Fall Home Maintenance Tips

Fall Home Maintenance TipsPrepare your home for cooler days ahead!

Fall foliage is beautiful, but not when it builds up in your gutters! Take these tips into account during the cool autumn months.

  • Have your furnace cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified technician. Keep flammable materials, including all lawn and power equipment, away from water heaters and wiring in the basement.
  • Insulate water pipes in areas exposed to cold temperatures, and turn up the thermostat during extra cold periods.
  • Check for damage to your roof, and clean gutters and downspouts to keep debris from accumulating. This is especially important during the fall season to keep leaves from building up in gutters.
  • Check and repair caulking around doors and windows that show signs of deterioration.
  • Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bases; and make repairs as needed.
  • Have your chimney cleaned and maintained annually by a professional.
  • Clean and/or replace your furnace filter.
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under the dryer. Remove all lint, dust, and pieces of material.
  • Check your electrical outlets for potential fire hazards such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Be sure not to overload electrical outlets, fuse boxes, extension cords or any other power service.
  • Keep a multi-purpose fire extinguisher accessible, filled and ready for operation.
  • Inspect your smoke detectors. Make sure there is one on each floor of your home. Test them monthly, and change the battery annually or as needed.

Travelers Insurance.com/home maintenance

Learn more about homeowners insurance.

Mold & Your Home

Having mold present in your home causes a musty odor and can be hazardous to your health.

Black Mold| Homeowners InsuranceIf your home is flooded by a severe storm, a leaky roof or a broken pipe, mold spores could begin to spread due to the excessive moisture. Even though it is not visible, mold can still be lurking on certain objects within the household. Whether or not mold is covered by homeowners insurance often comes down to the source of moisture and the wording of a policy. Most basic homeowners insurance policies exclude coverage of damage caused by mold, fungi, and bacteria. Yet that doesn’t mean a mold claim will be denied automatically.

In most cases, if mold results from a sudden and accidental covered peril, such as a pipe bursting, the cost of remediation should be covered. That’s because technically the pipe burst is the reason for the claim, not the mold itself. Claims are more likely to be rejected if mold is caused by neglected home maintenance; long-term exposure to humidity, or repeated water leaks and seepage.

Moisture prevention is the key

The surest way to avoid having a claim denied is keeping mold at bay in the first place. Preventing mold and eliminating mold when it does occur are critical to protecting the value of your home.

To help prevent mold growth in your home, we suggest following these guidelines:

  • Lower indoor humidity with air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and exhaust fans.
  • Inspect hoses and fittings on appliances, sinks and toilets.
  • Use household cleaners with mold-killing ingredients like bleach.
  • Opt for paints and primers that contain mold inhibitors.
  • Clean gutters to avoid overflow and check roof for leaks.
  • Avoid carpet in wet areas like basements and bathrooms.
  • Remove and dry carpet, padding, and upholstery within 48 hours of flooding.

Generally, if items have been wet for two days or longer, mold has had the opportunity to set in. Other items that are made of more porous material may be at risk of mold infestation sooner than two days.  Remove carpet, wood or laminate flooring as mold can become trapped between the sub floor and the floor covering. Throw away sofas, chairs and mattresses that have sustained water damage. Contact a mold inspector through the help of your Insurance Advisor’s agent.

Warning

Because of the unknown effects to your health, vacate your home during the mold removal process. Never re-enter your mold-infested home without wearing a mask.

Sources: houselogic.com
ehow.com

Homeowners Insurance: Sewer Backup or Overflow?

Sewer backup or system overflow: Which is it?Backup or Overflow

The weather in the Midwest has been quite wet this year, which brings to mind two sometimes confusing and misunderstood types of property claims. What’s the difference between a sewer backup and a plumbing system overflow?

A great deal of rain can overtax the sewer systems. This can cause water to flow backward through the property owner’s lateral pipes, through the drain, and into the basement. When water outside the insured’s plumbing system flows backward through the plumbing into the property, this is a backup claim.

A backup is different from an overflow. An overflow occurs when there’s a blockage in the plumbing system. When the toilet is flushed, there’s nowhere for the water to go due to the blockage, so the toilet bowl overflows. The water that’s causing the damage never enters the sewer system. An overflow can also occur when there’s blockage within the lateral pipe. The water from the property flows down the lateral and because of the blockage, the water has nowhere to go so it overflows the floor drain or a lower-level bathroom causing damage.

So how are these two claims covered? The homeowners policy affords coverage for an overflow of the plumbing system up to the policy limit; however, damage from water that backs up through sewers or drains, overflows or discharges from a sump, sump pump, or related equipment is specifically excluded.

How do you get coverage for a sewer backup or sump overflow on the homeowner’s policy? With a Water Backup and Sump Overflow Coverage endorsement. The endorsement provides coverage for water backup or sump overflow for both personal property and structural damage from water.

How you can prevent sewer line backups?

There are several preventative measures homeowners can take to minimize the occurrence of sewer line backups.

  • Proper disposal of grease and food: Grease, fats, gravies, sauces and cooking oils should NEVER go down your kitchen drain.
  • Proper disposal of paper products: Anything that does not easily dissolve as easily as toilet paper should never be flushed. Even facial tissue should be avoided; it does not dissolve as easily as bathroom tissue.
  • Install a Backwater Prevention Valve. These fixtures allow sewage to go out , but not come back in

Download our free insurance claims process tip sheet.
Insurance claims process tip sheet.

Sources: Horizon Services
West Bend Insurance Company

Homeowners Insurance: Damage By Fallen Trees

Will Homeowners Insurance Cover that Fallen Tree?

Damage By Fallen Trees

Trees add value and beauty to your home, but they also can spell trouble if they aren’t properly maintained. Dead or dying trees aren’t just unsightly; they post safety hazards and can cause liability issues. It’s important for homeowners to understand what is covered by their homeowners insurance policy if a tree should fall on their property or their neighbor’s property.

Overview

Most basic homeowners insurance policies will cover damage to your house and the contents caused by falling trees and tree limbs. Most storm-caused tree damage, such as ice, hail and lightning, is covered. As long as the tree was healthy and well maintained, it doesn’t matter if it was your tree or your neighbor’s tree; your policy covers damage to your property. The same is true for your neighbor. Their homeowners policy is there to cover their property.

Liability

This is where it gets a little more complicated. If a tree on your property is not well maintained, is dead or diseased, and may fall and cause damage to your neighbor’s property, you may be liable. Typically, your neighbor’s insurance company will pay for the damage, and then come after your insurance company for reimbursement in a process called subrogation. If the insurance adjuster finds that you were negligent (didn’t maintain the tree properly, your insurance company may end up footing the bill and you’ll feel the pain through higher premiums and potential lawsuits.

If you notice that your neighbors aren’t taking care of their trees properly, you should contact them about it. If they aren’t cooperative, it’s best to use certified mail to have a record of the communication to show you have made an effort to protect your property.

If you don’t properly maintain trees on your own property and they cause damage to your home, it’s possible the insurance company may deny coverage because you failed to protect your property.

Other Damage

Should a healthy tree fall on your garage and damage your car, your homeowners policy will cover the damage to the structure up to limits set within your policy. Your auto insurance, assuming you have comprehensive coverage, will cover the damage to your car. Again, if the tree isn’t properly maintained, coverage may be denied.

Your homeowners insurance policy also likely will cover some of the cost of removing the tree from the structure and the cost of hauling it away. Tree removal and hauling away will have separate limits. These can be very expensive, so be sure to see what the limits of your policy are. 

Keeping your trees healthy and well trimmed doesn’t just protect your family’s safety, but can save you from increased premiums and potential lawsuits.  Prevention is by far the best cure.

www.homesite.com/insurance-resources

Ice Dams

Dealing With Ice Dams on RoofsIce Dams | Home Maintenance

An ice dam has the potential to cause serious damage to both your roof and the inside of your home. When snow accumulates on a roof, a cycle of melting and refreezing occurs. The ice then forms a  line or “dam” at the edge of the roof. As more snow melts, it keeps getting bigger. Once the dam gets large enough, the melted snow that pools up behind it can force its way back under the roof shingle and then leak into your home!

Two key factors interact to cause these types of problems:  insulation and ventilation. Make sure your attic is well insulated to help prevent the melting-freezing cycle. Check and seal places where warm air could leak from your house to the attic, including vent pipes, exhaust fans, chimneys, attic hatches and light fixtures.

Most importantly, remove snow from your roof! Clearing the snow from your roof immediately after a winter storm can help prevent ice dams from forming. Clear your downspouts. An easy way to help snow and ice drain off your roof is to make sure the area around your downspouts is clear.

What are the indicators of an ice dam?

If you notice water damage on ceilings or exterior walls, it can be an indication that an ice dam is formed and ice and water have forced their way into your attic area. Regardless of the circumstances – if water damage occurs from freezing or other sources, call a professional property damage company. They have trained technicians who will mitigate the loss to prevent further damage and the provide restoration services to return the property to a pre-loss condition.

Source:  Will Southcombe, Director of Technical Services, PuroClean

What Causes Pipes To Burst?

WaterIt’s a simple scientific explanation:Ice has about 10% more mass than water. When a pressurized plumbing pipe is subjected to freezing temperatures, water turns to ice and the ice often times subjects more pressure than the pipe or the plumbing fixtures containing the water can handle.  The result:  Burst pipes and fixtures!

PEX Vs. Copper Piping

There has been a fairly large swing from traditional copper pipes to PEX pipes. They are less likely to split and break open since they have more flexibility; however, they can break at joints and at fixtures. Some plumbers still prefer the copper, but PEX is less costly per foot and typically faster to install. If your property utilizes PEX plumbing, you still can suffer pipe breaks, but do not have “pinhole leaks.”

When a water pipe bursts in your home, it’s easy to panic. The inconvenience and damage of excess water damage following a frozen or pipe burst is significant. Be sure to get in touch with Insurance Advisors if you have a incident involving any type of water damage and we will put you in touch with an industry leader in clean-up and restoration.

Information Gathered from: 24Restore.com

Protect Your Home: Cold Weather Damage

5 Ways To Protect Your House From Cold Weather DamageWater Spigot

1.Outside Spigots – Shut off and bleed.  It’s not enough to turn the faucet off. You have to bleed the pipe of all water by opening the faucet fully after the supply is turned off. This is the most common pipe to burst from freeze up.

2.Main Water Shut-Off and Freeze Alarm Systems – When traveling out of town for more than 24 hours, take precaution. There are a number of steps to follow. 1) Shut off the water in front of the water main and again bleed the system by opening faucets in the home. 2) Install a freeze alarm that will alert you when the temperature of the home drops below a certain temperature. DO NOT SET THE TEMPERATURE BELOW 55 DEGREES.

3.Furnace Maintenance –  It is advised to have your furnace serviced annually. This will not only keep the furnace running efficiently, it will prevent potential “puff back” or furnace fire claims and will improve the indoor air quality inside the home.

4.Check for Insulation Deficiencies – Heat loss through the attic or ceiling can cause the build-up of ice dams which can lead to water intrusion into the home. Proper insulation in the attic can also prevent condensation  which can warp roof decking and also add humidity and water to the attic. Also, check exterior walls with plumbing for adequate insulation and wrap any exposed pipes on exterior walls with pipe wrap or heat tape.

5.Clean your Gutters – Clogged or improperly draining gutter systems are a major contributor to many ice dam claims. When gutters have standing water in them from being unable to drain, they start the ice build up as soon as the freezing weather sets in. Even with the “maintenance free” gutter guard products, your gutters can and do get clogged. Make sure you check them before the freezing weather sets in.