Winter is fast approaching, which means increased risk of homeowners’ insurance claims is also on its way. Winter is one of the most dangerous and risky seasons for both property damage and liability. But there are simple ways you can offset this risk.
What can you do this autumn to decrease your risk, minimize your insurance claims, and maybe even get a discount on your insurance premium? What are some home projects that will get your house in tip-top shape for the winter?
Winter Home Projects to Lower Your Risk
1. Service or update heating systems.
Too often, homeowners don’t take a look at their heating systems… until they stop working. Trying to get an electrician to fix your heating system in the middle of a winter storm is usually quite the impossible feat.
It doesn’t hurt to take a look at your heating system at the beginning of the season to see if there are any holes, leaks, rust spots, or other issues. You may want to call in for a yearly service to ensure your heating system is ready to take on any storm that comes.
Note that if you neglect to take care of your HVAC, your insurance company won’t pay for any related issues. Insurance only pays for unexpected claims that are not a result of homeowner error or negligence.
2. Test smoke alarms.
Fire is much more likely in the winter. You want to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working effectively and will alert you and the fire department if a fire starts.
Most alarms have a “test” button to ensure it’s working and is loud enough. You’ll also want to ensure your fire alarm is hooked up to an emergency response system, so the fire department will come when the alarm goes off.
You may want to look into smart alarms, which pair up with an app on your phone so you always know what’s going on in your house.
3. Clean gutters.
Your gutters exist to move water away from the home, so you don’t get any leaks or water damage to the exterior or interior of your home. If your gutters are clogged up, the water and ice will get trapped too—which can redirect the water directly into your home!
Pull out the ladder, get some gloves and a garbage bag or a hire a professional and get the gunk out of your gutters before winter storm season hits. You don’t want ice dams in your gutters, which can cause serious water damage to your home.
4. Insulate your pipes.
Installing a little bit of insulation can go a long way to keep your plumbing functioning in even the coldest weather. Insulation keeps the pipes warm, which prevents ice dams from clogging your pipes. When your pipes clog up with ice, water can back up and burst the pipe, which can cause serious water damage in your home.
Water damage is one of the costliest insurance claims, and even an inch of water can cost thousands in damages. It’s definitely worth it to purchase a few dollars’ worth of insulation to protect your plumbing from the cold!
5. Install water detection and shut-off.
Another common cause of water damage is when water or snow leaks into the home. Oftentimes, water comes in where you may not notice it, so you may not even catch a leak for days, if not weeks, later.
Stopping water leaks is critical to minimizing water damage and keeping your home dry, warm, and safe. You can install a leak detection and emergency shut-off system to track water usage and alert you to any “extra” water in the home before it causes serious damage.
6. Update your roof.
Snow loves to hang out on the roof. It can: drip down causing leaks; freeze up causing ice dams; or even be too heavy and can damage or collapse the roof.
Old or flat roofs are at higher risk for ice dams and water damage, especially in snow-heavy areas. You may want to fix broken shingles and patch up damaged areas. It might also be worth it to call in a professional roofer to get your roof updated, especially if it’s been a few years.
7. Cut back shrubbery.
Are there any tree branches that could fall on your roof? Any plants at risk of falling into your home? You want to keep your shrubbery as “tight” as possible to prevent loose branches from flying into your home (or a neighbor’s) during a bad storm. A little landscaping can go a long way to protect your house (and your liability) this winter!
8. Insulate your attic.
Most of a home’s heat escapes through the roof. This heat loss is actually a major contributor to ice dams: the snow is cold on the roof, the heat melts the snow, and the air refreezes it—causing ice dams. Losing heat through the attic also will drastically raise your energy costs, and it will be hard to keep your home warm during the season. A cold house also increases the risk of frozen pipes and electrical failure.
You can avoid a lot of issues simply by adding insulation to seal in the heat. You’ll also want to ensure the area is ventilated, so cool air can move through the attic while the insulation keeps the heat warming up your home.
9. Install a generator.
A generator can help restore electricity during power outages, which can be a result of a bad storm or damaged power lines in your neighborhood. Having a backup generator can keep your family warm no matter what’s going on around you. These also help keep your smoke and security alarms active, your fridge and freezer filled with food, and your heating system keeping your pipes warm.
You can choose a whole-house generator that will keep the power on in your entire house, or you can choose a room-specific generator to keep costs low while protecting the most vital rooms in the house (like the kitchen and bedrooms).
10. Go smart.
Smart homes are one of the best ways to keep your house safe and secure, no matter what goes on. Smart thermostats keep your home heated, smart home securities will prevent break-ins, and smart sprinklers can stop a fire in its tracks.
Learn more about smart gadgets that can keep your house safe this winter here.
Protect your home
Winter is coming… But a few small projects can make a huge difference in your home’s defenses against the winter.
Your homeowners insurance can help with the incidents outlined in your coverage that you can’t prepare for or expect. Before the season gets too underway, talk to your insurance agent to ensure you have the appropriate coverage for your home’s needs this winter and to see if any of your planned home projects or renovations make you eligible for safety discounts.
Review your coverage and compare home insurance quotes with one of our expert insurance advisors at (844) 300-3237 today.
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