addressed as timeliness is of the essence. Your insurance agent is your trusted advisor in this situation and can oftentimes refer a reputable restoration company to you and also advise you as to whether to even make a claim on your insurance. This is where #3 comes into play as if your deductible is not substantially lower than the cost to mitigate and repair the damage, than it does not make financial sense to make an insurance claim as oftentimes a claim will increase your ongoing insurance premium for many years to come. Once you call your insurance company's 800 claim number, then a "claim" is indicated at your address, whether or not you actually even file a claim, and this does affect the amount of money you pay for your premium. By calling your insurance agent first, you can get advice from them on whether to make a claim or whether to just get the problem corrected on your own.
Remember, your insurance policy is for catastrophic claims and not for everyday repairs and maintenance and minor issues. So be proactive to protect one of your biggest investments and know where your water shut off valve is located, who your insurance agent is, and what your deductible is and with that knowledge you will be able to make an informed decision in the event of an emergency.