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Helpful Hints on Your New Home


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Helpful Hints

During your Pre-Closing home orientation, a ProHome representative reviewed operation procedures and offered several helpful hints on your new home. Please review all individual appliance manuals for full operation instructions and keep in a handy location for future reference. We also encourage you to review your ProHome Builders Limited Warranty on occasion or use it as a reference manual as it offers several additional helpful hints and suggestions on home care and maintenance items.

We understand that the purchase of a new home is a very busy and stressful time and some of the demonstrated items may have been forgotten or need to be further explained. Please feel free to call the ProHome office with any questions you may have. We have also put together this document of helpful hints as a reference guide. The items covered are general in nature and may not be applicable to your particular home. This does not replace any of your user manuals. It only adds some helpful hints and reminders.

Jump down to view the hints in these categories:

Smoke / Carbon Monoxide Detectors Whirlpool or Jetted Tub
Water Shut Offs Dishwasher
Well Water System Garbage Disposal
Electrical Garage Door Openers
Furnace Filters Tilt In Windows
Oil Burning Furnaces

Gas Buring Fireplaces

Smoke / Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Every home sold today is equipped with smoke detectors in each bedroom as well as in key locations throughout the home. If your home is also equipped with a fire sprinkler system, the systems operate independently from each other. Each smoke detector is connected to your electrical system for main power as well as each having its own internal battery backup in the event of an electrical outage. It is very important that you change the batteries in each detector at least once a year. If a battery gets low, a 'chirping' sound will emit from the detector until the battery is changed.

Each detector has a small light (usually green) which will light up and remain lit, to indicate an electrical connection. There is also a second light (usually red) which will flash when the detector goes off for any reason. The smoke detectors are wired together and when one alarms for any reason, all the other smokes will alarm together. Carbon monoxide detectors operate and are wired similarly, but are often separate from the smoke detectors.

On occasion, a smoke or carbon monoxide detector will send a false alarm. When this occurs, they all will sound together. If the cause is truly a false alarm, you will need to identify the offending detector and remove it. The way to identify the offending detector is to check the 'red' indicator light. The offending detector's red light will be flashing. The only way to quiet the system is to physically dis-mount the detector and unplug its electrical connection. Shutting the electrical circuit will not work as the battery backup will take over at that point. Once the offending detector is removed, the alarming will stop and you will need to service or replace the offending detector.

Helpful hint: Sometimes detector false alarms are caused by dust particles or other small particles getting into the detector. When you change the battery in each detector, take a can of compressed air and spray each one to help clean out any particles that may have accumulated over time.
Fire Sprinkler Systems

If your home is equipped with a fire sprinkler system, this system operates independently of the smoke/carbon monoxide detector systems. Fire sprinkler heads will only release in the event of an intense heat related occurrence such as a fire. Smoke or minor heat related issues will not result in a fire sprinkler release.

Sprinkler heads are connected to the main water source and piped together, but each release independently of each other. In another words, only the head, or heads, that sense intense heat will release. If the system was installed as a building code requirement, upon release, an alarm will be sent to the local fire department for follow-up. The fire department has access to the water shut offs to de-activate the system. Any change in the water pressure of your sprinkler system will send an alarm to the fire department. Therefore, if any work or activity around the system is planned, it is a good idea to inform the local fire department in the event of a pressure release.

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Water Shut Offs

The main water shut off for the entire home is most commonly located near the water main meter or well pump, usually in the basement area of your home. A single lever is used to shut water off. As a rule of thumb, when the lever is parallel to the adjacent water pipe, it is on the 'on' position. When positioned 90 degrees from the pipe, it is in the 'off' position. This same rule applies for gas line valves. We recommend if you have a serious water leak issue, you first shut the main water valve and then investigate the problem further.

Additional shut off valves for all sinks are located under the sink or inside the cabinet supporting the sink. There is usually one valve for hot water on the left and one for cold on the right. Turn clockwise to shut water and counterclockwise to reopen the water. A single valve for each toilet is located behind the toilet tank.

Showers and bathtubs do not always have specific shut off valves due to the water lines being inaccessible inside finished walls. To shut water to these units, you may have to shut the water off at the main valve at the water meter.

Shut off valves for your outside faucets are located inside the home adjacent to the outside faucet. Although many outside faucets are of a 'frost proof' design, they are not guaranteed to be 'freeze proof'. It is critical that you do not leave a hose attached to the faucet in below freezing temperatures and we additionally recommend that you do close the water valves to these faucets before freezing temperatures occur. Damaged outside faucets caused from water freeze up is not a warrantable claim.

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Well Water System

If your home is equipped with a well water system, the well pump itself is located outside the home in the well tank. Inside the home will be an electrical switch, and a storage tank for immediate use. In the event of a power outage, the well pump will not operate and you will not have use of your water system. If not equipped, it is recommended that you install an inline cartridge sediment filter beside the well tank. This will greatly reduce the natural sediments that are a part of all well water systems. The filter is usually a cartridge type which needs to be regularly changed to maintain adequate water pressure.

Water quality tests were completed and approved prior to your home closing. It is very common however that well water is high in mineral content or often called 'hard' water. This condition is not harmful to you, but can lead to mineral staining on your water facilities. The staining can be cleaned with a mineral cleaner. You can also investigate filtering systems if desired. These come in many different designs and capabilities depending on your needs and water content. Any well company can help you if you decide to install a filtering system.

Helpful Hint: It is recommended that you use your well water system for 4 - 8 weeks before installing a mineral filtering system. This way the system will be cleared of any initial mineral buildup that may affect the long term needs of your system.

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Electrical circuit loads are monitored by circuit breakers located in the main circuit box. This box is located in the lower level of your home. Individual circuits are labeled by room location on the door of the circuit panel, and there usually is a main switch at the top of the box to shut power off to the entire house. Circuit breakers have 3 positions: on, off, tripped. When a circuit breaker is tripped, it must first be turned off before it can be turned on. Switching the breaker directly to the on position will not restore service.

Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) are required by code in all bathrooms, kitchens, garages, and basements. They are located in areas where an individual can come in contact with water while holding an electric appliance and are designed to trip quickly. Each GFCI receptacle has a test and reset button and often contain a small diode 'light' which illuminates when tripped. If a circuit in one of these areas is not working, check and reset the nearest GFCI receptacle first. One GFCI outlet may control up to 3 or 4 outlets, so all outlets in these areas may not be actual GFCI outlets. You will need to locate the nearest GFCI to reset it if an outlet outage occurs.

Switched Outlets - Very often, switched outlets are installed in bedrooms, dining, and living rooms where overhead lighting is not installed. These allow you to plug a lamp into this outlet and operate it via a wall switch when entering or leaving a room. If you discover an outlet or switch's operation in one of these rooms is in question, please check if its operation is associated with a switch or outlet.

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Furnace Filters

If you home has 'hot air' heat and/or central air conditioning, you will need to change the filter in each system. Please refer to your user manual for specific instructions, but it is recommended that you initially change your furnace filters after 1 or 2 months as there will be construction dust in the ventilation system which is working itself out. After that, we recommend you change your filters at least every 2 - 3 months. It is an easy and inexpensive operation to complete and well worth the effort. Filters for most furnaces can be obtained at a local hardware outlet.

Helpful Hint: If a furnace filter becomes dirty and impedes air flow, it can cause damage to your central heat/AC system. Besides impeding air flow and decreasing efficiency, it can cause AC units to 'freeze up', and can eventually cause damage to your air handing unit itself.

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Oil Burning Furnaces

Oil burning furnaces require annual cleaning and maintenance to insure proper and efficient operation. We strongly recommend you contact a reputable oil company and purchase a maintenance contract. A maintenance contract will also offer emergency service without incurring extra cost. They can also setup regular oil deliveries if you desire to insure against running out of oil when needed most.

Helpful Hint: Oil burning furnaces have a 'red' reset button located on or near the furnace motor. If your furnace stops operating, pressing the reset button will often restart the furnace to get you thru until it can be serviced.

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Whirlpool or Jetted Tub

If your home has a whirlpool tub, there is an on/off switch as well as jet adjustment knobs inside the tub area itself. There is also one or more small grills in the tub that operate as water returns. Please keep all outlets free of objects that may block water flow.

The tub circuit is on a ground fault interrupter (GFCI) and there is often a backup/safety switch located separate from the tub in the bathroom. If the tub motor does not operate when switched on, make sure the alternate switch is on and the GFI circuit has not tripped.

Fill the tub at least 2 inches above all outlets before operating the motor. Operating the motor without all outlets immersed could burn out the seals and cause leaking.

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Often times, dishwashers will be put on a switched circuit. If this is the case, this switch will be located in the countertop area close to the dishwasher itself. If your dishwasher does not operate, please be sure this switch (if equipped) is in the on position.

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Garbage Disposal

If equipped, garbage disposals are on a separate switch as well. If your disposal becomes jammed, a hex key is supplied with many units depending on make and model of the disposal. This key will fit into a socket located on the bottom side of the disposal itself. With the disposal powered off, insert the key and turn it several turns to free the clog. Remove the key before restarting the disposal as it will turn with the motor and could cause harm. If your disposal model does not have a hex key, use a smooth stick such as a wooden broom handle. Insert it into the disposal and carefully rock it back and forth. Remove the stick and try to run the disposal again.

If the jam causes the motor circuit to 'break', there is a red reset button on the bottom side of the disposal as well. If this button is extended, it has tripped and the disposal will not run. To reset the circuit, push the button up or toward the disposal. This should reset the electrical connection.

Helpful hint: To sharpen the disposal cutting blades, occasionally insert 2 or 3 ice cubes into the disposal and run the unit.

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Garage Door Openers

There are several different garage door opener brands offered with new homes. Please refer to your user manual for specific information on operation and setting security codes.

By code, your opener is equipped with a 'turnaround' system in the event an object is located in the garage door area while the door is closing. There are 2 infrared units located at the lower end of the garage door track. These units are connected via an infrared 'light' between them. When operational, a small light will be illuminated on both units. If this connection is broken by an object moving in between or is blocked in any way, the door will not close. If the beam is broken while the door is closing, it will reverse direction and reopen. If your door opener does not operate, please check that these units are pointed at each other and connected via the infrared beam.

In the event of a power outage or manual operation of the garage door is desired, pull down on the small cord located on the openers track itself. This will release the opener and allow for manual operation.

Helpful hint: Never engage the manual garage door latch lock when the door is closed unless you permanently disengage the garage door opener. The garage door opener is designed to work as a safety lock when the door is closed. Significant damage to the door and tracks can occur if the door opener is operated with the manual lock engaged.

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Tilt In Windows

Your home is equipped with double pane sealed windows and screens. There is no need to add additional storm windows. If your double hung windows tilt in for cleaning, there is usually release latches located on the top of each pane. To operate these, lift the lower window pane a few inches up to provide clearance from the sill. Release the two levers by pushing the release latches toward the center of the window. While released, pull the top of the window pane in or toward yourself. It will rotate inward for cleaning. To tilt in the upper pane, the lower pane must first be tilted in and lowered. Then lower the upper pane a few inches and release its two latches in a similar fashion. It will now tilt inward for cleaning. To reattach the windows, carefully raise them back upward, release the latches inward, and gently push the window back into its track.

Helpful hint: After reattaching tilt in windows back into their tracks, run the window up and down through its entire track as if opening and closing the window. This will insure it is properly seated back into its track and fully reattach its tilt in mechanism.

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Gas Burning Fireplaces

If your home is equipped with a gas burning fireplace please refer to your fireplace user manual for specific instructions.

Gas fireplaces usually have a manual pilot flame burning inside to unit. This pilot must be lit in order to operate your main flame unit. It is not harmful to leave this pilot ignited all year, but it can be shut down if desired. Generally, a main gas line shut off and unit control valve are located behind the access door on the lower side of the fireplace. The control valve is recognized by a circular switch labeled 'pilot, on, off' or similar text. The pilot flame can be shut down by rotating this valve to the 'off' position. We strongly recommend that you refer to your user manual before attempting to shut or relight the pilot flame as specific operation varies by fireplace manufacturers.

Gas burning fireplaces are often operated by an optional wall switch, thermostat and/or remote control. Remote controls have a sensor pickup box located in the firebox by the gas control valve. This box contains small batteries as well as the remote control handheld unit itself. These batteries must be changed when low or the remote control unit will not operate the fireplace. There is a slight flame adjustment for most units located on the unit control valve behind the access door as well.

Helpful Hints: 1) When initially lit, condensation may accumulate on the glass viewing panel. This is a normal occurrence and should burn off a few minutes after lighting. 2) Although gas burning fireplaces are semi-sealed units, the glass viewing panels can be easily removed for cleaning. Again, please refer to your specific user manual as fireplace operation can vary by manufacturer and installation options included with your unit.

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