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First off, congratulations on becoming a homeowner! Deciding to buy a house is one of the most important decisions you will ever make and it should feel good knowing that those four walls belong to you now, regardless of what shape they're in and on which Indian burial ground they might be standing.

This house has many hearts.

If you managed to purchase a fixer-upper for a steal, then right now you're probably a little overwhelmed with all the work it's going to need! That's completely normal. Unless you're a carpenter by trade, you can't just expect to know everything about wiring, heating, plumbing, walls that weep blood and weather proofing. That would be crazy. Fortunately, this guide will walk you through the basics, giving you a little general knowledge on everything. In no time at all, you will be able to stare out proudly from your new bay windows as neighbors whisper to one another about the beautiful trim and paint job and not about the family that was murdered there.

Let's get started!


Even before plumbing fixtures and pipe fitting, the first step to making your house inhabitable is to examine the electrical system. The last thing you need is old circuitry failing and setting your whole house on fire! Plus, this will give you a good opportunity to work in every corner of the house and to get a sense of which rooms don't want you inside them. Remember, until you know whether your new place is harboring infinite sadness or unbridled evil then you'll have to take every step of remodeling slowly. This may be frustrating at first but safety should always be your primary concern, especially when working with electricity. It can give you quite a shock if you aren't careful!

The most important rule for all do-it-yourself electricians is to never work on any electrically live circuits. Find your service panel and remove the fuses or switch off the circuit breakers. Now wait a few seconds in the darkness. Did the house try to turn you inside out? If not, great! The spirits are not sentimentally attached to the old electrical system; you are free to work on it.

Most light fixtures in a house will be hooked through one massive path called "parallel wiring." That means that a hot wire and a neutral wire will run side-by-side between every fixture box in the house while the individual lights will branch off from those. Start in any room you like and open the light switch panel. What do you see inside? If you see three wires instead of two, don't panic, one of those is probably a grounding wire and it's actually protecting against electricity surges. If you see thousands of flies and human bile instead, close the panel back up and collect your tools. This room is complete and you can never ever go back in there.

"Run, you fool."

Check all the sockets, light fixtures and switch panels throughout the house to be sure they are wired properly. If at any point the walls start breathing, finish up as quickly but as calmly as possible and move on to a new task. That is a good indication the house is getting curious about you and may try to take your skin off.

Plumbing and Water Heaters

Now that you've gotten familiar with the house, you'll know which rooms are what we'll call "water rooms." In a multi-story house they will generally be stacked on top of one another and they will include every room with a faucet. Both hot and cold water lines will run to each of these and you'll want to test the warm water for a few seconds to be sure the water heater is functioning properly. If it never warms or produces something other than water, such as pain, then you have a lot of work ahead of you. It means the water heater is either broken or missing and you'll have to go to the basement to be sure. Warning: This will surely be one of the hardest, most excruciating things you will ever have to endure, not just in home renovation but in life. Good luck!

Once in the basement, locate the water heater as quickly as possible. Examine the tank for leaks caused by corrosion. Check that gas is flowing to the water heater and that the pilot light is still lit. Though rarely, sometimes the heating mechanism itself can fail which means you'll have to replace the entire water heater. To remove it, you'll need to turn the gas valve off, disconnect the drain valve and unscrew the locknuts on the inlet and outlet pipes. If as you work you hear a voice whispering that your soul is forfeit, stop, wait a few minutes and try again.

"I will taste your bones."

The last step is to pull the flue free from the gas heater. You will feel a rush of air followed by a cold and panicked human hand forcing its way inside your mouth This is completely normal. As you pass out, do your best to protect your head from nearby objects and also double check that the gas is, in fact, off. The last thing you need is a gas leak!

When you wake up, check your chest and limbs for carvings in Latin. Refer to the glossary at the end of this book to determine what message has been scored into your flesh. Read quickly though because you will now be faced with the physical manifestation or your worst fear. Do you see it? If so, good. You'll have to fight it. To stand a chance, abandon all thoughts of love or attachment to life. Open your mind to vast potentials of torture, and unadulterated misery. A longing for pain and despair is the only way to defeat a terror this infinite. Kill. Kill and hurt as though they were your eternal purpose, strike with both your body and also your soul.

It will change you permanently.

Almost done! With your fear lying before you in a bloody pulp, it is now safe to remove the old water heater from the basement (you may want to enlist the help of a friend to avoid hurting your back). New water heaters are available at most appliance stores and you'll also want to pick up a temperature/ pressure release valve to prevent explosions if the heater ever fails again. They are relatively inexpensive and a great investment.

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Leaks and Infestations

Outside of natural disasters, the most destructive force on any house is time. Your new home has likely been standing for quite awhile so there is a good chance it has a few leaks. Depending on the damage, these little annoyance can take a day or up to eight weeks to fix. Inspect the ceilings for discolorations and swells. A common misconception in old houses is that the thick, black water sometimes cascading down the walls is a leak. It's not. That is your house reminding you that misery comes at last to the healthy man and the end of life is sadness. Collect this water as well as you can with buckets and mop up the rest to avoid wood-rot. If you encounter an actual leak, you will need to open that section of roof by prying away the shingles and determine if the wood is warped or damaged underneath. If it is, you will need to replace entirely new beams to maintain the structural stability of your nightmare.

As you inspect the roof for wood rot, keep an eye out for animal infestations. You may encounter seething clouds of insects and vermin, so many that they appear to move in unison, creating a filthy portal in the center of their swarm to another dimension. You may, in fact, start to feel them crawling across your mind as well, scraping and clawing at the inside of your skull. Enjoy it. You understand now that at the heart of all horror lives pleasure. The blood of fear has stained your fingernails and the dirt of your basement. In its absence comes power. Limitless power. The insects, the spiders, the rats -- they fear and love you now, they wait for your commands, eager to be your instruments of suffering. Except termites. Termites are bad for any home and you will have to call fumigation experts. That's one renovation task you won't be able to do alone!

Termites ruin everything.

Unfortunately there still isn't a good way to protect your house against an infestation of termites. They can be a costly pest but your best bet is to recognize the warning signs early and take care of them before they spread. Tiny holes in the walls, bits of sawdust on surfaces are all indications that termites have set up residence. This can be frustrating, particularly if your house sees repeated infestations. Infuriating even. No one knows how these bugs keep finding their way inside the house.

Unless, of course, someone brought them in. Intentionally.

Your significant other, your children. They hate this place, they are always saying so. They keep telling you they don't like the sounds of children's screaming in the attic or the way their faces melt in mirrors. They don't understand. They don't appreciate how much work you've poured into this house already. They don't acknowledge what you've been through. They are willful and content in their ignorance. You know what else? They are laughing at you behind your back. They think you are weak. Show them. Show them you are strong. Make them understand.

General Maintenance

This is your house now, and you have to protect it as you would your own life. It is a part of you now and you are a part of it, such is the nature of your relationship. Big storms, freezing temperatures, radon gas are all threats that you should take seriously. Solving those problems early will help your home last hundreds of years, long after your family is gone. But not you. You are the caretaker after all. You are the caretaker. You have always been the caretaker here. You have always been the caretaker. You have always been the caretaker. You have always been the caretaker.

Soren Bowie will always be remembered as a pioneer of supernatural carpentry. You can follow him on twitter even though he died ten yeeeaaaars agoooo.

For "helpful" tips from Soren, check out The Right Way To Teach Teens About Sex and 6 Tips for Photography (At Your Ex-Girlfriend's Wedding).

And be sure to check out Cracked's Page of Horror for hilariously horrifying articles like The Creepy Scientific Explanation Behind Ghost Sightings and The 6 Most Strangely Convincing Real-Life Curses.

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