Help your Home Insurance and Winter Weather

When winter strikes home insurance claims spike as homeowners are caught off guard by the sudden change in the weather. Rather than being caught by surprise, follow these tips to keep your house in good condition so you can enjoy your winter instead of filing a home insurance claim.

Clear any debris from your house’s rain gutters. This will require you to climb up a ladder and scrape out any dirt, dead leaves or other debris that has settled in the rain gutters. While you are up there, use a garden hose to run water through the downspouts to check for clogs. If your house’s rain gutters are full of debris, water from winter storms could easily spill out and end up coming through your basement’s wall.

Identify and remove any dead branches from your trees. Even if a tree on your property does not sit next to your house it’s a good idea to trim off any dead or dying branches before winter strikes. When a big snow storm hits, the weight of the snow could be enough to make weak branches snap off, doing serious damage to anything or anyone below.

Install extra insulation in problem areas. Remember that heat rises, so having a poorly insulated attic will cause the heat in your house to literally rise up and out through the roof. Installing extra insulation before winter hits will help keep your house extra warm. You will also avoid ice dams forming on your roof, which can lead to water leaking through the roof and damaging the attack or your house’s ceilings. Any cold areas of your home should be insulated to avoid damage from extreme cold.

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Identify the location of all of your house’s pipes and insulate any that sit against exterior walls. This might take you doing some investigative work in the basement. Remember to also insulate around pipes that sit in the wall shared with an attached garage. If the pipes are not properly insulated, the water inside can freeze and rupture the pipes, causing a flood in your house.

Have your furnace and chimney serviced ahead of time. Not having a qualified technician service your furnace or chimney before using them once the cold weather settles in could lead to a fire danger or problems with carbon monoxide.

Inspect over your exterior steps and handrails. Winter can be hard on surfaces like cement, especially as water settles into any cracks and then turns to ice, making those cracks even worse. It’s best to address crumbling or cracked exterior stairs before the weather cools off. Also, installing hand rails on exterior stairs can prevent people from falling, helping you avoid an insurance claim later.

If you plan on being away for any period of time during the winter for a trip, plan ahead. Select a neighbor, family member or someone else you can trust to check up on the house every day. That person should know where the plumbing shut-off valve is located in case the house floods. Your house’s caretaker can also clear snow from the walkways and spread salt to prevent anyone from slipping and falling. Even though you will be gone, maintain the house’s temperature at no less than 65 degrees Fahrenheit otherwise you risk some of the pipes freezing and bursting.

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