The leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air, and winter is right around the corner. Homeowners should take precautions now to protect against winter weather-related damage.
There are inherent dangers associated with winter weather; including frozen pipes, ice dams, fires from heat sources, wind damage, flooding, and other devastating (and expensive) occurrences.
Here is a pre-winter checklist to help keep your clients’ homes protected this season:
- Clean your gutters. Clogged gutters and downspouts are the main cause of ice dams. Clean gutters and spouts thoroughly and install gutter guards to prevent future issues.
- Trim trees. Weak trees and dead branches can fall during a storm, damaging your home, vehicle and other personal property. Cut down weak or dead trees and branches, especially those that encroach on your house, garage, shed or driveway.
- Move combustible items away from heat sources. This includes heat vents, fireplaces, wood stoves and space heaters.
- Have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Residential fires and carbon monoxide poisoning increase in the winter, so ensure that your detectors are working properly. Conduct regular tests of the devices and install fresh batteries regularly. These devices have a limited shelf life (often 8-10 years) so replace them, as needed.
- Install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system. This feature can be instrumental if pipes freeze, protecting against increased pressure and bursting pipes.
- Know how to shut off your water. Water expands when it freezes, which can cause major damage to your pipes in winter. Know how to turn off the water. If your pipes freeze, cut the water supply quickly to avoid major damage to your house.
- Have a generator (or alternative back-up power source) available. Blizzards, hurricanes, storms, and extreme temperatures can cause power outages. In winter weather, this is dangerous for pipes. Generators can run the heat during a power outage and help prevent frozen pipes. Follow all safety guidelines to operate the generator properly. Never run the generator inside a house, garage or other structure.
- Service your heating system(s) regularly. At least once a year, have professionals clean and check your furnace, boiler and chimney to prevent potential fire and smoke damage.
- Prevent flooding. Research and install effective methods to prevent flooding. This could include installing sump-pumps, changing the gradient/slope of your yard so precipitation runs away from your home, etc.
- Check your roof. If significant snow and ice accumulates, your roof (especially a flat roof) could collapse. Before the first storm, buy a roof rake with a long handle. Then, you can remove snow safely when winter arrives. Never go on the roof to shovel – you could get seriously injured.
- Repair steps, sidewalks and handrails. Broken stairs, paths and banisters can be dangerous when they’re covered with snow and ice. Repair them before the first snowfall.
- Make sure you’re properly insured. While these precautions can certainly safeguard against winter damage, there’s still the possibility of winter-related damage to your home and property. Carry proper homeowners’ insurance limits and regularly review your policy to ensure it still meets your needs.
Quaker Special Risk is with our agents every step of the way. All of our carrier claims information is listed on our website, and we are standing by to assist if winter weather impacts your agency or your clients.