Get Familiar with Your New Home

Get familiar with your new home by understanding its basic structure

Brick home with opening door

The move is over and now the fun part begins — settling into your new home! Unpacking your things is an important part of moving in, but there’s more to it than that. It's equally important to consider some basics, such as where to find and how to operate your utilities and how to plan for emergencies that might arise. This guide will walk you through the steps you should immediately take upon your move in.
Safety: When doing electrical inspections of any kind, first turn off the power by switching off the circuit breaker in the main service panel. Test wires before you touch them to ensure that there is no electrical current still running through them.


  • Determine where your heating system is located and whether it uses natural gas or another type of fuel. 
  • Locate the emergency shutoff valve.


Your home's main lever or breaker shutoff cuts off the supply of electricity to the entire house. The individual unit shutoff is found in multi-unit buildings and cuts off electricity to the separate units. Take the time to find out where the main electrical shutoff switch and circuit breaker box are located. 

When doing an electrical inspection in your new home, make sure to follow this list:

  • Prevent electric shocks and shortages by replacing any missing or cracked cover plates on switches or receptacles. 
  • Check for any ungrounded receptacles using an outlet tester, with the power on but all items plugged into the receptacle. 
  • Add a 3-prong adapter to 2-hole receptacles and ensure that the metal tab is connected to the screw. 
  • Upgrade ungrounded receptacles with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacle that monitors the current and shuts it down when there’s a surge to prevent electrocution. 
  • Test previously installed GFCI receptacles, since they lose their protective capacity over time. Push the test button; if the reset button doesn’t pop out, it’s time to replace the receptacle. 
  • Check polarization with a tester. Reverse polarity occurs when the wires have been connected incorrectly. This is easy to fix, but before you do, be sure to turn off the circuit breaker and double-check that the power is off. 
  • Consider moving or at least capping any receptacles placed in damp areas such as beside sinks or in an exposed area outdoors.


Water can do a significant amount of damage to structures, furnishings and appliances if it pools on floors and saturates surroundings. Water can also cause electrocution if it is energized by electrical wires. Know where the shutoff valve is located and remember that the inside water shutoff also cuts off the supply to the home except for the supply of water to fire sprinklers.


If you’re often out of town, consider installing security cameras, lighting or motion detectors.