Get your home winter-ready with these easy steps
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Whether you see winter as a wonderland of sparkling snow and beauty or a worrisome hellscape of ice and cold, the fact remains — unless you live in the deep South, winter is coming. So you’d better get your home ready for it.
Homes today are built to withstand most normal weather fluctuations, but they do need a little extra TLC before winter hits, just to keep everything in top shape.
Check out these maintenance tips for keeping your home running smoothly all winter:
- Change your air filters — Your heating and air conditioning system have filters that keep dust and pet hair out of the furnace. These filters need to be replaced regularly, depending on what type of filter you use. Some filters are meant to be replaced quarterly, and some are monthly. Keeping these filters clean will ensure your system runs more efficiently and will mean fewer repairs down the line.
- Inspect the furnace — Hire an HVAC specialist to inspect and clean your system before winter. That way you can fix minor issues before they become major ones, and your air conditioner will be ready to purr like a kitten next Spring. An inspection and maintenance usually only cost $100-$300, depending on where you live, which is much better than replacing a furnace in the dead of winter.
- Clean your gutters — Clogged gutters can cause damage to your roof, stucco and foundation. You can do this yourself, but if your gutters are too far off the ground, it might be best to hire a pro.
- Check for leaks — Inspect around your doors and windows for drafts, and seal them up with caulk or weather stripping. Keeping your heat indoors makes your home more efficient and warmer. Caulking is one of the easiest and cheapest home repairs to make.
- Seal your driveway — Fall is an excellent time to repair cracks and put a coat of sealant on your driveway. Make sure the weather forecast is dry for a few days, then get to work. It will help your driveway last longer and look better.
- Touch up paint — Keeping the paint fresh in your home helps it look better longer. You don’t have to repaint the house every year, but fixing little dings in the drywall and covering up stains can help extend the life of your paint. Fall is the best time to do this because the weather isn’t as humid. Paint on the outside of your house protects wood, so if it’s starting to chip, it’s time to fix it. Water can damage your wood and cost you much more in repairs later.
- Seal your deck — If you have a wood deck, now is the time to clean and seal it. Sealing the wood will keep the deck looking good longer and protect the wood from the winter weather.
- Test your detectors — The most important thing is the safety of you and your family so test the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They can mean the difference between life and death.
- Check the pipes — If you have pipes in unheated parts of your house, such as crawlspaces, you should check the insulation on those pipes regularly. If the insulation isn’t holding up well, replace it. Frozen and burst pipes can be costly, and will usually happen on the coldest day of the year. If you go out of town for an extended time, turn off the water to the house and drain the pipes.
By tending to these necessary home maintenance tasks, you can make sure your house is prepared to withstand a harsh winter and you can ward off potential disaster. The extra work now will make for a cozy, easier winter season.
Courtesy of Paul Denikin
You may think you won’t be held liable if a trespasser is injured in your back yard. But you might be if you have an attractive nuisance!
When something on a property is both dangerous and attractive to kids (think unguarded swimming pools, playground equipment or broken-down cars), the landowner is legally obligated to protect children from it.
The attractive nuisance doctrine was established in R.R. Co. v. Stout in 1874 when a railroad company chose not to lock up or guard a dangerous railroad turntable (a machine that turns trains around). The court decided the company knew kids were regularly playing on it and should have taken measures to keep them away.
Generally, an attractive nuisance is:
•Inherently dangerous and enticing to young children.
•Unguarded and exposed at a place where children are likely to play.
•Created or maintained by the landowner (pools count, ponds usually don’t).
Bottom line? Putting a secure fence around that trampoline is a really good idea!
Home insurance can help prepare you for attractive nuisance claims, but coverage varies by policy. A licensed agent can give you expert advice on your situation. In the meantime, you may want to survey your property for any dangerous thing that looks like too much fun
If you have renter’s or homeowner’s insurance…..and you have a loss …. in order for the adjuster/company to reimburse you, you will need to provide “proof of loss” – pictures, inventory, receipts, etc. Your insurance carrier is not just going to write you a check. Insurance is never meant to “better” you, just to indemnify, or reimburse, you for losses. Therefore, you will need to prove what you lost because of the fire, or burglary, etc.
There are companies that will come in and do an inventory for you (for a fee, of course). OR, you can just do what I call the “hokey pokey” – go to each room and slowly, slowly turn in a circle while holding your camera. Try to focus on things of high value as opposed to electronics and clothing or shoes which rarely hold any real value after purchase. (example; I bought a 42 inch flat screen HD TV back in 2006 and paid $998 for it – you can go to WalMart today and by the exact same TV for just under $500 now.) It is generally a thought process of “do I want to have to go to GoodWill to replace my belongings cause I’m too busy to do an inventory or save receipts? OR, do I want to be able to go to a higher end store to replace my belongings?” It is your choice, but I encourage taking a few minutes to do this.
In case you didn’t know. When you take out a loan for your new car/truck, be SURE that the lender puts loan/lease gap coverage on your loan. If your vehicle is totalled in an accident, the insurance will offer you a “totalled value” which is probably less than you still owe your bank, seeing as how the vehicle is now worth MUCH less in totalled condition. You end up owing your bank the difference. This can only be done at the start of your loan. If you don’t and you have the bad luck to total your car that you still owe a lot of money on – the insurance offers you the “totaled value” which is not enough to pay off your loan-but you still need a car, right? So you go out and get another car with another loan and now you are in a situation we like to call “upside down on your loan”. You owe WAY more than you could ever get out of it.
With all the recent house fires lately, I wanted to touch base on how important insurance can be. RENTER’S INSURANCE is very affordable, between $10-$25 a month usually. Renter’s insurance can keep you from having to establish a Go Fund Me page and beg for the help of strangers. Not only does it replace your belongings lost in a fire, but it gives you money to get another place to live and liability in case you get sued by someone who is hurt on your premises and medical payments for that person. Call me for a no obligation quote. 641-648-6665