As autumn approaches and the cold weather sets in, new seasonal weather risks can come up and with them comes the chance of damage to your vehicle and house. In this article, we’re giving you 15 tips to help get your home and car ready for the cold winter months so you can reduce your risk of running into unsafe conditions and insurance claims—and instead sit back and enjoy your warm cider and comfy blankets with greater peace of mind!

Autumn Home Maintenance Tips

1. Clean out your gutters. Clogged gutters can cause damage to roofs, as well as create internal leaks and water damage, particularly if water gets trapped in the gutter, freezes, and creates an ice dam. It can help reduce your risk of water damage due to rain and snow if you clean out your gutters every fall.

2. Turn off outdoor faucets. Drain and disconnect garden hoses and other outdoor water sources. This can help prevent water freezing and bursting inside the hose or pipe, which could lead to water damage on your property.

3. Cover or store outdoor furniture. Storing your furniture doesn’t just protect it from wear and tear. It also protects your home’s structure from damage. During heavy winds and snowstorms, outdoor furniture can get blown into the side of your home and could cause damage. Even worse, it could blow away and hit someone else’s home, car, or even a person, potentially exposing you to a liability issue. If possible, store your furniture and outdoor tools in a shed or garage. If this isn’t possible, firmly secure everything to the ground and cover it with a weatherproof cover.

4. Fix broken pavers, walks, and driveways. Another safety and liability concern that can occur during the winter comes from broken walkways or handrails. To reduce the risk of slips, trips, and falls for your family and others, it’s best to fix any cracks, bumps, or holes in the autumn before it gets too cold.

5. Trim landscaping away from the house. Getting rid of any overgrown or dead tree branches and bushes can also help. If a heavy wind or snow rolls through, dead tree branches can break off and land on your house, on your car, or in the neighbor’s yard. Reduce your risk of damage and potential liability with an annual trim. Plus, it’ll keep your home looking tidy and boost curb appeal!

6. Check your home for drafts. Make sure you’re not wasting electricity or letting water and wind into your home due to drafts. Weatherstripping and caulking windows and doors to help create a seal can help with those drafts.

7. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. According to the NFPA, fires and carbon monoxide buildup can be more common during the winter months when people spend more time indoors. You should test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors make sure these detectors are working properly.

8. Have your HVAC system tested. Old furnaces and boilers can run inefficiently and cost more money to replace or break down on the coldest night of winter. They could also pose a potential fire hazard.  To make sure you’re well-equipped for winter, we suggest getting your heating and electrical systems checked by an expert before the cold weather puts extra strain on them.

9. Clean out your chimney. Between fallen debris, insects and animals, and ash buildup, there are many ways your chimney can get clogged. If you were to light a fire without cleaning out your chimney, any trapped debris could cause a fire flare-up or a buildup of hazardous smoke in your home. Before the cold weather comes, we suggest you get a professional to clean and check your chimney every fall to avoid potentially perilous fire and smoke concerns.

Get more home maintenance tips for fall here.

Fall Car Maintenance Tips

10. Check your car battery. The last thing you want is your car battery to die while you’re driving in cold, icy conditions. Learn how to check your car battery yourself or, even better, bring your vehicle to a mechanic for a full workup pre-winter.

11. Clean up your headlights. Nights start earlier and grey-cloud snowstorms can impact visibility, so having strong and working headlights is especially critical during the winter months. With age, your headlights can lose some of their shine or bulbs can start to dim. A couple of ways to help could be to use a headlight restoration kit to get help get rid of cloudiness or haziness and to talk to a mechanic about changing out your headlight bulbs if it’s been a while.

12. Check your tires. If your tires have less than 1/8 inch of tread left, it’s time to start looking for new tires, according to Consumer Reports. If you live in an area that sees a lot of snow and cold weather, it’s also worth looking into installing winter tires on your car. Check your tire pressure too, as cold weather will cause the pressure in your tires to contract. <

13. Check all the fluids in your car: oil, antifreeze, washer fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and brake fluid. Also check belts, hoses, heating system, brakes, batteries, and other vital parts of your car. If you’re not knowledgeable about cars, we suggest bringing your vehicle to a qualified mechanic for a checkup.

14. Find a safe storage spot for your car. If possible, find a parking spot for your car that will keep it away from inclement weather and thieves during those cold winter months. If you have to park on the street, try to park within eyeshot of your house so you can keep an eye on it if a big storm rolls through. Did you know that a garage or safe storage spot may even lower your auto insurance premium?

15. Stock your car (and home) with emergency materials. Your emergency kit typically should include a first aid kit, flares, ice scraper, jumper cables, basic tools, spare tire (and tire changing equipment), flashlight and batteries, a small shovel, water, lighter, phone charger, warm clothes, and blankets. It may seem like overkill at the time, but you’ll be very thankful to have these items if you get caught in bad weather or your car breaks down.

Preparing your home and car for the colder months can help you minimize your risk of safety and damage concerns.

If you’re not sure you have the right insurance coverage to help protect your home and auto during the riskier winter months, give your insurance agent a call to review your policies before the weather turns.

Review your coverage or compare quotes and save by calling one of our expert insurance advisors today at (844) 300-3364!

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