When it comes to your home, you tend to notice the big stuff first—the front lawn, the back patio, the indoor fixtures, and other things you see and use day in and day out. But there are parts and features of your home that serve vital functions without much fanfare or ballyhoo. Here are some of the most important parts of your home you didn’t know about and have probably overlooked. Check up on them to ensure they’re doing their jobs and keeping you and your home safe.
In with the good air, out with the bad. If you’ve wondered about the pipes sticking out of the roof of your home, rest assured they’re serving a very important function. While your chimney takes care of smoke from a fireplace or the noxious gases (such as carbon dioxide and others) generated by a furnace, vent pipes—also known as vent stacks—are connected to your plumbing. Vent pipes let gases and offensive smells rise and exit your home. The pipes also bring in fresh air, which keeps the water flowing uninterrupted through your drainpipes. Without vent pipes, living in your home would be a very stinky and gross situation.
Window wells are the shallow holes in front of your basement windows. While the windows serve the obvious function of letting in sunlight and, occasionally, air, what do window wells do? Well, they allow the windows to do their job first since they’re below the grade. It’s hard to let the sunshine in through several feet of soil. Window wells also allow the windows to be used as an escape hatch in case of emergency. They’re designed to prevent soil, water, and pests from entering the house through the foundation. While you can decorate window wells so they look pretty from the inside, keep them properly covered and free from obstructions for safety’s sake.
Look around your kitchen. Have you ever noticed how the cabinets don’t run all the way to the floor? That recessed space is called a toe kick, and it’s there to make room for your feet, so you don’t have to bend over the counter to prepare meals or reach for things in the top cabinets. Toe kicks are generally four inches high and go back about three inches under the cabinet to give you that extra bit of space and comfort.
If you have a brick house and have always wondered why there’s a space in the wall every few feet, don’t worry—the bricklayers didn’t miss a spot. It’s called a weep hole, and it’s one of the important parts of your home you didn’t know about. Your house needs its weep holes, so resist the urge to mix up mortar and patch them up. Bricks and mortar are porous and thus absorb water. To combat this, weep holes let any water behind the wall drain out while permitting fresh air in to prevent dampness, dry rot, and mildew.