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2012 July

Home maintenance checklist to help avoid insurance claims

When people think about home insurance claims, they often envision major disasters, but in reality, many claims are completely preventable.   By conducting a regular maintenance check around the house, you can greatly reduce the risk of an unnecessary claim. Most of these checks can be performed every three months unless otherwise noted.

Plumbing:

  • Make sure to locate the water shut-off valve outside the house and mark it properly so that the water can be shut off quickly in case of an emergency
  • Check the supply hoses going into the washing machine. Look for signs of fraying or rust around the coupling.  If you see anything suspect, replace the hose.
  • Inspect the waste pipes under all sinks; make sure not loose and no sign of leakage
  • Inspect all hot and cold supply lines and shut off valves (do not turn the valves, just look for corrosion or leakage and call a licensed plumber if detected)
  • Call a plumber immediately if there’s rust in the tap water
  • Be on the lookout for big changes in your water bill. A significant hike can be the first indication of a costly leak.
  • Check water heater for signs of corrosion or leaks
  • Flush your water heater to remove sediment build-up. (removing a few gallons from the bottom of the tank will do this)
  • Check temperature relief valve on the water heater for corrosion or leakage. (do not open valve, rotate in a circular motion to make sure valve is not stuck)
  • Call a licensed plumber if anything is suspect with the water heater
  • Locate and make sure no water is coming from the emergency drain line for the HVAC unit. (this drain is usually located over a window or door so can be easily noticed)  Water dripping from the emergency drain line is a warning indicator that something is drastically wrong with primary condensate drain system and a qualified service technician is needed.
  • Check HVAC emergency drain pan for water (call service tech if water is found)
  • Pour a cup of half bleach/half water into the access for the drain line every 6 months to prevent mold/mildew buildup which can clog the drain

Fire Prevention:

  • Locate and mark your gas shut-off valve so you can close quickly in an emergency
  • Have baking soda and a fire extinguisher readily available in the kitchen (Be particularly careful when heating oil or grease and never leave pots unattended)
  • Clean the lint screens in the clothes dryer frequently and have the exhaust pipe cleaned out professionally once a year.
  • Change the batteries in smoke alarms every six months.
  • Clear your yard of dead brush and trim back tree branches and shrubs away from the house
  •  Stack firewood away from your home — not against it.

How to keep your house cool in summer heat

                       Protect your home and wallet from summer heat

As temperatures reach their peak this summer, we have the luxury of escaping indoors to air-conditioned comfort. Unfortunately, our home’s exterior isn’t as lucky.  It must bear the brunt of summer’s heat and humidity.  Because of this, the inside of our home absorbs added heat, causing our air conditioner to work harder to keep the home at a comfortable temperature, greatly increasing our energy costs.

That’s why, it’s important to take measures that can keep your home as cool as possible.  Here are a few tips that can help:

 

  • Dealing with sunlight

Keep your windows, blinds and curtains closed on hot, sunny days to keep your house from heating up. Your air conditioner will have to work a lot harder to lower the temperature if you allow the sun to heat up your house.

An even better option would be to add solar screens to windows facing the most sun.  Solar screens can offer temperature reduction of up to 15 degrees and savings of up to 25-30% of the cooling portion of electric energy costs.  They also offer UV protection, eliminating fading and discoloration of indoor materials.

 

  • Use your fan along with your AC

By turning on a fan in the room that you are in, you can have your thermostat set one or two degrees higher and not even notice the difference.

 

  • Proper attic ventilation

Temperatures in the attic can easily exceed 150 degrees F.  This heat can penetrate your ceilings, contributing to higher cooling costs.  Improper attic ventilation can also accelerate the aging process by decreasing the life of your roof shingles, ruining your attic insulation, damaging roof framing members, and contributing to mold growth.

Proper ventilation should provide continuous air flow, entering from the soffit vents (under roof overhangs and exiting from roof or ridge vents at the top.  This process happens naturally through convection.  As the warm air rises, it draws cooler air from the soffit vents.  Because of this process, half of the vented area of your roof should be high and the other half low.  Consult with a qualified roofing company if you believe you are in need of proper ventilation.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Landscaping

Strategically placed trees and shrubs can help cool a home.  Place deciduous trees and shrubs on your home’s east and west sides to block sun from entering your home. Also, plant leafy ground covers to cool the area around your home. Is your AC unit in direct sun?  Planting a shade tree or bush near the unit (be careful not to clog the unit intake by planting too close) can reduce the amount of energy required to cool your home by 10 percent.

Site Hawk Home Inspections, LLC Copyright 2012. Produced by Hot Dog Marketing