Home Insurance: Keeping up with home maintenance is key.

Staying on top of your home maintenance can play a critical role in avoiding unnecessary homeowner’s insurance claims.

The top reason cited by surveyed homeowners when asked if they had tasks that could or should be done was because “they aren’t much of a problem right now.” It may be true that putting off some yard tasks – not mowing the lawn for a week or two, for example – are not a significant concern.

However, leaving other types of yard work to be done, such as trimming trees, can pose a far greater risk for more serious problems. In the event of a storm with strong wind, trees or limbs may cause a more significant problem if they fall. Similarly, what might seem like a few drips from a pipe or an appliance might lead to a flood or other extensive damage. In either scenario, if the damage is significant you may even be displaced from your home while the repairs are being made.

Roof, Gutters, and Trees

  • Check your roof yearly for signs of wear or damage
  • Have a flat roof inspected every 2-3 years
  • Replace your roof when it reaches life expectancy
  • Take a look in your attic to spot any leaks from your roof
  • Have your flashings inspected yearly
  • Clean debris out of your gutters twice a year
  • Make sure your gutters are shedding water correctly and don’t have leaking joints that could lead water into the side of your home
  • Have the trees around your house checked for health
  • Trim or remove trees around your home
  • Trim trees back from hanging over your home

Fire Safety

  • Test smoke detectors monthly and install new batteries yearly
  • Replace smoke detectors every 10 years
  • Don’t run cords under carpeting, bedding or other combustible material, or across doorways or frequently traveled areas
  • Discard frayed or broken cords and never splice two cords together
  • Don’t overload outlets or use extension cords in place of outlets

Appliances and Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems

  • Avoid running your appliances when not home
  • Replace your appliances when they reach life expectancy
  • Replace your dishwasher every 12 years
  • Watch for leaks from your appliances
  • Check your refrigerator ice line regularly
  • Have your air conditioning system serviced professionally semi-annually
  • Have your oil burner serviced yearly
  • Have your furnace cleaned by a professional

General Maintenance Tips

  • If you are away from your home for a long period of time, such as for the winter, be sure your home is being checked on at least weekly
  • If something breaks, get it repaired as soon as possible
  • Consider full home inspections every 7-10 years q Keep a maintenance log for your home
  • Plan for large maintenance jobs, like replacing your roof
  • Inspect crawl spaces for leaks or problems
  • Have your electrical system inspected yearly
  • Maintain seals around your windows and chimneys
  • Reseal your doors and windows every 2 years
  • Prevent your tubs and washers from overflowing

Need professional help on your home maintenance? Review the list of questions below to ask your providers.

  • Are you licensed and insured (get this in writing)?
  • How much experience do you have in making this repair or doing this task?
  • How long will the work take?
  • How many people will be in my home to work on the project?
  • Will you provide a detailed printed estimate?
  • Who do I call if I have questions about the work?
Important elements to look for when evaluating an estimate:
  • Is it a formal estimate? For example, is it typed and printed?
  • Are all tasks clearly described and itemized?
  • How much does labor cost and how much do the materials cost?
  • Approximately how long will each task take?
  • Does the estimate include everything you expect in terms of completing the work?
  • Can you read through the estimate and visualize what work is going to be done?
  • If you are unsure of anything or have questions, be sure to ask and, if needed, ask for the estimate to be amended.