Home Manual

Home preparedness requires organization. Having all of the equipment and supplies does no good if you cannot find or access them. A very low-cost step on your preparedness journey is creating a Home Manual. My home manual includes all sorts of information about the electrical system, plumbing, HVAC, paint colors, appliances details, upgrades, etc. Useful information can include:

  • Title Page with address, legal description, and tax ID.
  • Electrical Section with circuit breaker diagram, generator connection instructions and photo, and circuit details.
  • Plumbing Section with manifold photo, line descriptions (copper, cPVC, PEX-A, PEX-B), shutoff details & location, line shutoff/draining instructions, and complete parts list (especially useful for repairs and expansion).
  • HVAC section with details on starting and stopping the heating/cooling equipment, fireplace details, etc.
  • Dimensions of rooms, closets, and other areas. You do not need to spend hours and hours measuring your house. When doing projects that require measurements record these in your manual.
  • A list of Contractors, artists, suppliers, etc.
  • List Appliances and other items. Include manufacturer, make, model, purchase details (supplier, date, price), and serial number.
  • List of Finishes including paint colors, supplier, and sheen.
  • List of completed Projects with dates.

You do not have to complete the entire manual all at once. Start with emergency basics such as shutting off water and electricity. When you do projects around the house simply record information, details, and measurements in your manual. For example, you must first measure a room when replacing flooring. After measuring, record the details in your manual. When you paint walls record the brand, type, and color of the paint in the manual. Your manual will become are complete and more useful as time goes on.

I also have a spreadsheet that contains a home inventory. When I purchase a tool or appliance I record the manufacturer, make, model, serial number, purchase date & price, and the store name. I also go online and download a copy of the manual. This information can be very handy especially as items age and the older manuals may no longer be available.

Side Note: Diagnosing home electrical issues often involves finding the circuit for an outlet. Two simple electrical tools can help immensely. A circuit breaker detective allows plug a module into an outlet and then use a detector to scan the breaker box (around $25). Another useful tool is an outlet tester. This device has three lights and it illuminates when it detects power in an outlet. It also shows if the outlet is wired properly (around $10-20). Be sure to get an outlet tester with a GFI button. When you press the GFI button it should cause the circuit breaker to trip (to test the breaker).