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Dave Berliner
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December 14, 2016
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Winterizing Tips Help Keep Homeowners Insurance Off Thin Ice

You know what they say about an ounce of prevention. When it comes to securing your home and personal property, you will never regret preparing for the unexpected. As winter quickly approaches, I’ve outlined some general liability and property tips to help keep you off thin ice.

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“A little preparation goes a long way to making life smoother.”
– Brandon A. Trean

Since many of us enjoy entertaining during the winter months, remember that the upkeep of your property is your responsibility. Keep walkways, driveways and patios safe by thoroughly shoveling snow and using ice melt liberally to clear these areas. And remember, it’s not just for your invited guests. Postal carriers and delivery people pose a fall risk if your property is not well-maintained.

To help protect your lawn and sprinkler heads as the snow piles up, pick up some inexpensive reflective markers or stakes to identify your driveway and sidewalk areas. This will help keep snow plows and snow blowers where they should be – on concrete – and not on the grass you’ve worked so hard to maintain.

As temperatures drop, water lines are sure to freeze up if not properly secured. Take a few minutes to allow the faucets inside your home to trickle water. Don’t forget to shut off your sprinkler system and water line attached to the system. Also, ensure that outdoor faucets are off and garden hoses are disconnected from outdoor spigots. If any of these lines are connected, ice can form leading to pressure building up in waterlines in your home. Who wants to clean up a mess from a pipe that’s burst – or pay a plumbing company to replace costly pipes?

Annual furnace or heat pump maintenance inspections with an HVAC technician is well worth the upfront cost – usually less than $100. This inspection will ensure the system is clean and able to meet manufacturer-rated efficiency standards, while measuring any carbon monoxide leaks. Don’t put these important inspections off and assume you’ll know if there’s a problem. These professionals are experts in foreseeing and fixing issues before they become costly – or even dangerous – problems later.

And finally, don’t forget your windows, gutters and the rooftop of your home.

Silicone caulk comes in handy to seal gaps between window and door frames. According to Kiplinger’s 15 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter, if you see gaps larger than the width of a nickel, it’s time to reapply exterior caulk.

Consider hiring a professional, bonded handyman to clear gutters of debris and check your roof for loose shingles and flashing. While it’s important to protect your property, you also need to protect yourself – so it’s best practice to leave the ladder-climbing to the professionals.

One part of the home that’s almost always overlooked is the attic. To help ensure that the northern-most point in your home does not resemble the North Pole, make certain that your attic is well-ventilated to maintain a temperature close to that of the outdoors. This will help prevent ice dams from forming. Ice dams can block water from draining, allowing water to be forced underneath the roof, into the attic and inside the walls of your home.

Proper planning and a little common sense in the upcoming winter months will help protect your investment and truly keep the sweet in “home sweet home.”

To review coverage options or to ask questions about your homeowners policy, contact our Personal Insurance Team today.

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