Homeowners Insurance Quote | Last week we talked about the difference between unforeseen losses vs. neglect and natural aging. The examples we explored highlighted the importance of taking precautionary steps to keep the components of your home up-to-date and prevent damage.
The good news: There are plenty of things you can do to maintain your home in good condition by detecting problems early and gaining the maximum life out of your home’s components.
Here's a check list to maintain your home in the best possible shape and get the maximum life out all of its components.
- Schedule regular roof inspections at least annually. Even sunny weather can take its toll on a roof. Find a reliable roofing contractor to inspect your roof, including all roofing material, joints, flashings, skylights, vents and other roof penetrations. Ask the contractor to make a photo record of your roof's condition during each inspection. Have any issues -- loose flashings, for example -- corrected immediately.
Talk to your roofing contractor about the age of your roof and its remaining life expectancy. An asphalt shingle roof can last from 20-50 years depending on the brand used, and a ceramic tile roof has a life expectancy of 50-70 years. If you have a new house, check your roof's warranty for its lifespan. If your house is older, a reliable contractor can give you a good estimate of its remaining life. Start saving money so you’re financially prepared to replace your roof when it becomes necessary.
- Check the condition of your fascia (the horizontal surfaces under the eaves). Look for signs of water leakage or rot. Animals or pests can invade this area: Bees, birds, bats and squirrels are among the creatures who like to call a roof home. Quickly remedy any issues you find.
- Keep your gutters clear. Gutters can back up and damage your roof. Clear them of leaves and other debris a minimum of twice per year. Check the condition of the house exterior around gutters for water damage. Make sure your gutters are not cracked and leaking down the exterior of the home.
- Keep your trees trimmed away from the roof. Branches that overhang your roof pose all kinds of hazards. Keep your trees trimmed away from the building.
- Inspect your foundation periodically. Look for changes that can include shifting, cracking, and walls leaning or bowing. Don't let water pool against your foundation. Use fill dirt where needed so the soil slopes away and not toward the base of your house. If you see foundation problems, consult a structural engineer.
- Check for water leakage on your home exterior. Skylights, windows and doors can also be a source of slow, undetected damage that may not be covered by homeowners insurance. Check the flashings around your doors, windows and skylights to make sure water is not infiltrating the interior. Check your outdoor faucets and your automatic watering system for leaks or pooling near your foundation. Signs of water damage include warping, cracked siding or stucco, and discoloration.
- Replace your windows or doors when they need it. Windows and doors, just like your roof, need replacing as they age as part of maintaining your home. If your home is over 15 years old, check your windows and doors periodically. Are they opening and closing properly? Is there any sign of warping, moisture or seepage around them or between panes of glass? Does air leak in around them? All are signs your windows or doors may need to be replaced.
- Schedule regular termite inspections. This is especially important in hot humid climates where termites can be prolific and cause major structural damage to a home.
- Monitor your heating and cooling equipment. Check your air conditioning or swamp cooler unit regularly for leaks. Problems with your heating and cooling systems can affect everything from your monthly energy bills to the integrity of your roof and foundation. Plan to replace a furnace or boiler that is 15 years or older, and any heat pump or air conditioner that is more than 10 years old, advises ENERGY STAR.
- Get drainage lines cleared periodically and check any drainage ditches or culverts for blockage. You should have your sewer lines cleared of roots routinely. Check any drainage ditches, pipes or culverts on your property for blockage. Be aware that your homeowners insurance does not cover flooding. You need to buy a separate flood insurance policy to protect your property against floods associated with heavy rains, tropical storms, hurricanes and other conditions.
- Monitor your interior pipes frequently. Leaking pipes can wreak havoc in your home. A burst pipe or a leaking hot water heater can send thousands of gallons of water into your home in a matter of minutes. Such occurrences are usually covered by homeowners insurance. But small undetected leaks can also cause a lot of damage, and may not be covered. You can buy water sensing systems that do everything from sending you a text alert when water is detected, to shutting down the main water supply into your home in the event of a leak.
- Other key types of prevention: replacing the water hose on your washing machine at least every 5 years. Clean out the lint trap in your dryer after every use. Service your hot water heater annually and replacing it every 8 to 10 years. Check the gas couplings for your stove, range and fireplace periodically. Replace the batteries on your smoke and CO2 detectors annually and test hard-wired detectors at regular intervals. Have wood-burning chimneys cleaned annually and remove ashes safely, never storing them on a porch, deck, or near a wall.
A minimal amount of vigilance and prevention goes a long way to keep your home safe and prolong the life of all its key elements! For more tips or information on a homeowners insurance quote, visit us online at aiicfl.com or find an agent near you TODAY!