Now Is a Great Time For Home Maintenance & Insurance Check-ups!
The beginning of Autumn is just a couple weeks away, and it’s time to start thinking about the cooler months ahead. Fortunately here in the southeast our winters are not too harsh, but it is still beneficial to take advantage of our upcoming moderate weather to repair damages and perform required maintenance in and around our homes. It is also a good time of year to take stock of your home insurance coverage. Here are two helpful checklists of ideas to keep both at peak performance so you can enjoy the changing colors, cooler evenings, and pumpkin pie spice everything.
Check your foundation for cracks. Caulk the areas where masonry meets your siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes enter the house. This maintenance procedure offers the ‘most bang for your buck’ by preventing heat from escaping, and water/ice damage in your pipes and crawl space.
If applicable, install your storm windows and doors and remove your screens. Clean and repair screens before storing for the winter.
Check for peeling or blistering paint on your exterior walls. This is a sign that your existing paint is failing and can no longer protect the siding.
Inspect your roof. Check for missing or loose shingles. Your roof is your first line of defense in protecting your home. When your roof is not functioning properly, it can lead to water damage that can cause deterioration to your insulation, drywall, and wood making your electrical and
HVAC system vulnerable.
After the leaves have all dropped, clean and inspect your rain gutters. Clogged gutters are a major cause of water/ice damage. Consider new gutters with built-in leaf guards.
If applicable, inspect your pool cover. Replace and/or repair if necessary.
Inspect the weather stripping on your garage door. Seal between door and ground should be tight to prevent air and small animals from coming in.
Inspect your driveway for cracks. Repair with driveway filler and commercial sealer.
Check your porch and deck stairs and railing. Clean and repair deck furniture, then cover and store for the season.
Check insulation and sealing. Much of your energy costs are heating and cooling and proper sealing can save you up to 20% on those costs.
Schedule an HVAC maintenance check by a licensed contractor. This should be done twice a year. Properly serviced systems have fewer problems, are more efficient, and last longer.
Replace your HVAC filter.
Consider cleaning your ductwork.
Have your fireplace checked to ensure that it is in good working order. Hire a licensed chimney sweep to clean your chimney. Clogged chimneys pose a fire risk.
Change your ceiling fan direction to create an upward draft to redistribute the warm air from your ceiling.
Check your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors. Refresh the batteries if needed.
LAWN & GARDEN
Clean and store your summer gardening tools. Drain fuel from gas-powered equipment.
Organize your garage.
Clear fallen leaves from your yard. Reseed patchy lawn areas. Fertilize your lawn with a high phosphorus mix to ensure healthy green grass in the Spring.
Plant spring flowering bulbs. Prune trees and shrubs. Do you need to add mulch?
Drain and store your garden hoses if you will not need them over the winter.
Do you need a snow shovel and salt handy?
Inspect and fill your bird feeders. If you feed birds in your yard, make sure to continue throughout the winter.
HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE CHECK-UP
Does your homeowner’s policy include full replacement cost for your home?
Do you have replacement coverage for the contents of your home? You may want to consider replacement cost insurance on contents to minimize depreciation on a claim. You will need an inventory, and possibly a video to determine proper values.
You may require broader coverage for specific items such as firearms, jewelry, silverware, etc. Most people opt for specific coverage on items valued over $1,000. Up-to-date appraisals may be required.
If you run a business from home, it is not protected by your homeowner’s policy. Businesses generally require commercial insurance, coverage can usually be provided by an inexpensive add-on to your policy.
Boats and ATVs may require more specific coverage under your homeowner’s policy.
Ask about Ordinance or Law coverage to cover building code changes.Most policies do include a small amount, but it is good to check. This extends coverage for building code changes that may affect undamaged portions of your home.
Your policy does not cover earthquakes. You must add an endorsement for earthquake coverage. Earthquakes don’t just happen in California!
Your homeowner’s policy does not cover floods or groundwater seepage. Flood insurance is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Condominium unit owners’ needs are different. Additions and/or alterations that become a permanent part of the building but you are responsible for may need to be insured separated from the Association Master Policy.
High personal injury lawsuit settlements being awarded today mean that you should consider a Personal Catastrophe Liability policy.
If your home is unoccupied for 60 days or more, it may be considered vacant and fire coverage may be cancelled.
Should you consider increasing your deductible to take advantage of premium cost savings?
Ask your insurance agent whether you are due any discounts, or are there any discounts you may be able to take advantage of.
With a little planning, research, and elbow grease, you can be prepared for anything the seasons throw at you. If you need any recommendations for home service providers, and homeowner’s insurance policy representatives, contact me. I am a real estate professional and work with these folks everyday. I can provide you with valued referrals.