Some of the most common winter home insurance claims include burst pipes, damage from ice dams and the weight of snow on the roof, house fires, and fallen tree branches.
Have peace of mind this winter by taking some precautions with these 5 winter home insurance tips.
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1. Protect the plumbing
Do a little maintenance on your plumbing. Run water through all the pipes to reduce the risk of them freezing and test all shut-off valves. Insulate exposed pipes in cold areas like crawlspaces and the basement so they do not freeze. You can also keep hot water faucets dripping to release pressure that can be produced by ice.
When you are away, the risk of water damage from burst pipes increases because no one is there to take immediate action. If you are going away for a winter vacation, do not forget to ask your insurer how often your home needs to be checked on. You will need a friend or family member to check on your house at least once every few days, possibly every 24 hours.
You may want to shut off the water, drain the pipes, and put non-toxic antifreeze in plumbing traps. This will prevent your pipes from freezing if your furnace breaks or there is a power outage. If you do not drain your pipes, keep the heat on high enough to keep them from freezing.
Your Wyatt Dowling home insurance expert will answer any questions you may have about winter home insurance tips.
2. Do not overload circuits
Cold weather usually means making your furnace worker harder, and more time indoors using appliances and devices. Be careful not to overload electrical circuits because this can blow a fuse and become a fire hazard. Do not use multiple appliances that use a lot of power on the same circuit, for example, a washer and dryer.
Unplug appliances when you are not using them, so they do not use power. Do not leave appliances plugged in or turned on when you are not at home. If no one is around to put out a fire immediately, it can quickly get out of control.
3. Trim dangerous tree branches
Look for tree branches that overhang your home, fence, garage, or power lines. Branches can break because of the weight of snow after a heavy snowfall. Trim tree branches that are at risk of falling and damaging your property.
Your home insurance will cover this type of damage, but in some cases might not if maintenance could have prevented it. For example, dead tree branches should be removed before they cause damage.
4. Prevent water damage to walls
Water damage is a common winter insurance claim and protecting your interior walls from water damage is important. Make sure your attic is well-insulated and ventilated. Insulate the attic floor to stop heat from the house rising.
Consider having a water-repellent membrane installed under your roof covering. These steps sound like a lot of work and expense but will cost less than repairing serious water damage. You should also keep snow away from basement windows, vents for driers and gas appliances, and exhaust vents to prevent water damage in your home and to appliances.
5. Be prepared for snow
Make sure your roof is in good condition and have it inspected every few years in the fall. Clear out your gutters every year before the first snowfall and use a roof rake to get as much snow off your roof as you can once it starts to snow.
Keeping your roof free of snow and ice accumulation prevents damage from the weight of snow and from snow dams. If too much snow or ice builds up on your roof and becomes too heavy, it can cause damage and even collapse your roof.
Having snow on your roof is especially risky when frequent thaws and freezes occur. An ice dam can form when snow melts and then freezes at the eaves of the roof. It stops water from draining away, which then backs up into the roof shingles, causing damage to the roof when it freezes again or water damage to the inside of your home.
Understand your home insurance policy
While your home insurance policy will cover many winter mishaps, it is essential to understand the details. If your home gets damaged in the winter, take photos and videos, and contact your insurer right away.
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