Winter’s here, and in north Texas, that means some cool to moderate temperatures with some hard freezes thrown in, and just maybe, some snow or an ice storm. With that in mind, let’s examine what you can do to avoid a home insurance claim this winter, which will keep your rates down for years to come.
Plumbing: One of the most frequent winter home insurance claims is for plumbing leaks caused by freezing temperatures. These leaks usually occur in supply pipes located in an outside wall of a kitchen or bathroom. If the lines are not insulated, consider wrapping them with some foam insulation to protect them from the cold. Do the same for supply lines to your water heater too.
If you’re going to be away from home for a few days, leave the cabinet doors open. This allows warm air to circulate under the sinks and reduces the chances of the supply lines freezing. You can also turn a tap on just enough to allow a slow drip. Do not turn the heater off while you’re away, but do turn the thermostat down to 60 degrees which will keep the lines warm enough to avoid freezing while saving on heating bills.
Consider wrapping your outside lines with insulation to also keep them from freezing. If they freeze and leak, it may not damage your home, but wrapping them could help avoid a costly plumbing repair call.
Fireplaces, Candles, and Heaters: If you have a fireplace, have the chimney cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. This removes creosote from the inside of the chimney which is flammable and helps avoid a chimney fire. Dispose of ashes only after the fire has been out for 24 hours and remove them from the house. Always use a screen to prevent sparks from flying out of the fireplace and on to carpet or wood floors.
Candles provide a beautiful ambiance, especially during winter months. Put a protective dish or holder under all burning candles and make sure they are at least 2 feet from anything flammable such as drapes and upholstered furniture. Blow them out whenever you leave the room.
Space heaters also need to be kept at least 2 feet from flammable objects when in use, and should not be used at all if the electrical cord is loose or frayed. Turn them off when you leave the room or go to sleep to prevent a fire starting in your absence or while asleep.
If you have a gas furnace, have it inspected to ensure the heating element isn’t cracked. In addition, install a carbon monoxide detector to warn you of a buildup of carbon monoxide in your home. Place detectors in the hallway leading to the bedrooms, as well as one near the water heater if it’s a gas powered model.
Tree Limbs: Now that most of the leaves have fallen from our trees, have a certified arborist examine your trees. Remove any limbs that can fall onto your home or knock out the power line to your home. Most home insurance policies provide coverage for falling objects such as tree limbs. However, if one falls and takes out the power line to your home, only the damage to the wiring inside the home is covered, not the cost incurred to re-connect the power line to your home.
Enjoy our cooler weather and the break from our summer heat. Share your comments, suggestions, and questions with us on our Google + and Facebook pages. I’d love to hear from you!