Autumn means it’s time for apple picking, pumpkin patches, cozy evenings…and some fall home maintenance. A well-maintained home keeps the cold air out and the energy bills down, but it can also prevent many common winter home insurance claims.
Here’s a list of what to add to your fall checklist for home maintenance, and reasons why each is important to protect you and your home.
1. Check for Gaps in Your Walls and Windows
Fall is a good time to take a close look at any caulk, weatherstripping, or sealant to make sure it’s still protecting you from the elements. Pay close attention to your windows, doors, and basement walls. Water damage might not be covered by your homeowners insurance if your provider thinks you could have prevented it with regular maintenance.
2. Inspect Your Roof
Take a good look at your roof for any signs of wear that could be made worse by winter weather. This might include:
- Curling, buckling, or otherwise damaged shingles.
- Rust, cracked caulk, or open seams on your roof or chimney flashing.
- A missing or damaged chimney cap.
- Patches of moss.
- Cracked or worn rubber around pipes and vents.
These incidents can be due to wear and tear, which isn’t usually covered by your homeowners insurance policy. However, keeping your home in good condition means you’ll be less likely to have trouble.
3. Have Your Furnace and Fireplace Cleaned
By keeping your heating systems clean and in good working order, you can prevent fires or other damage to your home that might lead to a claim. The first step here is to inspect your air filters and either vacuum the dust and debris or replace them if it’s been more than a month since you last changed them. Next, have a professional inspect your HVAC system before the cold weather rolls in.
4. Prep Your Outdoor Plumbing
Damage from a burst pipe is often covered by insurance policies, but it’s a headache you can usually avoid with a little extra work. You may need to:
- Drain your hoses.
- Winterize your sprinkler system .
- Shut off outdoor faucets.
- Insulate exterior pipes to prevent freezing and bursting.
You may also want to check interior pipes for insulation, especially any in unheated areas, like garages, basements, and floor cavities above crawl spaces.
5. Stock Up on Supplies
Make sure you have a shovel and salt ready for winter weather and the accidents it can bring. If you use a gas snowblower, don’t forget to purchase extra fuel. By keeping your walkways clear of ice, you can keep your visitors from slipping and getting hurt. While your homeowners insurance typically covers guests’ medical bills from these kinds of injuries, it’s best to avoid any falls to begin with.
In an area where there’s not a lot of ice and snow? Then you may want to use the end of hurricane season to double check the supplies in your disaster kit. Granted, that’s not really a fall home maintenance tip, but trust us﹘you’d rather stock up on now than be out of supplies during the next hurricane.
6. Take Care of Tripping Hazards
Cracks in your walkways or driveways can become much bigger problems over the winter. When water freezes, it expands﹘leading cracks to become larger holes that guests might trip over. Sealing them now helps prevent injuries and the personal liability claims that may follow. Be sure to also check any stairs and railings for damage that might also trip up your visitors.
7. Clean Up Outside
Moving water away from your home’s foundation is key to reducing the risk of water damage, so clear out your gutters and tighten any loose brackets so water can drain properly. You might also want to store outdoor furniture and equipment, like lawn mowers and grills. Your homeowners policy most likely pays to repair these items, but usually only when the damage is caused by a covered peril.
Fall Home Maintenance Can Protect You All Winter
Whether winters tend to be mild or severe where you live, making time for basic maintenance is essential to keeping your house in good working order. And if you’re interested in going beyond maintenance and dabbling in improvements, consider applying for better home insurance. Our online application will let you know in minutes whether you could be saving money on your policy.