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Homeowners: Seasonal Liabilities and Savings
Staying on top of these hazards can help homeowners avoid claims and save money:
When leaves get wet, they can become quite slippery. It’s very important to tidy the leaves from your driveway and walkway to avoid potential liability risks – someone being injured due to unraked leaves could give rise to a claim or lawsuit.
Clear leaves and dead brush from around the discharge area of your downspouts and drains. The local municipality is responsible for clearing storm drains, but you can always check to make sure water can flow freely and not backup on your property.
Tip: The University of Michigan and Purdue have done studies suggesting it’s better to mow your leaves instead of raking them. If you cut the leaves while they’re dry, dime sized pieces will fall among blades of grass where they will decompose and help your lawn flourish in the springs. Use your lawn mower without its bag, and optionally swap the cutting blade for a mulching blade. The process may take several passes.
Fire prevention checklist:
Do your smoke detectors need batteries?
Are your fire extinguishers accessible and fully charged?
Have you cleaned the dryer lint trap? The exhaust vent? Behind the dryer?
Many house fires start in the garage, when was the last time you cleaned yours? Make sure any gasoline you have is in a proper safe container. Don’t forget to secure any volatile compounds (paint, caulk, firewood).
Have a professional clean and inspect your heating system (also your fireplaces and chimneys if you have them).
Tip: Change your furnace filter monthly.
Prevent Water Damage
Water damage prevention checklist:
Are your gutters and downspouts clear? It’s best for them to run at least 3-4 feet from the foundation, downspout extensions con cost as little as $9.
Have you inspected and insulated doors and windows?
Did you check to make sure your water pipes aren’t exposed to freezing temperatures? You might need to insulate the pipes and maintain the area at 55 degrees.
Are your external faucets turned off?
Have you drained your sprinkler system pipes and lawn irrigation systems?
Tip: When was the last time you tested your sump pump? It’s a good idea to pour several gallons of water into the sump pit to see whether it turns on – especially after a long dry season.
Check Your Property
Take a look for loose fence posts and falling railings.
The sooner you repair them, the better. If you have a concrete driveway, it may have developed cracks, this is an easy fix involving a stiff brush, concrete crack filler, and a putty knife: see DIY instructionshere. If you have a gravel driveway, you might want to leave the first snowfall on the driveway and use the wheels of your car to pack down the snow. Packed snow will hold the gravel in place, avoiding spreading it all over your lawn.
Make sure your roof doesn’t have any damaged, loose, or missing shingles and have an expert make the repairs. Also check for repair breaks in the flashing seals and around vent stacks and chimneys.
Tip: Have an expert check your property for rotting or damaged trees. They pose a greater risk of damage if a storm were to happen.
Follow these energy saving tips this winter:
Turn your ceiling fans clockwise. This will produce an updraft and push down warm air from the ceiling, especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings.
Seal up cracks on the outside of your home with caulk.
Bring out your quilted curtains, they’ll help keep the cold outside the windows.
Check for basement air leaks: sill plates and rim joists are usually poorly insulated and very leaky.