Moving into a new home is exciting but also stressful. There are so many things to do to make your new house your new home. Between unpacking endless boxes, don’t neglect the chores that are vital for the safety of your new house, like checking the fire detector and finding the main water valve.
Here are 15 things you must do as soon as you move.
1. Make a Prioritized List
First off, there is often an overwhelming number of things you have to do for your new house. To relieve some of the stress, keep a checklist in a notebook, and keep it in a central location. For one day, whenever a family member thinks of something else you need to do or buy, write it into the notebook. After 24 hours, stop adding to the list and prioritize each entry by assigning them a 1, 2, or 3. Priority one items should be completed in a week, including safety concerns, unpacking essentials, and cleaning. Number two items should be completed within a couple of months, like unpacking, organization, and maintenance. Priority three items are projects and improvements you’d like to complete within the year.
2. Refinish Your Own Hardwood
Hardwood floors can be daunting but they shouldn’t be. If you prefer to refinish yourself, it’s completely doable with some rented equipment and a day or two. Sanding isn’t always needed but it’s definitely recommended if the floor is damaged enough. This video explains the process step-by-step.
3. Clean Air Conditioner Condensers and Evaporators
You can absolutely clean the AC on your own. First cut off the power to the unit, vacuum the outdoor’s condenser’s exterior with a soft-bristled brush, and clear away any greenery growing within two feet of the unit. Inside, replace the furnace filter, vacuum the blow sections, and clear the condensation drain.
4. Inspect Crawlspaces and the Attic
Familiarize yourself with the nooks and crannies of your new home. In particular, look for any potential problems, such as leaks, mold, and bugs. Install a vapor barrier into the crawlspace if there isn’t already one there.
5. Replace the Furnace Filter
An old filter in a heating and cooling system can easily create many problems. Sometimes previous owners leave several spares, but if not, buy the replacements yourself. Get into the habit of changing the filter every month.
6. Renew Wood with Mineral Spirits
If the once glossy finish of your woodwork or furniture has become dull and murky, it may be time for refinishing. However, try to clean it with mineral spirits first. Mineral spirits are also called “paint thinners” and they can dissolve grime and reside without ruining the wood finish.
Apply the mineral spirits to the wood with a soft cloth soaked in it. Keep safe, because the fumes are flammable, and work in a well-ventilated area, outside if possible. Allow the cloth to dry outside before tossing it.
7. Install a Detachable Toilet Seat
It’s difficult to fully clean the hinges on the toilet seat, so install a new detachable toilet seat. They are cheap, usually about $20, and installation only requires a wrench. Then you can easily remove it when it’s time to clean and place it right back on.
8. Check Smoke and CO Detector Dates and Replace, as Needed
Find out where the smoke or CO detectors are located and if there are working. If there aren’t any, make it a priority to buy them. They are an inexpensive but very effective way to protect your family. 
Here are some tips on how to check and maintain them.
9. Test Your Sump Pump
You can do this by pouring two buckets full of water into it to ensure it works. Sump pumps are most likely to fail after the first heavy rain after months of disuse. The cast irons pumps can rust, seize, and burn out when they switch on. Also, check the sump pump backup system for breakdowns and power-outs.
10. Add Inexpensive Door and Window Alarms
Locking doors and windows can keep your family safe, but adding some small and inexpensive alarms can also deter burglars. They are triggered by the door or window opening, as opposed to the glass breaking like for other monitored systems. The door alarm has a delay feature so you can set the alarm and leave, and open the door and deactivate the alarm when you come home. The windows have an on and off switch. Here’s how to install them:
11. Clean Refrigerator Coils or Pay Unnecessary Repair Bills
Refrigerator condenser coils are found on the back of the fridge or across the bottom of it. When the coils are clogged with dust, they can’t release heat efficiently, which forces the compressor to work harder and longer than it should. This requires more energy and can shorten the life of your refrigerator.
A coil-cleaning brush, which bends to fit into snugs area, or a vacuum can clean it well. If you don’t have such a brush, you can find one online or at appliance stores.
12. Clean Out the Lint for Dryer Efficiency
A screen or dryer duct full of lint greatly reduces the efficiency of your dryer. Clear the lint screen after every load and clean the duct once a year, or in this case, soon after you move it. Allowing these appliances to gather dust and lint can force the dryer to use 30% more electricity and become a fire hazard. Here’s how to clean them:
13. Locate Your Home’s Main Water Shutoff Valve
It’s important to know where the main water shutoff valve is in case of emergencies. It could be located inside, like in a basement, or outside on a wall or in an underground box. The valve is most likely a gate-type valve with a round handle. It should take several full clockwise turns to shut it off.
14. Locate the Electrical Panel
Be sure to locate the electrical panel so you know where to shut off the power in the whole house. The main circuit breaker panel is usually located in the garage, basement, or utility room. The main breaker for the house is usually at the top of the panel. There may be a guide there explains which circuits serve each outlet.
15. Make One Room a Sanctuary
You won’t be able to perfect the entire house at once. Projects and renovations take time; often evening starting such a process takes time. Still, take on one room that doesn’t need much work and set it up however you like. Let this room be your sanctuary to hide from all of the work needed around the rest of the house whenever you need a break. 
- “What to Do ASAP as a New Homeowner (“Future You” Will Thank You).” Robin I. Flanigan. House Logic.
- “Moving into a New House? Here are 20 Things You Need to Do ASAP.” Andrew Zoeliner. Family Handyman. Dec. 20, 2019
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