Act Now, Relax Later
As the season shifts from fall to winter – whether you own or rent – it’s a good time to make sure your home is prepared and protected against the elements. Ice, snow and wind can have devastating consequences on your home; fortunately, there are precautions you can take to avoid winter related damage.
The best time to winterize your home is when the leaves begin to turn and not when the snow begins to fall. If you are wondering where to begin, consider using Compass Insurance Agency’s winter preparedness checklist to identify areas of potential concern in and around your home.
What Should You do Inside?
- Keep the house warm
- Set the thermostat no lower than 65 degrees to keep pipes from freezing inside the walls of your house, where temperatures can be much colder.
- Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces
- If too much heat escapes through the attic, it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof. Water then can refreeze, leading to more ice build-up which can damage your roof. Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will also help protect pipes, and you may also consider insulating garages and other unfinished areas to keep pipes from freezing.
- Establish a reliable back-up power source
- In the event of a power outage, continuous power will keep you warm and help to prevent frozen pipes, or a frozen battery operated sump-pump. Consider purchasing a portable generator to ensure safety. (Note: Be sure to follow all guidelines for safe operation of portable power generators.)
- Get your heating system serviced
- Furnaces, boilers and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year to prevent fire and smoke damage.
- Check pipes
- Look closely for the presence of cracks and leaks, and have them repaired immediately. Pipes in attics and crawl spaces should be protected with insulation or plug-in heating cable. When purchasing heating cable, be sure to select UL®-listed models with built-in thermostats to turn on the heat on when it is needed. And always follow manufacturer’s instructions closely.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Not only do residential fires increase in the winter, but so does carbon monoxide poisoning—so check that your detectors are in working condition on a regular basis.
- Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located
- If your pipes freeze, time is of the essence. The quicker you shut off water or direct your plumber to the problem, the better your chance of preventing major damage.
What About Outside the Home?
- Clean out gutters
- Remove leaves, sticks and other debris from gutters, so melting snow and ice can flow freely. This can prevent ice damming, which is what happens when water is unable to drain through the gutters and instead seeps into the house causing water to drip from the ceiling and walls.
- Install gutter guards
- Gutter guards prevent debris from entering the gutter and interfering with the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.
- Trim trees and remove dead branches
- Ice, snow and, wind could cause weak trees or branches to break free and damage your home or car, or injure someone walking by your property.
- Repair steps and handrails
- Broken stairs and banisters can become lethal when covered with snow and ice.
- Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations
- Use caulking to seal cracks and wall openings to prevent cold air and moisture from entering your home. Caulk and install weather stripping around windows and doors to prevent warm air from leaking out and cold air from blowing in.
- Bonus tip!
- Keep the walkways and steps on your property shoveled and salted to prevent slips. Hazards can bring homeowner insurance claims (and liability lawsuits).
Consider these Insurance Factors
Many consumers may make it another year of no claims or homeowner stresses, but it’s not uncommon for households to experience burst pipes, fallen trees and other woes during winter. While you don’t have to worry about these issues yet, now is a good time to review your coverage so you’re ready to face any winter problems that may occur in a few months. In some cases, making simple changes around your house or apartment could have an impact on your insurance.
Have you put on a new roof, installed new windows, or done other home remodeling? Construction and materials costs continue to rise, and it’s important to ensure these additions are reflected in your level of coverage.
Do you store a boat, RV, or other property at a location away from your home during the winter? Similar to a landlord’s policy, the facility may cover the structure and not your possessions, so verify what they cover. Check to see if your homeowner’s insurance covers off-site storage or whether you will need a separate policy.
Adding fire-prevention devices could save you money on your insurance. Place a smoke alarm outside of each bedroom, test them monthly, and change the batteries every year. (Tip: Tie this activity into a specific date each year so you’ll always remember.) Also, place fire extinguishers near fireplaces and in your kitchen, and ensure everyone in the household knows how to use them.
Compass Insurance Agency is always looking out for the best interest of the consumer. We want to be sure you are protecting yourself with having proper coverage and being prepared for inclement weather. Now that you have the tips to prepare for winter, make sure your coverages are prepared. Call one of our sales agents today to review your coverages!