If you’ve bought anything that plugs in in the last twenty years, you probably received a sheet of instructions on how to use it and maintain it. Multiply that one item by the number of things you have in the house, and you probably have stacks of owner’s manuals lying around somewhere.
This doesn’t do any good unless you can actually find them when you need to use them.
We recently wanted to remove the glass on our gas fireplace so I could clean it. But we couldn’t figure out how to access it. It took nearly an hour to find the correct piece of paper, because my husband, who is filing challenged, had thrown it in with a bunch of warranty information for our window blinds.
Here are two ways to manage warranty information:
The Binder Method
This one takes a bit of organization, and a commitment to keep it up.
Materials: three ring binders (one or more, depending on how big they are) and sheet protectors (one per manual)
Instructions for the Binder Method: Put each manual in a sheet protector and file them in binders. You will want to organize them in groups, such as all kitchen appliances, or personal care…you get the idea. Make sure to only put one manual in a sheet protector, or you will have difficulty finding things later.
The Envelope Method
This is the method I currently employ. It allows me to keep the warranties somewhat organized, without having to invest a lot of time or effort in maintaining the system.
Materials: at least a dozen clasp-type envelopes and something to store them in (like a box, or magazine holders)
Instructions for the Envelope method. Sort your manuals into general piles. Our piles are House (built-in), House (added), Kitchen, A/V, Computer and Tools. We also had an envelope called “Baby” that was recently emptied and recycled. Label an envelope for each pile. If a pile is too big for a single envelope, divide it up.
Once you have put all your instructions in the envelopes, put them in the magazine holders.
To add a new manual, open the correct envelope and stuff it in. Once a year or so, go through and discard any that are no longer needed.
Maintaining owner’s manuals is not a difficult task if you don’t get too organized. A few well-chosen piles and you will be able to find any manual quickly.
Photo by busbeytheelder