Home Projects: What’s Good to Know Before You Need to Know

By maryellen February 3, 2021

My husband and I have been home owners for almost 19 years now and while we are definitely not hardcore do-it-ourselfers, there are a few important things I’ve picked up over the years that have saved me time, money & angst. I’d like to share a few of those here.

Familiarize Yourself With Your Sump Pump(s) – Spring storms are around the corner and it’s a good idea to make sure your home’s sump pumps are functioning. Bring a bucket of water and add to the pit – they should turn on automatically. Ideally they should have battery backups for when the power goes out. (Above are photos of our basement after we lost power in Hurricane Irene in 2011…) Even better you can consider changing them out for sump pumps that are powered by the water supply – no electricity needed.  We now have 3 of these Liberty sump pumps in our basement, and I’m going to check them this weekend because …. Murphy’s Law!


Know How to Relight Your Water Heater – If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had to relight our hot water heater over the years, I wouldn’t be a millionaire but I’d have enough for our Friday night pizzas. PSE&G supply issues and electricity interruptions can all lead to needing to relight a hot water heater. My advice is to acquaint yourself with your hot water heater and find the instructions for how to relight it. You may need to crouch down on the floor and unscrew a cover panel to gain access. Bring a flashlight. If you are nervous, ask an experienced friend or have your plumber show you. It’s a good thing to know how to do before you actually need to do it.


Know How to Open an Automatic Garage Door Without Power – Raise your hand if you have lost power in a storm but couldn’t access your portable generator because it’s in the garage with an electric opener! Yup, been there, done that. Fortunately we have a door that also opens into the garage so that we can enter the garage and pull the cord overhead to engage the garage door opener without electricity. But what if the only way into the garage is the garage door itself? Figure this out when you are not panicking about getting into the garage. Your system may have a way for you to get in, or you can add a kit like this to help you gain access without electricity.