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By Tim Bemis
Insurance services manager at Dupaco Insurance Services
Winterizing your house can help you lower more than your energy bills—it also can help you cut down on costly homeowner’s insurance claims.
Before temps drop, take a walk around your house, both inside and out, and take note of potential problems:
It’s better to address these issues now to prevent things from getting worse during the winter.
How to winterize a house
Not sure where to start? This checklist can help you learn how to winterize a house—and hopefully avoid filing an insurance claim this winter:
Schedule a furnace inspection.
Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless. It’s also the leading cause of accidental poisoning death in the U.S., according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. An annual furnace and chimney tune-up can help identify leaks to prevent this danger. It also will help ensure your furnace is running smoothly before you need it.
Schedule a fireplace and chimney inspection.
Not only can an inspection and cleaning protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning, it can help prevent a devastating house fire. Chimney fires are among the most dangerous because of how quickly they can spread throughout your home.
Regularly replace your furnace filter.
Once that filter is clogged, your furnace loses access to fresh air flow. This can lead to safety issues and an inefficient (more costly) system to maintain.
Replace batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
These vital pieces of equipment can only do their job if they’re equipped with working batteries. Replace them twice a year.
Clean your gutters.
Clearing leaves, sticks and other debris from your gutters can help prevent ice dams—the most common claim we field during the winter. Ice dams can wreak havoc on your ceilings, walls, flooring and belongings. Not only can this force you to file an insurance claim, but you’ll spend a frustrating amount of time repairing and replacing your damaged belongings.
Store garden hoses.
The other common homeowner’s claim this time of year? Frozen pipes. Avoid this headache by turning off those outdoor faucets and moving your garden hoses into storage for the winter. If your home isn’t well insulated, consider leaving open your cabinets that contain pipes. It will allow more warm air to reach your water pipes and prevent them from freezing.
Clean up your yard.
Protect your investments. Properly store gas-powered tools, patio furniture and other outdoor items. I learned this the hard way several years ago when I left water in my power washer. (It didn’t survive the winter!) Prevent falls on your property—and insurance claims that come with them—by regularly clearing debris like leaves, snow and ice on your walkways.